Tell us about the proposal – how and where did it happen?
It was 5th November 2011, in the woods near to my parents’ house in Aberhafesp, Powys. This is a very special place for me, since I grew up in Aberhafesp and have many memories of walking and playing in the woods throughout my childhood. It was simple, but perfect for me. After Owain proposed, we walked for a while taking it all in and then went back to my family, who were all at my parents’ house for a bonfire party which turned into an engagement party.
What was your first step in planning your wedding?
The first step was to find the right wedding venue. I wanted to get married in Aberhafesp Church but we did not want our guests to have to travel too far to the reception. We considered many venues - some as much as an hour’s drive away - and were thrilled that Plas Dinam was everything we wanted and was only ten minutes from Aberhafesp.
I made a wedding scrapbook and carried it around with me everywhere for a year!
How did you search for a wedding venue?
I did many Google searches, but also used our knowledge of the local area to directly investigate particular venues to see if they would allow wedding receptions. We spend our time between Sweden and the UK, so venue viewings had to take place when we were home.
What made you choose your wedding venue?
Plas Dinam, in my opinion, made other wedding venues I had seen, pale into insignificance. The biggest point was that it was not a hotel. It was a family home, where we could put on the most important of family events - there was nothing commercial about it. I was quite taken with the idea of being free to roam the entire house with friends and family relaxing in every room free to make a cup of tea or watch TV at will. In reality of course, the caterers took care of us on the wedding day, the same as if we were in a hotel, but the option and that freedom were there. The rest of the weekend we could all just relax and do as we pleased.
Describe your wedding dress
My dress was a column cut, slipper satin gown with corded lace bodice and sleeves. It had a puddle train, which echoed the corded lace of the sleeves. It was a Sassi Holford dress from her London boutique.
I always wanted to have satin. I could not find exactly what I wanted anywhere and so my dress was a bespoke design. I felt wonderful all day - my look adjusted ever so slightly to suit the different chapters of the day, just as I had hoped.
What accessories did you wear on the day?
My hair accessory was a double comb drape piece from Emmy Shoes. My shoes were Rachel Simpson “Mimi”. My underwear was wholly unexciting due to the sheer fabric of my dress. The dress had an in-built corset and so I only needed nude-coloured underwear, which I bought from Victoria’s Secret.
My necklace was my something old. The diamond solitaire is from my grandmother’s engagement ring. My earrings were bespoke from Susie Warner to match and complement the necklace.
What did the groom and groomsmen wear?
My husband wore a grey, woolen, three-piece suit from Gothenburg, Sweden. He kept precisely what he was wearing a surprise from me. When I first saw him, I was ecstatic. I thought he looked wonderful, very handsome indeed!
I had an inkling about what Owain would wear from the groomsmen’s outfits. They wore three - piece, grey suits hired from Austin Reed. I thought they all looked great on the day.
Tell us about your bridesmaid and her outfit
To make preparations just a little more complicated, my one bridesmaid lives in Toronto. Our dress - trawling consisted of many Skype conversations looking at various dresses and conferring. Her dress was from Dessy , which being international, meant I could look at sample colours in the UK or Sweden and she could try the dresses in Toronto and send me pictures. It was quite a mission but was great fun and really paid off. Her shoes were Rachel Simpson also.
What was your ceremony like?
We had a very traditional ceremony, in the church in which I was christened. Our close friends read and we had a string quartet playing some of our favourite pieces. I was walked down the aisle by my father. The vicar made the ceremony quite personal to us by making reference to Swedish customs, which was touching. It all seemed to go by in a bit of a blur but it was lovely.
How did you organise your wedding budget?
I found the budget to be one of the most difficult parts. We were lucky to have help from my parents and Owain’s parents. It was difficult because it seemed hard to get an accurate cost of anything until we knew exactly how many guests were able to attend, who would stay at the venue etc. We went over budget, but many couples have told me that the same thing happened to them!
Styling your wedding: how did personalize your big day?
I guess the theme was that there was no theme. I wanted things to be quite simple and simply elegant. Having said that, I wanted to have some Swedish elements in the marquee - lots of candles, glass holders and lace.
My husband, however, wanted a few more gimmicky touches that went down a treat with the guests! He wanted to have sweet jars on each table each with a different sweet instead of favours. These doubled up as table names. Paper bags were provided so that guests could collect a pick ‘n’ mix and mingle with other guests. I added a little poem and some Swedish lace to the jars.
Cheese wedding cake
Owain also wanted a wedding cake made of cheese. Eldrydd at Plas Dinam gave him the idea and he loved it. My sister-in-law, Rachel Moelwyn-Williams, made the cake. Every cheese had a link to us, for example: many Welsh cheeses (we used to live in Cardiff) and a “Ginger Spice” cheese referring to my hair!
I collected photographs of Owain and me at various ages and put them in frames around Plas Dinam. I chose classic frames, to keep everything in keeping with the house. These provided a good talking point for the guests also.
Did you use blogs or magazines for ideas?
I really enjoyed browsing in wedding magazines for ideas on everything. I bought “Perfect Wedding” on a few occasions. I got ideas about hair, makeup, shoes, accessories etc. from magazines.
What were your wedding “must have’s”?
The wedding venue was the priority. I wanted somewhere where we could really feel at home and stay for more than just the day. We hired Plas Dinam for three nights, which meant that we could really relax and have quality time with family and friends. After that, I prioritized my dress and the wedding band.
How did you choose your photographer?
There was never any question about our choice of photographer. The folks at Rocksalt Photography are good friends of Owain and me. This, in itself, would not provide good reason to use them, but we have seen their excellent wedding work numerous times and experienced how professional, unobtrusive and personable they are at such an important event as a wedding. Their style is not overly posed, but natural. Looking at our photographs, they really capture the amount of laughter that there was on the day.
Wedding suppliers: how did you choose them?
We looked a lot online. With the marquee supplier, we got two quotes and went with the most reasonable but also the provider who was very helpful over email- a lot of the discussion being done from Sweden.
We found suitable caterers online and chose ours based on tastings and meetings. The wine suppliers and bar staff were recommended by our caterer. I did not look at forums or attend any wedding fairs. Again, I really enjoyed looking through magazines and making my own wedding scrapbook.
What was your biggest wedding splurge?
Hmmmm, that’s tough. Many of the big expenses - wedding venue, marquee and catering - came to a similar amount. The dress, band and free bar were also quite big splurges.
What was your biggest wedding saving?
We did all of the printing ourselves and did not hire cars. By doing the invitations, orders of ceremony, menus, thank you’s etc. ourselves I think we had a good result for a fraction of the cost. I bought some car ribbon for £15.00 to put on my brother’s car!
Tell us about your drinks reception and wedding breakfast
Owain and I arrived at Plas Dinam before the guests and managed to get a lot of our outside photographs done then. This was great because we both wanted to enjoy seeing our guests at the reception as much as possible. The caterers served dinks and canapés whilst we had the rest of our photos taken and then we had plenty of time to chat too.
We had a sit-down wedding breakfast and the caterers facilitated guests being able to choose what they ate. There were three choices of starter and main with a trio of desserts. I chose to have the Camembert and red onion parcel followed by a roast pork dinner.
The speeches were very funny! Owain had two best men who, with the help of mischievous friends and family, came up with many stories which not only embarrassed Owain but me as well! They circulated photographs from the night we first got together, many years ago, which got many, many laughs. Owain’s speech was humourous and beautiful in equal measure. I recall trying not to look directly at him or think about his words too deeply because I did not want to get emotional.
Did you have a band or DJ for your evening reception?
We had Danny Mills and his band from London. Danny played piano jazz during the afternoon reception and his band joined him for the more up-beat evening do.
Choosing our first dance was really difficult. It was hard to find a song that we both really liked so in the end we chose “Nobody Does It Better” by Carly Simon. This had university memories for us both and this was where we met. I had choreographed some moves but in the event our niece and nephew joined in, so it didn’t come off (…. all good plans an’ all that!).
Based on your own experience, give us some top tips…
- Draw on you own experience of weddings. What have you liked/ disliked when you were a guest? Can you fix those things for your day?
- Keep one eye on budget. It’s so hard to work with exact figures with so many variable factors. Take stock each step of the way to make sure cost is not running away with you.
- Prioritise. Imagine your absolutely perfect day and ask yourself what elements of that are realistic. Can you replace the unrealistic elements with more affordable options?
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and ENJOY IT! There will be things that go wrong- expect that- hopefully they will only be little things. Roll with the punches and smile!
“If we could do it all again, we’d…”
Be mindful of the time after the wedding breakfast. Once all the speeches were done, food eaten and everyone a little intoxicated, we lingered too long in the marquee when the party should have been underway. This is a tough one because we were enjoying ourselves, but it did mean we missed out on 30 minutes of the band’s time.
Did you go on a honeymoon or mini-moon?
We were really lucky. We set up a gift list with Honeyfund.com so people could contribute to our honeymoon in Tokyo (6 nights) and Boracay (10 nights). This was simply perfect and a great chance to reflect on the wedding.