Real Wedding: Katie & James’ DIY Brecon Beacons Wedding by Christopher Ian Photography

Katie & James got married on the 16th of August at The Barn at Brynich in the Brecon Beacons. On Monday we featured them as our Cwtch of the Week and next week Katie and her friends Jo and Bex will be back to tell us more about their joint venture A Bride’s Gift. Their wedding was photographed beautifully by our wonderful sponsor Christopher Ian PhotographyKatie & James1

How would you describe your wedding theme? The Princess Bride meets Japan with lots of homemade touches! The tables were all named after locations in the Princess Bride (Pit of Despair, Cliffs of Insanity), an epic Princess Bride cake made by my lovely friend Jo and the theme music was played by her husband Nick on piano as I walked down the aisle. We had 1000 origami cranes which traditionally bring good luck in Japan and Japanese cherry blossom on our table runners and fans. We didn’t really have a colour theme but made midnight blue table runners and kept to white flowers, mostly grown by my mum.  Katie and James - 117Katie and James - 37Katie and James - 35

What was your favourite part of your wedding? All our favourite people in one place! It’s a day when you can fully appreciate how many lovely people you have in your life and how lucky that makes you. James and I have always wanted a puppy, not being able to due to rented flats, but about halfway through the day James took me back to the onsite accommodation to get prezzies for our mums and revealed a treasure hunt he’d put together with dog collars, bowls, beds all hidden in the cottage. Hunting them all out gave us a bit of time together in a crazy day and was such a special way of looking forward to what our new life together would be. Katie and James - 54

Tell us about your Wedding Dress In looking at wedding dresses I had in mind something simple, long and lean… sort of Jenny Packham-esque. I’d arranged to go to Liverpool with my two best friends to look at dresses but couldn’t go without having first looked at a few dresses with my mum. We’d met some of the ladies from Wedding Belles at Laura’s at a wedding fayre at Brynich earlier that year, so arranged to meet up there to try a few on. I tried on several that were OK, but definitely not what I had in mind. Then my mum spotted a dress, quite simple but still much bigger than I had in mind. I tried it on. I just kept saying ‘oh no!’ in the dressing room. My mum said ‘is it terrible?’ and I said ‘no… I really like it’. It was not at all what I had in mind. It has a chapel train for crying out loud. But mum cried and it felt right. I still went to Liverpool and tried on some amazing dresses (and some awful ones as my friends got a veto-free choice in each shop that I HAD to try on including one that made me look like I’d escaped from a low-budget performance of Oklahoma and another that resembled a dead swan). But in the end, I’d already lost my heart to that first dress and it served me well on the day – comfy and you could easily fit 3 small children under it to play hide and seek during the reception. James liked it too. Katie and James - 22 Katie and James - 56

Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why? We didn’t have formal bridesmaids but I recruited several friends into the BESTies (Bridal Event Survival Team) complete with ID badges. Essentially they kept me sane and did so much to help with the day. Bridget organised my hen do, Bex did my hair and composed a wedding speech from suggestions from the guests, Isabella did my make up on the day, my sister Becky arranged all the outdoor games including making a handmade Princess Bride twister set, Sophie arranged the lovely meal the night before the wedding with her chef husband, Estelle painted my beautiful fans and table runners and Jo made my wedding cake, found my earrings and made over 600 of the origami cranes to decorate the venue. James asked three of his oldest friends to be best men who joined together to write a speech and this was delivered by Mike, who was very nervous but did a grand job. Katie and James - 83

Why did you choose your venue? We knew we wanted to get married in Wales, somewhere between our two families in Aberystwyth and Bridgend and we loved the Brecon Beacons. We went to a wedding fayre at Brynich and loved the relaxed feel and the fact that there was accommodation on site so you could enjoy the whole weekend with friends and family. Katie and James - 3 Katie and James - 57

How did the proposal happen? Every year James and I write a list of things we’d like to do that year. In 2012 that list included an action for James to sing me a song. Now James has taught himself to play the guitar and he’s quite good, but he’d always been to shy to sing in front of me. I’d sneakily heard him from outside the door but he’d always stop when I came in embarrassed. He suggested though that he could work on something until he was happy with it and then sing it for me. So December comes and I’ve completely forgotten this, and on the day we’re due to leave for Wales to have Christmas with family he says he’ll do it then as he won’t have his guitar with him otherwise before the end of the year. He played and sang a Ray Lamontagne song we both love and I sat across the room keeping very still and quiet so not to put him off. He’s got a lovely voice and by the end I was a bit tearful. I went over to give him a hug and when I pulled back he was holding this little box… he asked me to marry him and I burst into sobbing, snotty tears. Really dignified! Katie and James - 52

Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share? If you have some lovely, crafty friends then the origami backdrop was beautiful. I was extremely lucky to have friends like Jo and Estelle who did hundreds of them, roping in their friends, family and workmates. We ended up with bags of them that we strung up with fishing wire. I also got some plain white fans from Ebay that Estelle painted with cherry blossom which looked very effective. Katie and James - 41 Katie and James - 13

I was also very lucky to have a friend called Vanessa who looked at my Pinterest wall of hair pieces and said ‘I could make that…’ and did, incorporating our Japanese theme with little cherry blossoms. Jo also had a friend who made our Princess Bride cake toppers from Fimo… including a ROUS. I always wear converse trainers (when not at work) and decided to wear some for the day to avoid falling over (not graceful in heels). All my friends and family on my hen do decorated them with fabric pens to give me words of encouragement for the big day… and some slightly more risque illustrations hidden inside I later found out ;) Katie and James - 118 Katie and James - 9 Katie and James - 30

What was your first dance & why? Ray Lamontagne – You are the best thing. We liked it. Sorry – that’s a deep as it got :) James’s sister’s band (Soulshoes) did our evening entertainment and they were fantastic! Katie and James - 127 Katie and James - 128 Katie and James - 129

In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently? Got my photo taken with my BESTies as we somehow missed that. I also felt there were a few people I didn’t get to spend enough time with but it all went by so fast.

Do you have any advice for future couples? It’s really easy to get sucked into the Pinterest world of gorgeous weddings but a good rule we tried to stick with was “does it mean anything special to us?”… James lived in Japan for three years and we are planning to go there for a belated honeymoon next year so that was a joint theme as was the Princess Bride which we both loved. It helped to cut through to what was important.
If you’re growing your hair for your wedding (bride or groom!), why not consider a fresh hairstyle after the wedding by donating 7+ inches of hair to the Little Princess Trust to make wigs for children receiving cancer treatment. You can see our pics at [note from Charlie: More details about A Bride’s Gift coming up next week] Katie and James - 122

What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received? In our invitations we asked all guests to submit marriage advice to my friend Bex to make into a speech which she gave with Bridget on the day. There was a lot of good advice in it but it finished with advising James to always reply ‘as you wish’ to any of my wild demands. I think that sounded pretty wise.

What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding? How excited all my friends and family were about the day and how it brought everyone together making things, collecting things, spending time with each other. You’ll be amazed by how much talent there is in your circle and how generous people are with their time and skills if you only ask. People painted, silversmithed (that a word?), folded, baked, sculpted, grew flowers, threaded cranes, cooked, sang, played piano, planned, practiced and delivered make up and hair styles… and hugs. The hugs were ace! Katie and James - 60 Katie and James - 77

The Suppliers

Photographer: Christopher Ian Photography
Ceremony Venue: The Barn at Brynich
Reception Venue: The Barn at Brynich
Bride’s Dress: Wedding Belles at Laura’s
Groom’s Outfit: A Suit That Fits
Band: Soulshoes
Caterers: Purple Carrot Catering

Everything else DIY’d!

The Wedding Album

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Thank you so much to Katie for getting in touch with us, we will be hearing from her again next week when she tells us more about A Bride’s Gift.

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