Bethan & Laurie had a fabulous three day wedding celebration with glamping at Laurie’s parents’ campsite in Pembrokeshire in June last year, their gorgeous happy day was photographed by Lisa Paige-Smith and David J Welsh. We asked Bethan some questions about their big day and here she is to tell us all about it!
What was your budget? Our budget was around £18,000. This was made up of generous gifts from our parents and some money that we managed to save ourselves after having bought our first home together in March last year! We also made the most of having extremely talented and generous friends and family who all added something that money can’t buy to the whole experience.
How would you describe your wedding theme? We didn’t want to have a theme as such as we just wanted a relaxed feel to the day. The aim was to make it a bit like having a lot of friends over for dinner. Some elements we knew we definitely wanted such as a country wedding – I was intent on wearing my wellies at some point during the day! Whilst we both live in London our hearts belong to the Pembrokeshire countryside and we were really keen to have the wedding reception on Laurie’s parents’ farm near St David’s. This meant a certain level of informality and that could be seen for example in the way the flowers were arranged, all in different vases bought from charity shops.
We both went to the same international school, Atlantic College near Cardiff and as a result had a lot of people travelling from overseas. Pembrokeshire is not always the easiest place to get to at the best of times so we knew from the outset that we wanted to make it into more than one day. Therefore, we chose to have the wedding on a Friday which meant that our guests could also enjoy a whole weekend making the most of what Pembrokeshire has to offer. We also borrowed a few ideas from our American friends including throwing a big dinner the night before the wedding. A lot of guests were camping at the reception venue – we arranged for Cariad Canvas to set up some bell tents for glamping. We cooked a mound of chilli and rice for the night before so that everyone could spend some time catching up and getting to know each other before the day itself. That was definitely one of the highlights. Saturday was spent at the beach for those of us whose hangovers allowed it followed by pizzas fired in the pizza oven and project managed by Francesco our friend from Rome – all very authentic!
What was your favourite part of your wedding? Where to start! We went down to the farm the weekend beforehand and spent the week getting ready. Lots of family and friends joined us to help including the best man who flew in from the USA on the Friday before the wedding. The shared experience of getting everything ready for the day was really special and made it feel like it lasted a lot longer. In terms of the day itself, my favourite part was the drive from the church to the farm. My dad lent Laurie and I his little sports car and we drove ourselves home. It was really nice to have that time together to let it all sink in a bit. We also managed to drive through a spectacular downfall into glorious sunshine which was pretty memorable – luckily we put the roof up before the rain hit!
Tell us about your Wedding Dress In all honesty, I had never really given much thought to what wedding dress that I would like to wear before going shopping for one for the first time. The only stipulation that I had was that I didn’t want a strapless dress. My first shopping trip was a real treat with my sisters and my mum. We went to a couple of stores in London and made a real day of it with afternoon tea at Sketch and then a nice dinner in the evening. Unfortunately, none of the dresses I tried on that first trip were for me. I also had no idea about the timescales involved. We married in June and I was trying on dresses in late December to be told that I would pretty much have to make up my mind there and then if I wanted any of them. That definitely helps to focus the mind! Our second shopping trip was more successful on the purchasing front. I went to David’s Bridal in Westfield, Stratford. It is an American chain and this is their first store in the UK. What I liked about it was that it had a very relaxed approach to trying on dresses. Their dresses come in a number of sizes in the shop so you get a better idea of what fits and you are also able to take photos which is a no no in a lot of places. The mirrors are placed in the centre with the dressing rooms around the edge which might not be for the more private among us but I really enjoyed watching the other girls trying on dresses and seeing what they looked like on. It gives you a much better idea of what you do and don’t like. When you find ‘the one’ they give you a bell to ring and everyone cheers. It’s definitely a fun way of going shopping! The dress that I chose was from Vera Wang’s White collection. It ticked all the boxes of covering my shoulders, looking elegant but at the same time being a bit different, having a country feel and pockets! I really enjoyed wearing it all day and into the night when the heels were swapped for wellies!
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why? We had quite an entourage for our wedding. I had three bridesmaids: Laurie’s eldest sister, Beatrice and my two younger sisters, Verity and Angharad. They were all fabulous and very involved in the whole process and I couldn’t have asked for better bridesmaids. Verity was the Maid of Honour and did a fabulous job. I am not sure she will forgive me for asking her to make a speech at the reception but I am extremely glad that she did. She managed to capture the highs and lows of sisterhood perfectly. I also had four perfect flowergirls, my two cousins Poppy and Phoebe and our nieces Elsie and Kaya. They were also very good and Poppy was the star of the show in the church with her reading from the Velveteen Rabbit. A hard act to follow! Laurie’s best man was our very good friend from school, Chris, who now lives in Boston. I think that was also a pretty easy choice as they have been really close since we were 16. Laurie was Chris’ best man at his wedding in Massachusetts in 2012 and I think he wanted to repay him the favour/responsibility. Chris was an absolutely fantastic best man. He came a week early to help us get ready and really got stuck into it all.
The other ushers were Laurie’s two brothers Henry and Jamie and three other boys from school: Aly, Francesco and Sait. They all live in different countries and all came over early to help us sort ourselves out. It was amazing being able to spend time with everyone before and after the wedding day as the day itself all goes so quickly.
Why did you choose your venue? We got married in St Mary’s in Newport, Pembs as we wanted a church wedding and I was keen to leave from my parents’ house in the town. The venue for the reception was quite simple: Laurie’s parents run a campsite on their farm and it is the perfect venue for a party. It is set in a beautiful part of the county and is amazingly well managed. It also came with pretty much all of the facilities to allow us to have 150 people on the site comfortably. We weren’t keen on having a marquee to begin with but when we looked into how much it would take to decorate the barn we realised that a marquee was the best option and actually it worked out perfectly. The guys at Dingle Marquee were brilliant and did a great job of putting the marquee up and setting it all out ready for us to decorate. I am a bit of a control freak and like having a big project to manage. One of the major benefits of holding the reception on the farm was that we could have complete control over all of the key decisions. For example, we sourced the wine through a friend from Bristol and the catering and waiting staff were provided by Strawberry Shortcake who were nothing short of amazing. The florist was my hugely talented friend Polly Le Vaillant who is just starting her own business. I cannot recommend her highly enough, each arrangement was slightly different and really made such a difference to the marquee.
The amount of compliments that I had during and after the day were a testament to the brilliant job done by everyone.
How did the proposal happen? We were on holiday in Greece with my sisters and another friend. Unbeknown to me, Laurie had blackmailed at least one of them into coming with the promise of a proposal which didn’t happen until quite late into the holiday. Laurie had a hard job of getting the other girls to disappear for long enough to do the deed but eventually at about 2 o’clock one morning he managed it. We went to sit and have a drink in our usual spot. I had no idea what was happening as I was staring at the stars for so long while he was waiting on bended knee that he eventually gave up on that and told me to sit down next to him. Then he popped the question. Unfortunately, I am not sure my reaction of laughter was quite what he was looking for but eventually he got an emphatic yes from me and was greeted early the next morning by some very excited sisters jumping on his bed!
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share? We saved on decorations by simply relying on the flowers to do most of the talking. However, we did have DIY pompoms made from tissue paper which were really effective and extremely cheap to knock-up. The table plan was also home made from some odds and ends of wood, clothes pegs and a marker pen.
Hat holders were made using ribbon, safety pins and clothes pegs. My sister made my veil which was perfect. I had no idea how much it cost to buy one and how cheap and easy it is to make your own. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to wear a veil. The piece de resistance was a home-made photo booth which was Laurie’s idea. It was something we were really keen to have but we didn’t want to spend lots of money on it. The booth itself was made by making a wooden frame which we lined using cheap white bed sheets. We then downloaded a photo booth app onto an iPad and fixed it to the frame. Cheap lights stuck in the booth and some pound shop props completed the project and we managed to get some fantastic photos that everyone can share as we were able to quickly upload them all to Facebook. It really was a hit with everyone.
We had so many people helping us the week before that it really made the whole run-up to the wedding an event in itself and on the day it was great to point out the different elements such as home-made cupcakes. In our speech we had a very long list of thank-yous to get through!
What was your first dance & why? Our first dance was ‘Friday I’m in Love’ by the Cure. When we sent out the invitations we asked our guests for song suggestions which we then compiled into a play list for the evening. This was one of the suggestions and as soon as we saw it, given that we married on a Friday, we just thought that was the one.
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently? It was all such a fantastic experience I don’t think there is anything significant that we would have done differently. Some of the things we planned didn’t happen the way they were meant to or at all in some cases. However, I think we were quite good at just letting the day unroll and didn’t worry about the details once it was too late to do anything about it. The prosecco helped.
Do you have any advice for future couples? Don’t focus all your efforts on the wedding day itself. Getting married is the beginning not the end of a process.
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received? Have fun!
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding? I really enjoyed the whole process. However, the most amazing bit for both of us was finding out how lucky we are to have such generous and talented friends and family and also for being able to get married in our favourite place in the whole world.
Photographer: Lisa Paige-Smith and David J Welsh
Ceremony Venue: St Mary’s Newport, Pembrokeshire
Reception Venue: Ty Parke Farm Camping
Bride’s Dress: Vera Wang White at David’s Bridal, London
Bride’s Shoes: Kurt Geiger
Bride’s Headpiece: Veil – made by my sister, Verity.
Bride’s Jewellery: A very good friend lent me her necklace which matches my engagement ring perfectly. I also borrowed some pearl earrings from my mum.
Groom’s Outfit: Moss Bros, Cardiff
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Also Vera Wang White from David’s Bridal – the first dresses they tried on!
Cake: Instead of a traditional wedding cake, we had a cheesecake made from Welsh cheeses supplied by our caterers, Strawberry Shortcake. In addition, my sister, Angharad is a butcher and as our wedding present she bought us a huge pie from the Ginger Pig. This served as evening food too and was very popular!
Flowers: Polly Le Vaillant
Hair: Emma Price from Andrew Price in Camarthen
Make Up: Jennifer Mills
DJ: Dave Philips
Stationery: Geni Printing in the Chew Valley
Caterers: Strawberry Shortcake
Any Reception Decor/Props: All homemade
Transport: We drove ourselves back from the church in my dad’s sports car
The Wedding Album