On Monday we teased you with a Cwtch of the Week from Christy & Richard’s wedding which was photographed by Sacha Miller. Today we have the whole beautiful day. Make sure you get a cuppa and settle in to read this, it’s such a good one!
What was your budget? Within reason, Rich and I didn’t really have a budget for our wedding. When we started planning the wedding, we decided that we would go with whatever options and suppliers that we really loved, whether that be the cheapest or most expensive.
How would you describe your wedding theme? I wouldn’t say that we had a wedding ‘theme’ as such, but I would describe our wedding as traditional, classic and elegant with a hint of modern. Once we had picked our venue, this had a massive effect on the other items which we chose, especially my dress. I always felt that when the venue and dress were chosen, the choices around flowers and decorations etc would be obvious.
When I chose my dress, I settled on a statement bow in the middle. Without Rich knowing why, I decided to have a subtle bow theme throughout the wedding. So subtle that people probably wouldn’t even notice. So to go with the bow on my dress, the bridesmaids and flower girl had a bow on their dresses too. I had a large crystal bow clip to go in my hair and my bridesmaids had smaller vintage style bow clips to go in theirs. Mum had a bow incorporated into her hat and I somehow even managed to persuade Rich to like the idea of having two bows on our wedding cake!
Being South African, I wanted to include a few acknowledgements to my home country. As there was a flag pole in the venue grounds, we decided to have a Welsh and South African flags flying so that people would see them as they were driving in. We also decided to name our tables after beaches in Cape Town.
What was your favourite part of your wedding? Oh gosh, I don’t know where to start so I’ll go with sentimental first.
My favourite part of the actual day was the actual ceremony. Not only did I get to marry my best friend, but it’s also the part of the day which I remember the most!! After the wedding, I felt like it had gone by so quickly that I couldn’t remember any of it (not alcohol related might I add!). I spent days after trying to piece together what happened and when. Apparently this is normal after your wedding. So many things happen in such a short period of time and the sheer overwhelmingness of it all means that the day feels like a bit of a blur. Once you see the photos though and watch the videos all the amazing memories come back.
Another thing I loved about our wedding was how we put our own little stamp on it to make it a memorable day for others and make sure that everyone had fun. One thing which we did was have a basket full of ‘pig’ and ‘horse’ biscuits with a sign telling guests to pick one based on whether they were team bride or team groom. I won’t bore you with the boring details about why we had pigs and horses but it has something to do with our nicknames!
We also had a ‘face mat’ put on every chair during the wedding reception. For those of you that don’t know what a face mat is, it’s a piece of card which slots around your nose and each card has a different chin/mouth/expression. They are absolutely hilarious and such great ice breakers. It’s a great way for people on wedding tables to get talking, swapping face mats and taking pictures.
We played a ‘guess the length of the speeches’ game where one of the ushers went around all of the guests to get them to pay £1 and guess how long all of the wedding speeches would be from start to finish and the winner would win the pot of money! We took it seriously; got the usher a clipboard, stopwatch, the lot!
There was a piano at the venue, so we had a pianist play during the day. We have a very musical bunch of friends and in the evening after the band had finished playing, all of our guests gathered around the piano and started singing to lots of different songs. It was so much fun and a great way to finish the day. Bohemian rhapsody was a particular favourite!!
We recently attended one of our best friends weddings where they taped GoPro cameras to alcohol bottles and got their guests to drink from them. They have since made a video of all of this footage and it is such a fun memory of the day that we decided to steal the idea.
Tell us about your Wedding Dress As soon as I got engaged my mum and sisters were sending me pictures of wedding dresses, however I knew exactly what I wanted right from the start. Classic, all satin, structured, clean lines. I could picture the dress in my head, I just needed to find it. I tried on a few dresses in various different shops but wasn’t satisfied I had found the right one. I started to panic slightly thinking that I would never find the dress I had pictured myself wearing. When I went to High Society in Cowbridge and described the features of the dress I was looking for, they told me straight away that Suzanne Neville was the designer for me. When I tried her dresses on, I knew instantly that they were correct.
Suzanne Neville is a British designer who is renowned for her beautifully constructed contemporary couture dresses. I ended up choosing the Suzanne Neville dress called ‘Lady’ and customising it slightly to make my perfect dress. The ‘Lady’ dress is a complete satin, A line dress with this slightly off the shoulder sleeves. I changed the dress by making it a strapless gown and adding a statement satin ‘bow’ to the dress. It was slightly nerve wracking buying a dress when you don’t know what the final product will be like, but High Society were so helpful with this process. They made sure that I was completely confident in every decision that I made.
One thing Rich likes about me is the way I dress. He loves that I have a very simple style – I’m not at all about frills and sequins. That’s how I knew I had picked the right dress and that I had picked something I knew he would love. From the moment I told my friends that I had chosen my dress, there were constant guesses as to what it would be like. Most guesses were for a tight lace fishtale style dress. I’m glad that I stuck to a style which represented me, and it was an added bonus that I chose something which no one else expected me to have so there was still that element of surprise on the big day.
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why? I have two very special sisters, Vicky and Kate, so when I got engaged it was an obvious decision for me that they would be my bridesmaids. I also chose to have one of my best friends, Rhian, as a bridesmaid. Rhian is someone who I have remained friends with since comprehensive school and is just one of those people that even if we don’t speak for a few weeks, we know we can catch up for a coffee and it will be like nothing has changed. Rhian and I always joke about how we are partners in crime – we really are.
Rich chose to have his brother, Ryan, as best man. He also had 3 ushers who were childhood friends and people that he used to play rugby with.
Why did you choose your venue? Rich and I are at that stage in our lives where all of our friends are getting married (we actually attended 10 weddings last year alone!). There are so many beautiful wedding venues in South Wales but we felt we wanted to venture out slightly as we wanted a venue where no one had been before so that we had a blank canvas and we could put our own stamp on it without our guests comparing it to other weddings they had been to in the same venue.
We started looking in the Bristol area as we thought this wouldn’t be too far for our guests to travel. We came across ‘Coombe Lodge’ in Blagdon (a very small village not far from Bristol airport) on a random google search and decided to go view it that day as we had nothing better to do. We entered the premises, drove up the extremely grand entrance and parked the car. Rich was already sold on the venue at this point but I was still unsure.
From the outside, Coombe Lodge looks like a huge manor house set in beautiful grounds. Although I liked the look of the outside of the building, I was almost convinced that I wouldn’t like the inside of the building. I expected to walk in and see old patterned carpets and paintings on the wall of people I didn’t even know which was not the type of look I wanted for our wedding venue. When I walked into the building, I was completely shocked to see a very simple, yet stylish finish – perfect for what we had in mind. The floors are all wooden, with beautiful lime oak panelled walls and there are huge chandeliers throughout the hallway. This was topped off by the breath-taking views outside of Blagdon Lake.
Tell us about your photographer Having a sister that works in the wedding industry was really useful because she gave us great advice on tips. One of which being that in order to secure the suppliers we wanted, we would have to book them a long time in advance. Shortly after we got engaged I asked her to recommend a few wedding photographers for us to look into. She sent through a list of approximately 10 photographers which she thought would suit us and our style. I looked through all of their websites and when I came across Sacha Miller’s photos it was obvious that I had found the photographer for us.
Sacha specialises in documentary style photography; a very natural style of photography which captures real emotions and almost tells a story of your wedding. His photos are very real and natural rather than posed. He’s the type of photographer that will take a photo of friends taking a photo of themselves, rather than taking the photo himself!!
This was a really important deciding factor for Rich and I. We both knew that the day would go by so quickly so we wanted to spend as much time as possible with our family and friends rather than hours posing on our own. We gave Sacha a list of only 6 photographs which we wanted captured during the day – things such as brides family, grooms family, bridesmaids, groomsmen etc.
Aside from the 6 photos mentioned above, Sacha took Rich and myself away on our own for approximately 5-10 minutes before and after the wedding reception to capture photos with different lighting. He told us to just walk together, talk and act natural. This time was actually really lovely as it was one of the few times during the day that Rich and I got to spend on our own together.
I can honestly say that I didn’t even notice where Sacha was most of the day. At one point, I even asked my sister where he was! When we received our wedding photos, we couldn’t have been happier. Sacha really managed to capture such happiness, laughter and emotion – a true reflection of our special day. We cannot stop looking at them and reliving all of the wonderful memories.
How did the proposal happen? This is where Rich is going to get sympathy votes!
In December 2013, Rich told me that he had planned a surprised trip to Paris for us and we would be leaving in 2 days! Rich had taken me to Paris the year previously for my birthday and we both fell in love with the place. Having this trip sprung on my with such short notice and the fact that we had only just been there a few months before made me start thinking that he may have another agenda.
I became really nervous and obsessed with trying to find out if he was planning to pop the question. I went out with my Mum the day before we were due to travel and thought I’d try to find out if she knew anything. I started by telling her that I thought he may propose – I thought that I would be able to judge from her reaction whether he was or wasn’t going to! Having no luck from that, I decided to tell her that I’m not sure if I’m ready to get married yet and I’m not sure what I would say if he did. Still, she gave nothing away. Unbeknown to me, my Mum had gone back home in a panic and told my Dad that I was going to say ‘No!’. Later that day my Dad phoned Rich and told him about the conversation I had had with my Mum and that my response may not be what he was hoping for. Rich told my Dad that he was going to try his luck anyway.
When we got to Paris, Rich had booked us in for dinner at a lovely little French restaurant. Still determined to get some clues as to whether he was going to propose, I spent the whole meal talking about how I’m glad we weren’t at the marriage stage and how we could put that money towards saving for a new house. Unbeknown to me, Rich had the ring in his pocket and planned to propose by the Eiffel Tower that evening as we walked back to the hotel. After the meal, it was absolutely hammering it down with rain. Rich suggested a lovely walk back to the hotel via the Eiffel Tower. I refused, saying I didn’t want to get wet and insisted on getting a taxi back. After we had checked in and got up to the room I started unpacking. When I turned around I saw Rich down on one knee holding a box with the most beautiful ring in it. Even though deep down I knew it may be happening, I was still so shocked and overwhelmed. I couldn’t look at him and told him to stand up. Eventually, I said ‘yes!’. We spent the rest of the evening laughing as Rich told me what a massive pain I had been the previous 24 hours!!
When we walked down to reception the following morning, I was so shocked to see my parents and his parents in reception waiting for us. I had always told Rich that if we were to get engaged, I would want to share the experience with our family. Rich had flown both of our parents out to share the weekend in Paris with us. It really was a weekend to remember!
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share? I wouldn’t consider myself a creative person, lucky for me though my sister Kate is the Homemade Bride on Cwtch the Bride and loves all that sort of stuff.
Kate made the most beautiful table plan for us. I also mentioned that I didn’t want confetti thrown at the wedding because I didn’t want it stuck in my hair for the rest of the day so bought several bunches of roses and had her husband on my dad picking the petals off of them on the morning of the wedding to be used as confetti. The fresh rose petals were such a great idea not only because I successfully managed to avoid getting any stuck in my hair, but the colours and size really made them stand out in the photos.
What was your first dance & why? Rich and I could never agree on a first dance song. He always said he wanted Ed Sheeran ‘Thinking out Loud’ and I always said I wanted John Ledgend ‘All of Me.
I wanted to make sure that Rich had a few surprises during the wedding day. We had booked a South Wales band called ‘Best Supporting Actors’ to play on the day so without Rich knowing, I asked them if they would be able to play the Ed Sheeran song for our first dance. They agreed and I kept it a secret from Rich. Because Rich and I could never agree on a song, we just didn’t talk about it. In fact, even up until the wedding day when we were standing in the middle of the dance floor on our own with the band next to us waiting to play he said to me ‘we still don’t know what we’re dancing to yet’. I told him just to go with it. When he heard the beginning of the song he had a massive smile on his face. He says that was one of his favourite moments of the day.
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently? I can genuinely say that I don’t think we would have done anything differently at all. I’m sure everyone says it but for us, our day was perfect.
Do you have any advice for future couples? I know it is a cliche but I would just advise anyone who was about to embark on the wedding process to enjoy it. Other than that, I would give 2 other pieces of advice:
1.Involve your partner as much as possible in the planning as it makes it more fun.
2.Try not to get sucked up into all of it and remember the whole purpose of the day. It’s not about how many bottles of wine are on the table, or how many flowers you can fill the room with – it’s about marrying the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding? I really loved the whole of the wedding planning process. One thing which I particularly enjoyed though was planning the wedding with Rich. I was so happy with how much involvement he had and I can honestly say that every decision (apart from the dress) was made together and we had so much fun together in the process. Two of my favourite parts was meeting our florist and cake maker thinking that Rich would be completely quiet and not really want to get involved. I was completely shocked when he practically took over the appointments with his ideas! Who knew I was marrying an amateur flower arranger and cake designer!
One part of the planning process which I will never forget is the how it can strengthen the bond you have with family and friends. When you have a wedding to plan people find the time to come attend appointments with you and meet up for coffees to help make decisions – I even had a whatsapp group set up with my Mum and Bridesmaids to discuss all things wedding! It’s an excellent opportunity to spend time with your nearest and dearest. I guess it’s true what they say, weddings really do bring people together!
I would also like to take this opportunity to give a massive shout out to my wonderful sister, Kate, who played such a huge part in the planning process. Kate, you really are a wedding guru and I love you long time!
Photographer: Sacha Miller
Videographer: Aurora Wedding Video
Ceremony Venue: Coombe Lodge
Reception Venue: Coombe Lodge
Bride’s Dress: Suzanne Neville from High Society
Bride’s Shoes: Gina Shoes
Groom’s Outfit: Hugo Boss
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Dessy from High Society
Cake: Anna Tyler Cakes
Flowers: Sabine Darrall
Hair: Kate Petersen Weddings
Make Up: Kate Pettersen Weddings and Eleri Sian Thomas
Band: Best Supporting Actors
Any Reception Decor/Props: Cahoots Events
The Wedding Album
Oh wow! I teared up a couple of times reading that! Huge thanks to Christy & Rich or sharing this GORGEOUS day with us xx