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I adore working (and living) in South West England. We have such an abundance of beautiful locations, the most stunning scenery, great links to the big cities and airports and THE most incredible creatives to enable you to book your wedding A-Team. I wanted to just explain a little further and give you my 5 reasons to host your wedding in South West England – a fabulous area choice to say ‘I do’.

Nestled in the heart of Great Britain, the South West of England is a picturesque canvas painted with the vibrant colours of nature, history, and culture. It’s a region where every nook and corner tells a story, every landscape is a backdrop straight out of a fairy tale, and the local flavours add a touch of magic to any celebration. If you’re contemplating saying your vows in this enchanting part of the country, here are 5 reasons reasons to host your wedding in South West England the ideal location for your dream wedding.

1. Dreamy Venues

The South West is home to an eclectic mix of wedding venues, ensuring that there’s something to suit every couple’s taste and style. From majestic castles and elegant country houses to rustic barns and enchanting gardens, the choices are as varied as they are breathtaking. Imagine exchanging your vows in a historic castle like Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire, with its romantic Tudor gardens and vineyard, or perhaps a beachside ceremony at Tunnels Beaches in Devon, where the Atlantic Ocean provides a mesmerizing soundtrack. The diversity of venues in the South West means you can truly personalise your special day to reflect your dream wedding.

The historic Thornbury Castle captured by Cristina Ilao

2. Stunning Countryside and Coastline

The South West of England boasts some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes, offering dramatic coastlines, serene beaches, rolling hills, and verdant forests. This natural beauty not only provides a stunning backdrop for your wedding photos but also sets a tranquil and romantic ambiance for your celebrations.

The Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers awe-inspiring scenery, while the Cotswolds deliver quintessentially English countryside charm. Whether you’re after the rustic elegance of the countryside or the serene beauty of the coast, the South West’s landscapes provide the perfect setting.

The view from Hamswell House captured by Camilla Arnhold Photography

3. Superb Suppliers

I mean superb! It never ceases to amaze me the talent that we have in the South West – so you’ll be spoilt for choice when deciding on your vendors. The South West of England is teeming with talented suppliers ready to make your wedding day as seamless and beautiful as you’ve imagined. From visionary florists and creative photographers to bespoke dressmakers and dynamic entertainers, the region’s wedding suppliers are known for their dedication and ability to bring your wedding dreams to life. Their local knowledge and expertise not only ensure a smooth planning process but also add a touch of local charm and elegance to your celebrations.

Private estate wedding with florals from The Roseshed, Marquee from Bohemia captured by Emily & Steve

4. Exquisite Local Food

The South West is famed for its culinary delights, making it a paradise for foodie couples. With an emphasis on local produce and seasonal ingredients, the region offers an array of catering options to tantalise your taste buds and impress your guests. From sumptuous seafood caught off the Cornish coast to artisan cheeses from Somerset, the local fare is a celebration of the South West’s rich agricultural heritage. Many venues and caterers in the area pride themselves on their farm-to-table offerings, ensuring that your wedding menu is not only delicious but also tells a story of local bounty and tradition.

5 reasons to host your wedding in South West England | Catering
Queen & Whippet Catering captured by Camilla Arnhold Photography

5. Rich History and Culture

Marrying in the South West of England allows you to become part of the region’s rich tapestry of history and culture. With a history that spans thousands of years, the area is dotted with historical sites, from ancient stone circles like Stonehenge to the Roman baths in Bath. These historical landmarks, combined with the region’s traditions and folklore, offer unique opportunities to incorporate historical elegance and cultural depth into your wedding. Whether it’s a ceremony in a historical venue, a traditional Cornish ceilidh as your reception, or incorporating local myths and legends into your wedding theme, the South West provides a uniquely rich backdrop.

5 reasons to host your wedding in South West England | Castle Combe
The picturesque village of Castle Combe captured by Kristin Sautter

Choosing the South West of England as your wedding destination is more than just selecting a location; it’s embracing an experience that intertwines love, beauty, and heritage. It’s about creating a day that not only celebrates your union but also pays homage to the enchanting setting that is the South West. Here, your wedding becomes a story, woven into the fabric of the land and its legacy, promising not just a day to remember, but a timeless tale to be told.

I hope you enjoyed my 5 reasons to host your wedding in South West England. If you’d like some support planning your dream South West wedding, then I’m your gal! I’d love to chat to you both about your plans and how we can turn it all into reality for you seamlessly.

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Today on the journal, I’m delighted to have Danielle Ardern join us from County Marquees (who cover celebrations taking place in the Cotswolds, South West and Wales). Danielle will walk us through all the important considerations when you embark on planning a beautiful outside wedding using a marquee. Danielle is such an expert in this field helping hundreds of couples create an aesthetically pleasing space coupled with a logistically seamless experience. Over to you Danielle…!

Planning a marquee wedding in the Cotswolds
Will Hartop Photography

Olivia and I have worked together for many years. So we know that many of you come at planning a marquee wedding feeling excited at how beautiful it can be, but also with a little trepidation around the scale of it all. So Olivia has very kindly asked me to share as many insider tips as possible here to hopefully reassure you that whilst there is a lot to think about, we will do a lot of that thinking for you.

The Space

So many of the marquee images you will see show huge open sites. And yes that’s great, but its not essential. We will design a unique space for you! We have been planning weddings for over 30 years and in that time we have built on countless sloping sites, tennis courts, tiered gardens and incorporated numerous garden features, flower beds and steps.

There isn’t a set size of marquee that is perfect to suit a particular number of guests. Yes this is a big factor, but we also designs around the time of year & your chosen site as well as discussing your preferred furniture and its layout; a round bar close to the dance floor for a party feel, rustic long tables with cross back chairs for a relaxed dining space. From this process we then produce 2D and 3D CAD plans to share how the marquee will come to life at your venue.

Planning a marquee wedding in the Cotswolds | Hamswell House
Camilla Arnhold Photography at Hamswell House

The Style

Part of the flexibility in design comes down to the styles of marquee on offer. Our Traditional Pole marquees (much like Sailcloth or Sperry tents) are perfect for larger more open grass sites which allow space for their guy ropes and the connecting walkways required between structures. Their central wooden poles add character to the interior and with clean white exteriors & flying festoons along the roof ridge it makes for a beautiful exterior look too. Practical’s to think of here; the pole/ guy rope support system means it’s not possible to secure this marquee on the suspended floor which we use to level a sloping or undulating site. So it’s for level sites only. Also you can’t directly connect one into another pole marquee, so separate areas are connected through small walkways.

If a client prefers a more contemporary look, wants to design a zoned space, or their venue has spectacular views we always err towards our Clearspan marquee (also referred to as Frame marquees) with either white or clear roofs and walls, this freestanding, modular marquee system is hugely adaptable! We can create covered terrace areas, enclose toilets within hidden rooms, drive in vintage vans for bar service … and the list goes on. These marquees also have a higher wind tolerance and can be secured on our suspended floor, so if you are planning for a Winter wedding or in an exposed location we would recommend this choice. Further thoughts; Clear marquees are stunning, but with recent record breaking summer temperatures we recommend some cover or drapes so that your guests, suppliers and flowers all survive the heat.

We don’t supply Tipis or stretch tents, but there are lots of wonderful suppliers out there. They are the perfect choice for an informal festival vibe, with a flow of inside / outside space & great with food trucks and late Summer brights. Like any pole structure they will take up a larger footprint on your site and its worth chatting with your supplier if you also require additional structures like catering marquees.

Planning a marquee wedding in the Cotswolds
Through The Woods We Ran Photography

The Time of Year

People still associate marquee weddings with bright Summer days but we can now create beautiful days throughout the seasons! We just approach the design process a little differently. For Autumn and Winter weddings we use our Clearspan marquees and include solid floors, walls, doors and efficient heating systems. The interior focus is then always on amazing lighting and zoned spaces, creating an atmospheric drinks area, cosy dining and you can choose to hide your dance floor behind a reveal curtain so that there is a feeling of movement through the day into the evening.

The Boring Bits

Sorry that this hits so high on the priority list…. But it is essential to plan early for all the practical things that ensure you have a smooth running day.

Toilets; we supply luxury trailer units positioned to be easily accessed but not generally on show.

Power and its distribution; Almost all marquee weddings now require a generator (we use sizes starting at 30Kva) to cope with the power usage across the site as a whole. Catering equipment, bar, band, inside and outside lighting, heating, PA system… it’s a significant amount of power and cabling! We work with your suppliers to create a power plan so there is a socket in position ready for them and no hassle or power outages on the day.

Its also helpful to have access to running water for your caterers and florist if there is a nearby outside tap, and don’t underestimate the volume of waste! We can help you plan for where this can be stored out of sight until it can be removed and recycled post event.

The Pretty

There are SO many ways you can dress the inside of a marquee and really make it your own. Most marquee companies will offer you a range of drapes, furniture and decorative lighting and you can of course, use stylists or other hire companies to add finishing touches. So here I am just touching on the most common topics we discuss with couples.

Rounds vs Long tables is always top of the list of Q’ and Im afraid there is no best here! Long tables don’t save space. To allow for tableware and florals we recommend 3’ wide banquet tables so there is very little difference to what’s required for a round. Longs create beautiful clean lines and amazing photos, rounds are more sociable and great for sharing food.

Suspended floristry is a trend we continue to see and love! It’s a perfect match for the scale of a marquee roof space. If you put us in touch with your florist we can supply pulley systems and fixing points so they don’t have to work at height, they can feel 100% that their display is safe and secure and if it’s a hot weekend then finishing touches can be made at the last minute around your furniture.

Lighting is key. Layer it like you do at home. Overhead chandeliers are great for dining areas, uplighters give a general cosy warmth like lamps, canopies of fairy lights or festoon lights add sparkle and romance. If each is on a dimmer control you can adapt for the time of day. Weddings are all about atmosphere and lighting is they key to that.

Planning a marquee wedding in the Cotswolds | Berkeley Castle
Rob Tarren Photography at Berkeley Castle

The Outside Space

Its really common for us to meet with clients who have a complete picture of how their marquee interior will look, but haven’t considered the outside space. Post Covid we have noticed guests really do make use of outside space throughout the year. So if you have a gorgeous view you want your guests to gravitate to, capture this with a clear gable or line of windows and some pretty outdoor furniture and parasols. Or use an arc of lighting and plants to create a garden alongside your bar area. Matting pathways lined with festoon lights look great as an entrance, but can also guide your guests back to their cars / taxis after dark, or back and forth to your loos. If you are concerned about parking or a busy entrance onto a site, we can supply vehicle trackway.

Our aim always is to chat to you about all these things whilst offering help and guidance, so that we tick them all off and planning your wedding is fun from start to finish.

Lucy Parker Photography

To find out more about County Marquees and the great work they provide, head to their website here.

Olivia’s note: Marquee weddings are so incredibly versatile, especially if you have land to use for your special day. They lend themselves to English Countryside weddings which is totally my bag. I LOVE working on these types of weddings and events. They give you the opportunity to put your stamp on the design and layout, which may not be possible in a bricks and mortar venue.

There is a common misconception however, that marquee weddings are ‘easy to plan’ or ‘cheaper’ than working with a venue. I’m here to tell you that this is not the case whatsoever, there are SO many moving parts that need careful management. If a marquee wedding is your absolute dream and getting married at your family home or in a location that you hold dear is a must, I would advise that you choose your marquee company wisely.

I work with County Marquees amongst others in the South West of England who all provide the most wonderful service. You need to also consider applying for a TENS (Temporary Event Notice).You can obtain from your local council if you have a pay bar and/or live music playing. Additionally to this, I believe that marquee weddings should come equipped with planners as standard! They don’t of course, but I do think it’s absolutely necessary to have a professional wedding planner to both help plan the space, what’s going in it and how as well as having them manage the day itself. So, get in touch today to see how I can help you turn your dream outdoor wedding into a magical reality!

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Nestled in the rolling hills and lush countryside of Somerset, the historic city of Bath is a stone’s throw away from some of the most enchanting marquee wedding venues in the UK. As a wedding planner, I’ve had the privilege of orchestrating dream weddings at a variety of locations, and it’s my pleasure to guide you through my top three picks for marquee wedding venues near Bath: Hamswell House, Parish’s House, and Farleigh House. These venues offer a blend of breathtaking landscapes, historic charm, and modern luxuries, perfect for creating your unforgettable day. I am also very honoured to be a preferred planner at all three locations, which fills my heart with joy!

Hamswell House: A Historical Haven

Camilla Arnhold Photography

Hamswell House is the epitome of historical elegance. This private estate is nestled in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and offers panoramic views of the countryside, making it a picturesque setting for a marquee wedding. The venue features the romantic 18th-century Orangery, lush gardens, and a terraced lawn that can accommodate a marquee for up to 200 guests. The rural setting not only provides a stunning backdrop for your wedding photos but also allows your guests to immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature.

Why Hamswell House?

  • Exclusive Use: Enjoy the exclusivity of having the estate to yourself, ensuring a private and intimate celebration.
  • Breathtaking Views: The panoramic countryside views provide a stunning backdrop for both your ceremony and photographs.
  • Flexibility: Hamswell House offers the flexibility to tailor your marquee setup to your specific needs, ensuring your wedding is uniquely yours.
Camilla Arnhold Photography
Camilla Arnhold Photography with Bath Marquees Clear Span

Parish’s House: Regency Romance

Nicola Jane Photography

Parish’s House is a regency-style gem that sits on acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and offers an idyllic setting for a marquee wedding. The venue is renowned for its stunning architectural features and provides a romantic backdrop that exudes elegance and charm. The expansive gardens are perfect for hosting a marquee reception, where guests can enjoy the serene beauty of the surroundings. Parish’s House is an excellent choice for couples looking for a venue that combines regency elegance with the beauty of nature.

Why Parish’s House?

  • Historic Charm: The regency-style architecture and classic gardens offer a timeless backdrop for your wedding.
  • Private and Intimate: Parish’s House provides an intimate setting that feels both private and exclusive.
  • Versatile Settings: The gardens are adaptable, allowing for a variety of marquee sizes and configurations to suit your wedding needs.
  • Accommodation: There is a quaint gardeners cottage on site for the newly married couple to enjoy.
Nicola Jane Photography with Country Marquees Traditional Poled

Farleigh House: Elegance Meets Nature

Stella Fitzgerald Photography

Farleigh House, a hidden gem located on the outskirts of Bath, is another favourite among couples seeking a blend of elegance and natural beauty. Home to Bath Rugby (their training ground), this venue boasts a grand estate surrounded by meticulously maintained gardens and sprawling lawns, ideal for hosting both your ceremony and marquee reception. Farleigh House’s unique feature is its versatility; whether you’re planning a lavish affair or a more intimate gathering, the estate can be tailored to suit your vision perfectly.

Why Farleigh House?

  • Stunning Grounds: The estate’s gardens and lawns provide a serene and beautiful setting for your wedding day.
  • Customisable Spaces: With various areas to host your event, Farleigh House offers the flexibility to create a bespoke wedding experience.
  • Indoor Space: The house itself can cater for smaller weddings without the requirement of a marquee.
Be Unveiled Photography with Archers Sailcloth Marquee

I will be at Archers Marquees Open Day on Saturday 6th April 10am – 3pm hosted at Farleigh House. I’ll be styling the beautiful sailcloth marquee along with Rebecca Hobbs Floral Design, Queen & Whippet Catering and many other talented suppliers. Whether you are looking at marquees in general and have a site in mind or you are specifically looking at the venue, you can sign up for FREE to the event here. Please note that if you’d like a private tour of the house, do get in touch with Farleigh House directly.

Choosing the right marquee wedding venue near Bath can be a delightful dilemma with so many beautiful options available. Hamswell House, Parish’s House and Farleigh House each offer unique features that can cater to a range of preferences, whether you’re looking for historical elegance, natural beauty, or regency romance. As a wedding planner, my advice is to consider what aspects of a venue resonate most with you and your partner, and how each space can be tailored to create the wedding of your dreams. Remember, your wedding day is a reflection of your love story—choose a venue that feels like home.

For more wedding planning insights and venue recommendations, feel free to contact me or visit my journal for regular updates. Your dream wedding awaits, and I’m here to help you make it a reality.

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In the picturesque Cotswolds region of England, where rolling hills meet quaint villages, a collaborative wedding editorial came to life in May 2023. This enchanting showcase of creative talents, set against the backdrop of the timeless Barnsley House, epitomised the charm and elegance of a quintessential English countryside wedding. Join us as we delve into the magic of this unforgettable shoot where magic was created. We hope you gain invaluable inspiration for your own English country garden wedding in the Cotswolds.

The Venue: Barnsley House, a Timeless Gem

Nestled amidst the lush greenery of the Cotswolds, Barnsley House is a breathtaking 17th-century manor that effortlessly marries tradition with modernity. Known for its magnificent gardens and luxurious accommodations, this venue was the perfect canvas for our styled shoot.

I just want to take a moment to send a heartfelt thanks to Emily Barbara who shot the day. It was Emily, who had been in touch as she wanted to combine a shoot into her trip to England. We chatted and met for the first time on the shoot day. Emily is a very special person and her photos are just works of art.

Floral Magic: A Garden in Full Bloom

Rebecca’s floral arrangements adorned every corner of the venue. From the lush, organic bouquet to the whimsical arches framing the ceremony, her work transported us to a garden in full bloom. Soft pink peonies, ivory roses, and wild greenery breathed life into the setting. A subtle mix of roses, ammi, peony, ranunculus, gypsophila, spray roses and carnations were used in both the installation and bouquet.

Whimsical Stationery

In crafting stationery for an English countryside wedding, Liv Laermann brought an exquisite touch that harmonised elegance with nature’s serenity. Embracing the lush surroundings, she envisioned green envelopes that served as an enchanting prelude to her masterful creation. With a stroke of artistry, watercolour inserts graced each envelope, evoking the picturesque landscapes of the countryside. Yet, it was Liv’s ingenious use of wabi-sabi design principles that truly transformed the stationery suite into a work of timeless beauty. Imperfectly perfect, each piece radiated a quiet charm, honoring the essence of nature’s subtle imperfections. Liv Laermann’s vision seamlessly merged tradition with artistry, encapsulating the very spirit of a countryside celebration.

The set included envelopes, envelope liner, fine art wax seals, twine, dark green chiffon and champagne silk using her ‘off the peg’ design Wabi Sabi.

Look One

The softest and most romantic look, using this Catherine Dean gown from 2000’s and styled to perfection by Sophie. Our model Danielle’s hair has been loosely put up by Charlotte Tillyer with natural makeup enhancing her features.

We couldn’t resist cutting some cow’s parsley from the garden and adding a floppy hat to these images!

Look Two

When a 1990s Caroline Castigliano raw silk skirt meets a 1980s silk beaded and pearl embellished top, expertly styled the the incredible Sophie from My Bridal Stylist.

Finished with the ‘Harper’ bridal crown from Rachel Sokhal. Adorned with opulent gold flowers and leaves, this statement crown oozes a beauty and significance all of its own.
Entirely hand sewn, this 3cm padded ivory velvet halo, has also been finished with the finest crystal and pearls for added luxury and romance.

The look was finished off with the ‘Simone’ earrings. The intricate design epitomises femininity and romance.

Look Three

An 1980s gem has been reworked to make it have a modern edge. The bow at the back and cut out detailing totally make this look. Coupled with the ‘Harper’ bridal crown and delicate earrings, this look was incredibly unique.

Look Four

This look was all about the cape. A modern take on the classic wedding train or even veil. This particular cape comes from Sophie’s collection from Savannah Miller Bridal. Beautifully crafted from delicate tulle, with chapel train, versatile large armholes and a pearl button fastening to the front. This was teamed with a simplistic slip dress.

The shoes worn throughout the shoots and across all four looks were the stunning ‘Micola’ champagne from the Freya Rose collection. With it’s closed toe suede and mother of pearl heel, the shoes set off each look perfectly.

The ‘Alyssa’ gold crystal bridal crown is an absolute delight to behold. Finished to perfection, with pretty detailing, it is the perfect choice for a bride who likes to sparkle, subtly.

This shoot was the most beautiful shoots I have ever been involved with. The team on the day absolutely made it so enjoyable and we hope you’re able to take lots of inspiration for your own English Countryside wedding.

The dream team: A symphony of creative talent

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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!

Cornwell Manor Cotswold Wedding Venue

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Cornwell Manor Cotswold Wedding Venue – what a delight!

On a rather drizzly Tuesday in June, I met with my good friend and talented fine art wedding photographer Kirstin Sautter. Kristin resides in Germany but happened to be enjoying a trip to the UK, so I was lucky to snatch a little time with her whilst she was visiting London. We excitedly planned a day of venue visits and of course lots of catching up thrown in! A Cornwell Manor Cotswold Wedding Venue Tour was meant to be….

We both agree that it’s so important to familiarise ourselves with wedding venues that share similar brand values to our own businesses so we can confidently recommend these magnificent and historically rich properties to our future clients. All the images you see here were captured beautifully by Kristin. You can take a look at her wedding photographer here. She’s quite simply an artist, capturing the beauty of heartfelt moments with such grace. I wholeheartedly recommend her wedding photography service.

Cornwell Manor, Cotswold wedding venue was the first of three venues (Barnsley House and Lucknam Park were also on the visit list – tours coming soon!) and my oh my, it did not disappoint! Look at the exterior shots – do you recognise it….? Yes, you guessed it, this charming Georgian property and its grounds feature in the 2006 romantic hit blockbuster “The Holiday” when Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Graham (Jude Law) take a walk in the ‘restaurant’ garden. How wonderful is that!


Cornwell Manor is probably one of the most romantic places in England to be married, and the bliss is you can have it exclusively to yourself. This exquisite Georgian fronted manor is a photographer’s dream, where every aspect is a delight, providing you with the perfect backdrop for your wedding and creating memories for a lifetime. It is available for exclusive hire for a minimum of 3 days over a weekend, between June and the end of September


Cornwell Manor and the surrounding privately owned hamlet is on a 2,000 acre estate located near Chipping Norton on the Oxfordshire-Gloucestershire borders. It is in one of the most beautiful areas of the Cotswolds, within easy reach of Heathrow, London and Oxford. It is on the doorstep of Daylesford Organic Farm Shop & Spa and Soho Farmhouse, and local festivals such as Wilderness Festival and The Big Feastival.

The History

The original Manor house, belonging to the Penyston family is Jacobean. Built on the proceeds of the once lucrative Cotswold wool trade. Probably a large farm house for the local land owner. In the late 17th century a Georgian façade was added to gentrify the house.

The House & Estate have been home to the Ward family since 1959, where Alexander grew up with his siblings Rachel, Tracy, Jeremy & Benjie, and is now the home of Alexander and his family.

The Inside

Cornwell Manor boasts accommodation for up to 24 people in 12 double bedrooms. The interior is so well appointed and charming. This is completely yours for a home-from-home experience for 3 nights. You either use a marquee or the ballroom for your reception depending on numbers and there’s even a pool to use on day 3 to round off the weekend!

Get in touch with the team

The team at Cornwell Manor are so warm and friendly and will do all they can to make your wedding planning an enjoyable experience. Do head to their website to find out more and to get in touch. Big thanks to Charlotte and Tori for accommodating us!

One of their stipulations (which I think is a very good one…) is that they only allow weddings that are run by a wedding planner – so if you LOVE the idea of getting married at Cornwell Manor Cotswold Wedding Venue then do get in touch and we can have a chat about how I can help turn your dream day into a reality right here.

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

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Back in August I had the pleasure in planning and concept designing “The English Rose”. This English Countryside Wedding inspiration, not only showcases the stunning and historical Thornbury Castle but also the full creative team of wedding suppliers involved.

The shoot took place in the midst of the August heatwave and although super hot, we were so grateful that the weather stayed dry for this mainly outdoor setup.

All images were expertly captured using a fine art aesthetic by the incredibly talented Cristina Ilao who we were so delighted to have as part of the team.

The Concept

The suppliers involved all specialise in or enjoy and have capacity to fulfill English Countryside weddings so the concept came from a deep love of nature and the surroundings we are so lucky to call home. Entitled “The English Rose” the shoot’s brief aimed to showcase the beautiful location of the castle and all that it offers along with the natural beauty of it’s formal gardens and grounds with the historical Tudor property as a backdrop.

Bridal Styling

Professional model Francesca looked stunning in the Wilden London “Emily” gown – An elegant and flirty off shoulder feather and petal gown, with a softly draped chiffon bodice, and gracefully falling chiffon skirt, with a thigh split. The petal detailing was perfect for the botanical and whimsical theming. To compliment the look, hair garlands and earrings from Hermione Harbutt’s sublime collection were worn. Finally shoes from Emmy London, looked elegant and finished off the look. Francesca’s hair was fixed in a relaxed, romantic half up, half down look styled by Tracy Pallari and make-up perfectly applied by Jessica Mills.


Becci and I decided we wanted a colour palette that was soft and delicate but also complimented the summer season. We opted for summer pastels including ivory, blush, peach and muted lilac using an array of summer flowers including garden roses, sweet peas, scabiosa and lisianthus.

The flowers were used in foam free floral arrangements on the tables, within a petite handheld bouquet with silk ribbon and a large arch installation within the pretty rose garden – very apt!

The Final Details

The whole look was set off beautifully with the addition of Lorraine from Caboodle Stationery’s stunning hand crafted paper goods including vow books, full invitation suite, guest book, menu and place names. Using a dusky pink which matched the linen knotted napkins from The Knotted Napkin Co which sat on the white cabbage charger plates from The Luxe Collection along with their Santorini glassware, delphine gold and white cutlery and glass candlesticks. Pale pink candles from Candle Flair and a neautral linen base from 88 events set the tone. The chairs were the limewash Louis from Allens Hire.

The Team

Venue – Thornbury Castle

Photographer – Cristina Ilao

Planner & Concept – Host Wedding and Events

Flowers – Bijoux Floral Design

Stationery – Caboodle Weddings

Bridal Dress – Wilden London

Shoes – Emmy London

MUA – Jessica Mills

Hair Stylist – Tracy Pallari

Accessories – Hermione Harbutt

Model – Francesca Cosh

Napkins – The Knotted Napkin Co

Table Linen – 88 Events

Tableware – The Luxe Collection

Chairs – Allens Hire

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Elizabeth and Joe’s English Countryside Wedding featured a regal Sareh Nouri gown, a medieval Cathedral, an English countryside manor, and a New Orleans style jazz band come together in a quintessentially British wedding with a touch of Southern American soul.

This American bride knew that if she was going to ask people to travel 4,000 miles to her groom’s home country, they’d better give guests the experience of a lifetime in a classically British setting — think Pride & Prejudice meets Downton Abbey meets Bridgerton. Lucky for us, Kristin Sautter Photography was there to capture every detail so that we can live vicariously through the full gallery. 

Elizabeth and Joe’s Transatlantic love story began with a serendipitous meeting whilst Elizabeth was studying abroad in the UK and Joe was staying with his med school rugby team in the same hostel as her. Fast forward to more than a decade of travelling the world, living in New Zealand, and then buying a home in North Carolina, it felt only fitting to bring it full circle to be married in the UK, where it all began. 

I felt truly honoured to be involved in Elizabeth and Joe’s special day

The Details

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Getting ready

The ceremony

This was a real Anglo/American celebration where both homelands were honoured. Bristol Cathedral holds special meaning to the groom, as it was his alma mater. Its thousand-year-old architecture felt fit for a royal wedding, so the couple leaned into British traditions with fascinators, top hats, morning suits, and wedding bells chiming as the bride and her father arrived in an opalescent blue 1963 Mk 2 Jaguar 3.4. 

A classical string quartet with a repertoire including favorites from Bridgerton set the scene as the bride glided down the lengthy aisle to meet her groom who represented his Scottish heritage in his family tartan kilt and thistle in his buttonhole. A strong New Orleans presence also ran throughout the day, most notably as The Mississippi Swamp Dogs greeted the wedding party performing jazz music as they exited the Cathedral. Joe and Elizabeth, a New Orleans native, led the band and guests in a traditional jazz ‘second-line’ parade around the Cathedral green, as guests waved personalised handkerchiefs in the air and onlookers revelled in the spectacle. 

The styling

The Orangery was adorned with billowing English garden florals by Bijoux Floral and touches of “something blue” in the candles, napkins and stationery.

The reception

At the reception, guests were welcomed to Grittleton House with a Sazerac, “the original New Orleans cocktail” and an English Elderflower spritz, followed by a traditional British-grown meal in The Orangery.

They rounded out the evening with a surprise performance by the groom who sang Ed Shereen’s “Castle on the Hill”, backed by the incredibly talented Soho Collective party band, and then filled up on New Orleans beignets and Cornish pasties for a late night snack. 
The day was overflowing with old-world English charm and endless romance. An unforgettable day to be cherished for a lifetime. 

The film

Planner: Host Weddings & Events

Photographer: Kristin Sautter

Videographer: Vogue Wedding Films

Ceremony Location: Bristol Cathedral

Venue: Grittleton House

Florist: Bijoux Floral Design

Cake: Joanna Pyda

Car: AJE Classics

Elizabeth’s Dress: Sareh Nouri

Elizabeth’s Shoes: BHLDN

Men’s Attire: The Original Mobile Menswear

Stationery: Ivy Inks Studio

Ceremony Music The Bristol String Quartet

Second Line and Drinks Reception Music: The Mississippi Swamp Dogs 

Evening Band: Soho Collective via Tailored Entertainment

Makeup Artist: Elle Hitchens

Hair Stylist: Louise Alway

Linen: 88 Events

Tableware: The Luxe Collection

Transport: Eurotaxis

Pre-wedding accommodation: Number Thirty Eight