Cwtch of the Week: James & his Best Man by Gareth Scanlon Photography

This week is mostly dedicated to readers Annie & James who took Wales to Berkshire for their wedding on the 31st of May this year. On Thursday we will be featuring their Engagement Shoot which took place at The Gower and on Friday their wedding will be gracing your screens. Here is a little teaser from their wedding day, James and his best man Gareth enjoying a cwtch! Image by Gareth Scanlon Photography.

James & Gareth's cwtchMake sure you come back Thursday and Friday (and why not Tuesday and Wednesday too!) for the rest of Annie & James (and Gareth!)’s story.

Real Wedding: Katie & Ian’s Handmade Wedding at The King Arthur Hotel by Roz & Kirsty

On Monday we featured Katie, Ian and their daughter Tilly having a big family cwtch! Thank you to Katie for getting in touch and for sharing these beautiful images by Roz & Kirsty, here is Katie to tell us more about their handmade wedding, which had quite a few surprises, at The King Arthur Hotel.632

What was your budget? We didn’t really have a budget. Well Ian did but I didn’t listen! I decided that I wanted a lot of our wedding to be ‘handmade’. Obviously we saved money by doing this but this wasn’t the reason we chose to make a lot ourselves. We were lucky to have had people close to us help us with all sorts of the planning and making. If we wanted something we booked it and thought about it later.
My parents and Ian’s mother were very generous with regards to paying for the wedding and we wouldn’t have been able to have done it without them.

How would you describe your wedding theme? I wouldn’t say that we had a theme, I just picked something that I liked and went with that. I knew from the very beginning that I wanted bunting and birdcages, so the ‘theme’ was built around that. I knew that I wanted it to be informal and pretty; a day that people would never forget. I wanted our venue to reflect both our personalities, it had to be fun and fun it certainly was!


What was your favourite part of your wedding? I know its a cliché but I genuinely did enjoy EVERY minute of our wedding day. Ian had arranged a few surprises for me which really did shock me, I can’t believe that he kept them from me!!
Firstly, when I was getting ready in my parents house, I was reading my card from Ian aloud for the videographer and at the end I had to play a CD. It was a recording of Ian singing One Direction – All the little things. Everyone was crying, including the photographers. I made a pact with my self that I wouldn’t cry anymore as Jinty had done my makeup and left so I couldn’t have it touched up.
Later, we arrived at the venue and whilst waiting outside with my dad and my girls, I could hear live singing coming from inside the King Arthur, someone told me it was Ian. I thought if he is singing I can’t go in there, I will never hold it together. I didn’t recognise the voice to be his so took a deep breath and made my way in. I saw my best friends before anyone else and this put a massive smile on my face and helped me hold back the tears. The singing that I heard was another surprise from Ian, he had arranged for four members of Only Men Aloud to sing Mumford and Sons whilst I was walking down the aisle. (They later sang for guests in the drinks reception)
So far I have had One Direction and Mumford, what more could a girl want?!
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Speeches were well under way, Ian’s speech was brilliant, he says he doesn’t like public speaking but he fooled me. At the end of his speech he sang John Legend – All of me acapella and had people in tears again.
I thought the surprises were over, what else could he do? Well, he had an absolute beauty up his sleeve. We had our first dance, the three of us, Ian, Tilly (our daughter) and I. He whispered to me at the end of our dance that he had one more surprise for me. I said ‘Ian you’re not singing again?’. I was sat down on a chair and Ian and four of his ushers stood on the dance floor with their backs to me, One Direction – You don’t know you’re beautiful came one, they turned around and were wearing one direction masks, Ian was Harry obviously. They did a choreographed routine, and had everyone ‘whooping’ and clapping around the dance floor. I can remember my face was hurting because I was smiling and laughing so hard. They had done this for me? I loved it, they clearly loved it and so did everyone else. It’s on you tube if you fancy a laugh…

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Tell us about your Wedding Dress I wasn’t overly excited about the whole dress shopping experience, I had tried on loads (my sister had seen me in every wedding dress in Swansea) and none of them said ‘this is the one’ until I went to see Huw Rees in Llandeilo. This is where I found my dress, I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. Huw and his girls made me feel like the only bride to have stepped foot in his shop. I used to get excited every time I would go back for a fitting. Huw tells you as it is and knows what suits you, I put all my trust in him and it certainly paid off! I want to wear it again…112 449

Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why? Bridesmaids was a no brainer for me. I have one sister, Ruth who is slightly younger than me. She was always going to be my bridesmaid and walk our daughter Tilly down the aisle. Another of my bridesmaids was Nicola, I have been best friends with Nicola since we were 10, I literally tell her everything, she is like another sister to me and so she was also always going to be my bridesmaid. That was it, or so I thought until the end of 2013, where I became very close to a friend who I had met in work. We are like two peas in a pod and she was a great support to Ian, Tilly and I last year. I asked her to be my bridesmaid, she cried and said yes (thankfully as I had already bought her dress hoping she would). Tilly my daughter wasn’t given the choice, I knew she would look like a princess and be the centre of attention of all day. Everyone adores her.
These three girls and my other best friends made the lead up to my wedding extra special, my hen weekend was one of the best weekends of my life and we are already trying to find an excuse to all go away together again soon! 139408768

Why did you choose your venue?  I lived in Gowerton for 16 years, I spent my childhood and teenage years down the Gower with my family and friends. I knew that this is where I wanted to get married. I took Ian to see three venues in the Gower, the King Arthur Hotel being one of them. The King Arthur was the last place we saw, I knew I loved it but I wanted Ian to as well. We walked in and Ian more or less booked it within 30 seconds of being there. Tilly was running around the grounds and we knew this is where we wanted to start the rest of our lives together.
We couldn’t have asked for a better service from the King Arthur, our wedding coordinator Sarah Williams was like our best friend in the run up to the wedding and we would email each other daily. She is incredible at her job and made our wedding day the day of our dreams.473 484

How did the proposal happen? It was October 11th 2011, I was 7 months pregnant. Ian came home from work and decided that he wanted to go for a picnic. In October I thought? But hey I was pregnant and if someone mentioned food I was there! I told him that I didn’t fancy sandwiches and wanted a domino’s pizza. We stopped in the shop, he wanted to buy Haribo’s (Looking back I should have guessed why, but baby brain had the better of me), we argued over what packet to get. We picked up the pizza and he drove us to Pembrey, he took me to the spot where we used to go when we first started seeing each other. Still I didn’t think anything of it. We ate our pizza in the dunes. Out of the blue Ian said to me “What would you say if I asked you to marry me” holding a haribo sweetie ring, I replied “Well if you do then you better get a real ring!”, I continued to eat my pizza and turned back to Ian to see him on one knee holding a baby blue ring box with an engagement ring inside. He asked me to marry him and I said “Where did you get that from” immediately followed by “yes” and floods of tears. I totally didn’t see that coming. He had picked the ring himself on a shopping day with his usher Allan, I teased them both telling them that they had a bromance going on because Ian was supposed to come shopping with me on that day but ditched me for Allan. Now I know it was in all in good faith! 627

Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share? I made all of the wedding stationery myself and everything else was by my mum and close friends.
I bought recycled brown kraft card, printed them using our home printer and made bunting out of floral card and bakers twine. I made them into little packages tied up with twine and a luggage tag. It was hard work but totally worth it. I continued the theme through to the table names and place names. I bought table top easels to hold the table names as I didn’t like the conventional holders.
My mum and I bought some old suitcases, my mum revamped them and they were used for our seating plan, card box, confetti and prop box.
I bought dried flower petals off the internet and put them in personalised individual brown paper bags for people to use as confetti. The flowers tied in with our colour theme.
I also bought pink and white striped straws, I found a template online for straw flags and put phrases on them which were meaningful to Ian, Tilly and I. Ian cut the flags out and stuck them on the straws, they were served with Pimms in the drinks reception. 
My mum bought the birdcages and added pink ribbon, they were used as our table centre pieces. She also made hanging hearts that were used on the pillars. She didn’t have any nails left!

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I wanted large light up K & I letters for the dance floor but couldn’t find them locally, my best friend Lauren is a set designer for theatres and made them for us as our wedding present I did not envisage how amazing they would look! Lauren also made us a photo wall that was used as a photo booth with props that I bought off the internet.
In work a year or so before the wedding I was talking to a colleague (Katie Jones) about wedding flowers and she offered to do them for me. I had no idea that she was a florist prior to joining the police. Katie was amazing. She is a perfectionist like myself and made my vision a reality. When she dropped the flowers off on the morning, I was speechless. They were gorgeous. She did all the venue flowers, bouquets and button holes and they were better than I had imagined. We are eternally grateful to her for giving up her time to do our wedding flowers (oh and for her mum for letting Katie take over her house with our flowers).
I (we) knew that we wanted the men to wear skinny ties but we could not find any that we liked. We chose a floral material for Ian and then the pink accent colour was picked for the others, we found material to match and had the ties and pocket squares made. Not only were they bespoke but also a great gift for the groomsmen.
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What was your first dance & why? Our first dance was ‘toothpaste kisses’ by the Maccabees. Ian has always loved this band and we saw them together live at Reading festival 2012. We always knew this would be the song for our first dance. It is such a lovely song and not many people knew it, making it even more special to us. Tilly strolled onto the dance floor halfway through and joined in with us. Ian and I both cwtched her dancing to this song, it melted our hearts. 1271

In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently? In the run up to the wedding I regretted making everything myself and said that I wish I had paid someone to do it, but looking back I am glad that I (and my mum) did it ourselves. It was very personal and no one will ever have the same.

Do you have any advice for future couples? Enjoy the wedding planning, it may seem stressful but it is a special time for you both to share. If you want something, get it or make it! Don’t stress over budgets. I couldn’t tell you how much we spent in total and I don’t care, I wouldn’t change any of it!
I have massive wedding blues and want to do it all over again, I considered leaving the police to start a business in wedding planning but Ian told me to wake up and stop dreaming so I’m still on the beat!

What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received? Always make time for each other.

What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding? I loved it all. I like having a million things to and like to be busy so I was in my element. Ian and I had a fabulous time in the lead up to our wedding planning and making things together.

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The Suppliers

Photographers: Roz & Kirsty
Videographer: Rockingstone Weddings
Ceremony Venue: King Arthur Hotel
Reception Venue: King Arthur Hotel
Bride’s Dress: Augusta Jones by Huw Rees, Llandeilo
Bride’s Shoes: Kurt Geiger
Bride’s Headpiece: Handmade by Kelly Frater of Envy Hair, Pontarddulais
Bride’s Jewellery: Stephen Hughes Fine Diamonds
Groom’s Outfit: Dyfed Menswear and bespoke tie/pocket square
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Darling and flower girl dress from Pleser 
Bridesmaid’s Accessories: Stella & Dot earrings and headpieces from Etsy
Cake: Clementine Cakes
Flowers: Katie Jones
Hair: Kelly Frate of Envy Hair
Make Up: Jinty Day
Band: Coverland
DJ: Coverland
Stationery: Handmade by Bride
Caterers: King Arthur Hotel
Any Reception Decor/Props: Lauren Dennis and handmade by Bride and Mother of the Bride
Transport: Love Bug weddings and Grooms friend Rob Holmes

The Wedding Album

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Huge thanks to Katie for contacting Cwtch the Bride, we love it when brides get in touch with us! Please show Katie & Ian some love in the comments box below, and if you would like your wedding to feature on Cwtch the Bride please get in touch :)

Featured Vendor: The iGency

We are delighted to be working with The iGency and to have them back as sponsors for another three months. If you are thinking of hiring a band for your wedding The iGency have a lot of talent to choose from, here is a little more about them with videos of some of their super talented acts.

Who are iGency?

The iGency are a unique, high-end yet affordable entertainment agency supplying cool, stylish and contemporary Wedding Bands and entertainment of the highest standard. The iGency is run by Suzanne and Ryan who between them have 30 years of first hand experience within the entertainment industry making them experts in music and performance. This experience means that they understand what it takes to create a first class act so they work with some of the finest talent in the UK.  They started out with just one band – iPop! When iPop proved to be a huge success they quickly developed into something bigger largely thanks to their passion for top quality entertainment.

What they do

The iGency supply stylish, distinguished entertainment all over the world, including UK, America, Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. They offer a personal touch and can give advice whenever you need it as well as first class entertainment, a cool contemporary look and sound, and electrifying performances from all of the team.

Why should I book The iGency for my wedding?

The iGency wedding bands have performed at many of the most well known venues that South Wales has to offer such as The Vale Hotel Glamorgan, De Courcey’s Manor Cardiff, The Celtic Manor Newport, Pencoed House, Miskin Manor, The Bear in Cowbridge, Stradey Park Llanelli and Hammett House in beautiful Pembrokeshire. Being regular performers at these top venues the bands are familiar with their management and staff alike which helps things run as smoothly as possible meaning you will have one less thing to worry about on the day.
Booking established and professional event or wedding entertainment is always highly recommended and so with over 30 years of ‘first hand’ music industry experience, The iGency are THE entertainment agency to talk to.
They supply stylish, distinguished wedding entertainment of every kind: fantastic high end wedding bands to ensure your wedding reception is one to remember, ambient acoustic acts for beautiful background music during drink receptions or as dinner music, or charismatic swing crooners for wedding breakfast entertainment.

Follow this link to hire a band via The iGency for your big day.

The Acts

We have provided you with a taster of what The iGency have to offer but for a full list of their acts click here. If you aren’t sure what sort of act you are looking for you can contact The iGency who are always happy to discuss your needs and offer a bespoke option.

Thank you Suzanne & Ryan for your continued support of our lovely blog, we can’t wait to show more from The iGency over the next few months :)

The Search Continues

There are just under two weeks left to apply to be our next bride or groom to be contributor, here is what you need to do to enter!


What will she/he do?

Our next Bride or Groom to Be will feature on the blog monthly. You won’t need to give away any big-day secrets, but we would love you to share aspects of your planning with us such as booking your venue, choosing your bridal party, DIY elements, planning your honeymoon and choosing your suppliers for example. You will submit a post each month and be willing to share your Real Wedding after the big event.

How do I apply?

Write an introduction post telling us a little bit about yourself and your intended, where you live, how you met, the date (and venue if you have chosen) of your big day and the details of your proposal. Send it in to along with up to 10 images to accompany your story. As our blog is very visual please tell us who you have booked/plan to book as your wedding photographer (if you don’t know who yet that’s ok, we can always help you!). Please enter by the 30th of September, our shortlisted brides and grooms to be will then be published on Cwtch the Bride. The successful bride or groom will be the one(s) who engage the most with our readers.We will not only look at viewing figures and shares, but we will actively encourage commenting on the blog posts to see who our readers relate to the most.

Terms & Conditions

We don’t have many!

  • There has to be a Welsh connection, we are a Welsh blog after all! One or both of the to-be-weds must either be Welsh, live in Wales or the wedding must be in Wales.
  • In order to have time to really get to know you, the wedding must be taking place between March and September 2015 (If the wedding is later don’t worry, we will always be looking for contributors in the future)
  • Both parties and their photographer must be willing for the wedding images to be featured on Cwtch the Bride
  • We don’t mind whether your wedding is religious, civil, same sex, humanist, traditional or completely non-conformist – as long as you love each other and are happy to write about it then we want to hear from you!
  • All entries must be received by midnight on the 30th of September 2014

I really hope to hear from you soon :)

Charlie x

DIY Tutorial: Wedding Dress Sugar Cookies

Homemade Bride Kate is back with another tutorial this week, this time it’s DIY cookie favours. This tutorial shows each step in detail and it looks super easy (I haven’t actually tried it myself so I could end up eating my words instead of the cookies!). All images in this post are by Maria Farrelly. For more DIY tutorials click here.

These cookies are so tasty and can be a perfect favour for the girls or an extra treat with the coffee at your wedding. They have that wow factor and people love anything home baked. It’s even something you can get your children or bridesmaids involved in to share the decorating with you. These are also things that I make around Christmas time and give a presents. Get creative!


What you will need

A baking tray
Electric mixer (I only have a hand held one)
Cup measures
Mixing bowl
Wooden spoon
Greaseproof paper
Heart shaped cutter
Piping bag


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C . Cream your butter and sugar together. Now if you have a big fancy food processor then this is easy. If like me you only have a little hand held one then it is a little bit of an issue. A little tip to stop it flying around the room and covering you in a buttery sugar mess wrap your mixer with a tea towel. It should look light yellow and fluffy. cookie_favours004 cookie_favours006 cookie_favours007 cookie_favours009 cookie_favours0122. Add your vanilla extract. I used a vanilla bean paste and it is delicious.cookie_favours014

3. Beat in your eggs. 
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4. Add the flour, baking soda and the baking powder. And mix all the ingredients together. Try not to cover your kitchen in a fine dust of flour like I did!  cookie_favours022 cookie_favours023 cookie_favours025 cookie_favours026 cookie_favours0275. If the ingredients are not coming together you can use your hands and rub them together. This is where the food processor comes in handy! 
cookie_favours0326. Keep working the dough. It will come together. Even if it doesn’t look like it will. At this point, if you can chill them for about an hour they will hold their shape better in the oven. 
cookie_favours034 cookie_favours037 cookie_favours038 cookie_favours0397. Line your baking tray with the grease proof paper to stop it sticking. cookie_favours040

8. Roll out a small amount of dough. You don’t want it to warm up too much and spread in the oven. You want the dough to be the thickness of a pound coin. cookie_favours041 cookie_favours043

9. Cut out the cookies with your heart shaped cutter. 
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10. Lay them on your lined baking tray. Make sure you don’t place them too close together as they will just melt together and become one big cookie. 
cookie_favours05611. Place your cookies in your preheated oven for 8 minutes.  cookie_favours058 cookie_favours06012. They should be golden brown when they come out. Leave them to cool on the baking sheet for two minutes before moving them onto a wire rack to cool properly. At this point don’t be temped to eat them all. They smell amazing! cookie_favours061 cookie_favours064

13. For the royal icing, whisk one egg white until it is stiff.  cookie_favours066 cookie_favours068 cookie_favours074


14. Sift in 250g of icing sugar. If for any reason it’s still a bit runny you can always add some more. It’s hard to take it out. Whisk it until it is stiff and there are no lumps of icing sugar. 
cookie_favours076 cookie_favours078 cookie_favours079 cookie_favours08115. Fill your piping with your royal icing and cut the end point off. The more you cut off the bigger the hole and the larger your decorations will be. cookie_favours083

16. By squeezing the piping bag start designing your dress. Any design that you like. Each one can be different. Enjoy it. It can be something you get your children involved with. You could add food colouring to match your wedding colours. Go wild. Enjoy it! The icing can take a while to dry so make sure you don’t stack or wrap them too soon as all your beautiful decorations will be ruined. 
cookie_favours086 cookie_favours088 cookie_favours089 cookie_favours091 cookie_favours092 cookie_favours095 cookie_favours097 cookie_favours099 cookie_favours100 cookie_favours102 cookie_favours106 cookie_favours107Have fun!

Thank you Kate, you made it look very easy! Do let us know if you try this one at home :) x