Is 2020 the year? Top Tips from a Luxury Wedding Planner

Rachel Simpson

Posted on January 01 2020

Is 2020 the year? Top Tips from a Luxury Wedding Planner


So you've survived Christmas and all that it brings- the preparations and the presents, the food, the drink and the relatives! Today marks the start of a brand new year and for some of you it's the year you GET MARRIED! Perhaps you even got engaged over the festive period and if that's the case- CONGRATULATIONS!

Over the next few weeks we're going to be focussing on planning your wedding with top tips from the experts and a helpful guide to finding your perfect wedding shoes. It's such an exciting time but can also be a bit daunting with so much to plan, but don't worry- we're here to help!

We're kicking it off today with some top wedding planning tips from Vanilla Rose Weddings & Events. We caught up with Jeni from Vanilla Rose over a coffee and got the low down on her top wedding planning tips and ideas.

RS: First thing’s first- tell us a little bit about your company, Vanilla Rose Weddings & Events.

VR: Vanilla Rose is a luxury Wedding Planning Studio, based in Oxfordshire. We design, plan and manage beautiful luxury weddings throughout the UK.

 So how did you get in to wedding planning?

I’ve worked in the Events industry for over 10 years; beginning my career at luxury hotel group Firmdale in London as an Events Manager for the Film Industry and Private Events. We hosted some beautiful weddings at the Haymarket Hotel and Number Sixteen, and it inspired me to focus more on planning weddings when I eventually left London and moved to Oxfordshire in 2012.

Do you have a signature style, and if so what’s it like?

Yes! I grew up in Dorset, and now living in Oxfordshire, I’ve always been inspired by the beautiful English countryside. My signature design aesthetic is romantic and garden-inspired, with an abundance of greenery with a wild and organic feel. I believe weddings should be approachable and not stuffy, so I love to always include a variety of textures, colours and even scents into my designs, to bring depth and sophistication.

Vanilla Rose Events foliage wedding table setting

 Vanilla Rose Events foliage wedding place setting

Photography: Julie Michaelsen | Floral Design: Forage and Blossom

What would your first piece of advice be to someone who’s recently got engaged?

Enjoy the moment. Take time to celebrate together and with family and friends before embarking on your wedding plans. It’s such a joyous and wonderful occasion and deserves time to celebrate!

Vanilla Rose wedding at Bodleian Library, Oxford

Photography: Julie Michaelsen 

It can be a little overwhelming when you first start to plan a wedding. Do you have any advice for brides to be about where to start? What are the first things to think about?

It absolutely can feel incredibly overwhelming when you first begin your planning journey. There is so much inspiration everywhere you look, it’s hard to know where to begin, but it’s important not to get too carried away and stay true to yourselves throughout the process.

The first task to consider should be your guest list; how many people would you ideally like to invite? Make an initial list that you can always come back to. The second (less exciting!) task is to decide upon your overall budget. How much do you have to spend? This can also include conversations with family members who may wish to contribute towards your celebrations. Once you have an overall budget in mind, and you have an idea of where you would like to get married, you can begin searching for a venue(s) – a much more exciting activity!

Vanilla Rose Wedding in Bodleian Library Oxford

Photography: Julie Michaelsen  | Floral design: Joanna Carter

 How far in advance do things need to be booked, ideally? Are there certain things which get booked up really early?

For the couples I work with, I would say the average length of planning a wedding is 12 months. Within the first 6 weeks, we would usually confirm a Church (if required), the reception venue, book wedding insurance (vital!), the Priest/Reverend, Registrar or Celebrant, and the Photographer/Videographers. These are all usually the suppliers which get busy the furthest in advance.

What would be your five most important factors to consider when planning a wedding?

  • Budget – if you have a strict budget to work towards, make sure you keep a spreadsheet for managing your money to ensure you’re on track with your spending throughout the process.
  • Location – We’re lucky to have so many incredible wedding venues throughout the UK so the choice really is endless. Consider where your family and friends will be travelling from, and if you’ll require additional accommodation for anyone staying nearby. Is it easily accessible from airports if you have international guests?
  • Photography – I always advise my clients to spend as much as they can afford on a Photographer. Aside from your memories, photographs are the most important tangible memory you’ll have following your wedding, and having beautiful photographs to cherish for years to come and to share with the next generation as an heirloom is so meaningful.
  • Personality – Stay true to yourselves. There will be many relatives and friends throughout the process that will be offering their advice! Remember that it’s your wedding, and although some will offer you some helpful advice, it’s not essential that you take it!
  • Delegation – Don’t try to do everything yourself. There are so many tasks involved in planning a wedding; ask for help where you need it, and enlist the help of family and friends on some tasks you’re happy for them to be involved in. Mum’s particularly are always keen to help, so consider what you’re able to delegate and feel happy with giving them the responsibility for.

 Vanilla Rose Luxury Weddings

Photography: Julie Michaelsen

Sticking to a budget can be really challenging- do you have any advice on how to avoid costs spiralling out of control?

Keep a spreadsheet for your expenses and make sure you keep it up to date whenever you make a purchase or confirm a supplier. Be realistic when setting your budget initially, and do your research to give you a realistic idea of how to split your budget between each different element of your wedding.

What would you say to a couple who have different ideas on certain aspects of the wedding? How do you reach a happy compromise?

It’s inevitable that you might have some different ideas to each other at some point during your planning. I always ask couples to create a list at the beginning of our journey together with their top five priorities – first individually, and then together. This usually brings out any differences they might have and we can find a way all together to compromise and bring both personalities into their wedding plans.

Grooms often have certain elements of the planning that they’re keen to get involved with; it might be the menu, music and the bar for example, so it can be a great idea to allocate some tasks to him that you’re both happy with him organising, or at least having some of his input with!


Vanilla Rose Cripps Stone Barn Wedding Photography: Beneath the Pines & Chloe Ely

What’s the main advantage of working with a wedding planner, as opposed to trying to do it all yourself?

Planning a wedding is certainly a labour of love, and research suggests it can take on average 250-300 hours to plan a wedding. Some couples simply don’t have the luxury of having that time to plan their wedding, or are struggling with ideas and inspiration for how they would like their wedding to look. Some couples may have the ideas and visual inspiration, but don’t know where to start with sourcing all of the suppliers and bringing that vision together. A Wedding Planner brings their years of experience, professional guidance and advice to ensure that you’re always on track for planning the wedding of your dreams!

 Vanilla Rose Lapstone Barn wedding Rachel Simpson Amalia blush wedding shoes

As a wedding planner, what’s the one question you get asked all the time?

“What’s your favourite aspect of your job?” And I have so many favourite parts of my job – I’m incredibly lucky to do something I love! But my most favourite moment is on the wedding day itself; when I can see all those months of planning finally coming to life. And most of all, those precious few moments with my Brides, before they walk down the aisle to marry the love of their life. That emotion, anticipation, excitement – I feel immensely proud of everything we’ve worked towards together, and those feelings are just so special. It makes the hours and hours of hard work all worth it!

Vanilla Rose Weddings Aynhoe Park

 Vanilla Rose Weddings Aynhoe Park

Photography: Kylee Yee | Floral Design: The Rose Shed

Do you have any final words of advice for our brides to be?

Enjoy every moment. Planning a wedding and getting married is such a special momentous time in your life, but it can be stressful, so remember to take time for yourselves throughout your journey – it’s easy to get carried away with the details of planning, but make sure you plan a number of date nights where you don’t mention wedding plans at all. Enjoy each other’s company and most of all, have fun!

Thanks to Jeni for the expert tips! All the images featured show just some of her absolutely stunning work, which we're more than a little in love with. And it seems we're not the only one, as one of her couples Lindsay and Will who got married at Wickham House so wonderfully put it,

"Thank you a million times over for making our wedding day an absolute dream come true! We couldn’t have been happier. From the very beginning of our wedding planning process Jeni has made the whole journey such a pleasure and a total breeze. Jeni has such amazing vision and style and really understood what we wanted to do but enhanced it 100 fold! I can't recommend Jeni highly enough - worth more than her weight in gold!

We couldn't agree more!


Rachel x

More Posts


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing