Wedding Planning: Advice and Tips from Sylvie & Joan

Here at Cwtch the Bride we are super busy preparing for CWTCHFEST – our massive wedding festival that’s being held on the 19th of April (you can buy tickets here!). On the day we will be holding DIY workshops from Sylvie & Joan which we’re sure will prove massively valuable to all you DIY brides to be, until then the lovely Emma from Sylvie & Joan will be sharing budget advice, styling inspiration and tips for planning a festival themed wedding on the blog. Over to you, Emma! 


Wedding Planning – Where to Start?

So you’re getting married? It’s exciting, right? Maybe a little daunting too? The possibilities for holding your idea of the perfect wedding are endless! With the ever-increasing sources of wedding inspiration at our fingertips, it can sometimes be overwhelming. Today I’m sharing some tips to help you pin down exactly what it is that you do want and how to stay true to that vision throughout the planning process.

At Sylvie and Joan we work with our lovely couples to design and plan creative weddings that reflect their unique personalities. We find out exactly what is important to them and what it is that they want their wedding to say about them. Here are some questions to help you decide on the type of wedding that’s right for you.

What sort of Wedding do we want?

It seems like an obvious one right?  But take some time to think and talk about this as a couple before you start looking for a venue, picking a dress or discussing it with friends and family. Everyone will all have a well-meaning opinion on the sort of wedding you should have but it’s your wedding.

  • Have you always dreamed of a grand and formal occasion? Or is it an intimate, heartfelt and romantic day you want? Maybe your idea of wedding happiness is a fun-filled joyful fete? Do you want an informal festival feel to your celebration?
  • Are there traditions you want to incorporate or are you throwing the rule book out the window?
  • Would you feel most comfortable marrying in a wedding venue or are you looking for something a bit different with the freedom and flexibility to do exactly as you please?

Whatever you choose, it should be reflective of you. You will be the centre of attention on the day and you must be comfortable with your choices. Don’t be swayed by what others believe is ‘the right thing to do’.

What time of year would we like to get married?

Have you always loved spring flowers and imagine marrying amongst the daffodils? Do you picture summer picnics and saying your ‘I-dos’ outdoors? Maybe you love the romance of autumn with its shimmering golds and russet hues? Or do you picture yourselves as a cosy winter bride sipping hot cider around the fire? Every season bursts at the seams with beautiful and romantic wedding possibilities, but take time to think about when would best suit you.

What’s our budget?

Talk honestly and realistically about your wedding budget and start making a list of your essential guests. These will be deciding factors in choosing potential venues. Start making a list of the aspects which are most important to you and then prioritise. For some couples the food and wine is incredibly important, whilst others may have a particular love of music and therefore make this a budget priority on their day. Others may choose to prioritise location, decor or photography.

What don’t we want?

Make a list of things you definitely don’t want and support each other in communicating those decisions. You may decide that you don’t want formal speeches for example. Friends and family will start lending well intentioned advice, offering opinions or even raising objections. Accept early on that you cannot please everyone. You can certainly try to accommodate everyone. But you will not please everyone. Try not to get stressed and upset attempting to do so. This day is about you. Have faith that you know what will make you most comfortable and your nearest and dearest will take joy in your happiness.

Define your vision

Once you’ve addressed these questions, you have a pretty good idea of your vision of the day. You can now start thinking about your theme or colour scheme. Your ‘theme’ encapsulates the styling choices you chose for all aspects of the day. Whatever your theme it should be personal to you. That is what will make it memorable for your guests rather than just another pretty wedding. Be creative! This is your opportunity to let your personalities shine! Take plenty of time to research and assemble your team of local suppliers. They will deliver all the elements making up your vision of the day.

Enjoy it

You should enjoy the process of being engaged and planning your wedding, not stressed and frazzled, or obsessing over every detail. If you feel you’d like support research planners and stylists who inspire you. A wedding planner deals in details and minutiae, leaving you to enjoy the process.

On the day, be present in the moment. Take time to enjoy it. Allow your planner, co-ordinator or those you’ve assigned designated roles to worry about the details. Don’t allow yourself to become anxious about perfection. Some of the most joyful moments are those you don’t plan for! And remember…

Image source

Image source

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing budget advice, styling inspiration, tips for planning a festival-style wedding and lots of exciting news in the run up to Cwtchfest!

Much love,

Emma x buy tickets here

Darren & Sara’s Engagement shoot at Pen Y Fan by Maria Farrelly

All images in this post are by Cwtch The Brides Founder, Maria Farrelly Photography. Lets hand you over to the lady herself to tell you all about this fabulous engagement shoot…


Today I’m pleased to be sharing Darren & Sara’s engagement shoot and ridiculously excited about photographing their wedding this coming May.

As a professional wedding photographer, I find it essential to build a good rapport with your clients before the big day. An Engagement shoot is the perfect ice breaker. A chance to get to know each other in a relaxed way. Find out what your clients like and don’t like.

Not all couples are affectionate in public and its important to understand what they are comfortable doing before the wedding.  This all makes for a better photographer/couple relationship on the big day itself.

For their engagement shoot, Darren & Sara chose the beautiful Pan Y Fan as they love the area and enjoy walking.Penyfan_engagement_Maria_Farrelly001

At this point, I should warn you, I’m not a mountain walker, I also have a habit of getting into awkward positions on shoots which result in me getting covered in dirt, mud and water. Nethertheless, this shoot is not about me. Its about creating a beautiful set of images that reflect the couple I’m working with. So, as always, I was up for the challenge and arrived all prepared… walking boots, waterproof, change of clothes and of course my camera bag.Penyfan_engagement_Maria_Farrelly010

As soon as we all got out the cars at Pen Y Fan the heavens decided to open and it was clear we weren’t going to be able to walk far. As the clouds moved in, the landscape still looked  incredibly beautiful. Thats what I love about the Brecon Beacons, no matter what the day, the views are breathtaking (ok…maybe not as great when its foggy) Anyhow, the elements were against us, we could have jumped back in the cars and rescheduled but we decided to go for it. And I’m so glad we did. We have great fun.

Darren & Sara are such a wonderful couple and we had so much fun hanging out and getting to know each other as well as getting some great shots which i’m really pleased with. I hope you enjoy this collection of images.




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If you are yet to book your wedding photographer, feel free to take a look at my website. If you’d like me to send you some information on how you can book me for your wedding then do get in touch here.


Practical Tips for Your Wedding Day

JZ0C7369It’s time for another post from our lovely modern bride Hannah. She’s back to offer some practical tips for your wedding day, because let’s face it, we all want it to go perfectly but that rarely happens! Hopefully these tips will help you take a bit of the stress off! :) (All photos are from Hannah’s wedding shot by Maria Farrelly unless otherwise noted).


Hello lovely Cwtch the Bride readers! Hope the wedding planning is coming along nicely for you all. I can’t believe it’s been a year since my own big day! Lately I’ve been thinking back to when I was in the midst of wedding chaos myself and thought I would put together a little post of tips and advice to help your own days go as smooth as can be…

Plan your photos in advance

Everyone has an idea of the type of wedding photography they would like; this may be reportage (a style I chose for my day) or maybe something more traditional with plenty of portraits. Whichever type you decide to go with, you are still going to have a list of ‘shots’ you want your photographer to capture. For me the exchanging of the rings and the confetti shots were high on my wish list. I also knew that I didn’t want to spend a big bulk of our reception having lots of staged photographs taken, so Mat and I planned with Maria in advance the shots we wanted Maria to take.

From this meeting Maria had a clear idea on the day on who and what we wanted snaps of (my adorable baby brother in his converse and lots of detail shots) and who we didn’t want hogging our wedding album, (a distant cousin’s on/off boyfriend!) If you plan your photographs in advance not only will your photographer be better organised on the day, but it also avoids any disappointment that you didn’t get a picture of someone you definitely want in your album.

Break in your wedding shoes

Oh how I cannot stress this one enough! What may feel comfortable for a few minutes trying on your wedding shoes may feel like torture an hour or two into your ceremony. I wish I had spent more time wearing my shoes in at home; my feet were in such agony after the wedding that I wore flip flops for nearly a week! And that’s before we went on our honeymoon! One thing I did remember to take (and I am so glad I did) was a pair of ballet slippers… Oh the relief! Whilst we’re on the subject of wedding shoes make sure that you take the pair you’re going to be wearing with you to your dress fittings and actually practice striding around. There’s nothing worse than tripping up over the hem of your dress.

Practice sitting in your dress

It occurred to me the weekend before my wedding that I hadn’t actually practiced sitting down in my tightly fitted fishtail gown! Crazy I know. Cue much practice sitting down and getting back up gracefully, which sounds silly but I am so glad I didn’t attempt it for the first time during the actual wedding ceremony!

 Make sure you have time in the morning to yourself and eat breakfast

I envisioned a relaxing morning getting ready surrounded by my mum and bridesmaids in our hotel. What I didn’t bank on was seemingly my whole family descending on my room to help me get ready, or pop in to say good luck. This was lovely, but I surprised myself by needing some time alone to gather my thoughts (and nerves) about the day ahead. I ended up moving rooms twice before ‘hiding’ in my aunties room to get some quiet and have my makeup applied in peace! In hindsight I would have been much stricter on visitors and planned in advance where everyone else would be having their hair and makeup done too.

One thing I did do was eat a big breakfast. It really set me up for the day, especially as I was so pent up with excitement and nerves that I barely ate our wedding meal and dessert. I’m glad I managed to fuel up in the morning and highly recommend other brides try to do the same :)

Rachael & Sam

Image credit © John Hope

Plan for rain

Let’s face it, we live in the UK and sadly that means it’s raining more than the sun’s shining. If you plan for rain, then you can be pleasantly surprised when the sun comes out to play. Look at different places to have your photographs for different weather – we were all set to have our pictures taken inside a really cool bar and art museum close to our venue if the weather decided to play up. I also thought about giant heart shaped umbrellas in different colours. The weather is the one part of your day you can’t control, so get excited about your back up plans too!

And if it rains… well, just go with it! You can get some amazing shots in the rain… the stormier the better! :)

Fingers crossed you’re not too stressed about your wedding day – I hope this post has been helpful! If you’ve got any specific questions drop them in the comments and I and the other Cwtch brides will do our best to answer them for you :)

Lots of cwtches!

Hannah x