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Planning a wedding is a joyous but intricate process, and when it comes to hosting a marquee wedding, the challenges can multiply. I’ve planned and run a large number of marquee weddings at private homes, venues and in woodlands/fields and marquee weddings offer a blank canvas to create your dream day, but they also come with unique logistical hurdles. Trust me, you need someone to run the show, to be there for support, to answer logistical questions and to ensure everything runs smoothly. I would imagine there are 1000’s of couples out there who decided against using a planner, and that’s completely ok. But what I hear time and time again is that “in hindsight” a planner would have made the day less stressful and more enjoyable. This is where a professional wedding planner becomes invaluable. Here’s why hiring a wedding planner is essential when hosting a marquee wedding.

1. Expertise in Marquee Setup and Logistics

Setting up a marquee wedding involves more than just pitching a tent. It requires meticulous planning and coordination of multiple elements, including flooring, lighting, heating or cooling, and even toilets and utilities. A wedding planner has the expertise to manage these aspects seamlessly, ensuring that every detail is accounted for and executed flawlessly.

Marquee wedding Hamswell House
Hamswell House Marquee Wedding. Photographer Camilla Arnhold

2. Supplier Coordination and Management

A marquee wedding typically involves coordinating a myriad of suppliers, from caterers and florists to rental companies and entertainment providers. A wedding planner serves as the main point of contact for all these vendors, streamlining communication and ensuring that everyone is on the same page. This coordination is crucial for maintaining a cohesive vision and schedule.

3. Creative Design and Personalisation

One of the biggest advantages of a marquee wedding is the ability to personalise the space to reflect your unique style. A wedding planner brings creative vision and expertise to help you design a space that is both beautiful and functional. They can transform your ideas into reality, ensuring that your wedding is a true reflection of your personality and tastes.

Marquee wedding Hamswell House
Hamswell House Marquee Wedding. Photographer Camilla Arnhold

4. Budget Management

Weddings can quickly become expensive, and marquee weddings are no exception. A wedding planner helps you establish and stick to a realistic budget. They have the experience to advise on where to allocate funds for maximum impact and can negotiate with vendors to get the best value for your money.

5. Stress Reduction

Planning a wedding can be stressful, especially when dealing with the complexities of a marquee setup. A wedding planner takes on the burden of logistical planning and problem-solving, allowing you to focus on enjoying your engagement and the lead-up to your big day. Knowing that an experienced professional is handling the details provides immense peace of mind.

6. On-the-Day Coordination

On your wedding day, you want to be present in the moment, not worrying about logistics. A wedding planner oversees the entire event, managing the timeline, coordinating vendors, and troubleshooting any issues that arise. This ensures that everything runs smoothly, and you can fully enjoy your celebration with your loved ones.

7. Backup Plans and Contingencies

Outdoor weddings are subject to the whims of Mother Nature. A wedding planner prepares for the unexpected, creating contingency plans for weather changes and other potential disruptions. They ensure that your day goes off without a hitch, regardless of unforeseen circumstances.

Marquee wedding Hamswell House
Hamswell House Marquee Wedding. Photographer Camilla Arnhold


A marquee wedding offers unparalleled flexibility and personalisation, but it also requires a level of planning and coordination that can be daunting. Hiring a wedding planner, I feel, is a necessity. Their expertise, creativity, and logistical prowess will ensure that your wedding is a beautifully orchestrated event that you and your guests will cherish forever. Let a professional handle the complexities so you can focus on what truly matters – celebrating your love and starting your new life together.

Get in touch

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this journal entry about Why Hiring a Wedding Planner is Essential for Your Marquee Wedding. I’d love to hear from you if you’re looking to host a marquee wedding and would like friendly and professional support.

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Today on the journal, I’m absolutely delighted to have Ceri Gascoyne join us. As a professional poet, Ceri has the honour of crafting beautiful written word for life’s special moments. In this post, Ceri shares her top tips on the do’s and don’ts of speech writing for the modern couple. Writing a meaningful speech and then delivering to your guests is something that everyone will remember. Thank you so much!

The wedding speech normally takes place before or after the meal and traditionally the order has been father of the bride, groom, best man, then maybe other toasts. Things have moved on from this traditional order and these days it is true that really anything goes, ensuring inclusivity for all. It is becoming more popular for the bridesmaids or maid of honour to do a wedding speech and, bucking tradition, also the bride. This is the perfect opportunity to thank family and the bridal party and to give a female perspective on the day.

Wedding speech: Bride and Groom | Grittleton House Wiltshire | Kristin Sautter | Host Weddings & Events
Photography: Kristin Sautter

Before I give you my top tips to make the perfect speech, here are some common pitfalls to avoid. You may think ‘ha, not me, no way!’ but I can guarantee even the most trusted best man or bridesmaid has made these mistakes. Below are my top 5 wedding speech fails.

How did it go so wrong?


This is a bad idea and will most likely make you either forget your lines or slur your speech. It just spells disaster. My advice would be to have just one glass of champagne or a beer, but don’t keep going. Reach instead for some rescue remedy to quell the nerves.

Not practising enough

Rehearse so much you are bored of your own voice! You can do this on your voice-memo, or record a video on your phone, and change any bits you keep stumbling on. If you have a trusted friend or family member that can be your audience, this too is a good idea.

Waffling on and on

Which leads to going over on time and inevitably a boring speech. This is an awfully painful thing to watch. I remember seeing a best man struggle with this and it’s an avoidable car crash. It is often also the confident people who you think (and they definitely thought!) would do a great job. They haven’t practised, they are winging it but it’s just not going to plan. Jokes fall flat and the audience is nervously laughing but willing them to finish. All the while the groom is wondering why he asked this friend at all. The worst!

Wedding speech: Maid of Honour | Someset garden wedding | John Barwood | Host Weddings & Events
Photography: John Barwood

Not having notes to refer to

I don’t think there can be many people out there that would make a speech totally note-free. I personally think it looks good and gives the person delivering the speech something to wave around. A prop if you like. If you are nervous it definitely helps, and even if you have practised a great deal you just don’t know what might happen on the day and even the most well-rehearsed speeches have gone wrong when you lose the flow or miss a section. If you are thanking people especially, then notes and a list of people to thank is really, really important. You only get one shot!

Wedding speech: Groom | Hamswell House Bath | Camilla Arnhold | Host Weddings & Events
Photography: Camilla Arnhold

Knowing your audience

Again, I’ve been to a wedding where the groom thought he was at a football match. Not much to say here other than expletives and inappropriate jokes really are not welcomed by some people at a wedding, so proceed with caution. Sometimes a speech can be a tad sweary and to be fair by the time the speeches roll in the kids are either asleep under a table or if you’re lucky enough to have a crêche at the wedding, then off with a nanny. Also, some weddings are child free so if that’s the case and a bit of swearing adds to the comedic touch of your story that’s your call – just don’t overdo it. Not many people want Frankie Boyle making a wedding speech.

How to get the speech right

My best advice is do your research. Start by knowing who is speaking before you and who comes after. Make sure you are thanking the right people.

If you are the best man, get in touch with the groom’s mum, dad or siblings for some gentle light-hearted jokes. What did the groom excel at in school? Was he ever reprimanded and what for? School days are often a great source of fun, appealing to our youthful side. It goes without saying that you only choose a story that you know the recipient will also find amusing. Gone are the days when the speech is a pitiful roasting session. Remember, this day is all about them not you, so keep this at the forefront of your mind. If you and the groom go back a long way maybe you remember things about your childhood together that will bring touching humour to the speech. The same applies to the maid of honour or bridesmaids who might be writing about the bride.

I always start my speech off painting a picture of the recipient. I describe the things I love about them, what qualities they possess to make them a best friend. Sometimes I mention their successes at school, college or work. Sometimes I say what others love about them.

Wedding speech: Best Man | Hamswell House Bath | Camilla Arnhold | Host Weddings & Events
Photography: Camilla Arnhold

The speech, ideally, should be peppered with laughter, so try and get in up to three funny stories or anecdotes. If you are struggling with these, reach out to other friends, family or colleagues.

Finally, I always end my speeches with sentimental words. This is the moment where the audience will be reaching for the tissues because in life when else do we get to tell that person how much we love them? That in life they will always be your Ride or Die? That through thick and thin they have had your back no matter what. This is where you get to speak from the heart – it’s a really poignant and profound moment that can elevate your speech to one that goes down as the best speech ever.

For those who are not natural speech writers or confident in public speaking you can always seek professional help and guidance.
Companies like The Rhyming Stag and Autumn and Bloom specialise in helping people with their wedding speech. This totally takes the stress out of getting it right on the day. Using your words only, these speeches are 100% bespoke and delivered in rhyme.
A unique poem that will have the audience laughing and crying. Your speech will be remembered for all the right reasons.

“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.” R J Palacio

Wedding speech: Guests | Hamswell House Bath | Camilla Arnhold | Host Weddings & Events
Photography: Camilla Arnhold

To find out more about my wedding planning collections, head to my experience page here. I’d love to hear from you!

Host Weddings & Events | 8 reasons why you should hire a wedding planner

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If I had a pound for every time a married couples says to me “We should have hired a wedding planner”. I ask them why and a whole host of reasons come to fruition but the main reason is because the couple felt that they couldn’t 100% enjoy that day. Hearing this makes me a little sad for them because, in my opinion, couples need to glide through their day, taking in every ounce of joy that comes their way. They do not need to be bothered by the details, just love, pure love and connection.

It’s common knowledge that planning a wedding is up there as one of life’s biggest (and potentially stressful) occasions. This is a life event that you’ve likely never planned before so, where on earth do you start? How do you do this? It can all feel a little overwhelming when all you want do is enjoy the process. Well, I’m here to tell you why hiring a wedding planner will be one of the best decisions you’ll make during your wedding planning journey.

So, if you’re at the beginning of your planning journey and you’re wondering whether to hire someone like me, chances are you’ll very much thank your future self!

Here are my 8 reasons why you should hire a wedding planner without question…..

They gift you time

Life is busier than ever. You’re juggling all the balls from work to homelife and all that’s inbetween, throw in planning the best day of your life and wow, your free time is starting to diminish before your eyes. Wedding planning can be super fun and exciting but who wants to plan 24/7? Well, that’s where a planner can jump in and rescue you! From everything from venue finding to supplier sourcing and ALL that falls inbetween – the relief to know you can free up your weekends and evenings again is magic. A little caveat to this….you will need to put in some hours as your planner will need you to make key decisions throughout the process and there will likely to be many emails flying back and forth.

They share their little white book of contacts

The wedding industry is a booming sector, with hundreds if not thousands of suppliers to choose from. It can feel a bit daunting to know where to even start on the shortlisting front.

Over the years I have worked with such an amazing bunch of wedding suppliers who all go above and beyond to make their couples day magical. I’ve seen first-hand the lengths they will go to ensure the lead up and day itself are truly wonderful, personal experiences and I have great pride in advising my couples who I feel would work well with them as individuals. There’s nothing better than a personal recommendation for your wedding a-team!

Planners will also work with your chosen suppliers on your behalf, scheduling in meetings, asking questions, obtaining information, scheduling payments and coordinating details so you don’t have to.

More often than not, planners will know the suppliers selected very well and will manage the team on the day to ensure an utterly smooth delivery, set up and execution.

If you live overseas and you’ve chosen a planner who covers the area you’re getting married in, this will be super helpful as they can be your eyes on the ground for sure.

They’ve got your back when tricky situations arise

It sounds cheesy but I call myself a ‘wedding friend’! On average I work with my couples for 12 months or more and in that time we really get to know each other and become firm friends.

Weddings can bring out the best and worst in people, it has to be said. I’ve seen it all. Most couples will experience tricky situations along the way. This is totally normal as emotions are heightened.

Ultimately as planners, we have your back. We’re happy to deal with awkward or challenging situations which could cause you undue stress or worry. We’re happy to be a friendly, listening ear when there’s been a family situation or be the middle person between you and a vendor.

We’re here to advise and guide through the good the bad and the ugly. Less of the latter we hope!

Olivia Riddiford | Wedding planner UK | Wedding planner England | South West Wedding Planner | Hire a wedding planner | English Countryside Weddings | UK wedding planner
Credit: Irina K Photography

Assistance with budgeting and scheduling

Two massive factors when planning a wedding and areas that planners are experts at organising.

I use a budget planner which I gift my clients so at every stage of the process you know where you stand, what’s due when and what (if any) funds are remaining.  I will also advise on the most important elements, how you can rebalance your budget to suit your needs and suggest alternatives if need be. 

I also help you to understand the timings and logistics of the day so you can completely visualise your guests experience and how the wedding will flow from start to finish.  All packaged into a neat scheduling document which is fully editable right up until a few weeks before the special occasion. 

Provide ideas and take on your vision to make it a reality

Chances are a wedding planner will provide you with ideas and solutions that haven’t even crossed your mind. From design elements to colour schemes, what’s possible and what really isn’t. Where to source items and how to make things work. They will be honest and tell you if something isn’t logically possible or not a sensible option. They will also help you to visualise the design elements by producing a design plan and sourcing list.

Help to reduce stress levels

Booking appointments, booking suppliers, researching, sorting payments – the list goes on.  Leaving these ‘wedmin’ jobs to your planner means you feel less overwhelmed and taken care of, every step of the way.  You can enjoy your engagement, knowing that everything is under control.

On the day they will deal with any eventuality discretely

At any event, things happen behind the scenes – it’s a normal occurrence and wedding planners are trained to have several contingency plans in place. They think on their feet and can literally get things done quickly and discreetly, that you and your guests are none the wiser on. I remember a countryside marquee wedding I was planning, the water source stopped so we had no fresh water. During the ceremony, I drove to the supermarket and picked up litres of still water to cover the rest of the day. The client had no idea I did this but I knew it was important and needed to be sorted. I love being that person to positively creates solutions that may crop up on the day.

Allow you to fully immerse yourself in the day and be truly present

All that planning leads to that one magical day, the day you’ve been dreaming about for so long. The biggest gift a planner can give you is your wedding day. By that I mean, they completely free you up so you can be utterly present and in the moment with your partner and your loved ones. This is the pièce de résistance, the icing on the cake (so to speak!).

The day goes by in a joyous flash, so each second is massively important. You won’t need to check in with suppliers, organise the caterers or answer questions. It’s all taken care of so you can relax and enjoy this incredible celebration filled with love and happiness.

Olivia Riddiford | Wedding planner UK | Wedding planner England | South West Wedding Planner | Hire a wedding planner | English Countryside Weddings | UK wedding planner
Credit: The Springles

That all sounds pretty dreamy right?! Don’t be one of those married couples who wished they’d brought in help, bring on board a planner early on to ensure your day goes without a hitch.

I offer a free wedding planning discovery call to help you make that decision. I’d love to hear about your love story and initial wedding plans. Get in touch here.

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So you’re engaged! Let me extend my heartfelt congratulations. This is just wonderful news and what an exciting time for you both. This really is such a special chapter in both of your lives and one that should be celebrated and cherished as much as possible.

I know what you’re thinking though – but what now?! The wedding world can be an overwhelming place to be with thousands or venues and suppliers to choose from. I mean, where the heck do you start?

Recently engaged? Here’s 6 steps to start planning your dream wedding:

Enjoy the moment

You’re still pinching yourself following on from your dreamy engagement and constantly staring at the new bling that sits on your left hand. It’s just so sparkly! It’s important to enjoy this time, it’s a huge life event! Give yourself both time to digest the occasion. Go on some date nights, celebrate with friends and family, organise an engagement party or engagement shoot if you’d like to. If your ring is a little on the large/small size, do arrange to have it altered as soon as possible.

Engagement | Engagement ring | Recently engaged | Thornbury Castle | Dream wedding | Wedding planning | UK destination wedding | UK wedding planner | UK Wedding | English Countryside Wedding | Cotswold Wedding Planner | South West England | Wedding Planning Tips | Cristina Ilao Photography
Photograph by Cristina Ilao

Money, Money, Money

Granted not the most riveting of subjects when you’re day dreaming of that Suzanne Neville gown but a very important consideration nonetheless – the budget.

Without finances to support a wedding, there is no wedding. End of story. So one of the first things you need to do is have some honest conversations together and with anyone else who is keen to contribute to your nuptials. Perhaps family members would like to pay for certain aspects such as a band or catering, or they may wish to gift you a sum to put towards the final costs.

Knowing what you have to work with is going to be incredibly useful when sourcing and selecting your suppliers (or wedding A-team as I like to call them!).

Set a date

…or roughly earmark a date! Start thinking about when you are likely to tie the knot. Will it be this year, next or even in two years time? Considerations such as budget, family events and supplier availability will play a part here. Don’t forget to consider bank holidays, sporting fixtures and large family celebrations. Even if you’re super flexible, narrowing down to a season and day of the week will help venues and suppliers search for availability. Venues and suppliers will generally need to know a date (or indication of when to check availability)

Engagement | Engagement ring | Recently engaged | Thornbury Castle | Dream wedding | Wedding planning | UK destination wedding | UK wedding planner | UK Wedding | English Countryside Wedding | Cotswold Wedding Planner | South West England | Wedding Planning Tips | Cristina Ilao Photography | Pink Wedding Stationery | Calligraphy stationery | Heirloom stationery | Caboodle Wedding Stationery
Photograph Cristina Ilao Stationery Caboodle Weddings

Define your ideal wedding

Do you dream of a relaxed English countryside wedding with a sprawling stately home as a backdrop? Or perhaps you’ve always envisaged a garden party in a big marquee in your parents garden. Do you want certain levels of formality and tradition or do you want a relaxed event focusing on the guest experience and connection?

Whatever it is you have in mind, there is no right or wrong answer. Your wedding, your way!

This will definitely help you narrow down the types of suppliers and venues to look into. Immerse yourself in wedding magazines, blogs and Pinterest to start figuring out the sort of wedding you’re after. Think about colours, style, dresses, who you will choose as your bridal party, locations etc.  Keep any inspiration you’ve found, useful contact numbers, blog posts, articles in one place. Write down any thoughts in a journal which you can keep and use throughout the process.

Write out a draft guest list

Perhaps one of the more challenging tasks (which can be honed and discussed at a later date). Start by writing a list of all your nearest and dearest friends and family. Literally everyone who you’d like to have with you on your special day. This will give you a maximum number to work from which can be tweaked based on budget and venues accordingly. This can be given to suppliers in order to check capacities and request quotations.

Hire a wedding planner

Ok shameless plug here but hear me out… Planning a wedding on average takes approximately 250+ hours – ask yourself – do you have that time? Or even the inclination? Perhaps planning a wedding is completely overwhelming you and you’d rather hand over to the pros? Or like Elizabeth and Joe, live abroad and needed “on the ground” assistance.

That’s ok and actually a sensible and smart investment. Wedding planners are professionals who are there to advise and guide, support and listen. We have such fantastic contacts and will know immediately who to contact for all elements of your day from the venue, florists, photographers, caterers and all that’s in between. Wedding planning can get overwhelming very quickly and pretty stressful too if you’re trying to juggle every day life as well. The amount of people I meet who say “I wish we’d hired a planner for our wedding” is astonishing. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! If you’re looking for kind, honest and organised support for your English countryside wedding, then please do get in touch today to set up a wedding planning discovery call.

If you don’t know where to begin and thinking about planning sends you into complete overwhelm, you might want to check out my 8 step online course The Online Wedding Planner.

All the best with planning your special day, I’d love to hear from you and ALL about your love story should you be looking for a planner to guide you through this special time.

Olivia x

Engagement stationery

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Today on the blog I welcome the wonderfully talented stationery artisan Lorraine Burt from Caboodle Wedding Stationery. Lorraine creates the most beautiful, timeless wedding stationery for her discerning couples. Naturally I had to ask….”can you give me 3 timeless and romantic wedding stationery items to order” and here we are! Thank you for joining us Lorraine – your work is sublime!

Timeless and romantic wedding stationery items

Stationery, beautiful stationery there’s nothing quite like it is there? Stationery to grace a wedding is better still. I love the romance of it, beautiful papers ribbons and embellishments. Making something meaningful out of simple things. I’ve been creating timeless handmade stationery for many years for those special days. Every project lovingly made for each couple from bijou to grand scale events or somewhere in between. So the question is beyond the immediate stationery items such as your invitations, menus and place names what could bring more joy to the day?

Olivia here at wonderful Host Weddings & Events has asked me about extras for you to consider that can add a little ‘ooooo’ and ‘ahhhhh’ to your big day (or even before!).

The Proposal

Timeless and romantic wedding stationery items

Your proposal may have already happened and if it has, this is an idea you could pass on to one your besties for a few brownie points! It goes without saying that you want the proposal to be romantic. Unforgettable. What if you could keep a wee bit of that romance and make it last forever? Beyond photo’s, not just in your head but with a keepsake from that moment that you can bring out each year maybe on your anniversary or displayed somewhere to make you smile. Something that will last. I am a sucker for anything ‘handwritten’. I always have been.

The meaning and the care which goes into it and the story behind it. These were my thoughts with the shell ring boxes. Imagining after strolling down a beach, someone being presented with what looks like a beautiful shell, and opening it to find not only a ring, but also a little personal note handwritten and rolled inside. It might be words of a proposal, or a carefully chosen quote which will remind you forever of this moment. Or perhaps you might want to have your wedding rings with a special note instead for the ceremony itself. Both equally capturing a moment to treasure for always.

Welcome Notes

Timeless and romantic wedding stationery items

These are such a warm idea for any couple to provide. Until this year I hadn’t come across couples requesting welcome notes. I instantly fell in love with the idea. Perfect for country house retreat weddings where couples have hired their dream venue to share with the bridal party for a couple of days. It’s the unexpectedness of them for your guests that makes them so special.

A little personal note from the couple welcoming you to their celebration, waiting for them in their room on arrival. It may have a sketch of your venue which your guests can take away as a little reminder. It may give hint’s as to what’s in store or what the venue has to offer or in the case of a castle or stately home a little history about where they’re staying. Not essential but certainly very thoughtful way to say how close to your hearts they are.

Vow Books

Timeless and romantic wedding stationery items

One of my absolute favourites as they are your promise to one another held together forever. Check out the last blog post on ‘Ceremonies filled with love’ to understand more about the ceremony portion of your day. Couples no longer need produce a piece of paper from which to read their heartfelt vows. You can have small booklets created (co-ordinating with your stationery suite) with deckled edged handmade papers and silk ribbon or wax seals and beautiful script. These little booklets look so dreamy in your photos and with a gift box they make wonderful keepsakes.

Your stationer can print your vows inside or prepare them with blank pages so you can write your vows yourself. I offer both options. It is heart warming to find that most couples do choose to write them themselves, making them extra personal.

Whatever you choose for your stationery suite enjoy the time to make it uniquely yours bringing that extra frisson both to the day and long after. It’s a little way to bring that touch of magic that I delight in doing for every couple and I hope has given you timeless and romantic wedding stationery items to play with.

Instagram: @caboodleweddings

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Today on the journal, I am delighted to have Tara Heath-Arnold join us to talk about ceremonies filled with love. Tara is a professional independent wedding celebrant. Spreading joy and love to all the couples she works with within the South West of England. Tara talks to us today about personalised wedding ceremonies and the different elements that make each and every one so unique to the couple exchanging vows. Thank you Tara.

The role of a wedding Celebrant is a role that is filled with so much joy and love. As I often talk on my social media platforms, we are with couples and families on the most important days of their lives. This really is an honour and a privilege.

Personal Wedding Ceremony

During the years that I have worked as a wedding Celebrant I have met so many amazing couples and families who I have got to know well through the journey of writing and crafting their wedding scripts. It really is such a personal and wonderful experience. The icing on the cake is delivering the ceremony of their dreams. A moment in time that they and their guests will remember for many years.

If possible, I always try and meet with my couples at least twice in the run up to the wedding day. Getting to know them as a couple and as individuals is equally as important. Listening to what they want for their ceremony is always top of my list. The first thing that I ask them to do is to complete a personal questionnaire which always forms the basis of the ceremony and from there I will start to work the magic!

The giving away

The giving away is always such a breath taking moment. There have been so many variations over the past few years to include a couple walking in together, to a bride walking in alone, to a bride being given away by both sets of parents, the variations are endless.

Personal readings

I have seen not only friends and family deliver the most amazing readings over the years, but a very lovely bride herself deliver an epic reading which brought the house down! When it comes to readings, they don’t always have to be traditional love poems about marriage, but they can be song lyrics, excerpts from special and meaningful books or bespoke words written by the readers themselves.

The love story

Part of my role as a Celebrant is to also write and deliver what I call their love story or their journey. This will include highlights about how they met, when they fell in love, the proposal and right through to their hopes and aspirations for the future. And if appropriate, I always like to weave in a little humour as well. It’s great to have a few laughs within the ceremony to keep the tone light and fun.

Personal vows

If possible I also encourage my couples to write their own personal vows if they would like to. To me, this is often the heart of the ceremony. The vows are normally sent to me independently so they are not only a surprise for the couple, but also to their guests. This is such an incredibly special part of the ceremony and always fills my heart with so much joy.

Symbolic elements

Some couples are also keen to include symbolic elements within their ceremonies as an extra personal touch. These can include the lighting of unity candles, sand ceremonies, rose ceremonies and my absolute favourite, handfasting ceremonies. Handfasting originates from an ancient Celtic tradition going back as far as 7000 B.C. It literally means tying the knot! As well as the ring exchange, celebrants can also write ceremonies to include ring warming ceremonies and ring blessings, again adding variation and that very personal touch.

Support & guidance

There are also no restrictions when you decide to have a celebrant, so you can hold your ceremony at a venue of your choice, with no limitations on the length or content of your ceremony, ensuring that you get the ceremony of your dreams with all those special and personal touches.

The role of a wedding Celebrant is so important in terms of guiding and supporting our couples and families through this very beautiful process. Celebrant led ceremonies are just wonderful, they are filled with so much joy and love.

Tara is available to craft and officiate your personalised joy filled ceremony across the Bristol, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire areas. Take a look at her wonderful website here to find out more.

If you’re looking for a wedding planner to take the stress away and help you create an unforgettable, romantic and timeless occasion, do get in touch with me here.

Autumn/Winter Wedding Bouquet Bijoux Floral

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Today, I have the pleasure of publishing this guest led expert piece from my talented friend and colleague, Becci from Bijoux Floral Design. Becci was my first port of call when I decided to feature floral inspiration for autumn and winter weddings- she absolutely knows her stuff! Thank you Becci for your insight.

One of the most common questions that my couples ask when getting married in the Autumn / Winter months is ‘are there many flowers in season?’. The answer is absolutely yes!

Personally, this time of the year is one of my favourites. Woolly hats, hot chocolate, candle light and a roaring fire. As a florist I take inspiration from everything around me. The changing colours of trees, berries and when designing flowers I love to be able to incorporate these elements into the designs. It doesn’t haven’t to be anything big and bold but a little gesture to the season you are marrying in.

I start the design process with my clients by finding out about their story. What is important to them and how we can represent this through the art of flowers. Colour and style are almost always two of the most important parts. I always encourage my clients to choose a style and colour palette that represents them. Just because you are getting married in the darker months it doesn’t mean you cannot have the colour palette of your choice.

Here’s some top tips on how you can still have your chosen colour palette but making it more seasonally friendly.

Blush & White

This has to be one of the most popular colour palette for weddings. In the Autumn/Winter months I always recommend adding an accent colour such as clove. This warms up the designs and adds some real depth. It can be achieved with foliage such as dark hazel and chocolate cosmos.

White & Green

A timeless classic combination. Think about using different textures and shapes of flowers to add some interest, there are some stunning berries available such as snowberries and hypericum. If you would like a wintery look but not Christmassy then silver foliage such as eucalyptus works really well. If you are aiming for a Christmas inspired wedding then deep greens work especially well even with a pop of red ilex berries.

Rich Red & Browns

A popular choice for autumnal weddings. However this colour palette can be very strong and not for everyone. We are blessed to have some of the most beautiful autumnal blooms. The very popular ‘Toffee’ rose teams with a Vienna copper chrysanthemum work especially well with this colour scheme. I always soften these colours by introducing a secondary colour such as apricot. Adding some dried elements and bracken will help to add some texture and interest to a design. As a florist I try to stay away from absorbed / colour foliage’s as the dye can transfer to your dress. These designs work well with rustic elements such as oak tables and a simple table runner to soften the look.

Beautiful blooms available at this time of year

Dahlias – so many shapes, sizes and colours, these are normally in season until the end of October.

Hydrangeas – as the season changes so do their colour, you will notice lots muted colours are available

Ranunuclus – if you’re a peony lover then these are for you. Full of ruffly petals and romance. Typically a spring flower we see them arrive in the market from November onwards

Anemones – these are a striking flowers, normally with a ‘black eye’ they can add a real statement to designs.

Textured flowers – at this time of year we see flowers that can also be used as a foliage such as skimmia and ginister.

Foliage there is any abundance of foliage available to you, in different shades of green. However, contrary to popular belief foliage isn’t always a more budget friendly option

Berries – there are so many berries available in shades of blue, brown. Red, white and even pink. These include snowberries, hypericum, viburnham.

The design process

When designing your wedding flowers, it’s important to look at the whole day and how styling elements will help you to achieve the overall feel of your wedding. As the nights draw in, it’s important to think about how you will make your venue feel more inviting. In my opinion you can never have too much candlelight, it adds opulent feeling to your wedding and a sense if warmth. If your desired look is on the warmer side then always use warmer shades of accessories such as gold, clove for that rich look.

If you would like your wedding to feel more chic and clean for a winter look then silvers work especially well even with accent of black. Candlelight, fairy lights work really well with this look.

Work with the experts

It doesn’t just end with the flowers and the table décor. For a cohesive look work with a floral stylist and planner we have years of experience and have managed many weddings. We will be able to advise you on the colour of your linen, cutlery and glassware. It’s often the little details that get overlooked but are so important.

I truly believe that your wedding is your own story of love and happiness and no two stories are ever the same. You’re not living someone else’s fairy tale, you’re writing your own!

Flowers take shape from stories, and I can’t wait to be part of yours.


Becci is a talented floral designer based in the South West – bringing your wedding day to life with timeless elegance and romance! You can find out more about Becci and her work here.

Differences between English and American weddings

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It’s been a while, but I am beyond excited to be back writing for you! I thought it would be rather fun to highlight differences between English and American Weddings in today’s post. So here we go….

I am so lucky to work with the nicest UK destination couples who live across the pond in the States. They tend to be dreaming of a quintessential English countryside wedding. Think Bridgerton and Jane Austen inspired occasions, which, by the way, I am totally here for! I love to use my knowledge of English culture from the landscape and locations, history, literature, venues, vendors and traditions to help my couples plan a beautiful, heartfelt celebration full of joy. I actually feel that many American wedding traditions have slowly entered British society. Quite frankly, they actually enhance the overall experience, in my opinion.

Grittleton House American Destination Wedding | Photographer: Kristin Sauttter | Planner: Host Weddings & Events Planner
All images by Kristin Sautter. Venue: Grittleton House

There are undoubtedly subtle differences that my American clients can expect from hosting their wedding over here in the UK. I get asked a lot about hat wearing, catering and guest lists – so here we are with this piece. Some of the differences are pretty generalised. Every couple’s wedding is unique and may include a plethora of different elements and traditions from both countries.

There is one caveat. This is your wedding, so you must always choose options that suit you, not because outdated etiquette books say you should. Your wedding should be a marriage (pardon the pun!) of your personalities and tell your unique love story. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to your wedding day, this piece serves as a little bit of fun which you may well be relatable.

Rehearsal dinners aren’t common place

This is a staple at many American weddings and a standard feature. In fact, the rehearsal dinner is regarded as one of the most important parts of the celebration in the US. In the UK, the couple might part ways and stay in alternative accommodation ready for preparations the next morning. However, many English weddings are following a ‘weekend wedding’ or multiple day celebration. This includes a beautiful gathering for a smaller number of guests. Namely close friends and family/bridal party to really kick things off in good old British fashion. One of my American couples enjoyed a ladies afternoon tea and dressed up with fascinators (a little nod to British hat wearing), hot footed it to the ceremony rehearsal and then enjoyed an intimate dinner for 30 with toasts. It worked so well and I actually love the concept of extending time spent with loved ones.

There’s two separate guest lists

It’s fairly common in the UK to have an ‘all day’ guest list and then a separate evening list. This may well be due to venue capacities, cost and logistics. In America, every guest attends the full day. Increasingly, over here, I see couple’s choosing venues that can accommodate all their guests rather than segregating.

Smaller bridal party

Generally speaking, the bridal party is smaller in the UK. They sit during the ceremony (generally on the first row). The groomsmen are called Ushers and the maid of honour may be referred to as chief/head bridesmaid. The bridesmaids and the groomsmen don’t tend to walk arm in arm down the aisle but generally link up during the recessional at the end of the ceremony.

Grittleton House American Destination Wedding | Photographer: Kristin Sauttter | Planner: Host Weddings & Events Planner

The bride walks down the aisle first

Just take a look at the royal weddings and you’ll note that the bride walks in ahead of her bridal party. In America it’s common place to have the bridal party walk in first with the bride entering last. This actually happens commonly in the UK and is an American tradition that’s here to stay. It means the bride totally has her moment! If you’re a same sex couple, choose who you’d like to have this moment or alternatively walk in hand in hand and enjoy it together – the choice really is yours on this one.

What cocktail hour?

Brits have a drinks reception sandwiched between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast and this may typically include served Champagne, bottled beer, iced Pimms (I mean, this is exceedingly British!) and elderflower presse for non drinkers. It usually lasts around 1.5 – 2 hours. One of my American clients produced a signature bride and groom cocktail for this portion of the day, one American, a ‘sazerac’ and one English ‘elderflower fizz’ which was a perfect way to honour both countries.

The reception dinner is termed the “Wedding Breakfast”

No this does not mean you’ll be served a typical full english breakfast including poached eggs and bacon – don’t panic! This merely means the first meal enjoyed after marriage, the wedding breakfast as opposed to the reception dinner which American’s may use.

Grittleton House American Destination Wedding | Photographer: Kristin Sauttter | Planner: Host Weddings & Events Planner

Much loved millinery

When you think of British weddings you think hats, hats and more hats, right? Well, hats really do provide a sense of style, elegance and sophistication and can form part of your wedding dress code. It’s not a necessity at all though, at some British weddings there may not be even a small fascinator in sight – again, it’s the guests choice entirely and shouldn’t be enforced.

Morning suits and top hats for the gents

Again this is a huge generalisation. Many of the gents at American weddings will opt for a tuxedo. Whereas a traditional British wedding a morning suit (think the British high society events) is a popular choice. However, many gents opt for a bespoke tailored lounge suit, so again, the morning suits are not indicative of a British wedding, just traditional. Also, top hats are quite niche but fill your boots if you fancy giving high society a go (think Royal Ascot!).

I hope you found my musings interesting regarding this subject. What traditions do you think you’ll adopt? In short, yes, there are some minor differences but you should celebrate how you see fit. Your day, your way!

If you’re dreaming of an English Countryside Wedding, then I would absolutely love to hear from you and learn more about your love story and your UK destination wedding plans.

Olivia x

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Are you recently engaged and planning your special day? Chances are you’re feeling overwhelmed, a bit clueless and just don’t have the foggiest idea how to plan a wedding?

This post breaks down what areas needed to cover in order to get impressive, professional and unforgettable results.

  1. Time to begin

You’re still pinching yourself following on from your dreamy engagement and constantly staring at the new bling that sits on your left hand.  It’s just so sparkly! It’s important to enjoy this time, it’s a huge life event and your nearest and dearest will be super happy for you.  However there will come a point when you will need to start planning the all important day! You and your betrothed need to clear your diary for a proper wedding planning discussion.  This chat needs to touch on your preferred date/month/year, the feel and type of venue, the guest list and of course what’s available in the kitty.

  1. Set the budget

In order for you to plan effectively, you need to figure out how much you are able to afford.  Do you have savings? Will your families be contributing? Set up a separate bank account for the big day and make sure you make notes on all outgoings.

  1. Find your perfect venue

Your venue will take up a huge proportion of the day (and budget) so it need to be right and meet your criteria.  Do you fancy a castle, barn, marquee, hotel or manor house? Does it hold your guest numbers comfortably? Do they offer a catering service? You can find venues by using online directories and word of mouth recommendations.

  1. Managing your guests and their experience

A wedding isn’t a celebration without guests! Your nearest and dearest sharing this day with you will be what makes the day so memorable. You want to be able to provide a wonderful experience for your guests to ensure they are comfortable and satisfied as it can be a very long day! You’ll need to write out your guests list (I’d advise using a spreadsheet), carefully select your table plan, and think about how to manage family issues and consider how to best look after elderly, disabled guests and children.  You will also want to think about fun, original ideas to keep your guests entertained during the day.

  1. Decor, theming and the finishing touches

This is such a huge area and is the element that is most personal to you both. The overall look and feel can bring out your personalities/likes and make the day extra special for your guests. If you have lots of items to coordinate on the day and don’t want the stress of organising, I would strongly suggest hiring a stylist of wedding planner to assist with this. Not all couples are into the design elements and that’s fine too, whatever suits you both best is my motto!  You need to think about colour, flowers, linens, lighting, stationery and much more.  It’s all about the attention to detail!

  1. Supplier sourcing

Suppliers are the wedding professionals who will help your day come alive. They have the skills set needed to assist you to make your wedding day go without a hitch! So who will be chosen for your wedding a-team? Have you been given recommendations or have you searched online? From cake makers to wedding gift lists – you have to cover all bases.

  1. Wedding Day Schedule and Checklists

The day needs a clear structure and time line.  Start with your ceremony time and work from there.  There are also certain things you need to do in advance of your special day to ensure nothing is forgotten!

  1. The big day and post wedding

It’s now time to enjoy your special day!  With all your hardwork behind you, you now must relax and take in the day from start to finish.  Once you are married and have gone back to reality, there are some tasks that need to be addressed such as thanking guests, dry cleaning your dress and legally changing your name amongst others.

So that’s what you need to cover to make your wedding the best day ever, but how do you go about it? Cue my signature 8 step wedding planning course – The Online Wedding Planner.  Covering all you need to know to plan your wedding like a professional.

The course includes:

  • 8 easy to follow modules (using the headings above)
  • Video tutorials
  • Course notes
  • Downloadable files – checklists, venue visit sheets, guest list planner, table planner, budget planner, venue decor sheets
  • Access to facebook group for ongoing support and advice
  • Anytime access from the comfort of your own home
  • Bridges the gap between hiring a wedding planner and doing everything yourself

The best thing is that I’m offering £100 off for a limited time only, so sign up here today!

Happy Planning!

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I don’t know about you but between Christmas and New Year, where you get a little time to yourself, I always like to reflect on the past year.  It’s really important to take stock, learn from any errors or mistakes and show gratitude for the people and experiences that have shaped the past 365 days.

2018 has been a really fabulous year for Host Weddings & Events but also personally for me and my family.  I will always think fondly of 2018 – the year that I tied the knot myself and that endless summer which seemed to just keep on going.  I have worked with the best clients this year, helping them make memories that will last a lifetime and for me that’s just the best part of my job.  I always feel very honoured to be a part of a couple’s wedding day or involved in a family celebration.  That’s what life is about isn’t it – celebrating the good stuff in life and I’m lucky enough to be able to plan these life events!

So here’s a little round up of 2018 – an absolute belter!


A flurry of enquiries came our way in early Spring and I was so excited to start working with new couples, each with their own ideas and personalities.  It’s so important to me to get to know my clients as people.  I always schedule in a lengthy call at the beginning of the enquiry process, followed with a bespoke, personalised proposal.

I enjoyed working with two couples on their May weddings one at Arnos Vale in Bristol and the other at The Guildhall in Bath.


The summer time is always a busy one here at Host HQ, but this summer especially was jam packed with the addition of my very own special day! Mine and Mr R’s wedding can be found over on wedding blog Whimsical Wonderland Weddings – feel free to have a nose.  We had the most amazing day full of love and laughter.

We were so lucky with the weather weren’t we?! Oh my goodness – it was a blessing really as all my Summer weddings had outdoor elements from outdoor ceremonies to marquees and tipi’s.  I love the relaxed feeling of the countryside weddings that I plan.  The majority of the weddings were held at family homes, which adds such a personal, chilled out feel to proceedings.  As well as the private homes, I also got the chance to work at the absolutely stunning The Lost Orangery in Wiltshire.  I actually felt like I had traveled to Italy for the day – the views, the architecture, the lake, the gardens – wow – just wow!


Animals also played a huge part in the weddings I planned this year from one of my brides arriving to her ceremony on horseback, llamas attending as a surprise to the groom at another and dogs being ring bearers – they all had such a big part to play and were all wonderful!


I was lucky enough to help organise a golden wedding celebration at the marvelous Maunsel House in Somerset.  My client was based in New York so we arranged many a video call.  The event was booked over a three day period with family and friends attending from all over the world.  My client wanted to use this occasion to bring their loved ones together and treat it as a reunion.  It was such a special event with cultural ceremonies and traditions thrown in.

Behind the scenes I was working on my new brand with my designer Louise, ready for it’s launch in November.  I also planned on launching a brand new venue consultancy as I have a passion for wedding venues and what they represent.

I also found out that I had become a finalist in the wedding planner category in the South West with The Wedding Industry Awards – exciting!


November was all about my launch party which was held at The Florist in Bristol.  You can read about it here.  It was such a fabulous evening with so many people taking the time to celebrate with me.  It felt great to have the new brand out there, live for the world to see.  I’m so pleased with the outcome!

The following week I attended The Wedding Industry Awards South West Regional final.  The awards ceremony takes place every year with a different South West venue hosting.  This year saw the turn of the very beautiful Rockbeare Manor in Devon. The night was full of anticipation and although it wasn’t to be for Host this time, I was so chuffed to have made it to the finals and so delighted that my couples had voted for me – thank you so much for your support – it means so much!

So what’s left to say is thank you for your continued support.  Thank you for the talented and hardworking suppliers I’ve worked with this year, thank you to my clients for booking me and trusting me to do them proud.  Thank you to my wonderful family for always supporting me on this journey! I couldn’t do it without any of you!

I am so looking forward to what 2019 holds for Host Weddings & Events.  I cannot wait to work with more clients, planning life’s celebrations and helping them to make everlasting memories.

Happy new year to you all – I wish you health and happiness for the year ahead.

Olivia x


Photography credits

Laura Power

Adrian Hibbert

The Springles

Irena K

Albert Palmer

Emily & Steve