How to chose your guest list

Hi Cwtchers, Today we are broaching the sensitive subject of the guest list.  Unless you  have a secret money tree growing in your back garden we would place bets that the guest list is proving to be one of the biggest challenges of your big day.Its the delicate balance between budget and friends and family’s emotions and feelings. 

Over on our Facebook page we asked our readers (most of which are either planning or have planned their own wedding) to share any tips on how to keep control of numbers and stay on budget?rosedew-71

Photography by Victoria Tyrrell

 ‘Invite who you want to be there and people who you keep in touch with! If you haven’t seen/spoken to them in a year, don’t invite them. It’s your wedding day, invite who YOU want, not who others want! Xxx’ Katie Russell

 ‘We picked a number and have stuck to it 90 is our magic number!!’ Portia Sheppard

AndreaEllisonSarah&MattHewittManorbier (73 of 100)
Photography by Andrea Ellison

 ‘We fixed the guest list first then worked out our venue and everything else from that. The perfect venue for us is wherever our friends and family are.’  Nicola Tudor

‘We had a lot as there were lots of current and past friends we wanted to invite and many of them have kids too. we still forgot some! the main cost with larger numbers is food, & our budget was low, so we went for a brilliant suggestion we were given of asking for buffet dishes instead of presents (didn’t want any more stuff!) and everyone bought quiches & salads etc and it was yummy xx’ Vashti Zarach

Photography by Martin Phillips

‘ We were the same as Katie. If we hadn’t seen them in a year then they weren’t invited. A bit ruthless but instead of extended family we didn’t really care for being there we had 44 of our closest family and friends. To save politics we did invite other family and friends to the evening and it didn’t cause any fights’  Charlene McNabb

I’m on this task now! The venue can help set a ‘target’ number but I think its important to have people there who you both know and who mean something to you as individuals. People who are your past, present and future ‘partners in crime!’. Having room for more guests in the evening helps to include all the people who you would like to share the day with and say thank you to for being there along the way (my fiancé and I have been together quite a while!)‘ Sally Hart

‘ I invited 30/30/30 split of my immediate family, hubbie to be & close family friends, the rest came to the party in the evening it kept costs down & many understood it’s down to money’ Sarah Brennan

 Photography by Maria Farrelly

‘Ask family early on for who they think should be included and clear up issues with them early – we’re currently fielding questions about why so and so is only invited for the evening and why can this cousin only bring their girlfriend in the evening. (It’s cos we’re not close to so and so and have never met this cousins girlfriend!). Give people the opportunity to raise their thoughts early on – because even if it’s never invited, the comments will come!

Generally, set rules and stick to them – e.g. only people we’ve actually met!

If you can strike them off the list and not feel regret, they probably don’t need to be there!’ Sarah Coxhead 

Marc Smith Fairytale Swansea Gower Wedding _081
Photography by Marc Smith

‘If numbers are tight then adults only, also don’t be under pressure to invite everyone just because you ‘should’ There’s always the evening party instead to catch up with distant relatives and friends.’ The Bloom Studio

‘We had a rule that both of us had to have met everyone who was coming’ Lindsey Harrison

DIY Tutorial: Naked Wedding Cake!

We absolutely love cake here at Cwtch the Bride, well who doesn’t?! This week our home-made bride Kate is sharing with us her super money saving DIY naked cake! All images are by Maria Farrelly.


This has been my most exciting money saving tip to share with all of you. This cake cost me less than £15! Not only does it help with your wedding but it will definitely impress your friends at a party! The thing I like the most is it so super easy! You don’t even have to bake your own cakes. Obviously it will be better if you do but if time is not on your side or you are the worst baker in the world no one would ever know. 

You will need:

  • Victoria Sponge Cake. I bought two different sizes but you can definitely buy or make three if you want to.
  • Fruit to decorate
  • Icing sugar
  • Gypsophila (used for decorative purposes only and not to be eaten)
  • Cake stand
  • Scissors
  • Wooden kebab skewers (not to be eaten!)
  • Sieve

Step 1 Open the packets or bake your own delicious cake and no matter how tempted you are DO NOT eat the cake straight away! 
DIY_Naked_wedding_cake002 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake003 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake004Step 2 Place them on your cake stand with the biggest on the bottom and the smaller one on the top. 
DIY_Naked_wedding_cake005Step 3 Measure the skewers and cut them just shorter than the top of the cake. I used four but you can use more. Also the bigger the cake, the more I would use. 
DIY_Naked_wedding_cake006Step 4 Push them into the bigger cake and push the smaller cake on top
DIY_Naked_wedding_cake007 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake008Step 5 Using the fruit start decorating the cake. Be careful not to move it as like me you might need to start again. 

DIY_Naked_wedding_cake009 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake010 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake011 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake012 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake013 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake014 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake015Step 6 Start adding the Gypsophila by breaking little bits off at a time. And spreading it out between the fruit

DIY_Naked_wedding_cake018 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake019 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake020DIY_Naked_wedding_cake022 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake023Step 7 Put a little bit of icing sugar in the sieve and dust it over the whole cake. 

DIY_Naked_wedding_cake024 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake025See there you have it. I am pretty proud of how easy it was. Definitely a show stopper and a cheaper alternative if you are on a really tight budget!

DIY_Naked_wedding_cake027 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake029 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake032 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake034 DIY_Naked_wedding_cake036

Thanks Kate! Do any of you budget savvy brides have any amazing money saving tips for our readers? Please drop us a line in the comments box below :)

Kate – The Homemade Bride

Today, we’re very excited to introduce you to our newest member of the team, Our Homemade Bride: Kate Petersen.  This lady is not only getting married in December but is highly regarded within the Welsh wedding industry and amongst many brides. She is a lady of many talents (as you will soon discover) and highly sought after for her bridal hair and makeup.

We are so pleased that Kate has joined our team. She has already contributed to our blog with some fabulous DIY hair ideas & wedding favour projects. You are going to LOVE what she will be sharing with us over the coming months. So without further a do, take it away Kate…

Kate Petersen

Image: © Maria Farrelly Photography

Hi I’m Kate and if you don’t know me I do bridal hair and make up. I love weddings. My life revolves around weddings. I have loved weddings all my life. I honestly was one of those kids who dressed up all the time and the only thing I ever wanted to be was a bride. Now I get to dress up and be a real bride, I’m so excited.


Homemade Bride

Homemade Bride


Homemade Bride

Homemade Bride

If you had said to me that I would meet the love of my life online I would have eaten my hat. Fast forward three years and here I am and in 338 days I will marry the most amazing man in the world. I don’t know whether any of you have felt the same way but I have become a bit of an emotional wreck since getting engaged. You don’t want to wish your life away but I just can’t wait for December. I can’t wait so much so that if I hear a certain song or watch a bridal program I become a blubbering mess.

I love vintage and quirky. I’m pretty sure no one has ever called me “normal”. So how do you plan a wedding that you want to be lovely without having seen it a million times before? There is a fine line between being unique and quirky and turning our wedding into a crazy, circus freak show. This is where my sister and my man have helped reign my imagination in.

I’m getting married 5 days before Christmas so we are hoping to have a country winter feel. I am all about the budget. I’m in control of that but how do you make you wedding “your own” without spending a fortune. I love baking, making and crafting. I will turn my hand to pretty much anything. The other thing that I love is a bargain. There is nothing better than surprising people with how much you didn’t spend! There is one thing I am not very good at. It’s my time management. I’m rubbish at it. My man is a project manager so our wedding and myself are getting project managed by him. We have spreadsheets, lists, dates and cost sheets that are constantly being updated.

I am going to pass on all my money saving tips to you. I’m going to be showing you some great DIY ideas and if there is anything you are wanting help with feel free to let me know. I’m going to be sharing my wedding planning ups, downs and no doubt I will have one or two “bridezilla” moments.

Much love and cwtches

Hello, Goodbye!

Here at Cwtch we know that once you’ve planned your wedding and finally said “I do” that it’s nice to carry on the magic for a while and share your experiences with all the lucky people who are still planning their walk down the aisle! :)

It’s time to say goodbye to our “DIY Budget Bride” Sarah…

Sadly, some good things do come to an end, and our Budget DIY bride is moving on! She’s been here from the start of Cwtch way back in 2013, after getting married in September 2012. Here’s a few of her favourite posts from the blog, in case you’re new here or just fancy a catch up! :)


Image: © Maria Farrelly Photography 

& say hello to our new “Homemade Bride”, Kate! :)

It’s not all sad news though – we’ve got a new bride-to-be joining the team! It’s none other than Kate Petersen, aka the “Homemade Bride”! :) Kate is getting married in December, and will be blogging all her makes and ideas along the way. Welcome to the team, Kate! :)

Kate PetersenImage: © Maria Farrelly Photography

PS. Thinking she looks familiar? Kate is not only one of our blog sponsors, she’s also been on the blog a few times already, offering hair tutorials and more! :)

Kate’s first post is coming up at lunchtime today :)


Team Cwtch


A Guide to Buying a Vintage or Secondhand Wedding Dress


Vintage bride Sophie is here with a guide to buying a vintage or secondhand wedding dress. If you’re looking to save money or just really love that vintage feel then read on! :)




Hi Cwtchers and a very merry Christmas to you too!

We’re feeling very Christmassy here at Cwtch HQ. I’m feeling particularly nostalgic and have been crafting and baking my heart out. There is no time of year I prefer more than the lead up to Christmas for sitting down with a hot toddy, sourcing vintage finds and I’ve been super busy putting together my guide to buying a vintage wedding dress as a Christmas present to you.

Buying any wedding dress can be a very daunting prospect. There are so many styles out there so it really helps to narrow down your search early on. As with any age of dress, new or old, it always helps to know which style suits your figure.

I would recommend trying on as many styles of dress as possible (dare I say it, even before he pops the question!) When you have your styles nailed you need to pin down the era of dress you are looking for. You can use my previous posts for inspiration and I have a catalogue of images available in my Pinterest boards for you to peruse if you are still undecided.

Choosing and locating your dream vintage dress is no mean feat. When, and if, you find your dream gown (in your size of course), you should be very proud indeed. It is unfortunate to say but I will be upfront; vintage wedding dresses are a lot harder to source in larger sizes. I say ‘larger’ in the old fashioned sense. Being a modern size 12, I struggled, and failed.

You will find that most vintage dresses are modern sizes 6, 8 and, at a push, 10. I would suggest buying and viewing dresses 1-2 dress sizes larger than the size you are as dress sizes were smaller back in the day and you can always have a dress taken in if need be. But do not be defeated, those larger sizes are out there. You may need to be a little less picky but if you have the time and patience, it really is possible to find it.

I will begin by giving you my round up of generic sites, so get them saved to ‘Favourites’ and schedule in an hour each day to review the latest picks. You need grit, time and determination to go vintage. You also need to be prepared for heartache (as I will cover later on). So if you are up for the challenge, let’s get searching…



The old favourite for second hand bargains. Dresses are usually sold privately on this mammoth online auction site so expect to see everything from 80s meringues to Grandma’s beautiful lace. Dresses can be shipped from all over the globe so the world really is your oyster!

Of course, unless the dress is local to you, it will not be possible to try before you buy so you do run a risk of it not fitting. Get Mum or your bridesmaids to take your measurements and if you are unsure, buy larger than you think you need. Vintage wedding dresses sell well so if you do buy something that you deem a mistake, you could relist it and sell it on yourself.

With any auction, there is the possibility that you will encounter your share of heartbreak. This happened to me. At 2am, I sat blurry-eyed, glued to the laptop, not anticipating the late night bidding war which was about to commence. The dress I had seen was in the US and I decided that I would not pay more than £450 for it. It was an original 50s number, white and adorned with exquisite black flocking around the hemline.

It was so unique and so, so beautiful. The price rose and exceeded my budget. I put in a higher bid anyway and with 3 seconds to go, I lost it by a mere £40. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried, a lot. So my advice to you is that if you do find the dress of your dreams, don’t just ‘budget’, really decide what the dress is worth to you emotionally. In hindsight, I would have paid much more and actually ended up paying a lot more for the dress I wore. Choking up, let’s move on…


Known for its handmade treasures (perfect for unique favours and accessories), Etsy also has a vintage section – the site brings together individual sellers in an online ‘marketplace’ and there are shops on there who sell the most gorgeous vintage wedding dresses at very reasonable prices!

With no bidding, the transactional process is very straightforward: simply buy from the seller and have the dress shipped. The bonus of Etsy is that you are buying from a shop. This means you can send sellers a message before buying, asking questions, negotiating returns if it isn’t right and even making an offer. Etsy is very addictive and is a truly incredible source for unique buys for all areas of your wedding so you’d better set some time aside before popping on to this one!


Yes, you heard right! Oxfam have rightly cottoned on to the huge demand for vintage and preloved wedding dresses and now have a specific area dedicated to them on their website. They also have dedicated areas in selected shops (although unfortunately not in Wales: maybe we can change that!) which gives you the huge advantage of being able to try dresses on.

Again, prices are reasonable and it’s a fantastic bonus knowing that the money you spend on your dress is going to a good cause. I’ve been to the Leicester store a number of times and I did experience a lot of puffballs but that’s not to say that that dream dress isn’t lurking somewhere. Who knows what will be donated tomorrow so it is always worth a look!


A great little site for, well, preloved anything really! The quickest and easiest way to locate what you are looking for is the search engine. It is a favourite with bridal boutiques who use the free-of-charge site to advertise their sample gowns too so let your bride-to-be pals know as it’s a great all-rounder.

You can find dresses in your area and contact the seller to arrange a viewing time. It’s a personal site so you will interact with the seller. The potential is that you could really find out the story behind the dress. I love a dress with a story and imagine if the seller has photos!


A bit of a long shot but miracles do happen! This is another free ad site which covers the whole of the UK. You can search by area so again, you stand a chance of finding a dress which is local to you. The whole transaction will be direct with the seller and most are paid via cash on collection, also giving you the opportunity to try before you buy!

& The Rest

Over the years, and especially in the lead up to my own wedding, I’ve put together my own little directory of bridal shops around the UK who stock and specialise in vintage wedding dresses. Some are a little further afield so may mean a weekend away but what is the harm in that?! Grab those bridesmaids and follow that star (or the shop front of choice)! :)

My Top Secret List of Stockists (shhhh)…

  • Emily Rose Vintage – This little Welsh gem is tucked away in Griffithstown, just a few miles from Newport. Not only do they have vintage gowns but you can also have a bespoke vintage style dress made! With vintage styling and bridesmaids dresses covered too, what’s not to love about it!\
  •  Charlie Brear – Flagship store in London. Prices from £1200

And that wraps up my most epic of posts to date! For those who have found or are looking for your dream vintage wedding dress, please get in touch. I will be posting a ‘Vintage Pick of the Week’ on a brand new Pinterest board especially for you lovely lot so if you are looking for anything in particular, comment below and I will do my best to find it!

I wish you all a very merry everything and a happy always,


Sophie x