The West Mill – Derbyshire has a new wedding venue

The West Mill at Darley Abbey Mills Styled Wedding Shoot by Rich

Some venues make your heart beat a little bit faster and you hold your breath when you walk in.  The West Mill definitely is one of those.

This is a wedding venue very close to my heart and also very close to my house!

Set on the edge of the lush Darley Abbey park and with an enviable view of the Derwent river, she may be new on the block as far as your choice of wedding venue is concerned, but the surrounding buildings themselves are an architectural landmark that have made up the skyline of the local area for at least 150 years. In fact the oldest parts, East Mill, Middle Mill and West Mill, date from 1789-92.  

With a combination of modern statements, blended with the established features the overall effect simply means that you have to view this place before you look much further for your perfect venue.


I’ll give you a bit of a brief history of how I came to work there:

In 2014 myself and two other wedding suppliers were looking for a studio space to share, Kerry from Tineke Floral and Emma from Oh Photobooth.  Emma and I live minutes away from Darley Abbey Mills and we knew that they had space that ticked all our requirements.  So we met Andrew Rose (who was incredibly patient with three over excited females) and very, very nearly signed up to a spectacular loft style space. In the end it wasn’t to be as all our business plans suddenly changed and we decided it wasn’t the right time.

I kept in touch with Andrew and when I was organising a styled photoshoot to launch Alexandrea Anne’s beautiful new studio in Chatsworth I knew that Andrew had started a huge project to renovate and refurbish the West Mill into a wedding venue.  I had an idea of the space as my husband used to rent office space in The Middle Mill next door.

So Autumn 2014 we did our shoot there, (see it here) in the midst of the ridiculous dust, cold, with broken window panes, huge holes in the floors, hard hats and high-vis jackets and despite this we all fell in love with the venue.  The walls, the light, the original features, the sheer scale of it and the beauty and history it held.

We were all completely bowled over by the place and given my experience in the wedding industry, the fact that it was skipping distance from my front door and the excitement that Derbyshire would be home to a really special venue, I knew I had to be involved in some way.  So I am now one of the wedding managers there, along with Emma (you remember her) from Oh Photobooth and Penny who also runs her own wedding business, Florrie & Eve and makes the most beautiful silk florals.  Between the three of us we have years and years of experience with weddings, from the planning stages as well as styling and managing the day.  So I guess you are in safe hands!


There are masses of wedding venues out there and now that weddings have become far more relaxed and personal affairs, couples really do have a huge choice of styles of venues within which to host their wedding day.  The industrial aesthetic is something that has grown hugely over recent years, with stripped back walls, open spaces, bare filament bulbs and exposed metalwork and this venue is the perfect space that can be adapted for a stripped back, urban look or can easily be transformed into a romantic and lush style.

And what a space it is – dating back to the early 1800’s, our venue sits on a World Heritage Site and is Grade I listed.   She was originally built as a cotton spinning mill and her walls played an important part in the industrial revolution.

Restored and renovated with so much care and thought, she retains the historical architecture of the 1800’s. Exposed brick walls, original blue black brick tiled floors, cast iron beans and a unique cast iron ceiling together with gorgeous handpicked pieces of furniture and décor offer a truly unique venue filled with character and atmosphere.

Lots of urban venues sit in the midst of a city centre, but we have the best of both worlds as we have a stunning South facing courtyard which looks out over the riverbanks of the ancient River Derwent and the waterfall over the historic weir.  Good hey.


She is exlusicve use which means that the whole space is yours for the day – set over four impressive floors – The Gallery (reception drinks and evening use), The Cotton Quarter (civil service and bridal suite), The Breakfast Room and The Spinning Room (a room of epicness – this word needs to be used a lot for this venue – is it even a word?) and you have to see it to appreciate it, photographs just don’t do it justice.


As a special treat, she is a no corkage charge wedding venue which means you can supply all of your own daytime drinks ,from post ceremony reception until your evening party starts) at NO CHARGE!  There aren’t many venues that offer this.


The space has been furnished with style and personality.  The idea is that you don’t need to spend too much time styling the four floors – a lot of it has been carefully and thoughtfully done for you.  Lots of props and quirky pieces and props are included in the venue hire, including our bespoke LOVE letters, a Baby Grand piano, a huge original draughtsman’s board that cries out for a table plan and glass lanterns to line your aisle or outside tables.  See, everything has been though of.

The industrial location oozes character, sophistication, glamour, light, texture and beauty.

Our first wedding was held on Friday 24th August (watch this space for some incredible photographs) and the following two days were spent opening our doors to all our couples and their families who had already booked with us, whilst we were drowning under dust, rubble and workmen.  These guys saw the potential in what was being created and many booked their wedding with us when the project was in it’s infancy.  To those couples we thank you for your trust, your vision and your open minds!


Here are some photographs from the open weekend, from our friend Richard Murgatroyd who spent the Sunday with us.  If you are looking for a photographer who understands the aesthetic of The West Mill and knows exactly how to get the best from her, then he is your guy.  He has documented the renovation and life of the whole of Darley Abbey Mills as well as working with us on capturing the restoration of The West Mill.

One last thing, none of this would have happened without Andrew Rose, the Director of The West Mill, with his vision, sheer determination, passion, ridiculously long working hours and personal love of the project.  I can’t think of many other people I have met who have more integrity than him and he is one of the good guys.  I wish you and Chrissie the success that you both deserve and thank you for letting me be a part of it.


If you want to arrange a viewing, then these are by appointment by contacting us via the website or give us a call on 01332 229029.  You’ll be bowled over.  Oh and you will have a super fabulous team of people looking after you too!


West Mill Exclusive Use Wedding Venue

Ground floor gallery, south view


Ladies downstairs toilets

Ladies downstairs toilets


Ground floor gallery

Ground floor gallery


Ground floor gallery

Ground floor gallery


View into Cotton Quarter / Civil Service room

View into Cotton Quarter / Civil Service room


South facing entrance

South facing entrance


Bar in the Spinning Room

Bar in the Spinning Room


Gents toilets

Gents toilets


David Jenkins - acoustic performer

David Jenkins – acoustic performer


Spinning Room

Spinning Room


South facing courtyard and grounds on the River Derwent

South facing courtyard and grounds on the River Derwent


Florals by Nadia Di Tullio ini The Cotton Quarter

Florals by Nadia Di Tullio ini The Cotton Quarter

Cotton Quarter / Civil Service Room

Cotton Quarter / Civil Service Room


Baby Grand piano in The Cotton Quarter

Baby Grand piano in The Cotton Quarter


West Mill Exclusive Use Wedding Venue


Cotton Quarter / Civil Service Room

Cotton Quarter / Civil Service Room


Florals by The Albertine Gift Shop

Florals by The Albertine Gift Shop


Breakfast Room

Breakfast Room


Gallery - florals by Tineke Floral Design

Gallery – florals by Tineke Floral Design


Bar in The Spinning Room

Bar in The Spinning Room


West Mill Exclusive Use Wedding Venue


West Mill Exclusive Use Wedding Venue


Bridal Dressing Suite

Bridal Dressing Suite


South facing courtyard entrance

South facing courtyard entrance


Bridal Dressing Suite

Bridal Dressing Suite


With huge thanks for your help with the open weekend:


Richard Murgatoryd

Oh Photobooth

Tineke Floral Design – florals

Nadia Di Tullio – florals

Florrie & Eve – silk florals

Albertine Gift Shop – florals

David Jenkins – Acoustic guitar

Steve Levitt – Pianist

Love Aroma – candles and diffusers

Jenkinsons Caterers


20:07 3 August 2015

9 Rustic Style Ideas to Add the Wow Factor to Your Woodland Wedding

9 Rustic Style Ideas to add the WOW factor to your woodland wedding | Darby & Joan

Hello there D&J readers! How are we all? We had a blast at the Sami Tipi Showcase at the weekend, there’ll be lots of fabulous pics to come soon. Today though, we’re turning our heads to the woods and showing you ways you can create a wonderfully rustic woodland themed wedding. Whether you want to bring the outdoors in or embrace nature in your very own woodland setting, there’s bound to be a little nugget of inspiration for you here. Plus, if you are looking for an outdoor woodland wedding venue, we’ve rounded up a few of our faves in there UK to save you the leg work!


Mirlah xox



Natural Materials

1. Moss, Greenery & Flowers

Flowers often play a huge part of the wedding decor and if you’re creating a woodland wedding then you can really go to town with colour, texture and creativity. Thinks about adding unusual foliage and flowers such as dried leaves and protea and don’t forget the greenery and wild elements, ferns and astible are great for creating an unstructured bouquet. Moss is ideal for adding to the table decor, go all out and create a wow factor table runner or just add in little details here and there, like creating table numbers or filling glass terrariums and jars for magical centrepieces.


2. Wood, Twigs & Stumps

Ok, so it’s no secret that a Woodland Wedding might just include a little bit of wood! But there are so many ways to creatively add wooden rustic details to your big day and as a bonus… they don’t have to cost the earth! Think wooden signage, crates, pallets, vases of twigs for a wishing tree and you’re well on your way for the perfect rustic wedding. Tree slices & stumps are perfect for table centrepieces or individual plate chargers. Simply layer them up with tealights, mismatched bottles and candle sticks for a charming woodland inspired tablescape. These little slices of earthy goodness are also perfect for using as cake stands or serving canapes and I’m also in love with that tree slice menu below! Keep a look out for neighbours or tree surgeons chopping down trees and kindly ask if you could take some off their hands. Alternatively you can choose to hire, Darby & Joan have many available.


PS. Those of you popped along to the Sami Tipi Spring Showcase may have seen the absolute master piece that was a tree stump cake by The Organic Wedding Cake Company. It fooled everyone and was a work of art Check it out here. It’d be perfect for a rustic and woodland inspired wedding.

3. Hessian &Twine

Bare wooden trestle tables are the perfect choice for a rustic wedding, ditch the white linen and dress them up with hessian table runners to add a little texture. These are easy to make if you have spare time for DIY adventures but you may want to hire if sewing isn’t for you. Think about adding more rustic details using hessian/burlap. Bunting is relatively easy to make if you want to add a hand made touch, little favour bags are perfect for thank you treats or large coffee/potato sacks are great for collecting cards in or even using for fun and frolics – yes sack races! Why not? Twine is super handy for everything from tying placecard tags to decorations jam jars and you can pick up 100’s of metres of the stuff really cheaply from garden centres.

Natural Materials  - 9 Rustic Style Ideas for a WOW Woodland Wedding | Darby & Joan Vintage

Image Credits: Tree Slice Menu: Paula O’Hara via Magnolia Rouge | Camp Fire: Style Me Pretty 

Rustic Table with Hessan Runner: Mitzi de Margary via Sandeman Events |  Tree Stump Centrepiece: S6 Photography via Rock My Wedding

Rustic Woodland Bouquet: Karen Flower Photography via Whimsical Wonderland Weddings| Moss Table Number: A Brit & a Blonde via Style me Pretty

Wooden Sign: Rachel Hayton via Love My Dress


Lighting & Decor


4. Candle Light 

Where would a wedding be without a couple of bags of ikea tea lights and some jars? Perfect for creating a magical and twinkly atmosphere after sunset, load up your recycled jars and perch them on treestumpos for a whimsical touch.

5. Fairy Lights & Festoon Lighting

Festoon lighting and fairy lights are still a firm fave in the wedding world and provide more practical lighting after dark as well as looking super pretty… just imagine it hanging from branch to branch in the perfect woodland setting. Of course all this can be recreated in an indoor wedding venue or tipi/marquee too.

6. Hanging decor & Backdrops

Here’s where you can really start to go to town and make the most of the stunning treetops. Go for hanging floral arrangements, sparkly chandeliers or even mirror balls for a magical woodland disco. If your venue is indoors – no problem, keep an eye out for beams and hooks that you can hang decor from. Backdrops are perfect for that all important aisle style and can be reused as a DIY photo booth backdrop for the evening festivites. Think about constructing a wooden frame and adorning it with hanging jars and flowers and greenery.

Lighting & Decor  - 9 Rustic Style Ideas for a WOW Woodland Wedding | Darby & Joan Vintage

 Image Credits: Fairy Lights – Festival Brides | Family Tree – The Brides Cafe

Pom Pom Woodland – Hi-Fi Weddings Tree Stumps & Candles – Happy Wedd

Chandeliers – Matt Parry Styled by Pocketful of Dreams via Love My Dress |  Bride by Candle Light – Paul Clancy | Couple Backdrop – Burnetts Boards

Eco Friendly

7. Up Cycling

Nothing says eco friendly like using what you’ve already got and when you’ve raided your own home and kitchen and saved every jar and quirky bottle, get everyone else on the case too. Jars, tins, old plates and bits of furniture are most likely right under your nose just waiting for a lick of paint or a transformation.

8. Homamade Favours

It’s time to roll up those sleeves and get creative to say thank you to your guests. How about brewing your own beer or infusing your favourite spirit using organic ingredients. You could rustle up some tasty jam for your guests to spread the love or give little plants or packet of seeds to let your love grow. Be sure to check out Natural Favours for some inspiration!

9. Confetti

Lots of wedding venues these days only allow biodegradable confetti so if you’re opting for a woodland wedding it’s only right to keep it ‘au natural.’ Dried flower petals are beautiful as well as kind to the planet or you could even get crafting with a pretty punch and dried leaves. For zero mess but awesome photos, how about flags and ribbon wands – no litter at all and it’s something your guests can keep!

Upcycle & Recycle  - 9 Rustic Style Ideas for a WOW Woodland Wedding | Darby & Joan Vintage

Image Credits: Lavender Favours – Unknown Original Source | Jam Favours – You mean the world to Me
Jars & Bottles – LM Weddings via Whimsical Wonderland Weddings | Watering Can – Rustic Romances
Lightbulbs – Unknown Original Source | Petal Confetti – The Domestic Lady | Cake Table – Jenny Markham via 100 Layer Cake


UK Woodland Wedding Venues

Need the perfect place to host your outdoor woodland wedding….

Rosliston Forestry Centre – Derbyshire

Scraptoft Hill Farm – Leicestershire

Jolly Days –  South Yorkshire

The Bivouac- North Yorkshire

Fforest – Wales

The Keep & The Dell – Norfolk

Wise Wedding Venue – Kent


I hope that’s inspired you, whether you fancy a total outdoorsy affair or just some style ideas for a rustic theme I hope that’s got your juices creative flowing! Happy Rustic Wedding Planning!

10:05 29 April 2015

Table Talk! Wedding Layouts – Long vs Round Tables


Hello lovely readers! I hope this post finds you well! For all you wonderful Spring Summer brides, your head is probably turning to the finer details and perhaps the layout and table plan of your wedding reception, but how do you decide which style is for you? Today’s post is all about uncovering the pros and cons about different table layouts and how you can decide which to choose.

Long Tables vs Round Tables…It’s a much talked about topic, so hopefully we’ll uncover a few things for you to think about, as well as some inspiration for dressing your chosen style.


Mirlah xox


Firstly, it is worth checking with your venue to see what furniture is included. For some venues, the space alone will determine whether you opt for long or round tables and others may not offer a choice, whilst this may limit you to a table type, there are still many different layout ideas to consider depending on the feel you want to create at your wedding breakfast. If you find you do have to source your own furniture or your budget allows you to break free from the mould of what your venue offers, then there might be a little more to consider… let’s get thinking!



Round Tables

Some would say this is the more traditional set up for a wedding reception but traditional doesn’t mean boring and this style lends itself to a sociable layout, especially if you have obvious groups of friends or family that you’d like to seat together.

Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan

Pros of Round Wedding Tables:

–  A classic timeless feel.

– You can have fun creating quirky and meaningful table names.

– Many venues can offer 2 sizes of round table perfect if you wanted a more intimate feel or have smaller groups of guests to seat.

– Easier to move around.

Cons of round Wedding Tables:

– They can take up more space than long tables.

– Classic and timeless isn’t for everyone.

– They can make the seating plan more complicated as you may feel like you have to pigeon hole people to a certain table.

Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan
Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan

Image Credits: 1| 2 | 3 | 4

Styling round tables:

Have fun creating quirky centrepieces by stacking up vintage books and flowers. Bell jars are a trend we’re seeing a lot of recently… fill with flowers and little treasure for a beautiful and personal inspired centrepiece.

Other things to consider:

Whilst large centrepieces can create a real wow factor, if they are too big and bulky the table may become less sociable as your guests won’t be able to see and talk to each other as easily.

Long Tables

This style of table often lends itself to a more relaxed wedding reception. Perfect for family style dining which is becoming increasingly popular, why not serve up afternoon tea or grazing platters for your guests to dig into?

Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan

Pros of Long Wedding Tables:

– Relaxed & sociable atmosphere.

– Suits itself to marquee and barn weddings.

– Table runners look super gorgeous on long tables.

– Lots of little bottles for centrepieces can be less expensive than one large centrepieces.

– Can take up less space than round tables.


Cons of Long Wedding Tables:

– People on the ends may feel left out.

– People in the middle have to walk round the whole table when leaving their seat.

– Designing a table plan with different table names is harder as you’ve got a lot more people to seat. Your guests will need an indication as to where abouts they are sitting and on what side as apposed to just – Auntie Sue is on table 2.


 Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan
Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan
Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan

Image Credits: 1 | 2| 3| 4


Styling Long Wedding Tables:

Consider smaller centrepieces dotted down the middle of long tables. Mismatched jam jars or vintage bottles are still a firm favourite amongst D&J brides and Karen has a whole heap available to hire.

Other things to consider:

When it comes to doing your table plan, try not think of it as one giant table. Many 6ft trestles seat 6 people so try grouping people in smaller groups first then join them together.

Also, if you are working with trestle tables, why not get creative and create square tables but putting 2 together? Or for a different take on the round tables, simply use them on their own for smaller more intimate layout.


Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan

Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan

Image Credits: 1| 2

Quirky Layouts

If long tables or round tables just aren’t doing it for you, then how about some of these quirky layouts for your wedding reception?

Mix it up.

If you just cannot decide, then how about both!? Great for different sized groups and perfect for a larger spaces, go ahead and mix up round and long tables for a cool feel.

Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan

Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan
The more the merrier:Perfect for smaller and more intimate weddings, why not create a layout that groups everyone together – try U- shapes or squares and rectangles for a beautiful intimate style.

Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan
Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan

Image Credits: 1| 2 | 3 | 4


Top Tables

Finally, Top tables! A must have for some and a headache for others, whether you go for a traditional long top table with all the necessary bridal party or do away with it all together, take a look at these ideas for a little inspiration.

Traditional long top table:

So who needs to be up there on the top table with you? Traditionally this is how it looks:

Maid of Honour | Father of the Groom | Mother of the Bride | Groom | Bride | Father of the Bride | Mother of the Groom| Best Man

Of course, as with all aspects of your wedding, you can choose to mix it up as you feel fit. A traditional long top table seats 8 looking out onto the guests and this is by far the most common and often practical way of laying out your wedding tables especially when its all eyes on the bridal party for the speeches.

Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan

Round Top Table:

If you don’t want to feel as though you are on display or if space doesn’t allow for a long enough top table, then opting for a round top table could be the way to go. You and your bridal party can enjoy a meal altogether and socialise a little better than on a longer table and for the speeches, everyone will still be able to see you.

Sweetheart Tables:

If a top table simply isn’t for you, how about a cutely named ‘Sweetheart Table’? Go it alone and enjoy your first meal as husband and wife together – just you two! This is great way to make sure you spend time together in the day and can eliminate any arguments with families, if you’re finding organising the top table difficult.

Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan
Table Talk! Wedding Layouts - Long vs Round Tables | Darby & Joan

Image Credits: 1| 2 | 3

Bridal Party Hosts:

If you do get rid of the traditional top table, then you don’t necessarily have to have all your family seated together, an alternative way is to get your bridal party to ‘host’ their own table, great if you want to mix up your guests and not seat the obvious people together.

Phew! So there we go! Hopefully lots of helpful advice for you to think about when thinking about your Wedding Reception table layout, what are you going for? Did your venue not supply the right style and you hired or have you opted for a quirky layout? Come and let us know over on Facebook!

Featured Image: Matt Brown Photography

7:06 30 March 2015

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