A Rustic Celebration with Hessian & Lace: Julie & Rhodri Davies’ Welsh Wedding

04 Aug 2015

Julie and Rhodri Davies put a difficult couple of years behind them – to throw a party that we all wish we’d been at, celebrating their marriage in the Welsh Laugharne countryside.

Photographs by Adrian Hibbert Photography

Julie tells us about their day in the fields, under the shelter of a marquee, on June 21, 2014.

How did you meet?
It was a blind date, on a date in a pub in Canton, where we now live. We met in January 2011 and got engaged in July 2013.

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Did you know he was ‘the one’ straight away?
Well we’ve got a great deal in common – we’re very similar and we’ve been very close since day one, really.

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Tell us about the proposal.
He’d set up a whole weekend – I didn’t have a clue! He grew up in Laugharne in Wales and it’s such a beautiful village – it’s where DylanThomas did most of his writing.
He took me to Dylan Thomas’ boat house where we’d been when we were first dating. I was blown away, it was so beautiful – it was fabulous. We were standing in the same spot we’d visited before, overlooking the water… in an outdoor coffee area. And then he proposed! I said yes straight away – it was very romantic and we got a round of applause. The ring was amazing – it’s my birth stone, aquamarine, and exactly what I wanted.
I thought that was it! But when we went back to the car, in the boot there was a wicker basket with champagne and a picnic. We went to the coastal path and had a picnic, overlooking the sea. We then set off back to his parents to have a BBQ for the evening… or so I thought. He didn’t drive back, and we arrived at The Grove in Narberth – he had booked us into the honeymoon suite with champagne for the night, with dinner. I was just blown away. The surprises just kept coming.
I had NO IDEA the proposal was coming. I hadn’t wanted to go out that morning so I didn’t dress up or anything. I went begrudgingly. I won’t grumble again if he wants me to go somewhere.

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
We were planning for just over a year. I wanted rustic, but classic as well. We really wanted a day that would be relaxed and a lot of fun for everyone – a big celebration – in recent years I have been in recovery from brain haemorrhage and re-adjusting to life with the brain injury which has at times been incredibly tough. Rhodri has been an amazing support to me has helped me to live my life again and to be excited for the future and so we wanted the focus of the day to be fun and celebration – a day without having to worry about everything else.
In terms of a design theme, we wanted rustic, as I knew it was going to be outdoors, and I’m a real fan of hessian and lace… and pearls. I used a selection of duck-egg blue, dusty pink and cream and ivory lace with the earthy hessian. That went right through the wedding - I had hessian flowers in my hair and bouquet. It tied it all together nicely.

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What was your most memorable moment?
There were loads! There’s funny ones, but for me (and Rhodri feels the same) the reception when we walked in and everyone stood up. It was also really beautiful when my cousin did a reading for us – song lyrics -  and then we played that song when we went into the reception, and everyone was cheering and you could see that everyone was thinking… where do I know this from? The song was from the film Juno, ‘All I want is you’…’ It’s one of ‘our songs’.

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It looks like you had a lot of décor details on the day.
I made everything myself and I took a lot of time over the detail. We bought the invitations and save the date magnets but almost everything else was handmade.  I can’t work because of my illness, so it gave me something to focus on. I made all of the centrepieces - slices of tree trunks that were then treated (my brother, a gamekeeper was able to source, cut and treat the wood for us which was a big help). I collected jam jars and covered them with hessian, which I then put pink silk roses which we gave away at the end of the wedding. Others had candles in and were lit in the evening for a lovely warm glow in the marquee. 
We had rose petals for confetti but I made ivory lace bags wrapped in ribbon that were handed out by our ushers as our guests left the church. We allocated every table with a song title with songs that were important to us and at the back of the handmade table numbers we included excerpts from song lyrics. I made the table plan with a piece of mdf which I covered in hessian, ribbon and lace and attached table cards to string with mini pink pegs. As an extra touch we made a little parcel for every place at the table that were wrapped up in string. They contained a little thank you message, an explanation of our Twitter account for the day (@weddingrocks) and also little ‘this wedding rocks’ badges that the guests wore later on. There were lots of nice little details to make the day personal.
I didn’t have any real flowers – even my bouquet was fabric flowers. Real ones die, but the bridesmaids now have something they can keep forever, and I like that it’s a bit different. I spent my time thinking about those little details. I wanted it to be about us and a reflection of us.
In the evening, we used the outdoor space with had picnic chairs, blankets with outdoor candles so there was plenty of space to relax and lots of people sat out with blankets, chatting whilst others were inside dancing. It was perfect really, I think we finally called it a night/day at 5.30am.

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What was the most important investment for you – food, drink, the dress, the honeymoon?
The food, probably. It’s the core of the day – we had a hog roast as the main event, with canapés when people arrived… like a starter. The hog roast was served to tables with loads of lovely fresh salads and breads and we had strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Later in the evening our caterers did massive paellas, cooked fresh outdoors next to the marquee and served it with nice crusty bread. It was important to us to have that relaxed atmosphere, and we were keen that nobody would queue for food. It was our biggest investment. The wedding cake was three tiers of welsh cheeses and my uncle handmade a wooden board to display the cheese with ‘Rhodri and Julie 21.06.14’ etched into the front of the board.  In the evening we had a bottle of port and a platter of cheese on every table. It was fab but quite dangerous with so much port around!!  - there were a lot of sore heads the next day – but it went down really well. We had 12 tables and 120 guests all-in.

We just thought about what we’d want from a party, and we didn’t have a band… we just did playlists through the iPad.

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What was your first dance to?
Hello Sunshine by Super Furry Animals – a Welsh band and Rhodri’s favourite.

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If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
I honestly don’t think I would change anything. I wouldn’t have such a big train on my dress - I didn’t think that through at all! I wanted a classic dress but it was a bit bigger than a thought and it was not easy to dance in…I gave it a good go though and managed to dance into the small hours.

Do you have any advice for brides and grooms-to-be?
What I adopted and worked for me, was not worrying about the little things. I really didn’t stress at all. The biggest worry for me was making sure the bridesmaids were happy with their dresses. On the day you will not notice. On reflection though, maybe we would have put out half bottles of port!!

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