Lifestyle

AYNHOE PARK: A GRAND TOUR

Some time ago I hosted a styling workshop at the wonderful private home and luxury wedding venue Aynhoe Park. You can see the editorial shoot here (as featured in You and Your Wedding magazine).

While I was busy teaching and listening to amazing experts share their know-how with the group, as well as doing a step-by-step styled tablescape session, the wonderful Xander & Thea was capturing it all behind the scenes. I’ll share those images soon, but the result was also the most wonderful tour of the house interiors, and I simply had to share it with you.

“The details are not the details, they make the design”

Charles Eames

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“MUCH OF THE HOUSE’S CHARACTER COMES FROM ITS ONE-OF-A-KIND COLLECTION OF ART AND TAXIDERMY, INSPIRED BY A COMBINATION OF APPRECIATION FOR CLASSICAL ARTWORK AND SCULPTURE, A LOVE OF INNOVATIVE DESIGN AND A VERY BRITISH SORT OF ECCENTRICITY.”

Visit the Aynhoe Park Shop

NEWS: SHOP THINGS THAT JESSIE LOVES

“All you need is Love”

…and Wifi

…and a credit card!

Jessie Loves | Wedding & Lifestyle Blog | Shop
For a while now I’ve been wanting to create a space where I can recommend lifestyle products for my followers that I adore, or that are firmly on the birthday/Christmas/any excuse wish list. I’m so happy to finally be able to do that through my sparkling new SHOP!

I’ll be adding new items every month, but you can already find some of my favourites there now – from luxurious bath oil to beautifully scented candles and recipe books – treat yourself to something, just because.

Jessie

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ENTERTAINING AL FRESCO: DINNER OR LUNCH TABLE STYLING

Some time ago I collaborated with the gorgeous Katie Julia (go see her new blog if you get a moment, it’s so gorgeous), on a styled shoot at the very beautiful Thyme Barn in the Cotswolds. There were so many amazing dining areas that I couldn’t help re-styling our props into different tablescapes and loved all of the different looks we achieved.

One of my favourites was this mini garden table outside – the perfect inspiration not only for brides looking to create a laid back minimalist vibe, but one to save for all your Summer entertainment later in the year. Just add bowls of delicious vibrant healthy organic food and you are good to go. Aren’t these florals by The Rose Shed divine?

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Jessie

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FIVE BEST BEAUTY BUYS FOR BRIDES

As a wedding planner I’m often called on for advice outside of what most would consider “normal” duties! One of them is to recommend beauty products to brides, whom almost always want to be looking their absolute best on their big day (this usually means long locks, clear skin and healthy nails!). So here are a few of my tried and tested products, from personal experience and feedback from my lovely ladies.

1. EVE LOM CLEANSER

Described by Vogue as “probably the best cleanser in the world”, this has been my number one skin care recommendation since I first tried it 5 years ago – it’s a balm that effectively cleanses, exfoliates and tones with the regime that includes massage using a muslin cloth. It’s expensive but lasts forever, and basically replaces a lot of your facial care steps (unless you are me, and you buy new products simply because the packaging is pretty!).

2. VICHY IDEALIA SMOOTHING AND ILLUMINATING CREAM

I’ve experimented with a lot of moisturisers, a lot! This one is my all time fave, for sure. It’s totally gentle, suits all skin types, smells lovely and makes your skin feel all glowy. The packaging isn’t anything to write home about, but I kinda like the old school French pharmacy looking products on my shelf. It is both rich and light, which is hard to find in a moisturiser I think.

3. BAUME DE ROSE, BY TERRY

My make up artist (the extremely lovely Sophie Everett) introduced me to by Terry when I got married, and I adore this lip balm that also doubles up as a fabulous treatment for nail cuticles. Good news, they also do them in tinted colours now!

4. AVEDA DAMAGE REMEDY

The whole collection of hair treatments in this range is amazing, totally restores hair that’s been frazzled by heat/bleach/sun (or in my case all three!). Fabulous for those ladies (99% of us) who want to grow our hair out for TBD (The Big Day).

5. LUSH DADDY-O SHAMPOO

If like me your hair turns a little brassy a couple of weeks post highlights, then you definitely need a purple shampoo. This one smells amazing and is really pigmented, so works a treat! I reviewed it before here I’m also about to trial this one from Bleach London, who are constantly tempting me to buy their lilac hair dye. I’m not brave enough though, not nearly! The Aveda shampoo and conditioner called Blue Malva is also scent-a-licious but I find it’s not so pigmented. Perhaps better for every day use though!

Anyone else got favourite products for brides-to-be that they’d like to share? I avoided the nitty gritty stuff like teeth whitening, tanning and waxing – needless to say with all that prep, what you pay for is what you get, and don’t try anything new close to the wedding date!

Jessie

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IMAGE CREDIT: Taylor Barnes Photography

 

BABY LOVE: AUGUSTUS STANLEY JACK

I can’t quite believe it’s been 6 months since we welcomed our latest addition to the family, little Augustus Stanley Jack. He is just the sweetest boy, full of smiles and already sitting + crawling (so different to Flora who was quite content to sit still and play with whatever was closest at the time!).

To celebrate his birth I enlisted the help of my sister Georgia, who happens to be an incredible florist and set designer in London, and had my dear friend Ashlee from Taylor Barnes Photography come and spend a day with us in October last year. I dressed us all in white, adorned us with fresh flowers and foliage, and headed out to our local park to spot fairies in the wildflowers with Flora. I hope you love the results!

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For those interested, Flora’s dress was from Zara Kids and my dress was from Asos, while Augie wore H&M Baby. Flora is also wearing an amber teething necklace – never been sure if it worked but she’s grown rather attached to it over the years!

 

Photography: Taylor Barnes Photography | Florals + Foliage: Westwood Design

CORAL PINK & GOLD STYLED SHOOT

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, I’m hoping by now you might have read a little bit about my new venture with Louise Beukes from b.loved – a brand new resource for suppliers and business owners in the wedding industry, Flourish & Prosper.

F&P came about because we spotted a small problem in our wonderful world of weddings – it’s completely unregulated, full of new business start ups (some incredible, some not so much), an industry growing hugely both in the UK and worldwide – and yet, there seemed to be very little out there for any of us to gather together, share best practices and know how, get advice on key activities required to make our businesses an even bigger success story.

Louise and I both left our corporate lives behind for a reason, but we’re ultimately also successful business women! So we decided to make a community where we offered all of the above (and SO much more), but in a stylish and fun environment that should go hand in hand with working within such a creative profession.

When we first founded this new business, we decided we really needed (ahem… yes needed!) to create a super pretty styled shoot to help launch our website and announce our plans to the world. With a host of amazing suppliers and the help of my lovely friend Ashlee from Taylor Barnes Photography we did just that! It was featured on Style Me Pretty soon afterwards, but I’ve yet to share the images here on the blog.

Well here you go, a little treat! If you are a wedding business (or if you have a friend in the industry) do make them aware of our first event – F&P The Wedding Academy – held in London on 1st November 2014. Leave a comment with your email below and I’ll send you a special Jessie Loves discount code for our shop too.

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Flourish & Prosper Wedding Industry Workshops and Events

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Photography: Taylor Barnes Photography | Florist: Stephanie Saunders | Make Up: Clare Bryce | Hair: Vallenders | Shoot Location: Montpellier Park Cheltenham and Dragonfly Contemporary Designs | Cookies : Nila Holden | Props (Balloons) : Eagle Eyed Bride | Props (Confetti): Peach Blossom | Stylist: Jessie Thomson Wedding Planning| Stylist : Louise Beukes

WEDDING VENUES IN MARRAKECH {Jnane Tamsna and Hotel by Beldi}

It was about a month ago now that I spent 10 days enjoying the very beautiful Marrakech. Of course destination weddings are increasingly popular, especially for those couples only wanting to invite their nearest and dearest, so whilst on my holiday I managed to make sure I stayed at two stunning hotels that also happen to be amazing wedding venues if you wish to have a ceremony and celebrations in Morocco.

The first of these is Jnane Tamsna. And, by a massive stroke of luck, my little family arrived the day after a big wedding celebration had taken place there. Let me tell you, there were roses everywhere. We arrived in time for lunch by the main pool where a group of young wedding guests were sat chatting near us – they told me that they’d dined along one big table in the gardens, surrounded by thousands of candles and roses, and that each guest had been given a tagine as a wedding favour/keepsake. So sweet!

 

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Erm, how beautiful? All their food is organic too, and delicious. When I stayed there I could request any meal I fancied and it would magically appear if I wasn’t keen on the set menu. The staff are just the loveliest people too.

However we had decided when we booked our little trip, that we’d try another venue for a few days, so after a peaceful stay at Jnane Tamsna we hopped into a taxi, braved the roads of Marrakech again to find Hotel by Beldi (or the Beldi Country Club as it’s otherwise known).

Well first up the grounds of Beldi are just incredible. The first thing I stumbled across was the spa as we were dropped off at the wrong entrance, complete with a little herb garden it was so peaceful. I then found one of many fields of roses. WOW. I mean woooowwwww.

There was no wedding on when I visited the Beldi Country Club, but I could totally imagine one. There were so many stunning locations for a ceremony and wedding breakfast afterwards. The place is palatial.

 

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This place is a lot more manicured than Jnane – both have their own qualities, and would make beautiful venues to hold your Moroccan wedding reception. If you’re from the UK then remember you’ll need to do the legal bit over here first, and be sure to pick up a traditional sequin wedding blanket whilst you are there from the souks (although if you don’t have time to visit the Medina and the souks then Hotel by Beldi does have it’s own little area selling the most beautiful interiors and rugs).

 

Moroccan wedding blanket

 

Are you considering or have you ever considered having a destination wedding? Would you choose Morocco? I’d love to know!

Jessie

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JESSIE LOVES MARRAKECH

I’m back! So if you didn’t know already (and if you follow me on Instagram then you definitely will do), I’ve been travelling with my family in Marrakech, in Morocco, for the last couple of weeks. We had an absolute blast!

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I plan to do a little review of each place we stayed and a few hints and tips along the way, but wanted to share a few pictures with you whilst it was all still fresh. I’m also going to create a few marrakech wedding inspired moodboards with you too, there was so much I picked up on there, I can’t wait to show you what’s going on inside my head!

I also really wanted to thank the team at i-escape who organised our hotel accommodation – brilliant service and the places we stayed were perfect for taking a toddler with us. Yup, that’s right… we took Flora! I had so many people advise against taking a little one to Marrakech, and we certainly saw a few raised eyebrows when I said we had decided to take her anyway, but I am so glad we did. It will be lovely to show her the photos one day, and she was an absolute star throughout. Loved it!

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We stayed at the beautiful Jnane Tamsna and Beldi Country Club (or Hotel by Beldi) – both of which were just stunning, and out of the hustle and bustle of the medina. Such a welcome retreat after an afternoon at the souks or exploring the city – calm gardens and cool swimming pools, with absolutely fantastic service.

Flora was an absolute star when we went off exploring, the locals absolutely adored her and she wasn’t overwhelmed by the craziness of the Jemaa el Fna at all. She ate street food with us, made friends with a tortoise in a teeny henna cafe, and played with a little girl living above a traditional berber pharmacy (sharing their snacks sweetly).

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I’ll definitely write a separate post about travelling with little ones too, I picked up lots of tips and can give plenty of advice on making it a smoother and happier trip!

So now for me it’s back to work. Wedding season is over in terms of my weekends being full of travel, set up and co-ordination, but the hard work continues with full planning for next years brides and plenty of design planning and consultations to keep me busy.

Keep an eye on the blog for reviews of where I stayed and Moroccan inspired wedding eye candy of the next few weeks!

Jessie

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Five Frozen Treats for Summer

I’m not going to get all British here and moan about the weather because we have had some flashes of gorgeous sunshine recently, so in order to prepare you for the next 24 hour heat wave I have rounded up a few cold sweet treat recipes via Pinterest for you to try out. Yummy!

 

From left to right:

1. Cardamon and Cherry Ice Cream

2. Lavender and Orange Ice Lollies

3. Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Lollies

4. Rhubarb Sorbet

5. White Sangria Ice Lollies

Let me know if you try any and love them!

Jessie

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Floral Heaven: Behind the Scenes with Stephanie Saunders

A few weeks ago I set my alarm for 4.15am, threw on a pair of jeans and scraped my hair into a quick top knot. Just 5 mins later the beautiful Stephanie Saunders arrived to pick me up and take me to her home from home, a wholesale flower market in Bristol.

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Why on earth…? Well, I was to be Stephanie’s little assistant for the morning, but more than anything it was an educational process. I adore flowers so was massively excited anyway, but as a wedding planner and stylist as well as a blogger, I knew that seeing a florist at work behind the scenes would be massively beneficial.

I learnt all about stem length, filler flowers, costs, props and decor, and so much more. I can now talk a bride to be through a quote and advise them on why and how much their dream flowers might cost. I pride myself on learning as much as possible about supplier trades in the wedding industry – I feel it enables me to recommend specific vendors for each of my couples based on their personal style and budget. It also helps me sort the best from the rest!

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And do you know the best bit about my work experience? I got to take home some beautiful blooms for me to practice my own floral arrangement skills. I am often asked to help brides with DIY flowers, so any chance to practice is another skill to add to my wedding styling cv, and my house smelled incredible! I picked up the most gorgeous hydrangea that I have ever seen (see image above), white fluffy ranunculus, sweet smelling stocks in pinks and purples, gorgeous pink peonies and my new fave astilbe.

Below are some of my arrangements. I am by no means a professional florist, but I was quite proud of my attempts! I happened to have some rosemary at home which I added in to some arrangements, others I kept more simple. I once painted some tin cans with white paint and tied a little green ribbon around them, and I still use those for DIY flower arrangements at home. They look way more expensive than the recycled bits and bobs that they are!

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Are you attempting your own DIY wedding flowers, or are you leaving it to the professionals?

I have to say that it is really hard work taking on the job yourself, not only to you have to source and buy the flowers (taking seasonality into account), but you’ll also need to condition them and make sure you have all the right kit for creating the displays. You can always have a go in advance of course, and some brides will just do simple jam jars of flowers for table centres, but leave the larger displays and bouquets to the experts.

Flowers are so important for each and every wedding, they really form a huge part of the decor and can transform a venue. So think it through carefully!

Jessie

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