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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.

Jacinta & Jeffrey , ByChenai clients.

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.

Jacinta & Andrea Hawkes at Andrea’s London studio.

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.

Jacinta jumping for joy at the prospect of trying some really fabulous gowns at the Wedding Gallery .

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!

Finding the right wedding dress for you

May 25, 2020

Wedding Planning Advice

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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.

ByChenai X Big Day Babes Podcast

May 23, 2020


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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.

1. Sezincote House

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.

2. The Ned

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.

3. Aynhoe Park

Photos courtesy of Gyan Gurung
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.

4. Cliveden House

Where: Berkshire
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.

5. Hales Hall – The Great Barn

Where: Norfolk
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.

6. Broughton Hall

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.

7. Lime Wood Hotel

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)

8 . Kew Gardens

Photos courtesy of Gyan Gurung
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.

9. The Victoria & Albert Museum ( The V& A)

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.

10. The Savoy

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.

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

*Pricing quoted is valid as at 6th January 2020
*Image source Pinterest unless otherwise stated


January 6, 2020




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