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From wedding planning advice and articles to pulling back the curtain on how ByChenai Events are put together, the Blog is an invaluable source of inspiration for those on their wedding planning journey as well as those who love to read about the art of celebration.
As full service wedding planner, my clients often come to me for recommendations for all manner of wedding related things. My work usually starts with clients once they are engaged, sometimes one partner would have proposed with an heirloom which acts as place holder for a ring they can choose together at a later time. I’ve always been curious as to the process of ring making and I do like diamonds , so one (pre lockdown) afternoon I took a stroll through the historic heart of London’s jewellery quarter to meet the team at Diamonds Hatton Garden.
The team at DHG, a family run business, have assisted generations of clients across the world with all of their jewellery needs. From diamond engagement rings to bespoke pieces, fabulous fancy coloured diamonds to costume jewellery. The team may be small but their knowledge and passion are, conversely, very big.
On entering the recently renovated workshop, the centuries worth of knowledge, tradition and passion seem to inhabit every work bench that the team of craftsmen sit upon. As the whizzing and buzzing of various tools create a background hum, Daniel, 3rd generation jeweller, shares his insights into the industry.
“When a prospective groom arrives at our workshop I think that he is as interested in the creation of a piece as he is with the idea of marrying his love. It makes me proud to see the excitement on clients’ faces as they can see our teams creating pieces in front of their very eyes. This is an excitement and passion that we also share. ”
It is this love of their craft, a real joy in what they do, that is apparent when visiting their workshop. The teams comprised of four jewellers, two gemologists as well as Daniel and his father radiate a warm, proudful attitude.
DHG see what they do as a continuation of a long tradition. They really try to understand their clients, tastes, interests and style in order to help them find the perfect engagement ring. For them , it is not about spending three months worth of salary but about finding something that truly captures their partner and their relationship.
It is this care that can be seen from both the work being undertaken and the welcome that I received. Arriving in the workshop feels like a step back through time where talent, exceptional material and tradition combine to produce beautiful pieces of jewellery.
“We aren’t a huge company who will forget your name we are a smaller one who takes the time to be supportive. We like to guide our clients and to take them on a very special journey. The very top tip I can offer my clients is to consider the 4cs. The price of diamonds is influenced by what is known as the 4 Cs – Clarity, Cut, Colour and Carat.”
Clarity is the number of small blemishes or inclusions found in the diamond and the clearer the diamond (FL being the highest grade) the higher the price.
Cut, interestingly does not refer to the shape of a diamond, but more about the skill of the cutter and is judged on a range of factors including symmetry, proportion and polish. These are key factors that relate to how the light is internally refracted within the diamond that gives it more sparkle. The better the cut the better the sparkle.
Colour, as you can imagine, relates to the colour of the diamond and is judged on a scale of D to Z. The higher on the scale, closest to D, the diamond is judged to be coloured meaning that the diamond is perfectly transparent with no hue, or colour.
Finally, the carat refers to the size of the diamond. Essentially, when buying a diamond all of these factors, or scales, influence the price of a diamond. Those diamonds that are judged, independently by leading gemological associations, to be higher on the scale command a higher price due to their rarity and the combination of these 4 elements.
DHG can help you with that too. One of the biggest things they are proud of is their inventory of fancy coloured diamonds. These diamonds are the rarest of the rarest and make for the most exceptional pieces of jewellery. Daniel’s father is the mastermind behind this side of our business and, in recent years, they have become more well known for our coloured diamonds than their clear diamond jewellery. Whatever the client wants they will do for them.
As I wander through the workshop, drills and machines still humming, I can’t help but relate to the philosophy of the business. Much like my own, I too believe in exceptional service, of supporting and assisting a client. Tradition and modernity both meet in the style that Bychenai has and, I do believe, that offering a specialist service is far better than trying to do everything. Leaving the workshop I reflect on the experience. It seems far away from the vast boutiques of Graff or of Tiffany’s . Independents can offer a truly one of a kind, unique experience that has a true personal touch and I highly recomemnd a visit!
Extraordinary times such as ours call for flexibility and adaptability, particularly when planning an event. Ever changing guidelines and continuous restrictions mean that right now, the only kind of wedding celebration that can be planned is a micro or smaller wedding. I’ve put together some tips on how to scale back your wedding whilst still ensuring you have a memorable celebration.
You have a wonderful opportunity to focus on making your intimate wedding uniquely yours as you have more time to work with. Wedding Planning is a huge time investment , it’s a job in itself and can be stressful if project planning and management is not your forte particularly when you are planning a wedding with large numbers. The admin that comes with guest management, RSVPs , planning seating, accommodation, transport is all vastly reduced and in some cases entirely removed as these are not necessary for smaller weddings.
The other obvious pro of a smaller wedding is that you can maximise your budget , with more resources to use on fewer guests. You can invest more into the parts of the wedding that are most important to you as a couple , where your priorities lie. If you are foodies for example, consider a more elaborate multi course meal or an indulgent dessert station over standard wedding fayre.
Having fewer numbers gives an opportunity to celebrate with your favourites and also an excuse to not invite the people on your list who perhaps were there to appease your parents or family. If you are having a non religious ceremony, consider that your guest list will automatically include your witnesses , your immediate family – parents /siblings who may also have partners, leaving room around the table for just your very closest pals.
Scaling back opens up the possibilities of different types of venues and more locations. Destination weddings become more attractive as again, costs are not prohibitive because of numbers. Similarly venue options such as a wedding at home, glamping, private dining spaces in restaurants, boat hire, boutique hotel spaces and other non traditional ‘wedding venues’ are options because they compliment the smaller size of wedding.
You get more quality time to spend with each guest at an intimate wedding and in turn guests have fewer people to socialise with and can get to know each better too. You could tailor welcome gifts for each individual guest for a destination wedding, giving meaningful
Personalisation at every step becomes easier with an intimate wedding. You can actually achieve the tablescape you’ve been curating from the pins you’ve saved on Pinterest and ideas you’ve gathered on Instagram. You can really splurge on hiring beautiful tableware as you’re not constrained by budget in the same way as you would trying to replicate this for 100 guests.
You can play around with table seating to add to the guest experience ensuring guests get to know each other better . Seating people on a round at the ceremony ensures everyone gets a great view is a popular trend right now as well as opting for alternating pews and chairs, even lounge furniture over traditional wedding ceremony seating.
Whilst a 10 piece show band is not the best choice for a small wedding or small wedding venue, there is scope to have a variety of entertainment options. A suggestion would be to have an acoustic set or acoustic performers which always lend themselves to more intimate settings and then you could play your own playlist for the party to ensure you get exactly the music you want to cut a rug to .
Intimate weddings give the possibility of extending celebrations beyond the traditional wedding day to other events like a welcome dinner or hosting a brunch the next day. As “buddymoons” become more popular, it’s easier and more desirable to plan post wedding trips and activities with your group of guests after the wedding.
Ditch the traditional format entirely. Change up the timelines of when you do speeches or how you serve food as you won’t be constrained by the format of a bigger event and there isn’t a need for more rigid timings.
I am beyond thrilled that ByChenai Events has been added to the Harper’s Bazaar Top Planner’s list which has been updated to include new & noteworthy businesses alongside the established best of the very best. That my name appears among these greats, whose work I so admire, astounds me. Especially in these trying times, it keeps me motivated to do more, lear more, keep growing to ensure every single ByChenai Client has a wonderful experience.
I am beyond THRILLED to have been invited to chat to Fiona on the amazing platform she has created, that spotlights female business owners.I spoke about my journey of building ByChenai Events and the UK wedding industry in general and how the BLM movement has shone a light on some great businesses and encouraged fruitful conversation. Check out the segment on the link below!
If you are new to the blog, this series of posts are from a real bride & groom’s experience of working with a wedding planner. I introduced my clients Jacinta & Jeffrey to you here , we started working together in November of 2019 and they very kindly agreed to share their hints and tips to help you , what better way to get a real understanding of what planning is like than from a couple in the same position as you will be?! In this post Jacinta talks us through her wedding dress shopping experience and gives some really honest and insightful tips on the process, finding THE dress/dresses , as well as allowing yourself to change your mind to ensure you are happy with your choices.
Jass,where did you go for your dress shopping experience?
Initially I was set on simple, no fuss and modern style of dress, so I went with the wonderful Andrea Hawkes bridal as the designer of both my dresses. I completely fell in love with how Andrea combined elegance, simplicity and modernism into all her dresses. From the moment I received comms back from the AHB team, I knew a bespoke service was definitely the way I wanted to go. The communication was personal, detailed and so warm and this has been the sentiment throughout the entire process. I chose 2 looks from Andrea and started the process before Christmas.
As my wedding planning gained momentum however, and I had more conversations with my Mum around the overall vision for the wedding, I began to start getting a taste for a dress that brought some glitz, glam and DRAMA. So with this in mind, I reached out to my wonderful wedding planner, let her know my thoughts and that my vision had slightly developed and she was able to help guide me to where I could potentially find a dress that fit this vision, with ease and to an amazing standard of design. In essence I wanted to still keep 1 gown from Andrea Hawkes, but source a different one in style to have contrasting looks for the day.
Chenai booked me an incredible appointment at The Wedding Gallery. I was met with the most enthusiastic and fabulous consultant Dominic to help find the dress. The Wedding Gallery is truly a little piece of heaven and beyond dreamy! I would recommend booking an appointment to any bride-to-be, even if just for the inspo and the unmatched experience.My dress journey has been interesting to say the least, from being completely adamant on one style, to then being open to the complete opposite! One thing that’s for sure though is that my outfits for the big day (ceremony gown and evening ensemble) definitely serve both visions and I couldn’t be happier with the choices I have made.
How did you find both wedding dress suppliers?
I found Andrea Hawkes Bridal on Instagram! Hashtags really did help on this occasion as well as seeing tagged real brides. I found the wedding gallery through my wedding planner. As hilarious as it seems, I never knew they did wedding dresses so I never considered them before Chenai made the recommendation and arranged my appointment.
Who did you take with you to your appointments?
I have been lucky enough to have two experiences with this. My first appointments I went along with my Maid of Honour and my wedding planner. And my last appointmentsI had my Mum, my little sister and Chenai . They were both experiences we will remember for a very long time. We had lots of laughs, breathtaking moments and I felt like such a Princess on both occasions.
Was it helpful having your wedding planner Chenai there?
Absolutely! It certainly made me feel closer to her as it’s such an important and personal piece of the planning process, so it was great from a relational perspective. It was also reassuring because a wedding dress purchase is quite significant in terms of cost and what that dress symbolises, so to be able to have her there to guide me to not feel so overwhelmed was very, very helpful.
What Top tips do you have for brides looking for their perfect dress?
1. Don’t limit yourself to one style, be open to styles you never envisioned yourself if. Even if it’s just to confirm you are 100% set on your initial style! 2. It’s okay to change your mind and develop what you see yourself wearing on your big day. Just ensure you are as transparent as possible with your dress designer and ensure you follow protocol for any changes being made. 3. Have a few styles in mind to share with your designer/consultant beforehand so you have a solid starting point for your appointment.
4. Share the dress shopping experience with those dear to you, and take loads of pictures to remember the moment!
Thanks to Jacinta again for being so kind and open , stay tuned for the next one in the series where we talk all things decor !! This one is a going to be a good one, Jacinta has a clear ( and gorgeous ) vision for how her day will look and we are working with some of the best in the business to bring it to life!
ByChenai talks weddings and traditions to discontinue on the Big Day Babes Podcast .I never thought I’d hear my own voice on Spotify or Itunes, yet here I am by way of Episode 7 of the Big Day Babes‘ Podcast. These 2 babes in the wedding biz scour the web for the most hilarious /weird and bizarre stories in the wedding world. In this episode I am talking about what I do as a luxury wedding planner , weddings traditions and the 1 thing I believe should be binned/ expelled/ removed from said wedding traditions. I had such a ball recording this episode and without further ado , head over to the link below to have a listen!ByChenai talks weddings and traditions to discontinue on the Big Day Babes Podcast.
As an event planner focusing mostly on luxury weddings, I find when answering queries from potential clients that the same ones always come up , one being “what will it be like to work with you”. Now every planner has their own way, people have a perception that we are all clipboard wielding, blazer wearing and ear piece having characters like the movies portray . Whilst there are certain things you can expect from all of us in terms of what we should be able to help you with, how I support my clients on their journey is very much through open, honest communication and collaboration amongst other things. It’s easy for me to do the sales spin but what I thought would be of more value was to get a REAL ByChenai client to tell you about their wedding planning journey working with me. This first blog is an introduction to this client and some detail on how we ended up working together. It’s very important for me that I feel a good fit with my clients and vice versa, which is why working with this couple is such a joy.Introducing Jacinta & Jeffrey These two London based professionals have their wedding set for December this year at a venue in Essex (more will be revealed later) I’ve asked Jacinta or Jass as she prefers , to talk about their relationship, what led her to me and each blog going forward will talk about where we are in their wedding planning journey.
Please give the readers some background on you and Jeff: Jeffrey and I met in 2017 at his sisters birthday party. We didn’t actually speak to each other during the celebration, it was only at the very end that we said our first hello, established that we had taken a liking to each other and went on to exchange numbers. I later learned that he had seen me earlier on that evening and thought I was cute (Yaay). The moment I knew I fancied Jeffrey was when he was posing with the birthday girl (his sister) and I joined in with everybody who was taking pictures of the sibling-love moment. It was then I thought wow, he’s handsome. it didn’t once cross my mind that he had seen me out of all the other girls that were there that night, but it turns out he had!
We haven’t stopped talking since the day that we met, which again surprised me as I had found that consistency and intentional communication on the dating scene was a real struggle. Since meeting we have done a fair bit of travelling together. So far our favourite destinations have been Santorini & Barbados! Travelling together has helped us really get to know each other and we feel have us the opportunity to see if this relationship was something we could see ourselves long-term.
When did Jeff propose and how did he do it?Jeffrey proposed on the 23rd of March 2019, which was a few days after our 2 year anniversary. He planned a lovely day which consisted of a 5 course vegan dining experience at Vanilla black. I then was told we were heading to an art exhibition at a new gallery that had opened, unbeknown to me this was a little white lie to get us to St. Dunstan in the East garden, a location Jeffrey and our wonderful photographer had picked weeks prior. In this beautiful garden is where he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife! I laughed so much because I was so nervous and honestly could not process it until later that evening where Jeffrey had arranged for my family and closest friends to toast to our engagement. It was when I walked in and saw everybody who had been in on it that I burst into tears and it finally sunk in!
Photos by Ben Achana PhotographyAbout the wedding….When did you start thinking about the wedding/agree budget etc?Not too long after the engagement, we agreed on a budget after we had viewed and set our hearts on our venue. Our rationale for this was we wanted to make sure the budget was built after one of the biggest costs had been factored in. We didn’t want our budget to restrict the type of venue we had, but of course we did have an ideal number in mind of what we would be willing to spend. Did you know straight away you would want a planner?Nope. Initially I was going to plan the wedding with just the help of a few friends who have always been great are organising events and use blogs and tips found on well known wedding blogs and real brides YouTube videos. However, once we had started the process of venue hunting and reaching out to potential vendors, the reality of how much admin management comes with wedding planning, got very real. With both Jeffrey and I’s busy schedules (work, being in the middle of buying a flat and social commitments) we decided to get an expert to come alongside and help us bring our big day together. We also both really wanted to keep stress levels down and enjoy the journey to “I do”. And what better way to do that than patterning with an awesome wedding planner?! Did you know anything about how wedding planners worked or what services they provided?Somewhat. I have a few friends who have recently started growing their event planning businesses and have planned a few big and small weddings. So from casual conversations with them I learnt a few things, however, I found that each service (dependent on the wedding planner themselves) differed. I have always thought and have now found out that wedding planning is a very personal service offered and a genuine connection between the couple and the wedding planner needs to be there for it to really work and essentially bring visions to life. What if anything/had you done so far in terms of arrangements?Before partnering with Chenai, we had only agreed on a date for the big day and had confirmed our venue. How did you find ByChenai?On Instagram, through a wonderful sponsored post that popped up on my timeline! What was the process like of booking her , what made you want to go with her?Once I saw her post, something about her caption completely resonated with me. It had such a personal tone, it was passion filled, yet still came incredibly professional. So, I decided to slide into the DM’s and enquire about her services. I received a response back in less than an hour (her work ethic is admirable!) and she let me know the services she offers, how shes works with her clients and proposed an initial consultation call. The call was great, Chenai explained everything in detail and we had all our burning questions answered. We immediately felt like we were in safe hands, there was a great rapport between Chenai, Jeffrey and I. It turned out to be a no brainer for us, so very soon after the call we emailed Chenai to let her know we would love to move forward with her and she expressed the same! A contract with t’s and c’s were sent over on the next working day with clear details of costings also and the rest is history. And there you have it. Please come back for the next blog where Jass talks to you about the vision for their wedding AND her wedding dress appointments and purchases at The Wedding Gallery & Andrea Hawkes
As a UK Luxury wedding planner and lover of beautiful spaces , I’ve put together a list of luxury wedding venues that satisfies the tastes and requirements of couples whose styles vary from castle grandeur to classic stately home, hotel chic to beautiful barn. There is so much to consider when hiring a venue, I’d like this list to be a starting point to show you what is in UK luxury wedding market.
Where : The Cotswolds
Great for : Exclusive hire, large numbers (240) and decent finish time (12.30pm).Sezincote can host civil ceremonies of 70 and 240 in the Orangery ,receptions are held in a marquee on the glorious lawns of the Persian Gardens. To me , luxury isn’t purely ostentation it is defined as a state of great comfort or elegance. Sezincote House has plenty of this and the exclusivity to boot. Sezincote only hosts 6 weddings a year this would be perfect choice to hold your showstopping luxury marquee wedding.
Hire cost: £8750 for exclusive use of he venue but this does not include Marquee hire costs, catering and admin fee of £250.
Where: London (City)
Great for: Chic , city hotel vibes. Created by the forces behind the Soho House & Co , The Ned is a hotel, club and collection of restaurants in the City of London. You can as easily host a luxe, elegant intimate wedding for 30 guests or a larger reception for up to 200. The Ned is licensed for marriages so you can host both ceremony and reception here should you choose.
Hire cost: Starting from £7500 weekday and £8500 at the weekend. www.thened.com
Photos courtesy of Gyan Gurung https://gyangurung.com
Where: Northamptonshire /Oxfordshire border
Great for: Exclusive hire, quirky and unique decor , Capability Brown designed grounds and creative possibilities abound. You will be blown away by the taxidermy, art pieces and collectables as well as the the Orangery with it’s high ceilings, big windows that offer lots of natural light, the giant disco balls and the stone masonry. I could go on and on but ther are so many ways in which this venue has been styled for weddings and parties it truly is one of he most versatile and interesting spaces out there for UK luxury wedding venues.
Hire Cost: Exclusive hire midweek 1 night stay from £20,500, Weekend wedding hire from £42,500.
Great for: Iconic with a capital I. Decadent celebration has long been linked with this house that has hosted royalty (Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle famously spent the eve of her wedding night here) to Britain’s most expensive wedding . The opportunities for what you can do at this venue are endless, from quiet timeless elegance with as few guests as 20 to over the top production if your budget allows. https://www.clivedenhouse.co.uk/
Great for: Stylish barn wedding set in gorgeous grounds.The Great Barn with its imposing ‘queen post’ roof is the largest brick-built barn in the country, has 180 ‘loop-hole’ windows and can comfortably seat up to 200 + guests . It comes complete with a fully-licensed bar, integrated lighting and sound system, 4-metre projection screen, underfloor heating and a Gallery upstairs, boasting stunning views across the fields.
Hire Cost: Summer 2020 weekend weddings at Hales Hall are from £15,500, which includes exclusive hire of The Great Barn and luxury accommodation for 25+ guests for the whole weekend. Mid-week and off-peak weekend weddings start from £4,800 for the hire of The Great Barn, The Hall starts from £1,750 and Mid-week and off-peak weekend hire of The Cottage, The Gatehouse and The Garden Rooms starts from £500.
Where: Skipton, North Yorkshire
Great for: Absolutely spoilt for choice with the variety of spaces on this sensational estate. From the contemporary Garden Venue for hosting a party of up to 120, to the Eden ‘Party House’ with panoramic views of the stunning Yorskshire Dales countryside , if you fancy a marquee wedding , the house can have a marquee within it’s grounds.
Hire Cost: As there are a variety of spaces on the estate and it also being available to hire exclusively, it is best to enquire directly with venue based on what your your requirements are.
Where: New Forest. Hampshire
Great For: Laid back luxury in the heart of the New forest. This hotel has been included in cool hotel guides from The Times to Mr & Mrs Smith. Available as an exclusive use venue with 33 bedrooms included, Lime Wood is licensed for up to 110 guests for a Ceremony and you can host up to 80 guests for your Wedding Breakfast, without a marquee extension and up to 130 guests for your Wedding Breakfast with a marquee extension (additional costs apply for marquee).
Hire Cost: £39000 inc VAT , accommodation, catering, full run of the house and grounds for you and your guests (Based on 66 guests , additional charges for making those numbers up to 130) https://www.limewoodhotel.co.uk/
Photos courtesy of Gyan Gurung https://gyangurung.com/
Where: Richmond, London.
Great for: The splendour of the Botanic Garden surroundings and classic architecture .Kew is a very versatile venue offering spaces for weddings of varying size and style. As the grounds are open to the public until a certain time, this is venue where you will need all the help you can get to make your wedding work if you are using more than one of their spaces, because time (to set up etc) is limited and strictly adhered to here. Fortunately for you the team at Kew are brilliant at what they do and are adept at ensuring couples have all the support hey need on the day. Hiring a wedding planner is a good idea if you are having multiple venue use and want to style it out. ByChenai is in the throws of planning an October wedding here so keep your eyes peeled on the blog for that one!
Hire Cost: Fees for a Classic Wedding as an example. (up to 200 guests, ceremony drinks reception and dinner /dancing in the Orangery) Monday to Thursday: £8,500 + VAT (except bank holidays) Friday: £9,500 + VAT (except bank holidays) Saturday & Sunday: £11,500 + VAT. https://www.kew.org/venue-hire
Where: South Kensington, London
Great for: WOW factor reception parties (the venue does not have a marriage licence as yet) Ever since SATC where Carrie (almost) was married in the New York Public library, I developed an affinity to listed and heritage buildings in our great city so a V&A luxury wedding is definitely on my personal wish list. I mean consider where you would be, an iconic, unique historical building and if the weather is behaving, hosting a drinks reception in the John Madejski garden.
Hire cost: There are a surprising number of option for spaces as well as timescales for the duration of your event so costs are varying. https://www.vam.ac.uk
Where : London
Great for: The glamour, the glamour, the glamour. Long renowned for its elegant parties, this has to be my personal favourite of the glamorous London hotels of this kind of pedigree. Boasting sensational views from your bridal suite to the grand Lancaster ballroom, the largest of the rooms in the hotel, that can host your fabulous reception, you really can marry your personal style with that of the grandeur of the spaces. The beauty of the Savoy is that they cater to luxury weddings of varying sizes , so if an intimate affair is more your street, keep The Savoy on your shortlist. The Savoy’s multi cultural credentials are strong, catering to luxury Asian and luxury African weddings amongst others, with chefs who are trained in a variety of cuisines.
Pricing: Enquire directly based on size and scale of your wedding. https://www.thesavoylondon.com/savoy-weddings/
This list is by no means exhaustive and I am going to follow with another collection however you are probably one of the many at the start of their planning journey and wondering what to do next, I’d say create your shortlist and arrange a visit ofcourse. Alternatively get in touch with Chenai for more information and advice on how to plan your UK luxury wedding email@example.com
*Pricing quoted is valid as at 6th January 2020
*Image source Pinterest unless otherwise stated