Festive Sparkle - December 2018

Hi Everyone,

Long time reader, first time poster! I've decided to write a thread as I've read so many lovely ones by you guys, and thought it would be a nice thing to look back on in the future. Why start today? We've just booked our venue and are very excited!!

A little about us and our wedding planning journey.

How We Met

H2B and I met in our first year at University. It was the second degree for both of us and we were  both studying the same course. I was in a long-term relationship at the start of the year but this soon ended for a variety of reasons. H2B and I hung around in a similar group and became friends first. The Christmas of our first year there was a berevement in the family and after returning from some time at home, H2B was always there for me. He's just one of those people that has a calming presence without necessarily having to say anything. A few weeks later we got together and haven't looked back since!

Our first official date was to a little Greek restaurant in our University town. Lovely meal and we got along so well. We have very similar senses of humour and he's very easy to talk to. That and he's tall, dark and handsome - I knew I was on to a winner. 

Things went well and we moved in together after around 18 months. On completing our degrees we moved from the University town across the UK and settled down here with new jobs. Needless to say not long after we moved in, family and friends starting asking about engagements, even more so once we started our careers.



  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    The Proposal

    As I said lots of people were asking when we would get engaged but the proposal didn't happen immediately. We often talked about the future together but an engagement ring didn't make an appearence.

    On our fifth anniversary H2B booked us a cottage away in the mountains to do some hiking and booked a Michelin starred restaurant for dinner. I really thought this was it. We had an amazing time with incredible food but no engagement. After we got engaged, H2B told me he had planned to propose that weekend but the ring (which was being made) wasn't ready in time.

    Fast forward 18 months and we'd had numerous weekend breaks in Europe. A little bit of me kept hoping every time we went away that maybe this was it, but still no ring. H2B is quite a private person and wanted a proposal to be somewhere beautiful but just us. The ring actually travelled with us (unbeknown to me) to a number of locations but never made it out his pocket as there were too many people around!

    Last October we went away for a long weekend in the UK. I had been revising and just sat an exam a few days before so although I knew we were going away I didn't know where or what we'd be doing.

    We travelled up to Snowdonia and H2B had booked us a number of activities and beautiful restaurants. We would have liked to walk up Snowdon but the weather wasn't quite good enough. One day I was taken caving down an old slate mine which was incredible (once I got over the fear of being in the dark and a long way underground!). We spent 6 hours in the mines with another couple and 2 instructors. Harnesses all the way and only headtorches for light. We ended up around 500 feet underground with plenty of walking, climbing, zipling(including the world's longest underground) and abseiling. Anyone looking for something active for hen/stag do I'd 100% recommend it (no I don't work for them).

    The following day we went for a low-level hike in the mountains. H2B kept wanting to walk a bit higher so we did. Again, unbeknown to me this was where he'd planned to propose. Unfortunately I was in a bit of a grump and needed a wee so was too busy hunting for a quiet, well hidden spot so no proposal happened - oops!

    H2B said we were driving home after the walk. I was a bit put out. It was only Saturday and we weren't due back at work until Monday. So we got back in the car and I fell asleep. I was woken some time later with "surprise, not going home just yet". He booked us a suite in a hotel and a Michelin tasting menu. I was very happy and excited. After dinner, wine and cocktails H2B wanted a walk round the grounds. I had no desire to go walking after eating so much so we didn't go.

    The following morning both of us woke up a little grumpy - I couldn't believe he had organised all this and hadn't proposed and he couldn't believe I kept spoiling it! We finally went for a little walk around the grounds before breakfast and he asked with a view overlooking the National Park.

    I was one happy girl!!

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    The Ring!


    Love it so much! H2B helped to design it :)

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    Following the morning proposal we headed back home with a stop on the way to visit Powis Castle for the day. I love castles and H2B tolerates this pretty well - he enjoys more of the history side of them while I just love the size and the grandeur. There's just something magical about them!

    We hadn't told our families at this point. We wanted to just have a few hours of just us knowing, calling each other fiance and fiancee. We just couldn't stop smiling!

    When we finally got home, we set about letting people know. We managed to get hold of H2B's familiy easily enough ("about time" was his Dad's response). My family were a little bit trickier - no one seemed to be answering the phone! Eventually we got hold of everyone - lots of happy family and friends!

    One thing that surprised over the all the excitement was people asking what date we'd set. Although talked a little about ideas for dates during our day out (I say we talked, more me and H2B listening) we hadn't actually set anything in stone. Did anyone else find this?? Within a couple of days various people were requesting not this date, not this month - it drove us a little crazy!

    With it being only a few weeks before Christmas we decided to put any concrete planning on hold until after the festive period...

  • HailsHails Posts: 2,455

    Hi Bunny, welcome! So is the planning in full swing again?

  • What a great proposal story. Even I was getting grumpy & frustrated towards the end! I love that he cared so much about making it perfect for you.

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    Hails: Planning is back in swing of a moderate variety! Need to write a post about our venue hunt but I'm on long shifts at work so won't be able to update until next week and I want to do it justice!

    Rosegold017: Thankyou. Despite his sometimes grumpy exterior he really has a heart of gold :-)

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    So after a long 10 day stretch at work I've finally got chance to update the plans so far.

    Over Christmas despite planning not to plan, we couldn't help having a few discussions. Now I'm one of those people that loves planning and organising events keeps me happy - be it a holiday, a dinner party and now a wedding. As we'd been together a while I had already thought about a wedding and had a "few" ideas about what might be good. H2B is having graded exposure to my pre-engagement plans!

    When to get married. H2B sort of wanted a summer wedding whereas I fancied winter. December isn't a great month for my family and I kind of wanted to have a day that could be looked forward to in December each year (besides Christmas), also I love winter, Christmas and snow plus I thought it might be cheaper than the summer.

    H2B didn't mind too much and just wanted to get married and for me to be happy - absolute saint! So December it was! We toyed with the idea of 2017 but due to us wanting to buy a house this year and both having professional exams to sit this year, the feeling was it would just be too much to do all this in 12 months so agreed for 2018 - all except a mad moment when H2B suggested summer 2017.

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    So venue hunting...

    Now we live in South Wales, but his family is in south England and mine is up in the Midlands. We decided we would rather get married closer to where we lived to make it easier for us travelling to the venue and arranging suppliers etc.

    We viewed a lot of venues online across South Wales - priorities were location/access, accomodation for guests (as the majority of people will be travelling down) and food. We're both quite big foodies and really wanted our wedding breakfast to be something special, with guests able to have a say in what they eat. We've both been to weddings before where it was a one-menu-fits-all and knew we didn't want this.

    Another important consideration with it being a winter wedding was having a venue that was beautiful enough on the inside in case the weather was too bad for photos outside. For this reason we ruled out marquee type venues straight away and mainly focussed on country houses.

    We ended up having 3 days of annual leave at the same time so I filled them up with 2 venues, 2 house viewings and a wedding fair.

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    Venue 1


    (Photo from Google)

    Castle! I was pretty excited but at the same time a bit apprehensive. I'd spoken to a few friends and people at work and opinions were mixed. It's a beautiful building from the outside and inside is leather chairs and open fires.


    The ceremony itself takes place in a theatre which I didn't mind as I liked that it was something different - my main issue with this room was that the blue curtains didn't match my colour scheme! H2B really hated the mural but I pointed out we'd probably only be there half an hour or so, so was it such a big issue?! Menu looked great and the wedding coordinator was fab and really welcoming. Also plenty of accomodation for guests.

    We didn't end up going for this one as although the price was pretty good for what was included, the rooms to use would mean a bit or toing and froing. Theatre for ceremony then walk through the evening room to through a corridor to the drinks rooms down some steps to the breakfast room, then back through the drinks rooms and corridor to the evening room. That coupled with an extra hours driving time for guests from where we actually lived we decided it wasn't for us.

  • MrsLMTMrsLMT Posts: 3,830

    Ooh another Welsh wedding! Yay! Looking forward to reading your chosen venue! 

  • MrsLMTMrsLMT Posts: 3,830

    Ok, I know your first venue. Gorgeous place, h2b had the same feelings about the mural. Again we ruled it out on distance. 

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    Venue 2

    So after seeing one castle, I sort of got a taste for getting married in one. I remeber being much younger and thinking how wonderful it would be to getting married in but kind of always assumed it would be out of our budget. However, once I get an idea in my head it's kind of hard to shake it off.


    I found this one just over the border into Gloucestershire (closer for family - tick!) and requested a quote which needless to say came back a bit over what we anticipated paying for a venue and food. H2B was shown the venue and the quote, sighed a little and said it looked beautiful and there was no harm in going to see it

    So we had a drive up through the country and into England. Oooh this place was beautiful inside and out. The photos just don't do it justice. Again the wedding coordinator was amazing and even H2B couldn't find a fault with the venue - plenty of rooms, amazing food (18 different starters to choose from - 18!!!)

    We spent the next week thinking about what to do. I literally changed my mind every few hours. We're only getting married once so why not seen as the two of us are the ones footing the bill and when are we ever going to get chance to have our own castle for the day.

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    Venue 3

    After spending a week thinking about it we decided to view somewhere else too. This venue was back in Wales and up in the Beacons. The reason we chose this one was that in the pre-engagement planning that I'd done I'd really loved the photos online (especially this one in the snow). My feeling was if anyone could compare to the castle it was this so off we went to see on a freezing cold January day.


    The venue was lovely and again it was very difficult to fault. I think if we'd seen this place first maybe we would have loved it more but we couldn't help comparing it to the castle. It was almost perfect but just not quite for us, and there wasn't actually much in the price difference.

    We decided in the car on the way home that we didn't think anything would compare for us and if it meant having less meals out and forgoing birthday and Christmas presents for a couple of years would it be so bad.


  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    Within a couple of hours of getting back home I was on the phone trying to contact the venue. I was given a mobile number but no service. I tried a couple of times and emailed - no response. By this point I'd got myself into a bit of a state - once I've made a decision I like things sorted and I started to panic - what if the date had gone?! H2B is very calming and very patient when I get myself worked up. His response - well we pick another date if its the venue for us.

    A few hours later I got an email from the wedding coordiantor - she was on her day off and in a spa so didn't have a signal and she apologised for not answering. Now I felt bad - really didn't mean to interrupt her day off! Luckily the day was still available and we made plans for her to call the following day.

    Next day deposit was paid and we could offically say we were getting married next year - Saturday 1st December 2018. Fingers are crossed for a light sprinkling of snow (I know I don't ask for much!! )

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180


  • Kelly224Kelly224 Posts: 962 New bride

    Gorgeous venue!!  Looks beautiful with the snow!  Glad to hear about another December 2018 wedding.  We get married the week after you on the 9th.  Feels like such a long time away, I'm so jealous of all the brides that have their weddings around the corner!!  Can't wait to hear more of your winter wedding ideas.

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    Thanks Kelly224 - I know what you mean about having to wait such a long time. Part of me wants it to be now but I love planning things so much that I think I'm going to enjoy the next few months. Where are you planning to get married? I've love a little bit of snow - my gran has suggested a heavy frost would be better!

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    With the wedding being a while away we are planning to spread the planning out over the next year or so and try and tackle a different thing on the huge to do list each month.

    So January we paid the deposit, got the insurance sorted and booked the registrar. Getting married at half past 1. Now I'm not overly superstitious but sometimes when I get an idea in my head its hard to shift! We were thinking to have the ceremony at 2pm which would give plenty of time for people to travel down on the day if they wanted but then I read one article that said there was an old tradition about getting married when the minute hand is ascending towards the 12 (i.e. towards heaven). Now I'm not particularly religious but I am a sucker for some traditions. I mentioned this to H2B, who blinked a bit in disbelief that this was causing me extra stress, and thought I was being a little ridculous. However, he was happy whatever, so to keep me happy we booked for 1:30pm.

  • Mrs17Mrs17 Posts: 775 New bride

    Yay - another Welsh bride! We might be taking over...

    Your venue is beautiful - mind you, all 3 you looked at were beautiful. Gorgeous ring too. Can't wait to read more.

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180


    So despite getting married in December we didn't want want it to be overly Christmassy. Christmas trees were a given as the venue provides them but we didn't want a carols/Santa and stockings kind of event.

    Some time before we were even engaged I'd fallen in love with some full length, gold sequin dresses for the bridesmaids. My sister, who is the polar opposite of me in many things, loved them - massive win for us! Not planning to sort the dresses out until later this year but the seed has been sown amongst the bridesmaids!

    With the gold dresses in mind we looked to create our colour theme with gold, white and a dark, pinetree kind of green. Pinterest helped massively and I went to town. Selection below....


    texas-wedding-10-020716mc:Lanterns surrounded by greens, white flowers and pine cones.  One of three kinds of centerpieces we used at a wedding at the Grand Hall at Copper Station in Copper Mountain, Colorado.:The cold never bothered us anyway.:lamb’s ear + white rose boutonnieres | via: style me pretty:Dream Wedding Photos. I want to do an engagement photo like this then a replica photo on our wedding day. That way it will look like we transformed like in Princess and the Frog.:Enchanting Christmas Tree Farm Wedding Inspiration:wedding cake with gold accent, photo by Kivalo Photography http://ruffledblog.com/1st-portland-notwedding #weddingcake #cakes:

  • MrsLMTMrsLMT Posts: 3,830

    Gorgeous colour scheme! 

  • Kelly224Kelly224 Posts: 962 New bride
    Bunny87 wrote (see post):

    Thanks Kelly224 - I know what you mean about having to wait such a long time. Part of me wants it to be now but I love planning things so much that I think I'm going to enjoy the next few months. Where are you planning to get married? I've love a little bit of snow - my gran has suggested a heavy frost would be better!

    I agree with Gran  I'm hoping for a heavy frost as well as will look beautiful!  I live on the Hampshire/West Sussex border and we are having our ceremony and reception at a place called Southdowns Manor, it's a gorgeous exclusive use venue, it was the first and only venue I looked at and knew I had to have my wedding there.  I'm far too excited about everything but am holding back and just doing ideas at the moment rather than buying everything!!  Although have booked venue, photographer, transport, makeup, hair, DJ and band so fairly organised!! here is a pic of my venue.image


  • Kelly224Kelly224 Posts: 962 New bride

    Love the colour scheme!!  I agree with you about the Christmas theme as well!!  Our venue will have the Christmas trees up but I'm going for a winter wonderland style theme so lots of bling and sparkles but no reindeer etc!!

  • Is that Clearwell Castle? It's absolutely stunning! i love your theme too - my friend had the exact sequin bridesmaids dresses you've shown and they looked amazing.

    I've never been to a winter wedding, I would so love to, your theme will look brilliant around Christmas time!

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    Wibble2017 - Thank you! Can't have enough Welsh brides! Saying that I'm adopted Welsh - originally from England and H2B from Cornwall. However we've settled here and plan to stay for the long term.

    Kelly224 - Beautiful venue. Fingers crossed for some frost for you too! Love that your idea of holding back includes booking most of the big things!! You make me feel woefully disorganised. Luckily our venue includes a DJ in the package (budget permitting we may have a band too). I have emailed some suppliers about cakes today though just to get an idea of quotes. I quite fancy a personalised topper too but we'll see. Photographer is next on the list to get properly booked though - just got to wait for next months pay check!

    Littlespice - Thank you! Glad to know that the bridesmaids dresses have been seen in the flesh and look good. They're in the window of a bridal shop near me but I have so far resisted the temptation to go. Yes it's Clearwell - cannot wait!

  • I love your colour scheme! I think it will look absolutely beautiful 

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    Although the wedding is still quite a way away (595 days!) we're trying to get the bigger stuff sorted earlier. Saying that we are still taking our time with it and just trying to tackle something each month.


    This is something that we were both keen to sort out early. We knew we didn't want a photographer that only did posed shots and were keen to have someone that could do a mixture of types of shots. We were also keen to have someone that had shot at the venue before. Being December the weather is likely to be quite unpredictable (except cold) and we wanted someone who knew the venue well in case we couldn't get outside into the grounds. We also wanted someone that could do some shots with a wow factor.

    We went through a few websites and looked at the recommended suppliers for the venue and found Nick. When we first got engaged we did have a rough budget for this - it's probably fair to say we aren't doing well at keeping in budget so far overall - but a photographer isn't something we wanted to compromise on.

    We met with Nick for coffee and cake and he came across as a really nice friendly guy who clearly loves his job! He brought lots of photos for us to see, including plenty from our venue. We were sold. Pretty much as soon as we were home we emailed to book him. Deposit paid and can't wait to see the kind of stuff he can do for us!


    Especially love his shots with the skies and clouds!

    Currently undecided as to whether we should have a 2nd photgrapher or not? My feeling is then when we go off for our photos it would be nice to have someone photographing our guests during the time. I also like the idea of having someone photographing people as they turn up while the main photographer is with the bridesmaids and I. In the grand scheme of things it's not actually much more for a 2nd shooter. Thoughts?

  • Mimi8Mimi8 Posts: 314

    Love your venue , went to a wedding reception there a few years ago ( they married in the little church down the road ) Gorgeous venue and we had a very nice hotel at bottom of hill too . Your them is also very similar to my daughter who married last December and wanted a sparkly dab to offset the cold weather , it will look fabulous , have a lovely day .

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180

    Thanks Mimi  Glad to know people have been there before and enjoyed it.

  • Bunny87Bunny87 Posts: 180


    I'm a big cake fan and actually do quite a lot of baking for birthdays and work, yet despite this I initially wasn't too fussed about the cake. My experience from previous weddings seemed to be a few pictures cutting the cake and then it gets cut up and laid out, almost as an after thought following the meal and evening buffet. That said we didn't want to spend a fortune on something that may or may not be eaten.

    The initial plan was to buy tiers from a supermarket and then decorate them myself. The reviews seemed quite reasonable and I thought that I could do the whole thing for under £150. However on looking closer at the product details it seemed that that the tiers were only 5.5cms tall. We wanted 3 tiers and the feeling between was that a 16cm cake just didn't seem that impressive.

    Following that we went on Pinterest and selected a few photos and emailed a few cake makers (both recommended from the venue and some local makers). I sent the same photos to each one and the prices varied between £300 and £600, and there was no way we could justify £600 on a cake!

    The woman that we decided to go with let us have a couple of cake tastings with her. She had a pretty extensive list of flavours.

    We tried:

    Chocolate orange, red velvet, Oreo cookies and cream, carrot, chocolate fudge, lemon and chocca mocca caramel.

    All of them were pretty amazing - I'm pretty sure we're going to go with chocolate orange and lemon. I quite like the idea of carrot cake too but not sure if enough people would like this one?

    We don't have to decide the final flavours or design until next year but this is the current design (minus the pink ribbon).

    Pretty, edible gold sequin detail wedding cake with ruffle rose effect and pink detail:

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