We sat with my mam at the kitchen table. After trawling through pages and pages of barns, marquees and tipis, I was losing the will to live. There seemed to be a plentiful array of beautiful venues, all kind of the same, and all not quite right. What I wanted was an empty shell in a field, somewhere where I could pay the owners for use of the ‘building’, and I could sort out all the decorations, food and drink myself.
That’s what I wanted, a basic place with plenty of room, and I was looking forward to adding everything else MYSELF. I was confident I could keep costs low and ensure it all looked beautiful and welcoming. I organise similar things in my job, and was looking at the wedding as a new production to sink my teeth into.
Let me save you some trouble here- This dream doesn’t exist. I failed miserably. I found that every venue had strict rules on what food I could have (God forbid if I asked for outside catering!), what wine I could have, and as far as corkage went, the prices were astronomical. Basically “Of course you can bring your own wine, but we’ll charge you so freaking much for it, our expensive wine will be nothing in comparison.”
I very much felt like one second you had the kind “Congratulations on your wedding!” And the next was “Woman, we don’t really need your business so do you want this or not?”. Okay, okay, I get it, you’re a business. So how about the stripped down costs? How much for just an empty shell, before adding everything?
The prices were astonishing. For a basic barn (An empty shell), we were looking at £3500. Double that, if I wanted to decorate it myself the day before. So £7000. Before food, tables, chairs, decorations, dresses, suits, flowers, cake, and the ridiculously over priced wine. LIVID.
So apparently, DIY budget weddings are fashionable now – it’s a huge industry.
Last minute Winter deals…
I’ve previously said that I wouldn’t want to get married in a grand hotel or a mansion. But what about a CASTLE!?
No that’s going to be ridiculously expensive.
That’s just not us.
“They have a last minute Winter deal thing…”
“I’m a princess, get me to that castle.”
We called them and arranged a viewing 2 days later.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. We drove through the Brecon Beacons and I was going through a checklist in my head.
-Near where I grew up? No
-Near where we live now? No
-Near anything vaguely related to us? No
-Summer Wedding? No
-Cheaper than anywhere else? YES!
It was a cold, fog-induced grey February day. The Beacons were hiding in the clouds, and as we drove up, we saw the imposing and overwhelming beauty of the Gothic castle. Castell Craig Y Nos.
We walked into the reception area, greeted by the resident cat, stoically ignoring the petting of passers-by.
As we waited for our host, we decided to have a quick look around. The warming ‘Welcome area’ with its characteristic chesterfield sofas and roaring fireplaces overlooked the Brecon landscape outside. For the first time since we started looking, it felt right.
It felt like we had stepped into a Wes Anderson film – a huge influence on our schemes and decor. The grandeur of the place was old – not tarnished by garish modernisation. It felt untouched, almost fragile. Josh’s parents and the wedding coordinator came to meet us and as we walked from room to room, it confirmed our feelings.
I suddenly didn’t care, or even want a festival wedding. I didn’t care if it rained, I didn’t care if I never saw another barn ever again. How wonderful it would be for everyone to experience what we had that day.
We have a word in Wales – ‘Cwtch’ – it means hug, embrace, comfort, and that’s exactly what Craig Y Nos offered.
I’m so. Freaking. Excited.