But its just glorious out there today, doesn’t make a Monday quite so bad then does it!
And speaking of glorious, we have a truly stunning sunset cwtch of the week of you all today. Shot by the lovely Darren Thomas, and taken on the beautiful Dunraven Bay at Southerndown.
I will hand over to Darren now to tell you more about it…..
A Sunset on Southerndown Cwtch
Wow, what can I say other than what a superb day to have shot this pre wedding shoot with Susie and Rob.
In August I will be heading to Clearwell Castle where I will have the pleasure of shooting their wedding.
So, having meet Susie and Rob last year to discuss their wedding, I was over the moon that they decided to book me for their big day and recently when Susie got in touch to arrange a pre wedding shoot at Southerndown beach I had all fingers and toes crossed that the sun would come out to play. Well, it worked. The weather man or woman, I’m not sure which :) said it would be cloudy and overcast all day. I should have known, as we all do, they are never right and I am so glad this was true. The brightest and clearest blue skies that I have seen this year, not a cloud in the sky and the location Dunraven Bay, renowned by landscape photographers and many others as an amazing sunset location.
Susie told me that she and Rob were not lovers of the camera so I had to make sure that by the end of the shoot they were. Rob, well Rob clearly knew how to work that camera and even impressed Susie, well done Rob, obviously been practicing :) It was a great day, plenty of laughs and what really made the day for me was when they both said how much of a great time they both had. Thank you both, looking forward to the wedding now.
We finally have the pleasure of introducing our very first bridesmaid! Have you been asked to step up? Are you going to be the Maid of Honor? Are you in need of some inspiration and help for this mahoosive role you’re about to fill?
Well, our gorgeous Maid In Wales, Gwen, is in the same boat, and here to share her journey with you……
Hello! Lovely to meet you all!
I’m Gwen and in just over a year’s time I am going to helping my twin sister Alys walk down the aisle as her Maid of Honour. We’re both 29 and grew up in the Brecon Beacons in a little village called Bwlch.
We went our separate ways for University – me to Exeter and Alys to Cardiff – where we both met local boys who have ended up as our future husbands. I now live in Exeter with my husband Mike and work in PR for a local hospital. When I’m not writing press releases or promoting the NHS to the local media, I spend my time crafting, taking photos, going to festivals, and travelling back and forth to Wales visiting family and friends (I spend A LOT of time on the M5…).
Alys and I have always been best friends, so when I married Mike last August, it was only natural that she should be my Maid of Honour.
I always knew that she would be up to the task and, during one crazy year of wedding planning, Alys turned out to be a ‘Maid of Honour Extraordinaire’! She threw herself in to organising my amazing hen weekend (which remained top secret until the moment my hens surprised me outside Bath train station).
She was a constant support throughout the wedding planning process helping with everything from dress shopping to individually hand painting invitations. And on an emotional rollercoaster of a wedding day (when I was just about managing to hold it all together) she even managed to reduce me to tears by writing a cheesy song and getting my friends to perform it during the reception. All in all – BEST BRIDESMAID EVER.
The trouble is, now it’s my turn. When Alys’ boyfriend Phil popped the question last summer I excitedly (and a little apprehensively) assumed that the time had now come for me to return the favour. Her official MOH proposal came in the post with a card and a customised badge for each of her five chosen bridesmaids. As geographical distance is an issue for Alys’ newly formed ‘Bride Tribe’ (we’re spread out across South Wales, the Midlands and the South West), we all took to Whatsapp to share our reactions to the mail with bridesmaid badge selfies. Naturally we all accepted. So now the hard work begins.
Whilst I am honoured and excited at the prospect of helping my twin sister walk down the aisle next year, she has left me with some rather big shoes to fill. I want to be able to give her exactly the same amazing experience she gave me (which will be quite a challenge!). I’ve already got the engagement party under my belt – I supplied the decorations, helped out with the catering and even made a small speech (public speaking is not my thing) – and attended the obligatory family wedding fair visit which has given us lots of ideas and inspiration for her big day.
As Brides go, she is very on the ball with planning her wedding and already has lots of elements booked in. I, on the other hand, am not quite so sorted with my MOH duties. The prospect of planning a hen party for up to 17 of Alys’ closest friends fills me with dread and I have yet to start any firm preparation. I have a few ideas though, and with the help of my wonderful fellow bridesmaids, I’m confident that we’ll be able to pull it off. Fingers crossed.
We cannot wait to hear more about what you have planned for Alys! x
Our boys are back, and they’re feeling a little over whelmed! With ten months to go, they’re feeling a little up to their eyes with it all. Over to Mike to full you in…..
The RAF Grooms are on Planning Overload!
When we first started planning the wedding it started really well, we knew what we wanted and what we didn’t want in our wedding.
Since then as time continues to dwindle we seem to be behind the drag curve in respects to our timeline. Mostly because I’m away with work;and James is currently working six days a week. (The sixth day is his training day in preparation for becoming a Special Constable with Wiltshire Police, as he leaves the RAF in May)
Our biggest controversy has been the guest list which has been critiqued, shall we say, for the lack of family we invited, as it became clear some family members felt put out by being left out, despite not seeing them for years.
We both have large families, a large circle of friends together and also separate so it was always going to be difficult. We think and hope it is resolved now.
In terms of actual wedding plans we managed to get the majority of it sorted immediately, but being typically gay and influenced by fashion (James mostly!) and very picky (Me!) we would change our minds a lot and still do.
We were good in booking a band, a florist and the venue with ease. Actually James booked the venue before I even saw it! (Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire) However this guy knows me well and he chose perfectly. It was a castle built to keep the Welsh out for Henry VIII, trouble is it hasn’t worked as James’ family are all Welsh!
The Florist was a lovely lady who runs the flower shop in town and very competitive prices, so with a massive thanks to my mum and her husband Shaun who have agreed to pay for the flowers, we have lovely array of red and white with touches of blue.
So really it’s the finer details that has been left to be organised which are the finalising the catering for the evening food, the decorations, the wines and the table linen. So if any of your readers have any good knowledge on table linen then let us know please! (We are just wary we don’t want to hire the cloths when they cost the same as buying one (this is the picky side in me!)
Oh and the wedding cake – how can I forget that part?! We aren’t sure yet how we are going to tackle this. Whether it is an actual cake made for us costing hundreds of pounds designed to our every needs, or it is a few M&S fruit and sponge cakes decorated to perfection. But with a 100 invited to the day with further 80 in the evening, we know it has got to be good.
We still have ten months to go, so we are confident we will get the smaller but trickier items squared away in good time. It would be great to see what your other readers and couples have done in terms of wedding cakes and table linen etc.
Don’t worry boys! You will get it sorted! Its can get pretty overwhelming. Looking forward to hearing more x
Helped many independent welsh wedding businesses grow by showcasing their work and promoting their services
Created jobs for some very special Cwtchgirls
Shared hundreds of real welsh weddings from across this beautiful country
Given some of our readers the opportunity to share their bride/groom to be diaries with us all.
Personally, I am ridiculously proud of how well Cwtch The Bride is doing and I adore working alongside some truly amazing people.
I have many more ideas still up my sleeve and cannot wait to see them come to light. All in good time.
A Personal Thank you
I know that to many of you reading this, it can appear that we always have great fun. Laughing, singing and dancing our way through the workday with a hilarious spotify playlist. And for the most part- its true. But occasionally, something happens that can totally throw you. I mean…really knock you for six. The kind of thing that turns your world upside down, makes you want to crawl under a duvet and never come out. A life changing experience that requires an incredible group of people to help get you through it.
This photograph was taken a year after my own marriage had ended. I was devastated and had hit a real low point of my life. Being surrounded by all things ‘wedding’ was very painful for me. Everything hurt. I didn’t tell many people. When you work in the wedding industry and your own marriage fails you feel this enormous amount of grief and shame. And yet, I pushed through quietly. I didn’t want to let anyone down. And its thanks to these girls I got through it. I’ll forever be greatful to them for their help and support.
My CWTCHGIRLS are (without a doubt) the coolest women I’ve met in my entire life! There are a few Cwtchgirls in particular I want to give a special Thank you to.
Anna, Donna, Lindsey, Dawn and my mum … you ladies, I don’t think you’ll ever know how grateful I am to have you in my life. You have helped me get through the hardest time where I honestly thought I couldn’t cope. I felt broken and so low. Any yet you ladies where always right there for me. You picked me up when I hit the floor. when I doubted everything, you ladies encouraged me to keep going. When I wondered why on earth I’m doing all this work… you ladies just smiled and said ‘lets do it’.
Thank you for being so damn amazing. You really are very special women and I love that we get to share this awesome roller coaster ride of work and life with each other.
Donna, the most organised office manager & friend I’ve ever had and the rock I needed to kickstart my working week. I miss you but think my book keeper misses you more! Damn I need you back soon x
Lindsey (aka LINDA), I wouldn’t do Cwtchfest without you! simple as that. You are a dream to work with and I am so excited at what lies ahead!
Anna, hahaha where do i start with you? You make my Mondays & Wednesdays rock. You have taken the reins of features editor and ran with it. I bloody love ya! Plus, anyone that shares the same love of the Carpenters as me is a friend for life!
Dawn, Our Boobless bride. Your story touched me so much I knew as soon as I read your first email and the tears rolled- we were going to be friends for life! You are an inspiration.
Mum. I love you. And thank you for always believing in me, even when I doubt myself. xxx
Thank you to all the inspiring welsh wedding businesses that continue to invest in Cwtch The Bride. I love that you too believe in what we do and what we stand for. I love that you support us at a time when I know all too well how difficult running a small business can be. Together we grow and I adore seeing you all benefit for our hard work. Onwards and up!
And the final thank you goes out to you lovely Cwtchers for reading, thank you for commenting, sharing and getting involved in what was a crazy idea of mine that has now become a valuable resource for many welsh brides & grooms!
So, there you have it, was rather personal but needed to be said..
There is no hot date for me tonight, no plethora of valentines day cards flooding my letter box. But I do have two very special men in my life that I adore. Josh & Joe. My boys. What more could a girl want. Hmm… we’ll see what the future brings. xxx
And if you have just got engaged on this very special day… Welcome to Cwtch The Bride! We are a fabulous bunch of honest, hardworking women that are hear for you. This is a safe place for you to begin planning your welsh wedding and we can’t wait to meet you!
Happy Valentines Day everyone. Lets crack open a bottle of fizz and have an awesome day.
So its nearly the weekend so we thought we would treat you, as usual, to another beautiful Real Wedding. This week we give you Allie and Rafe, shot by the wonderful Andrew at Silverbirch Photography. Oooooh its so so lovely! The attention to detail, the venue, her coy smile, those shoes, his tweed, their little boy! I shall stop banging on about it and leave it to you to discover instead. Over to Allie and Rafe to tell us all about their day……
Real Weddings: Allie & Rafe’s Day, Their Way
What was your budget?
We didn’t really have a set budget in mind. We knew we could only spend what we had so worked with that. We decided what was a need and what was a want then priced everything up. That sounds really boring I know but it really worked for us. Our rule of thumb was ‘does it sound reasonable’, if it did then we went for it. We had all the needs then had a few nice splurges too!
All together I’d say just under £7000 in total.
How would you describe your wedding theme?
The whole thing was perfect from start to end. My favourite part was how relaxed everyone felt. It was a casual laid back day with our closest family and friends. We were able to be ourselves and so were our guests. No pretending and no drama. Rafe was able to perform wuthering heights with the boys, the dance as well as the singing, I over indulged in Jagerbombs and no body batted an eyelid. Our families and friends mingled like they had all known each other for years.
I also loved seeing Rafe and our little boy Dylan dressed in the same outfit. It made my heart melt seeing him in his miniature tweed coat and brogues.
Tell us about your Wedding Dress
I didn’t step foot in a wedding dress shop. It just didn’t appeal to me at all. I knew I didn’t want a traditional dress and I knew trying on dresses in a shop just wasn’t for me. I initially chose a vintage Ivory embroidered full length gown but I just didn’t feel comfortable and didn’t feel like myself. In the end I went for a Chi Chi London lace baroque tea dress from ASOS. It was a bargain but I felt really special in it and more importantly felt like me.
I was actually more bothered about my shoes! I didn’t like traditional wedding shoes and knew I wanted something colourful. I found the most amazing burgundy shoes on Mod Cloth and instantly ordered them, they were perfect.
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?
I chose my two best friends, Bobbie and Becci and my Cousin, Jess. Even though we have spent long periods of time miles apart and sometimes go weeks without talking and months without seeing each other they are three of the most important people to me in the world. It was definitely an easy decision. There’s never any expectations and when we do see each other it’s like no time has passed at all.
Rafe chose his two closest friends from when he was a teenager, Brad and Drinkel (Tom). Both live overseas now so it was amazing that they were able to join us for our day.
Why did you choose your venue?
As soon as we walked into Rosedew Farm we knew we wanted to get married there. It was the only venue we actually looked at. A big old empty barn by the sea. It was just perfect for us.
Tell us about your photographer
Our photographer was one of our splurges. I saw his photography on a wedding blog and I fell in love. I love Andrew’s style of photography and photos are really important to me so we contacted him. It was important to us that moments were caught on camera rather than just a posed image. I love our photos so much.
How did the proposal happen?
We were chatting one day about our next travels. We love to travel and usually have our next two trips planned. I was saying to Rafe that I really wanted to go to Japan next year and he said “well can’t we get married instead?”. So that was that and we started planning.
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?
The whole day was more or less DIY. From the invitations to the centrepieces to the cheesecake. Even the flowers were DIY. My mother in law and I spent many an hour digging in charity shops and antique shops for dream bottles and teapots, and evenings spent tying wooden cutlery and napkins. Rafe and I particularly enjoyed sampling the cheese in the shops before deciding which ones to have. My bridesmaid Becci was chief ‘florist’ and handtied all the bouquets and button holes. I think doing things DIY is more stressful and time consuming however you get to have things exactly as you want (whilst being a lot more cost effective too!). It just made the planning more exciting too as we could see everything coming together.
What was your first dance & why?
We didn’t want an announced first dance so we asked the DJ to play our first dance song later in the evening unannounced. We didn’t fancy the awkward sway with everyone watching. We danced to Bob Marley, Could You be Loved at a random point of the evening. It brings back happy memories of traveling around Central America and the Caribbean (then after returning home finding out we were going to have a baby!)
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?
I don’t think so. It was perfect.
Do you have any advice for future couples?
Relax and enjoy yourself. You only do it once and it goes so fast. Stop worrying and just enjoy your day. There’s not enough time to sweat the small stuff.
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?
CHEESE! I’m not kidding. Cheese shopping was so good. Getting to go around all the cheese shops and deli’s and taste loads of different cheeses before making our selections for our cheese cake.