As we wanted an intimate, relaxed wedding with our closest family and friends, Nantwen was perfect for just this, a hidden gem at the end of an idyllic country lane. We liked the fact Nantwen is a green place to stay having won a Gold Award for Green Tourism. The barn we used for the service and reception had been sympathetically restored and had understated beauty, with a large arched window looking onto the surrounding countryside. Being Welsh I was eager to get married in Wales and loved how the venue incorporated both my family farming background whilst also being close to the sea, a nod to my husband’s roots in Brighton. The added draw of Nantwen was the stunning self- contained cottage located next to the converted barn and the chance for a long weekend away in order to appreciate the surroundings. Returning for our first year anniversary was heaped in nostalgia, bringing back all the cherished memories of the day.
Perhaps bucking the trend, I didn’t place huge importance on my dress, I knew I didn’t want the ‘traditional’ wedding dress and I wanted to be comfortable and not overly worried about the guests of honor (our three family dogs) damaging an expensive, delicate dress. I decided on a simple powder blue dress from Jarlo and wore sentimental jewellery I already owned, including a bumble bee Alex Monroe necklace and Swarovski bangle. I did my makeup myself having practiced several times beforehand. A local hair dresser, Michelle Davies, tamed my usually big hair creating the effortless style I was after, complete with a floral hair piece. The bridesmaid dresses were from French Connection. The groom’s suit was from Moss Bros. and his bow tie was from an independent designer called Isola, we found it whilst on holiday in Split, Croatia, a couple of days after getting engaged.
With Nantwen being effortlessly romantic and beautiful we kept additional décor to a minimum. I created minimalistic arrangements using supermarket flowers and vintage Welsh glass bottles my father owned in various seaside colours, dotted around the barn and created flower collars for the family dogs using faux flowers. Many of the items used were sourced from my parents or made by husband’s parents. The vision was to create a simple, relaxed, nature inspired atmosphere allowing the buildings, surrounding meadows and wooded valley to take center stage.
The talented Annabel from Flowers by Annabel created the bouquets, button holes and my hair piece. I was eager to keep the suppliers local and find someone who worked with sustainable, seasonal British blooms. I’ve always loved flowers and working with Annabel was an absolute pleasure. She created meaningful arrangements filled with peonies, roses, veronica, sea thistles, eucalyptus, nigella and lambs ears. I received so many compliments on the day and was so pleased with the coastal inspired bouquets, complete with the addition of brunia which captured the essence of the sea. I managed to dry several of the flowers, creating a treasured keepsake.
I decided to bake the cakes myself, having grown up baking with my mother. I made various different flavours to suit different tastes. We both love wood fired pizza and loved the idea of having a pizza van which fitted in perfectly with our laid back vision for the day. Working with Pembrokeshire Wood Fired Pizza we had a relaxed dining experience sharing pizzas and salads served on bamboo, biodegradable plates. We also ordered several cheese wheels from The Cheese Shed to make a wedding cheese tower.
In keeping with vibe of the day, we wanted our wedding photos to be natural and unstaged, again using a local photographer. Heather Birnie ticked all the boxes and more. She knew the venue well which definitely helped. She managed to capture the emotions of the day perfectly and happily obliged with my request for multiple photographs of the family dogs. I love the series of confetti shots she captured with all our guests. We went for flower petals from Shropshire Petals, biodegradable and full of scent. We requested some group shots using the woodland backdrop in the wild garden area of Nantwen. We then headed off to Newport Sands for photos of just the two of us. Despite the strong wind, the gorgeous Welsh coastal landscape was a beautiful setting for our portraits. Heather was a great addition to the day, relaxed, friendly, unobtrusive and yet professional with an attention to detail. Heather provided a charming handcrafted wooden keepsake box with a selection of prints and a wooden USB. We now have many of her photographs in pride of place around our home.
Best part of the day
It’s hard to pick the ‘best part of the day’ as it was filled with so many happy memories but I think the ceremony itself and exchanging our vows, in front of the large arched window clinches it. Having our friends and family surround us and witness our union was very profound and the dog’s howling and barking only added to the joy!
From one bride to another…
My advice would be to make the day unique and meaningful to you as opposed to sticking with tradition for the sake of it. Enjoy every moment and take it all in as the day goes by far too quickly.
Photography Heather Birnie
Florist Flowers by Annabel
Hair Michelle Davies
Catering Pembrokeshire Wood Fired Pizza
Bride’s Dress Jarlo London
Groom Moss Bros.
Confetti Shropshire Petals
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