When we decided our new midweek feature was going to be all about wedding memories I got a bit panicked because I knew it would soon be my turn to share mine. The problem with that is that my memories from my wedding day are all a bit hazy, and for once not through drink!
You know those cheesy TV programmes that use the wavy clouds around the edges just before going in to a dream sequence? That’s kind of how my wedding looks when I try and remember it, I know everyone says it but the day really does go by so quickly. The part of the day that I remember best was getting ready with my girls in the morning, I was very relaxed and had a brilliant morning (unlike poor Mark who got stuck in the barbers and ended up having to rush around!).
But when I think of my favourite part of the day it’s not so much one specific moment it’s more a series of moments all linked by a warm fuzzy feeling. The best parts of the day were all the cwtches, all the love, all the smiles on people’s faces and most of all taking a few moments alone with my new husband and saying “we did it”. It’s hard to put this into words without being ridiculously mushy so I will share with you some of my favourite photos by our amazing photographer Maria Farrelly, honestly I look at our photos all the time even nearly two years later. I can’t recommend her highly enough.
We have a wonderful relaxed Cardiff Castle wedding for you today with amazing photographs by Sacha Miller. Lee & Julian threw away the rule book and (in their words) followed their own path, the result was a relaxed and happy day which I think you’ll agree looks amazing!
What was your budget? We never really set a budget, but from the start decided to try and keep things relatively small and simple, but not skimp on the things that were important to us, like ceremony location, photos and food. We kept track of every bit of spending, and it ended up at £9,500. More than we’d anticipated, but looking back, it was worth every penny!
How would you describe your wedding theme? We didn’t have one, and never even thought about a theme. The Hotel did ask us to choose a colour for chair sashes, and not having any colours in mind, we chose olive green just to match the reception room curtains! Luckily, it was a colour we really liked, so we then bought ties and pocket squares to match.
What was your favourite part of your wedding? One of our favourite moments was when we arrived at the Guest Tower Rooms at Cardiff Castle, and saw our family and friends waiting there for us. Everyone had a glass of bubbles, were all dressed up smarter than we’d seen most of them before, and with beaming smiles. It was at this point that the day became very special.
Tell us about your Wedding Outfit We both decided early on, not to go with a dress as neither of us could fill one out up top! We quickly settled on matching dark blue 3 piece suits, and ended up choosing T.M.Lewin who tailored them for us. Luckily, they went with the reception room curtains.
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why? The distinct lack of a bride meant that no maids were required, but we wanted to make Julian’s nieces, Delphina and Pearl, feel more involved in the day, as they were so excited about it all when we said we were getting married. We asked them to be our ring bearers, which they did amazingly.
We asked our very good friends Wayne & Lee to be Ushers for us, and they did an amazing job of handling things when we weren’t there, which allowed us to relax knowing our guests were being looked after.
Why did you choose your venue? I (Lee) grew up just outside Cardiff, and lived there for 18 years. We spent our first few years together there too before we moved to London. I always wanted a nice venue to get married in, and I think that Cardiff Castle always featured in my mind. We went to look at it, and both thought it was perfect for our small wedding (30 guests). We also arranged for our quests to have a tour of the castle before the wedding, as most people were not from Wales, which went down well.
How did the proposal happen? It was a month before same sex marriage became legal in the UK, and we were on the way home to London from a lovely weekend we’d spent visiting friends in Belgium. Julian had always said that I had to be the one to propose, as I’m the older one! I’m not sure if I proposed in France or England as we were somewhere in the Channel Tunnel at the time. Not the most romantic of places I know, and it wasn’t something I’d planned or even thought about until it was pretty much coming out of my mouth. We were talking about how great the weekend had been, and I just asked him. The rest is history.
What was your first dance & why? We didn’t have an evening function, but this is not a tradition we would have followed anyway.
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently? I wish we’d provided some finger food either just before or after the ceremony. We were told by a number of people that we’d provided more than enough alcohol from the start at 10:30am, but some people were feeling hungry well before the wedding lunch was served at 2:30pm. Everything else was just perfect.
Do you have any advice for future couples? Heterosexual couples seem to have the wedding thing all sorted out, and tend to follow a traditional format with most things centred on the bride. I’m finding that gay couples are making their own rules on the format of their weddings, and some people seem quite shocked that “You’re not having a cake?!” for example. I think our advice would be to follow your own path, and do whatever you want to make your day special for you. We did, and it was an amazing and relaxing day. A lot of people (even castle staff) commented on how laid back and enjoyable it was. Oh, and it whizzes by so quickly. Soak it all up!
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received? To take time out together throughout the day. The day goes by so quickly, and you’ll both be trying to get around and spend time with all of your guests.
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding? It was a really special moment when our rings arrived, as we’d never seen them other than in a picture. They had been made to order in America, out of a meteorite. It does feel good when it’s all done and arranged, and you can just sit back and look forward with excitement to the big day.
Our classic bride Charlie is here today to finally reveal what we’ve all been waiting for: the wedding photos! :D
The night before the wedding me, my mum, Mark and his best man Wayne stayed in the Cardiff Hilton: a great way to begin the wedding celebrations! We had access to the executive lounge and enjoyed a few relaxing free drinks after the stress of packing everything up! We met with my auntie who had come all the way from Australia and had a meal and then I tried to get an early night and some sleep.
Mum and I were staying in the Presidential Suite which was an amazing room for getting ready, loads of natural light for applying make-up (and for photographs!) and plenty of room for us and the bridesmaids and the many visitors I had that morning. This dual hair and make-up station was the real selling point for me!
I was really expecting to be either super nervous or super excited on the wedding morning but I woke up feeling really calm and just… happy. I think I surprised everyone with how calm I was – including myself! It wasn’t until I got to the venue that the nerves REALLY kicked in.
My hair was done by the amazing and lovely Kellie Henderson, I was so pleased with it and she was so relaxed despite being a guest at another wedding later on that day!
If you read my make-up lesson post you will know that I had decided to do my own make-up. I questioned my decision at many points leading up to the day but thankfully on the day everything went right and I was glad I’d stuck to my guns. Getting ready with all my girls with me was one of my favourite parts of the day, not least because this was before my nerves kicked in (and before the rain started)!
Mark got ready in a suite downstairs with Wayne and one of our ushers- my brother Tom. This meant Maria could run up and down in the lift to get shots of us both getting ready. I thought they looked really dapper with their different coloured braces, and being a huge Doctor Who fan Mark just HAD to wear a bow tie!
We decided to get married in Cardiff Castle, mainly because I wanted a venue that was a little different from the norm. (I wrote a whole post on how we chose our wedding venue if you missed it!) The castle staff were great on the day, Alice and Jodeyne were particularly helpful and couldn’t do enough for us, they even met us outside with umbrellas and got wet themselves!
We (well me in particular) were gutted on the day that we couldn’t go outside and get our guest shots in the stunning castle grounds, but if you are going to get stuck indoors – get stuck indoors somewhere as beautiful as a castle! Maria did persuade us to pop outside with our umbrella later on, I was a bit nervous with my white dress and freshly dyed red hair (!) but it was totally worth it for the gorgeous pictures we got. Some advice: have a wet weather plan, but if it rains embrace it and make it a part of your day.
We didn’t really have a theme; because the venue was so grand we tried to keep everything else as relaxed and fun as possible. We DIY’ed as much as we could, including our invitations (you can see my post on this here), bridal party gifts (for Mark’s post on this click here), orders of service, table plan, menu cards, table names, a birdcage to hold our cards, badge favours for the guests and the backing cards for our charity pin badges… I even made our page boy’s tie!
Our table plan was an A1 board from Hobbycraft that we covered in sheet music from one of our favourite piano pieces, I Giorni by Ludovico Einaudi, which we then aged with coffee. This was a labour of love, especially when the first lot dried all wrinkly! Our tables were named after years during our lifetime, we had photos of us from those years as our table names and we decided for the table plan we would find 7” vinyls from the corresponding years to be the “tables”. Not as easy as it sounds when you are looking for vinyls from 2003; 1983 was MUCH easier! We think it worked though.
As an ice breaker I made a personalised badge for every guest with either a nickname or an in-joke or a quip relating to them or their hobbies, (it was hard work thinking of something for every guest!) we placed them in a little bowl in the middle of each table and everyone had to try and figure out who each badge belonged to. I loved seeing people wearing their badges later on!
I will write more about our other DIY efforts, including our personalised orders of service, in future posts ☺
My bridesmaids were my two best friends, Tania and Rhiannon, and my new sister in law Sara. Rhiannon’s daughter Lily was our gorgeous flower girl and I think she stole the show! Mark’s best man was his best friend Wayne, and our brothers Tom and Paul were ushers. Our page boy was Paul’s son Ryan. When it came to deciding who to have in our bridal party we didn’t even need to think about it, we just naturally knew who we wanted.
I have so many favourite parts of the wedding day; despite my nerves at saying our vows in front of all of our nearest and dearest I really loved the ceremony and thought it went by way too fast even with our three readings. I also loved going off with Maria and Frank (Millar, our videographer) for our couple photos because it was so nice to be able to relax and spend half an hour (almost) alone with my new husband. (The catering staff even let us sneak through the kitchen so we could stay out of the rain (sshh!)).
I definitely recommend making the most of this time because the whole day is such a whirlwind and it is so nice to have a chance to reflect on the fact you JUST GOT MARRIED!
The one thing I had really been dreading (apart from walking, and possibly tripping, down the aisle!) was our first dance. I really didn’t relish the thought of being up there dancing with all eyes on us so we very nearly didn’t have one but in the end, in a fit of romanticism, we thought that perhaps we should.
We didn’t have a song until about two weeks before the wedding and then I heard a song on telly and thought “maybe”, played it on my phone and then Mark popped his head around the door and said “first dance?”, so that was it decided! We danced to “One and only” by Adele, I asked our DJ (my cousin in law) to play a shortened version but on the night he let the whole thing play, still not sure if I should forgive him!
I think the greatest success of the evening was our photobooth run by Maria. So many guests got up and made the most of it and we had so much fun. Mark even got to wear a fez!
My biggest piece of advice that I would give to other couples planning a wedding would be to relax and enjoy it, it is your day so don’t be pressured into feeling you must do this or do that. We planned our day exactly how we wanted it and it really paid off. Of course there are things I would have done differently but I will save that for another post!
Another piece of advice, which I feel really strongly about, is do invest in a good photographer. Maria captured our day so beautifully and I can’t stop looking at these incredible images, I really hope you enjoy looking at them too!
Photography was by Cwtch the Bride creator (and award winning!) Maria Farrelly. You can see all posts featuring her photography here.