Good Friday to you all Cwtchers!
We have an absolutely stunning wedding for you which is about to inspire the socks off you! Our gorgeous couple, Jenna and Gareth always wanted to get married abroad. So after lots of researching, they, and the rest of the Welsh contingency, flew to the stunning Lake Garda.
You wait until you see the results! Over to Jenna to tell you more about their breathtaking big day…
Jenna and Gareth
What was your budget?
How would you describe your wedding theme?
We didn’t really choose a theme per se, we wanted the whole day to be a reflection of us with I suppose a touch of boho in terms of the dresses and flowers.
What was your favourite part of your wedding?
Definitely the ceremony! It was just magical!
On a terrace of a castle over looking Lake Garda surrounded by mountains. I walked down the aisle to ‘Everybody’s Free’ by Jennifer Ann, which was playing when Gareth proposed on the last stretch of the Ironman. I have very talented friends and family who arranged to sing it flash mob style. It was beautiful and caused a lot of tears. Gareth and I wrote our own vows, mine were a lot more elaborate than his, including the line; ‘I promise to always lock the doors before bed and love you forever’.
My youngest sister, Sienna, wrote a love poem for us. It was both funny and emotional. That poem, by a 10 year old, had the biggest tears and cheers.
After the ‘I do’s’ were exchanged, we danced down the aisle with tambourines to T Rex’s Ride a White Swan. It was just perfect.
Tell us about your Wedding Dress
I was probably an exception when it comes to the wedding dress cliche of going for something completely different to what you’d imagine.
I imagined a dress and was determined to find it. I visited a wedding gown boutique, tried on some beautiful dresses but none of them fitted in with my vision.
I went on a Pinterest mission for a few months and eventually came across Rime Arodaky. I fell in love with all her dresses but there was one ‘Solane’ that had all the elements that I’d envisioned; a low back, the neckline, beautiful embroidery, light fabric and flowy yet sexy.
I hunted down the only shop in the UK that stocks her, The Mews in Nottinghill, London, and made an appointment. It became clear that Rime Arodaky was the designer for me, my maid of honour and my mum were sold too. All her dresses just suited me perfectly even though they were all so different. As soon as I tried ‘Solane’ on I felt like it was me, of course my mums tears helped. The price tag was way over my budget, so I held off for a few months until I knew there would be a sample sale and luckily ‘Solane’ was part of it.
The lovely girls at The Mews put the dress to one side for me & sent it up to the Bristol shop for me. I cannot recommend The Mews enough!
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?
I had some difficulty picking bridesmaids as I have an amazing group of friends and also two sisters and two sisters in law.
Getting married abroad and wanting a small intimate wedding, I didn’t want to have a huge bridal party. I decided to involve my sisters in law in other parts of the wedding and have my niece and nephews as part of the bridal party. They both sang phenomenally, and were witnesses for us too. I had both my sisters, one as my maid of ‘dishonour’, my longest best friend of 25 years as the other maid of ‘dishonour’, school best friend of 20 years and my best friend from University of 13 years.
Gareth knew who he wanted as best men probably before he knew he wanted to marry me. Geryn and Gavin have been his longest most loyal friends. They are complete opposites. Geryn is the organised and sensible one while Gavin is the wild and mischievous one.
Why did you choose your venue?
We always wanted to get married abroad. We originally France, as we love it there.
However after some research we realised that we couldn’t legally get married there and actually becoming man and wife there was important to us, I couldn’t have a blessing and pretend.
A friend of ours had been to a wedding in Malcesine Lake Garda and said it was immense. We booked our flights and made various appointments for different venues around the lake.
Tell us about your photographer
We did a lot of research for a good photographer. Photography is important in our family. My father loves a camera and it’s his hobby. Originally he would take the photos but I wanted him to relax on the day and enjoy it.
Nikola Smernic popped up on Facebook as there was a competition running to win him photographing your wedding. He had won a National Geographic award and several wedding ones. I entered but didn’t win.
However, due to entering he offered us a deal. His photography is random, relaxed and natural just how I like it. He and his wife are both so laid back to work with. We met them the morning of our wedding and said how we’d like a 10 minute photoshoot at the most as my husband hates it and that’s exactly what they did. To be honest I didn’t even really notice they were there. The end photos are amazing.
How did the proposal happen?
I was very lucky to have the most incredible surprise proposal. Gareth competed in IronMan UK. The friday I arrived in Bolton he had already picked up all the merchandise and event booklet. I was sat there reading about the event when I came across a page containing messages from the competitors, I just scanned the page and saw Gareth’s name. I was about to read it out loud when Gareth snatched it from my hand and said I wasn’t allowed to read it. I should’ve clicked then, but I’m pretty gullible. Gareth said that he had arranged to do something stupid on the finish line and that I would spoil the surprise if I knew. He is pretty random so I believed him, I thought he’s not going to carry a ring around the course with him anyway and carried on eating Pizza.
The next day was brilliant. The pride I felt watching him complete the swim then the bike was immense. His parents arrived to watch his marathon as well as his best friend. We positioned ourselves along the finish line. I wanted to see him cross the line so made my way through the crowds a few meters before it. I saw him approaching and shouted out for him so that he knew I was there.
He to my annoyance turned around and came over, I waved him on as I knew that they timed the last 100meter split. He luckily ignored me. He gave me a sweaty hug, whispered in my ear that he had travelled 140 miles for me, that I was his first, his last & his everything and got down on one knee.
I still wonder how he got down on that one knee to this day. There was a huge crowd clapping us, Everybody’s Free was playing at the finish line and the presenter stopped the music to congratulate us on the big screen. I grabbed the ring before I even said yes, I was completely speechless.
All was captured on camera which I was so thankful for as it was a complete blur.
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?
I made complete use of my friends and family’s talents.
From creating the chalk board signs, filming the wedding, musicians, to hair and make up. I am very fussy with hair & make up & getting married in Italy it was very difficult to shop around and have trials.
Instead I had some trials with my bridesmaid Nicky, who, due to having a baby 6 weeks prior to the wedding, didn’t even know until 4 weeks prior that she’d make it. She also did some of the other bridesmaid’s hair too, whilst breastfeeding I might add. She’s brilliant at multi tasking. She did a beautiful job and it was exactly how I wanted.
My maid of honour Rhian did my make up. We had been to MAC and another make up artist for ideas and stocked up on the make up at the airport. It meant the getting ready was intimate and nobody knows me better than these girls so it made complete sense.
All the name cards for the reception were polaroid photos of some of our favourite memories of our guests. I’ll be honest it took ages and the website crashed many times. But, the fact that most took them home with them showed how much they appreciated it. These doubled as a favour too as my husband has an unhealthy hate towards favours.
We hired cameras from ‘Shoot it Yourself’ to film our wedding and chose responsible friends to film the day for us. Shoot it Yourself then does the editing for you. I was nervous, as were they, but it worked out amazing. I didn’t want the usual romantic montage as that’s not us at all. I wanted it to be funny and us. The final edit was exactly how I’d hoped and both of us were crying tears of laughter and happiness watching it.
What was your first dance & why?
First dance song obviously wasn’t the usual romantic ballad type, as that is just not our style. But, it wasn’t easy to choose a non-ballad that meant something to us.
We spent many wine fuelled nights playing different songs and trying to dance to them to see if they were right. We kept coming back to ‘our song’ which we had originally decided was too hard to dance to and a bit random.
I read somewhere to not choose a crowd pleaser song but choose one you’ll always remember as yours however random.
So we did.
We dance to Johnny Cash ‘Walk the Line’ with tambourines being played for added effect.
After the first chorus we invited everyone in to join us for a boogie.
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?
I’d have had a few Proseccos with everyone the day before to relax me as I was running around like a headless chicken trying to get everything ready and stressing. I’m guessing this is normal. I also found it tricky to recruit helpers as I was very aware that everyone had paid a lot of money to join us in Italy and were on holiday.
However my day before stress did mean that on the day of the wedding I was completely relaxed. I know also it’s a cliché but I would’ve got married a little earlier. The day flew by and by the time the 4 course meal and speeches were over we had little time for dancing.
It really is true what they say, time does fly by.
Do you have any advice for future couples?
Don’t make decisions based on what’s trendy or what you think your guests will like. Choose what you both want as that’s what it’s about.
It’s good getting a man’s perspective as they don’t care about décor and details, a wedding day is a day to remember because of the atmosphere you create, good food, good wine, good people and good music.
Also if you’re planning a wedding abroad don’t feel as though you have to fork out those extra thousands for a wedding planner. We did it without and managed perfectly. It meant we got a few small trips to Italy in prior instead.
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received?
Always say I love you!
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?
Our favourite thing was definitely the trips to Italy we made. We got to explore the Lake and visit nearby Verona and Venice, drank good wine and Limoncello, and ate a lot of Italian food.
Photographer: Nikola Smernic
Videographer: Shoot It Yourself
Ceremony Venue: Castello Scaligero Malcesine
Reception Venue: Al Corsaro
Bride’s Dress: Rime Arodaky ‘Solane’
Groom’s Outfit: French Connection
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Jarlo at ASOS and Millie Mackintosh
Flowers: Tania Muser
DJ: Roberto Palma
Any Reception Decor/Props: Etsy
The Wedding Album
I think you will agree, this is a killer wedding! I wish so much I could go back in time, find Jenna, become her best friend, then be invited to the wedding! But that sounds a bit creepy. So scrap that!