Oooo… today we are sharing Jon & Sam’s stunning rustic wedding at Wolfscastle Country Hotel in Pembrokeshire. Photographed by me (Maria Farrelly Photography). Pembrokeshire is one of my favourite areas to photograph in Wales and this couple were an absolute joy to work with. They were relaxed throughout the whole planning process, right up to the day itself! The weather couldn’t have been any better and the whole day went without a hitch (which in this industry is VERY RARE!) haha… enjoy! ~ Maria x
Jon & Sam’s Rustic Wedding at Wolfscastle Country Hotel
We didn’t have an exact budget. We tried to be as careful with our money as possible. So lots of research and I (Sam) haggled where possible, and even sometimes when not – but I think if you don’t ask you don’t get! We did discuss a budget but Jon wouldn’t give me one to work with. His actual words were “If I give you a budget you will reach it, and then some – it’d be more like a goal than a budget! So if we don’t set a budget then we may be able to keep the costs down!” He is lucky that I still married him ;-)
How would you describe your wedding theme?
From the beginning we wanted a summer wedding with a very rustic feel. A marquee, hay bales, jam jars with flowers in, barrels of ale, a hog roast and a live band. A simple, pretty wedding. But when we actually sat down and looked at the cost of venues and all the costs to achieve this idea we were so surprised that it was all so much more expensive that choosing a more formal setting. We were lucky as we chose to marry in our home county of Pembrokeshire so we had lots of more affordable choices, that weren’t too far from the original idea. So I guess to sum it up, our theme was formal elegant yet rustic wedding!
What was your favourite part of your wedding?
To sum up one part of our day as the favourite is just impossible! From start to finish it was perfect. The sun was shining, we had a lovely breeze (which massively helped when the nerves kicked in, no one wants to be a ‘sweaty Betty’ on their wedding day!), everything went to plan. It’s true what everyone had said “it’ll all come together” and it did, and more!
Sam: I wanted to inhale every second during our actual marriage. I wanted to remember the look in Jon’s eyes when we said our vows. I was sure I’d cry, or maybe he would have, but it was all just dreamy and I am so glad that every last word sank in. I will never forget that.
Tell us about your Wedding Dress
My bestie and Matron of Honour, Adele and my Mum came with me to White Bride bridal shop in Narberth, my home town. Adele had bought her wedding dress from there, and she told me how lovely the owner Sally, and her staff were. So I felt at ease before I had even walked through the door. I tried on 5 dresses that day, although Adele had picked out a 6th that unfortunately I didn’t have time to try on. Although I wasn’t that bothered about not trying it on, as it didn’t seem like a dress that would suit my curves, and it had a belt which I thought would have been a no no. I then visited a different bridal shop miles away in Winchester, and that very same dress I didn’t try on was there. I wanted to try it on just to be able to tell Adele that I tried it, then I could eliminate it and move on. Well, when I put it on, it was just breath taking (even if I do say so myself!!) The dress was made by the wonderfully talented Sassy Holford. The dress is called ‘Ruby’. I wanted to purchase my dress at White Bride. The ladies who work in this bridal shop just have such a friendly, wonderful approach that there was no where else I’d rather have gone to purchase my wedding dress. I have a complex with exposing my back. ‘Ruby’ had a ‘V’ plunge back with a silk trim. This wasn’t for me. I explained all this to Sally, who then contacted Sassy herself! Sally came up with a design that covered up this detail, and all of a sudden my dream dress was there! I had a ‘one off’ Sassy Holford – it was love at first sight!!
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?
Jon picked his best friend Kane to be best man. When I first met Kane I knew that I had stepped on the toes of their bromance! They are great friends, so there really was no one else for the job. I had 10 bridesmaids. Yes I know 10 is a lot – everyone I said the number ’10’ to gasped! We have big families and I didn’t want to leave any of my special girls out. I had 3 older bridesmaids in one style of dress and the younger 6 in another style. My beautiful little flower girls Isla was just 6 months old so she had the same dress as the younger girls but in a different colour. Choosing a dress to suit 10 girls all of different ages would have been impossible so I wanted to have them slightly different. The colours and styles went together beautifully. The girls all looked sensational. Kane scrubbed up well too ;-)
Why did you choose your venue?
Wolfscastle Country Hotel, Pembrokeshire, Wow what a truly beautiful venue. It would have been great for all weather conditions, and considering our wedding was in Wales, we realistically had to plan for rain and anything else was a bonus. We happened to be incredibly lucky and had perfect weather!
The staff were exceptionally helpful. The owners went above and beyond to make us happy, and we went through all the details with a fine tooth comb. Nothing was too much to ask for. The fact it was a hotel was a bonus. We had friends and family coming from near and far, so to have somewhere for people to stay was brilliant. The food was out of this world. All of our guest complimented our choice on venue!
Tell us about your photographer
Maria Farrelly photographed Adele’s wedding. She was brilliant that day, so we just had to have her! I love a selfie, but Jon is not keen on being centre of attention. Maria made us feel at ease. She went above and beyond her photography role, she even helped Adele to do up my wedding dress! She had beautiful, inventive ideas to photograph parts of our day that we could never have dreamed up. The images are stunning. We also had the photo booth – what great fun that is! We have got hilarious images of all of our loved ones just having THE BEST TIME! I would highly recommend her and her team.
How did the proposal happen?
We had been together for 6 years. Marriage had been talked about, it was definitely something we both wanted, but felt there was no rush.
My Mum and step-dad Pete came to looked after our eldest son Dylan who was 2 at the time. Jon took me to London. I must admit, I had suspected that this could be THE weekend, but when Jon was so casual about us sharing cases, and didn’t appear to be hiding anything or being at all on edge I dismissed it and just wanted to enjoy a weekend just the two of us.
Jon surprised me with dinner at a restaurant that is special to us. Gaucho Broadgate. We sat at the table we had sat at a few years ago. It was a perfect coincidence! After our food we walked out of the restaurant straight onto Finsbury Avenue Square. If you don’t know where this is, then to set the scene, the floor is lit up in squares, it’s a very cool sight. Jon at this point was being a little odd, directing me to the centre of the square. Then all of a sudden he went down on one knee! It was breath taking! He said he loved me very much and would I marry him! I said “yes of course I will!”. There were a few people around who applauded and cheered! I cried! He slipped the ring on my finger, and then realised I hadn’t even looked at it. Surprising how handy the torch on the iPhone is! Wow. I am one lucky girl. I wear my engagement (and wedding ring) with pride. We had a magical weekend. Champagne bars, a meal at The Dorchester Hotel!!, a night at the theatre and a belting hangover!! A truly wonderful, unforgettable weekend.
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?
We wanted to make our wedding invites ourselves, thinking this would save us money. Actually when we priced up the stationary and how long it would take we had someone else to make them. Especially Made Wedding Stationary (Southampton), did a wonderful job. We ended up getting the lovely Natalie to do all our stationary, table plan and a post box for wedding cards. She was exceptional! We liked an idea we had seen where the run of the day was written out to show guests what time to expect things to happen. We chose to use a wooden crate. Jon’s brother Sam had been able to get us one of these. Steph (Jon’s sister) and I painted out our chosen wording. This looked very effective, and I think it was nice for people to know what to expect. The wooden crate meant we kept with our theme too.
We borrowed a black board from my cousin Rhiannon, and asked people who used Instagram to hashtag #whitbywedding15 so we would be able to look at photos that people had taken. We had invited a lot of children to help celebrate our day with us and our boys. So trying to think of entertainment for them was tricky. Trying to make sure that at the forefront of our minds, this is our wedding not a child’s birthday party. So we had a ‘kid’s table’. It had lots of colouring books, crayons, sticker books, stick on moustaches (everyone loves a ‘tash), small connect 4. We had outside games too. We borrowed these off friends, giant Jenga being one of them. Needless to say the kids were well entertained.
What was your first dance & why?
Our first dance was You Are The Best Thing by Ray LaMontagne. The lyrics were perfect for us. I love music, and pay attention to the lyrics. Jon probably only remembers the chorus!
Jon and I are fun people so we didn’t want anything too heavy, and also didn’t want anything too slow. We didn’t want to end up doing the traditional ‘school disco’ dance. Also we had a swing shift band who played this song. The start alone was outstanding, give me goose bumps just thinking about it :-)
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?
Hmm… yes and no… I loved my dress, it was so beautiful and I felt like a princess. Buuut it was quite big. In the bridal shop, lots of space to prance around :-) however the reality of the wedding day, it got trampled on A LOT. That wasn’t the end of the world I know, but I felt like I took up majority of the dance floor when I graced it with my presence! :-D So I wouldn’t have wanted to change my dress really… a bigger dance floor would have been great!
Do you have any advice for future couples?
Think of exactly what you want your day to be like, remember it’s just one day and you have to do it your way, not how you think others will want it to be. Don’t compromise as you may regret it. Something I regret is not spending enough time with my close friends. I was so conscious that I needed to spend time with family we do not see often I felt I neglected not only my close friends, but myself! I wish I had spent more time with my besties.
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received?
Be happy, listen to each other, take care of each other, enjoy each other.
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?
As soppy as it may sound, knowing that we were going to be ‘The Whitby’s’ was amazing! I felt left out, Jon, Dylan and Evan were Whitby’s and not me, so as silly as that sounds that was exciting!
I had a few surprises for Jon, so knowing that he would have those on our special day was lovely. I got Jon and his Mum a hot rod to take them to church. They loved it! You can hear Edith squeal, (with excitement I hope not fear) as the car rode off from her house.
We had seen the band at our friend’s wedding. That was exciting as we knew our friends and family would love them.
In the last few weeks of planning, when everything just started to come together, they were amazing moments. Just being able to visualise this fabulous day!
Photographer: Maria Farrelly
Videographer: Nick Pudsey – Pembrokeshire Video
Ceremony Venue: St Mary’s Church, Spittal, Pembrokeshire
Reception Venue: Wolfscastle Country Hotel
Bride’s Dress: White Bride, Narberth
Bride’s Shoes: Monsoon
Bride’s Jewellery: My Mum’s pearls she wore on her wedding day
Groom’s Outfit: Ted Baker
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Monsoon
Bridesmaid’s Accessories: Monsoon
Cake: Sian Lewis – a family friend
Flowers: Elsa Sharp
Hair and Make Up: Katie Evans – Katie Marie Mobile Hair Stylist
Band and DJ: Barry Hammett’s Swing Shift Band
Stationery: Especially Made – Natalie Studwell
Any Reception Decor/Props: Brother in law Sam Whitby made centre piece circles of wood, and for cake
Transport: Top Class Cars & Weddings