Archive for June, 2017

Wedding Stationery – Our Top Tips from the High Street

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Continuing our series of High Street money saving options for your wedding, this week we’re looking at how to save money on your wedding invitations and stationery. The Manor By The Lake wedding planners have rounded up their favourite options that will save a fortune compared to ordering bespoke stationery.




We love the range on offer at Debenhams that has all your stationery needs covered from name cards and table plans to save the dates and invitations for both day and evening events.


There’s a really wide range of styles and designs to choose from, helpfully grouped into themes such as Traditional, Glamour, Contemporary Chic and Sparkle.


You can personalise your details so that your invites arrive pre-printed and ready to post, so no handwriting headaches adding in all your personal event details.


We love the ‘Charmed’ design – a white postcard with foil detailing that includes your initials within the design. Your personalised invitations come with complementary envelopes and a suite of 100 will set you back just £127.


Debenhams Wedding Invitations




If you’re not worried about having personalised invitations, then we highly recommend the range available from Paperchase.


Their range of contemporary designs has a hint of quirkiness about it – we love the DIY Scratch and Reveal invitations that allow you to hide key details such as your names and the wedding location and then guests have to scratch off the gold panels to discover all the details of your big day. All this fun and a huge bargain at just £6 for 10 invitations and envelopes means 100 invites will set you back just £60!


There are also save the date cards and evening invitations allowing you to send a complementary suite of gorgeously designed stationery without the hefty bespoke price tag.


Paperchase Wedding Invitations



John Lewis

If you’re looking for a traditional style invitation, without the traditionally high price, then take a look at High Street favourite John Lewis who have a good range of stationery that can be personalised to your event.


We like the fact that you can also order complementary information sheets so you can provide your guests with lots of useful info such as timings, maps and where to stay, all in the same style as your main invitations.


We love the simplicity of the CCA White Invitations with satin bow detailing. You can order in store and online and will receive a proof to check before the rest of your invitations are printed. For 60 personalised invitations with envelopes, you’ll pay £174.


John Lewis Wedding Invitations




Our final High Street find is the fabulous Hobbycraft that has some brilliant options that are our most cost-effective find. This range also offers save the date and information sheets as well as evening invites so you can get all your stationery needs sorted in one place.


Our favourites from the range are the All You Need Is Love range which boasts a beautiful floral design – perfect for an English country garden wedding. The envelopes are printed and lined and are made from a heavy weight card so offer a real quality feel. We think you can’t go wrong with a pack of 25 costing just £9 – that’s only £36 per 100 invitations!


Hobbycraft Wedding Invitations


We hope we’ve given you some great inspiration to source some super stylish stationery, but for more advice on all things wedding related, why not give our knowledgeable wedding planners a call today. While you’re at it, you could arrange a private tour of our stunning country Manor house. Give us a call on 01242 245 071 or email to find out more about Manor By The Lake.

Traditional Tips for the Perfect Country Wedding

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Located in the heart of the Cotswolds, Manor By The Lake is the ideal venue if you’re planning a traditional country wedding.

Here are our tips for creating the perfect country wedding in the most beautiful location.


Country Style

The key to a beautiful country wedding is setting the balance between an event that’s suitably rustic, but that still feels special and a little glamorous. There are plenty of ways to embrace this theme, and it’s one that can be as relaxed, or as traditionally formal as you desire.


shutterstock_531003652For an English country wedding, choose delicate pastel flowers, and wildflowers for bouquets and centrepieces. For a rustic touch, bunches of blooms in jam jars, glass bottles and even bean cans look stunning or use mismatched vintage china as an alternative to vases.

Floral archways and pillars are a gorgeous way to use your English blooms such as ranunculus, roses and peonies. For bouquets and chair ends, tie your blooms with rustic hessian or romantic lace to keep to your country feel.

Natural Cakes

shutterstock_525798532When it comes to the wedding cake, use the opportunity for something naturally beautiful such as a naked cake liberally covered in fresh seasonal berries, or create a stack of pastel cupcakes for guests to help themselves.

A cheese wedding cake is a lovely alternative to a traditional fruit or sponge cake and the perfect sharing board for your evening reception. Serve with freshly baked loaves, oat crackers and lashings of chutney.

Local Produce 

The Cotswolds are famous for producing everything from cheese, eggs and dairy to wonderful fish and meat so whatever takes your fancy, you’ll have no trouble supporting local producers.

If you’re getting married in summer or autumn, there’s an abundance of local produce that can be incorporated into your wedding catering. Fresh berries such as strawberries and raspberries are traditional English country wedding ingredients whether they’re served with lashings of cream as a dessert, or added to flutes of champagne or in seasonal cocktails. Apples, blackberries, plums and pears are all in ready supply to make autumnal desserts that are true crowd-pleasers.


shutterstock_529759936You can really go to town on your country theme when it comes to the decor. Scatter hay bales around the gardens for guests to perch on. Just make sure you provide some cotton throws to create a comfy seat!

Rustic jugs, lanterns and tea lights and of course, row after row of colourful bunting will all help to create a magical English country setting.

Fill wheelbarrows with bottles, use rustic crates and barrels as side tables for the guest book and drinks stations, and provide chalkboards with handwritten signs that guide guests towards the dance floor.



If you’d like help creating your perfect country wedding, our Manor By The Lake wedding planners would love to hear from you. With stacks of experience and a passion for delivering memorable moments for all our couples, our talented team would love to welcome you to our beautiful wedding venue. Give us a call on 01242 245 071 or email to arrange your private tour.


For more creative ideas visit our Inspiration page regularly.

Wedding Flowers on a Budget

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So we’ve shared our thoughts on High Street wedding dresses and cost effective cakes, and this week, we’re turning our attention to wedding flowers. With a leading London florist suggesting couples allocate at least 10% of their total wedding budget to their floral arrangements, and the average wedding costing £30,000, you’re looking at a vast sum of money for fresh flowers that will last little more than a week if you’re lucky!


So, what’s the alternative? As ever, the Manor By The Lake wedding planners have the answers.


High Street Wedding Flowers 


Marks & Spencer

We’re really impressed with the range offered by High Street favourite Marks & Spencer. If you’re looking for a simple solution for your wedding flowers you’ll find a really good choice of classic flowers in bouquets, buttonholes and arrangements.

There are a range of colours to choose from that will tie in nicely with the majority of colour schemes including classic white, pink, lilac, ivory and yellow. There are options including roses, orchids, lilies and freesia and they’ve been helpfully grouped into packages to help you get everything you need for an affordable price.

For £275 you can purchase the Creamy White Luxury Rose package which gives you a bridal bouquet, 2 bridesmaids posies, 4 buttonholes, 2 table arrangements and a vase arrangement which we think compares very favourably to many florists’ quotes.

We love the Pure Rose Mirrored Cube arrangements which are £150 for 5 and would make completely stunning table centrepieces. For a rustic wedding, the Celebration Table Plan in Ivory at £70 includes a crate of roses for the top table, and 5 plant pots of roses for guest tables together with plant markers to write your names on. If you’re planning to have more tables, sets of 5 plant pots of roses can be ordered additionally.

Marks & Spencer



With a smaller range than M&S, Waitrose nonetheless has some good options for sourcing your wedding flowers cost effectively.

There are a number of beautiful bouquets that can be displayed in vases and jugs at your venue to create instant floral accents, or could be hand tied to use as a bride’s or bridesmaid’s bouquet.

There are ready planted rose trees and planters that would make wonderful venue decorations particularly at summer barn and country wedding celebrations.

For the more creative couples, we think the ready-to-arrange bouquet of 100 sweetheart roses at just £48 is a fabulous option!





Great British Florist

We love this website that neatly divides into seasonal sections so you can easily see at a glance what floral options are available depending on when you’re getting married.

You choose and order online, and we like the fact that you can pick and choose which elements you need and order the exact number of buttonholes or bridesmaid posies to suit your wedding size. There are also some lovely options such as flower girl wands and bride’s floral crowns to choose from to really create an impact with your wedding flowers.

There are plenty of packages to choose between for an easy option. Simply select the style of flowers you like and a number of flowers you require and then start planning how you’re going to style them when they arrive!

We think the basic package at £390 gives you lots of scope to create a stunning floral backdrop for your wedding celebrations. As well as including a bride’s bouquet, 2 bridesmaids posies, 1 groom’s buttonhole and 3 attendants buttonholes, you’ll also receive 2 extra large buckets of seasonal blooms to arrange yourself with the help of a creative friend or two!

Great British Florist




Triangle Nursery

If you’re confident enough to create all your own floral arrangements then we suggest you source your flowers from a wholesaler to make sure you’re getting the best possible prices. Triangle Nursery supply to the trade, but will also supply the public. They have access to over 4000 flowers, foliage, accessories and floral supplies priced according to current live auction prices.

If you need a quote for a wedding that’s some months away when pricing is likely to have changed,  you can submit your wishlist at any time and they will provide you with costings for the time of year when you’ll be ordering.

There’s a handy wedding calculator to help work out what you’re going to need as well as guides on how to care for and arrange your flowers. To help identify flowers that will suit the style of your day, there’s a great section of themes where you can see lists of suggested flowers that will work with your chosen style such as ‘rustic’, ‘gothic’ and ‘vintage’.

Triangle Nursery


We hope we’ve given you some great inspiration to create your own truly memorable wedding, but for more advice, why not give our knowledgeable wedding planners a call today. Or ask to speak to the Manor’s Creative Designer about our in-house Floral Design Service!

While you’re at it, you could arrange a private tour of our stunning country Manor house. Give us a call on 01242 245 071 or email to find out more about Manor By The Lake.

The Best Wedding Cakes on the High Street

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Following on from our recent High Street wedding dresses post, we’ve picked up on another growing trend that’s perfect for couples looking to save money on their wedding day.

This week, the Manor By The Lake wedding planners are here to share details of wedding cakes that are available to order from High Street shops and supermarkets.


Who doesn’t love the tradition of the happy couple cutting their wedding cake during the reception? But with prices for large, multi-tiered cakes regularly running to many hundreds of pounds, for some, it’s an expense they just can’t justify.

Brides magazine recently ran a feature on wedding cakes, featuring some truly stunning and original designs, but the eye-catching thought for us was… how much? Many of the cakes featured cost over £1500 and a couple, over £4000! For a cake!

Don’t get us wrong, if money’s no object and you live for cake, then who are we to disagree with forking out thousands for some seriously superior sponge. However, if like many couples we work with, you’re looking to invest your wedding budget cannily, and aren’t prepared to overspend on details that aren’t massively important to you, then your wedding cake is an area where savings can definitely be made. If you don’t have a talented friend or family member chomping at the bit to make your wedding cake, then a high street option could be right up your street!


Marks & Spencer Wedding Cakes

 With almost 100 cakes to choose from, at Marks and Spencer, they’ve made choosing a wedding cake beautifully simple. Simply go online to view details of the full range and once you’ve selected a design and size, you order in store or online and collect from your nearest shop.

Most of the range has a 21 day lead time from order to collection, but if you’re after a cheese or pork pie cake, these only need ordering 5 days before you wish to collect. There are also a number of more standard designs that can be ordered a mere 7 days before your big day.

From cupcakes to cutting bars, they really have thought of pretty much everything. You can opt for a traditional fully assembled tiered cake made from chocolate, sponge or fruit cake or a more contemporary design such as a naked or square cake.

For absolute flexibility, you can also order single tiers and accessories to create a cake that meets your exact requirements, allowing you to have a fruit top tier and sponge or chocolate lower tiers.

There’s also the option to buy plain iced cakes that you can then decorate to fit your theme.

Single tiers start from just £8.00 and there are even taster cakes available to help you choose before you commit to your order.

Personally, we’d go for the Vogue Wedding Cake with white icing that has a tier each of chocolate, fruit and sponge cake and serves 100, all for the bargain price of £199.



Waitrose Wedding Cakes

Similar to Marks and Spencer, Waitrose offer a wide range of cakes to complement every style of wedding from delicately romantic to timelessly traditional.

You can pre-order up to 3 months in advance and you only pay on despatch of your cake which will certainly help with wedding budgeting. You can opt to collect your cake in store, or have it delivered to your home or venue to suit you.

Waitrose offer cupcakes and wedding biscuits that perfectly complement the larger cakes, or can be used as charming favours.

There are naked cakes, cakes for self assembly and decoration, as well as fully decorated traditional and contemporary designs in chocolate, sponge and fruit varieties.

Where Waitrose has the edge over M&S is the fact that they sell a range of cakes from cake maker to the royals, Fiona Cairns. This is the lady responsible for the wedding cake served at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011, and more recently, she was also responsible for Pippa Middleton’s wedding cake just last month. The jewel in the crown of this cake range is her 5 tier Grace wedding cake – a delicate hand decorated ivory iced cake made of chocolate and fruit cake and ready to serve 210 people at £549.

For a more cost effective option, we love the naked 5 tier golden sponge with vanilla buttercream and raspberry jam filling all ready to decorate with fruit or fresh flowers. A snip at £149 for 100 people.



Tesco Wedding Cakes

 Supermarket giant Tesco has also embraced the demand for cost effective wedding cakes with its own limited range that all need less than a week’s notice for ordering. Perfect for last minute changes of plans!

There are a small number of single tier celebration cakes available that would be perfect for a small wedding, as well as a range of separate tiers of sponge or fruit cake enabling you to build your own wedding cake.

As with Waitrose and M&S, Tesco sell the dowels and pillars so you can easily DIY your tiered cake, as well as cutting bars to make sure there are enough slices to go round on the day.

A 3 tier sponge filled with buttercream and raspberry jam covered with soft icing and hand finished with royal icing decorations will set you back just £80 and serve 90 guests.


To learn more about all the latest trends for memorable weddings, give our knowledgeable wedding planners a call today. Why not arrange a private tour of our stunning country manor house while you’re at it? Give us a call on 01242 245 071 or email to find out more about Manor By The Lake.

Click here for more wedding inspiration.


Anniversary Milestones – Creative Gift Ideas!

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These days, traditional anniversary gifts can seem a little dated. Let’s face it, we don’t know many couples who’d appreciate a carriage clock or china figurines, so how can you commemorate these important anniversary milestones in a more contemporary way?

The Manor By The Lake event planners have some ideas to help you out!


1st Anniversary – Paper

We think this is one of the easier anniversaries to buy for as there’s such wide scope with paper. Books make wonderful gifts and can easily be tailored to a couple’s interests. Maybe they’re keen cooks who’d love a recipe book or perhaps they suffer from wanderlust and would prefer a wonderful travel guide to inspire them for their next break away?

You can also go down the route of a piece of artwork printed, painted or sketched on paper – perhaps a landscape of the area where they got married?

From partner to partner, why not treat your loved ones to tickets to a show or concert – just remember you don’t want the e-ticket on this occasion!


10th Anniversary – Tin

So now it gets more tricky. Who can think of anything desirable that’s made from tin? We’ve done our best.

Why not commission a personalised tin with the couple’s initials and wedding date and then fill with a selection of their favourite things?

Or, plant a selection of bulbs or herbs in vintage tin buckets for a personal and relevant take on the more traditional bouquet of flowers.

We personally love vintage tin signs that you can often pick up in salvage yards and junk shops and recently saw a fab old railway sign that we’d love in our living room… but maybe that’s just us! Reproduction versions are also readily available online which makes this a slightly easier gift to secure.


25th Anniversary – Silver

Forget carriage clocks and photo frames – why not give something that reminds your loved ones of the year they got married? For couples celebrating this year, the year in question was 1992 which was the year Ab Fab first hit our screens! Yes, really. How old do we now feel? So, surely there’s no better excuse for a themed party and a bottle (or 20) of good old Bolly?

For a great garden gift, what about a fire pit… ok so you probably can’t stretch to a solid silver pit, but certainly a silver/grey coloured one is close enough and is a great excuse for a get-together. Toasting marshmallows while enjoying a few glasses of fizz and a catch up with great friends is surely one of the greatest ways to celebrate a milestone anniversary.


30th Anniversary – Pearl

So, we all know that real pearls come from the sea, so why not give a gift inspired by the seaside. Treat the lucky couple to a meal at a great seafood restaurant, or maybe a stay at a coastal hotel.

If you don’t fancy going the coastal route, why not celebrate the number instead. Give 30 inspirational mini gifts that mean something to you or the couple in question. Create a compilation of 30 shared favourite music tracks or albums as a personal gift that will last a lifetime.


40th Anniversary – Ruby

The obvious rubies are jewels, but lots of other possible gifts are red and would make a great alternative. Ruby port, a crate of red wine, or what about vines to grow your own grapes and then bottle your own vintage? We’ve seen great grow your own pomegranate trees and strawberry plants too that would suit green fingered couples.

Why not go completely off piste – red wellies, a new red post box, or even a picnic basket full of red foodie treats? For a truly memorable experience, what about a hot air balloon ride – we can think of a certain large company with distinctive red branding that could do just the job!

Get creative and we’re sure your thoughtfulness will be greatly appreciated.


50th Anniversary – Golden

Well, this is the biggie! Anyone reaching this major milestone surely deserves a party of epic proportions. We love the idea of a golden-themed bash for your nearest and dearest and actually embracing tradition with lots of golden gifts.

If you’re looking to throw or host a milestone anniversary party, why not give our knowledgeable event planners a call today. We can arrange a private tour of our stunning country Manor house which is the perfect setting for a multi-generational party.

Give us a call on 01242 245 071 or email to find out more about Manor By The Lake and everything it has to offer.

Celebrity Weddings 2017 – Pippa Middleton

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So… last month saw the much anticipated ‘wedding of the rear’ as Pippa Middleton married her hedge fund beau James Matthews in Berkshire. The Manor By The Lake wedding planners take a look at her big day to see which top wedding trends Pippa embraced.


The Dress

Pippa wafted down the aisle in a dress by British designer Giles Deacon who was also responsible for the strapless wedding dress worn by Abbey Clancy when she married footballer Peter Crouch.

Deacon said in a statement that he was “thrilled” to work with Pippa to create her dream dress and went on to describe the gown in plenty of detail, much to the excitement of the Manor By The Lake wedding team!

“The bespoke silk cotton lace was hand appliquéd to create an illusion of the dress having no seams. The lace bodice is embroidered with pearl detailing over an organza and tulle underskirt, which has layer upon layer to enable a floor-sweeping movement.”

We loved the high neckline and cap sleeves and expect to see this look being mimicked by all the mainstream wedding dress designers before the season is out!

There have been no pictures released of the evening reception, but rumours suggest the new Mrs Matthews changed into a second dress just as her sister did, and opted for a full-length white gown with jewelled detailing, also from Giles Deacon.


Shoes & Accessories

Entering the church on the arm of her hugely proud father, Pippa wore a delicate tulle veil by milliner Stephen Jones that featured tiny pearls.

The bride kept her jewellery minimal and other than her whopping diamond engagement ring, she wore a Maidenhair fern tiara from Robinson Pelham and the pearl and diamond earrings she wore for Kate’s wedding in 2011, also from Robinson Pelham.

Her shoes were customised ivory satin pumps by Manolo Blahnik that also featured Pearl detailing, based on the label’s £715 Seneca bridal shoes.


The Ceremony

The couple were married at St Mark’s Church in Englefield, Berkshire which is located close to the Middleton’s family home. The cat was let out of the bag on this one when the Middleton family and James Matthews were seen attending services here over the Christmas period, 2016.

Hymns included Be Thou My Vision; Tell Out My Soul and I Vow To Thee, My Country. Mr Matthews’ brother Spencer (of Made In Chelsea fame) read a passage from The Alchemist, while James Middleton read the poem Love Is An Adventure by Pierre Teilhard du Chardin.



Pippa obviously didn’t want to be upstaged by anyone her own age so instead of grown up bridesmaids, she had eight-page boys and flower girls in attendance – four of each. These were all the children of friends, and of course, the stars of the show, Kate’s children Prince George and Princess Charlotte.



The Reception

After a champagne reception at Englefield House, the party moved to the Middleton family home in Bucklebury where an enormous glass marquee had been erected in the grounds. Guests were treated to a sumptuous banquet that included Scottish lamb and trout which followed a wide array of canapés including langoustines, asparagus, Foie gras and serrano ham. A Spitfire performed a fly past and further entertainment was in the shape of a jazz quartet and band as guests danced until 4 am.

It certainly looked like the wedding of the year from the photos we’ve seen, so we send our very best wishes to the newlyweds.


If you’re planning a wedding and are looking for the perfect venue for your own VIP event, our planners would love to hear from you (even if Hello! won’t be covering your big day!). We can throw some celebrity style magic over your preparations so give us a call at Manor By The Lake on 01242 245 071 or email to arrange a private tour.