We all have to have a little bit of compromising to do for our wedding. Whether it be inviting less people, finding a cheaper option on the suits or leaving off the one friend who could have been a bridesmaid but the … Continue reading
Nicola & Dan had a beautiful humanist wedding at Dan’s family home in Pembrokeshire in September last year. The day was captured beautifully by Whole Picture Weddings, huge thank you to Naomi from Whole Picture for submitting! As always we asked the bride and groom a few questions about their day.
How would you describe your wedding theme? I would best describe our day as a Vintage Tea party. We didn’t have any firm ideas to begin with but we knew from the very beginning that we wanted to have as relaxed a day as possible, with not too much structure. Neither of us wanted to get married in a church, but we didn’t want to settle for a registry office, and both of us loved the idea of getting married outdoors, but it seemed like that was not an option, until we came across Dee Phillips who is an accredited Celebrant with the British Humanist Society, and as soon as we met her we knew we wanted a humanist ceremony and we had the perfect spot! I had my heart set on afternoon tea instead of a sit down hot meal so we worked around that and everything else fell into place.
What was your favourite part of your wedding? It’s really hard to pick my favourite part; the ceremony was really special to us, but I was so nervous that at the time it seemed like a bit of a blur! I really enjoyed mingling with our guests and seeing everyone enjoying all the little details we had put together. We were so lucky that we had amazing weather on the day and it couldn’t have been more perfect as we had giant garden games and a ice cream van which seemed to go down a storm.
One of the things I loved the most was having all of our family and friends together. My family and friends from home had a long way to travel and it was a lovely opportunity for them to see where I live.
Tell us about your Wedding Dress My dress was a Charlotte Balbier dress which I found at White Bride in Narberth. I wasn’t really looking forward to wedding dress shopping and after me and my mum had an awful experience at a discount wedding dress store I put off dress shopping for a while. I visited 3 bridal stores and in the end narrowed it down to 2 dresses, but the Charlotte Balbier dress was perfect; it had the vintage look I wanted and most of all it didn’t feel restricting! All along I didn’t want a dress with a train but in the end, after being talked around I decided to keep it and I’m glad I did. Sally at White’s made the experience so enjoyable, walking into her boutique is like stepping into a fairy tale! The shoes I had for the day were the ones Sally gave me to try on when I first tried my dress and from hen on I couldn’t imagine any others!
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why? My best friend Robyn was my Maid of Honour, she has known Dan and I since we first became a couple and we were all at university together. I also asked one of my closest friends Emily, who I met when I moved to Pembrokeshire. I didn’t know many people at all when I moved here and she made it so much easier for me to settle in here. I also asked my cousin Ashleigh, who was really excited to be a bridesmaid for the first time, and Dan’s two nieces Teagan and Shaylyn, who I think nearly drove my sister in law Shauna mad in the run up to the wedding!
Dan’s best man was his friend Gethin. They’ve been friends since play group and Gethin was one of the first of Dan’s friends that I got to know when I moved here.
Why did you choose your venue? We were so lucky to be able to have our wedding at Dan’s family home which has a lot of happy memories. With such a magnificent setting right on our doorstep it felt silly to go elsewhere! Our ceremony overlooked the lake and my now parents in-law put it so much hard work to make the place look amazing.
How did the proposal happen? The proposal was no grand affair but it was our style and I think sums us up as a couple. Dan proposed on my birthday, whilst we were staying at my mum and dad’s house. I woke early and dan was already awake. He said happy birthday and pointed to my birthday card which was propped up on the bedside table. I took the card and behind was a ring box. After opening the card I opened the box and saw a lovely ring inside, but I assumed it was a birthday ring, and not “the” ring, so I said thank you and placed it back on the side so I could wake up properly. This was when Dan told me it wasn’t just any ring, and that was how we got engaged! It was just like his style and it was perfect. When we got back home we went shopping together to pick out my engagement ring, so now I have 2 beautiful rings!
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share? I set out with the intention of doing most things myself. I’m quite crafty and handy with a sewing machine, but it didn’t take long to realise maybe I needed to be more realistic. In the beginning I wanted to make the bridesmaid dresses myself and even did a trial run, but my dad talked me out of it as he was worried I was taking on too much, and I think he was right! I did make all the bunting myself, and was sewing until 3 in the morning a couple of nights in the week before the wedding, but I was so pleased with the way it looked in the end. One of my favourite details was the glass jars that we used as centrepieces. I collected coffee jars for months and with the help of 2 of my friends, Jane and Rachel we decorated them with ribbon and string etc to fit in with the vintage theme, they looked fab! I had a lot of help from family and friends. My mum came to stay for a week and we spent most of it making bunting! I had loads of ideas pinned on Pinterest and I didn’t get round to half of them, but it didn’t matter in the end. I also made some beaded flowers for each of the bouquets and my mum and Dan’s mums buttonholes. They took me a lot longer than I anticipated but I was over the moon with the way they looked. I found all of the instructions for the things I made online.
I also spent a lot of time collecting vintage tea cups and saucers, and I had a ball! My friend Jane and I visited all sorts of places from auction houses to flea markets, charity shops and car boot sales. I was quite sad when I didn’t need to collect anymore! The vintage china was one of the things I wanted from the beginning to tie in with the afternoon tea and I was so pleased with how it all looked.
What was your first dance & why? Our first dance was to The Guillemots, Made up Love Song. Neither of us were looking forward to this part, and it was the longest 3 minutes of our lives, but it’s an important rite of passage and I think we would have been disappointed had we not had a first dance. I told my friends that they had to join us quickly on the dance floor, which they all ignored, and thought was hilarious!
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently? We had the perfect day for us and we wouldn’t change it for the world. There were times in the lead up that we said we wished we had gone away somewhere and had a low key wedding but after the amazing day we had with our friends and family and now being able to look back through our beautiful photos we wouldn’t change anything at all.
Do you have any advice for future couples? Stick to your guns with what you want even if it’s a little out of the ordinary. When we said we were going to have a humanist ceremony no one knew what to expect and were a little apprehensive but it was the perfect ceremony for us, and we had so many comments afterwards about how lovely and personal it was.
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received? My dad gave Dan a good piece of advice in his speech, he said the best way to remember an anniversary was to forget it once!
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding? One of my favourite things about planning our wedding was letting my creative side run wild and trying out making all sorts of different things.
Photographer: Whole Picture Photography
Videographer: Simon Clarke Films
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Dan’s family home
Bride’s Dress: Charlotte Balbier Annabelle from White Bride, Narberth
Bride’s Shoes: Rachel Simpson
Bride’s Headpiece: Glass Oyster at Not on the High Street
Bride’s Jewellery: Jon Richard
Groom’s Outfit: Mr Roberts Formal Hire
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Dessy
Cake: Edward Taylor
Flowers: Mary Adams
Hair: Sarah @ Ava Marie, Narberth
Make Up: Amrie Dassen
Band: Sounds Familiar
Stationery: The Noble Hound
Caterers: Four Cooks
Any Reception Decor/Props: Cake Stands from The Vintage Tea Party Company, Carmarthen
Other: Ice Cream Van: Top Class Wedding Cars, Whitland.
Post box: Floatations Balloons, Narberth.
The Wedding Album
How beautiful! How many cwtchers have considered a humanist wedding? We’d love to hear from you, the why’s how’s and where’s! Leave a comment in the box x
What was your budget? We didn’t really have one! Though we spent much more than we thought we might, but every single penny was worth it. We waited 15 years to walk down the aisle, so when it came down to it, we didn’t want to have to compromise. We were lucky to have the support of our parents and grandparents who helped us pay the bills!
How would you describe your wedding theme? There wasn’t really a fixed theme, but being in a Vineyard meant we wanted to incorporate that as best we could so my best friend and bridesmaid Jo helped make a beautiful cork table plan and we also used split corks for our place settings. We didn’t want to overdo it though so kept it at that, and the rest of the theme I suppose was centred on the party! We love a party, we always joke and say “any excuse for a party!” and our home has always been and always will be open to friends and family to socialise and celebrate with us. Our colour scheme was navy and pink, actually Neil’s choice, which worked wonderfully. I must be honest, he was totally involved in every aspect of our day, he was probably more concerned with the details than I was and he even made ‘stag’ & ‘hen’ picture collages for display on the day. He hand drew and painted a selection of small chalkboards with various messages on them, wrote quirky things in washable chalk on the ladies toilet mirrors like “looking good! now get back out & party!” and made all our table numbers and designed a unique wedding ‘shot’ with Paul at the Vineyard for behind the bar – he actually used it as his toast rather than the pink sparkles I’d chosen! We took pink & navy through all aspects then, the save the dates, the invites and Anna at The Cake Cwtch created the most wonderful navy & pink cupcake tower for us which doubled as our cake and dessert What was your favourite part of your wedding? I honestly couldn’t choose. From the moment the sun rose to falling into bed at 4am I enjoyed every single second. We had all the people we loved in one room, plus our little princess – what more could we ask for?
I stayed at the vineyard with mum & dad and our 2yr old the night before, so waking up with Cari and being all excited when the bridesmaids arrived was a wonderful start to the day and it just continued from there. The bridesmaids walked down the aisle to ‘Here come the Girls’ and dad and I to ‘You can’t hurry Love’ by the Supremes. Our humanist ceremony was relaxed and personal, the male voice choir brought tears to my eyes and the ice cream van was a treat for Neil and his childhood ambition to eat a litre of ice cream in one go! It all went without a hitch, Claire, Matt & Paul at the vineyard were like friends. They looked after us and made sure nothing was missed. When the party started we laughed with everyone in the photo booth and drunk far too many ‘after party’ shots (the signature shot they created for us!) We encouraged social media interaction and asked everyone to use the hash tag #MrMrsWilf (Neil’s nickname) and this way we got to see everyone’s facebook, instagram and twitter posts from the day.
Tell us about your Wedding Dress I had no idea what I wanted. I had never really dreamed of my wedding dress and when it came to shopping I tried on all sorts. Most were chosen by my sister & mum to be honest as it was a little overwhelming but as we tried them on I ruled various styles out and I think in my mind I wanted plain taffeta tea-length with maybe a sleeve or a capped sleeve. However, the dress that chose me in the end was completely different, and I credit Rachel at the Bridal Boutique for it. She insisted I tried it on, despite my protests that it was ‘too much’ – lace, strapless, ball gown, sparkles – a far cry from the plain taffeta I was imagining by then! But it was perfect from the second I tried it on, I hadn’t even seen my reflection and I knew it was the one and when mum cried it was official, I’d found my dress. I never wavered, never doubted my choice and really looked forward to wearing it, I felt like a princess, it was comfortable and I danced all night – in pink flip flops! :-)
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why? We had a bit of an entourage, but why not hey? We’re so, so lucky to have such a wonderful group of friends plus family who are friends too – we couldn’t have chosen between them. So my sister, and my three best friends were adult bridesmaids and Jo’s girls and our Cari were flower girls. Neil had two best men, his brother and best friend Mark and 5 ushers too. So 7 a-piece. Between them they read at our ceremony, made wonderful speeches and the girls wrote an ode to me too! We wouldn’t have wanted anyone else by our side. Jo & I have been friends since we were at nursery together aged 3 and I love her girls like my own. I’ve known the two Rachel’s for over 15 years, and my sister & I are so different but each other’s biggest fans and have a relationship more like friends. Mark and Neil have been friends since primary school and the others have all been friends for many years. Neil and his brother are also really different to each other but have a wonderful relationship, largely based on taking the mickey out of each other!
Why did you choose your venue? We’d seen so many venues over the years and we liked lots of them, but never loved them and we stumbled across the vineyard one afternoon when Cari was just a few months old, we’d gone looking for somewhere new for lunch one Wednesday and instantly knew its where we wanted to get married – way before the engagement and even before the vineyard were actually hosting weddings! We asked them to let us know if they ever decided to offer weddings there and it all came together in the end.
How did the proposal happen? Despite being together for almost 15 years and having spoken many times about getting married, I never really thought the day would come, we’d spent the years building careers, buying forever homes and starting a family and as we weren’t traditional in the religious sense having Cari before we got married was never really a concern, but I will admit once she was born we both felt it was probably the right thing to do.
Having said that the proposal was a massive surprise and almost didn’t happen (well not the way Neil had planned anyway) it was the day before my 30th birthday and we’d planned a meal (the three of us) at my favourite Italian restaurant but Cari was tired and grumpy after a day at nursery so I’d suggested to Neil we get a take away instead, he agreed initially but then called mum to see if she would sit for us and she agreed so off we went just the two of us. I’m known for nagging for an early birthday present but because I’d largely asked for money (because I wanted to but an ipad!) I knew I wouldn’t have much to open on the actual day so when I didn’t ask for one, Neil offered an early gift, but I refused it – his face was a picture (!!) so I reluctantly gave in and he pushed a box across the table to me, it was bigger than a ring box, so I honestly didn’t expect what was inside, but when I opened it there was a beautiful, 1ct princess cut diamond, floating in a box with ‘will you marry me’ written on it. I was totally blown away and asked “really?!” and he was grinning and ordering champagne! We went the next day to design a custom ring at the Diamond Centre of Wales where I talked him into an additional 16 small diamonds to create a halo – needless to say I adore my ring and even had a wedding ring to match too.
We always said we’d never have a long engagement, so we began talking wedding immediately and set our hearts on the following August, just 10 months after getting engaged. Like I said, neither of us are religious, so when we found Dee a humanist celebrant to conduct a naming day for Cari I think we both knew that when the day came we would go down the same route for a wedding.
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share? A lovely lady called Jan covered our chairs and made small neat Gyp centrepieces for us but we did the bulk of the decorating ourselves and hung over 100 navy and pink lanterns from the ceiling of the marquee with the help of our friends and family the day before the wedding, we also put lights and balloons on ribbon and tethered them by golf tees outside to line the walkway from the ceremony to the reception.
Neil also made all the unique table numbers with photos of us over the years, we had 12 tables and plenty of photos from our 15 years together, I wrote and he made our ‘social media’ guides and thank you notes for every table too, as well as the miniature chalk boards for the signature shots, the ‘dancing shoes’ (flip flops!) and wrote on the mirrors in the loos. He also made our save the dates, invites and thank you cards. It all added to the fun! The bridesmaid dresses were also handmade, I bought a vintage dress pattern online and Neil’s very talented aunt produced my vision, I was thrilled, the raw silk and gingham were perfect together and the pink heels really popped against the navy dress.
What was your first dance & why? Your Song by Elton John, but we used the Ellie Goulding cover. It was the obvious choice for us, Neil has sung it to me when drunk for years and he’d always dreamt of building us a family home too so the lyrics were always appropriate, we were really lucky actually, that in March 2013 we bought our forever home, not a self-build as planned (I wasn’t prepared to live in a caravan with a 1 yr old!) but a definite ‘do-er upper’ with plenty of potential and probably years of work ahead of us.
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently? Not a single thing. If someone was to give me all the cash we spent back and said, “go do it again” there’s not a second of our day I would change.
Do you have any advice for future couples? Enjoy it. All of it, the planning, the organising, the build-up and the aftermath. Don’t let silly differences of opinion come between you or spoil what has the potential to be the happiest and best day of your lives. Have the people YOU want there, don’t worry about offending or pleasing others, it’s your day, and only one you’ll have. Spend money on photography and videography, flowers die, food is eaten, drink is drunk, it’s all you’ll be left with once the day is over and it’s what your children and grandchildren will coo over in years to come.
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received? There was a lot, but the one that stayed with me was “during the day stop, take a breath and look around you, take mental photographs and enjoy everyone else enjoying. Find your husband, hold his hand and check you’re both ok at least once an hour – because you will get split up and dragged off in different directions!”
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding? Knowing it would accumulate in a big celebration with all our friends and family. Right through the planning and organising we thought about everyone who would be there with us and would say “oh, so-and-so, will love that!” and were excited to share it with them all. We never deliberated over choices, didn’t second guess ourselves and we surprised ourselves with how in agreement we were with things – I suppose the conversations over the years had amounted to some sort of plan we hadn’t even realised we’d made!
Photographer: Christopher Davies Photography
Videographer: Simon Huntley
Wedding Planner: Ourselves – with lots of venue help from Claire @ Llanerch
Ceremony Venue: Llanerch Vineyard
Reception Venue: Llanerch Vineyard
Bride’s Dress: Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique
Bride’s Shoes: Ruby Shoo
Bride’s Headpiece: Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique
Bride’s Jewellery: Mum’s
Groom’s Outfit: Tailor Made/Custom 3 peice
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Handmade
Bridesmaid’s Accessories: Gifts from bride
Cake: Anna @ The Cake Cwtch
Flowers: By a family friend
Hair: Taryn’s Mobile Hair
Make Up: Cerys @ Bliss Beauty
DJ: Dafydd Jones
Stationery: Homemade by groom
Caterers: The Vineyard
Any Reception Decor/Props: Jan @ Sitting Pretty & Ourselves
Transport: Neil – loan of his cousins Porsche
The Wedding Album
Thank you Emma & Neil for this beautiful submission! We would love to hear what our readers thought, pop a comment in the box :)