This afternoon’s wedding is super different and unique. I just love the whole atmosphere and ethos of the day.
Dan and Rose married on the 21st September 2013 with a Welsh mythical and gypsy ritual outdoor ceremony followed by a medieval style banquet reception at Weobley Castle in Wales. The whole day was a combined effort by the bride, groom and their loved ones, with experience of organising festival Nozstock, it worked out perfectly.
There was plenty of live music too with Dan and Rose performing themselves in the evening. Rose wore a beautiful vintage Edwardian dress from Elizabeth Avey, while Dan also went vintage in his 70s style flairs. Amazing.
Thanks so very much to Mairead Mchugh for sharing her lovely photographs.
THE PROPOSAL | We’ve been together a long time – since we were teenagers and have grown up together, going through all that was necessary, good and bad, as a couple. Although we’d discussed getting married occasionally it hadn’t been something we’d considered that seriously until recently. When Dan proposed to me, on a trip away to York to celebrate our anniversary (of 15 years!) it was with a ring he’d made for me, an art piece made of transistors, LEDs and wire (he was completing his sound art and design degree at the time). However, when he first tried to propose that weekend we’d been at a concert and drinking and I didn’t believe him – so the next day he had to do it all over again!
I actually designed the ring so you could attach a 9-volt battery to it, and see it light up. I went down on one knee, in the rain, in front of the art gallery and proposed… fitting I guess. Though it should not be attempted again with an electrical item.
THE VISION | A banquet of great food, lots of live and eclectic music by the people we know and all celebrated outdoors, back at home in Wales. This was the starting point. And then we needed a focus and a ceremony. I asked a very old family friend and well known writer and Welsh Bard, Nigel Jenkins, if he would devise a ceremony for us. Coming from him, it would be secular, steeped in tradition and yet very contemporary and incredibly personal. He deliberated, researched it and happily agreed. Nigel created a ceremony which intertwined Welsh mythical and gypsy rituals (we jumped the broom!) with local Gower Bridal traditions (including dressing the part as Gwahoddwr or Bidder) as well as the very personal. All delivered with the best mix of humour and gravitas in his beautiful bass tones.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We were limited for time – Dan completing his degree and myself mid-way through specialist veterinary ophthalmology training – and only had six months from engagement to wedding. We set a date and then had a weekend to get back home and visit possible venues in Gower. Everything else we sorted out in bits and pieces whenever we could. We were pretty relaxed about it – most of the time! – and determined we could manage to get it sorted, knowing we didn’t want to drag out the organisation process but just wanting to get on with actually getting married!
BUDGET | We didn’t budget. We probably should have! It was half-way between ‘doing it on a shoe-string’ and not wanting to compromise in what we thought was important (e.g. good food, beautiful outdoor venue). But we were really lucky – we have a lot of wonderful friends, some of whom we have worked with a lot over the years organising boutique festival Nozstock, who all helped us, from building and setting up the stage in the marquee, to building a beautiful ash archway for us to walk through (symbolic of love and fertility) and preparing all the food. Glass table tops were made from disused silk-screened panels made by my architectural glass-artist parents (Amber Hiscott and David Pearl), with trestle legs made by carpenter friend, Martin Solomon. Artist and honorary-sister Ffion Nolwenn Roberts was in charge of decorations and I could go on, and on and on…! It was perfectly unique and we felt very blessed.
Thank god for credit cards.
THE VENUE | Weobley Castle, north Gower. This peninsular was the first UK site to be designated an area of outstanding national beauty and it this coastline we miss most being away from Wales. The family who own the farm were great – relaxed and helpful. We also insisted we wanted to order their own salt-marsh lamb for the occasion, before we even confirming the venue, for the spit-roast.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Genuine Edwardian (c1912) dress.
FINDING THE DRESS | I had one day to do it and a few lovely friends to help with the process. Prosecco breakfast first at Brockwell Lido (London) and then a few pre-decided places. It was by chance that this happened to be the sample day at Elizabeth Avey plus there was also a small selection of genuine vintage dresses. I tried on quite a few – and all their dresses are gorgeous – but Mairead spotted this one for me (she’s got such a good eye!). It was a perfect fit and definitely very special and very ‘me’.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | I knew early on that I wanted a retro-styled suit. Initially I was drawn to 1940s esque designs. Faded browns or greens, a hat of some description and preferably, a tommy gun. Finding such a particular suit proved quite difficult. None of the ‘modern’ stores held anything that quite worked, such is the nature of in-fashion department stores. Eventually the idea dawned on my friends and I that we scope out the vintage shops dotted around Camden stables. The very first vintage store and the very first suit we set eyes upon, and that was it! So simple in the end, after a long search. The flares make it more 60s/70s, but I fell in love with it. The Fedora finished it nicely.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We had a bilingual reading of Cathlau am Gariad/ Songs of Love – Welsh stanzas interspersed with English – by Welsh poet Menna Elfyn. It was perfect.
Music, as mentioned – was quite varied and all by people we know. DnA are a mother and daughter duo of fiddle and harp, playing traditional Welsh folk music and their own compositions. We then moved in to contemporary classical with Strange Brood (an ex-band of mine) and then rock bands including a few songs from Dan with his brothers, local singer and friend Dai Godwin and London band Heck Tate, before lovely mixture of interesting French pop, electro and good tunes to dance to by DJ friend Nina Blok. Oh, and – our ‘first dance’ lead straight in to Dan and I playing a track we used to play when we gigged together – Dan singing with keys and guitar and me on violin….
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | We skipped this bit in an official sense, there was no way I would be able to choose. But close and very old friends Mari and Sophia read the Welsh and English parts of the poem, Mairead did the photos for us, Carys helped me with nails and hair on the day.. In fact, my parent’s house and Dan’s mum’s house had lots of great friends staying in the run-up days, doing a lot of the preparations and looking after us both!
THE FLOWERS | We wanted natural and preferably indigenous flowers. Ffion recommended local flower growers Rhiannon and Stephen. They had a great selection despite it being the end of the growing season. My mother and I chose them ourselves, cutting and gathering many buckets in their gorgeous field of flowers.
THE CAKE | A collaborative effort! I made the large bottom fruit cake (the Italian Christmas cake with nuts and chunks of dark chocolate from River Café). My cousin in-law made two sponge layers and tiered and iced it all. Fresh flowers added final decoration on the day.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Mairead has a great eye for photographing people and recreating the atmosphere of the occasion. As an ex-model herself she also knows how to make people relaxed behind the camera. And we’re very lucky to have her as such a close friend and that she wanted to photograph our wedding!
It was an honour to have Mairead do our wedding photography. I have modelled for her in the past, and she has a great talent in style, image quality and making the subject feel relaxed. As you can see, the results are fantastic!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Cyanotype (a photograph in paint form) backdrop by Ffion. Mis-matched antique crockery hired from Little Cottage Dreams was lovely …… Great local ales on barrel from the Greyhound brewery in Gower. Proper coffee from a somewhat aged but good Brasilia coffee machine. A real medieval banquet feel to the whole event – perfect!
THE HONEYMOON | We’re still waiting for this! We had a mini-moon in Pembrokeshire the week after (after the sort-out and pack down!) but the rest will wait ‘til after my exams next Spring…
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Our friends set up their own bell tent for us to use as a dressing room and, as a surprise, clubbed together to buy us our own gorgeous bell tent, which they decorated resplendent with candle chandelier, home-made bunting, fairy lights and a very comfy and elegant double-bed for us to retire to eventually!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Not to worry about whatever people think you should be doing or how you should organise things if it doesn’t work with your intuition. Do ask friends to help– the more people play a part, the more personal and memorable it is for everyone. Giving out jobs to parents and other people can also help make the planning process easier, even if only so they stop pestering you to decide on things you’re not yet ready to decide on!
Make sure you spend a little time on the big day to take it all in. It goes so quick, and in a few moments you’ll be having your last dance, putting your folks to bed or breaking up a fight. Enjoy it! You should only really do it once.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
I would love to recommend the following:
Semi-ruined romantic castle Weobley in Gower
Art for festivities from Ffion Nolwenn Roberts
For gorgeous vintage dresses in London | Elizabeth Avey
Sexy and super-comfy vintage shoes by Remix and lots of wonderful accessories came from | Revival Retro
Flowers | Rhiannon and Stephen (who will chose and ship for you too).
Real Gower by Nigel Jenkins, to be published posthumously by Seren books this year, includes a chapter about Weobley castle, based around our wedding day. An excerpt is included on Mairead’s website photo-blog.
Photography | Mairead Mchugh
Wow so individual. I so love a couple that totally represent their personalities.
Thanks so much to Dan and Rose for sharing their wedding with us today XOXO Lou