MEET CHARLTON HALL AND DOXFORD BARN'S HEAD OF WEDDINGS: JESSICA LILLEY | HOW TO PLAN A WEDDING
Me & Jessica in Lake Como in 2019
We met when we were fresh-faced 18 year olds on the first day of university and ever since our friendship has grown and grown, not only because we've known each other for nearly 10 YEARS but also because we're in the same industry - WEDDINGS!
Jessica Lilley has always been the super organised one of our group, and without much shock to us all she transitioned straight into the wedding planning industry straight from university and has worked her way from a work experience roll through to becoming Head of Weddings and Events at not just one, but two amazing venues in the North East - Doxford Barns and Charlton Hall. This Essex girl has seen it all from the extravagent Essex weddings with fairground rides, celebrities and six digit wedding costs, to the Northumberland quirky venues like Charlton Hall's Alice In Wonderland vibe.
When I came to put together the 'Supplier Love' blogs that highlight some fabulous suppliers, I just had to share with you all some of Jessica's knowledge of the industry, (some of her stories are way too eye-poppingly-shocking to be written on the web, so if you ever meet this girl, buy her a drink and you'll have a great laugh from her many years in the industry)!
Us both in Niagara On The Lake, Canada a few years ago
I think it's about time I pass you onto my great friend, and serious travel buddy, Jessica Lilley...
So let's start with a little background, how did you get into the wedding industry?
My family has always been involved in events, but my mum was a wedding coordinator and after shadowing her during my work experience I fell in love with the wedding industry.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Seeing how happy people are and knowing you have been a part of one of the happiest days of their lives.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen at a wedding?
I don’t think there is a worst thing, as everyone’s tastes are different but I am one of the those people that would tell you not to cut any food and drink costs for the day, as you definitely want your guests well looked after!
Has there been a stand out moment in your mind from someone’s wedding day that you’ll never forget?
My boss actually got married at Charlton Hall this year and we hosted the best after party. We had a mini festival the day after where we had multiple musical acts, street food, fireworks and pyrotechnics it was amazing!
What’s your advice for couples on the hunt for their dream venue?
Do your research and have an idea in your mind of what you would like for your day. Don’t look at lots of venues as you will only get confused. If you don’t like the photos online it is very rare that you will like it in person. Also, make sure you get a quote before you view so you know it is in your budget.
What questions should couples ask any potential venues before booking them?
Do you get to try the food?
Can we stay close or at the venue the night before?
Do you have on site accommodation?
What time can we get married?
Any advice to help make a wedding day run smoothly?
Listen to the venue and their staff. If they recommend you do something at a particular time or order it is usually because its been tried and tested and they know this will work the best for you.
What’s your favourite form of entertainment you’ve ever seen to keep guests occupied post ceremony/before wedding breakfast?
Anything from music to fair grounds to drinks etc! A solo saxman with his own DJ is always amazing. It created an great atmosphere and vibe on the day and it really started the celebrations off well and can be perfect for any time of the year!
Are there any wedding trends coming into 2020 that you’re excited to see more of?
Pampas grass is a massive trend along with balloon rings/arches. They seem to be so popular!!
If you could pick one supplier you have ever worked with (obviously excluding myself!), who is your crowning glory of the wedding industry, who would that be?
There are some many to pick from!! The boys from Unified Media who are videographers are always great fun, Lee Scullion (photographer) and Ben from Bride and Groove (wedding DJ) are just amazing to work with but The Whole Schbang (wedding & events styling) are just brilliant! They have actually decorated one of the venues for this past Christmas and it was just beautiful!! Their ideas for flowers and décor are brilliant. They can suit any theme or idea and create your dream look! So helpful and attentive they are definitely a supplier to watch!!
Newly engaged and looking for a fabulously unique venue?! Without a doubt get in contact with Jessica Lilley and the wedding team at Charlton Hall and Doxford Barns to arrange a viewing. Trust me, these two venues are on another level amazing, (AND I've even tried their food... to die for!)
Meet our own bridal tribe while wedding dress shopping from left to right below; bridesmaid Jessica Lilley, bride-to-be Jessica Pomfret, Maid Of Honour ME, bridesmaid Lucy Wright.
... What's wedding dress shopping without a few espresso martinis?!?