Monday, 12 November 2018



Can you afford a professional venue stylist? 

Wait a minute……surely the question should be “how can you afford NOT to have a professional making sure your wedding day is perfectly decorated, beyond your wildest Pinterest dreams?”
wedding venue stylist dorset
Beautifully styled wedding at Chewton Glen by Love By Design Weddings.
No stress. No on the day décor panics. No well meaning friends and relatives trying their best but just not quite getting it…..
This blog post focuses on the pros and cons of decorating and styling your wedding venue yourself.

One comment I hear a lot at wedding fairs I attend is that the bride and her friends are going to dress the venue themselves. While this is an exciting and fun idea, there are definitely elements of venue dressing that aren’t thought about in as much detail as they need to be.
When there is so much inspiration from magazines and Pinterest boards, it’s easy to see why lots of brides to be love to make and set up all of their own wedding decorations for their big day! 
Wedding Decorator Dorset
Handmade Wedding Decorations and Hessian Chair Sashes at Smedmore House by Love By Design Weddings.

Photo Credit: RedManhattan Photography
My advice is stick to the easy ideas such as decorated jars – but save the incredibly difficult ones for a professional, as you will only end up beating yourself up when you just can’t pull them off, and who needs that extra stress anyway?
And that is one of the key things to consider when deciding whether to decorate your venue yourself: are you actually able to do it? Take it from me that more goes into venue decoration than you would expect. 
One of my most popular services is hanging paper lanterns. Every single lantern must be put together and strung, and the venue has to be happy with the way the lanterns are secured to their fittings. It also requires a very large ladder, public liability insurance, a vehicle for transporting the ladder and equipment – and somebody who doesn’t mind height! It’s certainly not an easy task to do with freshly painted nails!

A brightly coloured paper lantern canopy at Charisworth Farm by Love By Design Weddings.
You’ll need to climb up and down around 20 steps per lantern; imagine doing that for a canopy of 50 lanterns on a marquee ceiling! Your legs will end up covered in ladder bruises – take it from me, I am embarrassed to show my legs! Also, 9 times out of 10, you’re dodging all the beautifully laid out tables that the venue have already set up and making sure the wine glasses and centrepieces don’t get knocked to the floor. Suddenly it’s not the relaxing morning of bridal prep with champagne that you were hoping for.
My advice is if you want to do it yourself, keep it simple. Do something your friends and family can get involved in and make it fun! Get the girls sticking name labels onto favours or wrapping hessian round a jar over a few bottles of wine.

Weddings at the Kings Arms Christchurch Dorset
Hand made chair decorations by Love By Design Weddings.
But ALWAYS remember your budget. Those perfect Pinterest weddings will have had thousands of pounds thrown at them, and many are simply images from styled photo shoots with great lighting and professional photography.
A lot of brides-to-be choose to DIY it because they think it will save them money. Beware: DIY is often false economy.My couples are very surprised when they hear how reasonably priced I actually am. This is because it is cheaper to hire décor than it is to buy it, as I reuse my stock, allowing me to cheap my costs down. So while I would never dissuade anyone from doing it themselves, I would advise that you really think about everything thoroughly. This is the most exciting and memorable day of your life, and there are certainly some things you can do to put your own stamp on it – but definitely leave some things to the experts. It’s what we do best after all!

Venue decorator dorset
A fairy light backdrop created at The Kings Arms Christchurch by Love By Design Weddings.
In conclusion, deciding whether or not to decorate your own venue depends on various factors. Are you able to make all of the decorations you want or are some of them too difficult? Will you have enough time to set everything up? Does your venue require public liability insurance for you to set up decorations? Most of all – will you enjoy it, and how much will it impact your big day if something doesn’t work out? It can take our team two days to set up some venues. Can you spare that time while rushing between last minute appointments?

2019 dates are booking up fast. Venue styling consultations are free in Christchurch (a small fee applies for venue visit consultations) so don't delay - book your appointment today and find out more about our venue decoration service for your Dorset or Hampshire wedding!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

A Hygge Inspired Wedding Shoot

Finding inspiration for wedding styling outside of the traditional themes is something I love to do! There is so much beauty in the world around us and often we have items within our own homes that reflect everything we love. For me, it's candles, lanterns, photos of my family, cosy blankets and fluffy cushions - everything that says love, warmth, cosiness, simple pleasures and intimacy.

These feelings and ideas are what the Danish word "hygge" are all about. Candlelight, textures, favourite things, friends and good food are the foundations of Danish life. 

So I thought a hygge wedding would be divine! I wanted to show how your day can be full of wonderful moments, happiness, love and comfort and all on a budget, using lots of items you may already own. So, snuggle up, get cosy and read on...

The Venue

I wanted somewhere intimate and small, ideally with open fireplaces, wooden floors and a sense of history. East Cliff Cottage Hotel is the home of the former American actor Stuart Granger, and retains all the charm with its panelled walls, exposed floorboards and feature fireplaces! Added to this, the venue can only seat around 24 wedding guests, making it the perfect cosy venue for a small wedding reception.

Wedding Reception Venues Bournemouth

The Decor

I have always loved interior design and I wanted to show that a wedding can be relaxed and cosy while still being stylish! The rustic theme is still very much evident and the colour scheme of was white, grey, gold and greens. I filled the room with lanterns, flickering candles, wooden crates, log slices and pine cones. 

Venue decorator in Dorset

Hygge wedding inspiration and ideas

Ideas for a rustic weddings

Rustic wedding styling ideas

rustic wedding decoration ideas

Hygge wedding ideas

The seating plan was created from a reclaimed wooden vintage ladder, with twine and wooden pegs holding the table plans in place. A hygge wedding generally features something vintage, as it's very comforting, so this seemed perfect!

rustic wedding table plan ideas

The Details

The East Cliff Cottage Hotel has a lovely cosy lounge area with sofas and a little bar. I used chunky knitted blankets and faux furs to decorate here, inviting guests to snuggle up! I chose mulled wine over champagne as the welcome drink, but hot chocolate would be a lovely choice too!

Hygge wedding inspiration

Wedding stylist in Dorset

Hygge wedding ideas

Hygge wedding ideas

Wooden decorations and a natural theme are the perfect way to bring the outside in and add texture and detail to the tables.

Hygge themed wedding table

Wedding venue stylist in Dorset

Food at a hygge wedding is about comfort and nourishing the soul. Think roast dinners and warm puddings! It is also a chance to use your favourite foods as place settings. I love the colour and shape of pears, and used them as place settings. No hygge table is complete without bread; here it has been wrapped in a linen napkin, hessian and twine, with a sprig of rosemary to add colour.

natural wedding table decoration ideas

Hygge wedding ideas

Ideas for decorating wedding tables

The Flowers

Natasha, our florist on the shoot, loves walking in the woods so she foraged around and picked natural organic materials.

She made a moss ring around a hurricane vase, with many textures including velvety leaves, shiny laurel, woody fir cones, variegated ivy, and holly. The foliage complimented the candle light, wooden floors and homely decor that bought the whole ' hygge' experience together.

Warm gold tones also made up a standing vase arrangement which included willow and proteas.

With a beautiful fireplace as the focal point, Natasha created an arrangement of linear flowers which is used widely in Europe. To finish of the fireplace, she made an 8ft garland full of natural foliage which smelt of pine and firs and brought the outside in.

Wedding florist in Bournemouth

wedding flowers in bournemouth

Wedding wreaths in bournemouth

The Cakes

When researching a little into the hygge way of live, it was clear that although indulgence was key, keeping it simple was going to be a must. So we all decided upon a dessert table. Bekki from The Sweet Suite made a range of cakes. For the focal cake, slices of dried fruit and cinnamon sticks were used to tie it in with the rest of the decor. Lots of little sweet treats were included, macarons, brownies and mini cakes; all alongside an indulgent chocolate cake and a cinnamon swirl cake. 

Wedding cake inspiration

Bundt wedding cake inspiration

Hygge inspired wedding cake

Hygge wedding cakes

Dorset wedding cake maker

Wedding cakes in Dorset

Best wedding cakes in Dorset

The Dress Code

Hygge weddings are about being relaxed and comfortable. Let your guests wear their favourite jumpers! For the wedding dress, we chose to showcase my very own cotton lace dress from the Ella Rosa range by Kenneth Winston. The pattern of leaves and flowers seemed fitting for the natural vibe of the photo shoot and it is an indulgent, stunning choice with a high level of detail. I love how the deliccate dress sits in contrast to the fake fur throws on the sofa.

Ella Rosa BE277

The indulgent feel continued with our choice of bridal shoes. Again, these were my very own wedding shoe! From Kurt Geiger, this delicate pale gold shoe shimmers in the light. Warmth, indulgence and textures all rolled into one.

Hygge wedding inspirations

Kenneth Winston wedding dress

I hope you have been inspired by this blog post to bring elements of hygge into your own wedding day!

Photo credit: RGW Photos

Monday, 16 October 2017

Real Life Wedding - Anna and Will

village halls for weddings in hampshire
Background image by Rachel Elizabeth Photography

On the 19th of August 2017, Anna Hitchcock married Will Stafford. Anna has kindly agreed to share their story with me for you all to enjoy.

The Proposal

Will proposed on Winter Solstice ( 21st December 2016) above Lulworth Cove. It was a very romantic surprise. He made up a story that we were going to stay with one of his old uni friends who had recently moved near Lulworth for the night to celebrate Christmas with them. I was a little apprehensive as I didn't know them and we had never met. However he said before we go round his friend's house we were going to go for a walk above Lulworth and then a drink in the pub. Will wanted to catch the sunset as they are beautiful up there. So off we marched through the village, Will checking his watch because he didn't want to miss the sunset.. we got to the footpath the led to the top of the hill. This was shut, due to landslide. So with only about 10 mins to spare before the sunset Will marched me up a different but very steep footpath with the promise that it would be worth it at the top.  We got to the top, found the perfect spot, sat down and watched the rain clouds roll in with no sunset in sight. It didn't matter as it was still a pretty good view. The next thing I know as we are sitting there is Will had got on to one knee and proposed to me. It couldn't have been more beautiful. The ring that Will preseted me was beautiful and one of a kind as he had it made especially for me. It was a "be kind not mined" engagement ring from Kintique jewellery in Cornwall. This ring also very strangely matched my mum's engagement ring even though Will had never seen it, with two emeralds either side of a diamond. We toasted our engagement on top of the hill with some hot mulled wine which Will had the foresight to bring in a flask. It was perfect. We then celebrated with a meal and stay over at the Castle Inn in Lulworth, of course accompanied by our dog Nelson.
Photo by Leigh Cousins

The Dress
I wore an Alfred Angelo Disney Princess "Cinderella style 205" dress, which I found on eBay for a really good price. When the dress arrived it was perfect. I was so happy with it, I would say it was probably my best money saving purchase of the whole wedding. To tie in the green colour theme I was having throughout the wedding, I found the perfect belt to go with the dress on Etsy from a seller in the US.

The Groom

Will had a 3 piece tweed suit made to measure which he purchased from a local company called Rogue Gentleman in Fareham, Hampshire. 

Weddings Rachel Elizabeth Photography
Photo by Rachel Elizabeth Photography
I thought he looked extremely handsome in his suit and I couldn't wait to become his wife. 😊

The Bridesmaids

I had five bridesmaids in total. They are:

Rebecca Ephgrave (MOH) (nickname Effie). Effie runs her own paper flower bouquet company ( and very kindly offered to make my wedding and the bridesmaids bouquets and the button holes for the groomsmen and our parents. I was speechless when Effie showed me my bouquet, it was stunning. I am so lucky to have such a talented best friend.  Effie's talents didn't just stop there she also made my bridal hair piece, plus hairpieces for all the bridesmaids and my picture frame for my pop up photo booth.

Paper Flower Wedding Bouquet
Anna's flowers
Michelle Turner - Michelle did my wedding make up on the day, she made me look flawless and kept me looking flawless throughout the day. Again I am very lucky to have such talented friends.

Rebecca Stone (Dotty) - Dotty came early on Friday and helped with the set up of the village hall; her support and calming influence was invaluable thoughout the whole wedding.

Rowena Stone - Rowena was my calming influence on the morning of the wedding, she kept things light and cheerful with lots of laughter and banter, plus supplying the bucks fizz, which helped keep me calm in the lead up.

Eleanor Stafford (sister in law)- Eleanor sang during the ceremony. It was a lovely piece called the Galic Blessing, which she sung beautifully accompanied by my mother in law Annabel on the piano. It brought tears to my eyes during the ceremony when I heard her beautiful voice. 

Uplyme Village Hall Wedding
Anna and her bridesmaids

All my bridesmaids purchased their own dresses, all I asked was that they were in a shade of either emerald or forest green. This then enabled them to each choose a dress which they would be comfortable wearing. All of the dresses they purchased were under £50. I tied all the dresses in together by given them all the same diamante belt, jewellery and hair pieces to wear. They all wore either silver or gold shoes. They all looked absolutely beautiful on the day and I couldn't believe how well they all went together.

The Venues

We chose Damerham village hall first for our wedding reception. We chose this venue as the grounds are very beautiful with the hanging willow trees and the stream at the end. The hall is a lovely size and very bright and airy. What also helped us decide is the fact you can hire it from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning, and there is also a bar available if you want it for an extra £50. In the hall there are two rooms available to use, which is handy, and a very well stocked kitchen with all the plates,cutlery, chairs and tables for 120 people . it was all really good value at £500.

Wedding at Uplyme Village Hall.

Our wedding ceremony was at the Medieval Hall in Salisbury, in the grounds of Salisbury cathedral It used to be the old banqueting hall for the Deanery. The Medieval Hall has a lovely atmosphere; neither Will or I wanted a church wedding; however by having our wedding ceremony at the Medieval Hall it still gave it that special feeling that you wouldn't get in a registry office. We also had a drinks reception at the hall afterwards, which allowed us to mingle with guest and have photos taken. 

Weddings Medieval Hall Salisbury

The Theme

I chose the colour emerald green, as it is one of my favourite colours but also because I love emeralds .This is the stone of my engagement ring. As the wedding planning progressed I also decided I wanted really bright coloured flowers in jam jars on the tables. I then decided I wanted to bring in bright colours in to the main ceiling decorations, so I decided on brightly coloured lanterns and bunting but kept the green theme going by decorating all my jam jars with green and lace ribbon, I also had green chair sashes and green ribbon on my napkins. There were also splashes of green in my wedding bouquet.

Bright colour wedding decoration ideasSparkly Silver Wedding Shoes

The Highlight of My Day

The main highlight was when we were pronounced man and wife. It was an amazing feeling. Another memory that sticks in my head from the wedding ceremony is when Will and I stepped down from the dais, Will took Nelson's lead from the best man and we started to walk down the aisle. As we did Nelson stopped and looked back at both of us, just as the words "you've got a friend in me" were sung and the 3 of us walked out together to lots of aahs and applause. It was lovely. 

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 I also enjoyed just going round and speaking to all the guests. I met some of Wills uni friends for the first time, and it was lovely to chat to them and hear funny stories about Will. Another lovely highlight is that one of my old friends Paula came to my evening reception. Myself, Effie and Dotty hadn't seen Paula in 10 years, so we had a mini reunion and it was just like old times with lots of laughs and catching up.

The Venue Decorator

I discovered Love By Design Weddings though Facebook, when I started look for a decorating service. I looked at Rachel's page and I really loved how she had decorated Uplyme village hall. I could see that we both would share similar ideas on how to decorate Damerham Village Hall.

Rachel gave excellent service, right for the beginning. Her communication was  always friendly and quick. When we met at Damerham village hall, Rachel was very affable and easy to talk to. Rachel had lots of great ideas but was also happy to listen to my own and what I wanted. 

Rachel came on the Friday to start with the set up. Her prescence at the village hall was greatly appreciated and she was very calm and helped me to give directions to family and friends who were helping.

Wedding Venue Decoration Service Dorset Hampshire Village Hall

Rachel did all my ceiling decorations for both the main hall and annexe room. In the large hall she decorated the ceilng with bright paper lanterns interspersed with lights and bunting, and then created a fairy light wall at one end of the hall where the band were playing. In the annexe room Rachel decorated the ceiling with bunting and fairy lights. Rachel also supplied a vintage white ladder, which I used for my table plan. All the decorations looked amazing. I had lots of lovely comments. When the evening came all the lanterns and fairy lights looked even more beautiful. 

Fairy light backdrop hire Dorset

Vintage Ladder for hire weddings dorset hampshire

The Best Thing About Using A Venue Decorator

The best thing was it took the stress out of it all. The decorations were the main thing I was worrying about as I knew it would be a big job. As soon as I booked Rachel it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and helped me get on with the rest of my wedding planning. 

Damerham Village Hall Wedding

My Wedding Tips

Talk to each other about what you both want from the day. Share ideas. Be prepared to compromise.

Create a budget plan to help keep track of who and what you have paid. 

Share jobs and tasks so one person isnt burdened with it all. 

Dont let the wedding planning overshadow everything. Make sure you take time out from the planning and just enjoy being engaged. 

Use 2nd hand sites, eBay, Facebay, carboots and charity shops to find your wedding bargains. 

Utilise your friends and family for their skills and help.

My Favourite Photo

There are so many to choose from! This one, which is my Facebook cover photo with Nelson.

Dog Friendly wedding venues


Many thanks to Rachel Elizabeth Photography for allowing me to use her beautiful photos in my blog.