Wedding Wednesday: 3 Reasons to read our winter issue

Whether recently engaged or you’ve already ticked most things off your planning checklist, our winter issue can help. We feature some of the West Country’s best venues and industry suppliers and bring you fresh ideas for achieving your dream wedding day whatever the season and budget.5d3_9848

We like to keep up to date with the latest trends in bridal fashion, creative ways to style the venues and all the fun and funky approaches to décor. That’s why we work closely with so many talented industry suppliers and venues, and keep an eye out for all the latest news. We’ll help you find the perfect venue, dress – and suits for grooms – and decide on the smaller details so your wedding day is just as you imagine it.

The Venue

If you’re looking to create your own happily ever after  in a fairytale location, check out our editorial piece on page 43. For this issue we set camp at Clearwell Castle, which features a Ballroom licensed for weddings. However, if you’re looking for a quirky and unique location for your ‘I dos’ , you may wish to consider our roundup of local museums (page 72).

5d3_9315 5d3_9306

The dress

Our brides will find inspiration for the perfect dress within our Gown Gallery (page 27) – a handpick of the best dresses of the season from famous designers including Maggie Sottero, Jesus Peiro and Enzoani. For the grooms, we’ve put together the most stylish cufflinks on page 38.



The details

For sorting out all the finer details, we cover everything from beauty to bridesmaids. Also our five Real weddings couples share their amazing wedding stories with us – each filled with beautiful details and tons of inspiration. Finally, don’s miss out our top tips on planning a winter celebration on page 58!



Pick up your free copy from local wedding fairs ( you can find all the dates here) or simply browse through our online issue before approaching each planning stage. And don’t forget to follow our blog and social media platforms for inspiration and tips! Whether it’s print or digital format, we’d be honoured to help you make all your wedding dreams come true!

Photos by Emily Rose Photography

Wedding Wednesday: Planning a winter wedding

Happy New Year to you all and congratulations to our newly-engaged couples! Winter is not only a popular season for engagements but also for saying ‘I do’ without breaking the budget. We interviewed Jo Peters, Castle Manager at Pennsylvania Castle in Dorset, on planning a dream winter wedding – think romantic lighting, festive sparkle and stunning sunsets.


Having hosted a fair amount of winter weddings at Pennsylvania Castle, what would you advise couples when choosing to get married over the cold season?

Don’t be put off by the thought of the winter weather. There is something very magical about the extra sparkle that’s around when the nights draw in early and there’s a nip in the air. The feel of a winter wedding has to be totally different from the typical summer affair, but both are equally beautiful in their own way.orangery-ad-photo

How can the Penn accommodate for winter weddings? Are there any unique features that make it stand out from other venues?

We are known for making the most of a whole weekend for our wedding celebrations, and winter weddings are an ideal time to make the most of the Castle in this way. With our Orangery transformed into the indoor heated pool during the winter months, our wedding parties become more intimate which means that every guest feels even more special. Additional accommodation around the Castle Estate means that everyone can make the most of their time together and enjoy all that the Castle and the island have to offer.

Do you have any décor or styling tips for couples who dream of a white wedding?
Although steeped in history, the Castle is now known for its luxurious and more contemporary interior. We like to keep things simple but effective and feel that works best for any wedding theme – even if the wedding is taking place around the festive season as the Castle is always decorated around that time of year with winter weddings in mind.


How can couples create a warm and intimate feel for the ceremony?
We love an abundance of soft lighting during the winter. In fact, one of the first thing people notice as they walk round The Penn are the beautiful chandeliers we have in every room – even the kitchen! Nothing looks more stunning than an early evening ceremony, with the lights softened slightly and the room filled with candles (you can never have too many candles going as far as we are concerned!). That’s why we created our Twilight Wedding options.

What excites you the most about 2017 for The Penn? Do you have any upcoming wedding events?

There is always lots to be excited about, every wedding is so different and we can’t wait to see this year’s celebrations come to fruition. And with our recently launched ‘Wed Me On A Wednesday’ wedding experience and our annual ‘Marry Me In May’ offering, there may even be a few couples that don’t even know yet that they are destined for a beautiful Penn wedding in 2017.


Pennsylvania Castle


T: 01305 820659

For more wedding planning inspiration, check out our winter issue and visit our Gallery page for everything fashion.

8 Reasons to wear a floral wedding gown

Over the recent years, bridal fashion catwalks have showcased a shift from traditional ivory dresses. Wedding dresses come in a palette of colours while floral prints are becoming more and more popular. Indeed, big names in bridal design – Sassi Holford, Claire Pettibone, Alfred Angelo and Charlotte Balbier – have embraced the beauty of blooms for their 2017 collections. bloom Charlotte Balbier’s Untamed Love Collection is a celebration of individuality featuring a trio of showstopping floral gowns made from the prettiest of fabrics. For brides who prefer a unique look that will truly wow guest, floral is the answer. Here are some more reasons to help you decide :


  1. You can get creative with your wedding day style, from garden-inspired prints to elegant illustration style designs and vibrant watercolor-esque dresses, going floral can say anything from ‘statement’ to ‘traditional with a twist’.
  2. Want to make your dress memorable? Go floral and your gown will be talked about long after the wedding. Your guests will probably remember it for a very long time.Charlotte Balbier_untamed-love-1
  3. You can theme the whole wedding day around your unique gown. Everything  from the flower arrangements, theme colours, stationary and wedding cake, and match up the shades with the bridesmaid’s gowns – a truly blooming celebration!
  4. Soft, delicate and pretty floral prints work beautifully for a wedding dress combined with a dreamy colour palette. Floral versus ivory add to the unique style and look to your wedding day. Make your wedding personal, stylish and fun with florals.Charlotte Balbier
  5. Style your bridesmaids in ivory to create a contrast. As a result, your dress will stand out and shine even more in photos.
  6. The floral trend does not just apply to bridal gowns from the new ‘Untamed Love’ collection features the ‘Posy’ 2 piece: a full ball gown skirt, which features an on trend pocket detail, styled with a cute crop top. Dare to be different with this super cool look for your wedding day.Charlotte Balbier
  7. Embrace the boho style for your wedding day with a romantic floral gown styled with a beautiful oversized flower crown and loose waves.
  8. A floral wedding outfit can be worn again and enjoyed for years to come. You can take it with you on your honeymoon or wear it for a romantic anniversary night out with your husband.

To see Charlotte Balbier’s beautiful ‘Untamed Love’ collection in full visit: Don’t forget to visit our Galleries page for even more wedding fashion inspiration.

Wedding Wednesday: New year, new look

As we step into 2017 Aztec Hotel & Spa will undergo a £1 million investment, which will see the venue transformed into an even more desirable wedding spot. For the great reveal, the team is hosting a Big Weekend for couples on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th January.


Having a makeover

Showcasing its unique touches, the newly-refurbished hotel will welcome guests with a glass of bubbly, while the wedding suite will have a brighter, contemporary look. During the event, brides- and grooms-to-be will enjoy tours of the venue and get to meet the team to discuss personal requirements. the-bar-2 “The refurbishment of our main function suite is long overdue and we can’t wait to show off the new look, part of the hotel’s £1 investment, at our wedding weekend in January,” explains Lauren Manning, wedding coordinator.

“We look forward to meeting newly engaged couples on Saturday 28th or Sunday 29th January – complimentary admission on both days – to discuss wedding day requirements. Complimentary drinks and nibbles will be available to all couples and show-arounds of our newly refurbished bar, restaurant and bedrooms will also be on offer,” she adds.


More details about the event are available on the website or you can contact Lauren Manning on 01454201090.

Aztec Hotel & Spa


T: 01454 201090

Sunday Special: A match made in wedding heaven

Don’t you just love a good love story? So do we! Hence, when we heard about the wedding of Caroline Brealey – a professional matchmaker who found her own Price Charming and then tied the knot earlier this year – we simply had to share it with you!


Finding love

Caroline, 32, owner of the introduction agency Mutual Attraction, married husband Christian Oliver on January 22nd 2016 at a romantic venue in the Cotswolds. But the dating expert went against all her own rules when finding the love of her life – by meeting him while out partying with her work colleagues.

Caroline tells her clients that love can be found when you least expect it, no matter where you are – but that it can be difficult meeting that special someone when on a night out.

The couple have now been together for four and a half years and she is hoping her personal love story will inspire her single clients in the quest for romance. Caroline, who is originally from Nottingham, explains: “We’ve been together for four and a half years. After three years, Christian proposed and we were married on during our fourth year together.”

edits_hi_res0198Second chances

“We met while I was out for drinks in London. He had just moved here and was out with his new work colleagues.  I was also out with my work friends – I had just launched the business and was at my leaving drinks. I sauntered past him thinking I looked cool – he now says I looked like a muppet but it clearly worked. We swapped numbers and arranged our first date,” she adds.

The pair properly met for the first time at a pub in the capital before moving on to dinner – but it wasn’t love at first sight for Caroline. “After meeting we went out the following week but it was a rubbish day. The conversation didn’t flow and everything felt awkward. I think he could tell I was disappointed,” shares Caroline.

“He emailed me the following day and asked if I would like to go for a walk. I thought I would give it one more shot and as soon as we met we hit it off. I always say now to my clients that you have to give it a second chance because you never know. It’s getting the awkwardness out of the way. You have to give people a chance.”


From wedding disaster…

After three years together, Christian, who is originally from Gran Canaria, proposed at the Old Swan and Minster Mill in the Cotswolds – which also stole their hearts when looking for a wedding venue. “He proposed to me on my birthday, and then we were married exactly one year later on my 32nd birthday,” said Caroline.

“It was lovely and an amazing day. As a bride, you do tend to get quite anxious because you think about it a lot and it’s something you’ve dreamed of since you were young. The closer you get to the big day the more nervous you get but everything went as planned.”

But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the budding bride after nearly suffering a major fashion disaster: “There was one slightly potential catastrophe. I got ready in a cottage nearby and my dress did get caught in a nail as I left the house. All of my train was caught but luckily there was no damage. We were also lucky with the weather considering it was January. We were prepared for the worst but in the end we even went outside for the photos. It was a wonderful day and very romantic, but not too cheesy.”



… to happily ever after

The pair were living in a flat in Canary Wharf but re-located in November to a house in Chislehurst where they have recently welcomed the newest addition to the family – a sausage dog called Lady. “I wanted a sausage dog for years and on our wedding day Christian told me that was my wedding present, says Caroline.

“She’s such a Daddy’s girl. I’m at home with her most of the day but he gives her all of the treats. She’s completely changed our lives – she’s our baby. She is like a shadow though – she follows me everywhere.”

Emma Bailey Photography
Emma Bailey Photography

A matchmaker’ job

Caroline works from home for her business Mutual Attraction, which she set up in 2011 as a personalised matchmaking service. The company finds quality dates for time-poor, busy professionals in London by actively searching the city’s busy social scene for them. Caroline spends time getting to know each and every one of her members before then heading out on the hunt for their perfect partner. Only when she has found a suitable date that has been thoroughly vetted, will she arrange an introduction.

Many of her clients are aged between late 20s to mid 40s but she says she has recently seen an influx in those aged over 50. If you know someone who is searching for their soulmate, share with them the following tip from Caroline:

“For me, dating is all about having fun. It’s a great way to meet new people. The best pieces of advice I can offer to anyone are smile, be approachable, and enjoy yourself. Remember, you often find love when you least expect it – just like me.”

Want to read more real wedding stories? Visit our Real Weddings section and don’t forget to check out our latest issue!

Tuesday Tips: Planning ideas for autumn weddings

Where did September go? It feels like autumn has well and truly settled with its chilly nights and warm sunny days. Here, at West Weddings, we love the rich colour palettes and the unique photographic opportunities of autumn weddings – see the beautiful photoshoot at Grittleton House in our latest issue here.


With shades of mauve and blue, and details inspired by nature, it’s now easy to plan an autumn wedding. Take a look at the following gorgeous handmade products from DaWanda for instant planning inspiration:

  • Accessories: Mauve and deep blue accessories add a fashionable touch to your bridal look.


  • Rustic decorations: Wooden features in a rustic style remain one of the most popular trends in wedding decorations and favours.


  • Minimalist bride: Choosing a classic clean cut bridal gown works well for a minimalist look. Just add a splash of colour through bold lips or quirky accessories  to let your personality shine through.