A very long time ago I proposed to my girlfriend, after all I love her to bits and want to spend the rest of my life with her. We had decided on a long(ish) engagement, so the following few years were spent enjoying life and occasionally looking at wedding ideas. Then one day we looked at a venue in Scotland which was perfect for our needs and at a very good price but we didn’t book as we were still making a couple of important decisions about other things. My girlfriend wasn’t happy in her chosen career and everyone was telling her how happy she was with teaching, so she retrained as a teacher, this along with her first few years working as supply meant our savings were wiped out which then removed the Scottish venue as this had gone up vastly in price (it had nearly doubled!).
The Venue – Pencoed House Estate
Anyway, my girlfriend found out about this new venue just outside Cardiff called Pencoed House Estate, when we saw them they were in their 3rd season and relatively unheard of.
We booked an appointment to see the venue and visited on a wet and windy day in August 2014, even from the initial approach on the long driveway we started to fall in love with the place. We were then met by Judy (one of the owners) and given an extensive tour of the estate followed by a long chat in the office where we discussed various venue options, recommendations for photographers, florists etc and the pricing.
Less than 2 hours later we returned with a deposit cheque for £1000 to book our wedding package for July 2016 – giving us nearly 2 years to prepare and save!
Nothing much happened until late 2015 when we were invited to a tasting session so we could decide on the food, wine, table decorations and other details that formed part of our wedding package, there was a small charge for us which at the time seemed a little odd, but after the tasting session we completely understood why – basically you have all 3 courses, after dinner tea/coffee and sample the wine for the meal so are having a full meal and the option to discuss things with the caterers and the staff at Pencoed House. The food was very good and the garlic mushrooms were the best I’ve ever had! Every question we had was answered and further information supplied, we also had a full details sent to us via email a few days later.
Over the next few months things started to work their way closer to our wedding day, during this time I personally had a very positive experience working with the staff at Pencoed House with all our questions and queries, due to my job its easier for me to email and 99% of our dialogue was done in this way, which also meant there was no misunderstanding between us.
Now there were a couple of things which for us were a bit of a disappointment, at the tasting evening we had spoken about some options we were looking at which included us having a sweet table for the evening and only requiring the venue to supply a table and we’d do the rest – great, until earlier this year where suddenly we were told that they would only allow a manned sweet cart from their preferred suppliers, so we had no choice but to scrap the sweet table as we didn’t want to pay over the odds.
The evening food wasn’t part of our wedding package so we looked at the various options offered to us but nothing jumped out and grabbed us, so we had a look around and found a company that made wood fired pizzas and would come to the venue and provide a pizza for each of our evening guests for an amazing price (5 options for toppings, all organic etc), we contacted Pencoed House and were told this wasn’t possible and we had to use the same caterers that were supplying the food during the day, this is written into the terms and conditions of the venue and package.
These two little things aside, everything was progressing nicely and as we drew closer a fair number of emails were going back and forth between myself and the venue, questions were asked on both sides, table plans, layouts, decoration information, other supplier details etc were all being sent across and any updates/changes made along the way were also being sent – everything went very smoothly and with no hassle, I am if anything well organised!
Then the big day arrived and everything went perfectly, all the organisation paid off and everyone involved made sure our day was perfect. The venue and its staff couldn’t have been better and any friendlier and to top the day off we had a lovely evening in the Bridal Suite complete with a breakfast hamper. (A cup of tea and a kitkat at 1am after a long day is very tasty!).
The Caterers – Cresta Caterers (part of the wedding package)
I’d experienced food from Cresta’s before and was impressed then, so when during discussions about our wedding package we were told that Crestas were going to be providing catering services I had high hopes and we weren’t disappointed. From the attitude of the staff, the helpfulness and how much they accomdated a variety of dietary requirements to the excellent wedding breakfast, I don’t think we could have chosen a better caterer for our day.
And then there was the evening food, we decided we didn’t want anything too heavy and had a few choices, we ran them past Crestas and decided on cones of chips for our evening and these went down very well, all our guests loved them and some went back for seconds!
Our photographer – Simon Gough
We saw a variety of albums from a few photographers but Simon’s work jumped out at us, neither of us are happy in front of the camera (although my wife always looks good in a photograph!) and prefer to spend our time behind a camera. There was one photograph that showed the type of photographer Simon is, there was a shot of a newly married couple and for Simon to get the perfect angle, he rolled his trousers up and stood in a stream! We invited him round to discuss our wedding and saw more of his work, now I know he has posed photographs but some of the posed photographs don’t look posed, they look natural, which for someone like me who dislikes being in a photo was reassuring. After about 30 minutes of browsing and chatting we had a very good feeling for the person behind the name and booked him for our wedding day.
Throughout the entire day he made everyone (including me) relaxed and took hundreds of photos! We couldn’t have asked for a better person and we can’t wait to see the photographs from our day.
Update – 20/08/2016
Today Mr Postman knocked on the door with a small parcel, at first we wondered what it was until we saw Simon’s logo and knew straight away what it was. We opened said parcel to find a wooden box again with Simon’s logo on the front, we slid off the cover and found a the following inside, a selection of photos from the day, some twine and tiny wooden pegs to enable us to make a small display and a glass jar…..the glass jar contained the USB key with our 680 images (high res and internet ready versions) and 2 preview vidoes (720p and 1080p) which were a slide show (with really nice background music) containing a selection of images from the day. The USB key was cleverly built into the cork top of the jar and looked really effective.
The quality of the photos is amazing, so many natural looking shots showing many happy people, and even many of the formal posed photos look like they we caught without us knowing. I don’t consider myself a photogenic person, but even I look good in some of them! We made the right choice with Simon and that gut feeling from seeing the album at Pencoed House to meeting him and to the day itself was spot on. We couldn’t have picked a better photographer.
We opted not to have a traditional cake and fancied cupcakes, but finding someone to make tasty, moist, fresh cupcakes is difficult. Now I hadn’t been to any wedding fayres so didn’t get to sample the delights but my bride to be had been and came back telling me of this one person who made the best cupcakes ever. We made an appointment and sampled the most delicious cupcakes ever, coupled with a simple yet effective design we again knew that these cupcakes had to be part of our wedding – in fact every cake was eaten and neither myself or my bride actually had one on the day!
Florist (Bride’s bouquet and button holes) – Hilarys Floral Design, Abergavenny
Flowers aren’t my thing, when my bride was telling me about flowers and something beginning we P, I called them Pikachus and that has stuck! Anyway, at another wedding fayre she met Charlotte and had a conversation about the type of bouquet she was looking for. A day later we had an email with a full breakdown and photo showing exactly what was described, after a visit to the shop a deposit was paid and flowers ordered, it started as the bouquet and bridesmaids flowers but because of the prices and the quality of the work we ended up with all wedding flowers except table pieces (as these were part of the package) – I know I’ve used the word before, but perfect does describe this.
Cars – Exquisite bridal cars
Cars are meant to be my thing but my bride knew exactly what she wanted!
After a quick internet search we came up with this local company who seemed to do exactly what we wanted, so off we went to see the cars and within seconds of seeing the Beauford I knew my bride was going to be brought to our wedding with a huge smile on her face a she was beeming whe she saw the car!
The bridesmaids arrived in style in a white daimler – although the wedding party did arrive a little early! (We were off with our travel times)
After the ceremony we were whisked away for a drive in the Beauford complete with the nicest champagne I’ve ever had (I’m not normally a fan), it was only 20 minutes but it was something special and our first drink together as husband and wife.