Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress

Some of you may be aware that Tom and I got engaged last year and we’re now planning our wedding! It’s onto one of the big decisions… the wedding dress!

Where do you start?

For all you brides out there, it is recommended that you buy your wedding gown 12 – 18 months before the wedding. As I’m in that time frame, I started my search.

I had already started following gown designers and local shops on Instagram for inspiration. I didn’t have any expectations as I just loved everything out there.

Visiting Bridal Boutiques

I would never dream of just casually walking into a bridal boutique with a group of friends but I’ve walked by many a window and admired from a far. This attitude played a big part in my nervousness surrounding the idea of trying on dresses.

One of the small boutiques I was following on Facebook and Instagram, Willow In White, put a poll up on Instagram about having an open evening. I thought this was a great idea. It was an opportunity for new brides, such as myself, to go into a boutique without feeling the pressure of any commitment to buy and for her to meet us too. The poll was a resounding success and an opening evening was organised.

I popped along to the open evening on a Thursday evening, was greeted by Mel (the owner) with a glass of bubbly and I felt at ease. There were other brides there and I was able to look at all the gowns and accessories available at the boutique. I booked my gown trial appointment for the Saturday immediately after and I was very excited.

Who do you take with you?

Don’t be shocked… I went on my own and when people have found this out, I’ve had the most peculiar reactions…

My sisters no longer live local and my mum works on the weekends, and due to my last minute appointment decision, they wouldn’t have been available to attend.

I was absolutely fine on my own. Arguably, it was better as the fewer opinions I had the better! Even though I am quite a decisive person, I am easily swayed by other people’s opinions, especially when they’re my family as I value their opinion the most. Without them there, it forced me to think about my own opinions!

By going by myself, I picked a dress that I fell in love with, not anyone else. For those who are more strong minded than I am, take a few of your nearest and dearest!

How do you know if you’ve found the one?

I asked this question to everyone and I got the same answer from almost everyone… When you know, you know. And it’s true.

There were so many dresses that I loved and was even surprised by, but when the one was on, I knew.

I couldn’t stop looking at it in the mirror and I didn’t want to take it off. It made me feel so special and I didn’t even want to put on any of the other gowns again because I was just so in love with it.

My Experience Summarised

I was nervous going into my gown trial. I was worried that I wouldn’t suit anything and that I wouldn’t like anything. But after the first gown went on, everything shifted and I was so excited.

A big part of my amazing experience was meeting Mel. As I went on my own, she was a massive help and a big part of my experience. I valued her opinion and she asked all the right questions to get the one.

As much as I loved the experience, I’m glad I found the one with Mel at Willow In White because I wouldn’t want to traipse around town trying on all sorts of gowns in different boutiques.

For some top tips, follow Willow In White on Instagram and watch their Top Tips highlights!

Planning a Vegan Wedding: Issue 3

Wedding websites… Do or don’t?

A wedding website isn’t for everyone, but I think they’re a good idea. It’s nice to have one place to collate important information for your guests. I know not everyone is tech savvy, but at least it’s there for those who are.

Building your Website

I decided to build mine using Wix.com which I would absolutely recommend. There are a lot of website builders similar to Wix out there so the world is your oyster. I used Wix upon recommendation from a friend of mine who built her wedding website on Wix too.

The great thing about Wix is that they give you the option to build your website from a template or to start completely from scratch. I built our wedding website using a template and it actually gave me loads of ideas on what to put on there.

It’s a drag and drop style website but there is a Dev Mode option that allows those who are code savvy to make custom code changes and hook into any external APIs (if they so wish).

Wix at its most basic level is free so it’s good just to play around first if you’re not sure as it won’t cost you anything.

Another bonus is that you can lock your website down with a password. This means that you can limit those who can see your website and the content to your guests (as long as you give them the password!).

Domain Names

For those of you who don’t know, a domain name is simply just a website name. The Wix free domain name isn’t always very meaningful, so for your wedding website, you might want to opt for something your guests will remember.

We went for http://www.annabelandtom.com which I thought would be a nice and easy one, and fortunately it was still available.

You can purchase domain names from various registrars online, but I went on GoDaddy. I was able to purchase my domain name for 2 years (which is more than enough) for about £20. GoDaddy was one of the cheaper options across all the registrars but I recommend shopping around in case you find better deals.

Linking GoDaddy with my Wix website was really easy. GoDaddy provided clear instructions on what details to put in, and it only took a few hours for the domain name to take affect which was much quicker than I anticipated.

The only thing is that you have to pay for a premium plan with Wix to be able to link your domain name to the site but there are lots of different options, including ad-free ones at a higher price.

Website Content

It is entirely up to you what information you put on your website, and there’s plenty of other sites and posts that will tell you what kind of helpful information you can include.

  • Your couple origin story
  • Accommodation options in the area of your venue
  • Registry information (in our case, we’ve asked for no gifts)
  • Information about the wedding venue and it’s location
  • Local Transport company information

We also included a little snippet on ‘traditions’ as we won’t be taking each others names, and we also reminded our guests that our wedding will be entirely vegan!

As the plans get more settled over the next year, I plan to add more to the website, even pages for day guests and evening guests to give them specific information about the day.

I included the website details on my Save The Date cards, and I’ve had a few compliments so far so I think the effort has paid off.

Planning a Vegan Wedding: Issue 2

So you have your venue sorted… What do you do next?

The Wedding Planning list is absolutely endless and is also completely dependent on what you want from your wedding day!

It was a little easier for us as Tom’s sisters had either just had their wedding day or were getting married very shortly so they had experienced everything they already could!

We decided to try a Wedding Fayre as Tom’s sisters had been to a few and enjoyed them. We booked and paid for tickets to The Big Welsh Wedding Show in October 2019 which was held in The Depot in Cardiff. I asked for a list of exhibitors from the organisers and I was interested in seeing what was there.

I found the whole thing incredibly overwhelming. As someone who’s just started planning a wedding, the event seemed a bit much and very ‘pushy’. We arrived and I had to fill out a form with my personal details. I remember specifically opting out of marketing e-mails, and yet somehow I ended up on the marketing list and receiving e-mails from various exhibitors as a few weeks went by.

There were A LOT of exhibitors which was great for window shopping. However, I felt a bit bored as I wandered around as I found that exhibitors were either too pushy and keen to talk to you, or couldn’t be bothered to make an effort with you at all.

I would like to take the time now though to rave about one company I saw there, Pretty Little Pictures. They are a lovely couple that run a photo booth company and they were so nice! They demo’d their photo booth box and back drop and we walked away with a cute little photo strip. I highly recommend dropping them a message if you’re interested in having a photo booth for any occasion.

Other exhibitors included:

  • Various venues, including Oldwalls
  • QuirkIt – A styling, rental company with the loveliest owners!
  • Paperdate Stationery
  • Photoboth companies with included PLP (as mentioned above) and Ultrabooth
  • And many more that I don’t remember the names of but included cakes, celebrants, car services, accessories and a string quartet.

We started talking to exhibitors just as the first catwalk of the day started. The catwalk was just models walking up and down in wedding attire, which is all well and good, but none of them had the same body shape or size as me so didn’t really encourage me . Additionally, the music was blasting so loud in the venue, it made it impossible for me to talk to any exhibitors at a reasonable volume.

As much as I would like to recommend everyone to go to a wedding fayre, from my first experience, I wouldn’t go again. I didn’t enjoy it, and you can usually find what you’re looking for online anyway!!

Saying that, I’m sure that there are plenty of you who would find it beneficial so don’t write it off just yet. I recommend checking the list of exhibitors and checking to see if any of them interest you. Go prepared with questions for those you do want to see!

Planning a Vegan Wedding: Issue 1

So for those of you who follow my blog more closely, you’ll know that Tom and I are planning our wedding! With it only being 18 months away now, I thought I’d start the Wedding Planning blog issues.

Issue 1, we’ll start with our venue hunt!

Tom has always had his heart set on getting married in the Gower, or at least close to the water. We find the water so calming and it’s the perfect back drop for us.

Ocean View Gower

In October 2019, the first venue we went to see was Ocean View Gower. The views here were absolutely breathtaking and it was a lovely venue. It was Emma who showed us around the venue and she was really nice and so helpful. You could do so much with the venue and it gives that lovely rustic feel.

They took us on a golf cart round the corner to their little camping village where they had a few pods where wedding guests could stay. The Bridal Suite was a gorgeous, larger version of the other pods.

The only thing that really deterred me from this venue (besides the dates available) was that it was on a working farm. As a vegan, I can’t support the industry and knowing that’s where my money would be going.

Oldwalls Gower

We went on a tour of Oldwalls directly after our visit to Ocean View and we fell in love with it. We put a deposit down there and then and we haven’t looked back since. Oldwalls was a little more polished that Ocean View and as a dedicated wedding venue, the services they provide were exactly what we were looking for.

It was a more polished version of Ocean View, but the price does reflect that. They have a lot of onsite accommodation which is really helpful for us as we’ll have a lot of guests who’ll want to stay. In addition to this, they have a gorgeous glamping village with lots of glamping pods for even more guests to stay in! All the guests that stay will also have breakfast included so it’ll be nice the following morning to have breakfast with our overnight guests.

Tom’s sister got married at Fairyhill last month which is the sister venue of Oldwalls. You can read my blog post about it here. The most important thing to us was having a vegan wedding. Oldwalls were more than happy to accommodate that with no problems. This included all the food, as well as the drinks.

Oldwalls hold showcases throughout the year so I recommend following them on social media to keep an eye out for them. Fairyhill will usually hold showcases on the same day so as you’re in the area, you may as well go and see both!

We’re really excited to keep moving with the planning. We should be invited for a food tasting this year, approximately a year before the wedding. Keep an eye out for that blog post in the future!

Being a Vegan Wedding Guest: Issue 3

We had the absolute honour and luxury of attending Tom’s sister’s wedding at Fairyhill in the heart of the Gower of Swansea. Fairyhill is an absolutely stunning venue surrounded by so much natural greenery.

Hannah, Tom’s sister, and her new husband, Jonnie, are both vegan too so it was a fully vegan wedding which was great! When they were planning their wedding, it was important to them that the wedding be fully vegan and the team at Fairyhill were more than happy to help make that happen.

Getting Ready

As you’re all very aware, I love my beauty products so I’ll throw in a quick section here of what I used on my face to get myself wedding ready…

My dress is a Chi Chi London dress I bought on ASOS and the floral hair clips are from Accessorize.

The Venue

Fairyhill is absolutely beautiful. The night before, we stayed in a lovely modern cottage only a short drive from the venue. Fairyhill is tucked away in a little corner of the Gower so is very private and hidden.

Jonnie and Hannah

The ceremony and the wedding breakfast is held in the Kaleidoscope room (Garden Room) which stuns with gorgeous panoramic views of the forestry around it.

At night, the building is lit up beautifully in colour and is gorgeous and incredibly atmospheric.

There are also rooms available to stay in at Fairyhill if you are a guest of the Bride and Groom. We had the pleasure of staying in one of their rooms. The bed was incredibly comfortable and the convenience of being able to stay on site was a luxury. They put on breakfast in the morning which was lovely and we got to wake up to this gorgeous view…

The Food

I sadly came down with a migraine during the wedding breakfast so I wasn’t able to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the festivities with all the guests.

Tom, being the gem that he is, brought up my food for me to our room. The staff offered to take it up for me themselves but Tom declined the offer as he was keen to check up on me.

Even though my head was pounding, I was still able to enjoy the food. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the food. The polenta chips were delicious and the pesto pizza had a vegan parmesan which had plenty of flavour. There was a stuffed mushroom to start but I forgot to photograph it and I didn’t particularly enjoy. The sticky toffee pudding was sooooo good and baked to perfection. I personally would have preferred custard to ice-cream but still great either way.

Tom had a cauliflower dish to start which he said was banging. He had a miso ramen as his main which was flavourful, but the ribbon noodles had disintegrated a little which made it a little more difficult to eat.

In the morning, a breakfast buffet was laid out and there were vegan sausages, hash browns, mushrooms and beans. They also have various fruit and cereals, and also soy milk for the teas and coffees.

Tom and I

Everything was amazing. Hannah and Jonnie planned an absolutely beautiful day for the gorgeous floral arrangements to the music played through the evening. It was such a pleasure to be a guest and the fact that all the food and drink there was completely vegan was so great.

It’s helped me and Tom decide to plan our wedding, so we’ve booked Oldwalls in the Gower which is the sister venue to Fairyhill! We’re very excited and I’m sure over the next year and a half, I’ll be posting a few wedding planning posts!

Being a Vegan Wedding Guest: Issue 2

I had the absolute pleasure of being invited to Tom’s sister, Kate’s, wedding a few weeks ago which was an absolute dream. Her and David got married in Coed Y Mwstwr Hotel in Bridgend which is tucked away in Coychurch, and conveniently only down the road from us.

I’m close to Tom’s family and love them like my own so I had the luxury of being involved in so many parts of the wedding, but with little responsibility!

In this blog post, I’ll write about all the little vegan bits that were thought about and catered for.

The Night Before The Wedding

We were invited to the hotel for a family meal before the nuptials the next day in the hotel restaurant. There was a vegan menu available and we were given the menus to peruse in the lounge area of the hotel.

We ordered and were taken into the restaurant when they were ready for us. We all ordered Tempura Vegetables to start, most of us ordered the Cauliflower and Pea Curry and Tom’s mum ordered the Chickpea and Lentil Roast for mains. To finish, myself and Hannah ordered the Vegan Chocolate Brownie and everyone else ordered the Grilled Pineapple with vegan ice-cream.

The food was lovely and the service was great. The Vegetable Tempura starter was a big hit with everyone and something that I highly recommend. It was a lovely start to the weekend!

Tom and I then headed home, ready for the next day…

The Wedding Day

Tom and I had a lie in as the ceremony wasn’t until 2:30! We were lucky to have an early check in at the hotel so we were able to check in at 12 so we started getting ready and packing some bags ready for the day!

On the way to the hotel, we stopped off in Who Cult Coffee + Donuts on Bridgend Industrial Estate on request of the bridal party, so it was impossible to say no! It was the first time I had actually gone inside so I took some photos but I’ll write another post. Here’s an older post from when I originally tried their doughnuts.

We arrived at the hotel and ran a few errands with Hannah, Tom’s younger sister and Kate’s maid of honour. We checked in and went straight up so that I could finish getting ready. Once I was ready, I spent the morning with the bridal party, taking photos and tearing up at the sight of Kate in her wedding dress. She looked beautiful.

The ceremony was lovely and there was so much love in the room. It was so clear to see that Kate and David shared so much together and were meant to be. It was an honour to be a guest.

After a drink and photos, we were seated fo the wedding breakfast. The favours were seeds to plant to help encourage bees, so we’ll be making sure we do that!

The wedding breakfast provided by Coed Y Mwstwr catered for both vegans and omnis. Kate herself is a vegetarian so she had the vegan option also.

The vegan option was: Vegetable soup, Black Eyed Bean Bourginon and Vegan Chocolate Brownie with ice cream.

For those who are curious, the omni option was: Leek and Potato Soup, Turkey Roast and Cheesecake.

I didn’t rate the bourginon. The mashed potato was delicious and creamy and the veg was great, but the meat replacement I found to be plain and dry.

The vegetable soup was really delicious. I could have eaten a vat of it! Tom appreciated the croutons too. He said he’d never had croutons before which shocked me!

The chocolate brownie was the same as the previous night but was much nicer with the ice cream.

Remaining on the topic of food… Kate and David’s wedding cake was made by the incredibly talented Vic’s Vegan Bakes. The cake was absolutely stunning and was made of 3 tiers:

  • Red Velvet and Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel and Biscoff
  • Vanilla and Raspberry

Every tier was absolutely delicious. Everyone loved it and I don’t think they even knew it was vegan. Vic bakes amazing cakes and makes them look like an absolute dream! Check out her instagram for all the inspiration.

The evening buffet came out around 9:30pm and has various vegan options and a small section of the omnis too. I picked up a cucumber sandwich, vegetable spring rolls and wontons and potato wedges. Tom had spicy falafel which he loved and couldn’t stop eating.

In between all of this, Tom and I spent the evening dancing the night away, pulling out all of our best wedding dance moves and trying to get everyone we know up on the dance floor with relative levels of success.

The Day After The Wedding

We stayed the night at the hotel. The room was lovely but I didn’t find the bed particularly comfortable. I had very particular comfort needs but it was a nice stay and it was very quiet.

What I did love was that instead of a hanging door sign to indicate you don’t want to be disturbed, they had the cutest cuddly toy dogs! “Let Sleeping Dogs Lay”.

We were invited to join the bride and groom for breakfast at 9am. I never usually eat much in the morning so I only had a coffee and juice but there was lots of lovely fruit on offer as well as cereals. We were also provided with soy milk for teas and coffees. Everyone else ordered vegan breakfasts which from what I remembered had sausages, toast, hash brown and a grilled tomato.

A huge thank you to Kate and David for having us and making the day so special for everyone. Thank you for catering for us and including us in so much of your day!

Being a Vegan Wedding Guest: Issue 1

I recently had the pleasure of being Maid of Honour at my best friend, Sarah’s, wedding. As the bride is my best friend, she is fully aware of my veganism and did her best to ensure that I was catered for.

As the title states, this is simply Issue 1. 2019 is an incredibly busy year and I have 3 more wedding ceremonies to attend, with an additional wedding reception in between!

The day was spectacular. The venue was gorgeous and has some incredibly stunning views. The ceremony and reception were held at The Barn at West Farm in Southerndown.

The Bride and I

The wedding breakfast was well catered, even if there was only 1 option, but I guess that’s standard in most places. Guests were able to choose from a menu in advance, but our vegan option was vague. It ended up being:

  • Starter: Houmous
  • Main Course: Butternut Squash Risotto
  • Dessert: Vegan Cheesecake

The food was lovely enough and very well presented. The houmous starter was rather boring but the houmous tasted lovely. I really enjoyed the butternut squash risotto; the added balsamic vinegar on top really enhanced it. And finally, the vegan cheesecake was lovely. The groom tried mine to compare with his non-vegan cheesecake and he claimed the flavour was the same and that the only difference was the texture. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In the evening, we were provided with a vegan pizza option which made Tom really happy. It wasn’t put out on the buffet table to ensure that no one else casually picked up our food, but we were able to ask for it from the kitchen when we were ready for it.

Additionally, they had a sweets table and made sure there were vegan sweet options there too! We could choose from flying saucers, jelly tots and various Swizzels refresher bars which were recently made vegan too.

This was the first wedding I’d attended as a vegan. Tom had attended one of my other friend’s wedding a few years ago as a vegan and he wasn’t particularly impressed. He only had a stack of grilled vegetables for dinner and a fruit platter for dinner.

Tom and I

Sarah and Liam did a wonderful job of catering for us and I’m so pleased that they did. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and we wish them all the best in their future together.

Thank you for catering for your only vegan friends!