Sara & Darren’s Elegant and Simplistic wedding at De Courceys Manor by Maria Farrelly

Sometimes the best weddings are the ones where you strip away all the fluff and you are left with two incredible people in love, their beautiful families, a great venue and fabulous photographs. I absolutely adored photographing Sara & Darren’s wedding on the 23rd May last year at De Courceys Manor, Cardiff ~ Maria.

All photographs by: Maria Farrelly Photography


What was your budget? 

We were fortunate enough to have some financial help from our parents and Darren sold his beloved car to pay for the final bits but our budget was around £15,000.

wedding388How would you describe your wedding theme?

We didn’t really have a theme, everything was very simple. We figured that we didn’t want to take away from the main point of what our wedding day was all about, to get married and share that with all our family and friends.

What was your favourite part of your wedding?

Our favourite part of the wedding was immediately after the ceremony. We had hired a car but as the ceremony and reception were both in DeCourceys we had no initial opportunity to spend anytime together immediately after the ceremony. However, we asked if it was possible to go for a little drive after the ceremony so, cocktails in hand, we got into our car and spend some time together being driven around. It was lovely to be able to have that time together after the ceremony, just taking stock of what we had done and just enjoying each others company before heading back to all our guests.wedding213 wedding217

Tell us about your Wedding Dress

I loved my wedding dress! I had been googling dresses for a while before actually going and trying any on. I had a pretty good idea of what I was after and the style I thought would suit me. i also wanted it to be a bit different to usual. I found Angela at Blue Bridal Wear and she designs dresses that were right up my street. My mum and I went to her studio in Rhiwbina. The whole experience was awesome, I had 3 fittings over the year, even if I did put weight on and the dress was having to be altered, Angela never let on and the fittings were a breeze. I couldn’t wait to put my dress on and I loved wearing it all day long.wedding001 wedding002 wedding071 wedding403

Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?

My bridesmaids were my beautiful friends who suffered me through university. We lived together for 5 years. Like many others, we don’t see each other as much as we d like now but it really was a no-brainer who i wanted to be my by my side on our big day!
My oldest friend Liz was a witness to our marriage. It was so lovely to have people who matter so much to us being involved along the way.wedding317 Darrens best man was Rob, we knew he would do an excellent job. He did an awesome best man speech including a lovely message from one of Darren’s oldest ex RAF friends in New Zealand.wedding036

Why did you choose your venue?

We loved Decourceys Manor. Primarily we wanted an exclusive venue, not one where there were lots of weddings at same time. We had been recommended De courceys Manor and so made an appointment to visit. Rachel was so friendly and accommodating and when it came closer to the date, Abigail and Lewis were incredible. So friendly, organised and professional, even setting Darrens OCD fears at bay!wedding244On the day, everything ran so smoothly, the venue is so lovely and set in beautiful grounds . the food at our reception was incredible and it was so lovely to be able to provide our guests with a menu choice. Awesome venue!wedding300 wedding207

Tell us about your photographer

Ah ! Maria Farrelly! We were so happy that Maria photographed our wedding! We visited Maria, again after recommendation, and loved everything about her. She is so friendly and bubbly and immediately set us at ease, her work was exactly what we loved. She captures what actually happens on the day not spending large amounts of time having posed photos. wedding066wedding169All our guests commented on how lovely she was during the whole day. She was with us as we got ready and still there late at night, I don’t know how she finds the energy. The photographs; they are incredible, we could not ask for more! wedding666How did the proposal happen? 

It was my 30th birthday. Darren had said he thought it would be a nice idea to climb Pen-y-Fan. We both love Pen y Fan, but it was the end of January and so I was fairly sceptical about how enjoyable the walk would be! Anyway, when we reached the summit, Darren proposed. He said he didn’t want to chose an engagement ring without me and therefore he proposed with a Haribo ring. Of course I said yes. However, the wind was howling and we were keen to get back to the car. On the walk back to the car, after the long walk I had started to feel a bit peckish so ended up eating the Haribo ring! Good job it was all a guise and Darren produced the actual engagement ring (that he’d bought after underhanded planning with my mother) prior to dinner in the Celtic Manor in the evening. It was such a special day.wedding524

Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?

Neither of us have an artistic bone in our bodies so we left everything to the professionals!!

What was your first dance & why?

We decided ( well I decided) that it would be good to learn a routine for our first dance. Initially we booked some group lessons but quickly decided that we were too left footed to be taught in the company of other people. Closer to the date we arranged some private lessons and our teacher taught us a (very) basic but lovely rumba routine to John Legend ” All of Me”. We felt the lyrics were beautiful and encompassed what we feel about each other.wedding493wedding510

In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?

No I don’t think so. I may have ensured I’d eaten more on the morning of the wedding (I should have listened to Maria on that one!!) but I don’t think we would have organised anything any differently if we had our time again.wedding022

Do you have any advice for future couples?

Our advice to future couples is advice that had been passed to us. Its very easy to get carried away and not spend anytime together during your wedding day. wedding034We made sure that we dedicated time within the day to step back and appreciate and enjoy everything. it can so easily pass you by. Also, it is so easy to pack your day full of lots of different things, we tried to keep things simple, spending time and money choosing the things that we held in greatest regard e.g. venue and our photographer. wedding190What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received?

We were told that compromise is key and to ensure you take time to tell each other you love each other. Also, that we are a team, and if you approach life working as a team, you won’t go far wrong!wedding382

What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?

We were so confident in everybody that was involved in the wedding that we knew things would go smoothly. We enjoyed choosing our food for our reception. We loved choosing our vows for our service and the music for during the ceremony.wedding124

The Suppliers

Photographer: Maria Farrelly
Wedding Planner: Abigail and Lewis at Decourceys Manor
Ceremony Venue: DeCourceys Manor
Reception Venue: DeCourceys Manor
Bride’s Dress: Blue Bridalwear
Bride’s Shoes: Rachel Simpson
Bride’s Headpiece: Blue Bridalwear
Groom’s Outfit: Hawkes Essentials,  Shoes: Jeffrey West
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Coast
Cake: Marks and Spencers
Flowers: Barkways, Cardiff
Hair and Make Up: Samantha Easey
Band: Jamie Mcguire
Stationery: Claire Broome
Any Reception Decor/Props:
Transport: Andrew Price Cars
Other: We had a toastmaster called Iwan Jones who ensured things ran smoothly and all guests were happy.
Finally, Glenda Clwyd played the harp during our ceremony, drinks reception and wedding breakfast. She plays so beautifully and we were so happy she played at our wedding.

The Wedding Album

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October Exclusive: Save £250* With Maria Farrelly Photography

Only one week to go before this fantastic offer ends! Limited availability now for 2016 so do get in touch ASAP! 

Maria Farrelly is one of Wales’ leading wedding photographers. She is also the creator of this damn fine blog, Cwtch The Bride.

stylish_marquee_wedding_092Every year, Maria takes on a limited number of weddings. They vary in size, style, location and budget. One common thread however is that each and every client adores her work.

What draws so many to Maria’s work is her ability to really capture the essence of a person and those special moments found in a smile, touch or kiss. Coupled with her friendly and easy going nature her clients are instantly relaxed in her company which gives her the ability to capture such natural images.

The True Value Of A Photograph

Not everybody understands the true value of a photograph. And thats fine. But for those that do, you’ll understand that the investment is well worth it.

Don’t just take our word for it though. Jade Beer, The editor of Brides Magazine has been commissioning Maria to photograph her own family over the years and wrote this fabulous piece about Maria in this months edition.


“Your wedding day is all about the two of you. Your photographs should to be a reflection of this and NOT a series of posed, uncomfortable memories”.

Maria Farrelly 



For Cwtch The Bride readers only, Maria is offering you a fabulous saving on remaining 2016/17 dates when booking her wedding Photography services this month.

When confirming your wedding photography booking with Maria this October you can choose ONE of the following:

  • A Pre-wedding Photo-shoot (worth £250)
  • A Photo-booth for your evening reception (worth £250)
  • £250 off Full day coverage

This offer is only available until 31st October 2015. (T&C’s Apply) stylish_marquee_wedding_108

Lets get together!

If you’d like to take advantage of this great offer, receive more information and to check if Maria is available for your big day, simply complete the form below:

[contact-form to=’’ subject=’Cwtch The Bride October Offer ‘][contact-field label=’Couple%26#039;s Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Wedding Date ‘ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Ceremony %26amp; Reception location’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’What do you like most about my Photography?’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’What sort of wedding are you planning? (Any details such as the style%26#x002c; theme%26#x002c; dress%26#x002c; indoor/outdoor etc…) ‘ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]


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 Its such an amazing offer, don’t miss out! Fill out the form above and lets hope Maria is available to photograph your wedding. xxx

A Vanity Affair: The finale by Maria Farrelly

Hurray, we’ve finally reached the last in this series of posts from our styled shoot: A Vanity Affair. Lets hand you over to the brains behind this, Maria Farrelly Photography for the final words…and images :) 


I’m hijacking this post to say a few words and to share my photographs taken that day.


It was important to me that this shoot related to our readers. I didn’t want to hire in models. I wanted to use ‘real women’ our actual readers.

Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly33This blog has grown because of women like these that read, share and interact with us. Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly49Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly66Collaborating with you lovely lot makes this job so much more fun too!

Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly60Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly52 Its also worth remembering that many of these ladies were nervous, VERY NERVOUS. They had no idea what we were going to do with their hair or make up and totally trusted us.

Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly53Hensol_Castle_maria_farrelly54The Shot

There was really only one image that I wanted to direct and capture. And that was My Vanity Affair. You can read all about the inspiration behind the shoot here.

Vanity AffairI was so pleased with how it all turned out and cannot wait to organise my next shoot in the New Year.


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Finally, If you run a welsh wedding business and would like to be involved on my next styled shoot, leave a comment underneath and I’ll be in touch.

Many thanks

Maria x


Styled Shoot: A Vanity Affair – Part One

You may remember back in July we ran a competition to find models for a top secret epic styled shoot we were planning. Well, today I’m revealing the inspiration behind The Vanity Affair shoot and the idea that started it all.


Back in the late 90’s, when I was coming to the end of my photography degree, I found myself sat across a table with my careers advisor. He asked me (in no uncertain terms) “What do you want to do with your life?”

Bold as brass, I told him I wanted to move to New York City and assist the celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. He looked at me for a few moments (I’m still not sure if he knew who she was or if he thought I was crazy) but either way, he smiled, pulled out his rolodex, made a few phone calls and scribbled something down on paper. I can’t remember what was said on the phone or who he spoke to, I just remember him handing me the piece of paper with the phone number for Annie’s NYC studio! He smiled and said good luck.

To cut a long story short, I made the call (was the most nerve wracking thing I’d ever done) I had my heart set on spending that summer in NYC but sadly, the studio was already full with interns and they told me i’d have to wait until next year. When next summer rolled around, I had met and fallen in love with Nad (my husband) and decided I didn’t want to go to NYC anymore. I decided to settle in Wales and build my career from here.

Fast forward 15 years and here we are. I’m a full time Photographer, blogger, wife & mum of two. I never quite made the move to NYC but I do now take a solo trip to the big apple every year for some much needed ME time. I never assisted Annie Leibovitz either but thats ok.

Annie’s work has always fascinated me. Its timeless, always epic and generally full of glamourous hollywood superstars. Vanity Fair magazine commissioned Annie to photograph many of their front covers and they never dissappoint. This got me thinking.


What about creating a glamourous styled shoot here in Wales, using real women (not models or actresses) and bringing together some of the finest welsh based wedding professionals and seeing what we can create together.

With the help of my Communications Manager, Cerys, my crazy idea went from some squiggles on a piece of paper to what is now a series of posts that will unfold over the coming weeks, showcasing lots of ideas and inspiration from some truly talented individuals that I have the pleasure to work with at many weddings. We are also going to be introducing you to some of our special readers.

The Shot

So, here it is. My Vanity Affair. I’m sure you’ll agree we have some fabulous readers! All either brides to be, bridesmaids to be, already married or just women that LOVE our blog.

It was important to create the shoot in a beautiful location that would reflect the vanity fair theme perfectly and Hensol Castle was the obvious choice.

Granted, I didn’t have the same budget as Vanity fair, in fact, there was no budget. All the suppliers and models involved gave up their day to work on this shoot with me. I LOVE what we achieved!

Vanity AffairImage by Maria Farrelly Photography

You’ll be seeing a lot more of these lovely ladies over the coming weeks as well as all the people/businesses behind the scenes that helped me create this styled shoot. We all had loads of fun and look forward to possibly organising another one soon.

hensol castle In between directing the girls, I took this sneaky behind the scenes shot.

JZ0C6176I also got this one too of Richard from Aurora filming Christopher Ian directing the models.

There are literally LOADS of images to share with you from all the photographers involved (There were four of us in total) each of us working on different things. For example, Angharad Gwenter & Cashiona photography covered all the behind the scenes, before & after shots of the models getting ready and all the detail shots. Christopher Ian photographed all the models individually and in groups once their looks were completed.  My main role was directing & shooting The Vanity Affair shot but I did manage to take some other images throughout the day too. All this and much more is on it way. Brace yourselves!

Suppliers Involved

hensol castle

Huge thanks to all of the above, you are each incredible and I loved working with you all. Cannot wait to share more with you all soon.

Maria xxx



Cwtch of the Week: Cerys & Steven

Our ‘Cwtch of the Week’ this week belongs to Cerys & Steven Potter. This lovely couple got married at the Vale Resort on Saturday 30th May 2014. maria farrelly

Anyone can cuddle, but only the welsh can cwtch!

maria farrellyImages by: Maria Farrelly Photography

If you are a photographer or Bride & Groom and would like to feature as our ‘Cwtch Of The Week’. Send us your images to