Monthly Archives: June 2015

Champagne and Cocktails

Last week we talked about food, now we discuss drink (another of our favourite things!) Similar to the choice in style of food you serve are the kind of drinks and how you serve them. Are you going down the formal route, or will your wedding be more relaxed?

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Thinking about what drinks to serve doesn’t have to be a tricky task; what do you both enjoy drinking? Is there a special drink or cocktail you both love; a certain type of wine or champagne, maybe your favoured tipple is cider, or maybe you won’t be drinking and are voting for a soft option instead. Whatever your preference, cater for both alcohol and non-alcoholic options, but serve what you love and drink a lot of (especially if the venue allows corkage and you have a bit leftover…something to enjoy after the day!)

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Some drinks can be served before the ceremony, but often service starts after the ceremony and at the reception. We often advise to serve at least two-three glasses per person, perhaps two alcoholic and one soft. Give your guests choice, especially on a hot day or if your reception is longer than an hour. Alternatively you could open a bar early, or set up a drinks station. Maybe you could have a DIY champagne/Bellini/Prosecco bar filled with lots of fruit and juices where people can create their own concoction. You could have a lemonade stall – always great fun with children and adults alike. If you have a more formal reception, perhaps a champagne tower would go down well and looks fabulous!

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Think about how you want the drinks served also. You could opt for a help yourself bar or drinks station as mentioned, this could be manned if you prefer. You may wish to have tray service if you have a more formal theme. Depending on venue chosen, this could also impact upon choice. Most hotels will have a bar and waiters to serve the drinks, catering companies and other venues may also have this too, so it’s always worth checking beforehand and seeing what your venue can do.

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The choice of drinks available can be quite vast, but it’s worthwhile thinking about whether you plan on being slightly more traditional or a little different in choice. Champagne or Prosecco (just as good  sometimes and cheaper) could be a great reception drink choice and goes fabulously well with canapés. A soft drink option might be Elderflower Fizz. Pimms is always popular in the summer and mulled wine in the winter. Alternatively you could create a signature cocktail – fun and puts your own personal stamp on the proceedings.

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Wine is often served throughout the wedding breakfast, but you could offer alternative drinks, such as draft beer or cider. Speeches and toasts call for champagne. You might like to make this special – a rose always looks impressive! However if you don’t like champagne, then think about serving your guests this and you choosing a drink of your choice. We have seen a gin and tonic for the bride before. Whatever makes you happy! Think about how you would like the ‘toast’ drink to be served. When speeches are may determine how drinks are served. They could already be on the table if speeches are before the wedding breakfast or if they are after, tray service may be a better option, where glasses are handed around your guests.

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Make sure you have soft drinks available; for those that don’t drink and for children. Also, think about water for the table. A choice of still and sparkling is always good, but if budget doesn’t allow, a good old jug of tap water is fine.

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For those of you that love food and are connoisseurs of wine and champagne, you might like to do a wine pairing with your courses. If you really wanted to impress, you might like to see the glassware that the drinks will be served in. If you have the budget to do so and you wanted different glassware, see if this can be hired in and used instead.

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For the evening reception, a bar is always a popular option. Whether you choose to have a free bar or limitations on certain drinks, or for guests to pay for themselves, is entirely your choice. But always let the venue or bar know your choice beforehand, so staff are aware what the situation is.

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Most venues and hotels will have a bar service available, however not all do and with marquees and other types of venues, you may need to check on and hire in mobile bars, or a bar service, licenses and also corkage. It’s always advisable to check and T&C’s, and this then sorts everything out before hand, so you can enjoy yourselves on the day.

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Not exactly alcohol related, but think about serving tea and coffee (maybe hot chocolate too in winter) during the day. Traditionally this is with or after desserts, but it’s always a popular choice and one for you to consider. You may just like to have it available if anyone requests, which, more often than not, they do!

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Ultimately choosing your food and drink should be fun. Yes there is a lot to consider, but as long as you and your guests are happy, well fed and watered then you can relax, enjoy yourself and celebrate!

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Goose & Berry are a Luxury Boutique Catering, Wedding, Event & Brand Experience Planning & Design company who specialise in Weddings, Social and Corporate Events.  We are based in Marlow & London and cover London, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and the Home Counties.

www.gooseandberry.co.uk

Did you know we also Plan and Design Weddings and Events! http://www.gooseandberry.co.uk/event-design-goose-and-berry

Twitter: www.twitter.com/gooseandberry

Facebook: www.facebook.com/gooseandberry 

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Perfect Picnic

Picnics and summer days go hand in hand and are quite the English summer activity to partake in, whether it be as a couple or as a family or a group of friends, on days out or special occasions. Picnics can be really quite special, wonderfully romantic or super fun and evocative of childhood memories. Many of my own childhood memories feature being outside with family, along river banks and under shady trees, eating, drinking and laughing.

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I used to love packing up the picnic hamper with my Mum and my Nan, planning on what food to take and looking forward to eating it! Getting the right picnic contents is a personal preference but you can’t go wrong with a few essentials.

Practicalities first. A good blanket or two is necessary. You don’t want to be sitting down on damp or muddy ground do you! Napkins or wipes are also quite handy for any spillages or foody fingers. Glassware, cutlery and crockery (plastic or the real deal) will also be useful if you really want to make it a special occasion, as opposed to picking it out from the wrapping. Some hampers will come prepared and filled, which personally I rather like! Matching sets all packed neatly are my idea of heaven! A wicker hamper or basket is a beautiful thing and quite perfect for a picnic. You can see a few of our top picks below.

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Now…onto the food and drink. Cutesy finger food and sandwiches are the way forward for picnics. Think afternoon tea but less posh and slightly more savoury. My childhood picnics used to consist of a variety of ham, cheese and tomato, egg and jam sandwiches, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, quiche, crisps, slices of apple, cupcakes, chocolate bars, cartons of squash (for the adults Pimms, Wine or Cider) and water. It was bliss…and quite frankly a full on feast, or so I thought at the time!  The picnics evolved as I grew older; a few salads, olives, crudités and dips were thrown in for good measure and I loved a cup of tea (I’m sure my love for tea stemmed from here – which reminds me, flasks – another essential!)

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As with food trends in general, picnics seemed to have developed over time. Yes, the basics are still there, sandwiches, scotch eggs, quiche and salads and such like…but there is a whole plethora of yumminess available to us. Yumminess in the form of mezze platters or charcuterie selections, quinoa, tabbouleh and other ‘healthy, trendy’ foods. This extends to the drinks available to us also, new flavours and concoctions that are bottled and canned up, ideal for carrying around, on the move! Supermarkets sell these to us already packaged and ready to go, which I have to say is super handy if you are tight on time and are lacking in Tupperware (ahem! Something I need to invest in). However I do still believe that the joy in picnics come from the preparing and packing and surely we can all now attempt to make these newer and trendy foods, surely we can all be a little more adventurous than just a sandwich or too, which only extends in the joy of picnics; preparing some seriously tasty treats that you can’t wait to eat, packing it all up and enjoying the great outdoors with loved ones. Personally you really can’t beat a perfect picnic on a Summers day!

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Our Top 5 Picnic Hampers

Links in titles.

John Lewis

John Lewis Luxury Willow Striped Picnic Hamper, 4 Person. £150.00

Not On The High Street

NOTHS luxury-dove-floral-two-person-picnic-hamper by Dibor £112

Joules

Picnic baskedt Joules 4 person wicker picnic baske chocolate blossom £99.95

Amara

Amara Flamant Home Interiors Picnic Basket Farah Brown

Fortnum and Mason

Fortnums Ascot 4 person fitted picnic basket £460

Written by Emma.

Goose & Berry are a Luxury Boutique Catering, Wedding, Event & Brand Experience Planning & Design company who specialise in Weddings, Social and Corporate Events.  We are based in Marlow & London and cover London, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and the Home Counties.

www.gooseandberry.co.uk

Did you know we also plan and design weddings and events! http://www.gooseandberry.co.uk/event-design-goose-and-berry

Twitter: www.twitter.com/gooseandberry

Facebook: www.facebook.com/gooseandberry 

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/gooseandberry

Instagram: www.instagram.com/gooseandberry

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Food, Glorious Food – The Wedding Feast!

Possibly our most favourite thing about weddings (well definitely one of a few!) is the food! As a wedding and event design and planning company, we are also boutique caterers, so we know a thing or two about food! I’m sure most would agree that when it comes to wedding planning, food is also high up on the agenda and one of the most popular things to sort in the lead up to your big day – especially the tasting! This being said and knowing how important food is, it’s best not to get ahead of ourselves and let our stomachs do all of the talking! (Yes, we can hear rumbles already!).

Smoked Salmon & Pickled Cucumber

The biggest decision to make is to perhaps choose whether you want a formal or more laid back dining experience for your wedding food. Depending on the overall theme and style of your day, this may influence which you choose. Numbers may also have an impact upon your choice, as may your venue and food faves!

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Your venue may have quite an influence, some venues, particularly hotels will have in-house catering and menus for you to choose from (although most will have quite a range in choice and some can be flexible and will always cater for any dietary requirements). External caterers may not be allowed, so it’s always worth checking. If you can check prior to booking it’s always worth asking, especially if you know this is going to be a massive deciding factor and particularly if you have your heart set on a particular caterer. These venues are great for a formal sit down option, but can cater for other types too.

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With a marquee, barn or some independent venues you should be able to create your own wedding and use external caterers. Some will have preferred suppliers you will have to choose from, others will allow you to choose your own. Either way, these options may allow you the freedom to be a little more flexible in your chosen wedding food and suit your needs and wants.

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Do you have certain foods that you adore and love? Perhaps you have a certain meal that reminds you of a particular date or maybe even your engagement! You could incorporate these into the wedding food and also think about local foods and suppliers or food from certain areas. Anything that is special to you as a couple should be considered, as remember the day is about you! Yes, you need to consider your guests and catering for the masses, but ultimately the food should be about what you both like and the finer details about what can be done can be fine tuned by the chefs. Caterers or venue and any guests that have dietary requirements can also be attended to.

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The wedding breakfast itself (first meal of married life) is one of the big events on the day. Traditionally and more formally a three course meal is served. However in recent times, less formal dining has been a prominent trend and one which we as caterers are certainly seeing more of. Buffets, bowl food and sharing platters are great, especially for guest interaction. Food stations are also a fun idea, whether used in the reception, as a dessert station for after the main meal or as part of the whole meal in itself – think buffet but on a large and almost market stall scale. Perhaps if your venue allows, you could have a certain type of food or course served in each room. Be it in served formal dining or buffet style.

Pudding Room

Canapés, we think are just as important as the main meal itself. In fact, sometimes we think even more so! They set the scene and whet the appetite for what’s in store and give the guests something to discuss and enjoy throughout the reception.  These mini marvels certainly have the cute factor, but also can pack a punch on the taste front too. We love them! Traditionally they are savoury, but can be hot or cold. We advise to serve the hot ones first, then maybe the cold, or depending on reception times, you can certainly mix them up. Remember as the couple – try and make sure you have some too or ask your caterer or venue to make up a special plate with one for each of you on. After all, you chose them, you should get them! Depending on timings, 5-8 canapés per person should be ample, but the quantities and timings can be discussed and planned with your chosen caterer or venue.

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If you have a sweet tooth, or maybe like a choice of sweet and savoury, consider having a few sweet canapés too. Alternatively you might like to look at having an Afternoon Tea style reception, where scones and tea are served. You might even like to have this as the main wedding breakfast, served at perhaps 3/4pm (afternoon teas are deceptively filling…we would like to thank our extensive research for discovering this!). This could then be followed by a BBQ, buffet or maybe even a hog roast served around 8pm as opposed to evening food at 11pm/midnight. You could of course, still serve evening food, depending on finish time and you know your guests and how much they like to eat! Fun mini burgers or fish and chips and perhaps sushi might be popular – as is cheese!

Cheese Board

For the real foodies out there and if you want to go all out, you might like to consider a cheese course after the dessert, maybe even add in extra courses – an amouse bouche or pre-dessert…or both! Numbers may impact upon whether this can or cannot be achieved, but it’s something to consider. If you both feel that you don’t want too much food, or perhaps budget is tight, consider serving your cake as dessert.

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For the style conscious out there and at the tasting, ask what cutlery and crockery will be used. We are all about food presentation and ‘food art’. The ultimate and final decision may be down to the chefs, however it’s always worth asking and if you have your heart set on something particular fitting your theme and style, then always ask. This can again be done with glassware, which we will discuss next week.

Soup Shooter Canapes

Look at the menus provided and look at testimonials and galleries, we cannot stress this enough! Most venues and caterers will offer a tasting, some not free of charge, but ask if they do this. The tasting is after all one of the most important and fun parts! Once you have chosen from the menu what you want to try, you then can decide what you want for your wedding day and can feedback any changes that are required. Mostly ENJOY the experience… look, smell and taste and have fun.

Italian Antipasti plate

All of our menus can be found here and more images found here.

Parma Ham, Goats' Cheese and Roasted Beets

Goose & Berry are a Luxury Boutique Catering, Wedding, Event & Brand Experience Planning & Design company who specialise in Weddings, Social and Corporate Events.  We are based in Marlow & London and cover London, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and the Home Counties.

www.gooseandberry.co.uk

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Wedding Photography Focus

After the ceremony and venue have been booked, I always advise couples to book the photographer. Remembering the day and having memories to cherish after is almost as important as the day itself and what better way to do so than having some fabulous photographs to look back on. Talented and popular photographers tend to get booked up quickly and quite far in advance, so if you want your chosen photographer, always contact them ASAP.

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Blogs, Magazines, styled shoots and recommendations can be wonderful ways of exploring all of the options available to you. There are many wonderful photographers out there and it’s worth looking for inspiration to get a feel of what you want from the photos of your day. Do you want a more journalistic or reportage style of photographs or are more traditional styled shots your thing? Would you like detail shots as well as fashion focused? What parts of the day would you like captured – from the getting ready right through to the dancing or just ceremony, reception and speeches. Note down the style and wants and likes and create a shortlist that you both agree with.

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Once you have your shortlist and you have looked at the various places for inspiration, take a look at the photographer’s websites and galleries to make sure they are what you want. If they are, contact them and check for availability and budget and arrange a meeting. The photographers that you choose are going to be some of the most important people on your wedding day, they will capture some of the most precious and intimate moments and be with you for a good part of the day. It is therefore important that you get on with them and have that initial bond. The photos and style aren’t the only things to consider!

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Before you meet, draw up a list of questions that you want to be answered. From asking about options and packages to timings and looking through albums; be prepared, it always helps!

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Pre-wedding styled shoots are very on trend currently and it adds another memory and keepsake for the wedding journey. However it is also a useful tool in meeting again with your photographer and understanding how they work. You will get a feel of how they like to do things and gives you both a chance to warm up to having your photos taken, which will hopefully make you feel more comfortable and at ease on the wedding day.

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Preparation is key prior to the day itself. Often I have spoken to couples about preparing a list of photos they would like taken and the order of doing so. This is particularly important if you want to have some styled and group shots. It will help speed this process up and be less ‘messy’ trying to gather people together. The reception is the best part for the photographs to be taken, but if these can be kept to minimum time it means that you and your guests will have more time for fun and enjoying yourselves! Get the best man involved on the day and give him the list and get him to call out the order and who is needed. It minimises stress for you and the photographer on the day and makes the whole process a lot more enjoyable.

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Alongside this, see if you can arrange a site visit to the venue with your photographer and pick out places where you would like certain photos to be taken. Reccys are always a good thing and again helps eliminate time taken on the day, where you could be eating, drinking and being merry.

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When the day comes around, enjoy! Don’t be afraid of having photos taken, it’s all part of the fun! By this point you should have a great relationship with your photographer and they will know what works best and how to make you feel at ease, making you, your guests and the venue and details look the absolute best.

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After the fun of the day it’s always nice to have something fun planned and something to look forward to (apart from the honeymoon!) Looking through the photos and choosing which ones you want in your album is an occasion in itself. It will give you something to look forward to and will bring back all the special memories from the day. Knowing you picked the best photographer for you has given you treasured memories that you will be able to keep and cherish for years to come.

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Goose & Berry are a Luxury Boutique Catering, Wedding, Event & Brand Experience Planning & Design company who specialise in Weddings, Social and Corporate Events.  We are based in Marlow & London and cover London, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and the Home Counties.

www.gooseandberry.co.uk

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Wedding Venue Styling

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Getting married today brings with it a wealth of choice, not only in terms of venue and suppliers but also themes and styles. Social media infiltrates every part of our lives and you are bombarded with images, which often leaves you with a sense of confusion and feeling overwhelmed. Being a wedding planner and stylist enables us to help and make everything seem a whole lot clearer and calmer and more fun! We are able to take needs and wants and fine tune these; giving our expert opinion on what will work well and how to make the wedding run seamlessly and look polished and bring everything together into a theme or style.

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Getting the balance right

Choosing a venue is often the biggest and first decision to make, along with an overall style for the day. This being said, try not to let one influence the other too much and make one fit the other. Both venue and theme should have synergy and complement each other.  Try not to force a rustic style upon a classic country house. Hints of rustic used in a subtle way can work, but a grand ballroom may look silly with whimsical willow hearts and shabby chic décor. Equally a very formal black tie affair may not work in a barn or beach venue. Think about your venue and its strengths and play to these; use your style to emphasise the good points and any striking features it has. Don’t distract from any stunning detail that may be there or overload and disguise it. Style and venue need to balance each other out and enhance each other as opposed to battling one another to see who gets the most attention.

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Detail, detail, detail!

Often you will have an idea of what you want your day to look like and will often have a theme or style before anything else. The venue chosen is very likely to fit your style and so all you really need to do is add little touches to the décor. The devil is in the detail as they say! Additions such as florals, candles and props can look great when placed around the venue. But keep them to a cake or gift table, or a mantelpiece. One that has focus and doesn’t look as if it has just been placed there for the sake of it. You want people to see the details, so add and enhance an area where you know people will go to.

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Tablescape

The tables don’t just have to be plain and boring with plates, cutlery, glassware, white linen and a centrepiece. You can really turn the tables into mini landscapes and works of art with some careful planning and design. Linen can be a multitude of colours and textures. Charger plates of varying tones can be used to set the scene. Different coloured cutlery could be another way of injecting some style. Gold cutlery seems to be everywhere at the moment and looks great with gold rimmed glasses and metallic or glass charger plates. Menus don’t just have to be placed in the centre. Stationery can be so creative now and menus can double up as name cards too. Glassware can be coloured or different styles, as can the plates. Think about squares, circles, rimmed, bowls – play around with them and see what works best with what. Take photos and ask to see how a table is set up. Ask the venue what will be used and ask how the food will be presented at the tasting. The same applies to the glassware. If you have the ability to choose it all yourself, order samples or ask your caterer to help choose the style of crockery and glassware, maybe even the cutlery too.

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Centrepieces no longer have to be just a central floral arrangement. Books and cake stands have been used lots in recent times and look great if you have a vintage theme. These work so well in a marquee. More unusual props can be used with flowers, such as typewriters, globes , trunks and telephones. Again these are fab with rustic, vintage styles. Perhaps you could use candles if you wanted a more modern, simplistic, but glamorous look. Candles always look elegant in a winter wedding. Moss and logs fit an autumnal and rustic outdoorsy, barn style venue.

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Make it personal

With everything you see and hear, you may want to incorporate these ideas into your wedding. This is absolutely fine to do, but take inspiration from it and make it your own. Maybe you like the style or layout of a table, but you could use your own colour palette. Perhaps you both adore spending time by the seaside, but haven’t chosen a beach wedding – you could use small shells to decorate the table as table confetti or use them in the centrepieces. If you both love wine, think about how you could bring this into the theme and complement the venue. Maybe using vines or grapes as décor, draping over a bannister or chairs?

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Colours

A venue could potentially look too washed out if it is of a fairly neutral colour. A marquee could have a similar feel, so think about adding some light in the form of candles or fairy lights and perhaps some mirrors. Perhaps have a clear roof, where you can dance under the stars! Although this doesn’t add any extra colour, it brings another dimension to the effect. Using different textures and heights, particularly in the floral displays, is also key.

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If you have a barn, then the bright’s or whites can really brighten up an otherwise dark space. On the other end of the spectrum, many country houses have quite ostentatious and colourful function rooms, which don’t need much in the way of décor and added styling. Bringing in hints of florals and candles may be all you need to add your personal touch and turn it into a truly stunning space.

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Goose & Berry are a Luxury Boutique Catering, Wedding, Event & Brand Experience Planning & Design company who specialise in Weddings, Social and Corporate Events.  We are based in Marlow & London and cover London, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and the Home Counties.

www.gooseandberry.co.uk

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