Elegant luxury at Thorpe Manor

I am so thrilled to be featured on Amber and Muse today. It is one of my favourite wedding blogs and always a go-to for inspiration.

With this shoot, I wanted to show how you could mix clean lines and contemporary styling with timeless, classic touches. Thorpe Manor, a new luxury wedding venue in Oxfordshire, was the perfect backdrop. Its interiors are a luxurious blend of old and new and it is looking stunning following a 3 year renovation. 

Elegant luxury at Thorpe Manor, Oxfordshire
Chic gold foil stationery
Tom Ford stilettos at Thorpe Manor

Inspired by the grand piano that sits resplendent in the ceremony room, we imagined that our bride was a pianist, serenading her beloved. She wore a structured Jesús Peiró gown and contemporary jewellery, with her hair in a chic twist. On film, the overall effect is striking and sophisticated, with a raw and innocent feel. 

Jesus Piero gown at Thorpe Manor
Bride and her beautiful bouquet at Thorpe Manor
Bride plays the piano at Thorpe Manor

Our florist created romantic arrangements and a gorgeous rose and delphinium installation around the piano. Other details included the bespoke stationery suite that combines elegant calligraphy with simple modern text; the beautifully decorated cake; the botanically dyed silk ribbons; the glass tableware and crisp white linen; and the covetable Tom Ford stilettos. 

Elegant stationery by Spinazzi design
Crisp green and white scheme at Thorpe manor

For the evening, we lit the candles and the mood was transformed. Our glamorous bride wore two sleek Alon Livne gowns, accessorised with geometric jewellery. It was all very demure and sultry. 

Evening glamour at Thorpe Manor

Planner and Design: Emma Joy The Wedding Planner
Photographer: Camilla Arnhold Photography
Venue: Thorpe Manor
Model: Nina Uhl
Dress boutique: Morgan Davies Bridal
Dress designers: Jesús Peiró and Alon Livne
Shoes: Tom Ford
HMUA: Sanni Sorma
Jewellery: Georgina Boyce
Florist: Blue Sky Flowers
Tableware, linen and furniture: Top Table Hire
Stationery: Spinazzi Design
Candles: Ester and Erik via Scandinavian Homeware
Ribbons: Kate Cullen
Wedding cake: Karen Anna Cakes

Where to go on honeymoon in 2019...

I recently had the pleasure of listening to the Daily Telegraph’s Travel Editor, Trisha Andres, share her top travel recommendations for 2019. Among them were some unusual honeymoon destinations that left me wanting to pack my bags and head straight to the airport!


Lying in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa, Madagascar is about to take off as a tourist destination.

Lemurs, baobabs, rainforest, desert, hiking and diving: it’s is a perfect destination for adventurous honeymooners. And its capital, Antananarivo, has plenty of history and culture, as well as a vibrant food scene.

When you’re ready to lie on the beach and chill, head for Salary Bay. This idyllic resort sits high on a sandy peninsula, overlooking a turquoise lagoon and its own private beach. It sounds like heaven!

Unusual honeymoon destinations - Madagascar


As the host of the Rugby World Cup this year, and the Olympics next year, Japan may well be on your list already?

For mild temperatures and low rainfall, the best time to visit is in late spring (March-May) and late autumn (September-November). This makes it a great option if you’re getting married towards the end of our summer and you want to jet off straight away.

Like Madagascar, Japan is definitely not a conventional honeymoon destination. It’s a long way away, English is not widely spoken, and although there are beautiful beaches, they’re not what the country’s is known for. However, if you fancy a bit of luxury, Tokyo’s hotels and restaurants will not disappoint. A fascinating cultural experience lies in store if you visit Kyoto, and for those wanting to see and experience spectacular scenery, you can fly down to Okinawa and island hop around Japan's subtropic archipelago.

Unusual honeymoon destinations - Japan


A friend of mine described Namibia as the best holiday she and her husband have ever had and Trisha was similarly enthusiastic about this remote country in southern Africa. It’s another great option if you’re feeling adventurous and want to get off the beaten track.

With rust coloured sand dunes and wild coastline, lush, river plains and dramatic mountains, Namibia boasts some truly incredible scenery. And there are lots of ways to enjoy these varied landscapes - from dune boarding to trekking, or even taking to the skies in a balloon. There are also opportunities to visit tribal settlements, learn about the culture and support the local economy.

But what Namibia is undoubtedly famous for is its wildlife. Out on safari you’re almost guaranteed to see lions, cheetahs and leopards, as well as desert-adapted elephants and rhinos. And after an exhilarating day in the wilderness, what could be more romantic than staying in a luxurious eco lodge and dining beneath the stars!

Unusual honeymoon destinations - Namibia

'Living Coral' - Pantone's Colour of the Year 2019

Today Pantone announced it’s Colour of the Year 2019 and already the internet is overflowing with exciting ways to use it in your home, your wardrobe, and indeed your wedding. Described as an ‘animating and life-affirming hue that energises and enlivens’, let’s hope it turns out to be a bellwether of the year to come!

Personally, I love how elegant coral can look as part of a muted palette, but I’m also a fan of bright, tropical themes. Unlike Ultraviolet, 2018’s colour of the year, ‘Living Coral’ feels very versatile, so I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of it at weddings to come…

Here are a few of my favourite ways to incorporate coral into your scheme.

I absolutely love this beautiful bouquet by US florist,  Daffodil Parker . The coral peonies really make it pop, but the muted zinnias, roses and foliage keep it looking elegant and romantic. Photo by  Geneoh Photography .

I absolutely love this beautiful bouquet by US florist, Daffodil Parker. The coral peonies really make it pop, but the muted zinnias, roses and foliage keep it looking elegant and romantic. Photo by Geneoh Photography.

This stationery suite by  Refine Studio  is another example of how coral can be used to make a statement, but without taking over. Very chic. Photo by  Jeremy Chou .

This stationery suite by Refine Studio is another example of how coral can be used to make a statement, but without taking over. Very chic. Photo by Jeremy Chou.

Coral is a gorgeous colour for bridesmaid outfits, especially for brunettes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different dress styles and even patterns. One size rarely fits all and you want your maids to feel comfortable and confident when they’re by your side. Photo by  Leila Brewster  via Style Me Pretty.

Coral is a gorgeous colour for bridesmaid outfits, especially for brunettes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different dress styles and even patterns. One size rarely fits all and you want your maids to feel comfortable and confident when they’re by your side. Photo by Leila Brewster via Style Me Pretty.

Isn’t this fun! Coral and blue is such a fresh and cheerful combination and I adore this tropical vintage tablescape from  Casa de Perrin . Photo by  Calvin Elizabeth Photography .

Isn’t this fun! Coral and blue is such a fresh and cheerful combination and I adore this tropical vintage tablescape from Casa de Perrin. Photo by Calvin Elizabeth Photography.

Don’t limit yourself to bridal magazines and blogs; take inspiration from anywhere and everywhere! The world of interior design is a wonderful source of ideas. This interior shows how well aqua green and coral sit together. Photo by  Kristin Perers  via House and Garden.

Don’t limit yourself to bridal magazines and blogs; take inspiration from anywhere and everywhere! The world of interior design is a wonderful source of ideas. This interior shows how well aqua green and coral sit together. Photo by Kristin Perers via House and Garden.

Helping you to style your wedding is part of my full wedding planning service. Everything I do is highly personalised, and styling is no exception. Even if you choose a popular colour palette, I can guarantee that we will create something beautiful and unique!

For more information about Pantone Colour of the Year, visit their website.

Why today’s Budget announcement about wedding venues is so exciting

Budget 2018 outdoor wedding venue law change

My husband and I got married last year at Pennard House in Somerset. It was a warm and sunny September day and we had our civil ceremony outside in the Garden Pavilion, which was decorated with an abundance of scented flowers. The setting was idyllic, but had the law allowed us to marry in the rose gardens, or even beside the lake, perhaps it could have been even more beautiful…?

Today, the Chancellor announced in his Budget that there is going to be a review of the legislation governing wedding venues in England and Wales. It seems likely that the outdated law which says a legally binding outdoor ceremony must take place in a structure with a solid, permanent roof will be overthrown. As a planner who spends a lot of time visiting venues, I can tell you that these ‘structures’ come in all shapes and sizes, and that some venues have done a better job than others at disguising their frames and creating something befitting a wedding ceremony. Some venues satisfy the roof requirement by allowing couples to take their vows on their front doorstep. Talk about carrying you over the threshold!

So, what could this review mean and why is it exciting?

  • As things currently stand, couples who don’t want to have their wedding in a licensed venue or structure, have to do the ‘legal bit’ at a registry office and then hire a celebrant to conduct the ceremony. This suits some people perfectly, but for others it can be an annoyance because it inevitably adds to costs and organisation. It can even cause rows with those not invited to the legal ceremony, and not to mention awkward moments when guests realise that the couple are in fact already married. If a change in the law made it possible to get married more or less anywhere, then it would put an end to all this angst.

  • High costs and red tape put many venues off getting licensed. If it became easier and cheaper for venues to apply for a wedding license, more would be likely to do so. I love helping my clients find their dream venue, so a wider choice of licensed venues - indoor and outdoor - would be fantastic news!

  • Some venues have created beautiful licensed pergolas and gazebos, and couples shouldn’t necessarily shun them. I - for one - was very grateful for the shade that Pennard’s Garden Pavilion provided on our wedding day! However, for those couples who don’t like the look of the outdoor structure on offer, a change in the law could mean that they would be free to choose another location.

  • As someone who loves planning and styling al fresco ceremonies, a law change would allow me, and the florists and photographers I work with, to be a lot more creative. We’re always swooning over images from the US of spectacular outdoor ceremonies overlooking the ocean or against beautiful floral backdrops. It would be incredible to be able to do the same over here, especially when it’s sunny!

Whichever way you look at it, relaxing the laws on where couples can get married will give them more choice, ultimately making it easier to plan the day they want. Wedding planning should be a fun and enjoyable process - the fewer legal barriers the better!

Image credit: Helen Lisk Photography

Why hire a wedding planner?

Wedding invitation and engagement ring. Image by David Jenkins

If you read my last post - How to start planning your wedding in the UK - then you’ll know that my number one tip is to enjoy being engaged and not to rush into making wedding plans. However, when you are ready to start thinking about your wedding, you may ask yourselves whether or not to hire a wedding planner…

Contrary to what you might think, planners aren’t just for super-rich couples with unlimited budgets and hundreds of guests. Of course we do receive some enquiries like this, but more often I hear from regular couples who value the guidance, support and friendship that a wedding planner can give.

In case you don’t know what a wedding planner does, or why I'm a good investment, I thought I’d share three of the most valuable ways I can help you.

1. I manage the admin and keep your planning on track

Many couples underestimate how long it takes to plan their wedding. They don’t realise how many emails will go back and forth, or how many decisions they’ll need to make. As a full planner, I spend over 200 hours planning a wedding and much of this time is spent liaising with the venue and suppliers.

Taking all this admin off your hands, especially as your wedding approaches, will make a huge difference to your stress levels. When there are decisions you need to make, I will simplify them wherever I can. If there is a deadline approaching, I will make sure you stay on track.

Hate feeling as if you’ve forgotten something? I keep notes of all the important details as we go along, so you won’t have to keep trawling through your emails.

2. I help you make decisions that save you money and ultimately get you what you want

I often get asked if hiring a wedding planner will save them money. To this I say ‘yes’, but not just because I can (occasionally!) negotiate discounts. I’m more likely to save you money by giving you good advice and making suggestions.

It is my job to recommend outstanding suppliers who are in-keeping with your style and budget. When it comes to design elements like your flowers, stationery and tableware, I can help you come up with ideas and communicate exactly what you want to your suppliers. It’s all too easy to waste time and money because the brief was wrong or incomplete.

It’s also worth remembering that small decisions, like having a string trio rather than a string quartet, or re-using flowers from your ceremony at your reception, all add up. If money is tight, there are lots of clever ways in which you can save a hundred pounds here or there, without compromising on the overall effect.

3. Having me there on the day means that you can completely relax and enjoy yourselves

Couples think that because their venue comes with a venue coordinator (or even a wedding planner!) they don’t need a planner like me. In reality, our roles are very different…

As your wedding planner, I’m there for you from the beginning of your planning journey, right up to the point you say goodbye to your guests. Think of me as your personal assistant; if there’s anything you’re unsure about, or you’re at a loss for ideas, I can help.

And while your venue may have tens or even hundreds of weddings booked, I only take on a small and select number of full planning clients each year. This means I spend a lot of time thinking about your wedding and how I can help make it as wonderful as possible! Imagine how reassuring it would feel to wake up on your wedding day knowing that I’ve memorised the timings, communicated personally with all of your suppliers and that I understand exactly how you and your partner want everything to look and flow…

What’s more, while the venue coordinator will be focused on the aspects that the venue is responsible for, I’ll be overseeing the whole event. As I see it, your suppliers are a team of experts; it’s my job to manage and support them so that they can deliver their best for you. If there's a problem, or if something doesn't go to plan, it's my aim to ensure you don't even notice!


I offer all my full wedding planning clients a free, in-person consultation so that we can get to know each other and discuss your ideas. Just send me an email at emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner.co.uk and we can get a date in the diary.

Image by David Jenkins

How to start planning a wedding in the UK

Glamorous vintage wedding at Eggington House. Image by  David Jenkins

Glamorous vintage wedding at Eggington House. Image by David Jenkins

Congratulations if you got engaged over the summer! Being newly engaged is a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime feeling, so the best advice I can give you is to enjoy it and not to rush straight into planning your wedding. Take time to celebrate and don't feel under pressure to set a date (even though everyone will ask you when you're getting married!).

When you are ready to step off of Cloud 9 (and don't worry, you'll be back up there soon enough!) here are my 5 top tips for how to start planning your wedding. 

1. Agree on your budget

I know, it's not very romantic, but trust me, you can't start planning without agreeing 1) how much you can afford and 2) how much you want to spend on your wedding. Have this conversation with your partner, and, if they've offered to contribute, talk to your parents about how much they'd like to give you and whether there are any conditions attached...!

2. Decide on what sort of wedding you want

Anything is possible nowadays, so talk about what sort of wedding you want to have. By this I mean the location, type of venue, time of year and, crucially, how many guests you'd like to invite and if that includes children.

3. Discuss your priorities

Once you've agreed your wedding budget, you need to break it down. Perhaps you love flowers and you want to wow everyone with a spectacular floral arch outside the church? Or did you bond over music and want to hire the same live band you saw on your first date? Maybe you're really generous and want to lay on a free bar? All couples have different priorities, so agree what yours are and allocate your budget accordingly. If you hire a wedding planner, they will help you do this. 

As a rule of thumb, couples spend around half their total wedding budget on their venue and catering. That said, if throwing the biggest party ever is your priority, you may want to spend more on food and drink!

4. Get inspired

Let me guess, you've already started a Pinterest board and begun pinning wedding ideas?! Wedding blogs, Pinterest and Instagram are overflowing with great ideas. You can always delete things later, so it pays to keep an open mind early on. 

Ask yourselves if there a particular 'style' of wedding that appeals to you and your partner. For example, rustic country or city chic. Ultimately there are no right or wrongs (it's your wedding and the style police won't come chasing!), but having a wedding style will help when you come to choose your dress and your suppliers.

5. Book your key suppliers

It may seem daunting, but by this point you'll be ready to start visiting venues and trying on wedding dresses. Caterers, photographers and florists get booked up quickly, so once you've confirmed your venue and set a date, you'll want to research these too.

A wedding planner will help you to find the best suppliers and can save you a lot of time and energy, but if you're doing it yourselves then I recommend shortlisting at least 3 suppliers for each category. Have a look at their portfolios and read reviews from their previous clients. Never feel pressurised to make a decision and be on the lookout for sneaky sales tactics!

For more advice on how to find your wedding venue, take a look at my journal post 'Top tips for choosing your wedding venue' here.

And finally...


Wedding planning is great fun, but sometimes it will feel overwhelming. Believe me, there'll be times when you wish you'd eloped! One of the main advantages of hiring a wedding planner is that they take care of all the admin and deadlines for you. However, if you're planning everything yourself, make sure you take time out from wedding planning and relax!


Like some help? I plan heartfelt weddings in London and across the UK. I only take on a small number of clients each year, so I can give each wedding the focus it deserves. If you're busy and struggling to find the time to come up with ideas or liaise with suppliers, give me a call on +44 (0)7709 871999 or send me an email emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner.co.uk. I would love to help you plan your wedding.


Beautiful wedding venues: Petersham Nurseries

With their friendly garden café, à la carte restaurant and tempting lifestyle shop, Petersham Nurseries in South West London is a wonderful place to spend time. But I’ve long been curious about its potential as a wedding reception venue. Last week I met with their events team to discover what they offer...

Petersham Nurseries

Petersham Nurseries

Considering how dry and dusty everywhere is at the moment, Petersham looked refreshingly green and lush! I felt as though I’d stepped into a secret oasis as I passed by their welcoming displays of colourful plants and shrubs. 

The restaurant is well known for its exceptional food and their lunch menu certainly whetted my appetite when I visited! Their chef will curate your sharing menu using seasonal vegetables, herbs and edible flowers, many of which are grown either in the kitchen garden, or at Haye Farm, their sister company in Devon. Petersham cellar has a wide selection of fine Italian wines and prosecco to choose from, but you are welcome to bring in your own (there is a corkage charge of £25).

Matt Austin

Matt Austin

If you’re planning on hosting an intimate daytime wedding celebration, then the horticultural glasshouse would be a unique setting. Tables decorated with pots of herbs, mis-matched chairs and vintage mirrors give it a charmingly informal vibe. All floristry is done in-house, and their events team are happy to discuss any ideas you may have in relation to additional props and decorations.

Flora Lawson

Flora Lawson

For larger groups of up to 85, you can dine al fresco beneath the wisteria (depending on the weather of course!). Alternatively, the restaurant can seat up to 140 and there is room for a band and dancing. It is a bright and airy space, decorated with garden flowers and curious antiques collected by the owners from their travels abroad. Last week, it was ablaze with hot pink bougainvillea and looked very exotic.

Helen Abraham Photography

Helen Abraham Photography

This is undoubtedly a special wedding venue – elegant, in a casual and understated way. On a warm summer night, with flickering candles, floral scents filling in the air and perhaps a jazz band playing out, it would feel magically atmospheric. You'll have long-since forgotten you’re in London, but your guests will find it easy to get home or go off in search of a nightcap…

Helen Abraham Photography

Helen Abraham Photography

If you would like help finding your dream wedding venue, I offer a venue search service. I will research a shortlist of potential options based on your needs and wants, potentially saving you hours of painful admin and wasted visits. For more information, please email emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner.co.uk.

For more information about Petersham Nurseries and to download their events brochure, please visit their website www.petershamnurseries.com.

De-mystifying film photography | An interview with Liz Baker Photography

Film photography is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment, especially within the wedding industry. In fact, it's driving the wider international trend of so-called 'fine art' weddings, characterised by overexposed film tones and natural styling.

I love photography, and I'm rarely without my Canon 6D, but until I interviewed Liz, I knew very little about the art or science of film.

It's still rare to find a wedding photographer who will only shoot on film, but there are an increasing number of 'hybrid' photographers who can offer you the best of both worlds. So, if you're in the process of choosing your wedding photographer and you're considering film, I hope this interview helps you in your decision-making. Enjoy!

‘Fine art’ is a huge trend in the world of weddings. What's the link to film photography?

‘Fine art’ can encompass every aspect of the planning and design of a wedding. It describes an elegant, pared-back style with a strong emphasis on seasonal and loose floral design. The trend stems from a revival of film photography and moreover, the look and feel of overexposed film tones is the defining feature of fine art wedding photographyThis was pioneered by Jose Villa in the US and fostered by blogs like Wedding Sparrow.

For me, it’s about much more than a trend. Like paintings - one of the original fine arts - photographs are powerful impressions: they use licence, they interpret movement and they evoke feelings. That's what I'm trying to do with my images. 

Liz Baker Fine Art Photography Emma Joy The Wedding Planner 1.jpg

What makes film photography special?

Light particles react chemically with the silver in film emulsion to give the colour a depth, contrast and grain that set film stills apart. Digital camera sensors use a mathematical process to measure pixels, but the results can appear flat. The reason film images look more natural and more tangible is because they are!

Why do you love film so much?

I grew up shooting on film - opening the back of a camera, loading a roll of film, winding it on, correctly exposing all the frames on the film to the light, unloading it carefully and then sending it to a lab. Sometimes I'd develop films myself in a darkroom. I am passionate about the exceptional and unrivalled beauty of a good film photograph that draws the eye and touches the soul.  As an artist first and a technician second, this is why I choose film, especially when I’m shooting people, settings or beautiful details.

Liz Baker Fine Art Photography Emma Joy The Wedding Planner 2.jpg

Are film photographers better photographers?

Not necessarily! It’s not the film that makes you a better photographer. As with any discipline, you perfect your craft by learning and stretching yourself. Almost all film photographers will have a very good understanding of light and exposure, which may put them at an advantage over purely digital photographers who might not have needed to learn as quickly. At £1 per shot, choosing the right settings becomes essential and naturally these skills improve my digital photography too.  I usually shoot a mixture of film and digital, but if I can shoot an entire wedding on film, I will.

Developing a film photograph is a labour of love. Can you explain the process to us?

Film photography is a two-stage process. I take care of the first part, which involves choosing the film stock, handling my equipment, composing and exposing the shots. I use professional 35mm and medium format film cameras and I generally load professional grade Kodak and Fuji films. I use a light meter to help me choose the right camera settings. A professional film lab takes care of the second part of the process and most of the best labs are currently found in North America. I work with Richard Photo Lab in Los Angeles. The team there develops my film, scans the photos into a computer and creates high-resolution photos that can be edited and printed.

Liz Baker Fine Art Photography Emma Joy The Wedding Planner 3.jpg

Wow! Does all that mean it takes longer and costs more for wedding photography?

Contrary to what you might expect, it doesn’t take me much longer to get images ready than with digital. I get film scans back within a week of sending them off and, after some basic editing, they are usually good to go. Film and lab costs are something to keep in mind – around a £1 a shot!  I budget to shoot 300+ shots on film and I believe it really is worth it.

Is it possible for the untrained eye to tell the difference between film and digital images?

I’m going to sound like a cosmetics ad, but in a film image your skin will glow and appear smoother than it does in real life! More generally, it can be obvious which is which, although with good editing the untrained eye will have difficulty. In my free download Why Film? I show side-by-side comparison images shot on film and digital cameras, so why not visit my website and have a go for yourself? I hope you’ll agree that film photography is gorgeous.  Often, black and white film works best and you can create a wonderful motion blur with film that’s almost painterly.

Liz Baker Fine Art Photography Emma Joy The Wedding Planner 4.jpg

Your images are so light and airy! But what happens if you’re not getting married outdoors, or if the venue doesn’t have lots of natural light?

The lighting on your wedding day is important regardless of whether your photographer shoots film or digital. Outdoors is always the best light and golden hour – the hour or so before the sun sets - is the prettiest. When I plan the photography for my clients I always make a note of the sunset time, and, if the weather is changeable on the day, I insist on breaking away from the schedule to incorporate those beautiful portrait shots. It may make me unpopular at the time, but you’ll thank me afterwards!

Liz Baker Fine Art Photography Emma Joy The Wedding Planner 5.jpg

I usually advise couples getting married indoors to hire in event lighting.  Film can be exposed perfectly with artificial light if natural light isn’t available.  White light is the best as it mimics natural light. Tungsten gives a strong yellow tint (on film or digital), which is hard to remove. Black and white film is the best way to go in this case.

I’m sold, but surely it’s risky given that you can’t preview an image on the back of your camera?

You would think that film is riskier, but there are no guarantees with digital either. At least 80% of my film images are consistently spot on, whereas I am likely to discard 50% of my digital shots before I even get to editing. Ultimately it all comes down to the skill of the photographer!


Liz is a fine art wedding photographer based in the south west of England, but she works throughout the UK and Europe. Her work has been featured in major wedding publications in the UK and internationally, including Magnolia Rouge, Love My Dress and Perfect Wedding.  She is also an exclusive handpicked vendor for Wedding Sparrow, the world’s biggest fine art wedding blog. If you’d like to download her free guide to film photography, or find out more about the services she offers, visit her website www.lizbakerphotography.co.uk.


Introducing... Jewellery designer Bear Brooksbank

Bear Brooksbank is a fine jewellery designer and gemologist based in East London. It's fair to say that she is a rising star in the jewellery world and her bespoke pieces are simply stunning. So stunning, that when she lent me a sapphire engagement ring for a photo shoot she very nearly didn't get it back!

Bear has recently co-founded a new business called Fine Pop-Ups, alongside womenswear designer Beatrice Perry. Launching today, Fine Pop-Ups is a series of designer-led and curated shopping events. If the lineup for their inaugural event is anything to go by, these will be very enjoyable indeed. Perhaps less so for my credit card...!

It has been such fun getting to know Bear over the past year and I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Bear. I'm dying to know if 'Bear' is your real name?!

I wish it was! I have always been called Bear, but my real name is Mary. I live in Hoxton with my husband Daniel and brindle greyhound Champ.

Bear Brooksbank photographed in her studio

If only my new husband had discovered you 2 years ago when he bought my engagement ring! Go on, make us swoon by telling us about the exquisite rings you create and where you find your inspiration.

I wish we had known each other too! So much of my bespoke work is collaborative and therefore each individual client provides me with inspiration. For me, it’s all about absorbing the brief, or a feeling from a client, and turning that into reality. It’s all in the chemistry!

I'm intrigued to understand how you go about making a bespoke ring. Where do you start and how long does the process take?

Bear Brooksbank octagonal target ring

The process starts with a consultation when I start to put together a picture of the client, their needs and wants. We talk through design ideas they may have, be they for jewellery or more obscure references like architecture or design styles.

Some clients have a very clear idea of what they want; others are a blank canvas. I love it that no two clients are the same.

Do you enjoy working with prospective grooms? Is the engagement ring usually a secret, or do the girls get involved in the design too?

I love working with prospective grooms! It is such a privilege to share their secret and to build a picture of their beloved. I would say it’s a 50/50 split between grooms who come in on their own and couples who come together.

Can you give my grooms some advice on choosing an engagement ring?

Trust your instinct and be brave - it always pays off.

As well as designing bespoke pieces of jewellery, you re-invent treasured heirlooms. That sounds like a big responsibility, no? What sort of pieces have your clients come to you with in the past?

It is a huge responsibility! It is also a joy to remodel something loved but unworn or unwearable and to give it a whole new lease of life. It is very important to me to respect the original piece and to find out what it is about it that is most important to the client. I have remodelled more or less everything. For one project I took an old family tiara and turned it into multiple rings, earrings and necklaces for various members of the family.

What has been your favourite creation and why do you like it so much?

Bear Brooksbank crystal cuff

There are so many to choose from! In terms of a design and technical challenge, it has to be this aquamarine and rock crystal and diamond cuff bracelet. So much skill and bravery was involved in making this piece and every member of the team -  from me, to the cutter and the goldsmith - wanted to make it extraordinary.

As well as a jewellery designer, you're also a gemologist. Tell us something we're unlikely to know about gem stones...

Sapphire and ruby are both members of the same family - Corundum. It’s only the colour that defines them as different.

When you're not busy in your studio, how do you like to spend your time?

I am happiest when I'm in Yorkshire, where I grew up. My parents still live there in a wonderful house designed by my brother. My family are immensely precious to me and I am the proud aunt of two nephews.


For more information about Bear Brooksbank, or to enquire about a bespoke commission, please visit her website www.bearbrooksbank.com

To discover Fine Pop-Ups and all the latest news about their designers and events, visit www.finepopups.com

5 tips to weatherproof your wedding

After months of freezing temperatures and non-stop rain, we certainly deserve a warm and sunny summer, but how can you weatherproof a wedding in case it continues?

Who better to ask than Rosie Borland, owner of Brolly Bucket, the UK’s leading umbrella hire company. Rosie and I have come up with some top tips to make sure rain doesn't spoil your big day...

Rosie Borland 5 tips to weatherproof your wedding

Hope for the best, plan for the worst

We’re all for outdoor ceremonies, but having a contingency plan is essential. When you visit a venue, ask to see the indoor ceremony room, check its size and make sure you’d be happy if you had to use it. 

Ask your florist to have a look at the room too. Most flower arrangements should be moveable, even at the last minute. But if you have your heart set on a ceremony arch, keep in mind that they’re usually built in situ.

Good marquee companies will be experienced at dealing with bad weather and their marquees should be built to withstand the elements. Depending on where your marquee is located and what the ground is underfoot, they may lay additional flooring or walkways to stop your guests getting muddy. Talk to them if you’re worried.

Without wanting to be pessimistic, try visualising how rain would affect your day and think about how you could tweak your plans if you needed to. For example, if garden games aren’t an option, could kids watch TV or do indoor activities instead? 

Above all, make sure you aren’t the only people who know the plan B. If you have hired a wedding planner or on-the-day coordinator then they will have this covered, but if you haven’t, then your Best Man and ushers should be well prepared!

Grab a brolly and go explore!

Supplied a few days in advance of your wedding, Brolly Bucket umbrellas come in handy for your rehearsal, big day and any family celebrations you have planned. Our friendly, personal service means we take great care in helping you with your order and arranging collection afterwards. We work from a lovely rural workshop just north of Glasgow, but we supply and support lovely weddings all over the UK.

Most of our customers book their umbrellas long before they see a weather forecast for their wedding. We can help you work out how many to order and which colour and style would work best for your wedding.

Greeting your guests with an umbrella is a fantastic job for your ushers or male family members. Your guests will feel like VIPs being escorted from the car and it will keep their new and very special outfits dry too!

Talk to your photographer

Don’t worry, rain won’t spoil your wedding photographs. Some of the best photographs we’ve seen were taken in less than perfect conditions! Photographers love dramatic skies and you can be sure that stylish umbrellas will make your photographs unique. 

That said, it’s worth chatting with your photographer about where you’ll have your photographs taken if the weather turns. Trekking across a field might not be so appealing if it’s pouring down…

Footwear and blankets

If you know you’ll need to walk outside, or you’re determined to have some photographs taken outdoors whatever the weather, have a spare pair of shoes (or wellies!) to change into. A wrap, shawl or lightweight blanket would be perfect to throw over your shoulders and keep you snug as you wait for photographs or explore your venue's grounds.

Baskets full of cosy blankets will also make for warm and happy guests. Are you having fireworks or outdoor drinks? A few fleeces draped over the back of some chairs are a lovely touch and will make your friends and family feel loved. 

Research wedding insurance

It may sound extreme, but then ‘Storm Emma’ was extreme! It is extremely unlikely but were you, or your most important guests, unable to get to your venue because of bad weather (and subsequent flight cancellations or road closures for example) then you may be able to claim on your wedding insurance. Worth investigating if you’re getting married in the winter!


Head over to Brolly's Bucket's website to see their full range of stylish umbrellas and other items available to hire.

If you need help putting the finishing touches to your wedding plans and styling, I offer a Helping Hand and Final Weeks coordination service. 

6 weeks to go - top tips to avoid getting stressed-out before your wedding

In 6 weeks’ time, Harry and Meghan will tie the knot at Windsor Castle. But they aren’t the only lovebirds eagerly anticipating their wedding... If you're also getting married soon, here are some top tips on how to avoid getting stressed-out as the big day approaches.

Emma Joy The Wedding Planner 6 weeks to go

1) It’s natural to feel anxious, but it’s important that you don’t get overwhelmed (even when you’re working on your final seating plan!). Make time for yourselves away from the wedmin and try to get plenty of exercise and restful sleep. Brides – it’s never a good idea to change your beauty regime just before your wedding. Instead, follow your beautician’s advice and if you do nothing else, remember to drink lots of water!

2) Schedule final fittings with plenty of time to spare. Don’t leave it until the last minute to buy ties for your Ushers or accessories for your Bridesmaids. You can guarantee that the shops will sell out of popular colours and sizes during wedding season.

3) Make sure that all of your legal paperwork is in order and confirm your requirements with your suppliers. Double-check that they know where they need to go on the day and when. If you have a wedding planner then they will be your point of contact, but if not, make sure they have your Best Man’s phone number and can get hold of someone at your venue.

4) If you haven’t already done so, you may wish to buy gifts for your loved ones. Your florist will be able to help you with bouquets, but consider choosing something to treasure as well. 

5) Finishing touches like a ‘welcome to our wedding’ sign and photos of the two of you are what make your wedding day unique. Think practically too. Your guests might not remember to book a taxi, so why not print out some local taxi numbers ready for the end of the evening?

Still worried about how much there is to do? I can help you get through your mounting to-do list and be there on the day to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Take a look at my Final Weeks coordination service to find out more.

Introducing... Sanni Sorma, wedding hair and makeup artist

I had the pleasure of meeting Sanni Sorma at a photography workshop last year. You know when you just click with someone? Well Sanni is one of those people! Her warmth and bubbly personality make her a joy to be around and she is so good at what she does that I honestly cannot recommend her highly enough.

I caught up with her recently to find out more about her approach to bridal hair and makeup and I also asked her for her take on the big trends for 2018. Put your feet up and enjoy!

Hi Sanni! Tell us about what you do.

I’m a freelance hair and makeup artist. I work mostly on weddings, but I also do TV and some fashion shoots. I'm so lucky that my work takes me all over the world! This summer I have a few weddings in Italy and I also travel extensively in France.

Photo credit: Ian Holmes

Photo credit: Ian Holmes

Have you always been a makeup artist?

No - I originally studied Fine Arts and after graduating I worked in advertising as an Art Director. It wasn’t what I loved doing though. On shoots I would always end up chatting with the makeup artist because I thought their job was so much more interesting than mine! My heart has always been in makeup and 7 years ago I decided to retrain. I was living in Paris at the time and that’s where I started my career.

You're absolutely passionate about what you do - what is it about makeup that you love so much?

For me it’s much more than just putting makeup on a pretty face. In fact, I love doing makeup on ‘real people’ more than models. My favourite jobs are weddings because I enjoy working with the bride to make her 'look' one she’ll love forever. 

Do you have a favourite bridal look, or do you like to experiment?

I would say my signature look is big eyes, lots of individual lashes, glowing skin and ‘your lips, but better’ lips. For bridal, it’s best to keep ‘experimentation’ to a minimum!

What's your design process and how do you work on the wedding day? 

After a bride books me, I’ll organise a Skype call so that we can get to know each other a little better and discuss her bridal look in detail. I always encourage my brides to gather lots of photos of looks they like. I find this really useful, as one person’s smokey eye is somebody else’s daytime look!

If we’re having a trial, I will usually reserve three hours for hair and makeup. It might seem like a long time, but it’s better to have too much time than to be rushing. I have had brides who had their hearts set on a specific hair style, but when they see it on themselves, they realise it’s not what they want after all! I like to have time to try out other styles too.

On the day itself, I like to arrive early and get everything set up. I always try to create a relaxing atmosphere. As I see it, my job is not only to make the bride look incredible, but also to keep her calm, make her happy and most of all FEEL beautiful!

Photo credit: Le Secret d'Audrey

Photo credit: Le Secret d'Audrey

What are the three makeup products you couldn't manage without?

Easy! Illamasqua Hydra Veil and Skin base foundation; Hourglass blush and RMS Beauty Living Luminizer.

Can you give the brides reading this some advice on choosing their hair and makeup?

For hair, the most important factors are the texture of your own hair, the style of your dress (especially the neckline) and how you feel most comfortable wearing your hair. Look at lots of styles and collect images you like on Pinterest.

For makeup, something that looks great on Pinterest might not necessarily look good on you. If you’re unsure about your makeup or hairstyle, have a trial and take a lot of photos in different lighting.

For those brides who are getting married soon, do you have any tips on how to look after their skin and hair?

First of all, if your wedding is less than a month away, DON'T change your skincare! Drink lots of water everyday, try to get rest and stop worrying about your skin. The more you stress, the more it will show up on your face.

If you have a bit more time, let’s say 6 months, you can consider having a few facials and switching up your skincare. This way your skin will have time to adjust.

I’m a huge believer that what you eat makes a big difference. Cut down on processed foods and especially sugar and dairy. This has certainly made the biggest difference to my own skin.

What do you think will be the most important bridal hair and makeup trends in 2018?

For hair, the up-dos will be bolder and higher. Think topknots and high sleek ponytails. If the hair is down there will be a lot of natural texture and not ‘too perfect’ waves. Big and bold plaits will also be very in.

For makeup, the ‘no makeup’ look will be big. The skin is the major focus with this look and strong brows look great with it too. I’m so pleased that the overly contoured look will start to go out. For photos, it’s great to do a bit of contouring, but I think it’s gone way too far!

Photo credit: Le Secret d'Audrey

Photo credit: Le Secret d'Audrey

When you're not busy working, how do you like to spend your time?

I’m an aspiring minimalist so I constantly have a de-cluttering project on the go. I love to experiment with vegan cooking and of course I love to shop for makeup!


For more information about Sanni and her work, please visit her website www.sannisorma.com. Sanni has a brilliant YouTube channel (@MissMai27) where you can watch her giving makeup tutorials.

Image credits: Ian Holmes and Le Secret d'Audrey

Beautiful wedding venues: Newington House, Oxfordshire

I've had a lot of fun over the past few months visiting wedding venues all over the country and I'm thrilled to feature another stunning marquee venue today. Once the home of an Italian princess, it’s safe to say that wedding venues rarely get more romantic than Newington House…


Set in the picturesque Oxfordshire countryside, 11 miles south-east of Oxford, Newington House dates from the mid-17th century. The estate was built as a gift for a homesick Italian princess from her British husband and is believed to be a replica of her home in Genoa. Inside, the high-ceiled rooms have been beautifully restored and stylishly furnished to reflect the house’s unique history. 


I met the owner, Alexandra Nettleton, for a chat and a look around just before Christmas. For such a grand property, it felt very homely and relaxed. It was lovely to hear that she and her family enjoy seeing how couples make the venue their own. 

There are two historic churches close by - St Giles Church, which adjoins the house, and Dorchester Abbey, which is five miles away. Alternatively, Newington House is licensed to hold civil ceremonies and one option could be to have your ceremony outside on the front porch before walking through the elegant entrance hall to the back lawn.


The lawn makes for a magnificent marquee location. In fact, against the backdrop of the house, your guests would be forgiven for thinking they’d been transported to Tuscany! The extensive grounds are a delight to explore and offer many opportunities for stunning photography. There are manicured lawns, beautiful trees and even a river running through the bottom of the garden.


It’s undoubtedly a special venue and well worth a visit…


If you would like help finding your dream wedding venue, I offer a venue search service. I will research a shortlist of potential options based on your needs and wants, potentially saving you hours of painful admin and wasted visits. For more information, please email emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner.co.uk.

Photo credits: Gyan Gurang. Gyan is a wedding photographer based in Surrey. He has a very romantic style and his natural images capture moments and events as they unfold.

For more information about weddings at Newington House, please visit their website www.newingtonhouse.com or call 07786 087 201.

Find your dream dress at Luella's Bridal, Wimbledon Village

It has been a joy getting to know the team at Luella's Bridal and I'm really excited to announce that I'm offering their brides 25% off my planning services throughout this month.  Give the ladies a call on 020 8879 7744 to book your bridal appointment and to arrange a free consultation with me.

You're in for a real treat when you visit the boutique! Climb the stairs and a haven of bridal beauty awaits. I chatted to Rachel, Owner and Creative Director, about the new dress collection she has designed and what it's like to be a Luella's bride. Enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about Luella's Bridal

Inside Luella's Bridal
Beautiful dresses at Luella's Bridal

Luella's is a unique bridal boutique located in the heart of London's beautiful Wimbledon Village. We sell a variety of gorgeous bridal products, including wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, shoes and accessories. We are the exclusive UK stockists for the majority of our products, the exclusive London Stockist for Charlotte Mills shoes and we also have our own wedding dress collection. 

Your 2018 Collection is absolutely stunning! The pictures are still top-secret, but we'd love to know what we can look forward to...

We designed our collection in partnership with Trinidadian jewellery designer, Sarah May. It includes five distinctly different dresses, which have been carefully designed to match her stunning collection of rings: Happy, Love, Dream, Believe and Abundance. Each ring was inspired by Sarah's original engagement ring and her subsequent life journey and can be interpreted in the wearer's own unique way. 

Our dresses reflect our beautiful free-spirited brides and include a mixture of understated and intricately beaded slip-style dresses and beautiful lace and tulle gowns. Each one has an element of sparkle, so even the simplest style still looks and feels special. They feature a selection of low plunging backs, soft flowing skirts, stunning hand-beaded lace and our signature pleated skirt.

I'm proud to say that the collection was designed by The Luella’s Team and all of the dresses are handmade in the UK using a selection of the finest French laces, silk, satin, tulle and beaded appliqué, in a blend of soft ivory, cream and blush tones. 

Feeling special at Luella's bridal

So how does it feel to be a Luella's Bride? 

We try our best to make our brides feel as relaxed as possible when they visit the boutique. We have two showrooms so we can guarantee that each bride has a completely private appointment. All of our stylists have a background in fashion and are very aware of what styles of dresses suit different body shapes; the fact that we have our own collection also gives us the flexibility to make some adjustments to the styles, ensuring that our brides can have the exact dress that they want.

We encourage our brides to come along with a small group of their family and friends so that they can really enjoy the appointment and share this special moment with people they love. 

Can you give 2018 brides some advice about choosing their dress? 

We're so excited about the wedding dress trends for 2018 and we think we have them all covered at Luella's. Our collections include everything from relaxed boho style dresses to more traditional style gowns and sleek understated styles. They include a range of off-the-shoulder, backless, deep v and high necklines, in a range of soft muted colours.

Luella's Bridal 'Una'

Luella's Bridal 'Una'

Shanna Melville 'Bella'

Shanna Melville 'Bella'

Basically, anything goes this year, and it's up to brides to choose what makes them feel special and what works for them. We love helping our brides to become a more beautiful version of themselves for their wedding day and think the most important thing to do is just enjoy the experience. 

Sally Eagle 'Genevieve'

Sally Eagle 'Genevieve'

What should a bride keep in mind when choosing her accessories?

Choosing your accessories is a very personal thing. There are so many things to consider, including the location of the wedding, the style of your wedding, the design of your dress, how you're styling your hair…

We encourage our brides to experiment and to consider mixing different styles of accessories to create a more effortless vibe. From a practical point of view, it's sometimes easier if you start with the accessory you think is going to be the main focal point - so either a beautiful headpiece, a stunning necklace, bracelet or earrings - and then work from there. 


Luella’s is a unique bridal boutique located in Wimbledon Village, London. It is a beautiful place to have a dress appointment, get a bit of help with your styling, choose your bridesmaid dresses or try on shoes and accessories. Discover the collection online at www.luellas.co.uk.

The Colour Purple - Pantone's Colour of the Year 2018

Last week the Pantone Colour Institute announced its hotly-anticipated Colour of the Year 2018 - Ultra Violet. According to Pantone, Ultra Violet communicates "originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us towards the future." Who knew that a colour could wield so much power!


As the global authority on colour trends, and therefore hugely influential across design, fashion and lifestyle, their optimism is certainly welcome. But what does it mean for wedding trends? 

I think it's fair to say that the wedding industry is still processing the announcement. We all felt quite comfortable with Greenery, Pantone's Colour of the Year 2017, but Ultra Violet is so bright and - dare I say it - garish, that it's hard to see it being a popular choice. 

Instead, trendy-savvy brides will opt for hints of violet, most obviously in their wedding flowers. The list of purple flowers - wisteria, lilac, sweet peas, scabious, hydrangea, clematis - extends quite a long way and includes some bridal favourites. It is possible to use it alongside pastel shades in summer and autumnal colours like red and ochre later in the year.

There are some beautiful examples of purple being used very tastefully in this way. Take this delicate Peggy Porschen wedding cake for instance - absolutely stunning!


Or this bouquet by Jo Flowers - vibrant, yet still whimsical and romantic.


In the spirit of this "provocative and thoughtful" shade of purple, I'd love to know what you think!


If you would like more advice about choosing your wedding colour scheme, please send me an email via emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner.co.uk.

Photo credits: Georgia Glynn Smith via Brides Magazine and Katherine Ashdown via Whimsical Wonderland Weddings 

For more information about Pantone Colour of the Year, visit www.pantone.com

Introducing... Pudding Lane wedding cakes

Lucy Burton is a consummate foodie. Her blog, Pudding Lane, is fast becoming a favourite and barely a week goes by when I don't see one of her recipes featured online or in a magazine.

When she's not writing about food you can guarantee she's making it! And wedding cakes are a particular passion. Lucy loves working with couples to design their dream cake and, being a recipe-developer, her flavour creations are amazing! 

I met Lucy earlier this year when we were students together at Leiths School of Food and Wine. It has been wonderful to watch her progress and I can't wait to work with her on a wedding!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your wedding cake business. 

Baking has been in my blood from an early age, but I’ve been making wedding cakes for two years. It all started when a friend’s sister asked me to make hers. I was incredibly nervous, but found the creative process of designing, making and building a show-stopping cake really exciting.  

Pudding Lane in her kitchen

I started my baking blog, Pudding Lane, when I moved to London after university, and that eventually led me to start taking on food styling projects and writing recipes for magazines and brands. Everything was self-taught until this year, when I enrolled on a professional course at Leiths School of Food and Wine. It was invaluable to master classical techniques and learn the efficiencies of a professional kitchen and to apply these to my own cooking.

All of my cakes are bespoke, and designed in partnership with the bride and groom. I love that each one is a new project and a new challenge too.

What is it about baking that you love so much?

I find baking incredibly cathartic. When I’ve had a rubbish day or I’ve got a lot on my plate, I’ll head into the kitchen and start tinkering around with ingredients. I love how rewarding it is - a few minutes of concentration and a bit of mixing later, and you’ve achieved something. 

Where do you find your inspiration for your cakes?

My inspiration often comes from the bride and groom! Some couples have a really clear idea of what they want, while others might just have a look, a flavour or a mood in mind. I’m also led by seasonality; so find myself drawn to brighter florals and soft fruits in summer, and richer flavours and foliage in the winter.

There are so many amazing people doing great things in the food industry at the moment. To name just a few inspirations - Claire Ptak of Violet Bakery (who taught me so much when I worked for her), Fiona Cairns and Prue Leith, who have all grown successful businesses out of a passion for food. I read Nigel Slater’s books before I go to bed - the seasonality and the poetry of his introductions and recipes is utter genius. Oh, and Nigella, of course - I can only dream that one day I will manage to be as glamorous as she is during a late night fridge forage!

Do you have a favourite cake flavour?

I'm very fond of my almond sponge cake filled with slow-roasted rhubarb and orange blossom buttercream. It's perfectly sweet, yet sour at the same time. I love natural ingredient-led decoration - soft swoops of icing and gorgeous seasonal flowers, foliage and fruits.

Which wedding cake are you most proud of?

I made a hexagonal wedding cake earlier this year, which was such a different challenge. I had a few sleepless nights worrying about the fondant, but luckily it all came together on the day! 

Photo credit: Mike Plunkett Photography; Florals: Swallows and Damsons

Photo credit: Mike Plunkett Photography; Florals: Swallows and Damsons

Photo credit: Mike Plunkett Photography; Florals: Swallows and Damsons

Photo credit: Mike Plunkett Photography; Florals: Swallows and Damsons

What is it like to work with you? What's your design process?

I always start with the size and then think about flavours and decoration. I sketch out each of my cakes, and often create mood boards so that couples can show me what they like (or don’t like!) to help guide the design. 

Once we’ve agreed on all this, I’ll work with the florist to match my icings, foliage and flowers to the colour and floral scheme of the wedding. I am very much a one-man band, so it is me who makes, decorates, packs, drives and builds the cake on site.

Many couples underestimate how much work goes into making a wedding cake. Tell us what it's like in your kitchen before a Saturday wedding?!

This depends a lot on the size and flavours of the cake - I tend to make fruit cakes a couple of weeks in advance, so that the flavours can mature and the cake can be fed with lots of brandy! I make any fillings that can be pre-prepared - like jams, curds, drizzles and caramels - ahead of time.

Photo credit: Jess Soper Photography

Photo credit: Jess Soper Photography

Some sponges can be baked on the Thursday evening (denser and moister cakes like carrot, butterscotch and chocolate), then brushed with syrups and packed up so they stay fresh overnight. Lighter vanilla or chiffon sponges need to be baked on the Friday.

On the Friday it’s all systems go. I always have a very detailed (and timed!) prep-list, to ensure I don’t forget anything! Friday morning will be spent baking and cooling the cakes, with filling and crumb-coating taking place early afternoon. I’ll then ice in the evening, or first thing on Saturday, depending on the decoration and how far I have to travel.

Can you give couples some advice about choosing their wedding cake? 

The cake is a nice opportunity to have fun and be adventurous! If you like fruit cake, fabulous, but if not, why have it? Choose flavours you love - it’s your day so you should enjoy it!

What do you think will be the biggest cake trends in 2018? 

Generally speaking, I’d say that couples are increasingly knowledgeable about cakes and the different styles available. I’m getting a lot of requests at the moment for metallic accents and colour schemes. Gold and silver leaf, personalised wire toppers and gilded foliage are all very popular. 



I can help you find suppliers who dream as big as you do. Sometimes they go under the radar and so that's where my network really comes in. Not only do I make suggestions, but I can check if they're within your budget and available on your wedding day. This could save you hours of painful admin and wasted enquiries. For more information about the services I provide, please email emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner.co.uk.

To read Lucy's blog, or to find out more about her wedding cakes, please visit her website www.puddinglaneblog.co.uk or follow her on social media @puddinglaneblog.

Photo credits: Mike Plunkett Photography and Jess Soper Photography Florals: Swallows and Damsons

Beautiful wedding venues: Wickham House

Last week I had the pleasure of being shown around Wickham House by Deputy Venue Manager Isabel Stewart. Wickham House sits in 52 acres of parkland and looks out over the rolling Berkshire countryside. The house itself dates from the late 18th century and boasts many splendid period features. It is the much-loved home of Philippa and James D’Arcy, who have spent the last ten years transforming it into the spectacular exclusive-use wedding venue it is today. It is a truly wonderful setting for a luxury marquee wedding. 

Visiting any venue during the winter months requires more than a little imagination. Chilly winds, wet grass and rather colourless gardens all make it difficult to picture your wedding day. Kate Nielen's beautiful photographs certainly helped me visualise Wickham House in the summer, but in truth it wasn’t hard to see its potential - despite the weather!

Wickham House Kate Nielen Photography

Getting married at Wickham House

There are several options for your marriage ceremony at Wickham House. Isabel began by showing me the charming 12th century church that adjoins the estate and comfortably seats up to 200 guests - quite a large number for a parish chapel. Usually after a church wedding, an undignified scramble into cars and mini-buses ensues. Not at Wickham House. Here, your drinks reception is only a few steps away.

Wickham Church Kate Nielen Photography

Should you wish to have a civil ceremony, you have the option of getting married in the romantic surroundings of the Walled Garden. Through a set of wrought iron gates, the pebble pathway leads you to an immaculate sunken lawn where 180 guests could watch you marry beneath the elegant pagoda. Come May/June, when the garden is ablaze with colour, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in Italy!

Wickham House Walled Garden wedding Kate Nielen Photography
Wickham House walled garden wedding Kate Nielen Photography

The third option for your ceremony is inside the newly-built Barn that sits beside main house. This also provides a homely setting for a rehearsal dinner and, on the wedding day itself, looks like a lovely space for the bridal party to get ready.

A photographer's heaven

As you would expect, the gardens offer lots of beautiful backdrops for photographs, as do the many established trees that dot the grounds. Inside the house, Isabel showed me several characterful rooms that are available to use for group shots and couple portraits.

Wickham House interior Kate Nielen Photography
Wickham House bridal bedroom Kate Nielen Photography

A truly memorable wedding reception

It is hard to imagine a more idyllic setting for a drinks reception than the Walled Garden. Its winding paths connect a series of landscaped terraces and guests are free to wander from one to the next, discovering different drinks and canapé stations as they go. The terrace beside the turquoise swimming pool is the perfect stage for live musicians, but the pool itself is one place guests aren't encouraged to explore!

Wickham House Walled Garden pool Kate Nielen Photography

Across the manicured lawns from the house, sits an impressive marquee site. With views out across the downs on one side and back towards the house on the other, it is an outstanding setting and would make for an unforgettable evening celebration. I could almost picture the fireworks going off at the end of the night!

Wickham House views Kate Nielen Photography

An exciting choice of preferred suppliers

Wickham House have a varied list of preferred suppliers, spanning high-end marquee companies, florists and caterers. Most have been personally hand-picked by Philippa based on their high quality and experience.

As I drove away, my mind was buzzing with ideas. Wickham House could as easily stage a luxury festival celebration, complete with glamping village, as it could a quintessentially English wedding, followed by a traditional reception.

I hope it’s not long before I’m back…


If you would like help finding your dream wedding venue, I offer a venue search service. I will research a shortlist of potential options based on your needs and wants, potentially saving you hours of painful admin and wasted visits. For more information, please email emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner.co.uk.

Photo credits: Kate Nielen. Kate is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer based in London. She specialises in beautiful weddings and luxury events.

For more information about weddings at Wickham House, please visit their website www.wickhamhouse.com

Top tips for choosing your wedding venue

Over the next few months I’m going to be hitting the road, hoping to discover some really special wedding venues. I can’t wait to see the potential and meet the owners and managers who, like me, eat, sleep and breathe weddings!

Seeing as I’ll be visiting many of these venues for the first time, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my top tips for choosing a venue.

Forde Abbey looking resplendent

1. Take your time

Choosing your wedding venue is one of the biggest (and most expensive!) decisions you’ll make, so it’s worth allowing plenty of time to look around. Don’t try to visit so many in one day that you feel rushed before you start.

When you first walk in, ask yourselves ‘does this feel like us?’ It’s a bit like buying a home. Walk from room to room; sit at the tables and even dance on the dance floor! Can you imagine yourselves getting married there? Can you picture your friends and family having a great time? If the answer is ‘no’, move on!

2. Find out what’s included

Let’s face it; many of us sign on the dotted line without reading the t’s and c’s. When you’re choosing your wedding venue, you really can’t afford to skip to the bottom. Find out exactly what is and isn’t included in the hire charge. For example, does the price include accommodation? Does the venue have an in-house coordinator? Do they charge corkage? Don’t assume anything and remember that there is no such thing as a silly question.

It is well worth checking when you’ll be allowed to access the venue either the day before your wedding or on the morning itself. Ask what time you have to vacate the following day.

3. Check the capacity

Wedding venue visit inside Forde Abbey.jpg

It’s essential that you know how many guests you’re intending to invite before you book your wedding venue. Some venues have a minimum number as a well as a maximum. Keep in mind that towards the upper limit, everything may feel quite cramped! It’s hard to imagine how much room a table takes up, so ask to see photographs of the venue laid up for a dinner of a similar size to yours.

4. Ask about preferred suppliers

Most venues will give you a list of their preferred suppliers. Some will be happy for you to choose your own, others will only permit those they’ve worked with before. If this is the case, check you’re happy with the options and that they’re within your budget. This is particularly important when it comes to the caterer. If you have set your heart on a particular style of food make sure that this is something their preferred caterer can accommodate.

Similarly, find out if there are any restrictions on decorations. Some wedding venues have strict rules about the use of candles, for example.

5. Did you get along?

The wedding industry is a very friendly place and, remarkably, most venues manage to make you feel like yours is their only wedding! But if you didn’t get along with the team who showed you around, or you didn’t receive a reply to an email you sent, this should ring alarm bells…!


I hope these tips are useful. If you would like a comprehensive list of questions to ask your venue, please email emma@emmajoytheweddingplanner to receive your free copy.

Photo Credits: Forde Abbey, as captured by Annie Spratt

Freshly picked | A visit to Moss & Stone

A little while ago I came across an interesting article in the New York Times about the demise of traditional flower bouquets. The article described changing floral trends in the US, but it could easily have been about the UK. For we have our own flower ‘revolutionaries’ who are quietly influencing producers and consumers alike away from domes of imported roses and posies of gypsophila, towards a wilder aesthetic that showcases seasonal British flowers. Instagram is over-flowing with achingly beautiful images of these natural arrangements, and I’m finding that more and more brides are asking for ‘just-picked’ bouquets.

Brigitte's bouquets are works of art

So, how are these arrangements created? To find out, I visited my friend Brigitte Girling, owner of Moss & Stone Floral Design, at her idyllic home in rural Suffolk. To say that Brigitte is talented is an understatement if ever there was one; she has a remarkable eye for colour and form that begins with her planting and manifests in her exquisite bouquets and romantic decorations. It is no surprise that her Instagram account has almost 9,000 followers.

After a delicious breakfast we headed out to explore her garden. Brigitte had already sourced for us a wonderful selection of seasonal flowers from her local grower, but to those we added stems of delicate scabious, floaty cosmos and sweetly-scented garden roses. I could have whiled away the morning just picking, but there was work to do!

Back in her workroom, I realised that describing Brigitte’s work as floristry misrepresented her craft completely; this was art! As a painter would begin by choosing her colours, so she sorted through our garden bounty, patiently selecting blooms with, what she called, ‘personality’! This meant stems with interesting twists and turns; buds about to burst or colours that ‘popped’ when placed alongside certain others. This time it was deep purple sweet peas against a palette of soft pinks.

Starting with a trail of jasmine and several pieces of beech, yet another Instagram-ready bouquet began to take shape. With the foliage frame in place, the delicate flowers were woven through. I was surprised by the care Brigitte took to place each individual stem and how frequently she removed and re-jiggled until the bouquet was just ‘right’. Finally satisfied, she tied it off and trimmed the stems, adding a trailing silk ribbon by way of a finishing touch.

As Brigitte stood back to admire her work and I leapt in to take the all-important photographs, it seemed obvious to me that locally-grown flowers are far superior to mass-produced Dutch imports. And the good news for you as a bride is that more florists across the UK are experimenting with British flowers. Of course, outside of summertime our selection is more limited, but do not underestimate the impact of foliage! After all, green is the colour of 2017.

Discover Moss & Stone Floral Design at www.mossandstone.co.uk