Finally Cwtchfest is this month! The tickets are flying out and if you don’t get yours soon you will regret it!
Today’s Cwtch Of The Week is from the very talented Chris Morse. This is of his favourite images from Matt & Katrina’s Anglesey Marquee Wedding. I would love to know what this private little joke between the bridesmaids was about. It looks hilarious. Thank You for this little beauty!
You might say “isnt it just a hug?” You can ask anyone who lives in Wales and they will happily tell you that a cwtch is warmer, friendlier and a more snug version of a hug. We love, love, love seeing moments like this and if you have a lovely cwtch to share with us please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org xx
What was your budget? We had a rough idea in our heads of about £30,000 – because this was a destination wedding and we selected a place every guest would have to travel to. We had exclusive use of the venue for two nights which included all meals from Friday night to Sunday morning. I do believe the £6,000 bar bill for the weekend, though anticipated, may have skewed our budget considerably.
How would you describe your wedding theme? Between the two of us we have 4 adult children ages 21-25 so this was a chance to have a really special weekend with the people who have loved and supported us through all of our moves in the last several years. But when asked about our theme we decided the best way to sum it up was:
“Rustic/20s-40s Vintage/Long-Distance: Welsh-American/80′s kids-who wannabe-hipsters/LOVE!”
**oh and the general theme of the event, invitations & stationery was love birds (Colours: lavender & navy blue)
Essentially we had a crazy weekend house party for 55 people including us. We started with a buffet dinner on Friday night, followed by Hen & Stag parties in separate parts of the Chateau. It is the US tradition to hold the Bachelor & Bachlorette parties the night before unlike folks in the UK who are much smarter holding those “dos” a week before. My amazing Maid of Honour & Bridesmaids arranged quite a few special treats, while the boys just kicked off a start to the bar tab and Wayne quickly banned our adult children from ordering any more shots! Saturday our civil ceremony was at Noon – we laughed through the whole thing and I don’t how many times Wayne tried to get our lovely officiant to add “Obey” into my vows. This was followed by a champagne reception & toasts. We then utilized the lovely grounds and the waterside for some incredible photos. Our wedding breakfast was gorgeous – the food was amazing including a trio of Welsh beef that people are still talking about. We deliberately had no head table – just rounds and each table was named for a city that has special meaning to us. I purchased vintage postcards for each table to coincide with these various locations and our Florist spread those and vintage pottery & books and lovebird “kissing bells” (an American tradition) for table decorations. We used a vintage globe as a guest book and asked each person to sign on their favorite place and leave a lovebird message on our little message tree/seating chart. We used a vintage train case I got from ebay for our cards and used our old passports as decorations amongst some old hats and gloves. There were several silly handmade signs on chalkboards throughout the place along with some ridiculous signature cocktail signs – 4 different cocktails, each in honour of our unique and talented kids. I fear the general theme was in fact drinking! Ha ha! I should note we had the most talented Snowdonia String Quartet, from the ceremony through the wedding breakfast, who played a great mix of rock, pop and classic tunes. We cannot recommend them enough. From a classic – Pachelbel – Canon in D Major walking down the aisle to our first signing piece, the Fawlty Towers Theme, followed by Journey’s – Don’t Stop Believing, which found our youngest son TJ dancing in the aisle while one of our guests Greg, in braces and black on black Converse high tops, air drummed with reckless abandon. Some people were lucky enough to catch a nap wherever they could, while the rest of us were running around making sure people were tended to – time flew by quickly. There were several costume changes including each one of our male wedding party being given an under armour super hero t-shirt for the evening festivities. The evening festivities started around 7:30 PM, at one point the groom was lost but found interestingly enough engaged in deep conversation with a pint of Peroni in hand. We had an evening buffet of American BBQ inspired hot dogs and hamburgers along with an amazing dessert table both Welsh and American (apple pies & chocolate chip cookies). We all danced the night away to DJ Jason of Disco Shed, we had a blast and I do believe my father, Captain Bob was on the floor for most every song delicately balancing his glass of wine while busting some moves. Wayne and I escaped when no one was looking – as you do when you are a Davies and we left the caretaking of the animals to our amazing Maid of Honour Deb who had all of the kids and the 10 friends they brought with them in her room until 4:00 AM, including a midnight raid on the kitchen! Sunday morning the shenanigans continued with our “Onesie Breakfast” every guest was required to show up for a 9:00 AM breakfast in pyjamas or their favourite “jim jams” — Everyone participated except for two. We had so much fun and it was surprising that several turned up in lots of Doctor Who themed pjs and the same dog-onesie, it was like finding a new born litter of hung over puppies under your porch. All in all – we had an amazing time, and I cannot believe how many people complimented us on assembling a great group of people and giving them a great weekend. I truly believe the gift was ours and in that spirit we asked for no gifts only donations to Kiva and to the group that rescued our beloved puppy Bowie in Dubai.
What was your favourite part of your wedding? Everyone probably says “the whole thing” but I think in our case this is really true. Honestly the best part of our wedding was seeing so many people from different backgrounds and stages of our respective adult lives come together and have such a fabulous time. It was relaxed and there was no stress about anything. Wayne is Welsh and I am American. We met working for the same American company but living in different countries many years ago, so of our family members only our adult kids really knew all of the family members. Our parents’ just met at the wedding and though we have several mutual work friends many have not met each other because of all our travels. We had people from all over the world join us, but only those who have been supportive through the last couple years. Our wedding was this incredible celebration of love and friendship and it has been this sort of living, breathing event that ties people together. We only had a few people stay at the overflow hotel down the street so it really turned out to be this amazing weekend house party in a fairytale castle. Even now we see that most of our guests are all friends on facebook and stay in touch. It was wonderful seeing people from Newport dancing with people from Iowa … people from Utah drinking cocktails with people from London. We were very selective on whom we invited – only close, supportive family members or people that were fun and important to us. This helped to ensure that the overall vibe at the wedding weekend was really special and so many laughs from start to finish.
Tell us about your Wedding Dress I originally selected a hand made short dress from an Etsy Designer – Ami by ktjean
It was made with champagne stretch lace and an ivory slip. It was absolutely beautiful but my husband to be insisted that I should have a long white dress since I never had that experience. I decided to wear this dress for the evening events after the ceremony, it was a great dancing dress. Reluctant at first because of the cost and my age (44) the girlie part of me won. I love the clothing from the Edwardian period to the 1940s, in fact I had done some WWII reenactment events prior to moving to Dubai in 2012, so, I knew the dress (and the wedding) must have a vintage flair and preferably with a twist. I did a lot of research on Temperley based on seeing the dress Alice Temperley wore for her wedding – I fell madly in love with the Elisha gown (but not the price tag), so I had this brilliant idea I would try and find a vintage dress and have it altered or try and find a previously worn Temperley design. Living in Dubai at the time, I searched high and low for the real Elisha dress in hopes of seeing it. No luck. I became a little obsessed with seeing the dress… I finally found one Westport, CT after we moved there from Dubai in September 2013. It was stunning but again the price tag scared me to pieces. I had no luck finding anything that came close to what I envisioned and then boom… Wayne’s job moved us to Atlanta, GA! (via 3 months in Connecticut)! I started all over again; however, I found a Wedding Dress Angel in Susan at Kelly’s Closet. They had an Elisha sample and with only a very little amount of drama over a Claire Pettibone alternative, which I will spare you – the Elisha was mine! As for alterations there were a few — Temperley dresses are made for VERY TALL women and I am not one of those, so due to the amazing lace and scallops at the bottom of the dress Kelly’s amazing seamstress Pat had some very big challenges with the hem. It turned out beautifully all the lace detail in tact. AND because I have some tattoos and puritanical American parents who would be mortified if they were seen on this blessed occasion the seamstress was able to create the most amazing 3/4 sleeves of French Chantilly Ivory lace, sewing them underneath the Temperley’s original capped sleeves which gave the dress an Edwardian look. Oddly enough we had no idea how to create sleeves at the first fitting I noticed an ivory lace bolero made by Lea Ann Belter hanging near us – I tried to explain the idea I had for sleeves and what I wanted to achieve using the Bolero as an example — then another sales girl at Kelly’s suggest calling the designer to see if she would sell us enough of the lace material for the seamstress to make them. Voila! By the next fitting, not only was the hem just about there but Pat the wonder seamstress had made the sleeves, which was a total shock, and they were perfect. Overall, my dress experience was made effortless by the amazing girls at Kelly’s Closet and all of them pitching in. They even helped me select the perfect veil from “Bliss Angel” in Ivory by Cheryl King which framed/highlighted the lace detail on the back of the wedding dress and they helped me find the perfect sash (Kendra by Modern Trousseau) to go with the ktjean Ami evening dress.
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why? Our kids took those roles – Wayne’s son Liam was the best man and my 2 sons, Tyler & TJ, met my dad at the foot of the aisle and walked me down. Wayne’s daughter Chloe and my son’s girlfriend Ali were my bridesmaids. My maid of honour was our dear friend Debbie and she has been through thick and thin with both of us from the moment we got together — she held us all together, made sure our adult children survived the weekend, and had every detail accounted for from the hen night on Friday to helping me get all the stuff back home to the US 3 days later. A special highlight was her storming into our room Saturday morning with tea and toast yelping “Wake up bitches, we are getting married”
Why did you choose your venue? Chateau Rhiafa is a very special place, as is the Isle of Anglesey – We’ve never seen any place quite like it. We got a good price for an amazing venue in a unique location – The service from the hotel team (Big shout out to Martin, the Chateau manager who managed every aspect of the wedding personally and with such care and attention to detail) was impeccable and made the whole weekend so special. Everything we asked for was accommodated, especially some of the American details. We had never seen the venue in person when we booked it. We took a chance and were fully committed. The first time we saw it was when stayed at the Chateau on New Years’ Eve – we weren’t disappointed! By coincidence, the couple who had got married in the video that we had watched months before in Dubai were there having dinner that night – I had to say hi and thank them for unwittingly bringing us to the Chateau!
How did the proposal happen? We were in Dubai one Saturday evening, having enjoyed a few cocktails to round off the weekend – Sunday is a work day in the Middle East. We both went through quite a lot to get together and there was always an inevitability to our marriage, though we didn’t really talk about it – we both just knew and felt it. We were messing around looking at random youtube videos and stumbled across a video of a wedding at Chateau Rhianfa in Anglesey – it was stunning, small enough to retain intimacy, yet completely unique. Wayne jokingly said that he would book the place – he came home the next evening grinning and as he sucks at secrets, he showed me the printed booking confirmation and I squealed!
As the wedding approached, there was still no proposal and still no ring. We had everything booked, but no engagement ring! We sat in our kitchen in Atlanta (which is our hangout place in every house) playing music on Spotify – Wayne refers to me as a music Nazi as I tend to dominate music selection. He called me over and glanced at my laptop – sitting on the keyboard was a beautiful engagement ring. He had placed it there 30 minutes before, and got tired of waiting for me to see it. He smiled and as he was about to finally pop the question, Bo, our spastic, bow-legged rescue dog from Dubai began to bark at the top of his voice – I think Wayne asked me to be his wife and make him the happiest man on earth – but I’m not really sure as I didn’t hear a single word that he said.
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share? A couple…Do as much as you can to make it personal.
I made memory charms for my bouquet and my Maid of Honour… On mine I had 2 one for my brother who died in a motorcycle accident when I was 13 and the other for my step-mother who recently died of cancer. The third I made was a picture of my Maid of Honour, Deb’s fiancé Frank who just died after a horrific motorcycle accident and a lengthy coma — I thought this small gesture would just bring her comfort and the feeling that he was close by, on what I thought might be a tough day to get through. In fact, this turned out to be one of the most lasting memories of the day for me as Paul (part of the amazing Paul and Kel photography team) was nearby when I handed her the bouquet and we both burst into tears and had to re-do our makeup. Several people commented on hers. Never underestimate the small gestures you make on behalf of people who give up a lot and invest some serious cash to be part of your destination wedding. Our guests know how much we love animals so instead of leaving favours at their place settings, we left notecards telling them we were making a donation on their behalf, and in honour of our rescue dog — with an amazing photo Steve Davies (Wayne’s cousin) took of our dear sweet Bowie. Wayne chose a Navy Blue Hugo Boss suit for the wedding. We got this and one for Liam, his son whilst in the UK. We figured that we would simply have Tyler & TJ (my sons) get the same suits in Chicago and NYC. Bad move! Tyler and TJ’s suits whilst Navy and the same style name, were a different colour to Wayne & Liam’s – this may not sound like a big deal, but this caused my one and only pre-wedding meltdown (in the middle of a waxing no less)! If you want matching outfits, ensure you buy them together, from the same place!
What was your first dance & why? Come What May by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor – we both like musical scores and the lyrics to that particular song touch us both.
“Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place
Suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace”
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently? Spend more time together. The entire weekend went by in a flash and when we left, we were shocked that we literally saw nothing of one another all weekend. We were so busy taking care of everybody that at most times, we were in separate parts of the hotel. We cannot believe how quickly the weekend passed by. With hindsight, we would have been mindful of this and built in some downtime together.
Do you have any advice for future couples? 1. Don’t skimp on the photographer – make sure they understand the style of wedding you want and how you want your photos captured. Talk to them regularly and share the details of your planning. Especially for us with a destination and cross-cultural wedding, I had a secret Pinterest board that all the wedding vendors were on and we found a way to Skype and meet with our photographers a few times in advance. We had Skype sessions and face to face meetings with Paul and Kel – By the time of the wedding, these two felt like the closest of friends and that came through in the photographs and they way in which they effortlessly moved around the wedding. We loved the fact that they even agreed to participate as guests during the wedding breakfast – it really put us at ease because we view them as friends.
2. Pace yourselves if you plan a full weekend of partying – we were exhausted by the end of our wedding weekend – partying hard, little sleep and running around taking care of people. We had a kick ass Maid of Honour who made it all possible but boy did we need stamina!
3. Be clear on roles that you want people to play.
4. Most importantly = relax and have fun, nothing in life goes to plan so treat your wedding & life like it is a magical adventure you get to go on together! And savour every single moment because it will be over before you know it.
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received? Get a room! (Wayne’s mom).
Seriously though…. Be patient and forgiving … nobody is perfect and don’t sweat the small stuff … talk and don’t let issues become unresolved or not discussed. We have become the very best of friends based on the most amazing trust placed in one another.
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding? Making it our own and reflecting us both so completely in the details (From the limerick Wayne wrote in the invitations to the mandatory Onesie breakfast on Sunday). We were lucky to have a healthy budget but we knew in our hearts this would be the only time all these people would be together in this one place. It had to be a real combination of what we both wanted. It was fun for me to learn about the different wedding traditions in Wales and combine those with the US. It was also fun trying to explain these to the American guests. By the way I still never understood if I was supposed to carry that wishbone thing down the aisle with me. I really enjoyed creating and customizing our wedding website since it was critical to have one central location for all the info. Especially because it was a full weekend event requiring all guests to travel. I received many compliments on it and think it was one of the best uses of my time in planning. I am keeping it going as we are planning a reunion/themed anniversary party next year!
Lastly I cannot say how much fun it was to work with Paul & Kel of Paul Joseph Photography – they worked their backsides off and were therapists and wedding planners as well. I was also blessed to find the most creative graphic artist, Christi Marie Creative, who tailor made our invitations and stationery right down to the coolest coasters that doubled as table seating cards with a handy Welsh – American translation on the back (“The Bride Says” vs. “The Groom Says”). We also lucked out with the most incredible hairstylist – Julia Nicholls Creative Hair, who was really amazing at working in that 1940s Victory roll. Our outstanding Florist in Helen of Bluebells-Clychaur Gog Floral Design who totally captured the vintage/travel theme and made sure I worried about nothing. She handled all the ceremony flowers, wedding breakfast tables, wreaths & venue flowers and the evening dessert table. Jane of Jane Rose Cakes was right there alongside with the wedding cake and the desserts — she made the most detailed and elegant sugar flowers which matched the bouquet and my questionable overuse and obsession with lavender – ha ha!
Wow! This sounds like an epic fun weekend! I love it when two cultures come together like this, American and Welsh traditions worked so well together here. Thank you Heidi & Wayne for sharing your beautiful day (weekend!) with us.