Today we have a wonderful review of the beautiful Angel Hotel, Abergavenny.
Awarded AA Hotel of the Year in Wales, The Angel Hotel is something very special. I was invited to come along to view their wedding showcase a while ago and experience an overnight stay. Our boobless Bride Dawn also joined me for the evening. And what a great night we had too!
There is literally something for everyone to enjoy here. Their award winning Afternoon teas for one are legendary (great for treating mum or your bridesmaids!). But today, we’re focusing on weddings and what they can provide for you on your big day!
If you’ve yet to book your wedding venue, then I honestly think you should take a closer look at The Angel. They have a variety of packages to suit all budgets and if you are looking to get married this year… they have a great offer running too!
When I arrived at the hotel, I was greeted by friendly staff, all very warm and welcoming. I was then shown around the different locations they offer for weddings.
Inside the hotel itself, you have the Ballroom or Brecon Suite to choose from for the ceremony. Two very different and unique spaces.
I felt they have all the bases covered. Even with being situated on the high street, once inside, you felt like you were miles away. And if you were worried about where you can have your wedding photographs taken…don’t. The beautiful Abergavenny Castle is a two minute walk away!
So, if you are thinking of taking a closer look, do it… we did and loved our stay!
Over the past few months we have found ourselves completely overwhelmed with work. We have been getting home about 9pm, after leaving at 7.30am, working all evening, weekends, Easter ‘holidays’, Bank ‘holidays’, and every spare five minutes. The illusion of the non-stop holidays for teachers is just that, a complete and utter illusion!
With that being said, I am getting more and more anxious about being able to get any wedding bits and pieces sorted out. Simon has a much more laid back approach, telling me that we have ages. But less than three months feels far from ‘ages’!
We have managed to do some planning though!
In the week following the engagement we managed to get the church and marquee booked, after looking for a slightly alternative, carnival-feel to our reception, and felt as though we were really in control of the whole wedding thing. After a bit of consideration and discussion, our caterers were booked and I had picked my dress. What on earth was all the fuss about??
And then life happened. Well, no, we wish life happened; work happened. As we both work as secondary school teachers teaching mainly A level there is a non-stop bombardment of students, deadlines, data, coursework, planning, marking, essays, revision, mocks, feedback, parents’ evenings, options evenings… the list really does go on. Our time with each other becomes limited, never mind time to plan a wedding. We understand the fuss!
Despite this, we have snuck in some things. After our first Cwtch the Bride experience we booked a photographer, ‘Camera Sioned’ and met up to discuss our big day and have our engagement shoot. Previously we would have probably dismissed this as a daft expense, but it was included in the package and turned out to be a great afternoon!
We would thoroughly recommend taking part in an engagement shoot. We got to learn about our photographer and she learnt about us, our likes and dislikes. The photos she took are fab! And we can access all of them and print them as we please. It isn’t going to feel like someone we hardly know will be at our wedding now, and neither of us are fans of staged photos so Sioned was the perfect choice for us.
We have also started the DIY bits and pieces to make sure the carnival theme runs throughout, from spray painting to sewing bunting, it is all go when we are able to find a few minutes to spare. I even attempted hand sewing some bunting pennants on the bus to Llangranog on a school trip, but it didn’t take me long to realise that my sewing machine was a far better option. Although my far better option has just given up on me, so it is right back to plan B and a needle and cotton! Our amazingly talented friend Sian has been busy creating a masterpiece of an invitation, which has involved us having many meetings over glasses of wine to tweak the colours, style, images and wording.
She took our carnival theme and managed to make our personalities show through. We managed to squeeze in an invitation writing session (supported by a few glasses of fizz) so the whole thing feels very real now! Our wedding webpage is live, as is our gift list, and we do not want to disappoint on the day!
Some of you may have bumped into us at CwtchFest where we were helping out, having a fantastic day, meeting some passionate and talented exhibitors. It made us realise how lucky we are to be part of the Cwtch team, who are like a little family, it’s great! And we know that it’s going to be a full on couple of months, but our big Carnival day will be more than worth it.
For now, we are just packing for our Hag/Sten do! That’s right, we wanted a joint one! Why go away for a weekend without your best friend? So I am sure you will hear all about that in our next instalment! Hopefully our planning will all be coming together by then too. Wish us luck Cwtch family!
Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh we cannot wait to hear about the Hag! Speak soon Lowri and Simon xx
We have a super lovely couple of cwtches of Lucy and Ian from Michelle Huggleston today, taken at Mansion House Llansteffan overlooking the beach. And what a view! Over to Michelle to tell you more about it……
A Cwtch with a View
It’s so wonderful to get asked to be the wedding photographer for any wedding, and a little more nerve-racking when it’s someone you grew up with. Lucy and Ian got married in the village we grew up in, in Llangyfelach church. The church hadn’t changed a bit since primary school. And the special service was held by Lucy’s Step Father, I love these touches, everyone having a role to play on the day. It really makes it more special.
Lucy and Ian had a fun and quirky theme. Ian’s job when they met was as Lucy called it a ‘Pirate Fighter’ and he proposed on a beach with X marks the spot. These moments added to their theme allowing them to create an elegant colour scheme with elements of pirate, from table names to the cake… the cake was just wow!! A perfect and fun day, and so wonderful to be part of an old school friends wedding day.
I love this image because they were totally in the moment, I’m not sure they even noticed I was taking photographs of them both. The closeness of the two of them, and this was their first few private moments alone from all of their guests. They just look so happy.
And to start you off, we have a beautiful wedding to share with you. Shot by the superb Hannah from Rocksalt Photography, Mel and Matt tell us all about their beautiful summery day….
Mel and Matt’s Beautiful Summer Wedding
What was your budget?
We did and didn’t have a budget… we tried to be sensible (read “tight”!) but also considered each expense on its necessity, its worth and its contribution to our day!
How would you describe your wedding theme?
I called our theme “Summer Gatsby”… all glass and art deco without the black and gold!
What was your favourite part of your wedding?
Mel: I think- surprisingly for me- walking down the aisle was my favourite part of our day (surprisingly as I hate being centre of attention)! I was ready. My Dad on my arm, I was walking into the next chapter of my life and my closest friends and family were there to share that moment with me. Wow! That’s pretty sentimental!
Matt: The band! I love live music and we’d hired an amazing band who entertained us for hours. It was also the time for me to relax and really enjoy celebrating with my new wife and all our guests.
Tell us about your Wedding Dress
I was the bride who thought she’d never get married and had no idea what dress I wanted so my plan was to try as many styles as I could to find out what suited me.
My first experience trying on wedding dresses was a last minute appointment at David’s Bridal, Stratford with one of my bridesmaids. We were wandering Westfield after a day in London whilst our other halves went to watch the football at a nearby bar. Little did Pete know, Matt was about to ask Pete to be his best man so whilst I left London without a dress, Matt left London with a Best Man!
Being 5’2″ I never thought I’d go for a mermaid/trumpet style but I fell in love with an Essence of Australia number- during my next appointment at Laura May on Crwys Road, Cardiff- which was exactly that! The fit was perfect, I felt amazing in it (my bum looked great!) and most importantly-, my mum and mother-in-law-to-be loved it! To be sure it was “the one”, I arranged a second appointment with all my bridesmaids who I knew would be honest… even whilst I was 6 months pregnant! Nope, that wasn’t planned! Safe to say it wasn’t as ‘easy’ an appointment as the first however, it confirmed I’d picked the right dress- I just had to fit back into it!
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?
Mel: It was pretty easy for me to pick my bridesmaids; my sister was Maid of Honour, or “Chief” as I liked to call her(!), Matt’s sister who I already saw as a sister, my two long-term, best friends and the Best Man’s wife who I clicked with as soon as we met a few years prior. I say it was easy but I always had a feeling something was missing- that something was another friend who I’d grown up with but now lives away. Now here’s the funny part… considering my bridesmaids’ ages and marital situations, it was always a possibility that one of them could fall pregnant before the big day but I never thought 2 of them would! I’d already bought the dresses so we could have had a dilemma but no! I had a plan! Shifting some bridesmaids up a size with the dresses and buying one new one to match the others, there was a spare dress… which fit my other friend perfectly! Now I’m not one to believe in fate but I do believe that some circumstances are meant to be and this was certainly one of them.
Matt: My choice was easy- I chose Pete! Out of my group of friends, I knew he would be the one to a). get me home from my Stag Do in one piece, and b). get me to the church on time… I’m notoriously late for everything and Mel is the complete opposite!
Why did you choose your venue?
Buckland Hall is a magical place! We fell in love with it the first time we visited. It was the last on our list of a number of venues in Brecon and I was tempted not to even go as their website was a little old fashioned. However, Matt convinced me and as soon as we pulled up to the long winding driveway I had goosebumps and a tear in my eye! That’s the truth! The staff there were so welcoming and we felt like it was ‘home’ from the start.
Tell us about your photographer
We found Rocksalt (Hannah )after looking at the Welsh Wedding Awards lists and thinking they must be good if they’ve won an award for their region! We arranged to meet Hannah at a pub almost a year before we were getting married and found her easy to get on with from then.
Just before our wedding we met at our venue to discuss the wedding then by the big day it was as if we were old friends!
Hannah had a very easy-going personality which suited our crowd to a ‘T’. She offered advice on ‘staged’ shots (not too many) and arranged some brilliant photographs on the day, making the most of what our venue had to offer. She gauged her audience very well and quickly realised how to tame the rowdy groomsmen and had my brothers rounding up guests like they were cowboys with horses! Hannah had a great sense of humour and was a real pleasure to work with. The quality of her work is outstanding; the creativity with her shots are incredible- we were so excited when we received our photos so promptly after our wedding and the results were truly unforgettable. Hannah really captures the special moments from your day.
How did the proposal happen?
Both Matt & I love Christmas so we woke up Christmas morning in 2013 all excited as usual and Matt said he had some last minute wrapping to do for one of my presents- for anyone who knows Matt, this was totally believable! I was gutted as I had to wait in the bedroom with the door shut- on my own!- until he shouted that he was ready.
I walked out of the bedroom and he wasn’t in the spare room. I looked at the mirror on the landing and there was a print-out of Santa with the words, “Follow the trail” stuck to it and there were rose petals trailing down the stairs! I followed the trail where there were more Santa print-outs leading me to the living room. I opened the living room door and there was Matt, down on one knee under the Christmas tree with our song at the time (“I’m Yours” by the Script) playing in the background. I took one look at him, began to cry, covered my mouth and said “noooooooo!”… but in the context of “I can’t believe it!”. I think he was a little miffed as he then said, “So will you marry me?”! and it took all of me to nod as I cried like a baby! I was so happy!
The hardest part of being engaged is being told to keep it quiet and this is what Matt said I had to do until lunchtime… every Christmas until we got engaged we’d wake up together but have Christmas lunch separately with our respective families. Matt didn’t want one family to find out before the other so I was told we had to Skype before dinner and that’s when we’d break the good news. Long story short- I had to avoid my Dad’s eye contact for 4-5 hours because Matt told me he’d asked for his permission on Christmas Eve, so he knew our secret! Then we had signal issues at lunch using Skype (think 90’s modem-esq video!) so once our news had finally broken, it was all a bit of a crazy, amazing moment! The best part for me was seeing my mum cry with happiness and my sister telling me she couldn’t choose between crying and eating her paté on toast starter!
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?
I’ve always thought of wedding favours as an unnecessary expense, a forgotten ‘gift’ so I wanted to come up with a memorable favour; especially as I see myself as a creative type! After getting some inspiration and a laser printer, I decided we were going to use specialist paper to transfer our initials and each guests’ name and ‘role’ onto champagne glasses they could use on the day.
To be fair to Matt, he spent many an evening transferring our monogram and individual names onto Ikea glasses, hardening them in the oven then carefully rubbing off the excess paper with isopropyl alcohol. It took so much time and effort we began to wonder whether it was worth it but when my cousin posted an Instagram showing he was using his glass again, it gave us a little warm feeling that actually, we’d made favours that were useful and brought back some amazing memories!
What was your first dance & why?
After buying a house and later having a baby, we spent a few Saturday nights in watching X-Factor and both absolutely loved James Arthur the whole series through! Once X-Factor was finished and the acts pretty much forgotten about, Matt still kept up with James Arthur online and found he’d made an EP called “The James Arthur Project”. One song on there he introduced me to was called “Superman”. It resonated with both of us and became the obvious choice- over The Script and Al Green- to be our wedding song,
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?
Neither of us can think of anything we would have done differently as it was such a great day. I think I would have liked to have taken more in and thought about myself a bit more and not worried about the guests so much but they make such an effort to come to your day, maybe I should have worried about them more?!
Do you have any advice for future couples?
We only have the general advice I think; enjoy your day, don’t stress too much, take 5 minutes away from the chaos just for yourselves and remember- the little things don’t REALLY matter!
e.g. No-one noticed there was a bunch of lillies missing from our fireplace, or that my dress didn’t fit me as perfect as I’d hoped after alterations or that all the female guests were missing their ‘tickets’ before sitting down to dinner..!
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?
I think we both agree that although we had almost a 2 year gap between booking our wedding and getting married, it’s the final result which makes everything worthwhile. Seeing all your plans come to fruition and your nearest and dearest enjoying what you’ve worked towards is priceless.
Time for your second instalment from the gorgeous Tinder Bride, and its time to be introduced to the girlie contingency of her wedding party!
I hope that you have all been keeping well since I did my last Tinder Bride post!
I think most girls in their lives have been asked or have thought to themselves ‘If I ever get married, I would ask so and so to be my bridesmaid or part of my wedding’. I can actually remember having hypothetical questions growing up with my girlfriends. Although for me it was simple when the hypothetical became reality it was also a very hard as I didn’t want to leave anyone out.
I do not want to come across bigheaded or arrogant but I genuinely feel that I am a very lucky lady and I thank God every day for blessing me with not only an incredible family but also an amazing group of friends. Coming from a Welsh/Arab background, I have a large and very close family filled with two fab sisters, three gorgeous nieces and two lovely sisters-in-laws who are all involved and so supportive along with my mother and mother in law to be. My friends derive from various walks of life and I genuinely didn’t want to let anyone down. However I had to draw the line somewhere and decided on having 2 maids of honour, 6 bridesmaids and 2 flower girls. I’m sure there has and will be some negative mutters or expressed views away from our ear shots about how our wedding is big and/or too expensive but it is our beautiful big day and Tom and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
From my perspective I couldn’t envisage my wedding day without my two sisters and three nieces by my side; it was not even something I would even contemplate. I am the middle of two sisters (5 siblings in total!) and we have an incredible bond. It was therefore an easy decision to ask each sister to be my maids of honour. Rema is my big sis and the rock of the family. She is the sibling who everyone goes to and I always turn to her as I trust her opinion as being on the same par as that of my Mother’s. Rema is the type of sister who doesn’t like a great fuss or the limelight but I’m making sure she encompasses her main role on my big day and she feels like the special sister she is to me. Rema says ‘To be asked to be my sister’s maid of honour is a huge privilege. I was so emotional when I was asked as the gift they gave me to ask was so personal and thoughtful. In Tom she has found the perfect person who is loved by the whole family – they are perfect together. I am so looking forward to seeing my beautiful sister marry her prince charming’. Sariyia is little sis and the youngest sibling; she is also the most famous non-famous person I know! She loves being the centre of attention and we love her for being like that. She truly is unique and I love her and all of her ideas to date! Both sisters have an amazing bond with my fiancée Tom. In fact when they are all together it’s like they are the three sisters! ‘When I was called by JOM to tell me they were engaged, I sobbed uncontrollably; together with the rest of the family we are ecstatic. I cannot wait for the wedding of the decade and I am so honoured to be their MOH. Jenine will look beautiful but I will definitely be better looking still!haha!’.
Aleah is the eldest of the grandchildren and I became an aunty when I was 14; we have always had a special relationship as I do with each of my five nieces and nephews especially as I have been such a big part of their lives as they have been in mine. Tom is adored by them and they adore him too. Aleah is going to be a bridesmaid along with her sister Farah who will be 14 when we wed. To think of these two in their bridesmaid dresses makes me feel very emotional. Aleah says ‘I was so grateful to be asked to be a Bridesmaid on my Aunty’s special day; it is a day we are all waiting and looking forward to. Jenine has always been there for me and she could not have found a better husband and Uncle in Tom’. Farah’s thoughts are: ‘When Jenine asked me to be her Bridesmaid, I wanted to cry with happiness as I always wanted to be a Bridesmaid and I keep counting down to the big day; it is even more of a dream come true as my Aunty is so special to me. I especially loved the bridesmaid gift they gave me which I will treasure forever’.
Gabriella is who we refer to in the Abdo Family as Princess Abdo – she is the little apple of everyone’s eye. Although she is 5, she constantly looks online for flower girl dresses and matching shoes which is so very cute. She once told Uncle Tom that she found a dress which ‘only cost 50pence and that she and Holly-Mae would love to wear it’ it was in reality £500! Gabby ironically was the main reason I chose my wedding dress but I’ll talk about that more another time. Holly-Mae is 2 years old and is also our flower girl. Being the eldest and currently only grandchild on the Sulley side it will be lovely for my fiancé’s family as she is understandably adored by them all.
I know that Tom is so happy to have his niece involved and for me having Gabby and Holly-Mae holding hands together walking down the aisle will not only epitimise ultimate cuteness but also will personify and will symbolise our families coming together. I just pray they don’t get stage fright!
Although I could have kept my bridal party at just family, I couldn’t not have my best friends by my side either. Kate is a friend who I first met playing netball at the age of 10 years old. We were marking each other on the netball pitch. This game should have been the battle of the best- the battle of rival Primary Schools – instead we bonded sisters from other misters growing up together and even our sisters are the best of friends. Kate is currently a teacher at an international school and I can’t wait to have her back home this summer!
‘Over the years Jenine has definitely earned the title of my sister from another mister. We have been there for each other through the best and worst times and I am so excited to be a part of what will be one of the most important days in her life. Being Jenine’s bridesmaid is a massive privilege and I can’t wait to see her looking amazingly beautiful walking down the aisle to marry the man she loves and luckily for him we approve. Jenine and Tom deserve to have the best day and I look forward to having a role in making that happen. I promise to be caring, attentive and I will NOT turn up hung over to anymore official bridesmaid duties unlike when I had my bridesmaid dress fitting!
Rachael – I first met Rachael when we sat at our High school induction day. We both turned around to each other and acknowledged our checked trousers which were both wearing! Our friendship began in the Howell’s School sports hall and has seen us through to living together in London and back home again. Rachael is such a thoughtful and kind person who shares my love of RnB music, comedy, pizza and nacho Saturday loving winter nights in watching Strictly and the Xfactor like no other!
‘Jenine is probably the most organized bride I have come across and I love hearing all the plans she has got for the wedding! We have been friends for over 20 years so I am excited and honoured to be part of the big day and I cannot wait to see everything come together’.
Claire – my real life Barbie doll! I not only went to high school with Clairey but also ended up very randomly at the same university. We have shared so much together whilst sharing two sets of different friendship groups due to school and uni which in turn means we are part of a ridiculous amount of WhatsApp groups. My fiancé is basically the male version of Claire – always happy, positive, fun and annoying early morning people. ‘
I’ll never forget the overwhelming feeling of happiness when reading a poem written to me about our blossoming friendship over the years and asking me to be her bridesmaid. It is safe to say that I welled up. To be part of your friend’s big day is so special and I am so privileged to be by her side when she says I do’.
Helen – I have known Hel since my high school days too right through to living in Wimbledon together with Rach. Helen is my straight talking, quirky and inspirational friend of mine. Hel is not only an amazing science teacher, cook and baker, but such a fab mother to Harrison and wife to be this August! I am so proud to be in turn Helen’s bridesmaid this year and having shared the experience of being engaged and organising a wedding with her.
‘Every girl has a different idea of how her wedding day should be, but what unites every woman is the desire to be surrounded by their best girlfriends leading up to and on that day. He role of a bridesmaid is truly an honour and I am so excited to have Jenine by my side at my wedding this August and to be able to reverse that next September when I am one of her bridesmaids. Our friendship has always been extremely strong and full of love; to be able to support each other and share the fun and laughter throughout the intimate stages of planning a wedding takes that bond to the next level – bring it on!!’
Then we have three amazing ladies giving readings. Bonnie is one of my best friends who I met when in high school and I was Bonnie’s bridesmaid in 2014; Bonnie is one of the kindest and funniest people I know, as well as being the most caring and best Dr ever!
Caitlin is my Twinny – fellow Solicitor who I met before we qualified at work. We soon realized we shared a love for football and also our Birthdays hence the nickname! We also have Tom’s girl best friend Kelly. Kelly has been so warm and welcoming since Tom and I met and it was fab knowing Tom had such a close girl-friend as it resonated with myself having close boy-friends too!
That’s my female entourage..keep watch for the introduction to the male party in due course..!
Disclaimer: Please note I did not bribe the above mentioned people for their overwhelmingly kind comments – thank you xxx