Joanna the Bride: In true Aquarian form, I ended up trying on about 60 (!) dresses from 7 different Bridal boutiques before settling on one of the first dresses I had tried on! Rob & I had a two-year engagement from June 2014 to June 2016 and whilst I was wary of choosing a dress too soon, my Mum insisted that I “humour her” about 18 months before our wedding date. Stephanie Allin was recommended to me by a fellow RMW featured friend Annabelle (truly a-mazing Romance in the Woods piece!) and I am so glad this was the case! Off we popped to the SA Mumbles Boutique and instantly fell in love. “Lottie” was the second dress I tried on and although I wasn’t ready to commit, I found myself comparing every single dress in other boutiques (a lot!) to Lottie. Fast forward to Stephanie Allin round two with my mum and Bridesmaids in tow and I had my “moment”. I was fortunate enough to have had my appointment with Stephanie herself who was so accommodating in making Lottie bespoke to me – we decided to lengthen her train and also create a delicate Chantilly lace shrug to complement the gown. I also fell in love with SA’s gorgeously fluid silk chiffon fabric so we decided to create a single layer overskirt for Lottie to encompass this beautiful fabric whilst still showing off Lottie’s incredible silhouette beneath. We finished off the look with a simple raw veil. Stephanie Allin truly designed my dream wedding dress! For my bridal shoes, I opted for Jimmy Choos (the perfect excuse right?!). I chose the nude Lance heels which can be worn over and over – bonus! I am extremely accustomed to wearing ridiculous heels and I found these surprisingly comfortable! I discovered the wonderful Hermione Harbutt via RMW. Her creations are absolutely stunning and I knew I just had to go to her Clifton Boutique to play dress up! I was instantly drawn to Hermione’s Lily collection and decided on the Lily hair vine and five lily combs which finished the look off perfectly. I kept jewellery to a minimum. I found some beautifully simple pearl droplet earrings on Not On The High Street and silver infinity bracelets on Etsy which I also gifted to my bridesmaids. I also rocked my late Nanna’s rose gold wedding ring on my thumb throughout the day. My hair was worked on by the hugely talented Simon from Belle Toujours, Cardiff, and my natural/coppery makeup look was created by the brilliant Jody Amner MUA.
He had one job! A job that he did very well – although we did discover that Rob was just as bad as me when it comes to making decisions! After many “uhmm & ahh” trips to Hugo Boss in Cardiff where they were in-between seasons with stock, I suggested that we take a spontaneous trip to Bicester Village. Within 20 minutes Rob had found his perfect three-piece navy Hugo Boss suit – the last one in his size - and at half price. Result! Rob’s shoes were from Ted Baker and his tie was sourced by High Society, Cowbridge when we purchased bridesmaids' dresses and the usher’s ties.
We decided to get married outside of Cardiff and move our celebrations a little further west to the Gower – renowned as an area of outstanding beauty. We fell in love with Oldwalls as soon as we walked through into their stunning Oak Room and I instantly pictured myself walking down the aisle here. The venue was absolutely perfect for us and provided plenty of accommodation for our guests in the form of stylish cottage-style apartments and cosy glamping tents. Since we booked Oldwalls, the venue has won Wales' "Best Wedding Venue" and it's not hard to see why!
I am extremely averse to loud colours! We wanted a very earthy and organic feel to our décor which was nailed by our florist and venue dresser. We collected a LOT of empty wine and Hendricks Gin bottles for decoration (the best excuse) and featured lots of simple bottle style glassware filled with foliage. I also developed a slight obsession for all things copper as our "colour". We ended up with about 200m of copper lights, had copper candelabras for half of our centrepieces and our female guests were gifted mini copper frames from Sass & Belle as wedding favours. Our menus were printed on chic marble paper and displayed in glass photo frames.
As our wedding was on a Saturday in June, it would have been impossible to be able to oversee exactly how the venue looked before the big day – panic. Our Florist Eve was a superstar. We spent a few meetings scrolling through Pinterest together and Eve sketched up the perfect designs. My bouquet was a loose organic asymmetric design of ivory, white and green filled with roses, dahlias, hydrangeas, cow parsley, jasmine, eucalyptus & asparagus fern. The bridesmaids had smaller versions of these. The buttonholes consisted of foliage and a small pop of ivory posies. Eve’s showstopper was the venue design. In the Oak room, Eve created a beautiful foliage and copper light swag and in the marquee, Eve created stunning hanging foliage displays and the perfect floral and glass display for the top tables. Olive trees were also in abundance around the venue!
We did our best, I promise! Rob did a sterling job in making the wedding favours for the guys. He crafted double shot whiskey favours complete with a DIY J&R wax seal and a cigar. I recycled an impressive old country house window and fashioned it into our table plan. A couple of my friends helped out making the giant J&R letters, candle stuffed wine bottles and our confetti cones. Our friend Rich designed all of our wedding stationery and signage. Making our wedding invitation suites and fastening them with twine and copper wax stamps was one of my favourite parts of the whole process.
The Wedding Party
Originally I wanted nude or grey-toned bridesmaid dresses but we found that the colour didn’t do anything for us! Our bridesmaids’ dresses were in a beautiful dusty “Larkspur” blue from Dessy Group at High Society, Cowbridge. The high neck design was a very flattering fit for all the girls and the colour really made them pop. The girls wore delicate flowers in their hair and simple silver infinity bracelets from Etsy. Our ushers’ suits were from Next. In fact, they were mostly upcycled from a friend’s wedding from the same bunch of lads! The guy’s ties and pocket squares were from Dessy Group in the same “Larkspur” blue. One of Rob’s best men changed into his official Naval suit for the speeches.
Our ceremony took place in the Oak Room at Oldwalls Gower. Our close friends Helen and Christian kindly read some lovely words for us. Helen read a passage from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Christian read “He’s Not Perfect” by Bob Marley. I walked down the aisle to Canon in D and Rob & I made our exit to “Whatever” by Oasis.
We were lucky enough to bag the fabulous Taliesin String Quartet for our ceremony and drinks reception entertainment. Our wedding band - The Shuffles Band - were nabbed from a friend’s wedding and provided a fantastic live version of our first dance song – Songbird by Oasis. Oldwalls put on a great fireworks display in the evening and we kept our guests entertained with our interactive Fujifilm Instax Camera guestbook! Great snaps, guys!
Our guests were well fed! We were lucky enough to blag two food tastings at Oldwalls before our big day! The venue allowed us to give our guests an option of two starters, mains & desserts. The wine was absolutely on point too. We decided to have pre-ceremony canapes and fizz. We bought some delicious artisan ice lollies from Ice Kitchen for after the ceremony – mojito, earl grey and rose & pistachio. Our wedding breakfast was a choice of seabass or soup to start, a champagne sorbet palate cleanser, Organic Chicken or Welsh Chateaubriand for the main event, Gower Brownie or cheesecake for dessert, finished off with some gorgeous petit fours. Our evening spread was a beautifully presented rustic barbeque buffet. Thank you, Oldwalls! Our wedding cake, or “Kake” was incredible. My best friend Kate is well known in our social circle for her mad baking skills and there was only ever one person I was going to ask to make our wedding cake. Although not a professional baker, Kate created a masterpiece that totally blew me away as soon as I saw it! Kate has since signed up to achieve baking qualifications to start her own business – Go, Kate!
Hats off to Nick Murray – what a guy! As soon as we saw Nick’s picture, we were in awe of his work and had to book him. Nick was an absolute delight on the day and kept Rob & I laughing the whole time. The insect bites I had on my legs from Nick insisting we traipse through the fields were well worth it!
If anyone is unsure as to whether or not to go for a videographer – 100% do it! I cannot recommend Eight Wood Studios enough. Andy and Laura were incredibly subtle on the day and such a lovely couple to work with pre and post-wedding. The final result is such a beautiful piece of art that we will treasure!
Our wedding was a true reflection of us and being surrounded by our family and friends made is what made the day truly special. I would advise any newly engaged couples to make sure that they enjoy every single part of the wedding planning process. If you find yourself getting worked up, just put it down and revisit it later. Remember that this is the build-up to the happiest day of your lives and the focus should be on how exciting everything is!