We LOVE a good destination wedding! At the beginning of the week we shared a gorgeous Cwtch image from Alex & Toby’s wedding. Today, this lovely Welsh couple are sharing their Rustic, Italian wedding with us all. Photographed beautifully by Sandra Ace Photography. Lets hand you over to the lovely Bride Alex, with all the details. Enjoy x
How would you describe your wedding theme?
Neither of us wanted a traditional wedding – we don’t like being the centre of attention (but love a party) and didn’t like the thought of having to conform to the usual wedding expectations. What was important to us was celebrating our relationship and committment to each other in a meaningful way sharing it with our closests friends and family. Starting married life in the way we intended to go on was the most important thing: having our nearest and dearest around us, spending quality time together, being relaxed and laughing a lot. We decided to get married in one of our favourite places … Tuscany. What better way to start married life: we had beautiful scenery, great food, excellent wine and oodles of quality time with our loved ones. Our theme was simply to relax and chill out in the Tuscan hills – so the theme, if we had to put a label on it, I guess would be Rustic.
Tell us about your wedding dress:
I knew the exact dress that I wanted…that was until I tried it on. Quite simply it didnt really suit me and was a bit more ‘look at my dress’ than the subtle and relaxed vibe I had been looking for. I thought I would have to visit tons of places too…again I was wrong. I went to White Bride in Narberth as a good place to get started as it is just down the road from me and I had heard great reports from my married friends. Sally was extremely patient as I tried on lots of dresses that were just not quite right on (great on the hanger but just didnt suit me). Sally suggested that I try one which I had initially dismissed: it was quite white and strapless but it was light and airy which we knew we needed for the wedding venue. I put it on (with low expectations despite the dress being beautiful – Jenny Packham knows how to make a beautiful dress)…and wow. It looked great (which I never thought I would say of a dress on me) – I was so happy. Sally knew I didnt want a train because of the rustic wedding venue so she suggested removing it and creating small straps with it instead…perfect. She also helped choose my headpiece and shoes (I had looked all over the place for shoes but none compared to the gorgeous vintage style Rachel Simpson ones she had in store).
What was your favourite part of your wedding?
The whole thing…and by that I mean the whole week. I loved the fact that we had day after day in glorious Tuscany enjoying special moments with friends and family from around the globe. But if I had to choose a favourite part…can I have two?!
One would be just after I put on my dress…I walked into the lounge and my four bridesmaids (my two sisters: Sam and Harri, and my two best friends: Amy and Claire), my beautiful daughter and flowergirl Teal and my Mum and Dad were all there. We all looked at each other and the tears started flowing (apart from Teal – who starred amazed as she was the happiest little person around and had no idea why everyone was crying!). In that moment I felt so lucky and realised the huge importance and impact (not just to Toby and I) of such a special occasion. I had planned to joke that I had changed my mind at this point but realised it would have ruined the mood.
The other favourite moment has to be the ceremony, I walked down the aisle with my amazing Dad to Bright Eyes ‘First Day of my Life’ played by our awesome friend Harry Keyworth, my sister Sam was the celebrant which made it so personal and unique, Toby’s Mum did a reading of a poen she wrote for the occasion and as a complete surprise Teal, our 4 year old daughter, stood up and recited the whole of The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Leer in the most beautiful voice with amazing intonation. It made mine and Toby’s day. Plus, as the ceremony was outside (this was very important to us – to be close to nature and in open air) we were lucky enough to experience true Tuscan weather throughout…from rays of beaming sunshine to claps of thunder and fork lightening…it was magical and dramatic.
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids and why?
My two younger sisters Sammy and Harriet – they are just the best sisters anyone could wish for. Supportive, kind, funny – they are great friends and amazing aunties. They are way more generous than I deserve and so considerate – they added a lot of special touches that make all the difference. And my two best friends from University, Claire and Amy…we have been through so much together, dont get to see each other as much as we would like but we’re always there for each other and always pick up where we left off. Two people I can be open and honest with and they were rocks throughout the whole wedding – and we had such a laugh too. And finally my daughter Teal – she was so excited about me becoming a Bradley like her, she had talked about weddings non-stop for months and was the cutest flowergirl I had ever seen.
seeing them all together in their mix of pastel colours against the Tuscan hills reminded me of countryside, nature, flowers, and being carefree…I’m not sure exactly why…I was just so happy.
Why did you choose your venue?
We both love love love Tuscany and we wanted it to be a big holiday. So we found a venue that could sleep around 40 people in private apartments, with amazing views and known for its exceptional food and wine. We had exclusive use for 4 days (we stayed longer as did some other guests) and the owners were extremely helpful, and very relaxed. It was a family-run business and they did everything they could to help us. They don’t usually do weddings, which suited us down to the ground, as we could really make it our own and there were no expectations of how it should be. The rest of our guests stayed nearby in lovely towns and villages…all with great views. I think there was about 80 of us in the end – wow :-)
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?
Everything about this wedding was DIY: we are incredibly lucky to have a super talented bunch of friends and family:
My mum made all of the bouquets, she watched turorials on YouTube and researched which flowers flopped and which didnt. I wanted something not too structured. We found some flowers we liked in a supermarket in Florence just by chance and added to these a few peonies from a local florist and some herbs and succulents picked from the local area. Mum did an amazing job – they were just right. My sister made the button holes, which were perfect – very natural looking.
Toby’s Dad’s girlfriend Sue made all of the bunting from small balls of wool that she had been given (she crocheted a lot of it!) and from left over material and old clothes that we as a family compiled. Then the day before the wedding my aunties and counsins threaded them on to the ribbon ready to be hung in place the next day. A real team effort.
As I mentioned Harry Keyworth played the guitar and sang throughout the ceremony – so talented, it was really special.
My sister was the celebrant and did a wonderful job of making the service special, memorable and far removed from the traditional service which I mentioned we really didnt want.
My friend Sandra Ace who I have known since school did the official photography, which was great as she made us feel totally comfortable and relaxed, and she even helped boss people about too :-). She knows I hate having my photo taken and really dont like seeing myself in photos, but of course knew I wanted some images to savour the memories of the special day…she was very considerate and captured some magical moments.
We also had a few other talented photographers there who helped to add to our collection of great shots from throughout the week-long holiday and my sister’s boyfriend, Craig did an excellent job of capturing the day on video.
My aunty did my hair and my sister’s did the bridesmaids…everyone chipped in and put in loads of practice beforehand (apart from me who hadnt practiced at all!)
What was your first dance & why?
We didn’t do a first dance – this sort of thing is just not for us. We talked about it but it was one of things that we would only be doing because we were pressured to as a ‘wedding norm’ so being in the context that we were we managed to take this out of the equation.
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?
Possibly, but only very minor things, I’d rather not give them the mindspace, this would only make them something they’re not. We were delighted with everything and I couldn’t have wished for a better week…one of the best in my entire life.
Do you have any advice for future couples?
At the beginning decide on what is important to you as a couple and then try to bring it back to that when you make a decision. If you feel uncomfortable about anything acknowledge it early on. And don’t give in to pressure to do things other people’s way.
One thing we did that I would recommend was – we bought a polaroid camera and got all guests to take a photo of themselves to stick in alongside their note in the guest book…this was great to look at the next day.
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received?
Toby’s Mum’s poem was just perfect.
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?
Getting to go to Tuscany to stay in the venue for 4 days last October … Toby, Teal, Mum, Dad and me visited to do a recce and meet the family…it was amazing. We drank, ate and visited beautiful hamlets and got really excited about the fun times ahead. Perfect excuse for a holiday.
Photographer: Sandra Ace Photography
Ceremony Venue: Antico Borgo Poggiarello
Reception Venue: Antico Borgo Poggiarello
Bride’s Dress: Jenny Packham Cascade
Bride’s Shoes: Rachel Simpson
Bride’s Jewellery: Alex Monroe, Audrey Bull, and borrowed
Groom’s Outfit: Hugo Boss tailored
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Handmade
Cake: Traditional tuscan wedding tart made at the venue
Hair: Family member
Make Up: DIY
Band: i Dinosauri
DJ: Spotify playlist and Sophie Humber on the decks!
Stationery: Handmade by bride and Mum