Wedding Week | The Location, Venues and Setting Up
Welcome to wedding week! Everyday this week I'll be bringing you a post about our wedding, which took place in Anglesey on the 24th of June. I'll be sharing all the little details with you, from the outfits to the venue to the party. Enjoy...
I can't even possibly begin to tell you how excited I am to finally be penning these posts about our wedding! I've been looking forward to it since the minute our weekend was over, and then when the lovely Jenna sent through our gorgeous photos I knew I wouldn't be able to keep them to myself for very long. These posts are more than likely going to be very photo and word heavy, so I apologise in advance, but I really want to be able to capture all the little memories - I hope you'll forgive me.
While I knew I wanted to write about all of the little details of our wedding, I wasn't quite sure where to start. There's so much that I could share with you all and I brainstormed lots of different ideas, but in the end I've decided to keep it simple and break down all the different parts of our weekend, from outfits to the ceremony right through to the reception. It seemed only right to start with showing you the locations and venue we chose and why, so here we go...
The Location & Venues
For those of you who don't know, Anglesey is an island off the coast of North Wales. Sam grew up there and we regularly travel across to visit his parents, so we have lots of happy memories of weekends spent walking along the beach and taking in the magnificent views. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to, but it also has the added benefit of not being really far away (it's about a 2.5 hour drive from Leeds), so we knew it would be the perfect location for our nuptials.
Originally we had looked at potentially getting married at Sam's parents' house - they have a beautiful big lawn that leads straight down to the beach and has incredible views of Snowdownia too. Our plan was to hire a marquee for the lawn and have a laidback garden party affair, but as soon as we spoke to a couple of companies, we realised that having a marquee in such an exposed location was a pretty bad idea - the last thing a bride needs to deal with is her wedding venue blowing away with the wind!
Once we knew that option was off the cards, we started to research other wedding venues on the island. We knew from the offset that we wanted to have a super laidback day and it was important for us be able to choose our own suppliers, so this ruled out a lot of the more traditional hotel based locations that tend to be a little less flexible, but we still had a few options. In the end, we only actually went to see two locations - a local village hall, and our chosen venue, Tros Yr Afon.
As soon as we pulled up to Tros Yr Afon, I knew we would get married here, and meeting the wonderful wedding planner, Jen, and the owner, James, only cemented that decision. It's quite different from a lot of wedding venues in that you hire the entire site, as opposed to a hall or barn or whatever. That means you get to utilise all of the holiday cottages and their dreamy 19th century manor house (swoon) for guest accommodation, get exclusive use of the stunning grounds and they also have a big old lawn where you can put a marquee or teepee.
Both Jen and James have extensive experience of hosting weddings there so they can advise and support with anything you need, but they are also completely flexible on which suppliers you work with and how your day is run, which was the ideal combo for us. It also happened to be within walking distance of Sam's parents' house and just down the road from Beaumaris, which is our favourite part of the island. Basically, it was perfect.
It is possible to get married at Tros Yr Afon as they hold a license for civil ceremonies, but the main option was an outdoor ceremony and we didn't quite trust the North Wales weather! That left us with two options - the registry office in Bangor, or a local church. Sam's Mum encouraged us to go and have a look at St Seiriol's in Penmon, which is just down the road from their house, and again, we fell in love.
The church is part of Penmon Priory and is surrounded by ruins dating back to the 6th century - pretty epic, no? It also happened to be mega cute and had incredible sea views, plus it was really intimate too - with our 110 guests it was absolutely jam packed which made everything feel so personal. It was everything we could have asked for and I will always feel lucky that we got to say our vows in such a special place.
The Set Up
Another brilliant perk of having a wedding at Tros Yr Afon is that you get access to the accommodation from the Thursday afternoon, which meant we had pretty much two full days to get everything set up. Some of my happiest memories of the whole weekend are decorating the marquee and getting everything ready surrounded by our lovely families - it was so nice to be able to share the experience with them.
Sam and I arrived on site at around 12pm, by which time the amazing team at Peak Marquees had already got the marquee up and were busy laying all of the furniture out inside. I remember feeling SO excited when we got there, knowing that our wedding weekend had finally arrived - I just kept walking round the gardens, watching everyone at work, trying to force my brain to soak it all in.
Not long after we got there, my Mum and Dad arrived too and we all quickly got to work hanging paper cranes and puffing up pom poms. Because of the height of the marquee, any of the decorations that needed to be hung had to be done by the people who were setting it up as they had special tall ladders, so we were under a bit of time pressure. My totally amazing Mum had threaded all 1000 paper cranes (more on that to come in another blog post!) and folded each thread into an individual envelope, so the race was on to quickly get them hung on the hoops.
The marquee was transformed as soon as they'd all been hung, and I started to get so excited - when you've been planning something for so long it can be hard to picture how it will all look, so seeing our vision starting to come to life was amazing.
By this point, the rest of my family had started to arrive, so we called it a day on the set up front and enjoyed catching up with everyone. We ate fish and chips round the huge dining table and sang happy birthday to my lovely sister, and then spent the rest of the evening on the comfy sofas, chatting excitedly about the weekend ahead.
The next day we were up super early and it really was all systems go. We had so much help from everyone on this day that we were so grateful for - from preparing antipasti boards to cake baking to dressing the tables, everyone mucked in and it made the set up so much more fun! I thought I might have ended up turning into a bit of a bridezilla on this day, but everything was seriously chilled - the kids and dogs were running round and we kept stopping to chat to everyone. It was so lovely and I'm so glad that we've got those memories as well as the actual wedding itself.
I think my most exciting moment of the whole day was when my cousin turned up with the flowers. She is a super talented florist and has a very similar taste to me, so rather than briefing her on anything specific, we just told her to get the best flowers she could and a shed load of eucalyptus. When she started unloading masses of peonies and proteas and succulents out of the van I could have cried with happiness - everything she chose was totally perfect and way better than we could have imagined.
We set up a little flower arranging station on the dancefloor and Sam got to work sorting out all of the music equipment. There was one moment when he was testing out the PA and Prince's Kiss started blasting out of the speakers - everyone stopped what they were doing and started dancing and singing (including my Grandad, who is probably the first person to ever waltz to Prince - how cute?!) and I honestly felt like I could have burst with happiness and excitement.
A few more hours were spent laying out place settings, hanging signs and arranging frames before we headed off to our rehearsal at the church. This was another moment I'll always remember - we laughed so much with our closest friends and family and choked up a little bit as we practiced saying our vows. By the time we got back to Tros Yr Afon even more guests had started to arrive, and after lots of chatting and couple of drinks, I was totally exhausted.
I said goodnight to everyone, gave Sam one final kiss before he drove off to his Mum and Dad's house and headed up to bed with my sister, where we chatted excitedly before trying to get some sleep.
I can still remember how completely surreal it felt to be laid in bed with her, knowing that tomorrow was my wedding day, a day we'd talked about and planned for months and months. We both managed a couple of hours sleep, but there was a fair bit of clock watching too, with us both waking up at almost exactly the same times through the night. It was exactly like when we were little and we'd (not so) patiently wait for the moment we could wake our parents up on Christmas morning!
And just like that, our wedding day had arrived...
Make sure you stay tuned for tomorrow's wedding week post which is all about the morning of our wedding!
*The professional images in this post were taken by the lovely Jenna Woodward