Caer Llan Wedding Monmouth | South Wales Destination Wedding Photographer Cardiff
Caer Llan Wedding Monmouth | South Wales Destination Wedding Photographer Cardiff | Justyna E Butler Photography
Our Love Story -Destination Adventure Bride, Becca
October, 4th 2013 I had no idea I would meet the man of my dreams at his birthday party no less! Sean and I met when our mutual friend hosted his birthday party the year he moved back to Colorado from a few years away. I had class the next morning and did NOT want to party late into the night with people I didn’t know, but I figured I could leave early and a party sounded much better than my normal Friday night study plans! After the party, Sean called me and we spent the next few weeks getting to know each other over text and phone calls before going on our first official date. Fittingly for Sean, as anyone who knows him will tell you, he took me to a brewery for our first date and we talked for hours! The first year of our relationship would test any couple; we lived an hour drive from each other, and both had very busy lives; Sean was starting a business and I was finishing my degree, then with some deaths in the family it is truly a testament to our connection that we got through that first year. Over the next few years, we tried to spend as much time together as our busy schedules allowed and when I finished my degree I got a job closer to Sean, he proposed and we moved into our first home together. His proposal was absolutely perfect; he picked a weekend we were camping with my family, took me to Lake Estes with our kayak and our dog, then popped the question with the mountains in the background and the lake right in front of us. Our perfect day ended with a celebratory meal on the balcony of a restaurant overlooking Rocky Mountain National Park with my family.
Planning Our Perfect Day!
Before we even got home from our trip we had decided to ask Justyna to shoot our wedding. I knew that Photographs would be my number one priority for our wedding and the only person we could ask was Justyna, she is so talented and her style of shooting matches me perfectly. Sean and I were fortunate to meet Justyna and her husband Blake through the local beer brewing circuit in Denver and we quickly became good friends. Sean and Blake both love brewing beer, bbq and fancy cooking gadgets (a meal cooked by these two is an amazing culinary experience). Justyna and I bond through love of photograpy , tea, travel and our European heritage ( I have even been fortunate to accompany Justyna on a shoot and see her at work, while 2nd shooting one of her events). From the get-go I knew our wedding would be unconventional and quirky. I am originally from England but grew up in Colorado so my heart has always been pulled in two directions; my home with its’ amazing scenery and a lifetime of memories and my birthplace where most of my family still reside. So when planning our wedding the first discussion was the where? Do we pick the place we call home or the place I’ve always dreamed of getting married where we could say our vows in a literal castle or stately home in the English countryside? Luckily Sean’s family has some ties to England too and all of our friends and family were supportive of traveling wherever we decided to tie the knot. In the end, we decided to travel across the pond to get married since my Nana finds it hard to travel to altitude now and I could not imagine getting married without her! Then came the daunting task of planning a wedding overseas. If I could give one piece of advice to couples planning to do a similar thing it would just be to jump in with both feet and just do it and also to plan a trip to physically tour venues and ladies get your dress there if you can! I was lucky to have a lot of family in the UK helping me throughout the process, without whom we could not have had such an elaborate day. My main criteria for picking a venue were that it have a great outdoor space for photos, the inside room for the ceremony needed to be beautiful and neutral in color (since with English weather we knew we would likely be getting married indoors) and it needed to have rooms for all of our friends and family traveling so far to stay on-site. Google really helped me to narrow down the venues we would visit on our trip and google maps helped me to map out our route. The next thing that helped me to pick venues was the willingness of the owners to work with our limited time- frame during our initial trip and the fact that we live overseas. I omitted many places just based on their unwillingness to work with us, their lack of communication or lack of personal connection. At many places, my emails would get shunted from person- to- person, each of whom I would need to re-tell our entire story to. I knew this would be impossible to deal with during the later stages of planning the wedding. I narrowed our search to about 5 venues from castles to hotels to stately homes all throughout Wales since I love Welsh scenery, we have a family connection to Wales and we could tour these venues on our way from the airport in London to where my family live in the North of England. Word of mouth is invaluable when you are not from the place you are getting married and leaning on your resources is the best piece of advice I can give a couple doing what we did. The other decision I made that made everything so much easier was getting my dress in England, getting alterations done and keeping it there. I was fortunate to have the option of keeping my dress with family between our initial trip and our wedding and not all brides will be able to do that, but not having to deal with the stress of traveling with my dress was enormous ! Transporting Sean’s suit and all of the other wedding paraphernalia was stressful enough!
From the moment I started to correspond with Vicky at Caer Llan I was impressed with her attention to detail, willingness to work with us and the warmth she infuses into each and every event. The entire surrounding town holds Caer Llan in high- esteem and this also went into our decision; when you are picking a venue for something as big as your wedding it never hurts to ask around town and get a feel for what the locals think of the place you are considering! The venue is a family home and it shows in every aspect of the event from the venue itself, the people working there, the food which is prepared in-house and every single tiny detail. Sean and I knew when we first stepped foot into the home that it had the right feeling for our wedding. Our guest list was comprised of only family and very close friends and as such we were looking for a place that was relaxed and would allow us to spend quality time with the ones we love; we ended up with the weekend package which would allow us to have sole use of the venue for the entire weekend with all of our family and friends being able to stay right there! We also leaned heavily on past experience the venue had with vendors for things like flowers, hair, makeup and our DJ, which I feel is vital for Brides planning a wedding from overseas. Our flowers were absolutely perfect and the fresh flowers really added to the whole feel of the day, they really allowed us to dress up the room without having to bring a ton of decorations. The DJ we had also really helped with the party atmosphere and bridged the gap between the music you expect to hear in an English wedding and an American one, because they are both so different!
Our Perfect Day
The day of our wedding itself was absolutely perfect; surrounded by family, friends and the pastoral scenery of the Welsh countryside we felt so loved and in love. The day went far too quickly, but my highlights include getting ready surrounded by loved ones, walking onto the balcony off my room listening to the far-off sheep in the surrounding fields, seeing the ceremony room transformed with some of the items created especially for our special day, taking photos with Sean and Justyna and the amazing speeches our family and friends had prepared for us. Some of the most special parts of our day were the things people did or made for us. We had bunting made for us by my very talented auntie to match our décor perfectly, which is now hanging in my craft room; reminding me of our perfect day every time I look at it! We also had our very good friend officiate our ceremony; this was so special and really made our day so personal to us. Sam did an amazing job with such an important part of our wedding; it was so personal and from the heart and I could not imagine our ceremony any other way. Our wedding really was very unique and personal to us and my only regret is that it could not have spanned even more days!
Knowing that Justyna specializes in elopements, we decided to split our photography into two parts; one part being the big wedding I had always dreamed of and described above and the other part being a more intimate shoot we could take advantage of either at home in the mountains of Colorado or in a more adventurous spot in Wales. Initially, we were hoping to take advantage of the unique scenery in and around the area we picked to get married, knowing that we could always plan a separate anniversary shoot with Justyna in the coming years to take advantage of our own breathtaking surroundings. Unfortunately, however, in the month before our wedding in Wales we got some bad news about a cancerous lump on our beloved pup and knew he would not make it much longer. We were very lucky that Justyna was able to meet us in the mountains at home and take some amazing photos of us not only signing our marriage license, but also of us with our Milo- photos of our boy that I know we will always treasure. After our sneak-peeks of this amazing day; we knew we had made the correct decision. We were also fortunate to share this momentous occasion with some of our close friends who were unable to attend our wedding in Wales, my parents, my sister, Justyna and our pup in a breathtaking location just outside of Boulder, Colorado. Our entire experience both at home and across the pond was filled with so much love and happiness, we are so blessed to have such amazing people surrounding us as we embark on this journey that is marriage.
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Our Love Story -Destination Adventure Groom, Sean
When we met
Rebecca and I met in 2013 through a good friends of ours, Catherine and Eric. I had recently moved back from California and wanted to get together with friends for my birthday. Rebecca, whom Catherine invited, was already there when I showed up after work and the evening of festivities began. Rebecca had to leave before the end of night due to school the next day but Catherine persisted that I call and get her number. Over the next few weeks we were talking and texting with each other constantly. I finally decided that it was time for a date.
The first thing I noticed about Rebecca when I saw her at the party was her beautiful long blonde hair. Although we did not get to talk that much that night, I called her on Catherine’s phone after she had left and asked if it would be okay for me to have her number. Over the next few weeks we were talking and texting with each other constantly. I really liked her and thought I could get to know her. After the few weeks of texting each other, I finally decided that it was time to ask her on a date.
The first date
We set the time and the place where we were going to go for our first date. I nervously drove the hour to pick Rebecca up. As we were leaving I noticed movement in the window above the door. Rebecca embarrassingly said “That’s my mum and sister trying to get a good look at you.” Our first date was fittingly at a local brewery. We spent a couple hours there talking and getting to know each other even more. After dropping her off at the end of our date, I knew I wanted to see her again.
Our Love Story
Throughout our relationship Rebecca helped me through hard times and consistently pushed me to become better as a person, in our relationship, and with my career. It took me a few years to finally propose but I knew well before then that she was the one for me. Rebecca fit in with my family and friends and myself with hers. We were two peas in a pod attacking life together. From career changes to buying a house together I knew there wasn’t anything that we couldn’t overcome.
Our wedding weekend was spent with all of our close friends and family who were able to travel to the breath taking town of Monmouth, Wales. The venue was located just outside of the town overlooking the Wye Valley. Friday night we greeted our guests, enjoyed a wonderful roast dinner, and then spent the rest of the evening catching up with everyone after their long journey.
The UK is known to be wet so when I woke up the next morning I wasn’t surprised to look out the window and see the Wye Valley blanketed in fog and mist. As soon as I saw this I knew we were going to get some epic pictures captured by Justyna. I met Blake, my best man, and we enjoyed a traditional English breakfast. We then started to get prepared for the big moment. With our suits on we waited for Rebecca and the bridesmaids to finish getting ready. An hour after the projected ceremony start we were underway! Rebecca walked in looking absolutely stunning. Our good friend Sam was our officiant and started us on our path of marriage with a few subtle Friends! references in his speech. It was now time for what we had been looking forward to, pictures! Due to all the rain that Wales the grounds were saturated with water. The look and concern that everyone had while Rebecca and I worked with Justyna as mud and water clung to her dress. We knew the end result would be well worth it though. The day continued with memorable speeches, a Vintage Afternoon Tea, and dancing the night away.
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