Oh how I adore a countyside wedding; set in the beautiful Wales landscape sits the sweetest Church; where Alex and Caryl chose to marry on 3rd May 2014.
Following on from their wedding ceremony Alex and Caryl headed to their marquee reception set on Caryl’s parents’ farm, which was decorated eclectically. Check out the amazing colourful bunting, floral cake and home made touches.
Thanks goes to John Wellings for sharing his wonderful photographs today.
THE PROPOSAL | The proposal was on Mwnt Beach (which is overlooked by the church where we got married). We had been to a wedding party the night before. Alex was a little hungover and suggested we have a walk on the beach to blow the cobwebs away before a long drive back to London. It was raining quite heavily by the time we got down to the beach and Alex proposed while we huddled by the rocks for shelter. It definitely hadn’t expected it but it was a lovely surprise made all the more romantic by the rain!
THE VISION | We didn’t really have a vision and we are both quite indecisive anyway so we probably wouldn’t have been able to agree on a “Vision”. We wanted a relaxed day with good food and wine a really good party in the evening. As we were dragging lots of friends down to West Wales from London and Birmingham, we also wanted to make the most of the beautiful countryside where Caryl’s family live.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | The planning process was relatively pain-free apart from actually having to make final decisions. We tried to keep the process as fun as possible e.g. spending a lovely weekend in France buying our wine. As we were planning a wedding in West Wales, a five hour drive from where we live, we also had to practise a bit of delegation, and were lucky to have very talented and enthusiastic helpers among friends and family (especially when it came to tasting!). As the reception was on Caryl’s parents’ farm and we did a lot of stuff ourselves, the week before the wedding was a bit of a rollercoaster but we got there in the end.
BUDGET | The bulk of the budget went on food, drink and marquee hire. We tried to keep the costs of everything else down by doing things ourselves and roping in friends and family.
THE VENUE | We got married at Mwnt church which is very near to my family home. It is a really beautiful old little church and has a stunning location overlooking the beach. It is a very special and peaceful location (apart from when a 100 wedding guests descend!). We had the reception in a marquee on Caryl’s parents’ farm. It’s a spot next to some woodland but as it’s at the other end of their caravan site we got lots of cheers from the caravaners as we drove through which was really lovely.
THE FOOD | The catering was done by LLys Meddyg, Newport and deciding on a caterer was one of the easiest decisions that we made. We’d considered getting married at their restaurant/hotel but as we needed a bit more space, they agreed to do the catering for the marquee. Having eaten at the restaurant and had a discussion, we knew that they were just what we wanted and didn’t even consider any other caterers once we knew they did outside catering and were available. We had canapés that made the most of local and seasonal ingredients (including asparagus which went down very well) followed by joints of slow roasted lamb, finished on a big barbeque outside of the marquee. One person on each table had an apron and hat under their chair and had to collect and carve the meat for their table.
As a number of additional guests were invited for the evening, some family friends who have a burger van and an ice cream van very kindly agreed to come along and cook and serve mini steaks, hotdogs and ice cream which were very well received post dancing. We also had marshmallows to toast on Nordic candles outside the marquee.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I got the dress that I wore in the day from Jane Bouvis, in London. She uses old lace to make new dresses. I wore a light green slip underneath the dress and at the last minute decided to add a similarly coloured light green ribbon from Cardigan Market around my waste. My shoes were also green and from Rachel Simpson (an impulse buy before I’d fully decided on the dress which is unusual for me!) and I wore an old multi-strand pearl necklace which used to belong to a great aunt of mine who was something of a socialite.
FINDING THE DRESS | I was very unsure about what kind of dress I wanted other than that I didn’t want it to be brand new. Having tried on a few dresses, I felt very comfortable in 1950s/60s prom dresses but really liked the idea of wearing lace that had its own special story, having been handmade by somebody years ago for theirs or a loved one’s wedding. I was looking for original lace dresses on Portobello road when I came across Jane and the dress I eventually wore. I was really unsure about having a long train but I was convinced in the end and thought it was quite fitting for the church wedding. As the lace was so delicate, and because I am indecisive, I also had a white 1960s full skirt cotton dress for dancing in the evening.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Alex’s Dad offered to treat him to a made to measure suit for the day. He didn’t want to wear traditional morning suit, but also wanted to make sure it didn’t look like a suit you’d wear to work! In the end, he picked a three-piece mid-blue suit from Reiss. He matched this with a white shirt, a Liberty floral print tie from J-Crew, and brown shoes. He also wore a pair of cufflinks inherited from his Granddad.
The (two) best men and father of the bride wore complementary navy suits with white shirts. Their ties were made using off-cuts from the floral bridesmaid dresses by Marilyn Lewin – [email protected] – who we found through the Villlage Haberdashery in West Hampstead, London.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | The whole of our ceremony was bilingual because Caryl’s first language is Welsh and a large proportion of the guests were bilingual. As we were getting married in a church the 2 main readings – by our good friend Jennifer and Caryl’s auntie, Rhiannon, – were from the Bible. We chose Song of Solomon because the language is romantic with lots of natural imagery; and the Beatitudes from Mathew’s gospel in Welsh (partly because they remind Caryl of Sunday school as a child). As our wedding fell on the week of the Dylan Thomas Centenary, Caryl’s auntie Enfys also very kindly agreed at the last minute to read a funny bit of dialogue from Under Milk Wood. It is arguably a bit risqué for a church wedding but we think it went down well. We had a harp playing while we entered and exited the church (because it was a Welsh wedding and the organ in Mwnt is a bit ropey). The hymns were the Lord is my Shepherd (the West Bromwich Albion football anthem, Alex’s team) and Bread of Heaven in Welsh which ensured hearty singing.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had three adult bridesmaids attend on the day, my sister, Alex’s sister and Lisa my friend from school. My 4th bridesmaid, Chloe, had given birth to twins just before the wedding so wasn’t there on the day but still had to suffer a lot of the shopping and bridesmaid dress indecision during the planning stage. The girls wore dresses from Dig for Victory who were absolutely brilliant. I really didn’t want the bridal party to look too bridal and the girls have different shapes and tastes but Dig for Victory meant that the girls could have 3 different dresses in shapes which flattered them and I could choose any fabric that I wanted. I initially found some red blue and navy floral fabric that I liked from Annie Washbrook in Nevern, West Wales. As it was end of line, I decided to have the other bridesmaids in mismatched fabrics and proceeded to drag Alex around every fabric shop on Goldhawk Road and Berwick St to find the perfect matching fabrics (there are so many shades of red!). Having collected enough swatches to make a patchwork quilt, I eventually chose a floral red navy and yellow fabric from Liberty and a stunning bright red cotton. A local seamstress, Gwynneth….. made dresses for my younger nieces, in a blue linen fabric from Annie Washbrook and my mother crocheted little flowers in cream and navy which were sewn onto the dresses.
THE FLOWERS | Lisa, a family friend from the village did the flowers on the altar and all of the bouquet’s and buttonholes. I was really fussy about the flowers looking natural but she did an amazing job and with the help of another neighbour, even made willow hoops for the younger bridesmaids to carry. We picked all of the flowers in the marquee ourselves the day before the wedding with lots of help from family friends and particularly committed bridesmaids. We were also really lucky to enrol some of the regular’s from the caravan site nearby – including a couple who have their own florist business in Caerphilly who helped us to tie big branches and ivy to the poles in the marquee.
THE CAKE | My mum, who is a very talented cake maker made the wedding cake. It was traditional fruit cake (because I love it and because it meant she could make it in advance so there was less panic in the few days before the wedding). The decorated cake was absolutely beautiful. The attention to detail was amazing. She included big poppies that matched those in the bridesmaid dresses and painted onto the cake all of the flowers that were in the hedgerows in the surrounding area and which we had put on the tables in the marquee.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We found John on the internet while looking for a natural, affordable photographer in West Wales. We weren’t even sure that we wanted a professional photographer as neither of us are particularly photogenic and didn’t want to spend valuable celebration time posing for pictures. However John’s documentary style was perfect and looking at previous examples of his work we were particularly impressed by his ability to really capture people’s personalities. He was also really great value and we particularly liked the fact that we had access to all of the photos to print ourselves if we wanted. He did an amazing job on the day – with everyone commenting on what a lovely man he was! He was not at all intrusive and captured some great shots of the guests and some really relaxed shots of Alex and me without us having to pose too much or to leave the party for too long!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | The décor inside the marquee was quite basic as we wanted to make the most of the traditional marquee and poles. We were incredibly lucky to be able to borrow some brightly coloured bunting that had been made by a friend’s mother which really transformed the marquee. It’s only really upon reflection that I realise how much effort went in to the fine details for the day. Everything was quite mismatched and eclectic – Alex’s friend Bev made us some really creative, unique invites – photographs of a large painted sign which we then put in the marquee and outside the Church – my aunt painted a beautiful table plan which matched the cake and bridesmaids, we had some beautiful slate boards from creftiau gwdihw which we used as signs (thanks to my sister’s good handwriting) and Alex painted our old toy box which we used as a fancy dress box. My uncle even managed to get hold of a real post box with a lock which was very handy for keeping valuables (like the marriage certificate) secure during the party. As I had loads of fabric left over from the bridesmaid dresses, we used this to make cushions for some old sofas that we put in the marquee and to make little pouches for lavender confetti.
As we were optimistic for warm weather, my dad also carted some big logs for people to sit on outside the marquee, we had a bouncy castle, and my brother in law made a coconut shy and some amazing nordic candles which we lit in the evening. My sisters also very sweetly made a May Pole as a surprise because it was the May Day weekend.
THE HONEYMOON | Alex organised the honeymoon as a surprise because I didn’t want to make any more decisions. We went to Northern Spain and the intention was to spend some time in San Sebastien before making our way, by bike, to Bilbao. We were both a little bit surprised by how hard the cycling was so we didn’t do the whole route but got to Bilbao and had an amazing time overall, taking advantage of the wonderful food and wine the Basque country has to offer!
MEMORABLE MOMENTS |Coming out of the church and seeing that friends had decorated my uncle’s trumph stag which we used to get to and from the church (my mum had even crocheted bunting with our names on) and brought down Prosecco to serve all of the guests.
A big proportion of the guests walking about in fancy dress in the evening because they had split their trousers on the bouncy castle.
Walking up the hill, back to the farm, at 2 am with tired feet when all the guests had gone and reflecting on what an amazing day we’d had and how much everyone had done for us.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Try to find some time to relax in the days before the wedding – the preparation was really fun but also at times quite stressful so it would have been good to have some time out.
If in doubt get a good professional photographer – our only regret was not asking John to stay all night!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Food | Llys Meddyg
Hair and make-up | Naturally Perfect
Bridesmaid dresses | Dig for Victory
Photographer | John Wellings
Wedding dress | Jane Bourvis
Marquee hire | Fedwen Tentage
Flowers and slate | Lisa Lewis
Thanks so very much to Alex and Caryl for sharing their wedding story with us here today XOXO Lou