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

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Wedding Flowers

I love flowers so much and choosing a florist was one of the first things I did when we started planning our wedding. I think that after booking the reception and the church, it was probably the next thing on my To Do list! If you're a bride-to-be then I hope that this post will help you with making arrangements for your wedding flowers.

I started off by arranging appointments with various florists in the area to see some examples of their work and obtain quotes. I chose Ruth Milton Jones, a florist based in Swansea; she's so lovely and I was really impressed with the flowers she'd done for other weddings. She gave me confidence that she would be able to put together a beautiful package of floral arrangements and displays for the big day, and she did just that!

The Bridesmaids' bouquets

I chose seasonal springtime flowers which complimented my colour scheme and smelt so lovely. I didn't want anything too outlandish, nor did I want too much greenery; I love pinks and ivory colours because they are so pretty and romantic. 

I discussed various ideas with Ruth and I eventually decided to have beautiful blooms of ivory peonies, white hydrangeas, sweet avalanche roses, blush roses and white gypsophilia. I had a hand-tied posy, and my bridesmaids had similar bouquets which were slightly smaller than mine.

When the flowers arrived on the morning of the wedding, it was exciting because I wasn't sure exactly how they'd turn out but they were better than I could ever have imagined them to be. Ruth had worked so hard at putting all the arrangements and displays together and it was definitely a highlight of the morning when I got to see (and smell!) the beautiful bouquets.
Telling mum how amazing they smell!
I had flowers on plinths outside the main entrance to the church and more flowers on plinths at the altar. We also had posies of hand-tied gypsophilia tied to the ends of the rows of seats.

I loved the idea of having an archway of flowers outside the main entrance to the church but I quickly ruled out this idea because it was quite an expensive option, and the fixtures and fittings which are used to attach the flowers to the archway could have damaged the church building.

After the ceremony, my brother-in-law kindly transported the flowers from the church to the reception at Oxwich Bay Hotel, so we got twice the use out of them.

Just married!
For our table centres at the wedding reception I had a wreath of flowers around a glass vase with a pillar candle in the centre. I loved the idea of having candles on the tables because they add to the atmosphere of a special occasion. The vases and candles were provided by Oxwich Bay Hotel, so this saved me having to source something for each table. I didn't want a flower arrangement that was too tall because I wanted our guests to be able to see each other at their tables, so this option was perfect.

My cake was from M&S and Ruth decorated it on the morning of the wedding day with real and artificial flowers to match my bouquet.  It looked so beautiful; I'd seen a photo of something similar on Pinterest, so I'd shown it to Ruth, told her it was my dream wedding cake (no pressure, Ruth!) and she recreated it for me. I loved how the flowers cascaded down the four tiers of the wedding cake.

After the wedding, our flowers went to good homes. We gave them to our neighbours, family members and friends. Two of the wreaths went on my grandmas' graves;  I know that they would have loved them.

Our wedding flowers were very special and I will always remember how beautiful they were.

Top 5 Tips for your wedding flowers:
  1. Get ideas from Pinterest and photos from other weddings.
  2. Think about your colour scheme and how your flowers will fit in with this.
  3. Consider how your bouquet will look against your dress; show a picture of your dress to the florist (she'll keep it top secret!)
  4. Set a budget and try to stick to it. I chose hydrangeas which are more expensive, but they are a larger flower and fill more space (and I love hydrangeas!)
  5. Choose a florist who's reliable and has great reviews; ideally someone local who is familiar with your wedding venue and reception.
As always, thank you for reading! Angharad x👰

Flowers - Ruth Milton Jones 

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Our Wonderful Wedding Day

I'm going to take all of you through our wonderful wedding day. Firstly, if you're a bride-to-be, let me assure you that all the stress and hard work in the run up to your wedding day is definitely worth it. There is so much to organise and it can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster and not everything will run smoothly, but when the day eventually arrives it will be amazing in ways you didn't anticipate.

There are a lot of people to thank; to everyone that came, thank you for sharing our day with us, you hold a special place in our hearts. Thank you especially to our parents for helping to make our day so special.

So....on Saturday 26th May 2018, I got married, a day that David I had been planning for just over a year finally arrived, and the whole day felt like a dream. I know it sounds like a bit of a cliché but it really did feel like that.

David and I wanted to get married in Wales as we both live in Swansea and we also wanted to share our special day with as many of our friends and family as possible. We got married in a beautiful local church and had our reception at Oxwich Bay Hotel, which overlooks the beautiful Oxwich Beach (more on that later!).

On the morning of the wedding I got ready with close family in a holiday home on Mumbles seafront; my parents had rented this to accommodate family who were visiting from overseas. It was such a beautiful place to get ready. My family had decorated the kitchen with bunting and put pretty bows on the potted trees outside the front door. Mum also made a buffet breakfast for everyone to help themselves to. The rest of the morning was a bit of a whirlwind with lots of visitors arriving at the house; the bridesmaids, the hair stylists, the photographer, the florist, and the driver.

The hairstylists commented on how calm I was and that it was the most chilled out house they had ever been to on the morning of a wedding. I think that this was because we'd done all our worrying and planning in the lead up, so by the time the day came we were ready! It was nice and relaxed getting ready and I enjoyed the build up, even with the butterflies in my tummy.
I did my own makeup and I had my hair styled in a half up-half down style. My bridesmaids had their hair styled in a similar way, and wore long, dusky pink bridesmaid dresses.

My 6-year old niece was such a fantastic flower girl! She was so well behaved and made me feel calm when I was getting ready on the morning of the wedding. It was a big help for me to focus my attention on her, especially as she was enjoying herself so much. She helped me feel happy and relaxed, and kept laughing and smiling. She loved having her photo taken and being a real life princess.

I'll always remember when the florist arrived and I saw all the wedding flowers for the first time...this was a "wow!" moment. I breathed in the beautiful scent of my bridal bouquet...I hadn't anticipated just how wonderful it would smell! I chose seasonal blooms of ivory peonies, hydrangeas, sweet avalanche roses, blush roses and gypsophilia.
Mum helped me get into my dress and did up all 41 buttons on the back (this took longer than we thought it would, but mum brought a crochet hook to help!). My brother Jim stepped in to help me with the clasp of my pearl bracelet and necklace.

There was time for a few photos and then all of a sudden, time felt like it was going really quickly, and it was time for dad and I to go to the church.

We weren't quite sure what the weather was going to do on our wedding day; just a few days before it was forecast to be sunny, and then it changed to a weather warning with rain forecast! I kept checking the Met Office weather app and it was changing by the hour, so in the end I gave up.

As dad and I walked out of the front door, there were people outside on Mumbles seafront who were waiting for The Bride to make her appearance. I didn't realise that I'd have an audience as I walked out to the wedding car! They all cheered and clapped as I got into the car. It wasn't raining but my dad had an umbrella, just in case.

Our driver Mike took us through Mumbles towards the church. I felt waves of emotion and found it really hard not to cry. It felt so strange seeing all the Saturday morning shoppers and holiday makers going about their business, and here I was, sat in the back of a Rolls Royce with my dad, on our way to my wedding. After the last minute rush in the house, we arrived at the church 5 minutes early, and had some photos taken outside.

The wedding ceremony was my favourite part of the day. I felt so happy walking down the aisle on my dad's arm and couldn't help but smile and say hello to all the guests! I was worried that I'd be a blubbering mess, but I was fine. Dad told me afterwards that he felt very emotional walking me down the aisle.

It was such a special moment when David and I first looked at each other, and when my dad lifted my veil.

I thought I'd feel more nervous than I was when we were standing in front of everyone in the church, but the vicar put us at ease in the months leading up to the big day and the wedding rehearsal really helped too. I almost forgot that all the guests were seated behind us and focused on David. It was reassuring to hold his hand throughout the service.

We said our vows, exchanged rings, and then we were married!
You may now kiss the bride!
My brother Jim gave a reading and my eldest niece Hannah played Le onde by Einaudi on the piano during the signing of the register, which was very moving and emotional (although you probably can't tell from our smiles!).

It was a wonderful feeling to be married to my best friend and soulmate; I arrived at the church as a Miss and both of us left the building as Mr & Mrs; husband and wife!

As we went to leave the church we realised it was raining and stopped for a moment. And then, as if by magic, the rain stopped! Perfect timing 😊 We had some photos outside the church and our guests threw some of the heart shaped confetti which my dad had made. The little floating hearts of confetti looked so pretty and you can clearly see them in the wedding photos. We both felt so happy!
We used this photo on our thank you cards; it captures the happiness and love :)
Our driver Mike popped open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the special occasion. We discovered that the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud previously belonged to the Duchess of Kent, so we really felt like royalty on our special day! As we left the church, everyone cheered and waved us off, and I remember seeing my 6-year old niece looking on with a beautiful smile.
We made our way in the car to Cefn Bryn, a hilly common in the Gower Peninsula, where we stopped for some photos. It was so calm and peaceful, and it felt lovely to be alone with David to recharge before heading on to our wedding reception at Oxwich Bay Hotel.
We were so fortunate that we were able to book Oxwich Bay Hotel as our wedding reception on the Saturday of the late May bank holiday because this is usually booked up far in advance. Oxwich Bay is very special to David and I because we went on some lovely beach walks there in the early stages of our relationship, and he loves to Stand Up Paddle board there too. I always dreamed of getting married by the sea, so this really was a dream come true! The wedding marquee overlooks the bay and I don't think that there are many wedding venues in the UK with a view as beautiful as this.

Our guests arrived at the drinks reception and sipped bubbly and enjoyed mini burgers in brioche buns. We asked for this because we wanted to do something a bit different to canapés, and there's nothing quite like the sizzle of a BBQ on a summer's day.
When we arrived, the sun was shining and there was a big cheer and lots more confetti was thrown as we walked down the red carpet. My niece especially enjoyed picking up the confetti and making it last that bit longer!

Our wedding coordinator Emma (who was absolutely fantastic in the lead up to the wedding and on the day itself) led us though to the marquee for us to check that everything was ok. It all looked so beautiful! The marquee has ceiling drapes of white fabric which makes it look so light, airy, especially on a sunny day.

We didn't go overboard with the venue decorations/extras; we both had a "less is more" attitude to decorating the venue, although we did put a lot of thought into how we wanted it to look.

For our seating plan we named the tables after our favourite beaches in Wales and Northern Ireland.The design of the sign for the seating plan was a template I purchased on Etsy, and a local print shop printed it for me.

David and I had also collected shells from Oxwich Beach, and his brother kindly helped to make them into place card holders for our guests. The shell place card holders were something a bit different and naturally beautiful for our special day. I purchased the place card holder template on Etsy with a calligraphy style font, and the table centre names were printed by Rosemood, who did our beautiful wedding stationary.  For our table centres we had candles in vases with sand at the base, standing on wooden stands with wreathes of flowers around them.
The Master of The Ceremony ushered all the guests to their seats, and we followed to the sound of more cheers from our guests.
Our friend Chris said grace and then it was time to feast on the wedding breakfast. Our guests had a choice of smoked salmon or melon with raspberry coulis to start, followed by roast beef or chicken, and for dessert there was a dessert platter or sticky toffee pudding. I don't actually have any photos of the food, so you'll just have to imagine how mouth watering and delicious it all was! The staff at Oxwich Bay Hotel were extremely attentive and helpful, and made sure that everyone was happy.

We decided not to get wedding favours for our adult guests, and instead we made a donation to Dogs For Good on their behalf. The children had little wedding favours of personalised colouring books with crayons which I purchased from Etsy. Our family commented that the childrens' favours was a lovely thoughtful gesture, which meant a lot.

David and I had put together a wedding playlist of our favourite tunes which played during the drinks reception and meal. This had taken us quite a while to do in the lead up to the wedding, but we were glad that we'd done this because it was nice to enjoy some of our favourite music. I felt so happy to sit on the Top Table and see all our guests enjoying themselves. We made sure that the Top Table was facing away from the view of Oxwich Bay, so all our guests could enjoy the view. At one point we opened up the marquee windows because the sun was shining and it was so lovely. I remember the moment my mum told me that she didn't want it to end; the atmosphere was so happy and relaxed.

There were traditional speeches and toasts at the end of the meal from my dad, David and the best man James. David's parents weren't able to attend, so they prepared some heartfelt words which were shared with our guests. Again, it was very hard not to cry; I felt so happy and moved. I never thought I'd meet someone as wonderful as David.
After the meal, David and I had some more photos on the beach. It was fun walking along the sand in my wedding dress and waving to the people enjoying a day out! At one point my veil blew off, but David caught it for me. Most of the photos were natural and weren't too posed, and we enjoyed the peaceful moments in the beautiful setting.
We walked back along the beach and our guests waved to us from the marquee in the distance. When we got back to the reception it was time for us to cut the cake!
I loved my wedding cake so much. I wanted the cake to be beautiful and elegant, without being too OTT, and I think we achieved this.We got the cake from M&S; it was a vanilla sponge cake with raspberry jam and buttercream filling. The florist decorated it with real and artificial flowers to match my bouquet. I showed her a photo of my dream cake on Pinterest which she recreated for me.

After the cutting of the cake, it was time for our First Dance. Our First Dance was to Stand By Me, which was sung by Louise Victoria, accompanied by a guitarist. We chose this song because the words are so lovely and we thought it was fitting for the start of our lives together as husband and wife. David and I went for 3 dance lessons before the wedding and learnt a routine. Neither of us are brilliant dancers, but we had cheers and rounds of applause throughout! I thought we'd feel really nervous about the first dance but by this point in the day we were feeling much more relaxed, and we'd practiced lots. David and I actually spoke to each other throughout the dance so we could remember the next part of the routine. I'd like to think that our friends and family thought we were whispering sweet nothings to each other, but I think they knew better 😉

We wanted our guests to be able to enjoy each other's company and to have a proper conversation with each other, so we decided to have a live acoustic act instead of a band. Louise Victoria sang some beautiful Live Lounge style covers (Al Green, Adele, Sam Smith, Norah Jones) accompanied by her guitarist. We had lots of compliments on how lovely her voice was and the choice of songs.

We had more food served for our guests during the evening break; fish & chips, bacon butties and more wedding cake, all of which went down very well! We also had a Fujifilm Instax camera for our guests to take photos and selfies and post a message in the guest book. We really enjoyed reading these afterwards!

Later on, the DJ played for all the night owls who wanted to have a boogie. As our last guests left, there was a show of thunder and lightning over Oxwich Bay, which was great fun to watch and a dramatic end to our amazing and unforgettable day.
Our wedding day was everything I had ever dreamed of; all the organisation, hard work and stress in the months leading up to the big day was worth it. I felt so happy and emotional; it had been such a lovely day, and I was now married to my gorgeous husband and ready for the next exciting chapter of our lives together.

Angharad xxx

Our Suppliers:

Venue - Oxwich Bay Hotel Photographer - Memories By Saskia
Flowers - Ruth Milton Jones Wedding dress - Cariad Bridal
Bridesmaid dresses - Exclusively Bridesmaids Flower Girl dress - Debenhams
Groom and Groomsmen Suits - Dyfed Menswear Hair - Lara Johnson Lifestyle
Wedding Car - Caseys Cars Cake - M&S
Wedding Stationary - Rosemood  Wedding Singer - Louise Victoria
Children's Personalised Wedding Favours - Bizzy Hearts Weddings (Etsy)
Personalised Wedding Guest Book - Lily and Jim's (Etsy)

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
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