Remembering Loved Ones by Vintage Bride Sophie

Vintage Bride Sophie is back this month with her thoughts on remembering loved ones at your wedding. Over to Sophie.

Hi lovely Cwtchers!

I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on a part of your wedding day we don’t often talk about. Ways to remember loved ones…

After the initial excitement of announcing your wedding subsides a little and thoughts turn to planning and budgets, perhaps when the dreaded table planning begins, there will come a moment when you realise that not everyone you love will be there on your special day and it isn’t easy when the realisation hits you.

One of the hardest, yet most beautiful moments of our wedding day was when Gareth took a moment to remember the people we love and are no longer with us during his speech. Here is a little extract from his speech and a photograph Maria took as he read it.

I want to toast to the loved ones that are no longer with us. I know that there are some empty places in our hearts and not just at these tables today. Soph, I know how much you would have loved an approving kiss from your Grandfather and Uncle Eric and also a warm smile for you and a disapproving look for me from your Aunt Joyce. And for me, I’m thinking of my Grandad Eirydd – or Eddie as you might have known him and my Grandad Sid. Both men taught me to live my life with a smile on my face and most importantly that learning never stops – at any age – so I know that I will be questioning everything around me until my dying day. So this toast is to the people that mean everything to us – I said there are empty places in our hearts but really our lives are richer for having had these wonderful people in them. To loved ones!

He was right, what we would have done to have them there.

Ahead of the wedding, I had already decided that I would honour my grandfather by including sweet peas in my bouquet. He used to grow them and enter them in to competitions and he was so, so proud of his garden. If he had still been with us I imagine he’d have grown all of our flowers.

I never got to meet my grandmothers but it was always clear that my mother and father would have loved me to. My bouquet was tied with lace which belonged to my mother’s mother and the room was full of crocheted doilies my father’s mother and great aunt had made.

Wherever I looked in that room, they were there.

If I have any advice it would be this… When you’re planning your wedding, make time to remember the people you hold dear. Find a special way to ensure they have their place in your day. You want them there and they would want to be there so ensure you have something; a photograph, a favourite poem, a song, something that you will see or experience on the day and think ‘Oh, there they are.’

Think about the person they were and why you loved them. Of course, you can look to Pinterest and the internet for inspiration but if you can, find your own way to remember them. I chose not to have a photo table because that would have reminded me that they weren’t there. Instead, I found ways to include them as if they were still here. My grandfather would have grown sweetpeas for me, my grandmother and great aunt would have crocheted doilies if I had asked and I would have been given lace and other pretty pieces.

Above all else, when that moment in your day comes, by all means shed a tear and have a little cry; it’s your party and you should cry if you want to. Just make sure you give them a smile. Remember that they would want you to be happy and, whether they can see you or not, they would want you to smile your biggest smile! You are marrying the person you love and I am sure they would have given anything to be there to see that. So let them.

If you feel you can share, we would love to hear how you plan to remember your loved ones or ways you have already honoured them. Perhaps you can help inspire other readers :)

I promise vintage business will resume next time!

Till then, much love,

Sophie x

Merry Cwtchmas from The Vintage Bride

Eeeeek, the big day is almost upon us. Merry Cwtchmas everybody!!!

Firstly, I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post. It’s been a busy few months for us here in the Murray house. Back in September baby Luc (the Welsh spelling of Luke) was born. He’s been wonderful and we’re so excited about his first Christmas! Oscar has proven himself to be a brilliant big brother already, we’re feeling truly blessed right now and can’t wait for tomorrow!

As it’s Christmas Eve I imagine wedding planning has been put on the back burner for a day or two (and rightly so!) So let’s get cosy, put Bing Crosby on and I’ll give you a good fix of nostalgia.

For me, Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time to relax and reflect, to make new beginnings and to remember. No other time of the year seems to churn up the feelings Christmas does. Every year, without fail, I am transported back to a time when magic really did exist. Everything about Christmas, the smells, the tastes, the sounds, the sights; they all play a part in unearthing that feeling year on year. As a lover of almost anything with a bit of history behind it, I love to surround myself with tradition and nostalgia.

Wales has some fantastic Christmas traditions. The two below are my favourites

Taffy Making

On Christmas Eve, families would boil toffee on open fires and then drop dollops of it into cold, cold water. The taffy would curl into shapes, sometimes resembling a letter which would be used to predict your future love (if unmarried, of course) Already married? I’m sure you can just eat it

I love this tradition and we’ve decided to start doing this. Fancy it too? Here’s a recipe


On Christmas morning, between 3am and 6am (and probably full of taffy) many would attend a church service known as Plygain meaning daybreak. Men would gather in rural churches and sing carols for three hours. The service still takes place in many rural areas and is becoming increasingly popular. Following the service, a typical Christmas Day would begin with a feast and drink aplenty.

We would love to know if you have attended this service before or intend to do so!

Plygain in St Fagans Museum. Image Source.

Plygain in St Fagans Museum. Image Source.

Christmas is also about making your own traditions. We decorate our real tree together while listening to Christmas songs. We give a ‘Christmas Eve box’ which includes a film, new pyjamas, hot chocolate with marshmallows and a Christmas story for a cosy evening in. We eat pork pie (with ketchup) on Christmas morning which my family have done for at least three generations. We wear our best clothes (no Christmas jumpers in our house!) We ALWAYS watch The Snowman and we usually fall out over a game of Scrabble or Monopoly.

Traditional Christmas Hot Chocolate. Image Source.

Traditional Christmas Hot Chocolate. Image Source.

We adopted a few more traditions this year too. We jumped on the Elf on the Shelf bandwagon, which my four year old loves. I’m sure he’ll be making an appearance next year too! Back in the summer I bought a job lot of hand written recipes and newspaper cuttings on eBay, most of which dated back to the war. Among them were a number of Christmas recipes which I framed and hung in our kitchen. They remind me of my great aunt and, although not written by her, I’m sure would make her smile. I’ll hang these every year and when things settle down, may even try the recipes! We will also be sure to try out the toffee tonight (I’ll let you know how it goes!)

I’ll leave you with an extract from ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ by Dylan Thomas (which is waiting in Oscar’s Christmas Eve box… shhhh)

All of us at Cwtch HQ would like to wish you a wonderful Christmas! Nadolig Llawen!

Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang “Cherry Ripe,” and another uncle sang “Drake’s Drum.” It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird’s Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.

Love Sophie x

Afternoon Tea

Vintage Bride Sophie is here this week to talk about Afternoon Tea, who doesn’t love it!

If you’re opting for a vintage-themed wedding you’ll be pleased to hear that food is the easy part :-)

There are ways to tie in your era of choice to your wedding menu; hot dogs for a 50s rock n roll theme, 1000 course taster menu for a 20s theme… but one way to keep costs down, offer variety and provide something for everyone while maintaining a vintage theme is through ~ perhaps the greatest invention of all time ~ afternoon (or high) tea!

I mean, really, what could possibly be better than having someone plonk a beautiful cake stand in front of you, filled to the brim with sandwiches containing the fanciest fancy things you would probably treat yourself to at Christmas, miniature pies, tarts, cakes, buns, quiches, scones… and on that note I’m off to the kitchen to raid the cupboards and I’ll be back to finish writing shortly…


Image Source

Image Source: Etsy

… Okay back to business. Let’s start with the cake stand. If you have a number of tables to serve you are going to need a fair few of these. There are plenty of local businesses in and around Wales with vintage cake stands and china available to hire at a fraction of the cost of having to buy them and this is definitely the route I would (and did) go down. If you want to pick up a few to use after the wedding, or for sentimental purposes, try charity shops, eBay, your local vintage market or even ask your family!

Cake stand full of delicious delights. Image Source.

Cake stand full of delicious delights. Image Source.

Fancy Vintage China based in Swansea provide vintage fine bone crockery
La de Da…Vintage China Hire in Porthcawl offer china along with other vintage props
The China Library in New Tredegar have been collecting vintage china, glassware and accessories for almost a decade
Vintage Green has a selection of English Bone China available to hire throughout South Wales
Sipping Pretty just on the edge of Hay-on-Wye have a collection of vintage crockery, glassware and other accessories including eiderdowns and candlesticks as well as picnic blankets!

The Caterer…

Filling the cake stand with delights is something you will need to discuss with your caterer. Most caterers are used to preparing food for buffets but you will need to express that you need some finesse. This is, after all, an alternative to a traditional wedding dinner and needs to be special. It needs to fill your guests up to guarantee smiling faces in your wedding photos. No one likes to party on an empty stomach! Caterers should be able to provide food to suit your budget so sit down beforehand and establish what you can afford.

Tea on the Titanic. The menu for the last Afternoon Tea the Titanic would have. Image Source.

Tea on the Titanic. The menu for the last Afternoon Tea the Titanic would have. Image Source.

When deciding on sandwich fillings, pastries and the like, try to offer as much variety as possible. You may need to cater for vegetarians, vegans and guests with allergies so don’t forget to take any dietary requirements into consideration. As long as you have enough food and offer choice you’re on to a winner, trust me. Although it’s breaking tradition, another way to bulk up your menu is by serving bowls of salad and potatoes. These will accompany the savoury elements of your afternoon tea beautifully and will help to fill those bellies :-)

Oh, to heck with tradition! Have a giant basket of fresh welsh cakes on each table too!

I’m always one for a bit of sentimentality so let’s make this meal personal. If you’re lucky enough to have some of grandma’s or your mother’s hand-written cake recipes you could frame and display these as alternatives to table numbers and if you really want to get nostalgic, why not treat your guests by adding the finished cakes to the cake stand. How proud would they be?

Alternative idea for table names. Image Source.

Alternative idea for table names. Image Source.

I’ve been a busy bee sourcing era-specific recipes, presentation ideas and menus to whet your appetites. Pop over to Pinterest and have a little gander to get inspiration on food, drink and all areas of your vintage wedding.

Are any of our readers planning a real vintage wedding? Who is going with afternoon tea in lieu of a traditional wedding breakfast? Drop us a comment below.

Vintage Bride: Flowers

Its been a while but she’s back! Our beautiful Vintage Bride Sophie is here today talking about all things floral. All images in this post are by Maria Farrelly Photography, Enjoy! 

Hey Cwtchers! It seems like a lifetime since my last post (huge apologies!), but I’m back and following on from Charlie’s post on floral high street fashion, I will be exploring the wacky world of floral traditions.

imageI wanted to start by explaining how the tradition of using flowers at weddings began, but having spent evening up on evening looking for a definitive answer, I can only provide a couple of theories…

My personal favourite and perhaps the most comical, is that the bridal bouquet was used as a way of camouflaging bad odour. Of course, flowers look pretty which is always a bonus, but during the unhygienic days of the plague, unfortunately the bride didn’t always smell the best. Now, if you’re opting for a bouquet, please don’t skip the deodorant, I do not believe carrying flowers would suffice.

Maria_Farrelly_Photography0004 Maria_Farrelly_Photography0023 Maria_Farrelly_Photography0001The second theory is that back in the day, brides were considered lucky. Guests used to rip the brides’ dress and garments to take home as a lucky keepsake, leaving her with a mutilated wedding dress. Understandably, this practice had to stop and the tradition of throwing the garter was born. Men being men ;-) often couldn’t wait for the ‘throwing of the garter’ and would remove it from the bride before the big event. Imagine the fights they used to have! Understandably, this practice also had to stop and the tradition of ‘throwing a bouquet’ was born! Obviously a much safer activity (for most) this is still a popular tradition today. 

Maria_Farrelly_Photography0015throwing the bouquet
Picking flowers for your big day can be as easy as choosing something which compliments your colour scheme but for others it can be much more personal. For me, sweet peas were a must as my late grandfather used to grow them in his garden and would enter them into competitions. If you have no personal connection to a particular flower but still wish to create some meaning in your bouquet, you could look to the various meanings of flowers. You’ll find a list below of some of the better known varieties but you can pop ‘flower meanings’ into a search engine for more detailed results. If that doesn’t inspire you, why not ask your mother, grandmother or someone close to you what they chose on their big day and honour the ladies in your life by using the same?

In my quest to become a professional flower analyser, I also asked the Cwtch girls which flowers they chose for their bouquets and the results are in…

Sophie ~ Sweet peas, peonies, pink carnations and white lilacs

Maria_Farrelly_Photography0019 Maria_Farrelly_Photography0020Maria ~ White roses

Maria_Farrelly_Photography0016Charlie ~ Purple and pink roses, lilacs and sweet peas

Maria_Farrelly_Photography0017 Maria_Farrelly_Photography0018Pippa ~ Lilac, yellow, pink and cream roses and hydrangeaMaria_farrelly_PhotographyJemma ~ Roses

maria farrelly 30
And of course, not forgetting, we have two brides-to-be on the team but we couldn’t possibly give away their plans ;-)

Flowers And Their Meanings

Amaryllis – splendid beauty, pride
Arum lily, calla – magnificent beauty
Bluebell – constancy, forgive and forget
Campanula – white – gratitude
Carnation – red – ‘alas for my poor heart’; striped – refusal; yellow – disdain; pink – woman’s love
Chrysanthemum – red – ‘I love you’; yellow – slighted love; white – truth
Daffodil – regard, chivalry
Dahlia – good taste
Forget-me-not – true love, ‘the key to my heart’
Freesia – friendship
Gladiolus – strength of character
Hyacinth – blue – constancy; white – unobtrusive loveliness
Iris – yellow – flame of love
Lilac – purple – first emotions of love; white – youthful innocence
Lily of the valley – return of happiness
Orchid – longevity, elegance
Peony – bashfulness, romance, good health, happy marriage
Rose – symbolises love and good fortune and the colours have meaning too:
white – truth
white with pink blush – ‘only for thee’
bright pink – ‘meet me by moonlight’
single stem – simplicity
red and white – unity
red – eternal love
Snowdrop – hope
Sunflower dwarf – adulation
Sweet pea – departure, delicate pleasures
Tulip – red – declaration of love; striped – beautiful eyes
Violet – faithfulness, modesty

I hope this helps to inspire you! We’d love to know what you chose or have chosen for your big day :-) Flower analysis is officially hip you know!

Heres a little more inspiration from Maria Farrelly’s collection of weddings.

Maria_Farrelly_Photography0002 Maria_Farrelly_Photography0003 Maria_Farrelly_Photography0008 Maria_Farrelly_Photography0014Till next time, much love x