Fairy tale weddings don’t come much more lovely than this one – St Donat’s Castle in Wales is literally a dream location and Annie & Jason make a truly gorgeous couple. The story of how they booked their photographer, Steve Gerrard is pure fate, definitely one you need to read for yourselves! Steve was clearly meant to photograph this wedding and we’re absolutely thrilled that he sent it our way. With the pretty pink and gold colour scheme, Annie in a stunning Stephanie Allin gown and a proper raise-the-roof party to finish off the day – this wedding has Rock My Wedding and ‘Your Day Your Way’ written all over it…
Annie the Bride: My dress was really special to me because it was from Stephanie Allin in Mumbles, where I grew up and where my sister purchased her wedding dress. I expected to want to try on hundreds of dresses before finding “the one”, but surprised myself (and my mum and sister!) by trying on four dresses in total and choosing the fourth one I tried on! I knew I wanted the dress to have straps, a little bit of lace and a low back and I ended up choosing exactly that. The dress was actually a combination of two of Stephanie’s dresses and so I didn’t quite know what to expect at my first fitting, but I was delighted with the result. Hayley from the Mumbles shop is absolutely incredible and made the whole process so easy. Having Stephanie at my final dress fitting also made the experience even more special.
There was never any doubt where I would purchase my wedding jewellery from – it had to be Gill Clement. My family and friends have been buying jewellery from Gill for years and she has become a close family friend. No one does statement earrings better! Gill custom made my earrings and hair pieces and I absolutely loved them.
Jason wanted a suave, sophisticated and timeless look and so he went for a bespoke dinner suit from Graham Browne Bespoke Tailors in London (proving that women don’t have to be the ones who have all the fun!) Having a bespoke suit made all the difference on the day and with it being a dinner suit, he has been able to wear it a number of times since. Jason paired his suit with classic black patent shoes, a white pocket square and a shiny new watch (courtesy of Annie).
As soon as we drove up to St Donat’s Castle, we knew that’s where we wanted to get married. It was close to Annie’s home and the sea (both of which were “musts”), it had a little chapel for the ceremony which was really important to both of us and then the reception venue was out of this world. Lots of our guests were travelling large distances and so we wanted to make their trip to Wales worth it. When we were taken around St Donat’s Castle, the lady taking us round (Karen) kept describing the various rooms and outdoor spaces as “wows”. She described bringing the guests up to the entrance of the castle as the first “wow”, and then in to the courtyard for the drinks reception as the next “wow”, and then on to the front lawn overlooking the sea and then finally into the beautifully decorated hall as the final “wow”, and it really was. On the day, all we could hear was a murmur of “wow” from the guests at every turn. And let’s face it, who doesn’t want to get married in a castle?
The ceremony took place at St Donat’s Church and it was without doubt, the best part of our day. St Donat’s Church is very small and we packed it with 120 of our closest friends and family. There was nothing better than hearing all of those beautiful Welsh voices singing bread of heaven at the top of their lungs. Our vicar, Anthony Beer also made it so special for us – he personalised our service, made all of our guests laugh and even had a bowl of Haribo sweets at the ready when we were signing the register to give us a sugar boost. He was also the first person to give us a wedding card to congratulate us on our marriage. Lots of our friends and family commented on how fantastic the service was and even said that they would go to church more often if it was like that!
We found the colour scheme the hardest decision of the whole wedding planning process. We knew we wanted something simple and elegant and a colour scheme that wouldn’t date. We ultimately decided to go for rose gold and blush on the basis of the invitations which we found from E.Y.I. Love. which set the colour scheme for the whole wedding.
Our main wedding flowers were created by Annie sister’s incredibly talented mother-in-law. She was so generous with her time and her creativity and the flowers really set the tone for the day. In all of the hours of research we did on the venue, we don’t think it has ever looked as good as on our wedding day and that was mostly down to our beautiful centre pieces and flowers. We also had a flower arch outside the church (which made for beautiful photos) and hand tied bouquets and button holes from the equally talented Walnut and Willows.
The entertainment was definitely one of the best elements of the wedding. Jason’s family played “Canon in D” on the Irish fiddle when Annie walked down the aisle. It really meant so much to us for them to be a part of the wedding and to have a little bit of Jason’s Irish heritage with us on the day. We had always talked about having a gospel choir at our wedding, but when we came to the planning, we couldn’t decide whether we could justify the cost. We were talked in to having what we wanted by friends and family who convinced us that we would never regret what we spent on our wedding day – and I’m so glad we did. Gospelchoir4weddings sang in the ceremony and then played Motown classics in the evening reception. It was the best money we spent and when our friends and family talk to us about our wedding its one of the first things they remember. Everyone just wanted to hear more! We also had a DJ (Emil from Epic Stereo) who did a great job of keeping everyone on the dance floor right until the very end of the night.
The photographer was definitely the easiest decision of the whole wedding planning process. Having looked up hundreds (if not thousands) of wedding photos on Pinterest and Instagram, the ones we were drawn to were always those of Steve Gerrard’s, it actually took us ages to realise that some of our favourites were from our wedding venue, St Donat’s Castle! When we looked up Steve, we were devastated to realise that he had since moved to Canada! We took a punt, emailed him anyway and asked if he would consider shooting our wedding. It just so happened that he was already in the UK for a family wedding that same week and he was available to do our wedding. It was meant to be! Even more crazy was that Steve’s second shooter was the bride from the wedding at St Donat’s whose pictures we had stalked endlessly for months! We were so delighted with the results and can’t thank Steve and Libby enough for sharing their talents with us. We have far too many photos to choose from to pick a few to showcase in our house. We would need an entire room dedicated to wedding photos! We settled for an album instead.
All of our stationery (invitations, orders of service, place cards and table names) were designed by E.Y.I. Love. We absolutely loved them and while the stationery was definitely a big expense, having all of the stationery tie in together and with the theme was invaluable and lots of our guests commented on how beautiful it was. We were really impressed with the responsiveness of E.Y.I. Love and the quality of their designs. We couldn’t recommend them highly enough.
Our top tips would definitely be:
Utilise the talents of your friends and family to make your day extra special. Not only did we have Jason’s cousins play music and Annie’s sister’s mother in law create the beautiful flower arrangements, but one of Annie’s close friends made a beautiful mirrored seating plan which was really unique and made a real statement when entering the reception hall.
Follow the theme/colour scheme. While we didn’t have a particular “theme”, we followed our colour scheme through all of the stationery, the favours and the flowers and lots of our guests commented on the attention to detail and how beautiful the room looked as a result.
Go for it! At various points we wanted to make savings by, for example, not having a gospel choir, or spending so much on matching stationary, but we were so glad we went for what we wanted (within reason!). We don’t regret a penny.
Finally, we had sparklers as our favours and we used them for a sparkler send off at the end of the night. It was a great way of ending the night on a high (rather than just having the lights come on and the music stop at 12am!) We would recommend this to any couples whose venue doesn’t have a licence to continue the party into the wee hours of the morning.