Merry Cwtchmas, Everyone!

Designed by the wonderful Slightly Wobbly Designs!

Dear Readers,

Well, what can we say about 2013?! Possibly the only way to sum it up is to say: we’ve had an absolute blast! We’ve absolutely loved every minute of our rollercoaster ride this year, from our first post to winning a Welsh Wedding Award and throwing an absolutely incredible launch party! (more on that in the new year…)

With just over 200 posts on the blog now, we just wanted to let you know that Cwtch the Bride will be taking a little break over the festive period to recharge our batteries and enjoy some time with our family and friends (hopefully with lots of chocolates and Christmas films on the telly, too). Don’t worry, we won’t be gone for long – we’ll be back on the 30th of December with a full week of inspiring posts to welcome in the new year with a bang!

So, what does 2014 hold for Cwtch the Bride? More gorgeous Real Weddings, more fantastic featured vendors and a push towards making this the biggest, best and brightest wedding blog in Wales (we might even give some of the national blogs a run for their money ;) )

We wouldn’t have made it this far without you all so we just want to say a massive…

thank-you

To everyone who has ever read the blog, shared a post on FB, retweeted us, emailed us, sponsored the blog – we love each and every one of you! Your support for our little adventure is so, so appreciated. Three cheers for all of you!

Sending a massive, humungous, couldn’t get any bigger cwtch from us to you…

Merry Cwtchmas, everyone! :)

Love from

The Cwtch the Bride Team xx

Real Wedding: Alistair & Jonny’s Vintage Glamour Affair by Anderson Photography

Horray, our wonderful groom-to-be writer Alistair is no longer a groom-to-be, he’s a fully fledged Mr! He tied the knot with husband Jonny in Cardiff, with David from Anderson Photography there to capture all the best bits :)

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We asked him to answer a few questions about their big day…

How would you describe your wedding theme? The best way to describe it would a be an autumnal, rustic and vintage mash-up with a hint of glamour. Neither of us are fans of matchy matchy so although the elements complimented each other there was no specific theme. Our colours were mainly deep reds, purples, gold, orange, green and navy. The wedding party were pretty much left to their own devices when picking their outfits *within reason* but we provided the accessories (ties, hankies, buttonholes and corsages).

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We filled the reception venue with old fashioned pieces such as vintage suitcases and a dressing screen – both provided by the lovely Hubbard’s Cupboard. The Siren Sisters also performed two fabulous sets which really enhanced the old school feel we were aiming for.

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We both felt that the flowers really pulled the decor together. The table centre pieces were hessian covered pots, filled with mulberry chrysanthemums, roses, veronica, thistles and hedgerow greenery.

What was your favourite part of your wedding? There were several but I have to say all four of the speeches were great. My dad embarrassed me with recollections of a certain “My Little Pony” childhood obsession, Jonny’s best man regaled us with tales of their misspent youth, my best man reduced me to tears with truly kind words, and Jonny revelled in wielding a microphone; thanking everyone under the marquee for something or other, except our mothers… oops!

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Another favourite moment of mine was drinking champagne through a straw in the back of a 1920’s Charabanc with our friends. The lack of suspension combined with a succession of potholes made the journey to Dyffryn Springs all the more exciting.

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Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why? Jonny had his best friends from school, Blake and Jamie. He knew from the get-go that these were the perfect lads to offer help, support and comic relief… not to mention a killer stag do… or so I’ve been told.

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I had a best man and woman, Jon and Laura. We’ve been friends for a very long time and they’ve helped me through a string of bad break-ups and questionable fashion choices, not to mention we’ve shared a few laughs.

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Why did you choose your venue? The Council Chambers at City Hall are absolutely stunning. I am a sucker for antique furniture, and who doesn’t love a crystal chandelier?! People with no soul, that’s who.

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The evening venue had been recommended to us by another couple and it did not disappoint. The marquee stands in a beautiful lakeside setting, surrounded by fields. The contrast of urban and country backdrops were also fantastic for the photographs, although that was a bonus rather than a deal breaker.

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How did the proposal happen? I’ve left this blank as it was mentioned in my first post for Cwtch

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Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share? Most of the finishing touches were DIY as we had a very limited budget.

We decorated the marquee with paper lanterns of various sizes and colours, suspending them with fishing wire and bog standard wooden clothes pegs. I have a new found respect for the humble clothes peg as a result.

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Our tables were named after some of our favourite songs so we printed the song titles, plus a lyric, in an ” Old Typewriter” font which we mounted in distressed gold photo frames. The name cards were made from individually hand-stamped vintage luggage tags and attached to the cutlery which was wrapped in twine.

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We framed the remaining luggage tags on paisley mounting with captions such as “Let them eat cake”. This was uber cheap and fun to do…. although perhaps not after the 10th table!!

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The table plan was constructed the night before the wedding, much to my shame! We bought a large white frame from IKEA, removed the glass and tied 3 lengths of twine vertically around the backboard. The table names and guests were listed on 10 separate 6″ x 4″ pieces of card which we clipped to the twine with miniature wooden pegs. Just to add a splash of colour I cut out several A’s, J’s and heart shapes from paisley patterned card and attached them randomly to the twine/frame.

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What was your first dance & why? There were a couple of contenders but we settled on “We are Stars” by The Pierces. We chanced upon this song a few years ago and loved it for being heartfelt but not cheesy. Also, we believed it would be very easy to dance to… however, we still managed to stumble our way through it like awkward teenagers at a school disco.

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In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently? There’s nothing I would change as such. However, when Jonny was hunting for a DJ I had two specifications:

1. No talking.
2. No fake flames.

Alas, the DJ failed on both counts but I can look back on that with a fond smile, and he did get everyone dancing all night. He also refused to play “Come on Eileen” which made me love him even more!

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Do you have any advice for future couples? I’m not going to say “relax” and “chill out” as you will inevitably feel nervous, which is only natural. I will say that Jonny and I took 10 minutes in the evening to go for a walk and a sneaky al fresco cwtch which allowed us to reflect on the day and just absorb the atmosphere.

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What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received? I can’t speak for Jonny, but the best piece of advice I received was from a married friend of a friend who said “don’t make promises you can’t keep”. I think that applies to most relationships though, not just marriages.

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What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding? The shopping! Being a self-confessed retail junky meant that I was well suited to hunting for wedding ensembles as well as vintage/one-off pieces.

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Photography: Anderson Photography
Ceremony Venue: Council Chambers, Cardiff City Hall
Reception Venue: Dyffryn Springs
Alistair’s Outfit:
Day – Suit from Next, tie and hanky from Reiss, shoes from Topman, cufflinks from Eclectica @ John Lewis, vintage pearl tie pin from Happy Days, Cowbridge.
Evening – Blazer from H&M, trousers from Topman, shoes from Dune, sequinned bow tie from Topman, hanky from The Tie Rack and vintage gold & onyx lapel pin from Jacob’s Antiques.
Jonny’s Outfit: Suit & tie from Reiss, hanky from Topman, vintage gold & diamonte tie pin from a thrift shop.
Cake: Cupcakes by The Cake House, sponge/fruit cakes by my aunties and a cheese “celebration tower” from M&S
Flowers: Serene Weddings
Band:The Siren Sisters
Stationery:Slightly Wobbly Designs* | *Featured Vendor
Caterers:The HogFather
Any Reception Decor/Props: Hubbard’s Cupboard* | *Blog Sponsor
Transport:Prices Wedding Cars
Other: Mother of the groom’s headpiece by With Love from Bobbin* | *Featured Vendor

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Groom-to-be Diary: Stag Do Planning

Illustrator Alistair is in the midst of planning his civil partnership to business partner and fiancé Jonny at Cardiff City Hall in September. Last month he talked about planning a civil partnership, this month he’s enlightening us on his stag do. Be prepared to meet the most dapper grooms you ever did see…

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Alistair designed a print inspired by his ‘stag do’ – isn’t it gorgeous?

Like any other couple, Jonny and I have found the planning of our nuptials an eventful voyage of discovery, peppered with tough decisions. Where our experience may differ from the ‘norm’ is that, as a gay couple, we have no established traditions to follow. For example, who walks down the aisle first? Do both grooms make a speech? Do we take each other’s surname? So on and so forth. Whilst this has befuddled some, ourselves included, it was a definite advantage when it came to planning our stag parties.

For Jonny this was a no-brainer; he would, without question, have a bawdy weekend away with his male chums… in Brighton no less. The event has yet to take place but I imagine that booze, fast food and obligatory humiliation/torture will feature heavily. I, on the other hand, am no such creature (La-Di-Dah).

Firstly, I have a distinct lack of close male friends and as much as I love the ones I do have, their idea of an enjoyable stag weekend differs from mine quite markedly. Not to say that I don’t appreciate a good knees up, but public nudity and drinking to the point of gastro-intestinal pyrotechnics is not my cup of tea. Call me boring if you will.

Actually, before I go any further I must point out that, from its inception, my Stag do was affectionately referred to as my ‘Hag’ do. Pithy, no? This primarily acted as the perfect stag-hen hybrid but, incidentally, it also made reference to the six ladies who would be accompanying me; my Fag Hags. Granted, I don’t normally regard them as such, but for the purpose of comedic effect, it was ideal.

So… What to do? Where to go? The answer was obvious: Marrakesh! Enough said.

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Now, as some of you may be aware, homosexuality is illegal in Morocco and I was, therefore, slightly apprehensive about how I would be received… for approximately five minutes. There was no way I was going to miss out on the trip of a lifetime because of an archaic, outdated law (as if there are no gays in Marrakesh. Please!). That being said, I did consult Trip Advisor, discovering that the easiest way to avoid incarceration was to refrain from overtly molesting men in the street. I made a solemn vow to try my best.

Months of mounting excitement ensued, not to mention some spectacular organisation by my Chief Hag, and by the day of our journey we were travelling under the freshly assumed collective alias of “The House of Hag” (said in a Germanic accent, with a protracted ‘a’… I have no idea why). Anyway, after a hysterical 4 hour flight, and a 30 degree rise in temperature, we touched down in Morocco where two dilapidated taxis conveyed us from the airport to Riad Chi Chi, our home for the next 3 days. To call it palatial would be a slight exaggeration but it was certainly an opulent oasis amidst the dusty labyrinth of side streets and dubious plumbing of Old Marrakesh.

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The next three days can be summed up in five words: tagines, haggling, camels, budget-glamour (does that count as one word?!) and laughter. I was spoiled! And therein lies the difference between my Hag do and Jonny’s forthcoming Stag; I was indulged, he will be manhandled! The closest I came to feeling uncomfortable was being made to wear a cobalt feathered turban at the dinner table… In the privacy of our own Riad, I hasten to add.

There were many highlights but my personal favourite was drinking the night away in Churchills 1930s inspired jazz bar, followed by a perilous cab ride home, during which a Hag (who will not be named) bombarded our driver with GCSE conversational French, resulting in a minor road traffic collision. Note to self: always wear a seatbelt in Marrakesh.

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Any fears I may have had about homophobia were put to rest quite quickly. If anything, from my observations, the local men were far more comfortable holding one another’s hands in public than I would be holding my own fiancé’s hand in this country . Also, on more than one occasion while passing through the souks, we were met with envious cries of “One man, six women!How is this possible?!” In fact, for a whole weekend I wore the persona of harem-toting playboy and I loved it! If only they knew the truth.

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Alistair insists that this photo is tongue in cheek, but we’re not sure we believe him… ;)

Having said all that, in terms of prejudice towards gay couples in hotels and riads, I recommend more in depth research before visiting.

Our weekend flew by in a whirl of vivid colours, smells and sounds, and it felt like we were back in the hands of Easy Jet faster then we could say “cous cous”. Half way through the flight home an insanely camp Lithuanian steward named Gabor (as in ZsaZsa) announced over the tannoy, in a Baltic soprano: “Ladies and gentleman, we have a hen party on our flight this evening…” My face dropped. Fortunately it was for a group of girls in the front row so I could relax. Almost immediately, however, a fellow passenger turned to my Hags and asked “have you girls also been on a hen do?” to which they perplexedly replied “Yeah, sort of”. I suppose that was the most appropriate response and a very fitting end to our adventure; although my stag/hen weekend was not the most conventional or easily qualified, it was Morockin’, nevertheless!

We’d love to hear what our readers are planning for their hen & stag dos – let us know in the comments! :)

Groom-To-Be Diary: Planning A Civil Partnership

Illustrator Alistair is in the midst of planning his civil partnership to business partner and fiancé Jonny at Cardiff City Hall in September. Be prepared to meet the most dapper grooms you ever did see…

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The Beginning Of It All

I pretty much knew that Jonny was a keeper when he turned down my offer of popcorn at the cinema, exclaiming “No! It gives me gas!” (or words to that effect). When a potential lover informs you of their propensity to popcorn-induced flatulence on the first date, you can’t help but be slightly enamoured… or is that just me?

Of course it wasn’t just this quirk that drew me to him. Oh no! There was also the allure of his dancing, which I had witnessed the previous evening at Pulse nightclub in Cardiff. Resistance was futile once I had clapped eyes on his hypnotically rhythmic elbow movements and I simply said to myself: “that’s my kinda freak.” Sidling over to him, I whispered sweet nothings in his ear; actually I was far too coy for that, instead using his unwitting friend as a vessel for my attraction.

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Me: “Tell your friend I think he’s cute”

Friend obliges. Nice friend.

Jonny: “Tell him I think he’s cute too” (bless)

Friend obliges. Good friend.

And the rest is history. I’m skimming over the part where he spilt his drink all over me, but why ruin such a romantic picture? Too late!

The Proposal

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Quickly moving on, we are now five years down the line and living in sin… but not for much longer. 18 months ago I got trussed up in a tuxedo, filled the flat to the brim with flowers and candles, and waited anxiously for my beloved to return home from work. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that he was working late and was discovered rocking back and forth in a sweaty state after 3 hours of listening to Adele on a loop. I digress. The question was popped, he answered with a teary “yes” (phew!) and within ten minutes it was business as usual as we devoured pasta straight from the pan in our PJs.

The Planning

Since then, if truth be told, I have done very little of the organisation. This will not shock my friends and acquaintances. Yes, I have been heavily involved in the decision-making and, yes, I have been unyielding in my aesthetic demands, but Jonny has done the majority of the planning. This is partially due to the fact that I am a lazy so-and-so and partially due to the fact that he is a self confessed control freak. The man has a “Wedding box” which only he has access to… and everyone thought I would be Groomzilla!

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I have, however, taken control of the fun, and some may say easy, stuff. Pour example, I secured the fabulously talented Siren Sisters as our entertainment, liaised with The Cakehouse girls regarding our confections and scored a deal with the printers for our invitations. Incidentally, and this is going to be a SHAMELESS plug, Jonny and I run an illustration business called Slightly Wobbly Designs so the wedding stationery has very much been a joint creative effort.

To say we had a theme would be going too far but “autumnal”, “rich” and “vintage” are words I would use to describe the intended feel. Not being fans of “matchy-matchy”, the wedding party (including ourselves) will be wearing different outfits, intended to compliment rather than match. Luckily our best men and women have oodles of panache so we’re confident the pictures will look great.

The ceremony is being held at Cardiff City Hall in front of 90 people * gulp! *. I’m hoping the exquisite woodwork and gilding of the council chambers will distract from the anxiety of saying those vows in front of so many people. Not being one for PDAs (that’s a public display of affection to anyone not in the know!) this could be tricky, but at the same time I can’t wait to say them. Love has a lot to answer for!

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After the serious part we’re heading to Dyffryn Springs in the Vale of Glamorgan for drinks, food, speeches, dancing and more drinks. A hog roast is being provided by The Hogfather (what a cool name) and, as we are incapable of selecting one wedding cake, there will be a dedicated ‘Cake Table’ laden with many a homemade sponge. The decorations remain a slight quandary, logistically speaking, but that’s nothing that a bit of Sticky Back Plastic won’t solve! All will be revealed…

Thus far, the preparations have been relatively stress free but there’s still time for one or both of us to develop alopecia and possibly a peptic ulcer! Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen. Watch this space for another update on the planning of our rapidly approaching nuptials.

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How wonderful are these bespoke wedding illustrations? :) We love them!

Thanks, Alistair! We can’t wait to hear more about your plans! If you liked the illustrations in today’s post then do check our the boys’ website – they really are fab :)