Rebecca The Bride:
My son William and I left The New Forest to live in Wales almost 8 years ago. Not only did John and I fall in love in 2012 but he also fell in love with Wales too. We knew we wanted our wedding to be celebrated outside amongst the outstanding valleys we live in. We hired the field next to the ruins of Valle Abbey Crucis
with the intention of providing our out of town guests with not only a naturally beautiful backdrop but also a historic one too, add a couple of tipi tents and we were set for a party! ‘Heathfields’ The big I do was born…
I designed my wedding dress myself after being inspired by the 2014 collections from French designers Laure de Sagazan and Delphine Manivet. I wanted a dress that was transitional throughout the day and decided on 4 separate pieces including a bodice, maxi skirt, crochet top and an overlay skirt with lace edging. I'd heard of a woman called Trisha
who runs a local bridal shop who has an amazing reputation for dress making. It was a lovely bonding experience working together with tears, laughter and cuddles throughout the process. I sourced all the fabric from local shops. There are still combinations of the dress that I would like to try, I’ll have to go back and do it all again sigh :)
John also decided to have his suit made. We were recommended a tailor called Jo
who was fantastic, creative and fun. Her attention to detail was brilliant. John and her worked together choosing fabric for John’s shirt, waist coat and trousers. I had no idea what to expect as I chose not to see John’s suit until our wedding day. He looked gorgeous in a dark mustard tweed with a striped bow tie and checked shirt.
I kept accessories to a minimum to reflect the natural look I wanted to create. However I was very proud of my gold sparkly shoes. I normally live in wellies!! On the morning of the wedding John was given his wedding present of a Daniel Wellington watch (along with a soppy letter that made him cry a little). It was a simple, classic watch that still receives compliments now. My wedding ring is made from rare welsh gold and John’s wedding ring was handmade by a local couple.
The Wedding Party
We are not ashamed to say we went mad on the wedding party. John and I are in our late 30’s and have made so many wonderful friends during our adventures that we wanted them all to share our day. We decided to be pretty flexible with what everyone wore, mainly because that many people in one type of outfit would look a little overwhelming.
The guys were given a brief of neutral tweed style waistcoat and trousers, armed with an early pic of Mumford and Sons they were let loose. The result was fab. My girls were given a nude/blush skirt from H&M and the freedom to find a light coloured top that would flatter their shape. I wanted the individual personalities of my bridesmaids to shine through. It wasn’t until just before we walked to the church that I saw all the girls together in what they had chosen for the first time. They looked simply amazing.
Colour Scheme & Theme
We never really settled on a theme. We decided right at the start the wedding would be a festival celebration, a treat for all our guests to say thank you for being in our lives. We wanted to showcase the best of local businesses, resources and produce. That set a precedent for the whole wedding. Everything was sourced locally from North Wales, if it wasn’t; it came from Cheshire (where John grew up) or Hampshire (where I am from). Using our own props and borrowed ones from friends and family we added quirky details here and there. I had a large 70’s style psychedelic poster made featuring the days music! It now hangs in our kitchen. We aimed for the overall look to complement the outdoors in natural shades with a splash of bright colour or gold to add some summer fun.
I wanted to create the flower arrangements myself. I used instagram and pinterest to research seasonal flowers and whimsical arrangements. I approached a local lady with an idea of what I wanted to include in the bouquets and she kindly sourced peonies, roses and eucalyptus for me. When the flowers arrived, our house smelt amazing. I had help from my mum and my best friend’s mum (my 2nd mum) Jacqueline to create the bouquets and buttonholes. Neither of us had any previous of flower arranging so it was certainly a learning curve. I would nominate Jacqueline as my fabulous florist! Being thrifty, the bouquets doubled up as the centre flowers on the tables. For all the other flowers my mum-in-law and I created displays in various planters to add splashes of colour around the tent and field.
The ceremony was by far the most important and spectacular part of the day for John and I. We married in St David’s Church opposite our house. We were very lucky that Rev Peter Murphy who I have known since I was about 3 years old made a special trip up to Wales with his wife to take the ceremony. He made the service relaxed and enjoyable for all of us. I walked down the aisle to The Rhos Male Voice Choir
singing “I can’t help falling in love with you” by Elvis Presley. When I stood alongside John we were both in floods of tears, so happy to be finally saying I do. My son William gave me away; this was emotional for both of us. He was so grown up and after reading Bob Marley’s ‘He’s not perfect’ there wasn’t a dry eye in that church.
To treat our guests to a tour of the Llangollen Valley where we live, we hired two vintage Routemaster
buses to take our guests to and from the church back to our huge tipi tents
where a local band The Maffericks awaited them playing outside in the sun. Our guests helped themselves to their own enamel camping mug, which they could personalise, fill with Pimms and sit on homemade picnic blankets listening and dancing to the music.
Later in the evening we all danced to another live band The Copy Cats
who were amazing. They kicked off with our first dance ‘Sha la la la lee’ by The Small Faces. It drew quite the crowd, mainly for John’s moves which I have never seen before! We finished the evening with a bit of old school house music from my DJ mate Dave Thomas. Making the most of being in a field many of us pitched a tent and camped over including our own bell tent decorated for the bride and groom.
Food, Drink & Treats
John and I love food. I planned a menu around a posh ploughman’s concept with a hog roast in the evening. I worked alongside Pam who runs a local cafe
to bring the menu to life with lots of local yummy food including artisan breads some made using wild garlic collected from the woods in the village, cheeses from Snowdon, Nantwich and The Isle of Wight, a locally reared pig and strawberries were picked from a nearby farm.
For pudding in the evening John and I wanted a cake table to rival the bake off tent. Pam made so many amazing cakes and puddings it was overwhelming. We opted for two (made by Pam) wedding cakes, one a naked sponge tower with gluten free options, the other a royal iced deep boozy fruit cake (no cardboard boxes here) with the most exquisite handmade flowers and sparkly topper. This was the biggest event Pam had ever catered for and she did an amazing job.
I designed a bar that my dad built from local wood, my step dad provided an endless supply of local beers and cider for our guests to enjoy.
Paper Goods & DIY
John and I were keen to make our guests feel part of the wedding as much as possible. Right at the start we named the wedding weekend ‘Heathfields’. I hand made two camping guides introducing the wedding, the area and local info and sent them to our guests to make sure they had all the information they needed to have a safe trip and weekend with us. I also sent extra info with surprises for our guests in the form of ‘News from the Field’ newsletters.
I adopted lots of little projects leading up to the wedding and learnt a few new skills. I hand made bunting for the tipis, I collected retro crockery and glasses from charity shops and car boot sales. A friend made coasters from wood we collected on a walk and I made lavender bags from local lavender we picked close to John’s childhood which after spending several hours creating I felt quite sleepy!
It was so important for me to find someone who would capture the spirit of the day. I found Harriet
, our photographer on Rock My Wedding. I instantly fell in love with her effortless reportage style with a touch of nostalgia. She had photographed a couple of weddings in North Wales and I adored the way Harriet’s images were sympathetic to the stunning scenery whilst highlighting the quirky details and characters that make weddings so special.
Harriet was amazing to work with, especially the demands that come with photographing such a big wedding party. Both John and I shy away from being the focus of attention but loved every moment feeling relaxed, especially when we were photographed in our new garden.