My hen do was one of the best weekends of my life. My sister did an amazing job and when it came time for me to return the favour I found it so much pressure make it as special as my one was. Today Our Graceful Bride tells us all about her hen do. Take it away Vicky.
Our Graceful Bride
Before anyone gets too concerned, this isn’t a post on what not to do at a hen party! I didn’t want a hen do, a lot of my friends are male.
I have friends spread all over Europe so organising something seemed impossible, the thought of dressing up in tacky outfits and going to get drunk at numerous clubs fills me with dread and don’t get me started on my feelings on male strippers!
I really wasn’t fussed on the whole thing. This all changed after a rather boozy meal in East London one night (burgers in donuts is a thing, who knew!) when my friends from uni decided, in their cocktail infused state, that we should do something.
Seen as most of them are guys we felt it couldn’t be named a hen do, hence the birth of the hen don’t! Given that I’d also participated in a cocktail or 2 I then did the unthinkable, I gave them full control to organise the whole thing, I’d have no involvement!
I assumed it would either be forgotten about when everyone sobered up or we’d just do a variation on our usual meal out in London. I was wrong, very very wrong!
Months of Facebook groups and WhatsApp conversations I wasn’t allowed to be part of ensued whilst they enjoyed my panic! I was allowed my cousins and friend Nikki to join me the night before to help me pack (needless to say the giant clock and snorkelling gear didn’t go in, I did have bug spray though!) but I was still completely in the dark.
So Saturday morning, I’m banished and locked in the kitchen having to listen to everyone giggling away and Rob just saying “I don’t get it” numerous times before the giggling turned to fits of laughter as the boys arrive, an arrival that brought out half our neighbours! Jones Jet had landed (otherwise known as a mini van hired from the airport) and with it a fully fancy dressed ‘crew’! They’d really gone for it, I was presented with a boarding card before being ushered into the van and away, marshalled out of the drive with some glow sticks whilst listening to fake safety announcements they’d created.We had a variety of comedy in flight magazines, airline blankets, pillows and vanity sets and a full tray of breakfast! An ’emergency landing’ into Reading service station finally revealed that we were going to Bristol, where I was also presented with a t shirt and relatively tasteful bride to be banner I was forced to wear. Many hours later we pulled up outside an actual hotel complete with swimming pool and spa (they’d had me convinced for a while that we were going camping) and promptly decided to make use of them! With a night that then continued on with a meal in a steak restaurant, an exclusive cocktail bar where we were joined by some of my other friends who live in Bristol, a bar and finally a crappy club they really did outdo themselves! I spent most of the weekend in absolute amazement that a) they loved me enough to plan the weekend and b) that they actually had really good organisational skills when left to their own devices! Trouble is though I’m never going to plan anything ever again now I know they can do it! So I’m now a full advocate for the hen don’t (should probably copyright that!) everyone should have one and I have the numbers of a couple of good planners!!
Awww I love that they made such an effort. Who says that your hen do can’t be a hen don’t!
I hope you had a great weekend? To start your week off in style, we have a gorgeously romantic image for Cwtch of the Week, taken by Steve from Art by Design Photography.
The blustery weather added to this gorgeously dramatic cwtch from this weeks newlyweds. Over to Steve to tell us more about it….
A Italian-Welsh Cwtch
This gorgeous couple in the field is Michela and Dave.
They both live in Munich in Germany and Michela is Italian and Dave, Welsh. They both have a love for the beach, coastlines and Lighthouses so that’s why they decided to get married at Nash Point Lighthouse, in Llantwit Major, South Wales.
The shot was taken at the top of the cliff to the left of the lighthouse. It had just stopped raining and the blue sky started to appear.
Michela was wearing a simple vintage dress so it was great she was willing to climb over a wall, dodge the stingy nettles to get in the field.
I think it was worth it in the end for this dramatic, romantic shot.
We couldn’t agree more Steve! The windswept, Bronte novel look about it all! We completely adore it. Thank you for sharing everyone x
And to start your weekend off in style, we have a truly lovely wedding for you!
Beautifully captured by the ever so talented Oliver J Photography, Jenny and Thomas got married at the breathtaking Edwardian Manor, Llangoed Hall at the beginning of October.
It truly looks like it was just the most wonderful day, and we are totally loving this couple!
Over to Jenny and Thomas to tell us all about it…….
Jenny and Thomas’s Edwardian Manor House Wedding
How would you describe your wedding theme?
No real theme. We tried to keep it in keeping with the décor of our chosen venue, an Edwardian Manor House in the Wye valley, Llangoed Hall.
What was your favourite part of your wedding?
We genuinely loved the whole day. We wanted a relaxed wedding that we would enjoy celebrating with our guests in beautiful surroundings. The tone of the day was set by my friend’s gorgeous toddler who decided to abandon her parents and follow me down the aisle immediately making everyone laugh and it was the best way to calm our nerves.
Our best men were also brilliant and leapt up at completely the wrong moment to give us the rings making everyone laugh again and setting the tone for an incredibly fun day.
This carried through to the speeches during which all the speakers managed to balance genuine emotion with as many funny stories as they could squeeze in. As the bride, I particularly became a target and every personality quirk and childhood mishap suddenly became public knowledge.
My younger brother also decided he would do a speech as part of the father of the bride speech (fairly sure I didn’t actually give permission for that!) but it was incredibly emotional to hear our families talk about us with such love and affection.
During the groom’s speech, Tom decided to share the story of the first proposal attempt which caused a lot of laughs at my expense particularly some of my friends decided it was time to share some of the antics from my hen weekend with the entire room.
The laughter continued when the band started. I can honestly say I never expected to see my 80 year old grandmother who last danced at her own wedding in the ‘60s dancing with all my friends to Teenage Dirtbag and my parents – who also last danced in the ‘80s – jumping around to Mr Brightside. The band were amazing and getting everyone up and dancing and the set kept the energy going all night with a mix of music.
I’m not sure anyone is going to forget the dancing of that night, and fortunately – or unfortunately depending on how you felt about it – the photos and videos are circulating to remind those who would rather forget…
Tell us about your Wedding Dress
As we only had had 8 months until the big day, dress shopping was all a bit of a rush. I visited Laura May Bridal with one of my friends just to figure out what kinds of things I liked.
I still couldn’t really imagine myself in a long white dress so had no idea what kind of thing I wanted.
We described the kinds of dresses I liked and thought would suit me so along with the assistant, we picked shapes, materials, and styles to narrow things down.
I was picking up art deco style pearl numbers, or lacy Kate Middleton style dresses, but the assistant picked up a plain silk waisted dress with beaded detailing on the back to try the shape. I barely looked at it and had passed in on the rack as not interested.
I tried it on first to test out the shape and instantly loved it. It was simple, tailored and I didn’t feel completely overwhelmed by it. I told myself it was just because it was the first time I had seen myself in a wedding dress but every other dress I tried on felt like it was someone else’s dress and that I was completely overwhelmed by lace and beads and skirts.
I had taken one of my bridesmaids with me who was brilliant and telling me honestly when things suited me or not and I completely needed that brutal honesty because all the dresses were lovely.
We narrowed it down to two dresses; the first one and a vintage 1920s beaded dress, and so I brought my mum back a week later to look at them.
All week I had been thinking about the first dress. I tried them both on for my mum and we both fell completely in love with the first accidental dress and ordered it that day with plain ribbon edged veil and just prayed it would arrive in time.
I ended up doing the thing they say you should never do, I brought the first dress, from the first shop, in under a week of looking.
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?
Picking the bridesmaids was difficult because there were so many candidates who would have done an amazing job.
We eventually decided on two of my uni ex-housemates and one of best friends who had just returned from living in Australia. This worked brilliantly having people representing different friendship groups and bringing alternative ideas and the wedding would not have been so amazing without them.
From the hen weekend to the them completely taking over decorating the venue and organising everything the day before – working a night shift 24 hours before your wedding turned out not to be such a good idea- they just completely sorted everything and did an incredible job.
The two bestmen – in the end we couldn’t pick – were two of Tom’s uni housemates. They did a great job from organising a stag weekend in Dublin which Tom loved, to helping organise the suits, and the speeches. As always they were on great form and helped make the day what it was.
Why did you choose your venue?
Llangoed Hall was the only venue we visited. I had heard about it from friends and researched a few, but just kept coming back to it.
We are wanted somewhere that we could have the ceremony and reception, and that could accommodate our guests overnight. We visited and it was even more beautiful than we had imagined and we loved it instantly.
We liked having all the rooms downstairs available to our guests so everyone could mill around as they pleased, making the day more relaxed.
The team there were also great at helping organise things and were invaluable on the day. They took care of everything from rounding up guests, helping our florist set up and took care of everything we asked. It freed us and the bridal party up to simply enjoy the day.
Tell us about your photographer
Oh Oliver. I had seen some of Oliver’s photos of a colleague’s wedding and I loved what I had seen on his website.
We wanted our photos to be more documentary type, and make the most of the beautiful surroundings.
I met Oliver about five months before the wedding and got on immediately and this carried on through to the big day. We really appreciated his input and ideas – even if it did end up with a last minute rush order on sparklers – and they all worked brilliantly on the day.
He managed to somehow completely blend in with the guests and just become part of the wedding whilst keeping everyone on task and on time.
Neither of us particularly likes being the centre of attention or having our photo taken, but Oliver put us both at ease and made the photos an enjoyable experience.
How did the proposal happen?
So the proposal took two attempts!
Poor Tom with the help of his groomsmen had planned a romantic surprise weekend away in hotel and was going to propose at the evening meal. It was lovely. We had a suite with champagne and strawberries, amazing food with matched wine for each courses.
Unfortunately I’ve always been a bit of a lightweight and enjoyed the wine with our lunch a bit too much and never made it to the evening meal where he planned to propose.
He was so traumatised it took six months for him to plan another weekend away.
He proposed at a hotel in Covent Gardens when we had been discussing our plans for the following day by revealing a fake ring and a plan to go ring shopping for a replacement together the following day.
It was a lovely and low key way to propose and I loved it , and it did explain his panic when I had suggested after dinner drinks on the way back to hotel.
We went shopping the next day and picked the first ring I tried on in the first shop and bought it there and then.
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?
We made all of the stationary and a lot of the decorations ourselves because we just struggled to find things we liked. The stationary seemed endless, but it made it more personal and was definitely worth it in the end.
What was your first dance & why?
This was really tricky one because we don’t have “a song” most of the dancing we had done together had on nights out.
I came across Ben Folds’s, ‘The Luckiest’ when it was featured in the film About Time and loved it and felt it best summed out how we felt about our relationships and each other. We have even learnt to waltz (via youtube) but then at the last minute abandoned the idea of a routine and waltzing and decided to take the pressure out of it and just wing it.
And whilst we will never win awards for our dancing, it was lovely to have a moment just the two of us together.
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?
Absolutely nothing. We went in with the attitude of not stressing out about things being perfect because it would be a great day anyway and it worked for us. This meant we actually enjoyed the preparation and everything was perfect on the day. Not working nights 24 hours prior to the wedding would have been nice though!
Do you have any advice for future couples?
Go with your gut. If you like it and know what you want go for it.
We booked the first venue, bought the first dress, bought the first engagement and wedding rings, and wouldn’t change a thing.
We only had 7 months from engagement to wedding so had to get organised and make quick decisions, but it actually took a lot of the stress out of it because we didn’t overthink or question our choices.
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received?
Laugh with each other and have fun. That way you will always be best friends as well as husband and wife.
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?
It was a great excuse to get together with friends and plan something fun together.
One thing I love about running Cwtch The Bride is giving awesome people a platform to share their thoughts and ideas on weddings. This isn’t restricted to just professionals. Oh no… This blog is for everyone. It’s become a place that many brides, grooms, family members & friends flock to for advice, inspiration and a bit of a nudge to get organising.
As Cwtch The Bride continues to grow, we’re now on the lookout for new writers. We want to hear YOUR STORY. This is a safe place to share your excitement, worries and thoughts surrounded by a team of people that ‘have all been there’. Well, maybe not all of us! This lady in particular has a very unique story that has recently gone viral in the international press and I’m so proud our ‘boobless bride’ is now a great friend of mine too.
If you’d like to become part of our wonderful team, then come on, have a go at filling out the form below. Its really easy and I’d love to hear from you~ Maria (creator of Cwtch The Bride).
Become Our Next Blogger
Are you about to embark on planning your wedding?
Are you making literally everything for the big day?
Are you trying to plan the ultimate hen or stag?
Are you trying to write your speech?
Do you want to just curl up in a ball and pretend it will all just sort itself out or are you loving the organising?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then we want to hear from you!
If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them (just follow www.cwtchthebride.com, we’re not that mysterious)….maybe you can join The Cwtch Team
How To Enter
Don’t worry there aren’t many!
All entries must be received by 31st December 2016
In order for our readers to have time to get to know you we are limiting entries to weddings happening between May 2017 and April 2018.
If you win you must be willing to write one post a month up to the wedding and (if you’re a bride or groom) allow us to have the exclusive feature of your wedding on Cwtch the Bride
There has to be a Welsh connection
And that’s it! We don’t care if you are male or female, traditional or off-beat, we just want you to connect with and inspire our readers.
Get writing! If you need some inspiration here’s a taste what you’ll be talking about, from our winners 2015:
So our beautiful Traditional Bride is married! She looked amazing and we can’t wait to show you her big day. Today she talks about how she did a bit of crazy honeymoon planning. Grab a cuppa and pop your feet up as I hand you over to Kathryn.
Our Traditional Bride
So the wedding is done and dusted. I’ve talked, laughed and cried about it so much and can’t wait for it to be published as one of Cwtch’s Real Weddings so I’m not going to go over it all again now, I’m going to tell you about the next amazing but stressful part of our wedding process. The Honeymoon.
Now I know a lot of you sensible people will have already budgeted for a honeymoon, perhaps you may have already booked it and started saving for it… if that’s you, well done, you’re doing the right thing!
I however, had a different approach. Every single last penny of our savings, wages, earnings and any cash we came across was ploughed directly into our big day. To us, we didn’t want to scrimp on a single detail on the day if we could help it, and our priority was the day itself. We had the bright idea of asking our beautiful family and friends to kindly gift us with some cash instead of traditional wedding presents, we live together and have all the toasters, plates and kettles we need in our life, and we just hoped that with these very kind donations, we would be able to snap up a “cheap late deal” on a honeymoon a day or 2 after the wedding and just jet off!
That did indeed happen… Eventually. Although it wasn’t particularly cheap. We couldn’t have been more grateful for the incredible generosity of our loved ones, and we had a fantastic honeymoon in beautiful sunny Cyprus but the fact of the matter was that we ended up paying for a holiday that we wouldn’t have chosen if we’d had more time! You see there doesn’t appear to be such a thing as a “cheap late deal” these days… unless you live near the London airports or want to go to Turkey, neither of which was a possibility for us!
Our wish-list went like this:
💎Flying from Bristol/Cardiff
💎On the beach
💎Nice resort, near a few pubs/restaurants but not too wild.
I exhausted onthebeach.com within 24 hours of the wedding and quickly realised we needed some help so spent the next 3 days in Thomson, Thomas Cook and eventually Travel House to finally get anything anywhere near what we wanted.
Rich and I are not massive on luxury, we wanted some guaranteed sunshine, a relaxing holiday together just to chill out and reflect on the manic couple of years we’d had and the lovely future ahead of us. But the truth of it was we had very little choice!
The right destinations just didn’t have the right flights, the right flights didn’t fly on the right dates, the right dates didn’t match our budget and what matched our budget were to completely different places!
It was hell. I really hadn’t thought this through, and was in such a panic, if we hadn’t booked time off work, I’d have said sod it, let’s leave it a few weeks, but we couldn’t.
My job isn’t so bad, they’re pretty flexible but Rich had booked 3 weeks off and simply couldn’t change it so we admitted defeat and took a holiday which ticked 2 of our boxes (well, almost 2… We conceded to dropping one night!)
What we actually got:
✅Flying from Birmingham
✅Nowhere near the bloody beach
✅Aiya Napa town centre
But before the holiday could begin, I had to get rid of the cats.
I love my weird, ungrateful pets a lot more than they even like me I think.
Being a responsible owner, I’d already pre-arranged their stay in a local cattery because I knew we would be going somewhere, but with everything going on, not to mention the last minute shopping trip where I spent a ridiculous amount of time searching the sale rails in New Look and Next for the last of the holiday gear the day before we departed, I’d simply forgotten I had to actually take them in.
The crazy little creatures won’t let Rich even touch them half the time, they don’t appear to like male humans (they are rescue cats and I have no idea of their background or previous treatment, only that they’re terrified of men. I could write blogs purely on the hell we endure with these psychotic animals on a daily basis but I’d be here all day.)
So I was happily cruising home from my shopping trip when I had a phone call from the hubby reminding me I had to take the fur-devils to the cattery by 5:00pm.
It was 4:35 and I was about 2 miles from home and a further 5 miles from the cattery. Cue the most horrific panic ever, you don’t know horror until your much-struggled-for honeymoon is under threat by 2 fluffy balls of indifference.
I booted it back to the house, grabbed the critters and rammed them in the cat cage, there was no time for tickles, treats and coaxing, I got clawed to bits in the process but with 10 minutes to spare, I was booting it back down the road, Lily and Lola yowling in the cage next to me as if it was their holiday at stake and I was literally, excuse the pun, having kittens!
The cattery opens 10am – 5pm, we were leaving at 6am the next day, too early to take them in in the morning and was stuck in rush hour traffic realising I was just not going to get them there in time.
Living in Swansea, I have no close friends and neighbours nearby to help me or take them in the next day for me, my family are all in Ammanford and I couldn’t believe that I’d left it so damn late!! I’d had all day!!
So a hysterically tearful phone call to said cattery resulted with a member of staff huffily agreeing to wait for our arrival (which was eventually 5:30pm!) and that was it, the kitties were safely deposited! Hating me, but safe and looked after.
And off we went, a whole week after the wedding!We had an amazing time. We drove the long trek to Birmingham and got tipsy in the airport, as you do, our flight was delayed and we arrived late in the night but the hotel was stunning, a massive refurbished 1-bed apartment overlooking the pool!
We ate out every day and night in gorgeous little Cypriot restaurants, walked miles and miles exploring bars and shops, we sipped cocktails and partied a bit too hard in the Ayia Napa strip a couple of nights, and spent a fortune on taxis to the next town to go to the actual beach, we met lovely friends, caught a fabulous tan, and enjoyed every second of our honeymoon BUT never would I ever leave it that late to book again!
The cheap late deals are a thing of the past, unless you don’t mind where you go or your goal posts are totally moveable, book in advance!
And your pets. Don’t forget them either!I know how crazy it gets after the wedding. We had a 6 day gap between the wedding and the honeymoon so I can relate to the craziness, the total exhaustion and the need to just want to go x