Real Wedding | Hailey & Michael

Today I would love to share with you the absolutely gorgeous wedding of Hailey & Michael, which took place at Aynhoe Park in Oxfordshire towards the end of last Summer. Hailey & Michael really are just the sweetest pair, and I couldn’t have enjoyed working with them both more. This truly was a dream to plan, and I miss not chatting with them every week!
Here are a few images of their wedding day, captured by Anna Fowler.

Venue: Aynhoe Park | Photography: Anna Fowler | Full Wedding Planning: Vanilla Rose Weddings | Floral Design: Larry Walshe | Stationery: Merrie & Bright | Balloons: Bubblegum Balloons | Production: Box Productions

Monthly Round Up | April 2019

May. We made it! It’s felt like a super long Winter this year, but we have now finally landed in the “Summer months”, and I am so excited to welcome the longer days, the increased hours of sunshine, and to now re-open the Summer wardrobe! I think it’s now safe to pack away the knitwear and long coats - but you never do know with the British weather, so maybe I’ll leave it for a few more weeks just in case! How about that Bank Holiday weekend a few weeks ago though? Now it’s proved to us we can do hot Bank Holidays here in the UK, I’m expecting this to become a regular occurrence! Particularly as I have a beautiful garden wedding coming up over the May Bank Holiday.

I’ve tried to get a little more active on my Insta-stories recently, so if you follow me (or if you don’t, you can follow me here), you can see more of a glimpse into my every day life and my life as a Wedding Planner. Anyway, here’s a little more of what I’ve been up to this month:

Business

I’ve mainly been busy in the office for the last few weeks, getting to grips with the scheduling and final details for a couple of upcoming VRW weddings which will be happening over the next month. One will be a gorgeous garden wedding in Kent, and the other at the beautiful Orangery at Blenheim Palace. The last couple of months in the lead up to each wedding is when I pull together all of the final logistics and timings for an event, and put it all together in a super comprehensive schedule. I have a bumper master copy for myself and my team, and then a bespoke copy for each main vendor working with us on the wedding. It’s truly a labour of love, and I’m incredibly proud of my schedules, even if I do say so myself! I love a plan, and I couldn’t be without this across my wedding weekends! My master copy is usually around 20+ pages, and contains absolutely everything that is happening across the events.

I’ve also had a number of meetings and catch ups with some of the lovely suppliers that I currently work with, and would love to work with in the future. It’s important to keep in touch with everyone face to face, as we often speak so much by email and phone, but I still love catching up for a coffee when we can.

I went to the beautiful Cowley Manor for a site visit, and it was just the perfect day to visit. The sun was shining, so the grounds looked perfection - the lake was glistening in the afternoon sun, the sunlight was flooding through the huge terrace windows, there were guests enjoying the outside pool at the spa, and it was just a joy to explore the hotel and grounds at its best! If you are looking for a wedding venue in the Cotswolds, I would definitely recommend paying them a visit. The hotel is available for exclusive use throughout the year, and it would make the perfect setting for a luxury wedding celebration with views across the lake and perfectly manicured gardens!

I also attended the second Oxford Wedding Breakfast Club last week, which is a new arm of the London club. Likeminded wedding professionals get together once a month to network and discuss topics which we all share experiences and advice on. As it’s the start of the financial year, this months topic was finance. One thing which can be dull, but is definitely one of the most important aspects of running any business, and it was really great to discuss how to improve processes to improve client experiences and streamline the admin! If you’re a wedding supplier in Oxfordshire, we would love to welcome you to our next group in May!

Family & Home

The majority of April has been taken over by the Easter school holidays. Bella has been off school for three and a half weeks, so we’ve tried to fill it with as much family time, seeing friends, and planning days out as possible. For the first week, we were at Center Parcs in Longleat with friends, which was incredible amounts of fun for the children, and exhausting for the parents! That was our first ever Center Parcs experience, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but we had a great time! There is just SO much to do there, and Bella particularly loved swimming every day, the indoor climbing, and exploring the forest. The food wasn’t brilliant, but I don’t think I’d gone there with very high expectations for that so it was ok…! Although we do really love our holidays abroad, sometimes it’s nice to have an “easier” trip away within the UK. We could just pack all of the baby paraphernalia in the boot, and not have to worry about any luggage weight restrictions, or trying to cart it all through the airport! Longleat is also only about a 90 minute drive for us, so it was a stress-free car journey with two little ones!

We spent the rest of the two weeks seeing friends, enjoying days out, and making the most of the Easter Bank Holiday sunshine! We spent a lovely day at Blenheim Palace on Easter Sunday with some friends, and took a picnic. It felt so lovely just sitting outside for hours chatting and drinking Pimms, whilst the children played nearby! We have an Annual Pass for Blenheim, which we don’t use nearly enough, so I’ll definitely be visiting more over the coming months for long walks in the sunshine, as it’s just such a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. We also spent a day at the Cotswold Wildlife Park, which is always a great day out for children!

Cotswold Wildlife Park Pink Pelican
Cotswold Wildlife Park Giraffe
Cotswold Wildlife Park Ring Tailed Lemurs

We also managed to squeeze in a date night at the launch of the new cocktail menu at Scarfes Bar at The Rosewood Hotel in London. The Rosewood is one of the most iconic luxury hotels in London, and Scarfes is a beautiful gentleman’s club style bar which oozes sophistication. Their new menu takes you on a journey through a number of music genres, with cocktails inspired by the iconic caricatures of Gerald Scarfe. Every drink was beautifully presented and I loved them all!

Scarfes Bar at The Rosewood Hotel cocktails
Scarfes Bar at The Rosewood Hotel cocktails

Hope you’ve all had a lovely April, and do please say hello over on Instagram if you’re following me!

Jeni x

Monthly Round Up | February 2019

How is it March already? I feel like I’ve blinked and we’re almost in Spring, which actually is a super good thing. I feel like I’ve been wearing coats and boots forever, and I for one am looking forward to wearing something on my feet other than knee boots or Uggs, and releasing the Spring/Summer wardrobe that’s been packed away for months on end!

I hope you’ve all had a good February, and are starting to thaw out a little now…! Here’s a little insight into what I have been up to over the last month:

Business

At the very beginning of the month, when we had the heavy snow here in Oxfordshire, it was the weekend of Alexa & Tom’s gorgeous Winter wedding in Surrey, where there was no snow (in comparison!). On the Friday morning I had to dig my car out of 6 inches of snow to drive down to the marquee site in Surrey for a set up and styling day. Working with a fabulous team all day, but I think it was actually colder in the marquee than it was outside. Fiona from our floristry team had the ingenious idea of wearing a heated gilet - she was toasty and we were all super envious. One for the Amazon shopping basket for next Winter for sure…!

The wedding was a huge success, and WHAT a party! We had glow sticks, confetti canons, disco flashing trainers, a glitter station, lava lamps, roller skates - the works! It really was such a fun weekend, and the marquee looked spectacular. Official pictures to come soon, but here’s a sneak peak from some of my iPhone pictures, and a few official photos of the gorgeous Bride & Groom from Hajley Photography:

For the rest of the month, I have filled my days with a mixture of office admin, emails, Skype calls, planning meetings with my clients for upcoming 2019 weddings, and a few menu tasting and floristry meetings with clients and suppliers. What I really love about my job is that it’s so varied, and no two days are the same. Having worked in London in an office 9-6pm 5 days a week prior to starting Vanilla Rose Weddings when we moved to Oxfordshire, I just knew I didn’t want to do that again when we left London. Having the daily variety works perfectly for me, and now having two children in the mix, it also allows me to strike a good work/life balance and plan my days to suit me and the business. Being a mum and a business owner can be hard, but I’d do it all again a million times over, as it allows me to spend lots of quality time with my children, whilst having a career I love. All the heart eyes, and apologies for the gushiness ;-)

Family & Home

February is always a busy month in our household; Valentines Day, my husbands birthday and half term. Which actually, always all fall almost within one week!

For Valentines Day, my parents looked after the children and we went out for a lovely meal in Oxford at The Trout Inn - one of our firm local favourites during the Summer months as they have a gorgeous terrace by the river, so we thought we would give it a try in the Winter. It was so cosy with the fires going, and they had a delicious Valentines menu!

Jeni Amey Vanilla Rose Weddings
The Trout Inn Oxford

For my husbands birthday, we went with my parents-in-law to another of our favourite local restaurants - The Woodspeen, near Newbury. A Michelin Starred venue which never disappoints. The setting, food and service is always perfect, and we love going there for a treat. They also have a cookery school, with a variety of courses and workshops, which is on our list to try soon. This time we went for Sunday lunch, which was amazing, and I can highly recommend it if you’re local and haven’t been before! Later in March, we’re escaping for a night and going to Lio London for a grown ups night out! We both have always loved Lio Ibiza, and visit whenever we’re there. They are running a pop up in London for 6 weeks from the end of February so it was always a must for us to visit!

Half Term whizzed by in a flash, as it was only a week. But we had a combination of work days, family bowling, play dates with school friends (to Blenheim Palace and for walks in the forest climbing trees!) and some friends came to stay for the weekend with their gorgeous new baby girl.

Blenheim Palace Day Out
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up
Vanilla Rose Weddings Monthly Round Up

Finally, I indulged in a Spa evening last week at Nirvana Spa with a friend, which was utter bliss. We both had a treatment, followed by a healthy dinner and relaxing/chatting in the new Hydro-pool. It’s so important to take time for yourself every now and again - especially when running your own business and have children, as time can be limited, and it’s one of the first things to fall off the list! I make sure I find time for self care, as I think it’s so important for wellbeing and mental health - along with exercise. But my recent first experience of Clubbercise (complete with glow-sticks) is a story for another day….!!

It’s been a really fun month actually, looking back on everything I’ve been doing. No wonder time is flying…! I’m catching back up with my blog posts now, so keep your eyes peeled for a Real Wedding post coming up in mid March - it’s a pretty one!

Jeni x

Planning Tips | Kickstart your wedding plans

If you’re recently engaged, congratulations! It’s such an exciting time, but can be equally quite overwhelming when it comes to knowing where to start. A wedding timeline is so varied, depending on your specific plans and your timeframe. However, this new Wedding Planning Timeline series will hopefully help you on your planning journey to your Wedding Day. My timeline example is based on having 12 months to plan your wedding celebrations, but it can of course be adapted to your own timings. I hope you find this helpful, and if you would like me to include anything specific, or you would like some professional guidance with your wedding plans, then please do get in touch. I still have some limited availability for 2019, and I’m also now booking into 2020, and I would love to hear from you!

12 Months

Write your guest list

  • This is an important first task, as you cannot start searching for venues before you know how many guests you will need to accommodate. You don’t want to fall in love with a venue, only to later discover it’s not big enough, or even too large!

  • Write your full guest list once, and then revisit it a few days later to ensure you haven’t forgotten anyone important and that you still feel happy with it.

  • Don’t feel like you need to invite absolutely everyone who has ever invited you to their wedding. This is your day, and if you’re no longer in touch with some of those old friends, it’s not essential to return the invitation.

  • Equally, don’t feel pressured by your family to invite everyone that they would like to come. Discuss with your family who they might like to invite, but then consider those invites with your fiancé before making a final decision.

Decide upon your overall budget

  • Consider all of your possible avenues of the investment for your wedding and where it will be coming from.

  • Arrange early on to discuss a budget with family members who may have kindly offered to contribute, before you begin to commit to a venue or any vendors.

  • You can begin to put together a breakdown of your overall budget at this stage too, although it might be difficult for you to estimate costs for certain elements if you’re unfamiliar with how much they might be. Top Tip: The budget planning percentages often offered in Bridal magazines are unrealistic, and are based on a national average, so they won’t necessarily apply to your wedding. If you book my Full Planning Service I will create a bespoke budget plan for you, based on our initial consultation, and I will then keep track of expenses throughout our whole planning journey together, saving you lots of time in spreadsheets!

Consider where you might like to get married

  • Discuss with your fiancé whether you would prefer to get married here in the UK or if you would love to investigate the possibility of holding your celebrations abroad, as a destination wedding.

  • Consider the time of year you would like to get married, and whether this lends itself well to a particular location.

  • Is there a particular country / area which is meaningful to you as a couple?

  • Think about the style of wedding you would love. Are you drawn towards having an outdoor Wedding Ceremony, or do you prefer the beauty of British architecture and would love a venue with gorgeous high ceilings, pillars, and plenty of light? I specialise in beautiful Country House weddings in England, specifically within Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds, where we are just so incredibly lucky to have so many beautiful wedding venues, and I would love to help you to find that perfect one! Here are a few of our favourites that we have planned weddings for:

Private Estate Wedding, Kent | Image:  White Stag Weddings

Private Estate Wedding, Kent | Image: White Stag Weddings

Purchase wedding insurance

  • This is something that is very important to book before you begin confirming suppliers, as some insurers won’t cover your venue or certain vendors which you may have booked prior to purchasing an insurance policy.

  • There are many insurers out there who offer wedding insurance, so do shop around for the best deal.

  • Ensure your policy covers everything you need. For example, if you are planning a marquee wedding, make sure your policy offers extra cover for this.

Hire a Wedding Planner

  • If you would like to hire a Wedding Planner to assist you with your planning, now it the time to search for someone to help you, so you can really benefit from their expertise.

  • If your spare time is limited, a Wedding Planner can help with keeping that time for yourself, and they will ensure that you’re always on track with your wedding plans.

  • Perhaps you have lots of inspiration and ideas about what you would like for your wedding, but are really unsure where to even start in bringing your vision to life. Working with a Wedding Planner would be perfect for you; I have worked with so many vendors and venues, and have a wealth of experience in planning luxury weddings.

  • When looking for a Planner, it’s important to find someone you get along well with, as you will be working with them for the next 12 months. Every Planner has a different style, and way of working, so it’s a good idea to research a few Planners and meet them / arrange a Skype call before making a final decision on who you would like to work with.

  • My advice would be to book the best Planner that you’re able to afford. There are lots of Wedding Planners who are new to the industry and charging much less than experienced professionals. Wedding Planners with higher fees have years of experience and consistently produce beautiful weddings which run like clockwork. Don’t make a decision solely based on their fees, as booking an inexperienced Wedding Planner could end up costing you a lot more in the long run!

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 20.31.05.png

Gather design ideas and inspiration

  • Start by considering the season in which you will be getting married in, what the weather is likely to be like, and the surrounding location. Brainstorm some ideas of ideas what might work well with these as a starting point.

  • Are you drawn to a particular colour palette? Don’t just select one or two colours, as it will appear very two dimensional. When creating a Design Plan for my couples, I tend to bring together a colour palette of at least 5 or 6 complimenting hues to really add texture and movement into the wedding design.

  • Think back to weddings you’ve been to previously. What did you really enjoy / dislike?

  • Do visit Pinterest for inspiration, but don’t allow yourself to get carried away! Many of the images on Pinterest are from styled shoots and editorials, and although work beautifully on a smaller scale, wouldn’t necessarily work when applied to a real wedding scenario with many more guests.

To find out more and enquire about my wedding planning services, please click here. I only work with a limited number of clients each year to ensure I can provide the time, care, and attention to detail they deserve.

Jeni x

Monthly Round Up | July 2017

We're now into the second half of the year, and I'm super proud of myself for posting one of these round up posts at the end of every month so far. I was determined to keep the momentum going, and it's actually really nice looking back at previous posts to remind myself of how much I've achieved in the last 6 months. I'm not usually one for constantly looking back, I prefer to spend my time planning for the future, but sometimes a little reflection is just what's needed to allow myself to continue to grow and flourish (particularly with my business). Here's a little of what I've been up to in July:

Business

I had a super busy final few weeks in June with two big weddings, so for the beginning of July, I made sure I dedicated plenty of time to my couples for the rest of the summer. I ensure I'm as organised as possible with the plans for every wedding before the busy season starts in April, and I always stay in touch with my couples throughout the summer months. However, it's such a busy period for all industry vendors, so each task can take a little longer around this time! 

If you haven't yet come across the fabulous venue that is The Lakes by Yoo, then please do take a moment to check out their website. They have recently made the decision to offer The Barnhouse as a luxury venue for weddings, so I spent an afternoon there earlier this month absorbing all that the exclusive development has to offer. The interiors at The Barnhouse have been exceptionally designed by Kate Moss, and it is now available for intimate weddings. If you'd like to find out more about The Lakes by Yoo as a venue for your wedding, please do get in touch and I'd love to share more about it with you!

Last weekend saw a gorgeous wedding in the Great Hall and Long Library at Blenheim Palace, with floral gorgeousness created by the fabulous Joanna Carter Flowers. It's always a pleasure working with Joanna and her team, and they created some spectacular arrangements which were perfect for the grandeur of the Palace. The cake in particular was certainly a showstopper, and many of you sent me lots of messages on Instagram about this one....!

Asian Wedding Cakes | Wedding Planner at Blenheim Palace

Home

I have tried to embark on a huge decluttering mission this month, as we seem to accumulate so much which we really don't need. I have succeeded in clearing Bella's wardrobe and drawers, which took me a couple of hours one rainy afternoon (with her help!), and ended up with two bin bags of good quality clothing which we donated to our chosen charity. It was much easier than I thought, and I'm not sure why I've been putting it off so long - so in August I'm planning to tackle my own wardrobe (and this gives me an excuse to buy a couple of new pieces - just don't tell my husband!!). 

I'm planning a new gallery wall and Library space at the moment, with some new family photographs by the lovely Sarah Hannam Photography from our mini getaway to Ibiza last month, so this is next on my horizon (along with the Utility Room plans which are now underway!).

Sarah Hannam Fine Art Family Photography
Sarah Hannam Fine Art Film Family Photography

Family

We were in Tuscany for a wedding at the beginning of this month, and then spent a couple of days child-free at a beautiful Italian spa resort before heading home. It was really lovely to spend some quality time together, as it seems such a rarity these days; so a pool overlooking the beautiful golf course with a couple of spa treatments thrown in was just what the doctor ordered! 

I met some girlfriends for lunch one Saturday afternoon at the new Ivy Garden in Marlow, which was a lovely treat to ourselves. The food was absolutely delicious and the setting was lovely, but we came to the conclusion that the Chelsea Garden outlet is still our absolute fave for an all round experience! The following day we welcomed some friends for a pizza afternoon at home in our garden. The pizza oven hasn't had many uses this summer yet, so it was great to fire it up and enjoy some delicious stone baked pizzas, alongside a few healthy salads to balance them out! 

It's been my birthday and also our wedding anniversary this month, so I have been rather spoilt to say the least! We spent a leisurely Sunday afternoon at Cotswold Lavender, near Broadway wandering through rows and rows of purple gorgeousness (somewhere I've been meaning to go to every July for the last 3 or 4 years!) followed by a lovely Sunday lunch at Willow Crossley's new venture - The Swan at Ascott, for our anniversary weekend.

Cotswold Lavender Farm
Cotswold Lavender Farm

For my birthday, we spent a lovely day in London catching up with friends over wine and cocktails at my favourite Ham Yard Hotel, before spending my actual birthday a couple of days later having brunch with my parents, and a family day with Bella at Bristol Zoo, followed by an amazing evening at The Pig near Bath. If you haven't been to The Pig before, you absolutely should! The ambience, service and food were all just incredible, and we couldn't have enjoyed it more. The setting of the hotel is just lovely, with an array of home grown produce finding its way to the majority of their delicious menu. It was so difficult to choose what to have. As a vegetarian, I often find when eating out that restaurants only offer one choice, which of course isn't actually a "choice" at all. You either have it, or you don't! At The Pig, there were around 5 or 6 vegetarian options, and all of them sounded equally amazing! After much deliberation, I opted for a few of the small nibbles as a tapas style starter, followed by a preserved tomatoes and burrata salad with fresh basil and edible flowers, teamed with a side of chilli quinoa. For dessert, we shared a bread and butter pudding (divine!) and the Piggy Fours - a fun take on Petit Fours, which were delicious! We're always looking for new pubs and restaurants to discover in and around Oxfordshire, so if you have any recommendations which you think we'd love, do get in touch! 

Hope you've all had a fab month! :-)

Jeni x

Monthly Round Up | June 2017

It feels like Summer has finally arrived this month, with a mega heatwave taking hold last week. We seem to spend all Winter wishing for sunshine, and as soon as we get some, it's too hot and we can't cope! Of course we all rush out to buy emergency fans, and everywhere has already sold out. Note to self: be prepared!! 

Anyway, it's been a great month here, and I'm excited to share a little about what I've been up to in June:

Business

I've had two fabulous weddings this month, which have both been simply amazing. I know I say this a lot, but I'm so lucky to be able to work with such fantastic teams. Here are a couple of sneak peaks from a wedding at Aynhoe Park last week:

Paula Rooney Flowers Aynhoe Park Vanilla Rose Wedding Planner
Cakes by Krishanthi Aynhoe Park Vanilla Rose Wedding Planner
Paula Rooney Flowers Aynhoe Park Vanilla Rose Wedding Planner

Aside from running the two weddings, I have mostly been working on upcoming plans for my weddings later in the year; with a couple of floristry meetings, site visits, a client menu tasting, a final run through for a fabulous July wedding, and a couple of design brainstorm meetings with new couples. Although everyone always thinks being a Wedding Planner is such a glamorous job (and don't get me wrong, it absolutely has it's glamorous moments!), I spend a lot of my time behind a computer at my desk getting down to the finer details that planning a wedding entails. At any one time, I'm usually surrounded by a number of folders, notebooks, spreadsheets and stationery samples, alongside a lengthy To Do list (in my beautiful Lifestyled Planner no-less!)

 

Home

We haven't actually been home much this month, so I'm not sure I have anything to add here! I've mostly been nurturing the flowers in my garden, enjoying the last of the peonies, and I was excited to discover that the cauliflower plants actually have cauliflowers growing on them now! I haven't tried growing them before, as I usually stick to the fail-safe options like rhubarb, strawberries and tomatoes, so I wasn't convinced they would work out, but I now have 5 small cauliflowers which already look delicious (it's a shame no-one else in my house likes them apart from me - not sure what I'm going to do with 5 cauliflowers that will all be ready at the same time - any suggestions?!)

Sarah Bernherdt Peonies

I've been following a few interior and lifestyle bloggers on Instagram recently, and I'm now making plans for our Utility Room to have a makeover after feeling envious of some I've seen. My husband thinks I'm mad when I come up with lots of grand ideas for what is essentially a room to house the washing machine and tumble drier, but you know, these things are important in life. Right...?!

 

Family

At the end of last month's post, I mentioned that we were in Ibiza for a short family trip. It was such a lovely time away, and I'm currently daydreaming of Formentera beaches as we speak...! My husband travels to Ibiza frequently for work, but I haven't been for a number of years (since we got engaged there in 2012), and I was instantly reminded of how much of a beautiful island it is! Soft white sands, clear blue waters, and the constant background Ibiza chillout tracks playing as you lounge by the pool! This was our first trip to Ibiza with Bella, and she was just so happy playing in the sand, or splashing around in the pool! We took her to a "Go Ape" adventure park, which had a fab smaller course for little ones - which she absolutely loved (once she'd got the hang of it!). We found some new favourite restaurants whilst we were there, and I'm looking forward to heading back there and discovering some more with a couple of my girlfriends for a long weekend once wedding season has ended, as a little treat to myself! 

Madame a la Plage straw tote bag
Ibiza Hotels
Ibiza Bougainvillea
Formentera Ibiza

Mid month, we hosted a brunch for my parents at home, to celebrate my dad's birthday. We don't often get time to sit down and have a meal together at our house, as we're all super busy. My parents currently split their time between our family home in Dorset and their home in Oxfordshire, and they often host us for lunch, so it was lovely to be able to re-pay the favour and enjoy a delicious brunch at home with them. The same day we also welcomed some friends for a late lunch, so we were suitably full come dinner time!

We also spent a weekend in Polzeath, Cornwall, with my parents in law, for Fathers Day and my Father in Law's birthday. It was during the heatwave week, and our apartment was literally right on the beach, so it was a perfect escape to the cool sea for a few days before returning to the sauna we called home early last week!

Polzeath Cornwall Coastline
Polzeath Cornwall Coastline

We're gearing up for Bella starting school this September, and the information has been pouring in thick and fast about term dates, uniform requirements, and what feels like endless forms to fill in. I'm so excited to see her truly flourish when she starts school - she's such a clever little girl, and I'm definitely going to be one of those mums crying at the school gates on her first day! 

 

Hope you've all had a fab month :-).

 

Love,

Jeni x