Planning A DIY Wedding – Couple Q&A

Sarah & Ed got married in North Wales last June. Their wedding was bursting with personal touches and involved a lot of their friends and family – this was not an off the peg wedding – even Sarah’s dress was handmade ๐Ÿ˜

Sarah & Ed explain how they struggled to find their perfect wedding venue, but after much frustration, they found it nestled in the Glasgwm valley of Snowdonia National Park… Although at that point Plasglasgwm hadn’t even hosted a wedding before!

Sarah walked to the Chapel in a handmade wedding dress, they skipped a formal wedding breakfast, opting for relaxed food stalls instead. They had their speeches outside followed by a vintage party band in a barn! Here’s their story…

Sarah & Edward’s Chapel Wedding with Barn Reception

  1. Can you tell everyone a little about yourself?
    Sure. I’m Sarah from Swansea and I work for a charity and Ed is from Portsmouth and is an Engineer specialising in offshore wind. We currently live in Copenhagen, Denmark. We’ve been together for just over 12 years, having met on a University ski trip. 
  2. What about the proposal?
    Ed proposed on what I thought was a ‘last-minute’ ski trip. He proposed on a ski lift and took me by total surprise. Apparently it wasn’t a surprise to anyone else.
  3. How long were you engaged and how long did you spend planning your wedding?
    We were engaged for almost two and a half years. I guess we spent about a year and a half planning it.
  4. What were you most looking forward to about your wedding
    Seeing all our friends and family in one place. 
alternative wedding speeches, outside with everyone gathered around
  1. Did you have a specific theme?
    I guess the running theme was that it was a fantastic opportunity to showcase all of our amazing family and friends talents.

    The ceremony was a bilingual service, delivered beautifully by a family member, who rather conveniently is a local chapel Minister. Our wedding was held at what my family would regard as our family chapel, being the venue for the majority of our family weddings and being located in the heart of the village my mum grew up in.

    We both love to sing so we tried to incorporate as much music and hymns to the service as possible. We were keen to ensure the chapel would be full of song so we selected well-known rugby hymns gave everyone some homework with their invitations ๐Ÿ™‚  

    A choir, made up of willing friend and family, topped off the service with gorgeous renditions of ‘Here comes the sun’ The Beatles and Traditional Welsh song ‘Ar Lan y Mor’. 
Choir made up from guests and friends singing at wedding
  1. Where did you find inspiration when planning your wedding?
    It was a combination of Instagram, Pinterest and other friends weddings as inspiration. 
  2. Did you do anything to make your wedding unique to you or your story as a couple?
    Yes, we are extremely lucky to have so many talented friends and family who wanted to be involved the whole way through. Almost every single aspect of our wedding was created by a friend or family member. We made a weekend of it and had a lot of fun setting up the wedding venue together the day before.
  1. Is there anything you would have done differently?
    No, I don’t think there is anything we would do differently. We spent a long time looking for a wedding venue, which was frustrating but totally worth it as the venue we eventually found was just perfect. Once we had the venue, the rest came together easily and we really enjoyed designing the day. 
  1. How did you choose your wedding venue?
    We spent a long time looking for a venue. We knew we wanted to get married in Wales (sorry Ed didn’t really have a choice) but we were torn between getting married in South Wales, where I’m from, and North Wales where my mum’s family is from and where I spent the majority of my holidays visiting family.

    We initially had our heart set on one venue in Gower but that fell through as we were unable to pin down a date with the owner. In the end, getting increasingly frustrated with the whole process, on a whim we got up at 5am one weekend and drove from London, where we lived at the time, to North Wales to do a proper scout of locations. I was googling and booking appointments with various venues as we were driving up.

    Having been to our fair share of venues by that point we knew exactly what we wanted, a place which would allow us the freedom to bring in our own suppliers and create our own day. Making our way through the list of places I’d found on the drive up, our penultimate appointment was at Plasglasgwm. As we drove towards it, down a narrow winding lane in the pouring rain we knew pretty much from the moment we arrived at the gate that this was the place for us.

    After our very wet tour of the venue, with the very lovely owners Tam and Pete, we were beyond excited to have found such a unique venue and location to host our day. Tam and Pete had never hosted a wedding before but were up for the challenge.

    We will always be forever grateful that they agreed to take a leap of faith with us that day.
  2. What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding venue?
    Make a list of the things you will not compromise on and stick to it. It might be frustrating at times, but with a bit of patience and perseverance you will get there it will be totally worth it.
  1. What was your biggest worry or concern when choosing a photographer?
    We are not a couple that takes many pictures together so the task of choosing a photographer was a difficult one. We knew we did not want staged, posed, formal photos from a photographer who would dominate or order the crowd around on the day but rather a photographer that became a guest and captured the atmosphere and emotion of the day.
    ๏ปฟ
  2. What advice would you give to couples who are looking for a photographer?
    To be honest, we had toyed with the idea of not having a wedding photographer at all. If we had made this decision I think this, hands down, would have been our biggest mistake.

    The pictures Chris produced perfectly captured the rollercoaster of emotions of the day and truly captured us. In terms of advice, we’d say find your favourite picture of you as a couple and try to find a photographer that replicates the style of that photo. 
  1. What was the best thing you spent money on for your wedding?
    The venue and accommodation. From the beginning of the wedding planning process, we knew we wanted to find somewhere that extended the wedding party beyond the day. We hired our wedding venue for a long weekend and invited friends and family to join us.
  2. Would you like to give a shout out to anyone in particular?
    Absolutely everyone!! 

    My dress – Ann, My Mum // Bridesmaid dress – Ann, My Mum // Invitations & Hymn Sheets – Elinor, My Sister // Flowers – Ann, My Mum and Helen, Beth & Sarah // Wedding Cake – Helen Flynn Papercuts // Bar sign – Dean, Ed’s Dad // Flower Arch & confetti – Debbie, Ed’s Mum // Food – Chris Chilled Chalets // Food Stalls – David // Decorations & setup – Angharad, Ian, Becca, Llio, Beth, Ollie, Lee, Sarah, El & Alex // The Choir of Friends and Family – Sarah, Hannah, Mayda, Llio, Helen, Paul, Rhys, Matt, Bethan, Charlotte, Becca & Elinor // Organist – Gwenno // The Minister – Rhodri // Chapel music – Alex // Plasglasgwm – Tam, Pete and their wonderful crew // The Band – The Alchemist // Chauffeur and Best Man – Lee // Groomsman – Dave // And of course, our photographer, Chris!!
  1. Where did you get ready?
    I got ready at my Grandparents old house, now a holiday let, with friends and family. The house is at the top of the hill looking down on the chapel so it was fun to watch everyone arrive as we were getting ready. It was also fantastic to be close enough to walk down the hill towards the chapel. It made for a very special start to the day. 
  1. Sarah – How did you feel walking down the aisle, seeing Edward for the first time?
    It felt surreal. I was strangely calm throughout the whole thing but at the same time overwhelmed to see everyone I cared about smiling back at me. 
  2. Edward – How did you feel when you saw Sarah for the first time, walking down the aisle?
    Excited and relieved that the moment had finally arrived. I was also blown away by how beautiful Sarah looked and remember thinking, did Ann (Sarah’s mum) really make that dress?! 
  1. Did you or Edward plan any surprise for each other? If so, please tell me more!
    No, we didn’t plan surprises for each other but we did plan a small surprise moment for friends. Our first date was to a Spice Girls concert at the O2. Ed has forever been both teased and applauded for that decision so what better song to choose as our walkout music than 2 become 1!? We got the laughs we were looking for from those in the know as we played the opening bars of that song before quickly switching to Blur Song 2 before it got too cringey. 
  1. Was there any part of the day you were particularly nervous about?
    We were both nervous about the best man’s speech but as we’d stolen most of his material in our own speeches we had nothing to worry about ๐Ÿ˜Š 
  1. What was your favourite part of your day?
    It’s hard to pick one standout moment as the whole day was wonderful. I guess the moment that stands out most is the speeches, looking out at a lawn full of absolutely everyone we know and thinking wow, they are all here for us. 

“Don’t get caught up in every single detail. Just relax, enjoy the process and most importantly, the day.”

– Sarah & Ed

It’s always an honour to be chosen to photograph someone’s wedding day, and to hear such great feedback about my photographs from a couple who were on the fence about having a photographer at all is truly humbling.

Thank you so Sarah & Ed for choosing me to be your wedding photographer and taking the time to share your wedding planning story with me.

 

THIS IS JUST ONE CHAPTER...

In the rest of this guide, I explain the different ceremonies including, humanist, celebrant & non-legal wedding ceremonies. I also cover how to choose your wedding venue, wedding photographer, entertainment and plan your timeline. Plus there's wedding advice from real couples and top tips from industry experts.

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