Welsh and Wonderful

A lifestyle blog written by a Welsh lady living in Wales.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The Wedding Dress

Lots of people told me that the wedding dress I'd choose would be completely different to the one I had in mind. But I had a good idea of what I wanted and ended up choosing; ivory, modest, nipped at the waist, floaty ballgown style with long lace sleeves. Timeless, classic and elegant.

I pored over Pinterest, Instagram, Google and my old issues of Hello! magazine for inspiration (yes, I'd saved my favourite celebrity and Royal wedding editions!) Kate Middleton was a big inspiration for me, as was the dress which Geri Halliwell wore on her wedding day. But it was so hard finding The One!

I initially wanted to hire a dress or buy one from a charity shop; after all, I was never going to wear it again. But I just couldn't find what I was looking for. I didn't want a strapless dress because I knew I'd feel bare and exposed, and I loved the look of lace sleeves; it's such a beautiful style. I also didn't want diamanté and sparkles on my dress. Less is more.

When I first tried on dresses, I felt a bit awkward and uncomfortable; I was worried that I would somehow tear the expensive dress I was trying on or get stuck in one of them(!). But after trying on a few I grew in confidence. Several of the assistants in the bridal shops I visited thought I'd look good in a fishtail dress, which I tried on for fun. But it just wasn't me. I wanted to look demure and classic, and the fishtail style was too clingy. I really didn't want anything too sexy and revealing on my wedding day.

I found my beautiful White Rose dress in Cariad Bridal in Swansea. I told them the kind of dress I wanted and they were able to design it to my exact specifications; from the type of material to the length of the lace sleeves. It was like having a couture dress, but without the couture price tag.

I had to use my imagination a lot though because the style of dress I liked which was hanging up in the shop was a size 20, so when I first tried it on it completely swamped me. However, with the help of a few clips to pull it in at the back I was able to envisage what it would look like. It was The One!
Ta Dah! Finally in my dream dress!
I initially went for three quarter length lace sleeves because I saw a photo of a model wearing this style of dress and I thought that this was what I wanted. However, I soon realised that I really wanted full length lace sleeves, and I'm so glad that I ordered the extra lace to make this happen.

I chose a heavy lace adorned with an intricate floral pattern; it was so beautiful! The underskirt was in satin, with a light chiffon material on top. The whole look was completed with a pretty ivory satin bow detail at the front to accentuate the waist.

There were 41 buttons at the back of the dress which my lovely mum dutifully fastened on the morning of the wedding with the aid of a crochet hook!
I wore my favourite perfume, a pearl necklace, and a pretty pearl bracelet from Gill Clement, a local jewellery designer in Swansea.

As for my shoes... I love wearing heels, but I knew I was going to be on my feet all day, so I decided to go for a pair of flats. Mum found me a super comfy pair of slip-on ballet shoes from Primark for £4! Yep...the bride wore Primarni!

And do you know what? They were SO comfy! No one could actually see my shoes under my wedding dress, and I still felt elegant. Plus they matched the pair that my flower girl wore, which was so cool!
I wore my hair in a half up-half down style

My veil was a finger-tip length veil with plain ivory satin trim. I wanted to be able to wear my veil all day, so a longer veil wouldn't have been a practical option.

My lovely mum looked simply gorgeous in a pale pink dress and jacket from Phase Eight. Mother of The Bride is not an easy role to dress for, but she looked absolutely fabulous, as I'm sure you'll agree.

The finished result? My dream dress!

Tips for finding your dream dress

  • Start dress shopping as far in advance as possible. Once you've chosen your dress, it can take several months for it to be made and delivered to the bridal shop.
  • If you don't love it...don't get it. I was quite tempted by a dress which was less than half price in a sale, but this big reduction in price was clouding my judgment of whether I really wanted the dress.
  • Ask friends for bridal shop recommendations and try not to travel too far afield unless you absolutely have to (you'll be glad that you went somewhere local when you have to go for dress fittings.)
  • Go to several bridal shops and get a feel for the range of dresses, pricing and customer service.
  • Be fussy but try not to have too high expectations. Wedding dress shopping is not like how it is in the movies...it can be disappointing and may not be as glamorous as you'd imagined, unless you're going high end designer (you lucky thing!)
  • Consider your body shape and styles which enhance your best features. Don't worry if you haven't got the figure of a supermodel because there's something to suit every shape and size. The fabulous dress you see on someone else may not suit you because they're a different body shape to you.
  • Remember to consider all the extras in your dress budget, like shoes and bridal accessories. You'll be surprised at how much a veil can cost (but you can get some bargains online!)
  • Don't worry if you feel disappointed if you still haven't found The One. This is normal.
  • Take someone with you who you trust, like your mum or a close friend.
  • Most bridal shops will insist that you make an appointment to browse and try on dresses.
  • Try not to go to too many bridal shops in one day...it's tiring, and you won't feel at your best. Make sure you schedule in time for lunch and coffee!
  • I would recommend having your hair trial on the same day as your dress fitting. I really enjoyed this!
  • If there's something that's not quite right with your dress, say something. Most things can be altered without too much fuss.
  • Once you've chosen your dress, ask the shop assistant to take lots of photos of you in it.
  • Keep the details top secret; this is meant to be a surprise. I only shared pictures of my dress with my parents and my bridesmaid.
  • Once you've got your dress, it's perfectly normal to doubt if you've made the right decision. This happened to me! I kept comparing my dress to other bride's dresses and wondered if I'd made a mistake. If this happens to you then don't worry; it's understandable that you feel this way because it's a big decision. Speak to your mum or a close friend for their honest opinion and reassurance. I can honestly say that I wouldn't change my dress and it was everything I dreamed of.
  • Try to enjoy the experience!

If you're a bride-to-be then I hope that this has been helpful for you.
As always, thank you for reading! Angharad x

Monday, 11 December 2017

Snow Day

It's dark when you wake up. It's dark when you go home. It's so cold. You have a cold. Your heating bill is going to be astronomical. However, once a sprinkling of snow is thrown into this wintry mix, all is (almost) forgiven (I must admit, I really hate the cold!). There's something exciting about snow; maybe it's because we don't get it very often in Wales, so it's a bit of a novelty.

Your inner child appears from nowhere and it's time to go sledging and snowman building.
Everything looks so beautiful.

I hope you've enjoyed these photos from our fun snow day in the Swansea valleys!

Angharad x


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

California Sun

Never go too long without watching a sunset...they're proof that no matter what happens, every day can end beautifully. Such wise words! There are few things in life that are as beautiful and fleeting as watching the sunset. We certainly enjoyed lots of beautiful sunsets while we were in California. Here are some sunset stories that I thought I'd share with you :)

"Never waste any amount of time doing anything important when there is a sunset outside you should be sitting under"                        - C. JoyBell C

We saw some stunning sunsets overlooking the bay from Oakland towards San Francisco. I loved seeing the skyscrapers in the distance; they looked so dramatic against the orange glow of the evening sun. Our sunset viewings were accompanied by a nice glass of wine and a lovely dinner (the food in the US is so good!), as the boats went by on the calm, still waters. This was definitely an unexpected highlight of our trip!

"When you leave a beautiful place, 
you carry it with you wherever you go" - Alexandra Stoddard

The sunset at San Simeon was truly beautiful. We saw humpback whales and dolphins, and huddled around a fire pit to keep warm as we enjoyed the last moments of daylight and listened to the sound of the  waves. There's something so special about watching the sunset over the ocean; it's my favourite time of day to visit the beach.

 "Twilight fell: The sky turned to a light, dusky purple littered with tiny silver stars"
- J.K. Rowling

Lots of hazy, dreamy colours misted over the mountains as the sun slowly went down over the valley in Kings Canyon. It was so peaceful and beautiful; we were keen to get back before it got dark, but we just had to stop to enjoy the last moments of the sun going down.

 "When the sun is setting, 
leave whatever you are doing and watch it." - Mehmet Murat Ildan

After a wonderful day of sight seeing, we pulled over to enjoy the last moments of the sun going down through the trees. Lots of other visitors had the same idea; I think that when you're surrounded by nature, there are less distractions and you're keen to appreciate it more.


 "Sunsets are proof that no matter what happens, 
every day can end beautifully" 
- Kristen Butler

Pinks and violets filled the sky over Lake Tahoe as we cruised along on the Safari Rose, a luxurious yacht which specialised in guided tours. We enjoyed talking to other holiday makers and cuddled up in blankets on the top deck to keep ourselves warm (it chilled off quite quickly!). This was one of our favourite bits of our trip to Lake Tahoe; it was such a great experience being out on the water and enjoying all the beautiful colours.
As always, thank you for reading! Angharad x

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Bobbi Brown Wedding Makeup Tutorial

I have an announcement to make...David and I will be getting married next year (exciting!). It's been a bit of a roller coaster organising and planning the wedding, but for the most part it's been lots of fun. I'd decided that I wanted to do my own makeup on my wedding day; I'd arranged a wedding makeup trial with a professional makeup artist, but I wasn't happy with the result (even though she did spend quite a long time trying to "tone it down" for me.) If you're a bride-to-be and you're undecided about your wedding makeup then I would suggest doing the same thing; it made me realise that I felt more comfortable doing it myself.

I'd heard so much about Bobbi Brown and how it's a great brand for achieving a naturally beautiful look, so I made an appointment for a wedding makeup tutorial at my nearest Bobbi Brown counter. The appointment took about 2.5 hours in total, and I was certainly impressed with the products and the look that I was able to achieve. The tutorial cost £30, which was redeemable against any Bobbi Brown products. I won't show you the final look because it will be a surprise for The Big Day, but here are some photos from my fun morning! Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post.

 1. So many gorgeous colours
2. Primed to perfection
3. This stuff smells gorgeous!
4. All the goodies
 1. Hello!
2. Choosing a lip colour :)
3. All the lotions and potions
4. Tools of the trade

What did I buy?

💗   Vitamin Enriched Face Base; this is oil free and smells divine. You need to try this!
💗   Blush in Pretty Coral
💗   Eye shadow in Ivory
💗   Perfectly Defined Long-Wear Brow Pencil in Espresso
💗   Makeup brushes

I'm really enjoying trying out the makeup and I'm sure I'll be back to Bobbi Brown soon to pick up some more goodies!

Have you tried Bobbi Brown? Which products would you recommend?

Thursday, 19 October 2017

California Road Trip

David and I had wanted to go on a California road trip for a while, so we were both very excited about this adventure! There were so many places in California that we wanted to visit during our trip, but we didn't want to be rushed, so we decided to do a round trip from San Francisco, down the Pacific Coast Highway to Monterey and San Simeon, then across to Kings Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Lake Tahoe. Our final stop was intended to be Calistoga, in the Napa County, however, we had to rapidly change our plans while we were out there due to the devastating wildfires. As an alternative, we decided to extend our stay at beautiful Lake Tahoe, which worked out really well because it gave us extra time to relax and explore the area. We were very fortunate that we were relatively unaffected by the wildfires. I would love to visit the Napa Valley one day and really hope that the area recovers soon following this terrible tragedy.

We stayed at various places during our trip, and I checked out numerous Tripadvisor reviews beforehand. We set out each day to explore a new city, National Park, nature trail, or a fun attraction to visit. California truly is an awesome place, and our road trip really made us feel like we were living the American Dream! I'm excited to finally share the travel diary with all of you, including my suggestions on what to see, where to go, and some general tips for traveling in the US. We loved it so much we are planning a trip back (hopefully in the near future!).

We kicked off the trip by staying in Oakland, just outside San Francisco. This worked out much cheaper than staying in San Francisco, and we enjoyed taking the ferry into the city each day. The ferry took 45 min, and David and I agreed that this was one of our favourite parts of the trip. It was so exciting as we approached the famous sights of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and took in the San Francisco Bay skyline. Day 1 involved a visit to Pier 39 to check out the various attractions, including the sea lions! We also took a stroll around Fisherman's Wharf and went on an open-top bus tour. Day 2 started off with a trip to Alcatraz, which was quite an experience. Make sure you book your tickets well in advance online because they sell out quickly, particularly on weekends. The audio tour around Alcatraz provided a fascinating insight into life behind bars, and it was really interesting to learn more about the history of the island. In the afternoon we took a ride on one of the infamous cable cars. We went "woooo!" as we went downhill on the cable car (well I did, anyway!). It was an action packed couple of days, and we were glad for a more relaxed pace away from the crowds after this.

Monterey was soooo pretty, relaxing and quaint, and was the perfect place to stop off at after the hustle and bustle of San Fran. We enjoyed lots of coffee in a local coffee shop (we always seem to drink lots more whenever we visit the US!) and visited Monterey Bay Aquarium. We took a stroll along the pier, and to our amazement we saw some super cute sea otters and more sea lions! Monterey is a small, picturesque coastal town with lots of lovely shops and restaurants. We would have liked to have stayed a bit longer in Monterey because it was so enjoyable. Highly recommended!

Our next stop was San Simeon, situated on the Pacific coast. It was slightly more wild and rugged, and  to our amazement we were able see humpback whales and dolphins in the ocean as the sun went down. We'd both never seen humpback whales before, so this was really special (I tried to take a photo but it came out blurry!). David was a bit disappointed as he didn't have his surfboard with him, but he was comforted by the fact that the surf back home in Swansea is just as good. After dinner we sat around a fire pit with a glass of Baileys and chatted to some local Californians. I also had the best pecan pie with ice cream! I love it when a certain food treat makes a holiday all the more memorable 😍

 The scenic drive into Kings Canyon National Park was really beautiful, and we enjoyed seeing the towering sequoia trees. Our favourite spot here was Zumwalt Meadow along the Kings River, and it was also lovely watching the sun go down over the valley as we drove back. The mountains were covered in a misty haze, making it totally dreamy and gorgeous.

Yosemite National Park is the most beautiful place I have ever visited. There...I've said it! It was breathtakingly beautiful and the views were absolutely stunning. We visited Glacier Point (my favourite bit!), Tunnel View Point, Bridal Veil Falls, and looked up in awe of the mighty granite face of El Capitan. The following day we went to Hetch Hetchy dam, followed by an awesome 4 hour drive along Tiogan Pass to Lake Tahoe. We stopped the car a couple of times to take in the fabulous views of lakes, mountains, and meadows. Just amazing!

I've got a thing about holiday destinations with lakes, and Lake Tahoe was no exception. I think it's the tranquility of being so close to the crystal clear waters, and the beautiful backdrop of the mountains in the distance that makes Lake Tahoe so special. We went on a champagne cruise at sunset and it was really lovely to see the sky change to various gorgeous shades of pink and violet as the sun went down. We also enjoyed going on a couple of nature trails to Eagle Falls and Fallen Leaf Lake. While we were there we even saw a coyote, which was actually quite scary because no one else was around and it looked like a cross between a wolf and a husky. We were glad that it seemed happy to mind its own business!

What to pack
We both packed waaaaay too much...but at least we were well prepared! The weather in California during early October is gorgeous, and we enjoyed blue skies and sunshine every day. If I could give one recommendation it would be to pack warm layers, as it got cooler in the evenings (particularly at Lake Tahoe, which dropped down to -4 at night!). This is everything that I packed in my suitcase (and wore) on the trip:

Flip Flops
Woolen hat
Long sleeve tees
A couple of warm sweaters 
Boot socks
Skinny jeans

Travel Tips
Driving in the US was for the most part very easy. Everyone is friendly and ready to help, and navigating with our TomTom GPS is pretty reliable. We tried to avoid driving at night because we generally found the road lighting to be poor. If you're not used to driving on the other side of the road, or driving an automatic, then it adds another element of difficulty. Needless to say, I didn't drive the entire time (thank you David, for your excellent driving skills!). We both decided that we didn't want to pack in too much driving as this can be exhausting, so our journeys between various places generally took no more than 2.5 hours. Our longest journey was between Lake Tahoe and Oakland, which took just over 4 hours with stops included.

We had such a great time and we're already looking forward to our next American adventure!


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Snapshots from Sagres

We recently spent a lovely return visit to Sagres in the Algarve, and I thought I'd share some holiday snaps with you. Sagres is the most South-Western tip of Europe and it's a great place to get away from it all. It has beautiful beaches, plenty of surf and laid-back restaurants and bars. We spent our days relaxing and enjoying the natural beauty of the area, and enjoyed the lovely food and drink.

 1. Lounging by the pool with a nice drink and a good book
2. Breakfast with a view. I miss this!
3. Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts) are so nice with a cup of coffee. I miss these too!
4. Time for some dessert

 1. Delicious pizza
2. A pretty pink orchid
3. Cheers! Mojito time
4. Cheers again! This time it's a glass of sauvignon :)

 1. Sand, sea, and sky
2. Cooling off by the pool
3. Enjoying the view
4.  The most beautiful dessert at Terra, an Italian restaurant

 I hope you've enjoyed the photos. As always, thank you for reading! Angharad x


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

What a View! My Favourite Restaurant in Rome

If you're planning a trip to Rome and you're looking for lunch with a stunning view, then Aroma Restaurant at the Manfredi Hotel is the place to go. This was the first Michelin starred restaurant we'd ever been to, and it certainly didn't disappoint. We arranged to go on a guided audio tour of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum in the morning, followed by lunch at Aroma Restaurant; this itinerary worked out really well, and I'd recommend it if you want to combine seeing some of the historical sites with a bit of fine dining thrown in for good measure!
Seared scallop
Pasta with porcini mushroom
Beef & mixed vegetables

Complimentary mini desserts with coffee (the ones on the end tasted like Lindt chocolate!)

This is one of the best restaurants we've ever been to (for the view alone!), and is definitely one to add to your list. Let me know if you've got any restaurant recommendations for Rome...I'd love to hear about them! 
Thank you for reading, Angharad x

Ristorante Aroma

Via Labicana, 125 - 00184 Roma
Tel. +39 06 97615109
Fax +39 06 7005638
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