Advice // How to Host your Wedding Reception at Home

Image: Catie Bartlett {via Style Me Pretty}

Hosting your evening celebration at home is becoming increasingly popular as brides and grooms search for innovative ways of saving money on their weddings whilst maintaining quality, style and beauty. At home receptions are highly personal, intimate and relaxed affairs, as long as you have the time and space to pull them off, they can be a delightful experience. If you have a small guest list then you’re fine, but if you would like to invite everyone you’ve ever known then you need to consider if your home will be big enough to accommodate everyone. If you’re lucky enough to have a large house or a very spacious garden, or if a close friend or family member does, then you’re probably going to be ok. If you live on a farm then an at home reception will be perfect!

Images: First Mate Photo Co. {via Style Me Pretty} // Elisa Bricker {via Plum Pretty Sugar}

As you can imagine there are quite a few issues to consider when planning this type of event and the term ‘labour of love’ comes to mind whenever I think of at home wedding receptions. Without the assistance of a venue’s experienced and well-connected event or wedding planning team, all of the planning and coordination tasks will fall to you, your groom and your near and dear. This can seem like a heavy burden but with some very careful planning, some serious effort on your part, and my advice you can plan a gorgeous and highly personal wedding reception right in your back yard!

Decoration and facilities:

Perhaps the very best thing about having your wedding reception at home is the ultimate flexibility you have with regards to decoration. Venues are sometimes a little strict regarding what you can and cannot do in terms of decoration and flowers for your wedding, but at home the only limitations are your imagination and your budget! That being said, don’t go too over the top as you may end up spending the money you would have saved by hosting your wedding at home!

Personally I believe that the best way of hosting an at home wedding reception is to restrict it to the garden. If you have enough space I urge you to consider hiring a heated marquee, large tent or Indian canopy to keep your guests warm and dry as you simply cannot rely on the British weather to behave itself. The company who hires out the marquee to you will be able to advise you on the best way to go about keeping your guests warm and comfortable, even after sunset when it becomes chilly.

Providing your guests with toilet facilities is another important issue which must be addressed. These days you don’t need to subject your guests to festival-style plastic loos, as you can now hire luxury portable loos which come complete with chrome fittings, wooden interiors and running water. Before you book a company to provide loos just make sure that they will also supply an attendant to maintain them throughout the evening.

Images: Dylan & Sara Photography {via Green Wedding Shoes} // Feather & Stone {via Elizabeth Anne Designs} // Aaron Young Photography {via Hostess With The Mostess


Organising transport for your guests to and from your home is essential as I’m sure your neighbours will not appreciate their driveways being blocked by other people’s cars. Obviously if you live on a country estate or farm you don’t need to worry about this, however most people would do well to organise for a coach or pretty vintage bus to collect their guests from their houses and to transport them to your home. If your guests live in quite a few different areas, consider asking them to collect themselves at a small number of pre-arranged locations where the coach can pick them up. Don’t forget to also include plenty of taxi numbers with your wedding invitations and in a pile at your reception so that your guests can get home.

If you have a few people coming from far away and need to find spaces for their cars you could always ask your friendly neighbours if it’s possible for those people to park on their drive ways. You will be surprised how many people will say yes when they find out it’s for your wedding!


Catering an at home wedding reception can be a little tricky, especially if you have a small kitchen with very little room to manoeuvre. There are two main options here which you may like to consider. The first is to request that your guests bring something homemade and yummy along with them and lay the food out on large tables for everyone to share buffet-style. This is great if you have a cold room, larder or a large fridge to store the food in until it’s ready to serve, but not so great if you’re really pushed for space.  The second option is to hire a mobile catering company who will take care of everything for you in their own portable kitchen. Obviously this second option will be more expensive; however it will be far less stressful as the catering company will take care of everything from the cooking of the food to the washing up!

Images: Gina Cristine Weddings // Liz Caruana Weddings {via One Wed} // Laura Murray Photography {via Ruffled}

The neighbours:

Holding your wedding reception at home is accessible to anyone so long as they have enough room and facilities to keep their guests entertained, warm and comfortable. Perhaps the biggest concern related to at home receptions is the noise and how the neighbours will react. If you can’t invite your closest neighbours due to space concerns (or if you simply don’t know or like them), then be courteous and pop a note through their door a week or two before the wedding letting them know what is going to happen. Very few people will have an issue with a bit of noise if it’s for a good cause, and if they do object kindly suggest that they pop over for a cup of tea and a chat so that you can allay their fears and concerns. If someone is just being awkward for the sake of it they probably won’t even turn up for a chat, in which case you can consider their objection nullified. 

A word on pets:

It’s so lovely to be able to include your much loved pets in your wedding day celebrations! However, you need to bear in mind that dogs and cats can often become distressed if they see a lots of strangers milling around their previously quiet home. Add to this the noise created by merry people, blaring music, and the often overenthusiastic affection shown by little children, and you can have one stressed out pooch or kitty cat on your hands. The best way to deal with this is to provide your pets with an ‘escape zone’ where they can hide when it all gets too much. This could be as simple as a cardboard box lay on its side and containing a few soft pillows, their bedding, some toys and some fresh water. Be sure to leave the room dark, close the curtains and keep the door slightly open so your pets can come and go as they please. Encourage your guests not to enter that room and ask any children in attendance to be gentle and quiet whenever your pet decide to make an appearance.

Remember not to leave small children alone with a dog or cat. Even if you trust your animals completely it’s best to keep a watchful eye on them just in case.

Images: Pinterest // Jose Villa {via Style Me Pretty} // Milk Photography {via Style Me Pretty}

The big clean up:

Once your big day is over you will be left with more than happy memories and a hangover if you’ve chosen to host your wedding reception at home! I suggest that you consider hiring a professional cleaning company to deal with the mess the next morning, especially if you’re due to fly off on your honeymoon. Being faced with a massive cleaning mission is not what I would consider to be a romantic start to your life as a married couple. Do feel free to delegate the supervision of the clean-up to a trusted family member.

--Lottie ♥

Advice // Booking the Best Suppliers for your Wedding

Images: Krista Leigh Hurst Photography {via Ruffled Blog}

There are so many issues to consider before you make a leap of faith and place an important part of your wedding day in the hands of a wedding supplier. After all, your chosen supplier will probably have been a total stranger to you prior to your initial enquiry! So many elements of your big day which are pivotal to its success or failure rest in the hands of someone else; the cake, the catering and the entertainment to name but a few. So what is the best process to follow in order to safely book the perfect suppliers for your wedding? Take a look at my advice below…

Images: White Loft Studio {via Style Me Pretty} // White Loft Studio {via Swooned Magazine}

First of all I urge you to take your time with visiting wedding fairs, flicking through bridal magazines, reading reputable wedding blogs, perusing supplier directories and asking friends and family for their personal recommendations. Don’t rush through this part of the wedding planning process as it’s so important that you choose carefully. Your initial aim should be to create a list of potential suppliers in each area which you can keep in your wedding planning folder and refer back to on a regular basis.

Pay close attention to how each supplier handles your request for information and reviews. If the supplier is friendly, provides you with the information you require in a timely manner and follows up with a phone call, then the chances are that they are trustworthy and capable of providing you with whatever it is that you require. If they take forever to respond, go weeks without answering your questions or seem to be rude on the phone, then strike them off the list. If a supplier doesn’t impress you or takes an age to answer your enquiry, just move on!

Images: Jose Villa Photography // Lacie Hansen Photography {via Grey Likes Weddings} // The House That Lars Built // Paige Newton Photography {via Bird Dog Wedding}

Once you have a list of potential suppliers you can start whittling them down by checking that they have a diverse portfolio of styles and event types, and therefore that they are accommodating and interested in making your wedding day truly unique. You don’t want your wedding to look like a carbon copy of the last wedding they did, and you want them to be flexible enough to incorporate your ideas seamlessly. Another great way to check up on their previous work is to ask each supplier for an email address of their two most recent clients. Chatting to these newlyweds will give you the best impression of what the supplier is all about, and whether they are worth booking. Brides especially always love to share their experiences of their big day, so it will be rare to find a bride who doesn’t want to have a quick chat. If the supplier refuses to provide you with this information and doesn’t have a list of reviews, simply move onto the next option on your list.

Images: Dana Laymon Photography {via The Knot} // Jose Villa Photography {via Once Wed}

Always pay particular attention to suppliers who come up with savvy money-saving tricks and ideas. If your supplier can work to your budget then they are a keeper! However, it’s important not to expect every supplier to be able to lower their fees if they are simply out of your price range.

So, to summaries the points I have included above, take a look at the steps outline below for booking your suppliers, and remember not to rush through this stage of the planning process. It’s vitally important to do your research and to be completely happy with a supplier before you sign on the dotted line…

  1. Create a shortlist of three suppliers in each field who have already impressed you via their portfolios, their website, their reviews and their social media accounts. Make a note of what drew you to them over the others, for example did you see something on a florist’s website which you’d never seen before?
  2. Call your chosen three suppliers for more information and to ask if you could have the contact details for a couple of their most recent clients or whether they have a list of recent reviews. If they say no, move on to the next supplier on your list
  3. Once you’ve had time to digest the information gained through the initial telephone call, it’s time to call all suitable suppliers back for a quote
  4. When you have your quotes recorded you need to sit down with your fiancé to make some decisions. Don’t do this when you are tired or rushed! Remember to keep all quotes and other bits of information in your wedding planning folder
  5. Once you’re both in agreement call your chosen supplier back to arrange a meeting or to book their services
  6. Attend the meeting with your fiancé and go armed with any further questions you may have
  7. Discuss the meeting with your fiancé and book your chosen supplier!
  8. Keep a copy of your contract safe in your wedding planning folder, once you’ve thoroughly read through it of course!
  9. If you meet with a supplier and you’re no longer impressed, simply arrange to meet the next supplier on your list

Images: Alison Mayfield Photography Studio {via Style Me Pretty} // Pinterest // Brosnan Photographic {via One Fab Day}

If you follow the tips above and really spend quality time researching and booking your suppliers it’s very unlikely that you will have any issues with them as your wedding day approaches. However, if you feel that one of your suppliers just isn’t pulling their weight, don’t be afraid to walk away. It may create a bit of a headache right now, however in the long run your wedding will benefit. Be prepared to pay a fee to cover any time they’ve already spent on your wedding, but don’t expect to have to pay the full amount.

Images: Sarah Box Photography {via Magnolia Rouge} // Wedding Lovely

Most suppliers will expect you to pay a deposit in order to secure your booking, and they will then expect the full balance to be paid around four weeks before the event. Be aware that once your wedding has taken place you may still have some late invoices to pay, as well as charges from any accommodation, room service and bar bills. You should also be aware that some suppliers will ask to be paid in cash on the night, so make sure that you have cash available to cover these costs and that this plan has be prearranged. 

--Lottie ♥

Love Heart Feature // The High-Street Bride's Guide, by Samantha Birch

Today's feature is dedicated to Samantha Birch, author of 'The High-Street Bride's Guide'!

Samantha believes that you can create a beautiful wedding without breaking the bank and is advising brides on how to go from Miss to Mrs for less. An ebook version of her fantastic guide is now available to download, with the paperback appearing on the shelves next month! Over to you, Samantha...

When me and my now-hubby got engaged back in December 2009, we thought we’d be Mr and Mrs by next Christmas. What actually happened was, y’know, life: we were living with his parents ’cause we couldn’t afford southern rent, and we both changed jobs a couple of times as we tried to do what we’d always wanted. Then we moved out of his folks’ house (hooray!) to rent a little flat where we wouldn’t have to worry about them walking in on us without knocking.

Between minimum-wage jobs and finding the deposit for our landlord, by 2011 we were pretty close to the wire money-wise. By now I’d written for You & Your Wedding, Cosmo Bride and Brides, so I knew the average wedding costs about £18,000 to £22,500. To us in our combined dining room/living room/kitchen, that kind of money looked a lot like a house deposit, so we made a decision: find a way to have our perfect day without spending the earth on it.

I realised I had lots of ideas. Some were industry secrets I’d picked up writing for the wedding mags, and others were strategies I’d thought up myself that I knew none of them were talking about. In-between all the saving and researching and pre-planning, I helped a friend of mine find her dream wedding dress from a budget designer, and she sent me an email that got me excited: ‘Sam, you should write a book about this stuff!’

Okay, so I took her a bit literally. I went off and wrote The High-Street Bride’s Guide, a budget wedding book about how to plan your dream day without spending a house deposit on it—and yes, that includes getting a designer wedding dress for less, seriously saving on the venue and the same steps we used to get our gorgeous wedding photos for a third of the price the first place quoted.

HarperCollins published it about a month ago now, and the reviews that have been cropping up on Amazon make me feel like I’m really helping people. They’ve said things like ‘what an absolute life-saver’, ‘a really fun, easy read’, ‘saved me hours of research’, ‘full of practical and affordable ideas’, ‘calm, practical advice with a healthy dose of humour’ and ‘relieves any stresses and panics and calms the bridezilla in all of us’.

Trust me: you can have a beautiful wedding without spending anywhere near the average—we finally did it in November 2013 (whoop, whoop!) and we loved every minute. It won’t cost you a lot to find out how to save loads either: get The High-Street Bride’s Guide as an eBook you can read on your laptop, iPad, Kindle, Nook or other tablet for £2.99, or pre-order the paperback (out 3rd July) for £6.99. It’s on iTunes, Nook and all the usual suspects, and here’s the Amazon link: Give it a go, then head over to @HighStreetBride and let me know if I can help you out with any other big-day worries—no question is too daft, and I’ll be nice, honest!


Get in touch:

Amazon //

Twitter // @HighStreetBride

Love Heart Feature // The Story House

Today on the Lace & Love Hearts blog I am featuring my interview with Lucy McDonald, owner of a wonderful bespoke illustration company, The Story House. Self-confessed ‘illustration Ninja’, Lucy loves nothing more than sitting at her desk with a cup of tea and a slice of marmite toast while she hand-draws highly personal designs for her clients.

Lucy creates some of the most beautiful, touching and celebratory pieces of bespoke stationary that I have ever seen. Her philosophy of helping to make every bride and groom’s special day totally unique to them is something which I also feel is essential to an amazing wedding day. She manages to capture her client’s personalities and love story perfectly, and tailors her designs to their interests and passions, and to their individual wedding concept.

If you haven’t considered bespoke illustrations on your wedding stationary before now, then this interview may well get you thinking…

The Lace & Love Hearts blog: Hello Lucy, welcome to the featured suppliers section of the Lace & Love Hearts blog. I adore your designs! Tell me how you first entered the world of illustration.

Lucy: I’ve always drawn, it started with crayons and paper at nursery, and I’ve never stopped! I did a Foundation year at Art College, then studied English (it’s always about the stories for me!). Then my sister got married in 2011 and I designed her invitations and the on the day stationery. It took a little time for me to focus on the illustration side of my wedding business, but it’s now all I do, because I love it, and it’s different from a lot of what’s out there too.

L&LH: How do you go about gathering inspiration from your brides and grooms for their designs?

Lucy: It really starts when I start emailing back and forth with a couple – I get a good idea of the couples’ personality. Officially though, it all starts with a questionnaire which contains questions about how a couple met, what their interests are, and the big events in their relationship. I normally ask for photos of them and specific places or things that are important to them, and I go from there.

Mostly a couple will be really excited just to see what I come up with based on my illustration style but sometimes a couple has a very distinct idea of what they want, in which case I might ask for some more imagery, for example a Pinterest board. At the requests of different couples, I’ve drawn very simplistic line drawings for a rustic craft wedding, and in art deco style for a themed vineyard wedding. One of my favourite recent designs was for couple that mentioned Pop Art and Lichenstein in passing at the end of the questionnaire, and I just went for it! I absolutely loved drawing it. I love those challenges and requests because I have to be so creative.

L&LH: How long does the design process usually take?

Lucy: I normally suggest allowing six weeks for a full design set of save the dates, RSVPs and invitations. I have done it quicker but I find the rhythm of design, feedback and edit seems to take a comfortable six weeks. It means the couple get several chances to give their feedback, because I love getting all the details exactly right.

L&LH: Do you offer a range of stationary options, from invitations to menus?

Lucy: I can do just about anything you want for your wedding!  Often couples love their invitations and want their stationery for their wedding day to tie in, so I also design order of service booklets, table plans, place cards and menus. These are the most common pieces that I work on, but the joy of bespoke means I can put together anything you fancy. For example, I recently put together one hundred and twenty labels for jar favours, saying ‘Spread the Love’ – so sweet. The design matched the rest of the on the day stationery too.

L&LH: What would you say to brides and grooms who are considering having bespoke stationary made for their wedding, but are still a little unsure?

Lucy: If they’re unsure about a specific practical aspect of the process, then just ask. Anybody offering a bespoke service is used to working to the different priorities of different people (that might just be why we love it!), and guiding a couple through the process.

In more general terms, a bespoke service is a really special thing, because you’re having something created with specifically you in mind. It’s not something that’s been designed to have a broad appeal or a particular type of couple - It’s just yours and yours alone. This doesn’t mean it has to be precious or overthought, just that it can celebrate both your personalities and the true interests of both people getting married. It is not focused on a colour scheme or print effect or a font. It’s all about you, in the best possible way.

Also, I have to say, reports from those receiving the invitations are always full of great excitement and surprise, so it’s a lovely way to get everyone involved and excited about what’s to come. Twice this week I’ve heard from couples whose mothers are refusing to return their RSVP card! They want to hold on to them as a memento!

L&LH: What should my readers do if they would like to find out more about your creations and to see some examples?

Lucy: I love to hear from couples about their plans, so they can contact me through my website, Facebook or Twitter. There are examples of designs on my website, but I’m happy to send through samples if you contact me directly.

To have a chat in person, I regularly do wedding fairs, and will be at the Chosen Wedding Fair in London in the autumn.


// Get in touch //

Website //

Twitter // www.

Facebook // The-Story-House

Pinterest //

Chosen Vintage Wedding Fair //

Advice // Creating your own Wedding Concept

Images: Casa De Perrin, photographed by Paige Jones {via 100 Layer Cake}

Creating a totally unique wedding concept is central to all of the most memorable and beautiful weddings. I truly believe that every wedding should be born from a concept which is envisioned and developed by the two individuals who will be getting married, and that the concept should be based on their relationship, their joint passions and their outlooks on life. I have never been a huge fan of wedding trends as they tend to be fleeting and detached. Instead I adore the idea of each and every wedding be highly personal, and spun from the memories and experiences of the bride and groom. This is the foundation that the Lace & Love Hearts blog is built upon!

Images: The Lotus Blanc, photographed by Joie Lala {via Burnetts Boards} // Joy Thigpen // Potterybarn

Creating your own wedding concept couldn’t be easier. All you need to get started is a blank piece of paper upon which you need to write down words, phrases and ideas that you feel drawn towards. If you or your fiancé enjoy gardening perhaps you could write down words and terms such as ‘beautiful blooms’, ‘watering cans’ and ‘eco-friendly’? If you love woodlands and nature perhaps you could include words such as ‘earthy colours’, ‘woodland creatures’ and ‘wild flowers’. Do this in the style of a starburst diagram and use a big piece of paper as it was quickly fill up with inspirational scribbles!

Images: Squeeze My Hand & Rachel Derman Events {via Wedding Chicks} // Ooh Events! {via Wedding Wire}

Once you have a decent collection of terms, start to enter them into a search engine and Pinterest along with the word ‘wedding’, and see what you can find. The search results will give you some idea of what each of those styles look like in real life by showing them as they appeared in other people’s wedding setups, and within styled shoots. If something catches your eye then make a note of it on your starburst diagram and save any pictures on your laptop or device. Creating a Pinterest account is something which every bride and groom should do as it’s a fantastic way of safely storing your ideas, and your boards can be shown to potential suppliers. Oh, and don’t forget to store your starburst diagram, scraps of paper or other bits of inspiration safely in your wedding planning folder. These are very important documents which you will be coming back to again and again as your plans develop.

Images: Adam Barnes Photography {via Wedding Chicks} // Weddings by Scott & Dana {via Wedding Chicks} // Jessamyn Harris Photography {via Style Me Pretty}

Once you feel that you’ve got a good idea of what’s out there with regards to styling ideas, you will want to turn your thoughts inwards. Outside inspiration is fantastic and essential to really getting your creative juices flowing, however to really craft a wedding day which accurately represents you as a couple, you need to bring in elements from your relationship and your individual personalities, interests and outlooks. To get you started you may like to answer the following questions for both of you in turn…

  • Where did you meet, and where did you get engaged?
  • Do you suit a specific colour? Open your wardrobe and see if there’s a colour which you tend to wear over and over.
  • Do you find yourself planting the same flowers in your garden year after year? Perhaps those flowers could be incorporated into your bouquet.
  • Which books and movies do you read or watch over and over together, and what kind of music do you listen to? Perhaps elements of those could be incorporated into your day.
  • Have you travelled the world or are you a home body?
  • Do you have any pets? Could they be included within the day somehow?
  • Does your family observe any special wedding-related traditions, or do you have some special saying?
  • Do you have a favourite season? If you adore the fiery colours of autumn, then perhaps you should get married in October or November.
  • What culture(s) do you and your fiancé belong to?
  • What kind of wedding dress do you envisage yourself wearing? Many wedding themes come from the style of dress which the bride is drawn towards.

Answering these questions will get you on the right track towards creating a stunning wedding concept! Whatever you do it will be totally unique to you as it came out of your head. It really can’t be anything but representative of you and your fiancé as creative people as you have used your relationship and your passions as inspiration.

--Lottie ♥


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