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Afternoon Lovely People. We have an absolute belter of a wedding to share with you all today! Its brilliantly captured by Jason Williams (who I have just added to my watch list – his photography is awesome), has quirky and unique touches that make it that extra bit special (cue the tower of 240 welsh cakes, spiderman outfit and decorated converse) and the write up by the bride is so well written, detailed and honest that I have loved putting this feature together.

Peter and Anna wanted their wedding day to be about them, their two boys and the people they love. Having recently had a baby, their time was very limited so, by their own admission, they kind of just winged it when it came to the planning! They just made sure that they stayed true to themselves with any decisions they made and called on their friends and family to help where possible. If there was a traditional element that didn’t fit with their personalities, they didn’t do it – simple!

We had never really imagined our wedding. We had been together for 12 years, had two children, a house and our life together already set up. We talked about lots of different options from getting married up a snowy mountain on snowboards, to eloping, to a small do in a registry office. Once we decided that we wanted to get married back in our church in our home town we knew we wanted a really chilled, laid back time. Some of the traditions that come with a wedding just didn’t seem to fit with us so we did it our way. I just wanted to marry the best person that I know, with our two amazing boys, surrounded by all of our favourite people in the world, in the place that was the most important to me. Then have an epic party. The rest was just a bonus!

I think what I love the most about Anna and Peter’s wedding is the 2 hour break they had after their ceremony. To keep costs low, they decided not to have a sit down meal and instead, have a 2 hour break where guests could go off and do their own thing. It also meant that they got to spend some time with just them and their boys to take in the fact that this was their wedding day. After the break, everyone arrived for the evening party. I think this is such a great idea especially if you are looking to save money.

Anna and Peter talk us through their very special wedding day….

Would you like to Marry Daddy?

After 12 years of being together the proposal was a huge surprise!

I was 6 months pregnant with Ioan and we were on holiday with my dad and step mum on a canal boat in North Wales. We had sailed to Llangollen which is the most stunning town. We had been out for the morning on an ‘Ivor the Engine’ esque steam train with Aneirin. Once back in Llangollen, Peter tried to take me to one side as we walked past a jewellery shop that sold clogau gold. He pointed at a ring and said ‘I like that one’. I thought he was winding me up and threw the mother of all hissy fits (I blame the hormones, no wonder we’re known as Petey and The Rage). He managed to talk me down and we went into the shop with Aneirin and asked the lady if we could try on rings. I picked a welsh gold ring with white topaz flanked by love spoons. I loved it.

My dad did appear at one point asking what was going on but my step mum headed him off. We then walked to get a drink and Pete informed my dad he was going to propose whilst at the bar. When they all came back out, Peter got down on one knee and Aneirin asked if I would like to marry his daddy.

It was absolutely perfect.

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A Tweed Suit, Red Converse and Spiderman….

Peter wanted a cool, tweed suit. Said suit just happened to come from Next!! He wore brown converse, (much to his Grandma’s dismay). Formal shoes are just not Peter in any way. There was only one pair of shoes that he was going to wear and that was that.

We asked Aneirin (our eldest child who is 3) what he wanted to wear to mummy and daddy’s wedding. He said a spiderman outfit! We said ok and that was that. He is just too cool! Aneirin had red converse to go with his spiderman outfit and Ioan, (our youngest) had blue converse socks.

The groomsmen all had different suits but we picked blue ties and pocket squares to tie them all together.

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My something old and something blue….

My favourite pair of shoes by Irregular Choice. Peter had bought me these shoes for my graduation 6 years ago. They are a bit quirky and as I had a shorter dress I wanted something funky. They were my something old and my something blue.

Straight after the ceremony my feet were killing me: I’m a podiatrist by trade-I don’t wear heels! Peter and the boys all had converse and had hand decorated a pair of white converse for me with some sharpies. They are the most loveliest present I have been given. They allowed me to dance and I think they looked awesome with my wedding dress! They are something that I can still wear every day too, everytime I put them on I’m reminded of my beautiful little family.

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Wedding Belles of Wales….

So, to be honest, I was planning on going and trying on a few dresses then perhaps ordering one online. I was back visiting Llantwit for a week and my mum suggested going to try some dresses on as we only had 10 weeks or so until the wedding. Ioan was 8 weeks old and I was feeling very unglamorous. Nontheless, off we went: Me, my sister Elin, my mum, my Auntie Diane, Aneirin and Ioan.

We went to one bridal shop, Wedding Belles of Wales. I sort of envisaged wearing a long, Grecian style dress with lace. I described this to the lady who worked there who dutifully brought out said dress. I tried it on…it was nice. She then brought in a shorter, strapless dress. Something, I declared, I definitely did not want. ‘Go on,’ she said ‘just try it for me, if you don’t like it a least we’ve tried and you’ll know you love the other one.’

So… I tried it on. …and I loved it. In fact, everybody loved it! We agreed that we needed straps to be added as I was nursing Ioan and the boobies were a bit unpredictable(!) but it was otherwise THE ONE. Again – this was something that I had never believed in until it happened! The lovely lady who worked there is very very good at her job. She listened to what I thought I wanted, and then gave me what I really wanted. Every dress fitting and visit to the shop was so much fun, the ladies who work there were just a delight. Nothing was too much for them. The whole experience was just a joy!

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A Relaxed Hairstyle and Fresh Make-Up….

Amber Snell at the Hair Studio in Llantwit Major. It got to 4 weeks before the wedding and I realised I hadn’t booked my hair to be done. My normal hair dresser is down in Portsmouth. My Gran was going to her hair dresser and I asked her to book me in. I’d heard amazing things about Amber, and it turned out she was the daughter of my step mums friend. In fact, we were both bridesmaids at my dad and step mums wedding 14 years earlier.

She was just so psychic. I showed her a few photos of what I wanted. I wanted plaits! Its as if she went in my brain and did exactly what I wanted. A hair style that looked really relaxed and laid back.

My lovely friend from school, Hayley Rodgers, did my makeup. I had not seen her for quite a while but she agreed to come out of maternity leave to do my make up. Whilst mine was being done, my Gran asked about getting hers done. 20 mins later, my Gran looked amazing too!!

I wanted the make up to look fresh and to cover the tired eye bags look of having a 4 month old baby! I wanted to look like a newer fresher, better, less tired version of me! Hayley was a lovely calming influence and so so lovely.

Simple Flowers in Blue….

Peter’s mum Alison did the flowers. Blue Iris with surrounding lighter blue flowers and gyps. She did a bouquet for me and my sister. They were stunning, she is so clever. I just wanted a simple bouquet to hold. My original idea was to have daffodils as I love them, but they were out of season by May. After talking to Alison we decided that blue Iris would be really striking but very simple and affordable. Alison also put blue iris around the reception venue to tie it all in.

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A Church Ceremony, A Selfie and Stereophonish…..

Our ceremony was held at St Illtuds’ Church, Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan. The plan was for it to be a small, chilled out affair however, it turns out we know a lot of people and have massive families. We’re still not sure how many people were actually there- about 120 at a guess!! So we turned it into a big, chilled out affair!

As St Illtud’s is our local, family church, we have got to know the vicar, Rev Anthony Beer, pretty well. He was absolutely amazing in the whole booking and run up to the wedding, providing amazing support and guidance. He made the ceremony so relaxed and had everyone it stitches. It was an incredibly personal ceremony and he added bits in like taking a ‘selfie’ of us and guests in the middle of the ceremony. It was perfect.

I came into the church to Pachelbel Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel. Here comes the Bride didn’t quite seem appropriate for me personally, but I’ve loved this piece for a long time and, as a pianist myself, it had to be that. Our hymns were: Calon Lan and Guide me, O though great Redeemer. Calon Lan is my absolute favourite song. I sing it to the babies all the time and it reminds me of home (we are from Llantwit Major but now live in Portsmouth, anyone who knows us knows that we are fiercely welsh!). Guide me, O though great Redeemer brought out the rugby fans in us!

The hymns were accompanied by Mrs Lynne Brown, on the organ. Mrs Brown knows Peter’s family very well.

Whilst signing the register, Peter’s God daughter Grace (who is 16) and my God daughter Mia (who is 12) sang, accompanied by Andrew Davies of Stereophonish fame! They surprised us with Biffy Clyro’s Mountains, one of our favourite songs that is very special to us. I’d held it together pretty well until then but as soon as I heard them singing I got super emotional!! Peter just thought they were very cool. They also sang Adele’s Make you feel my love. They have very beautiful voices and it meant so much to us that they sang, it must have been terrifying.

My school friend Sammy read A love poem between two lovers (Song of Solomon, Chapter 2, verses 10-13; Chapter 8, verses 6&7). It has the most beautiful words. My cousin Mark read (1 Corinthians Chapter 13). It is all you need to know about love. As simple as that. So although it is a very popular choice to be read at weddings we still wanted it. Peter’s sister read a poem Once Upon a Time by Kathy Jeffords. It’s a poem I’ve loved for a long time. As Peter and I had been together so long, it just fits.

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A 2 Hour Break, An Art Centre, Fabulous Speeches and a Barn…..

We talked about having a formal reception but as we decided to restrict our spending, we decided we would either have a formal reception and invite only a few people or we would be able to invite as many as we wanted and just have the party so we decided on a late wedding and go with the party.

The ceremony finished about 4pm. Then there was a gap until 7. We wanted this so that grandparents could rest, guests could have a few hours to eat or drink, we could make sure the children were ok and we really wanted a bit of time for just us. A wedding day goes past so quickly and a lot of friends had said that you barely get to see your new spouse so we gave ourselves some time out! We wandered up to the local pub, The Old Swan Inn, for a quick drink with our friends and family. We then popped to my Dads house where my step mum put on a lovely buffet to make sure the immediate family had something to eat. A few glasses/ bottles of champagne later we then went to the reception venue which was the Art Centre at Atlantic College. As Jason puts it – more Hogwarts then college! It is in the grounds of St Donats Castle which is now an international 6th form college.

We went and had photos with Jason. We had such a giggle. We just went for a bit of a meander around the grounds and let Jason work his magic. It was so much fun and a welcome bit of peace and quiet. He made us feel so relaxed and was so enthusiastic, he obviously loves what he does.

The art centre has two parts. The glass room where we had the sit down bit. Had we had set up 12 round tables each seating 10. Peter’s mum Alison had made the centre pieces (she is very clever!). We had no seating plan. When guests were seated (or standing as we ended up with so many people!) our friend Ginge acted as Master of Ceremonies. He introduced us and we went straight into the speeches. My wonderful Dad, my stunning sister (and bridesmaid) Elin, Peter and best man Gary did the brill speeches. They lasted about 30 mins then we went straight into the party!

Guests could stay in the glass room if they preferred however, the party was in the adjoining Tythe Barn. An old barn with a stage, dance floor and seating at the back.

I had never imagined our wedding. We were always happy as we were but once we decided that we were getting married, everything fell in to place like it was meant to be.

I had half heartedly contacted a few venues but not really tried. My cousin suggested the Art Centre but I never thought we would be able to book it at such short notice or that we would ever be able to afford it. I emailed the events team and the wonderful Sabrina Crossley (who has just also got married) replied. What a kind, beautiful person she turned out to be! We went up to view it when Ioan was 6 weeks old, with Aneirin (who is 3) in tow and with my hilarious Dad. She must have been shocked when we showed up but she could not have been lovelier. Poor Sabrina now still has me emailing her even though the wedding is over, I loved her that much!!

I loved the glass room and as soon as we walked into the Tythe Barn Peter turned to me and said
‘yeah ok we can put on a party here!” and that was that!

There are gardens surrounding the art centre and the castle. There is a memorial bench for my Auntie Helen just overlooking the Art Centre so it felt like she was there watching over us. Like I said… it was all just meant to be.

Driftwood, Fairy Lights, A LOVE sign and lots of Help from Friends….

Once we had booked the Art Centre I spoke with Alison, peter’s mum. The glass room overlooks the rugged heritage coast line and she came up with some ideas of incorporating that into the centre pieces. We had driftwood from our local beach with battery-operated candles, pebbles and blue iris’. It looked really effective and provided mood lighting once it got dark.

As the venue is so pretty on its own, we decided that just simple fairy lights would look lovely. My ebay queen cousin Sarah got us loads of battery operated fairy lights so décor was easy.

My cousin Catherine made the ‘no seating plan’ sign from a crate, and we got old blackboards to write the order of the evening on. e recycled a light up LOVE sign that we put behind the band. Our friend Kerry’s husband had made for their wedding. I picked up other bits and pieces like bunting from places like the range and ebay and recycled a lot of things from Catherine’s wedding 3 years earlier.

Our aim of the day was simple and chilled so the less we had to do the better!

I was planning on going to the Art Centre the morning of the wedding to decorate but my family and friends had other ideas and would not let me go up. In the end Alison, Catherine, David, Sarah, Louisa, Gary and their two boys Thomas and Finnley decorated the centre and they did a fab job. To be honest I could have done it but Catherine would have changed it all anyway! They let me have a relaxing morning with my mum, sister and Ioan which was bliss.

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240 Welsh Cakes….

My lovely step mum Leslie spent the whole day before the wedding making 240 welsh cakes which we made into a tower. Absolutely perfect. We love cake and we love being welsh, what more could we want?!?!

Leslie put a huge amount of effort in and we were very very grateful. Her and my Dad bought us welsh slate placemats and that acted as the perfect cake base. The cake topper was a black and white bride and groom puzzle piece. Peter has a tattoo of a puzzle piece on his ribs. The tattoo is in honour of Biffy Clyro, however, I like to think and like to tell people that its because I’m his missing puzzle piece.

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A Wicked Party and An Epic Band….

The evening reception was a really big thing for us and really important. We wanted to put on a wicked party. Peter is big into his music and it was really important to us that the dance floor was never empty. So we decided to compromise on his heavy rock side.

We ummed and ahhhd about the band but eventually went on recommendation of a friend and booked The Velveteens. We were really nervous as we hadn’t actually seen them but we needn’t have worried. THEY WERE AWESOMELY EPIC! The first dance was just brilliant.

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Favourite Moment….

My favourite moment of the day was walking down the aisle with my dad. I had a quick chat with Aneirin on my way, saw all of our friends and families, saw Ioan sat happily at the front and then saw my Pete. I just felt so incredibly lucky and happy in those moments to have found him.

Peter says his favourite part of the day walking up to the pub afterwards with me and the boys. He liked that it felt familiar but was actually hugely different.

We both also loved the fact that hardly anyone left until the very end of the evening. We took that as a sign that everyone had a good time.

Any Advice?

It’s easy to say but try not to stress. It’s a cliché but it’s your day for you and your husband. No one remembers the bad things unless you make a big deal of it. Something will go wrong, you can’t control everything. What will be will be and if you can laugh and have fun that’s all you and everyone will ever remember.

The best thing that we did was only have 12 weeks to go. Peter and I are very much winging it through life. We don’t plan and we just hope for the best. Its done us well thus far and it certainly did us well for the wedding. Every decision was made quickly with a simple yes or no. Easy peasy!!!

The Line Up

Photographer: Jason Photography 
Ceremony Venue: St Illtuds’ Church
Reception Venue: St Donats Arts Centre 
Brides Dress: Wedding Belles of Wales 
Hair: The Hair Studio 
Groom: Next
Catering: Town and Country Catering 
Band: The Velveteens 
Ice-Cream Van: Dixie’s Vintage Ices 

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