Wedding venues

how to make your wedding personal to you



Risking sounding like a broken record I can’t believe how quickly this year is going! Everyone said the year of wedding planning would race by and they weren’t wrong! We had another meeting at our wedding venue Coombe Trenchard on Friday which was absolutely lovely! Its made us feel we are definitely on track and Sarah and Emily are so lovely and accommodating … you really feel like they want your wedding to be a true reflection of you as a couple and not like you are just another in a long train of couples who need to fit around them and how their wedding venue works. I know from speaking to so many brides and grooms over the years that this is not always the case so I feel very luck to have found such a wonderful venue.

It got me thinking about how that is my favourite part of working with my couples who order stationery from me. Whether the stationery is one of my standard collections or a completely bespoke design I always try my best to make the invitations as personal to them and their wedding as possible. Its why I will never place any restrictions on wording or give couples a template they have to stick to … It’s just not what I think weddings are about!

So how do you make your wedding personal to you as possible ?

Ditch the rule book!

I think one of the main questions I get asked all the time when clients are planning their weddings is “is this how it’s normally done?”. To be fair I can understand. Planning a wedding is something most people will have never done before. You often have no idea about where to even start, let alone what you should and shouldn’t include. Its often much easier to say well if this is how it’s traditionally done lets go with that. But I think with every decision that you make with regards to your wedding you have to sit back for a minute and ask yourself is this something which is right for us as a couple? Several times during my wedding planning I’ve felt like I ‘should’ have something because I know somebody in the industry who does that thing. Ant has been brilliant though, as an industry outsider, for checking for a second and saying that’s not really us is it! So for everything a magazine ‘tells’ you you ‘should’ have take a minute to decide whether you want it. Don’t be swayed by tradition if its not who you are. We, for example, are not having adult bridesmaids or ushers and we are walking in to our ceremony together and spending the night before together. I’m not one for superstition.

Create a moodboard

Whether this be a physical board, scrapbook or a collection of images on Pinterest, spend some time before you really start planning to look at ideas that appeal to you both and what you love and loath about weddings. Don’t limit yourself to wedding images though! No-one wants to see another identikit Pinterest wedding! They want to see you and your personalities. So include in your moodboard things you love to do in your spare time, books you love, films you adore … what your passions are. You will often find that this naturally creates an idea of how you would like your wedding to look … sometimes it might even suggest a colour scheme you may not have realised you have to your life! We have started decorating our new house in a palette of navy’s and greys with pops of colour and so it seemed natural to include navy in our wedding scheme … a very pale pastel wedding would just not have been us.

Think about your friends and family

How do those closest to you see you as a couple ? You want your day to reflect who you are and how people see you. Asking friends and family for what they see as ‘your’ colour or personality might be really interesting and throw up things you may never have thought of. (Although obviously make sure they don’t think they can get too involved!) Its also lovely to think about what your friends and family like to do and how to incorporate things that they will find fun into the day as well. There is no point having a day which reflects you both completely if everyone of your guests is going to have a miserable time!

I really hope that gives you a starting point for your own wedding planning and how to make it personal to you. We’ve had so much fun planning our ideas that I hope everyone else enjoys it too!

Nikki x


Gorgeous Magical Wedding Venue Dartmoor – Ever After Dartmoor

Today I want to carry on sharing with you some of my favourite wedding venues in Devon and the South West. Often these are venues which we looked at ourselves when we looked for a venue for our own wedding. Each venue we looked at was often somewhere I already new and adored but wanted my partner Ant to see to get his reaction as quite frankly I would never have been able to pick! The wedding venue Dartmoor I want to share with you today is no exception.



Ever After Dartmoor , in Lower Grenofen, is one of the first venues which I visited when I first moved down to Devon and was one of the first venues I put on my own shortlist to go and see. The owner Nicola is just lovely and one of the main draws of getting married at Ever After would be to have Nicola in charge of your wedding … she really covers everything with you and is incredibly organised!

Ever After is a beautiful secluded little venue just south of Tavistock on the edge of Dartmoor and feels like you are in your own gorgeous riverside ‘glen’ for the duration of your wedding. The riverside walk is one of the highlights and would make for some beautiful photos and couple shots for your photographer. The feeling at Ever After is beautiful and serene but also with a definite modern edge. The modern marquee set up and the gardens are laid out in a way that would easily suit any wedding scheme.

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One of the big draws for me which almost swung out decision was the amazing honeymoon cottage which is also used by the bride and party to get ready the night before the wedding. Incredibly stylishly decorated it has a gorgeous kitchen and lounge area plus a huge dressing area with mirrors perfect for getting ready the morning of the wedding, and the most stunning bedroom with a balcony looking out over the gardens.

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The other great thing on offer is the range of styling items and furniture which is available to you as part of the package … Nicola has everything from candles and lanterns, different styles of chairs … all the way through to vintage carts which would be perfect for a dessert table. The venue is also beautifully lit and is a really magical space once the sun has gone down for your evening reception.

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They also work with a fantastic prefered caterer who has an amazing reputation in Devon and the local area so one of the big draws to booking a wedding at Ever After would be the amazing food options … perfect if you are a bit of foodie like me.

So, although it didn’t end up being the perfect venue for us … mainly because we decided we wanted something that reflected our love of historic houses … Ever After really is a very special venue as should definitely be considered if you are looking for a wedding venue Dartmoor or the South West.

Coastal Wedding Venue In Cornwall

Today I’m sharing details of a spectacular coastal wedding venue in Cornwall.

I have mentioned before that in the process of our own wedding planning so far this year we spent a weekend visiting some of our favourite wedding venues in the South West to narrow down to where we wanted to get married. To be honest we loved every venue we visited for different reasons so ended up having to discount venues purely on practical issues related to our wedding and guests. However, quite honestly I would have loved to have got married in every single one of them!

One of the venues we visited but ultimately discounted was the amazing Rosevine down in Cornwall.


The first thing that drew us to The Rosevine was its absolutely spectacular views and location! It really is a spectacular place to get married with a edge of coast location and views over the Roseland Penisula and its own beach!

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The hotel is incredibly stylishly decorated and has lots of accommodation options for guests, plus you get exclusive use of the venue between September and June it offers so much more than the usual wedding package. We discussed amazing food options, a beach bbq on the friday for our guests and Sunday brunch. It really offers a whole weekend celebration and even has a swimming pool for your guests to use. Up to 65 guests can be accommodated in the house itself or you can spill out onto the gorgeous lawn overlooking the sea and set up a marquee or tipi to create room for a bigger wedding.

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Plus there are the fantastic accommodation options as I mentioned. Fifteen guest studios and apartment style suites sleep up to 34 adults and 12 children, and really are like proper apartments rather than just hotel rooms for your guests for the weekend. I have to say this was one of the main reasons, other than the location, we looked at the Rosevine as so many of our guests were coming from across the country.


And the food options are incredibly flexible … There’s no such thing as a set menu but they are full of wedding food ideas, with an excellent chef. You can start the day with breakfast boxes delivered to your suites as you prepare for the day ahead, gather on the lawn for Champagne and canapés, feast on your favourite food for the main event, and whilst you dance the night away, home made mini pasties and a Cornish cheese board make great late night munchies.

Its a great venue, especially for anyone who lives elsewhere in the country and is considering getting married in Cornwall. Just the perfect coastal wedding venue!


Quirky Fantasy Wedding Venue in Devon

Today I want to introduce you to one of my favourite wedding venues down here in Devon. In actual fact it was on the shortlist of wedding venues for our wedding for next year … and the only reason we discounted it was due to final numbers.

I first discovered Glazebrook House after seeing its stunning interior in a photo shoot styled by the Blue Fizz Events team which was featured in Devon’s Wed Magazine last year The one of my clients who was having a fantasty literature inspired wedding told me she was getting married there as well and I just had to check it out!

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The amazing interiors have a dark decedant feel and are heavily inspired by Alice In Wonderland – with all of the bedrooms being named after characters in the book and having an Alice theme to them. It’s the perfect fantasy wedding venue! I especially loved the Mad Hatter bridal suite!

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Throughout the rest of the hotel fun quirky interiors have dark walls which showcase features of china, bowler hats and old road signs. An amazing peacock stands in the bar area and a bird skeleton in the very impressive hallway! The moment you walk into the place you know you are somewhere really different, fun and quirky. I honestly almost booked it for our wedding based on the interiors alone – guests be damned!

One of our favourite areas of the downstairs had to be the whisky tasting room – with a bust of Winston Churchill and a cabinet full of the best whiskies I’ve ever laid my eyes on, as a whisky fan I could of spent all day in there! The marble counter in the middle would have made a really fun space for a dessert table on the evening of a wedding. The bar was pretty spectacular as well and we were given the option of creating our own signature cocktails for the day.

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I have to say, despite not picking Glazebrook for our wedding venue ( we’ve ended up with something equally gorgeous but very different in style ), I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to people looking for something fun and quirky for their wedding … and to be honest if nothing else it has shown me exactly how I want to decorate my house when we move!

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Photo credits :

Location Glazebrook House
Styling and direction Blue Fizz Events
Bridalwear Pirouette
Hair and hair accessories Steven and Laurent
Make-up Claire Bowring
Cakes Edible Essence Cake Art
Flowers Phillip Taylor Corps
Photography Nova Wedding Photography
Groomswear Evolution Clothing

Our Wedding Venue Search

Jo Hastings Photography wedding venue search iscoyd park

So this weekend began the start of my very own wedding planning journey!

After getting in engaged over Christmas in Morocco we decided ( I convinced him! ) that as we wanted to get married in 2017 that we really needed to start our wedding venue search pretty much straight away. So many venues these days get booked up 2 – 3 years in advance and, as we’re pretty picky people, we didn’t want to run the risk of having to ‘settle’ for a venue because the one’s we really loved were already booked. Plus my feeling is that once you have venue and registrar .. and of course a photographer … sorted then you can relax for a little bit before you have to worry about any of the finer details.

So as soon as we returned from Morocco we started narrowing down our venue choices to a shortlist. Which is easier said than done .. even for someone who has been working in the wedding industry for over 6 years! We knew we wanted to get married down here in the South West. Given we have the majority of our guests coming from various different places across the country then trying to pick a location to suit other people seemed impossible so we decided to keep it relatively local – although were happy for it be anywhere in Devon and Cornwall pretty much.

My first point of call was to consult Coco Wedding Venues Directory – an amazing wedding directory like no other which I have featured on the Knots & Kisses blog before. It enables you to narrow down your venue search by location, style and type – so if you are definitely after a coastal venue or a barn you can get a fairly comprehensive list straight away. We also looked at local bridal magazine Wed Magazine’s directory of venues as well which is a pretty comprehensive list for the South West and made sure I didn’t miss anything that I hadn’t heard of. 

From our searches we realised that we really didn’t have a specific style of venue in mind but it was more about the venue being quirky, intimate and relaxed and this is hopefully the 3 words we’ll keep in mind when making a decision about our venue.

We got the list down to a shortlist of 4 that we really wanted to see first and were our top 4 so to speak and then I went about devising a list of questions to take with me to venues to ask them so we would be able to compare and contrast and have all the information we needed to make our decision. These questions ranged from the fairly obvious ones about catering costs and whether the venue is exclusive use to more technically specific things you might not realise you need to know such as checking whether the venue has Public Liability Insurance and making sure you know which local registrar you will need to contact to check if they have the time and date available for your wedding.

To help any of you with your own wedding planning here is my list of questions that I asked … although I’m sure there are other questions you could add which are more relevant to your search, but this is a good starting point.

  1. Is the venue exclusive use? Will any other weddings be scheduled at the same time or overlap?
  2. What dates do they have available? Are there are a couple of options we can choose from
  3. What are the cost differences for different months / times of year / week ?
  4. Are prices inclusive of VAT?
  5. Catering options – what are the costs per head ?
  6. Are there set timetables for the day or can we be more flexible about how we want our wedding day to run ?
  7. What are the turnaround times for various points of the day if rooms need to be turned around or are there separate areas we can use for all elements ?
  8. Are there corkage fees?
  9. Are there additional charges for a bar in the evening ? Is there a minimum spend? Is there a Bar Price List we can have?
  10. What are the accommodation prices for guests ( if applicable ) – How many rooms are available ?
  11. Will we have full control over how the tables look / décor options ?
  12. Do we have to use recommended suppliers ?
  13. What are the parking facilities for guests and suppliers ?
  14. When can the wedding party and suppliers have access to set anything up ?
  15. Is it possible to bring suppliers to show them around in advance – florists for example ?
  16. Will someone be on hand to greet guests and show them where to go ?
  17. What are the guest toilet facilities ?
  18. What is included in any package – easels / cake knifes / crockery / linen / chairs ?
  19. Can we hire in different chairs if we don’t like the ones available ?
  20. What areas are available for photographs ?
  21. Do you have public liability insurance ?
  22. What is the cancellation policy ?
  23. Which local authority do we need to book registrar from – do they have details of who we need to ring to check they are available on the same dates ?
  24. Are there any noise limits and time restrictions on entertainment ? Can we have live music ?
  25. Are power points available if we were to do our own music playlist for after the band has finished ?
  26. Air con / heating arrangements
  27. Do they have any policies with regards to young children ?
  28. Payment Process. Can we spread the cost and when would final balance be due ?
  29. Will we have one contact throughout the wedding planning process and will that be the point of contact on the day as well?
  30. During planning is it better to ring or email to get a response to queries and what is likely response time ?

Seeing the 4 different venues over the weekend was incredibly exciting and also very confusing! We had definitely picked 4 venues with totally different attributes and characters and comparing and contrasting the venues was difficult when we sat down to do so last night.

I actually think that seeing the venues in the awful weather and in the winter this weekend was a really good idea as quite frankly if we can fall in love with a venue in those conditions we are going to love it when it is later in the year when we actually want to get married! We have lots of pictures of the venues in ‘full bloom’ so to speak on their websites and once we have made a choice we will definitely arrange for a return visit in the month we actually wish to get married so we can see it as it will be and make more plans accordingly.

We are now waiting for full quotes from each venue so we can really compare costs as well as the style and feeling that each venue gives us so it’s going to be an exciting week ahead and I will definitely give you an update on our progress in the months and weeks to come.


Wedding Guest List – How to avoid the drama

Wedding Guest Lists Image by Philippa Sian Photography

image credit Philippa Sian Photography

If there is one thing I’ve learnt in my 6 years of running Knots & Kisses it’s that the guest lists are invariably the most stressful thing about organising a wedding! Now I’m not a wedding planner but I can’t begin to count the times I have had clients apologise for not getting back to me with the names they want printing on their invitations because they have been struggling with finalising the guest list, and don’t get me started on people who don’t RSVP and leave couples high and dry weeks before the wedding when their caterers, venue and me are all pressuring them for final numbers for reception stationery and food!

So where do you start with trying to decide on a guest list for your wedding?

I think the first thing that inevitably causes problems and is the main thing to think about is who is paying for the wedding ?

If you are going down the traditional route and the Bride’s parents are paying for the whole thing then you may have to consider that they may feel they are entitled to have a fair amount of say over the guest list. They may even want to invite one or two friends of their own that you may have not seen for a very long time or even feel that close to. Hopefully in most cases there will a fairly honest discussion between you all at the very start as to what they feel they are ‘entitled’ to. I would say though that if they are paying in full it’s probably worth being as understanding as possible over the guest list.

When it gets a little less clear is when parents and the couple are all contributing to the wedding, and therefore how much say they will have. I think, again, it’s really worth sitting down and having a full and frank discussion about this at the very start of the wedding planning process so everyone knows what their expectations are and whether these fit into your vision of your day.

Make a decision early on about the ideal number of people you would like to invite. If you have a very specific venue in mind from the start then this will obviously influence how many people you can fit in and make deciding on a guest list number much easier. Alternatively you may prefer to put together your guest list first. Make sure you have a list of those people it is essential are there, another list of those people you would like to invite if there is room, plus a list for possible evening guests. Once you have all this you can then look at venues knowing exactly how many people you are looking to accommodate and cater for.

The next thing which often causes problems and headaches for couples planning their guest list is Plus Ones! If there is one question I have read on more forums than any other with regards to weddings its ” do I have to offer everyone a plus one?”. The answer quite simply is no! Unless your budget is limitless … in which case lucky you! … you are going to need to set some rules and have a cut off point when it comes to plus ones. My general rule of thumb would be that you only offer a plus one when you have met the partner in question and they are in a serious relationship. Now I’m not going to set a time limit on what constitutes ‘serious’. Many people say when the relationship is over 6 months, but people do fall in love and move in together immediately on occasion. Only you can judge whether or not your friend or family member is in a serious relationship or not. But if you feel they are and you have met the person then you may want to consider adding them to your invite list. When it comes to single friends or family members then you need to ask yourself whether they know anyone else at your wedding? If the answer is yes and you have a limited budget then as far as I’m concerned a plus one isn’t needed. If the answer is no then it seems only fair to give them a plus one so they don’t feel awkward and like Billy No Mates for the entire day!

On a small side note to this I’m afraid you are probably going to get a few guests who assume they have a plus one when they don’t! Be firm and just explain that you can’t give everyone a plus one due to restricted numbers and/or budget.

When it comes to inviting colleagues from work this is a tough call. If you work within a small team or section of a larger company, those closest to you are probably going to hear a lot about your wedding planning, so it may feel awkward not to invite them. I generally think this is where evening invitations come in to play. Its much easier to give out a few extra evening invitations to be polite without it adding drastically to your budget and people feel much more at ease declining an evening invitation to a wedding if they know it really is just out of politeness. Of course if you are very good friends with people from work then absolutely invite them to the whole day!

So that just really leaves the question of people who invited you to their wedding but you don’t really want at yours! Everyone is bound to have a couple of these sorts of issues lurking in the background. You were invited to their wedding but have since lost touch and don’t really see each other anymore. Here I would say honestly don’t feel pressurised to invite them to your wedding! It will be fairly obvious to them why they are not invited if you really have lost touch and to be honest if you have lost touch does it really matter if they are offended if you don’t invite them!

I hope this has covered many of the issues you may be having if you’re at the guest list stage of planning your wedding or preempts a few if you haven’t started yet.

Nikki x

The Ultimate Wedding Venue Directory!

There are lots of wedding directories out there and its often very difficult to see the wood from the trees … both as a supplier and certainly as a couple looking for suppliers for their wedding. My advise would definitely to always try and find a directory that appeals to your sense of style. If the design of the website doesn’t immediately connect with you then are the suppliers that are advertising on it really going to be for you either?!

There are some great stylish wedding directories appearing out there at the moment that have really felt about those brides that have a eye for style and really want something more modern up to date … the directory from the Juno & Joy blog and the fabulous Little Book of Brides from Love My Dress are beautiful fresh, pretty and stylish, and the Boho Weddings Blog Directory is perfect for stylishly modern boho brides.

One of the most useful directories I have come across is the one I want to share with you today which is the Coco Wedding Venue Directory



Beautifully stylish and easy to use the Coco Wedding Venue Directory makes searching for a wedding venue so simple! As well as searching by location and venue type you can also search by style! Pick from ‘Bohemian’, ‘Coastal’, ‘City’, ‘Classic Elegance’, ‘Rustic’ or ‘Modern Vintage’ and suddenly a whole list of options perfect for you pop up for you to choose from!

You can then also add your favourite venues to your own shortlist – so you don’t forget which ones you really liked and want to organise a visit to.


Combine this with a lovely inspirational blog and handy wedding planning tips then you’ll never need another venue directory!


(credits : coco brand images by Dale Weeks photography and Rebecca Goddard Photography)

Gorgeous Wedding Venue near Sheffield and Peak District

After the excitement and pressure of relaunching the website I decided that myself and my other half definitely needed a mini break to de-stress so we took ourselves off to a lovely hotel near Sheffield on Sunday for a couple of nights and visited the stunning Chatsworth House on Monday.

The hotel was Whitely Hall Hotel and it was absolutely gorgeous … exactly what we needed … a beautiful building with stunning grounds and peacocks roaming around. It also had a wonderful restaurant which we ate in both nights and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful.

Whitely Hall is also a great wedding venue so I thought I would share it with you all for any of you who are looking for a lovely wedding venue near Sheffield and the Peak District and with great transport links.


The venue is licensed for civil ceremonies in three of its rooms and has plenty of gorgeous rooms for you and your guests – both in the older part of the building and the newer extension.

We were in the gorgeous old part in room 10 …


Lots more information and a wedding brochure can be found on their website 


Bespoke Wedding Invitations with Sketch Of Gorgeous Country House Wedding Venue

Today I’d like to share with you another of the versions of my Perfect Place range of wedding invitations I created recently for one of my clients.
I never tire of designing this range for clients as each time it is slightly different because of the bespoke venue sketch which I do for the front of the invitation.
For Louise & Matthew we changed the background card to a gorgeous plain cream heavyweight card and I drew their beautiful venue in Hertfordshire on the front. For some reason I just love drawing buildings so this one was lovely to do!

You can order samples of my Perfect Place range from my website at and then just email me photos of the place you would like drawing on the front of your stationery.

Beautiful Cotswold Barn Wedding Venue

Many of you will know that I recently took a little bit of a holiday and for the first part of our holiday we headed up to the Cotswolds and stayed in lovely hotel called Fosse Manor on the outskirts of Stow-in-the-Wold.
What I hadn’t realised when booking is that this lovely hotel also had an equally lovely attached wedding venue in the form of a Cotswold stone barn.
With my work hat on as always I asked for a brochure and took a sneaky peek inside and really wanted to share with you on the blog 🙂


Nestling in a tranquil Cotswold landscape, Hyde Barn is a great location to host your wedding and celebrations.
Licensed for civil marriage ceremonies in the elegant ceremony hall, or outdoors under the beautiful arbour, they also provide really great service and, if the meals we had in the hotel restaurant were anything to go by, fantastic catering options!


They say ….

“Whilst we are there to provide as much support, input, advice and guidance as you need, we also recognise the importance of giving you the freedom to do things your way – we are not prescriptive about how you organise and style your wedding event. We welcome up to 150 guests during both the ceremony and wedding breakfast, and up to 175 guests in the evening which really does give you fantastic flexibility.
Hyde Barn combines traditional Cotswolds architecture with a with a contemporary and elegantly finished interior space. It is the ideal backdrop for expressing your own personality and ideas in the celebration of your wedding. Exceptional accommodation is available at the adjacent Fosse Manor Hotel, where there are 19 delightful, comfortable rooms, together with a spacious bar and quality restaurant facilities.”

I’d definitely recommend it if you are looking for a pretty venue in the Cotswolds area … and it doesn’t hurt that the picture perfect Stow on the Wold, with its lovely tea shops, antiques shops and a couple of cracking vintage boutiques is very close by!


(Photography credits : Sam Gibson photography and Motif Photography)