Sarah and Marc got married at Hensol Castle in South Wales. Dating back to the 17th century, Hensol Castle is bestowed with an incomparable air of grandeur. Set within picturesque Welsh countryside, this beautifully romantic wedding venue suited Sarah and Marc vision of a fairytale wedding perfectly. Steeped in history and opulence with turrets, gothic towers, sweeping staircases and original architecture, the Castle and its surrounding beauty was perfect for stunning photography. In my new series Bride to Bride, Sarah shares all the details of her beautiful day and the planning process.
The proposal:I love our proposal story, although it’s quite long! Marc treated me to a night away to celebrate our 6 year anniversary. The destination and any details were a complete surprise until the day and he made me wait until 3pm to tell me anything!! He’d booked a night at the Vale Resort, a special place for us as it’s where we met, complete with a full body massage for me and a three course meal in the restaurant. Little did I know that when I was snoozing on the treatment bed he was plotting with the hotel staff and setting everything up for later that night. After ordering our desserts we were escorted outside by our waiter, across the grounds towards a lake, as we got closer I noticed a secluded table for two set up right next to it where we then enjoyed our desserts. Most people would have expected it to happen there but Marc obviously wanted to keep me hanging on for a bit longer! We then went for a drink in the bar before deciding to call it a night, as we entered the hotel room there was a little envelope on the floor just inside the door containing a romantic note which led me on to another one in the bathroom, and another in the TV cabinet, then to one in the wardrobe and finally one under my pillow, which prompted me to turn around to see Marc down on one knee with my beautiful ring. I of course screamed and said yes and was led out to the balcony to a bottle of champagne on ice! Poor Marc then had 20 questions about when and how he’d put the notes out and it was then I found out that he’d been planning it with the hotel for a while and had not only visited our room a few weeks before to plan where he was going to put the notes but had roped in the reception staff to put them out for us whilst we were having dinner!
My engagement ring is a beautiful pear shaped diamond on a plain band. The other half did extremely well seeing as I’d only told him the shape I liked once; he obviously listens more than I think he does! I chose a wedding ring that would complement it but not try and overshadow it so it’s got a bit of bling but not too much!
The dress: www.allaboutevebridalwear.com
I thought picking my dress would be the hardest wedding-related decision I would have to make but it was actually quite easy. I originally saw a picture of it on Pinterest and fell in love with it straight away but for some reason I didn’t try it during my first round of dress fittings and went for all strapless options, they were all beautiful but I knew they weren’t quite right for me so arranged to go and see THE dress at All About Eve’s boutique in Chepstow and as soon as I tried it on I knew it was ‘the one’! My attention was turned a little by a very similar one but I went with my gut feeling and I’m so glad I did; I love it! I went for one designed by Mori Lee in style 1901.
The colour theme:
I always knew I didn’t really want any strong or bold colours and that I wanted to keep everything quite subtle. When searching for ideas I was drawn to shades of pale pinks and ivory’s with accents of hessian and lace; I just loved that whole rustic, country garden look so that’s what we went for.
Choosing the date:
We didn’t want a long engagement, we’d already been together six years at the time so decided we definitely wanted to get married the following summer. We were a little limited in terms of months as Marc plays rugby so it had to be out of rugby season and I wasn’t prepared to risk any black eyes for the photos; which only really left us with June, July and August. We opted for the end of August and were lucky enough to have a lovely day, especially seeing as it had been pouring with rain for most of the week before it!
We had both our ceremony and reception at Hensol Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan. It’s quite a special place for us as it’s owned by the Vale Resort, the place where we met and got engaged, and as soon as we looked around it we knew it was right for us. We wanted to have everything in one place but for it to still feel spacious and it was perfect for that. There were so many different options for photographs and I loved that the ceremony was in one of the Castle rooms and that the reception was then in a big, light and airy marquee that we could really put our own stamp on. Our wedding coordinator, Laura, was fantastic. Nothing was too much trouble and they tried their best to accommodate everything that we wanted and asked for. The whole day went without a hitch and the food was incredible.
I found pulling the finer details together the most difficult bit really as you can only imagine what it’s all going to look like. We tried a few mock tables with our centre pieces and flowers but it doesn’t really give you a proper idea so it felt like it was all a bit of a gamble but we were so pleased with how it all came together in the end. We chose vintage-style, large cream lanterns for the focal points of the tables and opted for small jam jars of flowers decorated in lace, hessian and twine instead of large centre pieces, with lots of tea-lights and candles dotted around. Our tables were named after different ciders, not only because it’s Marc’s drink of choice but to bring a bit of my Somerset-roots into the day! We used authentic wooden crates from the village I was brought up in, Milverton, for our cards and provided all of our female guests with a pair of slippers to pop on when their heels became too much; although most of them were worn by the male contingent on the dancefloor!
Our florist was recommended to us by a friend and she was amazing. Our flowers really took my breath away and had such an impact throughout the venue. I wanted to keep the bouquets quite simple and so opted for just roses and hydrangeas in ivory for the bridesmaids and the same for mine with hints of pale pink and the addition of gypsophila. The flowers on our tables were a mixture of the same flowers with some added greenery and we opted for some bigger arrangements at the entrance, and in accent places to bring everything together.
Bridesmaids dresses: www.debenhams.com
We found the bridesmaids dresses before I decided on my dress! We just happened to pop into Debenhams to have a browse of different colours and styles and we came across them. I’d bought a top a few months before in the colour that I wanted, a sort of pale pink/lilac and we spotted a couple of styles in the exact colour. My two bridesmaids tried them on and we fell in love with them straight away. They were from Coast and were quite Grecian with a lovely, quite unique neckline and they both looked stunning.
Hair: Sarah from Shabby Chic Salon in Talbot Green
I always wanted to have my hair up on the day; my hair is poker straight and doesn’t hold curls or styles very well so I knew it would annoy me as the day went on! I browsed a lot of different styles on Pinterest and was attracted to low, messy styles. I found a picture of one that I particularly liked with lots of curls that sat on the nape of my neck and I was so pleased with it on the day, and it barely moved! It was even almost still in place the next morning! My bridesmaids had similar just smaller versions of mine.
Makeup: Laura Anderson; a lovely friend
I was quite anxious about having my makeup done; I think most women feel the same way and always prefer what they’re used to. I had a couple of trials and felt a little disappointed; I’m not a heavy makeup wearer and just felt like I looked quite different. A friend and work colleague of mine then revealed she was a trained makeup artist and I instantly felt more positive! She always looks flawless and very natural and that was exactly the look I wanted. We used the Urban Decay Naked palette for my eyes and a subtle pale pink from Bobby Brown for my lips with Chanel foundation. My bridesmaids and my mum had very similar looks and we were all delighted with the final result.
First dance song:
Our first dance was to Alicia Keyes ‘No One’. Probably not a traditional first dance song but it’s one that’s always reminded us of each other and of when we first got together and we’ve both always loved it.
Your advice to brides to be:
- Just enjoy every second of the planning, the build-up and the day because it all goes so quickly. We didn’t get stressed about anything at all, we set a budget at the beginning, wrote lots of lists and became addicted to our spreadsheet – well I did!
- If you can’t find the invitations you want then make your own. My mum and I made all of our stationary; it not only saved us money but also meant they looked exactly as we wanted. I loved doing them and have even thought about making a little business out of it!
- You’ll hopefully only do it once so if there’s something you really want to do, or to include, then just do it! We almost decided not to book a videographer and now we’re so glad we did!
If your getting married at Hensol Castle and would like to view the full collection please get in touch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org