Darren & Sara’s Engagement shoot at Pen Y Fan by Maria Farrelly

All images in this post are by Cwtch The Brides Founder, Maria Farrelly Photography. Lets hand you over to the lady herself to tell you all about this fabulous engagement shoot…


Today I’m pleased to be sharing Darren & Sara’s engagement shoot and ridiculously excited about photographing their wedding this coming May.

As a professional wedding photographer, I find it essential to build a good rapport with your clients before the big day. An Engagement shoot is the perfect ice breaker. A chance to get to know each other in a relaxed way. Find out what your clients like and don’t like.

Not all couples are affectionate in public and its important to understand what they are comfortable doing before the wedding.  This all makes for a better photographer/couple relationship on the big day itself.

For their engagement shoot, Darren & Sara chose the beautiful Pan Y Fan as they love the area and enjoy walking.Penyfan_engagement_Maria_Farrelly001

At this point, I should warn you, I’m not a mountain walker, I also have a habit of getting into awkward positions on shoots which result in me getting covered in dirt, mud and water. Nethertheless, this shoot is not about me. Its about creating a beautiful set of images that reflect the couple I’m working with. So, as always, I was up for the challenge and arrived all prepared… walking boots, waterproof, change of clothes and of course my camera bag.Penyfan_engagement_Maria_Farrelly010

As soon as we all got out the cars at Pen Y Fan the heavens decided to open and it was clear we weren’t going to be able to walk far. As the clouds moved in, the landscape still looked  incredibly beautiful. Thats what I love about the Brecon Beacons, no matter what the day, the views are breathtaking (ok…maybe not as great when its foggy) Anyhow, the elements were against us, we could have jumped back in the cars and rescheduled but we decided to go for it. And I’m so glad we did. We have great fun.

Darren & Sara are such a wonderful couple and we had so much fun hanging out and getting to know each other as well as getting some great shots which i’m really pleased with. I hope you enjoy this collection of images.




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If you are yet to book your wedding photographer, feel free to take a look at my website. If you’d like me to send you some information on how you can book me for your wedding then do get in touch here.



Shhh…..Today I wanted to let you in on a secret. Its something very special we’re planning to launch later this month. Its called, The LUSH LIST.LUSH LIST MAP

Since our lovely Welsh Wedding blog started back in 2013, we regularly receive lots of emails from engaged couples asking us to recommend venues & suppliers throughout Wales.

This got us thinking… Why don’t we create a super cool directory for you all?  A new section to the blog that features all the cool suppliers we love PLUS the ones that you (past Brides & Grooms) also recommend!

Good idea hey?! (We think so too)

We want to help make finding suppliers easy for you. We want to save you hours of scouring the internet. Our LUSH LIST will point you in the direction of some of Wales’ finest wedding professionals. Companies that we have all used for our own weddings, suppliers we have worked with professionally at weddings, experts we’ve already featured on our blog as well as new and upcoming businesses that we feel offer something truly unique.

 So… as we continue beavering away behind the blog, putting together this kick ass directory. We want to let you know how you can get involved to help make this really special!

How To Get Involved

It is important to us that our LUSH LIST only contains top quality, professional suppliers in Wales. Each and every venue and supplier featured in this directory will have been invited to join by us or recommended by you.

get involved

For Brides

We really want to know who your favourite wedding suppliers are and why. Simply fill out the form below and we’ll take a look.

[contact-form to=’info@cwtchthebride.com’ subject=’LUSH LIST RECOMMENDATION’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Wedding Date’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’My 3 favourite wedding suppliers are’ type=’textarea’/][contact-field label=’What do you love most about them?’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

For Businesses

If you run a cool wedding business in Wales and you’d like us to consider you for our Lush List, then get in touch here. If invited to join, you will receive lots of benefits to help your business including features, events, collaborating on styled shoots as well as being given our Approved vendor badge to use

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We’re looking forward to hearing from you all xxx

Real Wedding: Charlotte and Wayne’s Beautiful Castle wedding in Tuscany

Today, Welsh couple Charlotte & Wayne share their beautiful Tuscany Castle wedding with us.  All images by our very own Maria Farrelly Photography. 


What was your budget? 

We were very lucky and grateful to be given money towards our wedding by my parents and had a budget in mind of around £10k. We knew the average UK wedding cost around £23k so didn’t want to spend anywhere near this and was one of the reasons we opted for a wedding abroad. We kept a spreadsheet that proved very useful when calculating estimated costs and actual costs. It’s worth setting one up so that you can note down everything you think you are going to need for the wedding. There will be more than you think!!


How would you describe your wedding theme?

I would say our theme centred around the venue which was a beautiful castle set in the Tuscan countryside. I love lace and pearls so wanted to incorporate these into the theme also. My dress had an old vintage feel and we used hessian and lace to decorate the table and table plan. The tables were named after places we had been on our travels. I knew with the wedding being in Italy we couldn’t have too much detail but in fact the setting and venue made a perfect backdrop for the wedding. Wayne drove over with a few bits that added our personal touch to the day. We bought our guests funky sunglasses as favours and made fans for the ceremony which went down well as it was boiling!


What was your favourite part of your wedding?

It is really hard to choose one part of the day as the whole experience was amazing from getting ready with friends to walking down the isle and feeling all emotional at the thought of what was about to happen. I loved having all our family and friends in the same place for 3 days so I think that was my favorite thing. The day before the wedding we spent sunbathing and drinking by the pool and the following day we arranged a pizza and lazagne party for our guests over where we were staying.

Italy_wedding_Tuscany029Italy_wedding_Tuscany056Italy_wedding_Tuscany088Italy_wedding_Tuscany013Tell us about your Wedding Dress

As soon as we were engaged I was itching to go dress shopping but opted for a wedding fayre in the CIA to start things off. I ended up trying a dress on there and then and loved it but decided to go to a few shops and try on a few different styles. I knew I wanted lace in the dress and for it to be long. I found my dress in High Society in Cowbridge. It is a stunning shop full of beautiful dresses and the lady who was looking after me really knew her stuff when choosing a selection of dresses to try. Once it was on I just knew it was the one. People always said to me your will just know when you find THE ONE but I didn’t really believe them. Its true I felt like a princess and knew it was the dress for me. Italy_wedding_Tuscany019Italy_wedding_Tuscany021

I met Ashley from ‘With love from Bobbin’ at another wedding fayre and fell in love with her head pieces. After a few meetings we decided on colours and materials and she handmade me the most precious headpiece that formed a special part of my look for the day. I am going to pass it down through the generations as it is versatile and can be added to or changed to suit different looks.


How did you choose your photographer?

I always knew I wanted Maria Farrelly to photograph my wedding so the fact that I was getting married abroad didn’t change this! I love her style of shooting and her creativity and having our wedding in a castle in the middle of Tuscany meant we would have beautiful images to look back on in years to come. If you love a photographer don’t look at the price tag, look at what you will get at the end of it. You can always cut back on other things as I believe your images are one of the most important elements of a wedding as they are the lasting memories you will look at forever.


Italy_wedding_Tuscany080Maria is friendly and assertive so will defiantly get the images you want on the day. She will also capture those funky dance floor moments when you don’t think anyone is looking!!

Italy_wedding_Tuscany153Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?

My bridesmaids were my three best friends, Catrin, Rhian and Beth, and my sister Liz and sister in law Lisa. I also had 4 flower girls my nieces Kelsie, Hollie and Amiee and my friends little girl Dela. They did an amazing job on the day and leading up to the wedding. I had complete faith in them and always knew I wanted them there as my bridesmaids on our big day. All our friends own Pandora bracelets so I decided to get personalized charms for the girls and little bracelets for the flower girls. Italy_wedding_Tuscany051Italy_wedding_Tuscany093

Wayne couldn’t choose which of his friends to be the best man so had his two closest friends Tim and Richard. They did a fab job of organizing wayne on the day and gave him a fun filled stag doo. The speeches are always a favorite of mine at weddings and they didn’t disappoint. Ushers were my brother-in-law Chris and nephew Kyle. Italy_wedding_Tuscany015Italy_wedding_Tuscany017

Why did you choose your venue?

We knew we wanted to get married abroad as we wanted the warm weather and choose Italy as it’s not too far away from home and the food is delicious. We didnt have a particular area in mind but knew we wanted an old building were we would have exclusive use for the day. We also wanted a place big enough so that all our family and friends could stay in the same place.


It was quite challenging and we spent hours on the internet trying to find the perfect venue. We stumbled across Castello di Modanella and knew it was the perfect venue to hold our wedding. It was a castle set in the Tuscan hills around 1 hour from Florence and had acres of land with accommodation to host all our guests. Italy_wedding_Tuscany040Italy_wedding_Tuscany041A year before the wedding we took a trip to Italy to visit the venue and knew we had made the right decision after meeting the staff and experiencing it in person.


How did the proposal happen? 

Wayne proposed to me whilst we were on holiday in Turkey. We were singing our song on karaoke and he just got down on one knee half way through the song. I was so shocked I just kept telling him to get up and didn’t really realise what was happening!! I was in shock for ages after but so happy. We had been together for a while and he never really wanted to get married but knew I always did so was very sweet that he wanted to make me happy. I think he secretly enjoyed it all and has changed his perception of marriage.Italy_wedding_Tuscany130

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

We created most of our decor including table plan, jars as favours, flags for table names and one of my favourite items we made were the fans for the ceremony. 1552

I had seen the design online and wanted to personalise something for our wedding that included lyrics from songs we both liked. My friend created the design using text I provided and I sent to print on thick card. The finish wasn’t right so I bought a corner cutter which made a huge difference and would defiantly recommend using one for similar items. I then used spray mount and giant lollipop sticks to finish.


I also decorated jars for the female guests with hessian material, string and coloured fabric and used the same material to create table numbers and table plan that tied everything together.


What was your first dance & why?

Our first dance was to the song Soul Sister by Train as this is the song Wayne proposed to me and we both love it.

Our first dance was amazing!! We had bought sparklers for our guests as the reception and dance floor was outside and wanted them all to be lit once the song started and everyone standing around the dance floor. It was so nice to be able to see everyone’s faces and they looked like they were having so much fun with the sparklers they went down really well. I would defiantly advise getting them for a wedding abroad.


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

We took a glass bottle and paper for people to write messages down and put in the bottle and the plan was to smash it on our 1st wedding anniversary and read all the messages. We didn’t announce this so people didn’t know to do this so only received one or two messages.

Do you have any advice for future couples?

Remember to enjoy your day and take time to spend with your husband/wife on the day as it goes so fast.


There is a lot to do before and during your wedding so ask people around you to help don’t try and take it all on yourself. When you’re putting your guest list together, don’t feel obliged to invite people just because they are related to you or you’re worried about hurting their feelings. If you haven’t seen or spoken to them in 6 months then ask yourself if you really want them there.

What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?

I think every girl has always dreamed of planning their wedding day and I loved every minute. I organise visits and events for my day job but its so different when your arranging something you feel passionate about.Italy_wedding_Tuscany151There were so many elements to think about and plan but when it all comes together on the day it is so worth all the hard work. It was very important for us to show our guests a good time and ensure everyone was smiling on the day. I think it fair to say we achieved that and people still talk about it now when we meet up.



Wedding Suppliers:

Photographer:                       Maria Farrelly Photography
Ceremony Venue:                 Castello Di Modanella
Reception Venue:                 Castello di Modanella
Bride’s Dress:                        Carmen So Sassi-Sassi Halford
Bride’s Shoes:                       Queen Bee, Penarth
Bride’s Headpiece:               With love from Bobbin 
Bride’s Jewellery:                 Family
Groom’s Outfit:                      Next
Bridesmaid’s Dresses:         Monsoon
Bridesmaid’s Accessories:  Accessorize
Flowers:                                  Nadia Stiatti Fiori
Hair:                                        Friends
Make Up:                                Katie Reid – Skin Deep beauty and laser clinic 
DJ:                                            Enzo – The Italian Wedding Band
Stationery:                              Design- Anna Bowler, friend and graphic designer

The Wedding Album
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If you would like us to consider featuring your wedding on Cwtch The Bride, send 20 low resolution images and a short description of your big day to Charlie@cwtchthebride.com 

Sponsored Post: Introducing Francesca Hill Photography

Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our lovely new sponsors, Francesca Hill Photography. We caught up with the lady herself to ask her some questions


Relaxed and informal in style, Francesca combines contemporary wedding reportage with creative fine art photography. Her aim is always to create a timeless and stunning visual narrative that really captures the spirit of your day; the laughter, the tears, the details you spent so long planning and a real sense of your style and personality as a couple.

Fran is available for commissions across the whole of the UK and will travel to any destination in Europe, America, Australia and Asia providing reasonable expenses are covered.

Hi Francesca, we’re so excited to have you on Cwtch the Bride today; can you tell our readers a bit about yourself? :)

I’m very quirky and very straight talking which I find really helps when trying to get people to relax in front of the camera. I’m 27, originally from Cardiff and I have a 22 month old daughter. I’m really in to cars despite the fact I’m a girl and I have a Wedding Venue / Supplier Bucket List which I’m slowly making my way through! A wedding with a red London style bus is currently top of the list! I’m also very creative which I think is a fabulous quality to have as a Wedding Photographer as it means I’m always looking to do something different rather than what’s expected.

How and when did you start Francesca Hill Photography?

I started doing fashion and glamour photography about five years ago and always said I didn’t want to do Wedding Photography because I felt it would be such an enormous pressure to be responsible for something so important! However, when I went travelling to Australia a few years ago I had the opportunity to assist a few Wedding Photographers out there and I quickly realised that actually, despite it being very high pressure, the pros far outweigh the cons and shooting weddings is actually extremely rewarding. When I’ve photographed a Wedding I might have worked a 17 hour day but I leave on such a high because it really is so fantastic to be a part of what for most people is probably the biggest celebration of their entire lives! It’s been two years now since I moved back from Australia and set up Francesca Hill Photography and having had a baby in between, it’s only now things are really starting to take off with 2015 looking like it’s going to be a very busy year!


How would you describe your Photography Style?

 Relaxed and informal. My aim is always to create stunning but natural looking images, so I try to steer clear of anything too posed and blend in to the background taking photos from afar as much as I can. To get the more posed / editorial inspired images, I tend to throw out a few of my best jokes in the hope that they will inspire some genuine smiles and laughter!


What’s the best bit about being a part of the wedding industry?

I just love it! A wedding is such a happy occasion and a great environment to work in. A fabulous, buzzy atmosphere surrounded by people all in the mood to celebrate. What’s not to love?! It’s also really interesting to see the culmination of what is often two years’ worth of planning come together to create a really visually stunning day and I really enjoy being able to indulge my own creativity through photographing all the little details like the favours, the bouquet and of course, the shoes!


Have you had any hairy moments?

Of course! A wedding I did at Castell Coch springs to mind. I always go and look at the venue before the wedding so I can plan things like what I might do in the very likely event that it rains. When I saw the lighting situation in the room the couple were going to be married in my heart sank! Dark green walls, almost no natural light made even worse by the fact it was winter and had an aisle that’s about four strides long. Beautiful as the room was, I literally had panic attacks for weeks that I might miss the bride walking down the aisle shot or that the photos would be really awful because the lighting was so bad in the room! I’m pleased to say that this particular bride actually cried with joy when she saw her album, so setting up camp at Castell Coch a good few hours before the actual wedding to try out various things obviously paid off!

CwtchTheBride1Have you noticed any emerging trends in wedding photography for 2014/15?

The vintage theme is still going strong, lots of pastel colours, which I love, traditional vintage cars, less meringue and more streamlined elegance dress wise. I think the main thing that can be said of all weddings is that the focus on personal style and little details has become increasingly important in the last few years and whilst many weddings might be described as ‘Vintage’, they all remain individual as a result of the personal quirks the bride and groom integrate in to the theme of their day. I think Wedding blogs and social media such as Instagram and Pinterest continue to have a massive impact on wedding planning because through sharing creativity and inspiration on such a huge scale, the world is literally your oyster in terms of what you can create.

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Do you have any advice for couples choosing styles of photography for their big day? It’s probably one of the most important decisions as the photographs are treasured memories of the wedding.

‘Wedding Photographs are for life, not just for Christmas!

Your first meeting with your wedding photographer is in my opinion, very much like a first date, if you don’t click, it’s not happening! You are never going to get beautiful and natural looking photographs if you and your photographer are not comfortable with each other. If you feel awkward, you will almost definitely look awkward! This is why I offer a complementary consultation to all my potential clients as I need to know that I can build a rapport with them. I also always recommend doing a pre-wedding shoot as it’s a great opportunity to build that rapport and get you feeling as comfortable in front of the camera as possible. It also kills me when someone tells me they’ve got a friend who dabbles in photography so they’re going to have them shoot their wedding. It’s all very well having a friend with a nice camera but there’s so much more to it than that! When shooting a wedding you have very small windows of time, literally seconds, to capture moments such as the bride walking down the aisle, the groom’s reaction when he sees his bride for the first time, the first kiss as man and wife and if you miss these moments, there isn’t the chance to do it again, it’s a big risk to take in my opinion.’

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 Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Cwtch the Bride only accepts sponsored posts from companies we think will be useful to you :) 


A Vanity Affair: The finale by Maria Farrelly

Hurray, we’ve finally reached the last in this series of posts from our styled shoot: A Vanity Affair. Lets hand you over to the brains behind this, Maria Farrelly Photography for the final words…and images :) 


I’m hijacking this post to say a few words and to share my photographs taken that day.


It was important to me that this shoot related to our readers. I didn’t want to hire in models. I wanted to use ‘real women’ our actual readers.

Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly33This blog has grown because of women like these that read, share and interact with us. Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly49Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly66Collaborating with you lovely lot makes this job so much more fun too!

Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly60Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly52 Its also worth remembering that many of these ladies were nervous, VERY NERVOUS. They had no idea what we were going to do with their hair or make up and totally trusted us.

Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly53Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly54The Shot

There was really only one image that I wanted to direct and capture. And that was My Vanity Affair. You can read all about the inspiration behind the shoot here.

Vanity AffairI was so pleased with how it all turned out and cannot wait to organise my next shoot in the New Year.


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Finally, If you run a welsh wedding business and would like to be involved on my next styled shoot, leave a comment underneath and I’ll be in touch.

Many thanks

Maria x