Looking back at our travel themed wedding … six years on

I can’t believe that it’s been six years since we got married … in some ways it feels way longer because so much has happened since – a dog, two children, several new jobs – and in other ways it feels like it was yesterday.

Every so often I think back to our big day and think about what I would keep the same and what I would change if we were doing it all over again. I would definitely still have a subtle travel themed wedding, I’d have the same tea length lace dress, the same venue and the same car, but there are things I would do differently. I think I’d be less nervous about making bold choices, wouldn’t feel like we had to follow tradition so much, and our guest list would most likely be slightly different.

Looking back though, it was such a fun and happy day, and I would keep so much as it was. I think our personalities came through in the theme, decor and our outfits … So many people told me they knew my dress would be quirky!

I thought I’d share some of my favourite photos from the day as we celebrate our sixth anniversary this weekend. Because I have plans on our actual anniversary – March 2 – we’re actually celebrating a day early. Funny story … we had thought about getting married on March 1 because it’s St David’s Day and we thought it would be a nice anniversary date, but we didn’t want people to have the hassle of taking a day off work to come along. Instead we went for Saturday, March 2 , and had our rehearsal on the first.

When we were chatting to our vicar about how we chose the date during the rehearsal, he said he could marry us there and then so our actual wedding would be on March 1 and the next day would be for show. I was actually very tempted, and sometimes think we should have gone for it! It would make a nice little story!

Anyway, March 2, 2013 it was … 11 years and 11 months after we got together, and 15 months after getting engaged. Between our engagement and the wedding we also bought a house and I got a new job … not much pressure to deal with!

Here’s a round-up of our lovely sunny March wedding day, mostly in photos.

The wedding morning…

Sticking to tradition, I stayed at my parents’ house the night before the wedding so I could get ready there in the morning. It was all a bit of a blur, and even though we had to be up at silly o’clock for the hairdresser, I still ended up rushing to get my dress on.

I did my own make up as I wanted to look like me (as daft as that sounds), and didn’t go for the old wedding fake tan. I didn’t want to look back in years to come and think I overdid it. Surprisingly, I’m still pleased with these choices!

We had pancakes for breakfast and my mother cracked open a bottle of Bucks Fizz, and the song Pompeii by Bastille will always remind me of sitting in the kitchen, jittery with nerves and excitement.

The flowers and shoes…

My requests for our florist were that I wanted a bouquet that looked like it could have been picked from the garden that morning, nothing too big or fancy, and that I didn’t mind what flowers were included as long as there were some very pale pink roses and narcissus (because they look like tiny daffodils). After some discussion about sequins on the ribbon, which I didn’t want, and if a bridesmaid size bouquet was big enough to make an impact – I think it was – this was the result… and I loved it.

Spring wedding bouquet of pink roses and narcissus.
Spring wedding bouquet of pink roses and narcissus.

I always said I’d splash out on wedding shoes and buy a designer pair – especially as I had a tea length dress in mind so they’d be on show all day. Then I fell in love with a pair by Rachel Simpson and dragged my mother to a bridal shop an hour away to try them on. I eventually took the plunge and bought them to take to one of my fittings, but they didn’t look right with my dress … so after all that, I ended up with a £25 pair from Next. To make them that bit more special, I customised them with some pearl flowers that had been part of my mother’s veil. I loved having a part of my parents’ wedding in our day. Oh, and I also had a pair of white Converse on hand…

Ivory wedding shoes with a bow from Next
Wedding shoes and bridesmaid shoes on an old bike
I love how this photo came out … it’s so creative!

The dress…

As I mentioned, I had my heart set on a tea length dress from the start. I’ve actually wanted a shorter dress for years before we were even engaged (channelling my inner Audrey Hepburn), but it wasn’t as easy to find one as I’d hoped.

I kept being told not to be so specific with my request for a tea length lace dress with buttons down the back and some form of strap / sleeve, but then I found the one. The ladies at Pleser bridal shop in Pontarddulais brought out exactly what I was describing, and I was sold. It was the Louise dress by Forget-Me-Not Bridal.

It looked vintage, the lace was so pretty, and oh my gosh the swishiness was a dream.

I have to admit, I had nightmares about choosing a short dress, and visions of everyone hating it, but each time I went back for a fitting I knew I’d made the right choice.

For the ceremony I wore my mother’s veil (which we stained with tea to give it more of an ivory colour!) as my something borrowed, and aquamarine earrings as my something blue.

The ceremony – a travel themed church service…

We thought long and hard about whether we should have a church service or the ceremony at our reception venue, but to me a church just felt right. We’re not particularly religious, but there’s something about a church wedding that seems more official to me. We chose our parish church … another funny story … our first choice was actually a church around the corner from my parents’ house as it was smaller and less grand (a lot of our wedding planning was about making sure the day represented us … and we’re not fancy!). But due to renovation works they couldn’t guarantee there would be an aisle to walk down on the day, and the entrance might have been blocked by skips! So the parish church it was … and a much longer aisle…

In my usual style, I was 15 minutes late arriving … but I blame my father as he was so excited to ride in a vintage car that he asked the driver to go the long way around. We had a little spin along the coastal road to get to the church, and kept Stew waiting just a wee while.

This is one of my favourite photos of the day
1950s style tea length wedding dress. Forget Me Not bridal
1950s style tea length wedding dress. Forget Me Not bridal

We had a harpist playing while our guests arrived, as I walked down the aisle, and while we signed the register. Funny story number three … the actual harpist we thought we were having double booked herself, but said one of her students could play instead (at a hugely discounted price!). I was surprised to get to the end of the aisle and realise she was about 13 years old!

She was amazing though, and even learned the Forest Gump theme for us – give it a listen, it’s beautiful, especially on the harp. I’m really annoyed with myself for forgetting what the song was called that she played while I walked down the aisle … if anyone who was there can remember (long shot!), let me know!

Oh look, it’s Stew … who chose not to shave or do up his top button for the occasion!
Wedding at Llanelli Parish Church
Look how beautiful the church is

We had two readings, which hinted at our love of travel … the first was a verse from Song of Solomon, which ends with “arise my love, my fair one, and come away”, and the second was O The Places You’ll Go, by Dr Seuss. I love this one, and the first two lines – “Congratulations! Today is your day!” – were perfect. One of the hymns we chose was One More Step Around the World, which is a classic from school, and we made our own order of services decorated with hearts cut from vintage maps.

Taking a seat for the readings
Wedding at Llanelli Parish Church 2013
All done!

We had a vintage Buick as our wedding car, which was a last-minute addition as we’d planned on me walking to the original church and then just driving ourselves over to the reception. The change of church meant it was too far for me to walk, so we scrabbled around for a car … randomly we found a man up the road with this one, and he was happy to step up.

I absolutely loved the style – it went with my dress perfectly – and the drive over to Gower in the sun was lovely.

1950s Buick wedding car outside Llanelli Parish Church
Wedding at Llanelli Parish Church with 1950s Buick wedding car
Wedding at Llanelli Parish Church with 1950s Buick wedding car
Wedding at Llanelli Parish Church with 1950s Buick wedding car

The photoshoot…

As I mentioned, our photographer was Martin Phillips, from Porthcawl, who we met at a wedding fair. I was drawn to the vintage, quirky style of his photos, and how friendly he and his wife Julie were.

We had a pre-wedding photo session at Three Cliffs Bay about a month before, and decided to go back there on the day. We were so lucky with the sun, and ended up wandering a bit further down the path than we’d planned … but the photos were worth it, and our guests had winter Pimms and Welsh cakes to keep them busy!

I felt like a celebrity as everyone we passed stopped to say congratulations, and one family even asked for a photo with us. I wonder where that ended up!

Wedding photo by Martin Phillips Photography Porthcawl
Wedding photo by Martin Phillips Photography Porthcawl
Wedding photo by Martin Phillips Photography Porthcawl
Wedding photo at Three Cliffs Gower by Martin Phillips Photography Porthcawl
Just look at that view…
Wedding photo at Three Cliffs Gower by Martin Phillips Photography Porthcawl

I planned ahead and took along my trusty Converse for the walk because I didn’t want my shoes to be covered in mud! I actually love how the photos turned out with Stew carrying my shoes for me. My coat is faux fur and was borrowed from my mother last minute. I was very grateful for it in the shade!

Wedding photo at Three Cliffs Gower by Martin Phillips Photography Porthcawl
Wedding photo at Three Cliffs Gower by Martin Phillips Photography Porthcawl

The reception…

We had our reception at The King Arthur Hotel, in Reynoldston, Gower, after falling in love with it on our first visit. The front half is a pub with an open fire, maps on the walls and nautical trinkets, and the back is a huge light and airy barn-style extension.

I turned into some sort of Blue Peter wannabe in the months leading up to the wedding, and insisted we were not paying anyone else to decorate the room. After trips to Ikea for mini daffodils and plant pots, cutting up maps into tiny hearts, gluing lace to jam jars, borrowing a stack of old books from my gran, and scouring charity shops for vintage table mats we had ourselves some centrepieces…

Vintage travel themed wedding centrepiece

Our tables were all named after countries we’ve visited, and we had a vintage looking map as our table plan. We used luggage labels to write who was on each table, and linked them to the country of their table with string. People had to then find the right map, which was framed on their table … it was less complicated than it sounds! We still have the map (without the labels) on the wall in our playroom, and if anyone follows me on Instagram they’ll recognise it as it pops up a lot as a background for flatlays!

Travel themed wedding table plan

We had an old suitcase for cards, and about a week before the wedding I decided to make hot air balloon candle holders to hang from the ceiling. I don’t know why I thought this would be a good idea, as well as working up until two days before, but they looked pretty all lit up in the evening!

Travel themed wedding at The King Arthur Hotel Gower
I was the news editor on our local paper at the time and made Stew a novelty front page as a wedding gift. The story I wrote about him still makes me laugh out loud!

Our cake was amazing – Stew’s friend from work offered to make it for us and she couldn’t have done a better job. I had this vision of a blue cake with white lace icing that would look almost like pottery. The end result (paler in real life than the photo below) was so much better than I could have imagined … three tiers of plain sponge, chocolate and lemon, with the most beautiful iced pearls and roses. The cake topper was from my parents’ wedding, and was 30 years old.

One of the best decisions we made when planning the day was to hire a band for the night. Coverland were our first choice, and they didn’t disappoint … everyone was dancing, and I’ll never forget the huge circle of friends all linking arms and dancing to The Killers.

Incidentally, our first dance was Romeo and Juliet by The Killers, which we learned a choreographed routine to … if Stew can learn the foxtrot, anyone can! I think I would go for something a bit more upbeat if we were planning it again … I feel like we fell into the trap of first dance songs needing to be slow and romantic. It was nice to hear The Killers play it live last year though.

From me being late to church, to Stew still having price labels on his shoes, the day couldn’t have been more us. If I could do it all over again, I so would … and am trying to convince Stew that we should renew our vows for our ten year anniversary, if only to wear my dress again.

Although we did get all kitted up in our wedding clothes again two years after … but that’s another story…