Real Wedding: Emma & Neil’s Llanerch Vineyard Humanist Wedding by Christopher Davies

Emma & Neil’s relaxed humanist ceremony at the stunning Llanerch Vineyard  last August was captured beautifully by Christopher Davies Photography. We asked Emma some questions about their perfect day. 675

What was your budget? We didn’t really have one! Though we spent much more than we thought we might, but every single penny was worth it. We waited 15 years to walk down the aisle, so when it came down to it, we didn’t want to have to compromise. We were lucky to have the support of our parents and grandparents who helped us pay the bills! 499

How would you describe your wedding theme? There wasn’t really a fixed theme, but being in a Vineyard meant we wanted to incorporate that as best we could so my best friend and bridesmaid Jo helped make a beautiful cork table plan and we also used split corks for our place settings. 613 We didn’t want to overdo it though so kept it at that, and the rest of the theme I suppose was centred on the party! We love a party, we always joke and say “any excuse for a party!” and our home has always been and always will be open to friends and family to socialise and celebrate with us. Our colour scheme was navy and pink, actually Neil’s choice, which worked wonderfully. I must be honest, he was totally involved in every aspect of our day, he was probably more concerned with the details than I was and he even made ‘stag’ & ‘hen’ picture collages for display on the day. He hand drew and painted a selection of small chalkboards with various messages on them, wrote quirky things in washable chalk on the ladies toilet mirrors like “looking good! now get back out & party!” and made all our table numbers and designed a unique wedding ‘shot’ with Paul at the Vineyard for behind the bar – he actually used it as his toast rather than the pink sparkles I’d chosen! 639 We took pink & navy through all aspects then, the save the dates, the invites and Anna at The Cake Cwtch created the most wonderful navy & pink cupcake tower for us which doubled as our cake and dessert 819What was your favourite part of your wedding? I honestly couldn’t choose. From the moment the sun rose to falling into bed at 4am I enjoyed every single second. We had all the people we loved in one room, plus our little princess – what more could we ask for?  055

I stayed at the vineyard with mum & dad and our 2yr old the night before, so waking up with Cari and being all excited when the bridesmaids arrived was a wonderful start to the day and it just continued from there. The bridesmaids walked down the aisle to ‘Here come the Girls’ and dad and I to ‘You can’t hurry Love’ by the Supremes. Our humanist ceremony was relaxed and personal, the male voice choir brought tears to my eyes and the ice cream van was a treat for Neil and his childhood ambition to eat a litre of ice cream in one go! It all went without a hitch, Claire, Matt & Paul at the vineyard were like friends. They looked after us and made sure nothing was missed. When the party started we laughed with everyone in the photo booth and drunk far too many ‘after party’ shots (the signature shot they created for us!) We encouraged social media interaction and asked everyone to use the hash tag #MrMrsWilf (Neil’s nickname) and this way we got to see everyone’s facebook, instagram and twitter posts from the day.415IMG_1223

Tell us about your Wedding Dress I had no idea what I wanted. I had never really dreamed of my wedding dress and when it came to shopping I tried on all sorts. Most were chosen by my sister & mum to be honest as it was a little overwhelming but as we tried them on I ruled various styles out and I think in my mind I wanted plain taffeta tea-length with maybe a sleeve or a capped sleeve. However, the dress that chose me in the end was completely different, and I credit Rachel at the Bridal Boutique for it. She insisted I tried it on, despite my protests that it was ‘too much’ – lace, strapless, ball gown, sparkles – a far cry from the plain taffeta I was imagining by then! But it was perfect from the second I tried it on, I hadn’t even seen my reflection and I knew it was the one and when mum cried it was official, I’d found my dress. I never wavered, never doubted my choice and really looked forward to wearing it, I felt like a princess, it was comfortable and I danced all night – in pink flip flops! :-) 151 515 889

Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why? We had a bit of an entourage, but why not hey? We’re so, so lucky to have such a wonderful group of friends plus family who are friends too – we couldn’t have chosen between them. So my sister, and my three best friends were adult bridesmaids and Jo’s girls and our Cari were flower girls. Neil had two best men, his brother and best friend Mark and 5 ushers too. So 7 a-piece. Between them they read at our ceremony, made wonderful speeches and the girls wrote an ode to me too! We wouldn’t have wanted anyone else by our side. Jo & I have been friends since we were at nursery together aged 3 and I love her girls like my own. I’ve known the two Rachel’s for over 15 years, and my sister & I are so different but each other’s biggest fans and have a relationship more like friends. Mark and Neil have been friends since primary school and the others have all been friends for many years. Neil and his brother are also really different to each other but have a wonderful relationship, largely based on taking the mickey out of each other! 169 173 245

Why did you choose your venue? We’d seen so many venues over the years and we liked lots of them, but never loved them and we stumbled across the vineyard one afternoon when Cari was just a few months old, we’d gone looking for somewhere new for lunch one Wednesday and instantly knew its where we wanted to get married – way before the engagement and even before the vineyard were actually hosting weddings! We asked them to let us know if they ever decided to offer weddings there and it all came together in the end. 321885

How did the proposal happen? Despite being together for almost 15 years and having spoken many times about getting married, I never really thought the day would come, we’d spent the years building careers, buying forever homes and starting a family and as we weren’t traditional in the religious sense having Cari before we got married was never really a concern, but I will admit once she was born we both felt it was probably the right thing to do.
Having said that the proposal was a massive surprise and almost didn’t happen (well not the way Neil had planned anyway) it was the day before my 30th birthday and we’d planned a meal (the three of us) at my favourite Italian restaurant but Cari was tired and grumpy after a day at nursery so I’d suggested to Neil we get a take away instead, he agreed initially but then called mum to see if she would sit for us and she agreed so off we went just the two of us. I’m known for nagging for an early birthday present but because I’d largely asked for money (because I wanted to but an ipad!) I knew I wouldn’t have much to open on the actual day so when I didn’t ask for one, Neil offered an early gift, but I refused it – his face was a picture (!!) so I reluctantly gave in and he pushed a box across the table to me, it was bigger than a ring box, so I honestly didn’t expect what was inside, but when I opened it there was a beautiful, 1ct princess cut diamond, floating in a box with ‘will you marry me’ written on it. I was totally blown away and asked “really?!” and he was grinning and ordering champagne! We went the next day to design a custom ring at the Diamond Centre of Wales where I talked him into an additional 16 small diamonds to create a halo – needless to say I adore my ring and even had a wedding ring to match too.
We always said we’d never have a long engagement, so we began talking wedding immediately and set our hearts on the following August, just 10 months after getting engaged. Like I said, neither of us are religious, so when we found Dee a humanist celebrant to conduct a naming day for Cari I think we both knew that when the day came we would go down the same route for a wedding. 301

Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share? A lovely lady called Jan covered our chairs and made small neat Gyp centrepieces for us but we did the bulk of the decorating ourselves and hung over 100 navy and pink lanterns from the ceiling of the marquee with the help of our friends and family the day before the wedding, we also put lights and balloons on ribbon and tethered them by golf tees outside to line the walkway from the ceremony to the reception. 583

Neil also made all the unique table numbers with photos of us over the years, we had 12 tables and plenty of photos from our 15 years together, I wrote and he made our ‘social media’ guides and thank you notes for every table too, as well as the miniature chalk boards for the signature shots, the ‘dancing shoes’ (flip flops!) and wrote on the mirrors in the loos. He also made our save the dates, invites and thank you cards. It all added to the fun! 595 The bridesmaid dresses were also handmade, I bought a vintage dress pattern online and Neil’s very talented aunt produced my vision, I was thrilled, the raw silk and gingham were perfect together and the pink heels really popped against the navy dress. 781

What was your first dance & why? Your Song by Elton John, but we used the Ellie Goulding cover. It was the obvious choice for us, Neil has sung it to me when drunk for years and he’d always dreamt of building us a family home too so the lyrics were always appropriate, we were really lucky actually, that in March 2013 we bought our forever home, not a self-build as planned (I wasn’t prepared to live in a caravan with a 1 yr old!) but a definite ‘do-er upper’ with plenty of potential and probably years of work ahead of us. 917

In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently? Not a single thing. If someone was to give me all the cash we spent back and said, “go do it again” there’s not a second of our day I would change. 281 519 925

Do you have any advice for future couples? Enjoy it. All of it, the planning, the organising, the build-up and the aftermath. Don’t let silly differences of opinion come between you or spoil what has the potential to be the happiest and best day of your lives. Have the people YOU want there, don’t worry about offending or pleasing others, it’s your day, and only one you’ll have. Spend money on photography and videography, flowers die, food is eaten, drink is drunk, it’s all you’ll be left with once the day is over and it’s what your children and grandchildren will coo over in years to come. 873

What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received? There was a lot, but the one that stayed with me was “during the day stop, take a breath and look around you, take mental photographs and enjoy everyone else enjoying. Find your husband, hold his hand and check you’re both ok at least once an hour – because you will get split up and dragged off in different directions!” 881

What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding? Knowing it would accumulate in a big celebration with all our friends and family. Right through the planning and organising we thought about everyone who would be there with us and would say “oh, so-and-so, will love that!” and were excited to share it with them all. We never deliberated over choices, didn’t second guess ourselves and we surprised ourselves with how in agreement we were with things – I suppose the conversations over the years had amounted to some sort of plan we hadn’t even realised we’d made! 567 927 IMG_1449 IMG_1524 IMG_1631

The Suppliers

Photographer: Christopher Davies Photography
Videographer: Simon Huntley
Wedding Planner: Ourselves – with lots of venue help from Claire @ Llanerch
Ceremony Venue: Llanerch Vineyard
Reception Venue: Llanerch Vineyard
Bride’s Dress: Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique
Bride’s Shoes: Ruby Shoo
Bride’s Headpiece: Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique
Bride’s Jewellery: Mum’s
Groom’s Outfit: Tailor Made/Custom 3 peice
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Handmade
Bridesmaid’s Accessories: Gifts from bride
Cake: Anna @ The Cake Cwtch
Flowers: By a family friend
Hair: Taryn’s Mobile Hair
Make Up: Cerys @ Bliss Beauty
DJ: Dafydd Jones
Stationery: Homemade by groom
Caterers: The Vineyard
Any Reception Decor/Props: Jan @ Sitting Pretty & Ourselves
Transport: Neil – loan of his cousins Porsche

The Wedding Album

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Thank you Emma & Neil for this beautiful submission! We would love to hear what our readers thought, pop a comment in the box :)

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