Liberty & Elliott’s wedding in North Wales was so very cool and so very personal to them both. There’s a little bit of my writing and a whole load of Liberty & Elliott’s writing under that telling the story in their own words. Which is a lot nice than me babbling on …
So. I arrived the night before in the dark and in the middle of a torrential rain storm. After checking into my Airbnb I popped over to Red Welly to meet Liberty, Elliott and their families. I was made so very welcome, given some dinner and made to feel like part of the family which was lovely. After a good nights sleep I awoke to find my window’s view filled with beautiful mountains, so on the way to Liberty’s prep at Wed Welly I scouted around and found the perfect place for photographs of Liberty & Elliott later that day. The landscape was just epic and I was in photographer heaven!
I’ll let Liberty & Elliott tell the rest of the story….
After a very busy summer/autumn of 2015, Elliott suggested we get away for a weekend for our three year anniversary, at a small bed and breakfast in Winchester; a City neither of us had visited before. He had found a rather unassuming boutique place called Hannah’s tucked away in the centre of Winchester. We spent the 5th of December walking around the many lovely shops and Christmas markets, and visiting many of the snug pubs the City has to offer. It was a really perfect day, relaxed and exactly what we needed. Lovely long romantic walks on the water meadows. Elliott suggested we head back to the B&B, get changed and head back out for some dinner.
Whilst we were back in our room, Elliott asked if I could climb the ladder up to the in-room balcony so he could get some snaps of me up there. On my way back down the wooden ladder I could hear Elliott walking up behind me. When I turned around he was down on one knee with a ring in his hand. He asked if I would marry him; and without answering his question I started crying and hugging him. He knew it was ‘yes’ but it did take me a while to say the words, it was such an overwhelming unbelievable moment.
It was a complete surprise. The weekend had felt so normal; but had turned into something very special. Elliott had spent the last year, declaring that he saw no point in getting married and had an annoyingly good debate for every time the subject came up. So it truly was the biggest shock when he asked me to marry him. To be his Wife, his soulmate forever. It was a very good ruse on his part. We sat down in our room and talked and laughed for about an hour; and then went to try and find somewhere for dinner. We must have looked hilarious, both grinning from ear-to-ear and tears in our eyes. We sat in a quiet restaurant, drinking Champagne, laughing and joking, without a care in the world. It was a perfect evening.
Elliott had spent many months saving for and then choosing my engagement ring; he went for a 1940s gold diamond solitaire ring, purchased from Grays Antique Market on Bond Street. When Elliott proposed, the ring had not been altered, but fitted me perfectly. It was meant for me.
THE PLANNING PROCESS
The Planning was extremely organised much to the surprise of our families. We found our venue within a month of getting engaged. We created spread sheets and check lists of things that we needed to get done. For the decoration and food ideas we kept a Pinterest board. We used a lot of reusable items as decorations, so we sent out the word to our families and friends to collect jam jars, tins and orange paper decorations. On the run up to the actual wedding we had an itinerary of the whole day, hour by hour, with designated people for specific moments. We mailed this out to all of our direct family, best man & bridesmaids. They all found it very funny, to receive such an official programme in the post. Of course we knew that we wouldn’t stick to it, but we wanted everyone to have an idea what the plan was and what would be going on; as on the day itself myself and Elliott would not be thinking about what would be coming next.
The thing that was so lovely was that on the actual day, people did have the itinerary in their pockets. I remember Amber, Chief Bridesmaid, running up to my older brother and rallying him and others on to the next thing, like the champagne toast, which we had so nearly forgotten. The bit I love so much is that there were no pockets in Ambers dress and yet somehow she managed to keep the itinerary with her all day.
We decided fairly early on in the planning process that we didn’t want a wedding planner, or an ‘off-the-shelf’ wedding package, but would instead try to make the day unique. However, this meant that planning and help from family was even more important; for example we had no waiting staff on the day, so it was down to the fathers to top up drinks, and help serve the food; but they enjoyed it and felt really informal and relaxed.
Elliott and I never set out a budget or costing plan for our wedding day; but instead decided that we wanted a small, relaxed and creative wedding which would allow us to keep costs down. Although there are many, many costs to consider when budgeting for a wedding, for us we knew that the location was by far the most important aspect and therefore spent between £2,000-2,500 on hiring both the wedding reception venue and ceremony location. This also included self-catering accommodation for much of the family for 3 nights.
We were very conscious of hidden fees on contracts and unnecessary additions, for example we saved almost £150 on removing carpet from our marquee quote. Also we made a real effort to find suppliers located close to our wedding venue, which saved us a fortune on transport/mileage costs. Even in remote North West Wales we found a fantastic caterer just 10 minutes down the road from our venue. This meant no added costs of mileage/accommodation for a catering team.
Most importantly we both have very generous families that donated their skills and time. We also used reusable materials and recycled items. We were lucky enough to both have inherited family rings which we had re-sized and used as our wedding rings.
When Elliott proposed to me in December 2015 we were living in South London and both consider the South East of England home; however we both love the countryside, hiking and camping in particular and spend a lot of time holidaying in Wales and Scotland. We knew we wanted to get married somewhere that would have that raw natural beauty that the countryside offers, somewhere near the sea, and somewhere we could take all our family and friends for a small holiday either side of our wedding day.
Elliott found our venue a month after our engagement on Air BnB, a wonderful renovated farm on the coast of Snowdonia. As soon as we saw the venue we knew this was the one. Our first holiday together as a couple had been a camping trip to South Wales, and we have spent plenty of time hiking in Snowdonia. It’s a very special place for us. We took a leap of faith as when we viewed the venue in February we faced torrential rain and the land where we planned for the marquee to be located was completely flooded and gales were blowing across the whole property. We booked Red-Welly, our reception venue, and hoped that the weather would be better later that year in September.
Fortunately it was; we had glorious sunshine, completely clear skies, and as we sat eating dinner overlooking the sea, it really felt like the most beautiful place in the world. Red-Welly, located in Caernarfon right on the coast, is a stunning old farm, renovated into three cottages and a vintage caravan. We hired the whole venue for five days, giving ourselves two days to set up before the wedding day, and then two days after to enjoy time with our family & friends walking in the hills and playing in the sea.
We held the reception on the land behind the cottages in a Marquee with clear views of the sea.
Located about 20 minutes from Red-Welly we found the quaint medieval hall Penarth Fawr. Hidden away amongst rolling hills and fields of sheep it is a truly stunning location. The hall was built in 1415 and was a perfect place for our ceremony, with maximum seating for 65 people. The hall has the most gorgeous interior white washed stone and ancient wooden beams. Huge flag stones made up the floor, lovely wooden pews for our guests to sit on. It also has its own small garden with a lovely green arch at the entrance. The owners of Penarth Fawr, Gwyn & Caren Jones, are such lovely people and helped everything run very smoothly on the day. They were also so accommodating the day before the wedding allowing us to set up our flowers.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES
I have a very unique eclectic style but with a strong love of vintage in particular the glamour of the 1950s & 60s. I also have a creative flair which definitely flows from my female ancestry. Growing up, the women in my life were always making things, dresses, matching outfits, costumes for fancy dress days at school. The most amazing outfits, made with so much love, the fun we had picking fabrics, patterns etc. My Nan had made my mum’s wedding dress and I wanted to keep up the tradition. So I asked my Mum if she would make my wedding dress. It was the most wonderful thing to do together; although nearer the end I knew it was quite a stressful and worrying task for my mum as she wanted to make it extra special. I am so proud of her, it was made so special because she had made it for me. My own Haute Couture Wedding Dress.
I have been dreaming of the perfect style that I wanted for quite a while, images of Audrey Hepburn spring to mind in the film Funny Face when she is dressed up as a bride for the photoshoot. I love the look of the Ballerina wedding dress, the full skirt to be able to twirl is so dreamy. It was also very important to me that I did not feel restricted by my dress; I wanted to be able to run around and dance as much as I wanted to on our special day.
I bought an Original 1950s Wedding Dress Pattern from a seller on Etsy. For the fabric, we took a day-trip to London to the wonderful fabric shops there. I did think that we would have to trawl through countless shops to find the right fabric and price; but ended up finding the perfect fabric in the first shop that we entered, MacCulloch & Wallis. The Staff there were so helpful, a lovely young man gave us plenty of advice on how the different fabrics work and fall. We decided on the most luxurious fabric, Double Sided Duchess Silk in Ivory. We also purchased silk tulle for my veil and netting to create a petticoat. It was brilliant to find the fabric on the first attempt, we were both so pleased.
I had about three dress fittings at my parents’ house. The Second fitting the dress was almost finished, but I didn’t quite get that special Bride feeling that I felt I was supposed to. The dress wasn’t completely finished, and I didn’t have all of the accessories. My Mum sensed this, so on the third fitting she made sure that I did it properly; I set my hair and put on make-up. We put the dress on again with the petticoat, my vintage clip on pearl earrings and vintage crystal necklaces. My Mum then bought out the veil which she had made in secret. It was so gorgeous; she had made a 1950s head piece, the same fabric as my dress, it made an elegant figure of eight on the back of my head and the veil flowed from the top. It was the perfect finishing touch. I really didn’t want to take my dress off, I wanted to run and show everyone, I felt so glamorous, such perfection. I wish I could wear my wedding dress every day!
My accessories were a collection of vintage items. My earrings, necklace & sunglasses had been collected from boot sales and vintage fairs over the years. I wore my veil for our wedding ceremony, but for the reception I wore a vintage floral tiara made up of tiny wax spring buds. I wore my Mums blue wedding garter and my Nans bracelet for something old and borrowed a silver bangle from my sister. My something new were my new shoes: white leather shoes from Miss L Fire. A great family friend also gave me a sixpence for my shoe as the rhyme goes. I had this taped to the bottom of my shoe for good luck.
Elliott decided on a classic three-piece navy suit, along with a smart white shirt from Charles Tyrwhitt and black brogues. He wanted to keep the suit relatively simple and classic; so that the floral, Liberty fabric bow tie would stand out. He found a similar Liberty fabric bow tie for his best man and tie for my father. Elliott used his inherited Grandads cufflinks which are really special to him and the green and gold really looked sharp against his white shirt. Elliott even bought special new socks for the occasion. Grey socks with splashes of mustard and navy anchors.
Originally I wanted my bridesmaids to wear original 60s vintage dresses; I found so many gorgeous ones online; and my idea was to gradient the colour of the dresses between orange and yellow However I struggled finding the right sizes and colouring; so I quickly went off the idea of buying the dresses online. So I decided, with only three months to go until the wedding, that I would make my bridesmaids dresses. This also helped us to keep the budget under control!
So I had a rummage through my fabric stash and found a beautiful pair of 60s bark cloth curtains that I had bought at a boot sale years ago, so effectively the fabric was free. As soon as I saw them I knew they were perfect. Ochres, deep burgundy’s and vibrant oranges; huge florals and graphic patterns; such gorgeous fabric. I also found in my mother’s stash of patterns a lovely 60s pattern for a shift dress. I love it when a plan falls into place.
I had a lovely afternoon with my bridesmaids, checking that they were happy with the fabric and pattern, and doing final measurements. In the months leading up to our wedding day, after work our lounge was a hive of activity. The dresses were relatively easy to make, getting all the girls together to try on the dresses was not so easy. I had to meet them all individually, the funniest was Hannah’s a quick dinner with her in London before she caught her train. A speedy dress fitting in the loo of a bar.
All the girls were slightly different heights and sizes, but luckily I had my mother’s expert advice to help me with hem lengths and how to adjust the pattern to suit all of them. It was very important to me that they all felt comfortable. Whilst making the dresses I couldn’t stop thinking that the girls were my backing singers, daydreaming of the Supremes.
My Mother is an expert gardener and has always grown the most gorgeous blooms. I really wanted to try and do as much as we could handmade, home-grown, or collected/recycled. So my mother grew flowers for our wedding, it was so exciting when we popped home for visits to see them blooming. My Mum with my sister in law arranged all of the flowers, my bouquet, the bridesmaids’ bouquets, button holes and corsages and all of the table arrangements. Even the carefully placed delicate Freesias in the beams of the hall, were artistically placed. All of the flowers were simply gorgeous. Grown from the garden were orange Dahlias, red Chrysanthemums, Clematis, fiery orange wild Crocosmia and lots of Alchemilla mollis. The rest of the flowers were bought from a wholesaler; Carnations, Freesias, Veronica, Eucalyptus, Aster. Don’t you just love all those names!
My Mother in law also bought huge White Hydrangeas from Elliott’s home town so that we had flowers from both of our home towns, which was a lovely touch. It was so lovely to have my mother create the flowers as she really made my visions come alive; I really wanted a wild bouquet with flowing greenery. I love that bright 60s orange with a pop of purple. It was then tied together with hand dyed silk ribbons purchased from Lancaster & Cornish, which fluttered in the sea breeze. It was the most perfect beautiful bouquet.
My brother Piers and his girlfriend Alice are absolutely dotty about their food, and so passionate about cooking. They have always made the yummiest creations. We asked them if they would make our wedding cake. We really liked the idea of a naked cake covered in fruit and flowers. But really the design was up to them, the only requirement was that the top needed to be big enough for the vintage 50s wedding topper we had to finish it off.
They were absolutely thrilled with the challenge and really embraced it. It was so lovely to see how imaginative and technical they got. We went round to their flat for a full tasting session; there were diagrams, lists of ingredients and dozens of different types of sponges, several combinations of icing, meringue, frosting, homemade jams and unusual flavours. It was so much fun; let them eat cake indeed.
Piers and Alice had quite the challenge on their hands, they were staying in a bed & breakfast and did not want to risk using that oven due to uncertainty of timings and temperatures. So they made the cake in London, drove down the day before the wedding and made up all the creams and jams in Wales.
The morning of the wedding there was the great construction of the cake, each layer carefully added tier by tier. In total the cake had three tiers, each tier a different flavour. The base layer; strawberries & Pimms (Victoria sponge, buttercream – Pimms syrup & strawberry jam. The second tier, lemon & thyme (Madeira cake, buttercream, limoncello syrup & lemon curd) The top tier chocolate & cherry gateau (buttercream – cherry liquear and cherry jam) Then they decorated the tiers with fruit and left over flowers. It was such an amazing sight, seeing my two brothers carrying out the cake walking so slowly, hearts in their mouths in case it toppled over!
We were incredibly lucky to come across the website of Larissa Joice whilst searching for a wedding photographer and it proved to be one of our best finds when planning our wedding. Where possible we wanted to use the talents of our family and friends to help create our special day; but when it came to photography we knew we didn’t want to pass this task onto a guest during the day. With Larissa we got exactly what we wanted, a real professional, creative, open to our ideas; and she helped so much with the planning of the day, helping us get a sense & style of what we wanted from the day. Larissa went above and beyond what we expected.
Larissa’s style is very relaxed and honest; she was able to capture all the humour and joy from our day, and looking back at our photographs makes us cry with happiness. Larissa was a joy to have around, she joined us for dinner at the cottage the evening before the wedding, and got along with all our family & friends. Just after the ceremony Elliott and I went for a walk in the hills to take a breather whilst the guests made their way back to the reception venue. Larissa came with us, and besides getting some amazing photographs, she also helped to free a sheep which had become trapped in a wire fence!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR
Every detail was thought of for our big day, both coming from very creative families we had great talents donated to us. Elliott’s auntie Clare, made all of the table settings, pictures of both of us as tiny tots, and all of the name cards had our own bespoke motif; a little tent with an L & E flag. Clare was so wonderful she really listened to what we wanted and made it come alive. She created the most amazing labels to go on tins, inspired by the Campbell soup tins and vintage labels. They said things like ‘Wedding Special’ and ‘Wedding Day, Mr & Mrs Day’. We used these bright tins as our vases for the table flowers. They were fabulous.
My brother Dominic and his partner Izzy, made us the most wonderful rustic signs for the wedding, they were amazing. We tied them up on the roads on the way to the wedding venue, so that people could see which way to go. I described my ideal decorative ideas to Dom and Izzy and then they would send a photo the next day, of it made exactly how I described. They were such an amazing help. They were able to make us many wooden decorative items, such as a signpost that had all of the towns that mean so much to us and hold fond memories. They also made us a giant initial sign (L & E) to place on the lawn and as a surprise a Just Married sign and tied cans to our car.
Izzy made all the paper streamers that hung behind the top table; she spent hours with a stapler and curly strips of paper. They were so beautiful. She also made our lovely banner for our cards suitcase. We joked that Dom and Izzy were like our unofficial wedding planners, they just made our visions happen. The day before the wedding a team of us spent an afternoon making ribbon streamers, we then marched out and planted them all the way down to the sea, they fluttered in the sea breeze and looked fabulous.
On the morning of the wedding I went swimming in the sea and frolicked on the beach with my bridesmaids before we started to get ready. I love the sea and that shock of the cold salt water was so wonderful. When the bridal party and I got to Penarth Fawr we got out of the car a little further up and walked down the country track. It was so nice to walk that walk with my parents and bridesmaids; it was a really beautiful moment.
The Speeches were all so wonderful, and made us laugh and cry all at once, it was so lovely to hear everyone’s kind words.
The best moment of the day was probably at the end of the day when everything was done and Elliott and I were down by the sea watching the sun set; with the relief of all the formalities done and just time to reflect and be with each over. It was such a relaxing happy moment.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES
Our advice to other couples would be to not stress over the little things. And if something isn’t finished do not worry it wasn’t meant to be. Enjoy every moment together, the day goes so quickly. I would definitely recommend the Bride & Groom running off for twenty minutes just after you have been married; my eldest brother Dominic was our chauffer and he took us up into the mountains overlooking the sea. It was so nice to have that break and to reflect on being Husband and Wife for the first time.
My advice to Brides would be to make sure you throw your bouquet; it is so much fun and a lovely tradition that seems to be forgotten at a lot of weddings.
Photographer: Larissa Joice http://www.larissajoice.co.uk/
Wedding Ceremony Venue: https://www.penarthfawr.com/
Wedding Reception/Cottages: http://red-welly.com/
Catering: Richard Edgely http://www.richardedgleyltd.com/
Wedding Bouquet Ribbons : http://www.lancasterandcornish.com/
Wedding Shoes : http://shop.misslfire.co.uk/
Wooden Signs and Other Decorations: Bembridge Castings https://www.facebook.com/bembridgecastings/?fref=ts
North Wales Wedding Photography