Martin and Ceri (or Slim and The Rat as you will come to know them) are childhood sweethearts who tied the knot in 2011 Rowton Castle after 13 years together. They cleverly themed their wedding around a sort of romantic ‘time capsule’ that represents the their relationship and life together. I won’t spoil it too much, all I will say is that it’s a super cute idea!
Today’s report is a little bit special as not only do we here from ‘The Rat’, but there is also a bit of commentary thrown in now and again from ‘Slim’.
I’d better start with our names: I’m Ceri but early on in our relationship, Slim affectionately named me ‘The Rat’, due to, he says lovingly: my ‘rodent – like’ features! It took a while for my mum to accept, but ‘The Rat’ is generally how I am referred to by his family and friends. Slim’s real name is Martin, but he had the nickname Slimmer well before we met. After emerging from a Grange-Hill worthy love-triangle, we started ‘going out together’ in April 1998, when I was in Year 10 and he was in Year 12. By the time we eventually became husband and wife in August last year, we had already spent half of our lives together, so it was fitting that the personal touches of our wedding day developed around the idea of ‘Old Love’.
The inspiration for much of our wedding day came from my romantic vision of one-day digging out a large vintage trunk and uncovering the details of an old love story – old ticket stubs from our first dates at Pola Cinema, faded photographs and worn letters, dried valentines flowers and a beautiful antique wedding dress and veil. And so emerged a starting point and the idea for the table plan: created out of an old vintage suitcase, containing features of all our table themes, which were named after a range of wedding anniversaries – paper, wood, lace, flowers, china, pearls and diamonds…
The paper details
One of the lines from our reading ‘The Art of a Good Marriage’ talks about how marriage is never being too old to hold hands and we carried this notion into our Save the Dates, which were based on a selection of photographs I’d collected off eBay of couples, young and old, from Victorian times to the 1950s. Our invitations from Hello Lucky carried the verse from the poem The Owl and the Pussy Cat – ‘oh let us be married, too long we have tarried’, which we thought was fitting after 13 years!
Our ceremony was held in Holy Trinity Church, Leighton in Mid-Wales, the same village church that my mum and dad, nan and granddad and great grand-parents got married in. Our guests were treated to a brief history of this beautiful Church in their Order of Service. We also gave out an Order of Celebration, printed on a brown luggage tag, giving guests details of the run of the day.
Our Wedding reception was held at Rowton Castle, a beautiful 17th century building and our tables were identified with signage created with old Charles Dicken’s books and the wedding photographs of our families through the decades. The book idea was taken from Ruffled. We also got the beautiful idea of guests writing us love notes from Once Wed. We put a blank insert in with the favours and asked our guests to write their wish for us, or their advice for a successful marriage. Each table had a glass jar to put their notes in. We printed our menus on pretty doilies, which could fit neatly on a side plate.
The paper theme was also carried into the wedding presents. For Slim I made a small scrapbook of mementos that I had kept of our relationship in an old shoebox for the last 13 years – cinema stubs, extracts from my diaries, old emails and letters, photos and currency from our travels. As a present for my mum, I sent a photo from her wedding album to a Megan Hamilton on Etsy and she made a beautiful sketch of her wedding dress, which I framed and gave to her on the morning of the wedding. I also got a sketch of my own dress which I displayed in the suitcase table plan to represent the lace table. For my bridesmaids, I bid on vintage ‘Little Women’ and ‘Good Wives’ books on ebay, which had beautiful inscriptions from a time passed.
Given our welsh roots, we decided to give the female guests a mini wooden Welsh Love Spoon, along with a brief history of this welsh tradition in with the favour pouches, which my mum made out of an old lace curtain. Slim will tell you about his idea for the boys’ favours:
Slim: Suspecting that the boys would not feel the same excitement towards the the 17th century Welsh tradition as much as the ladies, I instead saw the opportunity to bring a piece of my Vegas stag do to the wedding favours by having a sweepstake from that week’s major horse races from Kempton to Cheltenham. My Best Man and I spent the afternoon before the wedding in the local bookies flitting away the budget by taking very bad tips from the local betting connoisseurs. 15 races later, the modest winnings were sealed in bro
wn envelopes ready to be collected by the lucky guests who held the matching booking slip that was placed inside the favour envelopes. The happy winners picked up enough to invest in half a pint on the wedding evening!
Antique gold lace
We were engaged for 2 years and the deposit was put down on ‘the one’ within 2 weeks of the proposal! This could have been risky given my tendency to get bored of clothes and outfits very quickly but I never tired of looking at it and I have not since seen a dress that is more ‘me’ than Charlotte Balbier’s ‘Tabitha’. I kept a scrapbook of all the styles I liked and one day I was with my sister looking at dresses on Charlotte Balbier’s beautiful website and we both gasped as we clicked on the front and back views of Tabitha – this was it!
I immediately searched for stockists and although I did try on a range of styles and got semi-swayed by some other lace numbers, Tabitha was the one that I kept coming back to. The beautiful antique gold lace suited my skin tone and as it had a 1930s feel, I could visualise this dress being tenderly lifted from my imaginary vintage trunk decades from now! I bought the dress from Angie at She Bridal in Ironbridge. She was fabulous and so patient when I returned to her beautiful shop every Christmas, Easter and Summer (we live abroad) to try out a new accessory with the dress.
Given the unusual shade of the dress we imagined that it would be quite difficult to find a matching veil, but we found one with ease at Berketex Bride. I loved the cathedral length and the beautiful embroidery. My ‘something old’ comprised of a beautiful 1920’s silk and lace hankie, to which my sister sewed the date of our wedding, as well as a fabulous 1920s antique piano shawl that matched the shade of the dress perfectly. Both items were bought from Ashman Antiques in Welshpool – a beautiful treasure cove of vintage goodies.
Figure And Face
I bought a pair of peep-toe heels with an ankle strap in an antique pink colour, set off nicely by the gold minx on my toe nails courtesy of my fabulous friend and beautician Melissa at her award winning salon, Figure and Face.
My ‘something new’ was bought for me by my mum and sister – it was a beautiful diamante brooch from Liberty in Love and I had it sewn on to the dress. It was the perfect style, shape and size to customise the dress and it was also called ‘Tabitha’. Slim bought me diamond stud earrings as my wedding present and I wear these as a daily reminder of the most fantastic day.
Backcombed And Ethereal
In my hair I wore a diamante and pearl side tiara, also from She Bridal. One thing I was sure of was that I didn’t want a typical bridal up-do. My scrapbook was brimming with images of romantic, backcombed ethereal styles. After a few disastrous trials, I realised that to get the look I wanted I would need a true creative professional and on seeing the images of Rock My Wedding Real Bride Mahj, I decided to contact the Hepburn Collection.
My bridesmaids and I had the best day when we travelled down to Sev’s salon and after showing him an inspiration image from a Jenny Packham shoot, he just got the style I was after. But as the wedding approached, I’ll admit I got swayed by the loose locks of the Kate Middleton and Kate Moss weddings and at 8pm the night before, an undeterred Sev created some effortless waves in my hair. He also created beautiful and effortless looking styles for my bridesmaids. Although I didn’t get to meet her, Sev’s wife Roz was the perfect organiser as I sent emails of pictures and questions!
Some men never think of it.
You did. You’d come along
And say you’d nearly brought me flowers
But something had gone wrong.
The shop was closed. Or you had doubts–
The sort that minds like ours
Dream up incessantly. You thought
I might not want your flowers.
It made me smile and hug you then.
Now I can only smile.
But, look, the flowers you nearly brought
Have lasted all this while.
When we lived apart in universities in different cities, it became a bit of a joke that Slim always used to visit and tell me how he’s bought me some flowers, but left them on the train! So when I came across this poem by Wendy Cope it made me smile and we put a framed copy of it on the ‘Flowers’ table.
Flowers had been the one thing that originally I was pretty clueless about but I added to my scrapbook with images of beautiful bouquets and I loved the day I spent with my Great Aunt, trawling her garden sampling different options. In the end our bouquets were made up of pink hydrangeas, blush and pink roses and September flower.
Teacups, Teapots And Vases
For the table centres we trawled vintage and charity shops and built up an impressive collection of china teacups, teapots, vases and a china boot! We placed these inside birdcages and each one was unique, with an element of the table name inside, e.g. draping pearls or lace, flowers etc.
The cakes were an important element of the day as we are both self-confessed addicts of Magnolia Bakery (we’re lucky to have one in Bloomingdales in Dubai). A friend from university has her own cake business called Sapori and, armed with her Magnolia Bakery recipe book, she did a fantastic job of creating both our favourite three-tired, frosted iced cakes, and cupcakes, which we displayed on china vintage cake stands. They looked and tasted beautiful!
Given the rodent nature of my nickname I was so excited to find this Unusual Unique Handmade Craft Gifts, who created a bride and groom mice cake topper for us. I sent them some of the lace from my dress and some of the bridesmaid dress material and they used them to make cute wedding clothes for the mice!
My Best Girls
I had the best bridesmaids any girl could hope for – my best friend Vicky and sister Menna. They, with the help of my other fabulous friends planned me the most A.mazing Ibiza hen week and vintage garden party. They both looked stunning on the Wedding day. Ever since Charlotte and Carries weddings on SATC, I always loved bridesmaids with different dresses, colours or patterns and after experimenting with different colour combinations on the Dessy website, we decided on 2 full length, matt satin dresses in contrasting kiwi green and carnation pink (they even had their own mini-trains – Pippa Middleton eat your heart out!) The colours complimented the romantic vintage feel we wanted to achieve.
Slim: Not being a religious follower of fashion, I had the challenge of making my future wife proud of how I looked on our wedding day, but with a 2 year window of preparation, a few visits to the gym and some slimming colours, I just about achieved it!
After careful consideration and looking at the odd shapes, sizes and pasty complexions of the groomsmen – along with the logistical nightmare that would have been ahead of us to purchase suits in different countries, we decided that the easiest option was to hire. We called on the services of Moss Bros. Wanting to fit in with the vintage theme but also maintain my dignity, I negotiated with the Rat to lose the top hat but keep the tails (this is my understanding of a good marriage: flexibility). After 15 minutes it was decided on: a grey 3-peice suit, complimented with a crisp white Thomas Pink shirt and cufflinks. The Rat bought our ties from Dessy, to tie in with the bridesmaids. All this was achieved with 1 year, 11 months and 15 days to spare!
Perfect And Natural
Slim joked in his wedding speech that he was worried that the day after the wedding I would be mute, since admittedly bridal pretty had become a main topic of conversation for a fair few months! Brides to be, there’s no need to worry because once you’ve had the most amazing day of your life you can then relive it through your photos! Hiring the right photographer was important for us and we are over the moon that we that we booked Elton Mogg. I originally saw one of the wedding shoots he did on RMW and we are so pleased with our photos – he’s encapsulated the day so perfectly and naturally and we loved all the post-production work he did on the photos. Our apartment has turned into a bit of a shrine of the wedding and I’ve developed a bit of an addiction to buying photo frames!
Whether or not to get a videographer had been a tough decision and originally it was at the bottom of our list of priorities. However, we were persuaded by a friend who sold me by pointing out that it’s another historical document of the most important day of our life so far (I’m a history teacher!) and booking Rebecca Reville was definitely one of the best decisions we made. As soon as the wedding speeches were over, we were immediately grateful that we had booked her and we couldn’t wait to watch it all back. Rebecca is amazingly talented and our video is a beautiful collection of details of the day, with gorgeous selection of music.
Bring Your Own Props
We had decided to create a makeshift photo booth to capture some funny shots of our guests and we asked everyone to bring along their own props. We laughed so much at the pictures the next day and now we’ve now made a calendar with some of the best!
The thought of a first dance stressed us both out so much that we had decided not to have one. However, seeing that our guests weren’t going to join the dance floor until we did, our friends quickly downloaded Ben E King’s ‘Stand by Me’ and we soon got into it!
Slim: Wanting the evening entertainment to reflect our characters and make for an enjoyable and edgy feel, we moved away from the classic Wedding DJ and gave the decks to a group of friends who created the perfect soundtrack to our wedding night with everything from filtered 70s disco to beats that wouldn’t have been out of place at DC10.
2011 really was such a special year and everyday I am grateful for having such an amazing husband, family and friends. Tips? Make sure you’re really organised on the morning of the wedding so you get to enjoy it, as it is all part of the day. I framed an itinerary so that everyone knew when they were having the hair and make-up done, eating breakfast etc. I also timed in 20 minutes, where we all went on to the patio with champagne and strawberries and swapped gifts. Think you’re going to be too stressed out to sleep the night before? I put three drops of rescue remedy on my tongue the night before and in my head I imagined the bride I wanted to be – calm, smiling, confident! I fell asleep with that image and was so relaxed I ended up sleeping through my alarm and getting up just minutes before Sev arrived to start out hair! We took on board what everyone says about the day going in a flash, at key points throughout the day we just stepped back to take everything in. And the last piece of advice – if you can stretch to it, get a video because it’s something else to get excited about seeing after the day has passed!
I also would like to give a massive thanks to RMW and all the RMW brides for being a constant source of inspiration for our wedding day. I still love checking in every few days.
Venue Rowton Castle
Dress Charlotte Balbier
Boutique She Bridal
Hair Hepburn Collection
Photography Elton Mogg
Videography Rebecca Reville
Slim and The Rat did good didn’t they?
We love it at Rock My wedding when grooms get involved. Even if they think the love of their life in some way, shape or form resembles a rodent…