The Real Wedding Story of Katie & Kieran
"I knew it was the place I wanted to get married as soon as I walked in"
How and when did you get engaged?
Kieran’s dad very kindly took us and the whole family on a trip to New York in December 2013. Apparently his original plan was to propose after a spot of ice skating in Central Park – with the ring hidden in a smelly ice skate, which I would find once I tried to put it on! Luckily (for me!), it was raining so the rink was closed, so Kieran had to think of a plan B! He’d already booked a fantastic restaurant in Queens with a view of the Manhattan skyline for a celebratory meal after the proposal (confident eh?!), so he ended up proposing on a little jetty outside the restaurant after we’d eaten and were taking in the view. I was a little taken aback (to say the least!) and burst into tears and said yes! As he proposed on the first night of the trip we were able to spend the rest of it celebrating with his family and also had a chance to buy the ring!
Where and when did you get married?
We got married in Snowdonia in September 2013.
What was your budget?
It was originally about £6-10k.
How did you pick your venue?
We wanted quite a rustic and laid back feel to our wedding and we both agreed that getting married in a barn would be lovely. I had been googling “barns in north Wales” and came across Llyn Gwynant Barn, which is a grade II listed barn overlooking the stunning Llyn Gwynant lake in Snowdonia. We went to have a look round and I knew it was the place I wanted to get married as soon as I walked in, despite it being a freezing cold January day! I loved the character of the barn – the stone walls, the huge wooden beams, the beautiful globe lights that hang from the ceiling and the location was stunning. We also wanted a venue that was flexible; we’d seen a couple of others but you had to have their set menu, their wine list, a buffet in the evening and there was no room for manoeuvre. It all felt a bit like a wedding conveyor belt!
We desperately wanted to have a bake off too (the best choice of desserts our guests would ever have faced!) and the other venues wouldn’t allow it – I think that was the clincher when it came to deciding on the venue! Llyn Gwynant let us do everything our way – we organised the caterers, the bar, the booze, the loos, the decorations, the flowers…the list goes on but it meant that we could have everything exactly how we wanted it and it made it much more personal and special to us.
Tell us about the ceremony
We wanted a short but sweet wedding ceremony so we had the traditional vows and then our friend Claire did a short reading and my cousins Lucy and Jo sang a couple of our favourite songs while we were signing the register – they were a hit!
Where did you get your dress, flowers and rings from?
My dress was a complete DIY job! I knew that I didn’t want to spend too much money on it (it’s only for one day after all!) so I first of all went to a charity shop in Dorking that has 3 whole rooms upstairs bursting with second hand wedding and bridesmaids dresses! I found a lovely simple ivory satin dress that was long, with a little puddle train.
Along with my mum and sisters we placed some lace from another dress over the top of it and I started getting ideas of how I could pimp this simple dress to make it exactly what I was looking for! While shopping in H&M home on Oxford St I found some gorgeous vintage style lace tablecloths so I bought 3 of them, went to my friend Madeline (a dressmaker) and asked her what she could do!
I had a few fittings with her and she managed to make a beautiful bodice with little cap sleeves out of one tablecloth and with the other two she draped them round me and sewed it into a beautiful long skirt with a puddle train. It had an opening at the front where the original satin dress peeped through and we finished it off with a gorgeous vintage style brooch that I found for a fiver at Bryn y Grog Antiques Emporium in Wrexham. I could not have been happier with my dress and it was all down to Madeline’s incredible talent and eye for detail! And hopefully it shows that you don’t have to spend a small fortune to get the dress of your dreams!
My friend and I decided to do the flowers ourselves. We’d been collecting vintage cut glass vases from charity shops and car boot sales for months and had a hefty collection of about 50 or so. I ordered the flowers online from Triangle Nursery (with their help and advice as I had no idea about how many flowers we would need!). They were delivered to the cottage we were staying in on the Thursday and that night myself, Rhiannon and our friend Bethan conditioned them all, ready for preparing on the Friday.
I did the buttonholes Friday morning and on Friday afternoon Rhiannon made my bouquet and the three bridesmaids bouquets, and we set about arranging them all in the vases for the table decorations in the barn. It was great being there and deciding how big my bouquet was going to be and which flowers would be going into it – I don’t think many brides get the opportunity to do that!
Kieran got his ring through a friend at work whose father is a jeweller – he went for a simple palladium band. I got my wedding band from the jeweller in New York where I got my engagement ring (I tried it on when we bought the ring so I knew it would look perfect with it!).
Tell us about the wedding and evening reception
Our wedding was a very laid back affair, with everyone mooching around outside the barns for drinks and canapés while we went off to have our photos taken by a nearby lake (with Snowdon in the background – the shots were pretty spectacular!), then we all headed inside for a bbq buffet and had the bake off for dessert!
We had bought a few prizes for the winners – these were decided by guests putting a heart shaped cocktail stick in their favourite cake and we gave out the prizes after we’d cut our “proper” wedding cakes, made by our lovely friend Emma and my sister Laura.
We’re very lucky to know a lot of talented musicians and our friends are in a covers band called The Big Beat, who very kindly agreed to play at our evening reception – they are incredible and the dance floor wasn’t empty the whole night!
In fact I think we pretty much ruined the barn’s newly polished floor, oops.
What was your first dance song and how did you choose it?
We’re both huge Fleetwood Mac fans and one of our favourite songs by them is “Everywhere”. We asked the band if they’d have a go at it playing it and they totally nailed the song! It was fantastic having everyone singing along with them and joining us on the dance floor.
What was your favourite part of the day?
Wow where do I start?!! Walking outside the barn as newlyweds and having all of our family and friends there congratulating us was a feeling I’ll never forget – I was so emotional!! The party in the evening was fabulous and I barely left the dance floor all night…the whole do was just so much fun that it’d be hard to narrow it down to just one favourite bit!
Did you go on honeymoon? If so, where?
We wanted to go back to New York as that’s where we got engaged so we spent 5 days there before heading down to Hawaii for some island hopping and R&R!
Which wedding suppliers would you recommend and why?
I can thoroughly recommend Kylie Jonkman (www.kyliejonkman.com) who did all of our hair and makeup – 4 hours to do me, my three bridesmaids and my mum – it must have been some sort of record! I wore my hair down with loose curls and a pretty floral clip in it as I wanted a casual, vintage look. She created it perfectly and was lovely to spend time and chat with. I’d had a trial a few months before where I’d been incredibly indecisive about how I wanted my hair but that didn’t faze her at all! She was very accommodating and I’d recommend her to anyone.
The Triangle Nursery (www.trianglenursery.co.uk) were extremely helpful when ordering my flowers as they gave me an idea of quantities, arrangements and which species to order, as well as which tools I needed to buy. Bryn y Grog Antiques Emporium in Wrexham (http://www.bryn-y-grog.com) is fantastic for any vintage items you may need – I found loads of tea sets there as we used tea cups to put candles in on the tables, and a few vases too.
My friend Madeline Castegnera-Bond (firstname.lastname@example.org) made my dress and she was brilliant! I don’t think she’s ever had someone come to her with a charity shop dress and three tablecloths and ask her to make a dress but she pulled it off! It’s down to her true talent, creativity and professionalism that I ended up with my perfect wedding dress!
Do you have any tips or recommendations for other brides or grooms?
If you’re doing everything yourselves (as we were!) then try and get a week off work beforehand to sort all the last minute things out! You will definitely have forgotten something, trust me! Also don’t be scared to delegate tasks – my mum ended up doing all of the favours (sweets in little jars tied with string and with fabric on top), and also putting together the orders of service!
I was happy tasking Kieran with sorting the loos out, the play list, and the best men suits (I’m sure he’ll say that he did more than that though!).
When we were setting the barn up the day before I had to be rather militant in setting tasks for people to do, otherwise we’d have never got it done! Having lots of people to help out really made a difference – we’d never have been able to do it all on our own. And remember that your friends and family will want to help you out on your big day, so don’t worry about asking them to do stuff for you! We are so lucky to have such talented friends who helped us out - our barman Matt runs an events company so ordered all our booze wholesale and organised the whole bar (and made some yummy cocktails too!), our friend Steffan was our MC, played and sang in the band, and was also our friend Dave's glamorous assistant for a magic show they did for our guests while we went and had our photos taken, James borrowed his mum's fancy car and drove myself and my dad to the wedding - he was also the drummer in the band, my director friend from work Milton took our gorgeous wedding pics, my friends Rhiannon and Bethan and my sister, Gemma, did our flowers and my other sister Laura and our friend Emma made our beautiful wedding cakes! Loads of our family and friends helped set up the barn the day before and we couldn't have done it without them!
Another piece of advice I wish I’d taken but forgot to, was from a good friend of mine at work. She said to steal five minutes away from the party with Kieran to take a walk and take it all in. I wish I’d remembered to do it as the day just flies by and you’re so busy chatting to family and friends that you don’t actually feel like you spend much of the most important day of your lives together! Sadly I think I’d had a few too many glasses of prosecco to remember to do it!
Did you have any wedding bargains?
Oh there were heaps! Car boot sales and charity shops are a brilliant source for vintage items – our table decorations were tea cups with tea lights and cut crystal vases for the flowers, all of which were found by rummaging around such places. I bought a roll of hessian from a builders’ merchant online and I made table runners, bunting, signage and we covered the ugly wood on the front of the stage with it too – it went a long way! The favours were very easy and cheap to do – we just collected baby food jars (my sister had a baby not long ago which was handy, haha!) and filled them with old fashioned sweets. Then we covered the top with a circle of fabric, tied some string round it and stuck a label on the front which I’d had printed on eBay. They went down a treat (boom boom) and most were empty when we cleared up the next day!
Did you make anything for the wedding yourself?
I made all of the stationery myself with bits and bobs bought from eBay. The save the dates and place names were luggage tags with bits of lace and paper doilies stuck on, little key and heart charms on string and hand printed names. The invites were made from recycled card and the wording was printed on some lovely note paper that I found in Liberty. The order of service was a little booklet with a kraft card cover with a strip of lace down the middle. I also made bunting – there was so much of it though (125m!) that I cheated and cut triangles of fabric and glued it onto ribbon using fabric glue. I never want to see another triangle again!
I also made the ring cushion from offcuts from my dress, some lace trim, a couple of feathers and some string.