Happy Birthday to Cwtch The Bride! 4 Today!

CTB is 4!

Oh my, aren’t we getting old… its our fourth birthday today! hip hip.. hurray!!

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I cannot believe its been four years since my lovely little welsh wedding blog published its first post!

My team and I are so proud to have brought you some incredible things in that time, to name a few:

  • Published over 1,000 awesome wedding posts highlighting some great welsh talent and inspiration.
  • Launched the Lush List which is proving an essential ‘go-to’ resource for many welsh brides
  • Organised three epic CWTCHFEST Wedding Festivals so far, with our fourth taking place on Sunday 9th April at St.Fagans
  • Won BEST REGIONAL WEDDING BLOG! at the 2016 UK Wedding blog Awards!! (a huge BIG DEAL)
  • Run a series of Cwtch Workshops to help & inspire DIY brides
  • Helped many independent welsh wedding businesses grow by showcasing their work and promoting their services
  • Created jobs for some very special Cwtchgirls
  • Shared hundreds of real welsh weddings from across this beautiful country
  • Given some of our readers the opportunity to share their bride/groom to be diaries with us all.

Personally, I am ridiculously proud of how well Cwtch The Bride is doing and I adore working alongside some truly amazing people.
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I have many more ideas still up my sleeve and cannot wait to see them come to light. All in good time.

A Personal Thank you

I know that to many of you reading this, it can appear that we always have great fun. Laughing, singing and dancing our way through the workday with a hilarious spotify playlist. And for the most part- its true. But occasionally, something happens that can totally throw you. I mean…really knock you for six. The kind of thing that turns your world upside down, makes you want to crawl under a duvet and never come out. A life changing experience that requires an incredible group of people to help get you through it.

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This photograph was taken a year after my own marriage had ended. I was devastated and had hit a real low point of my life. Being surrounded by all things ‘wedding’ was very painful for me. Everything hurt. I didn’t tell many people. When you work in the wedding industry and your own marriage fails you feel this enormous amount of grief and shame.  And yet, I pushed through quietly. I didn’t want to let anyone down. And its thanks to these girls I got through it. I’ll forever be greatful to them for their help and support.

My CWTCHGIRLS are (without a doubt) the coolest women I’ve met in my entire life! There are a few Cwtchgirls in particular I want to give a special Thank you to.

Anna, Donna, Lindsey, Dawn and my mum … you ladies, I don’t think you’ll ever know how grateful I am to have you in my life. You have helped me get through the hardest time where I honestly thought I couldn’t cope. I felt broken and so low. Any yet you ladies where always right there for me. You picked me up when I hit the floor. when I doubted everything, you ladies encouraged me to keep going. When I wondered why on earth I’m doing all this work… you ladies just smiled and said ‘lets do it’.

Thank you for being so damn amazing. You really are very special women and I love that we get to share this awesome roller coaster ride of work and life with each other.

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Donna, the most organised office manager & friend I’ve ever had and the rock I needed to kickstart my working week. I miss you but think my book keeper misses you more! Damn I need you back soon x Owen Mathias Photography14390907_10154517804521796_7193752556001646050_n

Lindsey (aka LINDA), I wouldn’t do Cwtchfest without you! simple as that. You are a dream to work with and I am so excited at what lies ahead!

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Anna, hahaha where do i start with you? You make my Mondays & Wednesdays rock. You have taken the reins of features editor and ran with it. I bloody love ya! Plus, anyone that shares the same love of the Carpenters as me is a friend for life!

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Dawn, Our Boobless bride. Your story touched me so much I knew as soon as I read your first email and the tears rolled- we were going to be friends for life! You are an inspiration.

432047_10150735477031796_367678448_nMum. I love you. And thank you for always believing in me, even when I doubt myself. xxx

Thank you to all the inspiring welsh wedding businesses that continue to invest in Cwtch The Bride. I love that you too believe in what we do and what we stand for. I love that you support us at a time when I know all too well how difficult running a small business can be. Together we grow and I adore seeing you all benefit for our hard work. Onwards and up!

And the final thank you goes out to you lovely Cwtchers for reading, thank you for commenting, sharing and getting involved in what was a crazy idea of mine that has now become a valuable resource for many welsh brides & grooms!

So, there you have it, was rather personal but needed to be said..

There is no hot date for me tonight, no plethora of valentines day cards flooding my letter box. But I do have two very special men in my life that I adore. Josh & Joe. My boys. What more could a girl want. Hmm… we’ll see what the future brings. xxx

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And if you have just got engaged on this very special day… Welcome to Cwtch The Bride! We are a fabulous bunch of honest, hardworking women that are hear for you. This is a safe place for you to begin planning your welsh wedding and we can’t wait to meet you!

Happy Valentines Day everyone. Lets crack open a bottle of fizz and have an awesome day.

Maria x

 

 

Real Weddings: Natalie and Steve’s Vintage Zombie Wedding

Hello Friday! You are most welcome!  Well we have a treat for you today.  These two have just celebrated their first anniversary (hope you had a lovely one Natalie and Steve!) Shot by our very own Maria Farrelly, this wedding was full of personal touches that really made their big day, all about them! Shot by our very own and amazing Maria Farrelly, this wedding oozes coolness and individuality! 

Real Weddings Banner

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Natalie and Steve’s Vintage Zombie Wedding

What was your budget? 

£15,000

How would you describe your wedding theme?

Vintage with a hint of zombie!

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What was your favourite part of your wedding?

My favourite part of the wedding was the ceremony. I had had a nightmare whilst getting ready, and having my one contact break, leaving me to walk down the aisle with just one contact in! As the walking in music began, my hairs stood on end, I forgot everything that had happened, and I just couldn’t stop smiling! Seeing my Dad beaming with pride, and then seeing my future husband waiting at the end of the aisle filled me with pure joy. We also went a little ‘off-book’ with our wedding vows, and vowed to each other…to respect and cherish you throughout our life together, unless you become a zombie, then I promise to shoot you in the head!’ It certainly raised a laugh from the congregation! I also loved that we walked out as newly married couple to Less Than Jake’s “I Think I Love You”.

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Tell us about your Wedding Dress

I bought my wedding dress from the second shop I visited, All About Eve in Newport. I tried on 5 dresses that day and discounted my actual dress as being too expensive ( The sales assistant advised it was the second most expensive dress they had!). After trying all the other dresses, and feeling frumpy in them all, I decided to try the Ronald Joyce Erin, with her BEAUTIFUL beaded back…. As soon as it was on, and I showed my Mum and bridesmaid, we just knew this had to be it. I could just imagine saying ‘I do’ to my future husband in that dress.

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Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?

My bridesmaids were both long time friends, Rachel, who I met at the age of 7, at primary school and Natalie, who I met age 11 at high school. They have always been there, though thick and thin. We literally couldn’t be more different, these girls are the cheese to my chalk!
Our groomsman was Natalie’s fiance, and our long time friend, Barney. The best man was my husband’s best friend of 18 years, Lee. They have been through many adventures together, and he had the best stories!

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Why did you choose your venue?

To be honest, the venue was a compromise as we had butted heads over this. I had very grand ideas, and the hubby didn’t want anything too grandiose. After many ideas, we came across Portland House. It suited us both, as it has an amazing glass ceiling, and marble pillars, but is in the middle of Cardiff Bay. We weren’t after your average wedding photos either, so didn’t mind that it doesn’t have grounds.

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Tell us about your photographer

Our photographer was the wonderful Maria! She was AMAZING. She calmed me down and guided us throughout the day. She knew exactly what we were looking for and even found a way to get us into the vaults for some spectacular photos!

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How did the proposal happen? 

The proposal was the sweetest! We were having an average Saturday at home and I went to the kitchen to start on dinner. Next thing I know, I hear “Go see your Mam'” from Steve in the living room, and then confronted with our mad little Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bob. He bounded in and out of the kitchen several times, when I noticed he had something in his collar. I knelt down to try and grab it from him, when he knocked me down to the floor with excited licks! There, lying on our kitchen floor, I opened the note. It read “Marry my Daddy so we can be a proper family, because we all love you”… I looked up to see Steve on bended knee with the most beautiful ring. The rest, as they say, is history!

Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?

I made my own brooch bouquet. I absolutely blagged it from the start. I used around 60 brooches in total! I bought a teardrop Base metal structure, and literally hand tied with jewellery wire each and every one of the brooches on. No fabric, and no fillers! I then sealed the back with heavy satin ribbon, and used a fine lace to wrap the handle and sealed the end of the handle with a brooch. I finished it just 2 days before the wedding! We also made the buttonholes, which consisted of used shotgun shells, wrapped with twine with a black feather and faux purple lavender sprig. I wanted no flowers at the wedding, so I also decorated my center pieces (silver candelabras) myself with a lot of help from the hubby and my bridesmaid Rachel!

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What was your first dance & why?

Our first dance was the acoustic version of Papa Roach’s No Matter What. The song was absolutely perfect for us, and our wedding theme. I wanted something that reflected us, as we are both into metal music, but didn’t completely alienate the guests! The lyrics tell a love story, and includes the lines, “No matter what, I got your back, I’ll take a bullet for you if it comes to that”, which is pretty fitting, given our vows!
It was beautiful, and brought a tear to a few eyes!

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In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?

Yes. I definitely would have had back up contact lenses! I probably would have had a tea length dress to change in to for the evening too, as it was quite difficult to rock out without tripping over my dress!

 

 

Do you have any advice for future couples?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Don’t compromise on your day, do it where, and however you want. You can’t please all of the people, all of the time, so do something that YOU will be pleased with.

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What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?

I genuinely enjoyed all of it!

The Suppliers

Photographer: Maria Farrelly
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Portland House
Bride’s Dress: All About Eve
Bride’s Shoes: Lenihan’s Of London, custom commission.
Bride’s Headpiece: Custom commissioned
Bride’s Jewellery: Grandmothers pearls/ Bete Noire Jewellery
Groom’s Outfit: Waistcoat and tie from Anthony Formalwear, suit hire from Dyfed Menswear.
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Lindy Bop
Cake: Vale Cakes
Hair: Owen Roberts
Make Up: Jody Amner
DJ: Rob Toogood from Fuel Rock Club
Stationery: Love Lee
Any Reception Decor/Props: MST Events
Transport: Rumney Wedding Cars

The Wedding Album

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Introducing Alphabet Dating: A,B,C,D

Today is all about dating. You know, that thing many of us did BEFORE getting engaged, married and having kids? That distant memory of spending quality time with your other half, making an effort to dress up, shaving your legs and rooting in the drawer for those sexy pants haha. Ok… maybe it hasn’t got to that stage…YET! Good job we’re here to save you!

Us Cwtch Girls were recently talking about dating and as a newly single lady (yes… moi) I find the whole idea of dating again quite nerve-wracking. I’m 38 now and times have changed from when I was a single 21 year old! I mean… what is online dating all about?

Anyway…What I did find fascinating when chatting with my happily married Cwtchgirls was the importance of still making that effort to date your partner.  I’m not talking about winning and dining each other. I’m talking about spending quality time together, enjoying each others company and exploring the world around you.

Do you and your other half make the effort to date each other still? Do you have a regular date day/night? Or do you just slump on the sofa every evening and cwtch up?

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetI was recently bought this book, gosh it made me giggle. But it did also make me think a lot about how dating has changed…

” Bernard and Gail are online friends who have finally met. They know they have a lot in common and are going for a walk.

All Bernard can think about is checking his telephone. All Gail can think about is how she is going to describe this date in 140 characters later when she goes to the toilet.

Bernard and Gail suspect that in real life they are simply awful people”.   Extract from The Ladybird book of Dating

Alphabet Dating

Cwtch Girl Kate told me all about this really cool thing her and her hubby do called ‘Alphabet dating’

The idea is actually pretty simple. They have a date each month and take turns to plan a day or date inspired around a letter of the alphabet.

I LOVED this idea and suggested we run a series of features on it but focusing on places around Wales. So, here we are… Each week, one of us Cwtch girls will take 4 letters from the alphabet and give you all some great ideas on where to go for a date. remember to turn that mobile phone off when you go!

Enjoy…

A- Abergavenny

Referred to as ‘The Gateway to Wales’ it seems only fitting that Abergavenny is my chosen ‘A’ date.

Interestingly, Abergavenny means Mouth of the River Gavenny (learn something new everyday hey!). It’s a market town in Monmouthshire and super easy to find. Only 15 miles west of Monmouth on the A40 and A465 roads and 6 miles from the English border.

There is so much to do here. If you get the chance, I recommend taking afternoon tea at The Angel Hotel and also popping into the Abergavenny Indoor Market (on your wedding day too if you really like it… everyone loves a pick n mix right?). Abergavenny_indoor_market Abergavenny_indoor_market2

All images by: Maria Farrelly Photography

Our fabulous Lush Lister Hilary’s Floral Design is also based nearby, why not pop in and treat yourself to some seasonal flowers to pretty your home.

If you are wanting to explore a little outside Abergavenny, I’d highly recommend Sugarloaf Vineyard and not forgetting the breathtaking Black Mountains & The Brecon Beacons. You can easily spend a whole day around Abergavenny discovering some really special places.

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All images by: Maria Farrelly Photography

B- Barry Island

My ‘B’ date was always going to be Barry Island. Full of nostalgia and a bit cheese. So much to keep you both entertained. The Beach, The fairground, Crazy Golf, The arcades, Fish and Chips and fresh Donuts (if you can make room for them) plus lots more.

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Its great for dogs too! 063093107mg_8190 mg_8222-2 mg_8345-2 mg_8502-2

All images by: Maria Farrelly Photography

 

C- Carreg Cennen Castle, Llandeilo

carreg-cennen-castle089004There is something rediculously romantic about taking a walk hand in hand up Carreg Cennen Castle.

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The views are spectacular and what better way to enjoy them, than with that special person you are madly in love with. 049If all that hiking gets a little too much for your feet, theres always piggy backs! 
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All images by: Maria Farrelly Photography

D- Dan Yr Ogof Caves

Now this place is great fun … if you like caves and Dinosaurs! Dan Yr Ogof Caves is situated just of J45 of the M4.

004 010Did you know its one of the worlds largest dinosaur parks? they have over 220 life sized dinosaur models to get up close and personal with too!

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And then there is the caves. This place simply blows my mind. Its incredible. completely fascinating and full of history.030 049

I’d then suggest you take a walk along the river and finish off with an awesome picnic. What a cool date hey!

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All images by: Maria Farrelly Photography

I do hope this has inspired you to Date your other half more. Time flies too quickly and its very easy to stop making the effort for each other, especially once that ring is on your finger and you have agreed to a life-long commitment.  Its these little things, the little gestures, the little dates that collectively over time become the big things. The memories! and if there is one more bit of advice i can give. It’s to take lots of pictures of them! 

All the images used in this post were taken by me. The couple’s featured were my clients that had booked me for a pre-wedding photoshoot. I’m lucky enough to have photographed some incredible weddings over the years in some of Wales’ most beautiful places. I cannot recommend enough the idea of getting out there and exploring this beautiful country for yourself. 

Have fun Dating each other and if you have any alternative A,B,C,D ideas, feel free to post a comment below. We’d love you to hear from you.

Maria x 

Next week we have E,F,G, & H 

Cwtchfest 2016 video by Loz Morgan Films

Today we’re sharing something very special to us.

Here are the highlights to the awesome wedding festival us Cwtch Girls organised back in April at The Glanusk Estate. Cwtchfest2016 was a huge success and we were thrilled with how many people got involved and attended the event. Huge Thanks to Loz Morgan Films for this awesome footage!

Owen Mathias PhotographyThe Cwtch Girls left-right: Anna, Charlie, Maria, Kate, Lindsey, Donna, Dawn. Image by the fabulous Owen Mathias Photography.

Loz Morgan Films:

CwtchFest2016: Glanusk Estate by Loz Morgan from maria farrelly on Vimeo.

The lovely folks at Bears & Butterflies also managed to capture this beautiful piece of drone footage before Cwtchfest started. It has a lovely peaceful feel to it and really showcases just how magnificent The Glanusk Estate is.

CwtchFest2016- by Bears And Butterflies from maria farrelly on Vimeo.

And if all that isn’t enough to get you excited about our next Cwtchfest, then make sure you pop back to the blog tomorrow as we have an exciting announcement to make! ITS BIG! and you are going to all LOVE it.

 

Review: An evening at the Celtic Manor

Is ‘DATE NIGHT’ coming up soon? Do you need somewhere to entertain the future in-laws? or maybe you’d just like to treat your mum to a lovely meal on Friday night?  If so, did you know that the Celtic Manor have recently opened three new restaurants at the resort? Yes, THREE! They can even cater for intimate weddings too!

Steak on Six, The Epicure Experience by Richard Davies and Cen.

I was lucky enough to be invited to an event called #nightatthemanor a few weeks ago. Alongside some of Wales & Bristols’ leading bloggers, I was treated to a tour of each restaurant, served divine cocktails and sampled a selection of lavish food from each of the restaurants (I was one lucky and very FULL girl afterwards haha).

All images in this post by me: Maria Farrelly Photography

 

Signature Lounge

 The evening started with cocktails and canapés in the recently opened Signature Lounge.

Diners at Steak on Six can enjoy drinks before lunch or dinner here which boasts spectacular, elevated views across Coldra Woods.

Maria_Farrelly_Photography-166Maria_Farrelly_Photography-161I was pretty fascinated with this hand carved cured ham, it tasted incredible.

Maria_Farrelly_Photography-164 Maria_Farrelly_Photography-165Maria_Farrelly_Photography-158Each of these canapés were a delight and i think if you were considering hosting a small intimate wedding here, the food would certainly wow your guests. I just don’t think one of each canapé would be enough for my friends… they’d LOVE all of this and i’m pretty sure they’d happily of taken the tray off the waiter.

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Steak on Six

In a spectacular elevated setting on the sixth floor of the Resort Hotel, this recent addition serves succulent steaks from around the British Isles and has already earned the coveted accolade of two AA Rosettes!

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Most of the tables in this restaurant were laid out for two which instantly made me feel this was an intimate couples restaurant rather than somewhere a family/large group would dine. I really liked that. Their website does state they will accommodate a maximum of 6 per table. Its also worth noting there is a dress code. I’m afraid you’ll have to leave your flip-flops where they firmly belong (at the beach). 

Maria_Farrelly_Photography-168Alongside signature cuts of the finest steaks from around the British Isles, diners can also take their pick from an array of other fine meats and fresh fish, all grilled to perfection.

Maria_Farrelly_Photography-171This unique setting with its spectacular views over Coldra Woods and breathtaking combination of stunning surroundings and exciting, creative culinary concept, are fast making The Signature dining destination a popular choice.Maria_Farrelly_Photography-169

The Epicure Experience by Richard Davies

The Epicure Experience by Richard Davies promises a memorable and exciting, modern restaurant experience sure to impress the most discerning of gourmets.

Maria_Farrelly_Photography-173 Maria_Farrelly_Photography-177Formerly of Gordon Ramsay London, Sawyards in West Sussex and the Manor House at Castle Combe, award-winning chef Richard Davies returns to The Celtic Manor Resort.

Maria_Farrelly_Photography-174 Maria_Farrelly_Photography-176Richard’s intricate menus reflect seasonality with a strong emphasis on the use of locally sourced ingredients, producing fresh, intense flavours for an unforgettable dining experience.

Maria_Farrelly_Photography-179It was such a pleasure to meet Richard, he was lovely and clearly passionate about his craft. He welcomed us with an introduction to his food as well as sharing a few trade secrets (my lips are sealed Richard) but all I will say is that I now have another use for my crinkle cutter! 

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CEN

At Cen, you can discover fresh, unique and truly inspired Asian fusion cuisine by Larkin Cen, 2013 finalist of BBC’s MasterChef UK.

Offering a deliciously different dining concept, this striking new restaurant features an exciting menu of fresh, contemporary Asian cuisine created by one of the UK’s most up-and-coming talents.

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Before we dined at Cen, we were treated to an exclusive masterclass from Larkin himself where he showed us how he creates his mouth-watering Duck dish. Maria_Farrelly_Photography-192 Maria_Farrelly_Photography-193Maria_Farrelly_Photography-194

From delicious fluffy steamed bao buns to slow cooked oriental pork belly and succulent sharing platters of Cantonese duck, savour this sociable dining experience bursting with authentic pan-Asian flavours.

And there we have it! I bet I’ve made you all hungry now! ~ Maria x