Thursday, September 30, 2010

Favourite Wedding Venues...Shendish Manor

A piece about some of our favourite venues is well overdue on this blog.  We've been privileged enough to work at some really stunning ones, so writing about them all is just a matter of time.  We thought we'd kick off with one that we saw only today.  It was the perfect day to see it, as the sun has been shining here in this part of Hertfordshire for a full 8 hours or more!

Here are our thoughts on Shendish Manor. 

You kind of have to ignore the drive to the venue, if we are truthful, as Apsley and Hemel Hempstead aren't that easy on the eye. (For us anyway!) Don't let that cloud your judgement though, as once you turn off the main road and the Manor greets you at the end of a long driveway, it really is a pretty sight. 

The house itself is steeped in history.  The origins of the Shendish name go back to Norman times, when William the Conqueror’s brother is believed to have sub-let the farmhouse which was on the site to a Ralf de Chenduit, whose surname gradually became corrupted over time to the current Shendish pronunciation.

In 1853 it was acquired by Charles Longman who demolished farmhouse and built the present Shendish Manor.  In the first world war it was used an army camp.  Now it's a gorgeous venue for weddings and other events.

We liked the whole feel of the place.  It felt intimate, even though the newer part of the venue has a capacity of 350 people!

We particularly loved the gardens.  As we said earlier, the sun was shining and that always helps, but the grounds were absolutely stunning with mature trees, old brick walls, and a beautiful Gazebo which is licensed for outdoor ceremonies.  If you are hunting for a venue with the option of getting married outdoors, this one is certainly worth a look!  Tell them Clare Beckwith sent you!
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Give your wedding the personal touch!

We are once again delighted to be featured across the entire suite of County Wedding Magazines, with our thoughts and ideas on giving your wedding the personal touch.  Check us out on page 74 of the Herts and Beds issue.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Style tips for...The Mother of the Bride

At a wedding fayre recently, I had the opportunity to talk to quite a few ‘Mothers of the Bride’ who have been looking for advice about what to wear at their daughter’s wedding. With so much choice on the high street, and the new season’s ranges now in stock, I took the opportunity to ask guest blogger Isobel Kershaw from the NHJ Style Consultancy “What should the modern day Mother of the Bride be wearing this Autumn?”
Here are her thoughts...

When it comes to a wedding, the second most important outfit after the bride’s is The Mother of the Bride; however, if you are the Mother of the Groom, I don’t want you to feel that you aren’t important as well!

I’m afraid though as etiquette goes, the Bride’s mother gets first choice in deciding what colour she is going the wear and the Groom’s mother possibly needs to coordinate – they must not be in the same colour and it is advisable not to clash, just for the photo albums sake!

Even though there may be a colour scheme for the bridal party, the mothers do not need to match. They simply need to compliment the bride’s chosen colour scheme and there are some great colours which will sit well with every option - navy and neutrals for instance.

Many Mothers of the Bride often opt for the dress or skirt suit, which after the wedding may not be that flexible. I’ve put together some alternative ideas to inspire you, for a stylish look that can be worn again and again.

1. The dress and jacket, as opposed to the dress suit

The Tina dress @ LK Bennett

This gorgeous dress is beautifully cut for a figure flattering silhouette for all body shapes. Team it with the Greta lace jacket from Coast for a wonderful Autumn/Winter wedding.

Greta Lace Jacket @ Coast
2. The Skirt and Jacket
Skirts are the most flattering for pear and hourglass shapes as they define the waist whilst covering more shapely thighs. So here are some options for a perfect Mother of the Bride look.

Navy striped skirt@ Reiss
This is a really stylish skirt shape from Reiss. Ensure that there is little or no detail at the top of the skirt because you will want to keep your top out to elongate the torso.  Less bulk at the waistband means a slimmer tum!

Navy knit top @ Karen Millen
Team it with this beautiful navy knit top with satin trim from Karen Millen for an elegant yet understated look, and go wild with the accessories to dress it up as much as you want. Choose a fabulous pair of shoes and finish with a statement necklace and shimmery wrap.

Hallie shoe by KG
Pendant @ Jaeger
3. The Trouser Ensemble
Many of you may feel more comfortable in trousers and you can still look very glamorous and feminine at the same time. In fact this is the season where trousers are dominating in evening wear and so the options are good.
I would recommend a wide flowing trouser which is softer and can then be teamed with a glam evening top and possibly a jacket depending on the time of the wedding.

Wide-leg trousers @ Jaeger
This pair of elegant wide-leg silk linen trousers from Jaeger is not only perfect for a wedding and many occasions beyond, they are also bang on trend as a colour option this season.

Pamela top @ Coast
Add a vibrant feminine top called ‘Pamela’ from Coast, and give it that Mother of the Bride touch with an elegant cream jacket from Jaeger and finish off with some statement pearls also from Jaeger.

Cream Jacket @ Jaeger
Pearls from Jaeger
And finally – we haven’t talked hats yet.  Whilst they may be more common at a church venue, it is always the Mother’s prerogative to wear one. Ensure the brim is no wider than your shoulders and if it is too big, sew in a few darts in the grosgrain trim inside the hat for a perfect fit.

If it is an evening wedding, you may want to opt for a fascinator or jewelled hair piece and remember, you don’t have to match it up with your outfit if you are wearing up to 2 colours.

My Hot Tips for Mother of the Bride looks:

1. Think about the flexibility of the outfit and whether you can wear it after.

2. Try not match up your outfit, especially with your shoes and bag. Contrast for a more current and youthful look.

3. Always buy clothes that suit your body shape and you will feel more confident and more comfortable during the big event.

4. Ensure your shoes are stylish but comfortable.

5. Be adventurous with your accessories to ensure you achieve the right look.

6. And the finishing touches are always important so treat yourself to make-up and hair.

Photo credits:,,,,,
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Latimer Place Wedding Fayre

We are just unpacking from the Latimer Place wedding fayre near Chesham in Buckinghamshire. It was a great show and it was really lovely to have a chat with so many brides-to-be, grooms-to-be and their parents. At the show, we handed out some competition leaflets to win a personal shopping experience to find your perfect gown.  There are now just a few days to go until the deadline of Friday 17th September, so log onto to enter today!

Meanwhile, here are some pictures from the show...

Our special thanks go to Beth at Be Vintage and the girls at Jonnyssister for supporting us at the show.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Real weddings: Sharon and Darren on their day to remember

Whilst working at Hanbury Manor, I met a great new photographer, Russell Neal.  He was a complete dream to work with and his relaxed approach really suited Sharon and Darren's day which was filled with fun and laughter from the moment they arrived!  He has sent me selection of shots which I wanted to share with you.

Sharon and Darren had a beautiful wedding at St Andrew's Church in Much Hadham and after the ceremony, they arrived in style at Hanbury Manor's Garden Court in a vintage Rolls Royce.

My special thanks go to Sharon and Darren Mansfield for their permission to use these photos.

Photo credit:
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stunning bridesmaids dresses...from the high street

Gotta tell you about the stunning new season occasionwear by Karen Millen, which is perfect for any glamorous bridesmaid.  We've been a KM fan since they opened their first store in Maidstone, Kent back in 1983 (...think we might be showing our age now!), and it just gets better and better.

This elegant 'limited edition' signature column dress stopped us in our tracks, but there are plenty of others to feast your eyes on.

And then there are the shoes...

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Some kind words

We've been working hard at Hanbury Manor during the Summer, overseeing the weddings of some really lovely couples.  It made it all worthwhile when these kind words popped up on our email the other day from the Bestman to Sharon and Mark Pringle...

"Clare, your attention to detail, focus and high energy plus an extraordinary level of good humour turned a lovely day into a wonderful day and your efforts were appreciated by all that were there. I cannot recommend you and your team highly enough for any function, from Wedding to corporate, you will be in safe hands"

Now, we have smiles on our faces!
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wedding entertainment ideas

Every bride wants her day to be special and different to other weddings. Of course having live music and entertainers will always make your wedding unique. Plenty of people organise a harpist or string quartet to play background music during the drinks reception and wedding breakfast, which is lovely, but there are so many other choices available.

So, if you are in the process of organising your wedding entertainment, why not consider some of these alternative options suggested by Susan Heaton-Wright from NSN Productions.

1. Gospel Singers. They could sing during your wedding ceremony and throughout the drinks reception. At NSN, our Gospel Singers are singing at a wedding which is being filmed for ‘Four Weddings’. They will lead the hymns if you are having a church ceremony and generally ‘up’ the energy levels!

2. Mix and Mingle artistes. This could include singers, moving musicians and magicians who entertain guests during the drinks reception. This is often a time when everyone is waiting around for the bride and groom to finish having their photographs taken, so entertaining guests in this way is great fun and really memorable. Surprise singing guests: singers who mingle with guests and suddenly burst into song is also great fun and unforgettable. At NSN, one of our most popular musicians is ‘The Romantic Tenor’ who serenades guests during drinks receptions.

3. Wedding ceremonies can be made special by musicians playing both before and after the ceremony. Music can really relax the atmosphere and provide a welcoming environment for your guests, so why not ask the musicians to play 15 minutes before the ceremony and for 10 minutes afterwards.

4. If you are having a church ceremony, why not consider having a professional singer, while the register is being signed. You could also ask the singer to lead the hymns. We find it can really help to encourage shy guests to join in the singing too! Alternatively, you could consider booking the church choir to lead the singing which will always be memorable.

5. Consider times during the day when there isn’t much going on; when photos are being taken for example, or after the wedding breakfast and before the evening reception. Guests are often kept waiting for the next thing to happen. As well as the mix and mingle artistes, magicians and surprise singing guests that we mentioned earlier, you could also consider singing waiters who are a complete surprise for guests and make everyone laugh! If you have a hired a themed band for the evening – such as a 50s or Jazz band, why not employ the services of a dance teacher to show your guests a few dance steps in preparation for the evening. Older guests will enjoy showing younger ones how it is done!

6. One of the most memorable weddings I attended had a Ceilidh which included a number of people singing; dancing and playing instruments. The band had an excellent caller, but the bride and groom also invited guests to perform. It is so memorable when a musical friend or family member plays an instrument or sings at your wedding.

Credits: Our thanks go to Susan Heaton-Wright,
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