We have the absolute pleasure today of showing you all our gorgeous Traditional Bride’s beautiful big day! You may have been following her story. As one of our Brides to Be, Kathryn has been making us laugh and cry with her planning stories and inspiration. And now her day has been and gone and we can now show you the stunning results.
Shot by Martin Ellard of My Big Day Photography.
Our Traditional Brides Beautiful Big Day
What was your budget?
We didn’t actually have one! We chose the venue before anything else, so once we had a rough idea of what that was going to cost, everything else would just have to just go on top! I have my own part time business as well as mine and Rich’s full time jobs, so it was just a case of seeing how much money we had to save and spend each month depending on what I was earning from the business, and what we could afford as we went along! I didn’t want to set a proper budget because I didn’t want to limit myself. The pair of us are pretty rubbish with money, so budgets don’t usually work with us anyway, we just went for it and hoped for the best! We had some help from my amazing mum and dad, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have a few sleepless nights towards the end when it came to paying everything off but we literally just about managed it!
All together, it came to about £13,000. I think. Even with all the planning and spreadsheets I mastered over the months, I never actually made a ‘final total!’
How would you describe your wedding theme?
Rainbow fairytale, bling-tastic, sparkly and BRIGHT! Just like me!
What was your favourite part of your wedding?
There were so many amazing moments throughout the day, I don’t know how I’m going to pick just one! I loved getting ready in the house in the morning, the journey in the limo with my parents, sisters and nephews, the simple but lovely ceremony, the food, my dad’s speech, the dances, the party, it truly was an epic day!
But my very favourite part has to be the photo and video shoot down the beach. Rich and I had finished the ceremony and family photos and were led down the beach by Martin, while our videographers Richard and Dan disappeared off to a van down the lane alongside the beach. I dragged my dress through leaves, twigs and stones, shimmied my massive skirt through the gate and kicked off my shoes, flinging them at Rich to hold, desperate to get my toes in the sand! I had been a bit nervous about the “coupley” shoot, Rich and I don’t tend to spend hours gazing lovingly into eachother’s eyes, and I was worried our smoochy shots would look forced and awkward, but when we were walking towards the shoreline with the wind billowing my veil high and fluttering my gigantic eyelashes, I felt this surge of love and excitement start in my tummy and I couldn’t help but cwtch and kiss my gorgeous husband, the smiles and touches were REAL and felt as natural as the sea breeze through my hair
Martin my photographer was a dot in the distance and it felt like we were alone in the world! Then suddenly, this almost deafening buzzing sound came out of nowhere, we turned around to see the gigantic drone swooping towards us, circling and taking long cinematic shots from the bright blue sky above, the noise was incredible, the wind was picking up, my heart was racing and I was almost squealing with excitement, we could see people in the distance hovering around the edge of the beach pointing at us, probably wondering who the celebrities were! It was a truly exhilarating part of the day, and those moments will stay in my mind and my heart forever.
Tell us about your Wedding Dress
I got my gown from Cariad Bridal in Swansea. It was nothing like what I had in my head. I wanted classy, perhaps some lace, maybe sleeves to cover my much-hated bingo wings, and definitely under no circumstances did I want strapless. I took one of my besties with me on that special first shopping trip, and as soon as I walked into the dressing area, my gown sparkled from between the rails, a strapless sweetheart bodice encrusted with a million Swarovski crystals above a gigantic flowing tulle skirt dotted with even more crystals. No, it actually winked at me. I could hear it whispering “look how sparkly I am! Look how princessy! You’ve wanted me since you were 6! Try me! You know you want to!” Ohhhh I wanted to. And so I did. And my God did it sparkle! The massive skirt poofed and swirled, and when they pulled in the corset, my waist disappeared! I’d been in there 10 minutes. I looked at my friend Kayleigh and she was reading my mind with this grin on her face but I was like NO WAY. Not the first one!? So I tried on a few more. About 14 more. But over 2 hours later, sweaty, exhausted and underwhelmed with every other beautiful style, shape, material and length, I admitted defeat and tried on the princess dress one more time. And this time, we shed a little tear.
But I didn’t buy it on the spot. I wanted to ‘browse’ other shops, stretch the experience out a little longer, when deep down, my mind was made up. After 2 different boutique visits, I couldn’t wait any longer and booked into Cariad again, this time with my mum and sisters. When I stepped out and saw the look on their faces and my mum’s very words to me were “I can’t imagine you in anything else, love” I knew this was The One. And so the theme was born! Sparkle all the way!
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?
I’ve got a lot of friends! Old friends from nursery, new best friends, favourite drinking buddies, confidants, and college chicks, I love them all so much! But choosing bridesmaids can be a little cray-cray. It was gonna be like “I couldn’t have her without her, but I’ve known her longer so should have her, but that means I can’t leave her and I definitely have to have her, which means she is in too, but then it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t have her…” And so on, and so on. I could have ended up with about 15. But I’m lucky enough to have 2 beautiful sisters so I made the decision early on that my maids would ONLY be my sisters, Sandra and Suzanne. And what beautiful maids they were too! And they did an amazing job! They supported me and every decision I made, not to mention throwing me literally the most amazing and best hen party I’ve ever been on in my life! I honestly can’t love them and thank them enough.
Rich’s best man was his friend Terry. They’ve been friends for a long time and he was the perfect choice, he supported Rich through the day, was funny, chatty, and full of beans, and kept the dance floor busy! Rich’s brother John was also a special presence, he had travelled such a long way from the top of Scotland and was the only member of Rich’s family able to make it so it was lovely having him at Rich’s side. And lovely for me to have a new brother in law!
Why did you choose your venue?
We had been to The Oxwich Bay Hotel for a friends wedding in 2014 and absolutely loved it, but didn’t initially think of it for our own venue as I didn’t want to copy my friend… Although she was flattered when I said I had decided to go and check it out, what bigger compliment is there to your wedding than one of your friends enjoying it so much that they want their own big day there too?! And I’m so glad we did. I remember walking up the drive on a dark cold January night and seeing the trees lit up and swaying in the winter breeze and hearing the sound of the sea crashing onto the shore beyond the wall, I had chills and not just from the cold!
Everything was perfect from start to finish, we had an amazing wedding coordinator Jess who was like Wonder Woman, nothing was a big ask, she didn’t say no to anything, and literally helped me empty the contents of my wedding fuelled imagination out into real life. The food was superb, gorgeous drinks, fabulous staff and the view, well… you can see for yourself, it’s truly breathtaking. It is the jewel on the Gower and we couldn’t have picked a better more beautiful location, it was everything we had dreamed of and more!
Tell us about your photographer
Our photographer was the gorgeous Martin Ellard of My Big Day Photos. I chose him without even meeting him, I was wandering around a wedding fayre and spotted his display where a beautiful photo of a bride looking tearfully up at her father making his speech caught my eye. Actually, it caught my heart, my breath, and my surprise as my own eyes welled up with emotion. Martin doesn’t just take pictures, he captures moments, and while he was busy chatting to another couple, I swiped a business card and that was that! And what a service he provides. We chatted on Facebook, I bumped into him in a couple more wedding fayres, he came to the house a few days beforehand and he really took the time to get to know us, listened to my ideas, brought up some amazing ones of his own and was an absolute superstar on the day. From encouraging me to eat more toast in the morning, calming me down when I was having a makeup breakdown, helping my sister tie up my dress, fixing my veil in place (and it didn’t budge all day and night!) he was literally like an honorary bridesmaid!
He was so unassuming, we barely noticed him hovering around, and yet along with Jess, he ran the day with such precision and grace, organising the shoots, arranging people, making sure we were in the right places at the right times, always on hand if I yelled for him with some inane question that wasn’t technically in his remit, such as “does my hair still look ok?” “Have you seen my dad anywhere?” “What’s happening next?” “did you see where I put my wine?” He was amazing and I can’t thank him enough for everything he did. And as you can see from the results of the stunning and breathtaking moments he’s captured… Well I think the pictures speak for themselves. Unlike me, who couldn’t speak for tears when I saw them! He even managed to capture a moment where my own dad was making his speech and I was looking up at him with the same love and emotion that I’d seen in that very first photo of his that I saw, but this time it was my wedding, my tear filled eyes and my dad.
That made my heart burst. He was a dream come true, and I can’t recommend him highly enough.
How did the proposal happen?
Our proposal story isn’t actually very traditional, despite being The Traditional Bride that I am! There was no blended knee, no grand gestures, Rich didn’t even ask my dad’s permission! It was Christmas Eve 2013, I was shattered coming home late after a shift behind the bar when Rich suggested we open our presents there and then. He’s so impatient, but we were heading off to my sister’s for a big family Christmas dinner and were going to have a long and busy day the next day so I agreed. We took it in turns opening gifts, and I noticed Rich starting to do this weird heavy breathing through his nose, like a bull about to charge. He had gracefully accepted his dressing gown, cd and other standard man-gifts and I was chuffed with my trainers, jumper and obligatory perfume and smellies so I didn’t know why he was looking so stressed out. The last gift was taking me ages to unwrap, it was sellotaped within an inch of its life and I was tearing and shaking and flapping the gift around (cleverly disguised in a much larger box than a ring!) while Rich was frowning and breathing more and more heavily, it was all a bit awkward if I’m honest! Then ta daa, this smaller box flew into my lap and I opened it, barely registering what it was til it caught the light from the kitchen behind me and BOOM there was my sparkly future. I looked at Rich in shock and he croakily uttered those 4 words every girl dreams of: “Put It On Then.” 9 years after we first met and we had finally sealed the deal!
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?
I’m quite artistic and wanted to do a few things myself, but boy did I regret it! I had quite a quirky idea for my Save The Dates, I ordered loads of little plain, flat wooden door-hangers (similar to the “do not disturb” signs you get in hotels) decorated them with diamantés, glittery flower stickers and just printed the info on to coloured shimmery paper, along with a few pics of Rich and I, and glued them on. They were easy and fun to make and really cheap, I ordered everything from Amazon.
But the invitations… I never ever want to make any kind of papercraft ever again! They took me MONTHS! From emailing one of my Wedding Squad all the various info I wanted for her to kindly print out in reams (because there’s only so much sneaky printing I could get away with in my own workplace!) to the cutting on the guillotine of all the sheets into all the various ‘inserts’ and creating little pocketfold flaps in each invitation (the basic cards I bought off Amazon) to gluing it all together and adding various diamantés and patterned tape and sparkly stickers… Each invite took at least 30 minutes to complete and I had LOADS! With a full time job and a part time business, I was only averaging 2 or 3 a night, I struggled to find the time and after all the day guest invites finally went out, I lost all motivation, ran out of time, admitted defeat and all of my night guests received Facebook messenger invitations! Well, we are in 2016 after all!
I made my own table plan just printing off the names of my guests and putting them in a tall, narrow and cute stand-up photo frame with a couple of pics of Rich and I.
And my favours were little sample sachets of the aloe vera products which I retail with my business. Nothing wrong with a bit of promotion to all of my nearest and dearest! They went down a storm and I even had a few sales after the event!
But never ever in a million years would I make invitations like that again! Everyone loved them, but I get bored writing Christmas cards after a while, and I still haven’t got through my thank you cards, so how I thought I’d manage creating over 100 intricate fiddly little paper creations, I will never know!
What was your first dance & why?
The first dances were very special. Yes, you read that right, dances… We had 3!
I’m a daddy’s girl and having a father/daughter dance was important to me, but I didn’t expect my dad to be that up for it! But he totally was, and he spent ages trawling YouTube until he decided on Nancy Sinatra’s ‘For My Dad.’ It was emotional and fun all at once, being twirled by my dad around the dance floor, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!
And then Rich and I smooched and swayed to the hauntingly beautiful ‘Strong’ by London Grammar. The song had no special meaning to us, I just loved it, every time I heard it, it gave me goosepimples and it’s a little bit different. But the third dance was definitely the most entertaining! Because what Rich didn’t know was that half way through our ‘first dance’ I was going to tell him to take my shoes off and go and sit down.
He had to take them off for me, partly because I couldn’t really reach them under my enormous dress, and partly as a cue to the DJ who would be pressing play on the third song… Which wasn’t really one song, it was a compilation of 5 different songs to which me, my sister/bridesmaid Sandra and my 2 oldest besties Emma and Louise had been practicing an absolutely fabulous (if I do say so myself) group dance under the amazing choreography of my friend Sarah. We had spent weeks in the function room of my old local rugby club spending every spare evening we could get together without suspicion, we even managed an on-site practice in the marquee of the Oxwich Bay a week before the wedding thanks to my amazing planner Jess!
And Rich didn’t have a clue! His face as he wandered awkwardly off the dance floor clutching my shoes was hilarious… But the penny soon dropped as we got into formation and he was cheering down the front! As a former holiday rep, I loved the idea of throwing some shapes in front of a crowd, but my poor girls were almost sick with nerves all day beforehand and were very glad to get it over with! But I can’t thank them enough for their participation. You can watch the end result here!
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?
There’s only two things I would have changed about my wedding day…
I’m a social media addict, so keeping my pictures, and especially my dress, offline until I was ready to share was a big deal to me. I wrote it in my order of service, I got the registrar to make an announcement before the ceremony, under no circumstances were any pics or vids of my day to be posted on social media until the evening, after the night guests had arrived. But the message got a little lost in translation, and people were terrified to touch their iPhones throughout the service, which was fine, I wanted everyone to feel it with me through their eyes, not their screens, but I forgot one very important thing… My beautiful and talented friend Nikki had travelled all the way down from Newcastle on her own with her 1 year old baby to sing me down the aisle at my wedding. We lived together in Menorca during our holiday repping season, she was an Entertainer, and her opera-trained voice gave me goosepimples, so despite not seeing each other for 5 years, I chose the song, she learnt it and practiced it and sent me a whatsapp video of the final version, and on the big day, I barely heard a word! That couple of minutes when my dad walked me down the aisle and everyone was smiling and crying at me was such a blur that’s hardly heard Nikki sing a note.
And of course, nobody recorded it. Everyone told me it was beautiful but I could kick myself, months of her hard work, and I didn’t even think to dedicate one person to just film Nikki singing from start to end. How nice would that have been, for her too, her first live performance in years, and such a beautiful song and singer, I wish I had just asked one person to point their phone at her and record the whole 3 minutes! My videographer has told me he has the majority of it recorded so I’m hoping to watch it properly at some point but I am gutted I didn’t think of that before. So be careful with an unplugged ceremony dudes and dudettes, you may miss something you wish you had captured!
Oh and I forgot to throw my bloody bouquet! I’ve caught a few in my time, and couldn’t wait to throw my own, but the day ploughed on, and it just never happened! But I was glad a few days later when my bouquet was still intact and I got to place it on my Nanna’s grave.
Do you have any advice for future couples?
As my mum said a million times to me in the last 6 months, “don’t sweat the small stuff!” Coming from me, who was having a breakdown when I realised I had forgotten the matching pen for my wedding guest book, this may sound a bit hypocritical, but that’s why I’m saying it. Before my big day, every wedding disaster scenario was running through my monkey mind, I was having genuine wedding nightmares every night, panicking about colour-coordinated drinking straws, distance between tables and dance floor, timings, weather, car crashes, things catching fire, the photobooth collapsing, nobody turning up, the list (I love lists!) goes on.
So if I could just get it through to you brides-to-be that you’re going to wake up on the morning of your big day without a care in the world, matching drinking straws or not! You won’t care about anything except loving every second and marrying the man of your dreams!
I just wish I had listened myself, because I wasted a lot of time and lost a lot of sleep over things that were either out of my control or completely irrelevant. Enjoy the run up, enjoy the planning, embrace the mess your house will be in, because when it’s all over, if you’re like me, your house will still be messy, but it won’t be full of car ribbons, pom-poms, crystals, confetti and excitement! So let go of the outcome, do what you can to make your wedding the day of your dreams but don’t let it get to you, because even if the odd thing goes wrong, your decorations are slightly squiffy or God forbid you have to have a regular biro for guests to sign your guestbook, in the wise words of Dr Seuss, those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind!
Remember as much as you can. It sounds obvious, but if you can take seconds throughout the day where you just look at your partner and enjoy a mutual WOW moment, it really will soothe the soul and keep the memories alive long after the day has been and gone! Take a breath, look around at all the people you adore who are smiling, laughing, loving the experience alongside you, squeeze your partner’s hand, smell the aromas of your chosen yummy food, taste the champers and feel the fizz on your tongue, feel the glow, feel your own heart beating and literally soak those seconds up because it’s over in the blink of an eye.
Oh, and break your shoes in, ladies. And if you don’t do that, take flatties for the night, you’re gonna need them!
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received?
I’ve had so much amazing advice from everyone (including sage words lovingly/drunkenly written in my hen party guest book such as “always look both ways when you cross the road” “snog lots” and “always have sex”) but the best thing I’ve realised has been more of an example than actual imparted advice. My parents have been married for 52 years and even now, when they’re alone together, they laugh and laugh and laugh, it melts my heart. I LOVE laughing, and a giggle can brighten up any situation. So don’t take yourself too seriously. Be silly, be yourself, and laugh as much as you can.
There are going to be hard times, that’s life, but if you can turn a frown upside down, you’re in a better position to get through anything. It seems to be working so far. But I’m still in the buzz, still living the dream! Ask me this time next year how I turn an argument into a giggle and I may not be as gracious as I seem now! But if you’re lucky enough to have a husband who is as secretly weird and stupid as you are, you’ll be alright.
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?
Everything. Literally, there is nothing I disliked about the planning. For almost 2 years, my mind was laid out in spreadsheets, scrap books, budgets, clip files, brochures, appointments, lists, lists and lists! And I enjoyed every second of it. The last couple of weeks were hectic, I lost 6lbs in a week when things got so stressful at the end, but it was the most luscious feeling of stress ever and I miss it intensely. There is such a thing as the wedding hormone, it’s not just planning an event, so much thought, time, effort and incredible attention to detail goes into your wedding day that it’s easy to lose yourself completely in it, I felt like my day job was just a nuisance, from morning til night my head was in this wedding bubble and I’m actually in the depths of despair now that it’s all over! I have no more lists to make, no more seating plans to painstakingly arrange, no more timescales to meet and no more appointments and meetings to organise and there’s a hideous wedding shaped hole in my life right now! Planning was a dream but I can’t take full responsibility because I had an amazing team of friends and family behind me helping me tie up all the loose ends, but I can honestly say, the last 6 months were the busiest and best few months of my life.
Photographer: Martin Ellard – My Big Day Photos
Videographer: Richard John
Wedding Planner: Jess Morris at The Oxwich Bay Hotel
Ceremony Venue: The Chestnut Room at The Oxwich Bay Hotel
Reception Venue: The Marquee at The Oxwich Bay Hotel
Bride’s Dress: Cariad Bridal Swansea
Bride’s Headpiece and Veil: Cariad Bridal Swansea
Bride’s Jewellery: New Look, Warren James
Bride’s Shoes: Iron Fist
Groom’s Outfit: Armani
Bridesmaid Dresses: Quiz
Bridesmaid’s Accessories: Quiz, New Look
Cake: Rhian Higgins – Higgins Home Bakes Ammanford
Flowers: Petals Florists Ammanford
Hair: Emma Whitley from Sparkles Hair, Nails & Beauty Crosshands
Makeup: Mac, Urban Decay, Rimmel
Band: “Them 2 Fellas” Andy Given & Pete Smith
DJ: Starlit Events
Photobooth: Starlit Events
Transport: Dusk Til Dawn Limos Ammanford
The Wedding Album