Doesn’t Ruth look elegant? She had her heart set on being a Jenny Packham Bride from the start and so she worked HARD to save up for her dress. And it was most definitely worth it. ‘Esme’ is such a stunning dress with all of that embellishment and it fits Ruth like a glove. I’m also loving her pretty plaited up-do and THAT sparkly head piece (another Jenny Packham beauty).
It’s lovely to see a navy and silver colour scheme, I feel like bronze and coppers have dominated of late on the metallic front – just wait until you see the glittery cake made by Ruth, and I’m sure you’ll agree.
And not only did Bride Ruth make the cake, but she made most of the decor too. Weddings are such a great way to unleash your creativity, and Ruth literally has it in abundance!
Ruth The Bride: I have loved Jenny Packham’s style since my days in Art College nearly 15 years ago. Her style is so distinct, instantly recognisable, beautiful! I avoided going to White Bride in Narberth at first, even though so many people had recommended her, but I knew that if I went and tried on a Jenny Packham, I would be in serious trouble as I didn’t have anywhere near the budget! I searched around for something similar, but nothing compared. I finally caved and messaged Sally at White Bride, little did I know that she was to become my Fairy Godmother!
I nervously went into my appointment, Sally put me at ease, understood my financial concerns, and helped me to pick out a number of dresses, including a few Jenny’s. The very first dress I stepped into was ‘The One’. I can’t describe the face I pulled as I looked in the mirror – it was a teary mess of love, awe, and the realisation that I couldn’t afford the dress. It was love at first sight! Sally didn’t put any pressure on, told me to go and have a think and that she was there if I needed her. Over the next two weeks I had put half of my worldly possessions on eBay, along with a couple of my fiance’s golf clubs! I would raise the money!
And I did, taking on extra cake work and cutting back on every aspect of our lifestyle I saved. It soon followed that I would choose a Jenny Packham headdress, shoes and earrings!
My husband George couldn’t be more laid back! A few weeks before the wedding he strolled into Dyfed Menswear in Cross Hands and sorted his and the groomsmen’s suits. Simple! He wore a Midnight Blue Italian Mohair slim fit suit, with brown shoes from Schuh and looked pretty damn hot!
The Cawdor Hotel in Llandeilo was perfect. We had splashed out on my dress and luckily The Cawdor offered a range of packages which enabled us to ‘build our own’. Georgina Watts at The Cawdor was a friend as well as the co-ordinator of our wedding, and this meant I could relax and leave it all in her more than capable hands. The Cawdor own a converted chapel a few doors up from their hotel, called Ty Horeb, and it had the stripped back, quiet, contemplative atmosphere which was perfect for our ceremony. In The Cawdor itself, the cosy bar area with open fires and boutique feel was perfect for our style and our winter wedding.
I began with the invitations, which I made from scratch with brown kraft card, my printer, some glue and some string! From there came the matching order of service, and then I added in a range of chalkboard elements, including the numbers for the tables, which I put into vintage style frames from The Range, the table plan, and photo booth/date night instructions. I used luggage tags for name cards with a wooden heart and an antique key. I wanted a rustic style, but something was missing. I soon worked out that the missing element was sparkle! My jam jars for the table centres got covered in silver glitter – and I felt happier having satisfied my inner magpie! The colour scheme for the bridesmaids was navy, which I didn’t want to dominate as a theme, so I just incorporated it into the name cards and left it at that. The colours used were mainly brown card, blackboard, white and silver, with a bit of pink thrown in through flowers.
We were so lucky that one of George’s best friends Mark, an usher, offered his services at their family business Petals Florists. The flowers were our wedding gift and they were perfect! Debbie and Carol found my laid back attitude to the flowers highly amusing, as I really didn’t mind what went into the bouquet, buttonholes and corsages, as long as the colours were right. I think because we weren’t paying for the flowers, it took away the stress of getting exactly what I wanted – I didn’t have the right to be my usually bossy OCD self! Plus I didn’t really know what I wanted anyway! All I knew was I liked the hand-picked look, simple, blousy type bouquets. I had tried to grow Gypsophila in my garden with little success, but knew I wanted to use it for bridesmaids bouquets and within the table centres along with wax flower, berries and roses. A friend of mine delivered the flowers to The Cawdor and the wonderful Georgina arranged them all for me into the jars. One of my closest friends Becki helped me to track down a tree trunk which her husband took to a man with a chainsaw! They really finished off the look.
The Wedding Party
I loved the Two Birds dresses, but with four bridesmaids (three sisters and my best mate) they weren’t an option! We hunted around for something similar, and amazingly found a navy version in BHS teenage section. Luckily my sisters are all slim and short so we were onto a £45 winner! I finished off the look with a brooch each from eBay at a bargain 99p each, silver earrings, and a bracelet from Next. They wore glittery, silver shoes from Debenhams. I made the girls a bridesmaid bag each, which I painted and personalised, and inside gave the girls a pair pumps for achy feet, handbags from 925 Treats in Ammanford, plasters, mints and so on. My chief bridesmaid wore a beautiful Ariella navy beaded dress from Debenhams, another bargain, at £60 instead of £225. My splurge on my own wedding dress didn’t seem so bad anymore!
The flower girl was my step-daughter, and I wanted her to know that she was super special and let her choose her own dress. She chose a traditional style dress from Next which we teamed with glittery pumps also from Next and a fur shrug from Monsoon. As soon as the meal was done though she changed into the personalised onesie I had made for her, but as long as she was happy, so was I. The page boys were my two sons, and looked so dapper in their navy suits from Next. They had little brown brogues from Monsoon, and I bought them superman canvas boots for the evening. They looked like little gangsters – Ronnie my eldest was missing his two front teeth, and Frank just looks wicked! Instead of buttonholes which I knew would annoy them, I got little badges made with ‘Page Boy’ on them, which they can keep forever. Groomsmen were matching George’s suit from Dyfed Menswear.
The ceremony was conducted by friend and registrar Melissa Parnell. She made it relaxed, fun and touching. We only had one reading, and the minute we got engaged I knew what it would be. I am a total Daddy’s girl, always have been, and I asked him to read my favourite poem from my childhood, ‘The Dream Fairy’ by Thomas Hood. He used to read it to me at bedtime, and it was an obvious choice. It took my till the last line to pluck up the courage to look at him as he read it, I didn’t think I could keep it together otherwise. The piano player at the ceremony was a student of mine Catrin Walsh, she played ‘You Got The Love’ by Candi Staton as I walked down the aisle, and that was the first moment where I realised the gravity of the situation. It was phenomenal. All morning I had been too calm!. Katelin, our flower girl, walked down the aisle throwing real confetti from Shropshire Petals and on the way out, cones made from copies of the sheet music that Catrin was playing were given out with petals in for people to throw. Our youngest son Frank (2) walked down the aisle and promptly fell asleep on my Step Dad’s knee! While we signed the register Catrin played ‘Hoppipola’ by Sigur Ros and ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol, and when we walked out as husband and wife we played Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’ on CD. Music is a massive part of our relationship – we share the same eclectic taste, Our first dance was to Massive Attack’s ‘Protection’, and I also had a ‘first’ dance with my Dad, to ‘Stand by Me’ by Ben E King.
Kevin Bolton Jazz Saxophone – The band were amazing! Kevin is a friend of George’s but I’d never heard him play, he worked the crowd like you wouldn’t believe, jumping up and playing his sax on the tables and chairs, getting everyone to dance. Once they finished we plugged in a playlist we had put together on Spotify and danced the night away. I had also made a photo booth using a vintage suitcase, some wigs and hats, and some glittery props like moustaches and lips on sticks. I bought an ‘Instamax’ camera and a job lot of instant film and this created a photo guest book and allowed people to take away a souvenir of the night.
We were fortunate enough to be able to offer our guests a choice of food, the chef at The Cawdor is out of this world. Starters were a choice of Duck Liver Parfait or Salmon Fishcake, Mains were Seabass with asparagus spears and cockle sauce, or lamb with confit potatoes. Dessert was either lemon cheesecake or sticky toffee pudding. All the guests were raving about the food, and we knew that it would be fantastic as we often go there for dinner!
I had made my wedding cake, a silver, glittery 5 tier showstopper (if I do say so myself!) which I based on my Jenny Packham dress. A very talented friend of mine Jane Lewis made the David Austin sugarpaste roses for me as I ran out of time! For the evening, I roped in friends Becki and Jane, plus my mother and together we created a dessert table beyond my expectations. Macarons, fruit cake, brownies, cupcakes, meringue kisses, popcorn, sweets, marshmallows. I used jars, tree trunks and cake stands for displaying the goodies, and hand stamped brown paper bags with our names and wedding date. The Cawdor then served fish and sweet potato chips in newspaper cones for an evening snack.
Choosing Hannah Evans at Rocksalt Photography was a no brainer. Not only is she an award winning photographer, but we grew up together, attending school, sixth form and Swansea Institute studying Art together (and enjoying a bit too much sometimes!) Her work is exceptional, and I happily told her to do whatever she wanted when taking the photographs, as I love her style and her eye for detail is second to none. We were absolutely over the moon with the results, I look at them nearly every day.
My family is extremely close, even though there are a lot of us. My three sisters Rhian, Jen and Effie were my bridesmaids, and my Chief Bridesmaid was my best friend Laura. Both grandparents on my father’s side passed away several years ago, and I was extremely close to them both. My engagement ring has my nans stones in it, and I get a lot of my artistic ability from her. My grandparents on my mother’s side are fortunately still with us, but only my Granny was up to travelling from Mid to South Wales for the wedding, my Grandad now settled in a home needing around the clock care. I had tried not to think about the situation as I obviously found it upsetting that he couldn’t be with us.
The night before the wedding the girls gathered round my bed and gave me a box (a silver, glittery box – they know me so well!) I had no idea what was going to be inside, and once opened I couldn’t contain my emotion (I’m choking up writing this now!) Inside was my Nan’s vintage cigarette holder, which I didn’t know was still around, and a small knitted black rabbit made by sister (my Grandad used to call me ‘black rabbit’). My Grandad in Mid Wales had also sent down his hanky, embroidered with an ‘S’ for Senior (his surname) and attached his badge that he had when he played hockey for Wales. The girls knew how emotional I would be, so rightly chose to give me the box the night before as opposed to potentially ruining my face on the wedding day!
The whole day was just perfect from start to finish, we were so lucky with the weather, the guests were our absolute favourite people, the music was the soundtrack to our lives. It was my biggest Art Project to date and with the help of my friends and family we nailed it!