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Last week we shared with you St Clere Estate, a simply gorgeous wedding venue in Sevenoaks. This beautiful house and gardens is now offering selected dates only as a fabulous setting for your wedding.

StClere-Home

StClere_the_wedding_dolls

On Sunday 16th June from 2pm until 5pm the estate is holding an open garden day with the NGS so you can take a sneak peek around and see for yourself why we love it so much.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Emma x

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Venues, Wedding Shows

Every now and then an absolute stunner of a venue comes along that just blows you away. When we first found St Clere (thank you Twitter!) and met Eliza and her team we just knew that any couple would be mad not to fall in love with it. With endless possibilities and exclusive use, St Clere Estate is simply perfect. But you’ll need to be quick. The privately owned estate is only opening up its doors for a limited number of wedding dates in July 2014.

StClere_the_wedding_dolls

St Clere is in the heart of the Kent countryside with remarkable views of the North Downs and can cater for up to 180 guests. They offer a full package, where you can have drinks and canapés within the formal rooms of the house and on the terrace enjoying views of the immaculate gardens. Then your wedding breakfast and evening entertainment are set just a stones throw from the house within a lavish marquee. For the Bride and Groom there is also the option of staying in a luxury Yurt so you can spend your first night as a married couple looking up at the stars in the tranquil St Clere gardens.

StClere-Home

We’re also super excited about this venue as The Wedding Dolls come as part of the wedding package, which means all St Clere couples have a totally unique and stunning wedding day that is full of personality.

Visit St Clere to find out more about the wedding package and all that this beautiful estate can offer – if you’re anything like us you’ll love it as well.

 

Happy Planning

Emma x

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If you’re struggling to find a venue that suits all your needs or you have some space but no roof over your head then marquees are a really flexible option for your wedding reception. With yurts and teepees added to the mix the humble marquee has come on in leaps and bounds giving you more to think about when booking.

1. ‘Traditional’ Verses ‘Frame’

The traditional marquee has the canvas as part of the structure and needs guy ropes to hold it up giving it a more vintage feel and is great for tea party or village fete themes. The frame marquee is more structured and relies on the frame to hold it up giving it a structured sleek effect. It has the added advantage that you don’t need to account for space for the guy ropes. The frame marquee offers the option of window sections and wooden doors to make it feel more like an ‘event room’ and let in natural light. Another option is the Clear span marquee which are made of aluminium box sections but are only really used when the marquee is over a certain size and is likely to be there for a while.

Cavendish Marquees

2. Yurts and Teepees

Yurts, circus tents and Teepees have been growing in popularity over the last few years and are great for a festival theme. Many can be joined together to form large spaces or ‘lounge’ areas for a bit of peace and quiet away from the main wedding party. Fabulous as well if you want wedding guests to be able to camp overnight as many companies hire out small versions for big sleepovers.

YurtsUp, Tonbridge

Cavendish Marquees

3. The Up’s and Down’s of Access

When deciding on what marquee to go for you’ll need to know how long it takes to put up and dismantle and work this in with any ground hire fees (unless it’s your own land of course!) plus a schedule of timings for all suppliers. Caterers will need to provide information about plug sockets and any electrical requirements they have so the marquee company can provide the correct generator and right amount of plug sockets. You’ll need to be clear on your layout plan so the sockets go in the right place and you don’t have a mass of leads trailing all over the marquee. If you’re having a DJ or band you’ll need to factor in electrical requirements for them as well.

narquee

4. Check how the land lies

Ideally your marquee should go on the flattest surface possible. Check for bumpy surfaces and don’t put your bar or cake table on uneven ground otherwise you might lose your top tier halfway through the ceremony! Remember to account for access – is the site easily reached for workmen and vehicles? Also consider what flooring and furniture you will need. Carpet and wooden dance floors are the favourite option but make sure your supplier leaves you a hoover. Once all the set up has been done it’ll need a little spring clean to make it wedding ready.

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5. Get comfortable

Consider if you need heaters – there’s nothing worse than freezing wedding guests and if the weather turns a bit chilly you’ll be surprised at how cold marquees can feel even when packed full of guests. If the marquee is in your garden you might not have enough toilet facilities in the house to accommodate all your guests. Portable toilets are a great option but you’ll need to consider access, plus who is going to make sure they are kept clean during the day and top up those toilet rolls!

6. I can see the stars from here!

Popular across the pond “clear -roof” marquees are now making an appearance in the UK. They look similar to a large elegant greenhouse and are fabulous for summer weddings where you can enjoy the light evenings safe in the knowledge that you’ll stay warm and dry inside if the heavens open. These are slightly more complicated though in that they will get hot if the sun shines so you’ll need to make sure guests don’t eat directly under the clear section and that any dance floor is covered over until the sun has started to set.

Academy Marquees

Marquee companies will be more than glad to sit down with you to work out what options are suitable for you. You’ll need to be extra organised if you do want to manage your own marquee hire as you are essentially recreating a venue in a field! Just be clear about what you need from the outset and have a good budgeted plan.

 

New year resolutions are tough to stick to but if one of them was being more careful with your hard earned cash then you’re in luck. Todays post is the first of our special discount days. There’s so many offers rolling in for our blog readers you won’t know which one to pick first.

Today we’re kicking off with a really unique joint offer that will save you squillions from your wedding budget (well ok not squillions but you get the idea).

housemeadowmavric

Beautiful Kent venue, The House Meadow and Kirsten of Mavric Photography, have teamed up to bring you a double whammy of an offer. Book both of them throughout January and February and you will receive a 10% discount off your photography package with Kirsten, as well as 10% off venue hire at The House Meadow.

Contact Kirsten for more info and to see their styled shoot which took place at The House Meadow last year.

 

Back in October, me and a group of my best mates did our traditional girlie weekend away. We’d done hotels and spas to death and fancied something a bit different (and closer to home) so we opted for renting a house in Whitstable. A house was the perfect choice as we all got to sit around and relax without having to share our space with the rest of the hotel lobby plus it was a stones throw from a great selection of bars and restaurants. It was a brilliant weekend away with lots of laughs, lots of relaxing and our own fridge full of pink bubbles. It doesn’t get much better than that!

If you’re looking for a perfect girlie weekend away in the run up to your wedding take a look at Mulberry Cottages who have a fantastic selection of self-catering cottages in Kent and Sussex. There’s brilliant locations in town centres and costal resorts, or opt for the relaxing views of the countryside for a complete getaway.

There’s cottage complexes which are perfect for larger groups (and even small wedding receptions) sleeping up to around 30 guests including your own swimming pool for the ultimate in a luxurious weekend.

Plus once you’ve found your perfect girly getaway cottage Mulberry Cottages can even offer you 10% off beauty treatments! Visit their website to find out more and don’t forget the champers!

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Entertainment, Venues

I was at the London Golf Club last week to help out at a charity golf day. Whilst there I managed to sneak off my duties for a bit to get a good look around at it’s potential for a wedding venue. I’ve never been a big lover of weddings at golf clubs so I wasn’t expecting to like this much but I have been left eating humble pie as it makes a great wedding venue!

The London Golf Club is in a beautiful setting with the Clubhouse at the heart of the 700 acre estate complete with lakes and fountains to create a seriously stunning backdrop. From the gatehouse there’s an impressive driveway for real wow factor as soon as you arrive. The Great Hall with magnificent oak beams and the Long Bar are fabulous rooms to entertain your guests and the banqueting room is really light and airy with a luxurious feel. The patio and terrace areas are also great for drinks and wedding pics during the summer months.

Forget stuffy old golf club here as everything is modern, fresh and very well executed including the menus. Catering prices start at £99 per person and include room hire. The views over the lakes and Championship fairways are enough to make this venue special but the attention to detail and really friendly staff just make the whole package one worth considering.

Definitely a hole in one for a perfect wedding!

 

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Joanne hit the road last week with a Bride and Groom venue hunting in West Kent and East Sussex. Here she tells us how she got on.

“On of our shortlist of venues to check out was The Great Barn at Rolvenden. Full of character and magnificent in size, the 18th Century barn is in the outskirts of Cranbrook and is a range of traditional brick and timber farm buildings, which were last used for agriculture in the mid 1980’s.”

“I loved it as it’s a great big blank canvas where you can hire your own suppliers and the possibilities are endless. There’s no limit on the choices available to you and the barn can be personalised in so many ways. Good points are that it comes complete with a kitchen area, car park and toilets which save some hire costs but you will need to arrange tables and chairs, or even perhaps hay bales! You can supply your own drink and there’s no corkage charge. Go local for your beer and try The Old Dairy Brewery.”

“The Great Barn is licensed for civil ceremonies so you could have your whole day here, it also has a license for live and recorded music. There’s only 18 functions held here per year and so there will never be more than one wedding on a weekend. This means you would be able to get into the barn a few days prior to the wedding to begin the set up process and a few days after to clean up.

Some of you might be put off by the simplicity of the barn and not having an on site co-ordinator available but Joan who showed us round was very helpful and had a vast knowledge of the venue and surrounding area. Plus if you need help setting up and want a co-ordinator for the day there’s always The Wedding Dolls to consider!”

See our featured wedding at the barn for more images.

Images courtesy of Rebecca Douglas

 

Lisa and Ian were married back in June at The Beacon, Tunbridge Wells. The lucky bride wore the Lizzette gown by Maggie Sottero and a beautiful fur wrap to meet her husband-to-be, who was fully kitted out in his uniform. What a gorgeous couple and we just love the little bridesmaids too!

 

Images by Alan Harbord

Felicity and Simon Howe were married at The Great Barn Rolvenden, near Tenterden in Kent. This wedding has all our favourite elements of a Kent affair and we just love the atmosphere that’s been captured so beautifully by photographer, Rebecca Douglas.

We asked the couple to tell us about their day and how they planned their wedding. Felicity says “We chose The Great Barn as it’s a beautiful 18th century barn in the middle of a gorgeous country setting. It’s a lovely rustic building with loads of wooden beams and old rusty farm tools as decoration.”

“Our wedding style was informal, fun and rustic. We were very much inspired by the beautiful rural Kent setting and used it as a basis for our colour scheme of dusky pink, cream and olive green. I wanted our own personal touches and my friends and family helped out. My friend did my flowers and they were stunning. We had a mix of dried wheat, lavender and poppy heads with hydrangeas and spray roses. We then used jam jars with raffia as vases which my mum spent months collecting for us. The highlight was a huge wreath my friend made from scratch, which made a beautiful focal point for the back of the barn that guests could see behind us during the ceremony. A Bridesmaid made a chalkboard for our seating plan and decorated it with Nottingham lace, the city where Simon and I met at University and my best friend made all our wedding invitations. Simon’s Mum made our wedding cake and all the bunting which we used to decorate inside and outside the venue. My mum also did a powerpoint of photos of Simon and I through childhood until the present day which we had playing in a corner of the barn.”

Our civil ceremony was in the barn itself, with all our guests. It has two floors so we were able to have a separate area for the ceremony and reception. It was a really sunny afternoon so after the ceremony we went outside to the Orchard for Pimms, Gin and Tonics and tubs of handmade luxury ice cream – we had lots of fun picking out our favourites for our guests. We just had to make sure we got photos with the children before they ate their chocolate ones! We had a buffet style barbeque with steak, lamb, local sausages and salads. For dessert, we served homemade chocolate brownies, which my Bridesmaid Tillie and I baked the day before. As well as local wine and ale, we included Keo lager to drink as this is a family favourite from Cyprus where I used to live as a child.

After we were all full to the brim we chatted with guests in the Orchard, sitting on hay bales and enjoying the early evening sun. It was really relaxed and everyone was in such a good mood. It was lovely to get the chance to catch up with all our guests, particularly those who had come a long way. My dad is a natural performer and was in his element, delivering his speech and Simon and his best man Rob got a chance to celebrate their ‘bromance’, having been best friends since primary school.

For the wedding ceremony, my cousins played Irish folk music on the violin and classical guitar, in memory of Simon’s grandmother who was Irish and sadly passed away six months before the wedding. For the reception our first dance was ‘Let’s Get it Together’ by Toots and the Maytals and we had a band ‘The Rock Pins’ who played a mix of indie hits and classic pop/rock tunes which got everyone up on the dance floor all evening.”

Thanks so much for the couple of sharing their day with us and any final advice for our Bride and Groom’s to be?  “Don’t let the temptation to do ‘everything’ take you over too much. At times, I realised I was getting a bit carried away with ideas for ‘small touches’ which probably wouldn’t be noticed. What our guests enjoyed was the company, the venue and the entertainment. We didn’t bother with favours, or a wedding car as those things weren’t important to us, but we wanted a really good band for the reception, and hired a coach to get people to and from the venue.”

 

Contact Book

Bride’s Outfit: Monsoon

Groom’s Outfit: Moss Bros

The Rock Pins – brilliant band

Simply Ice Cream – local luxury ice cream

Great Barn Weddings – rustic Kentish venue

Rebecca Douglas – We loved the vintage style photographs she produced for us which really capture the story of the day

Australian Style Catering – they couldn’t do more to help and the food was perfect, in very generous portions!

Biddenden Vineyards  – delicious local wine and cider

Flowers 4 florists– cost effective wholesaler

 

 

 

 

 

This Sunday (7th October) we’ll be at the Hotel du Vin Wedding Fayre in Tunbridge Wells. On from 10.30am to 3.30pm it’s free to enter and there’s a glass on bubbly on arrival. You’ll also get the chance to have a look round this gorgeous hotel as well as meet some of the best local wedding suppliers.

We’ll be there to help with some of those wedding worries so come and say hello!

 

For more info about the hotel take a look at our Hidden Gem post.

Image: Hotel du Vin, Tunbridge Wells