Spot all the famous book couples at this literature-themed Welsh wedding

May 23 | offbeatbride  
Photos by: Pippa Carvell
Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride
Photos by Pippa Carvell

The Offbeat Bride: Rachel, Homelessness Support Worker

Her offbeat partner: Bethan, Stage Manager

Date and location of wedding: Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, Wales, UK — October 17, 2015

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

We got engaged at Halloween when Bethan carved four pumpkins to spell out “Will You Marry Me?” to surprise me after work. We decided to carry on the autumnal theme with orange, gold, pumpkins, fallen leaves and, of course, hedgehogs.

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

We met when we were 17 and our first conversation was about books so we decided to name our tables after our favourite couples in literature. We picked characters from Trumpet by Jackie Kay, Harry Potter, Americanah by Chiamanda Ngozi Adiche, Jane Eyre, and a few of our other favourite books. A lot of the wedding was centered around things that were important to us and our families. For example, we booked a ceilidh band because both Bethan’s parents and Rachel’s godmother are active in the Swansea folk music scene and our venue is close to both our family homes.

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

We wanted an inclusive, informal vibe where no one had to worry about rigmarole or doing the wrong thing. We purposefully chose a reception venue that was only five minutes walk from the ceremony venue to help make the day easier for our guests.

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Tell us about the ceremony:

We had three readings and took a long time choosing them. We went for "Valentine" by Carol Ann Duffy, "Having A Coke With You" by Frank O’Hara, and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. The Frank O'Hara poem was read so beautifully by Rachel’s dad that the line, “it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary” made us cry.

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

We walked down the aisle to "Pachelbel's Canon," I came down first with my mum and then Bethan with her brother. It was important to us to make both of our families part of the ceremony. Neither of us wanted to be given away in the traditional sense and we had our mothers as our witnesses and our dads reading poems, which suited them best.

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

We’d only met Margaret, our registrar, once before the ceremony and we weren’t quite sure what she was going to say. But she was wonderful and her words about marriage being about growing together and marriage being a changing institution really resonated with us.

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

We wrote our vows ourselves in the same café that we took over to do the seating plan (their iced coffees deserve a special mention). We wanted them to be quite short and serious, a series of real promises rather than whimsical.

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Tell us about your reception:

Our reception was in the Patti Pavilion, a feature of Swansea's seafront for many years. All the decoration was done by us and our friends the afternoon before. Bethan's stage management colleagues did an amazing job of putting the fairy lights up for us.

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Our favours were wildflower seeds in autumnal envelopes we decorated. We also rented a badge maker and got a stack of illustrated books for people to make badges with. It certainly kept the children busy, and lots of the adults, too.

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

We had curry as our wedding breakfast. We both ate Indian food with our parents as kids and go for Indian food on our date nights. Our cake was made for us by our friend Dani. We asked her to incorporate autumn flowers and books and she went beyond our wildest dreams.

Literature Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Our first dance was to one of my favourite songs, "Heroes" by David Bowie. We practiced by learning merengue. We hadn't heard of merengue before but our dance teacher reassured us that it was the most appropriate beat for our song, and a dance of equals.

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

We did more dancing with our ceilidh band later on. They did a fantastic job of encouraging guests on to the dance floor, and it was great to see people who didn't know each other dancing together. The funniest moment was when I slipped on my heel, fell back, but bounced onmy enormous dress.

After the ceilidh band, we put together our own Spotify playlist. Some of the segues between songs were so random; Jolene into 212 into Debaser into Hungry Eyes!

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Literature-themed Welsh wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

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  1. Gaaaahhhhhhhh book-shaped cakes will forever be my favorite. Congrats to the happy couple, looks like a lot of joy and love in these pictures!

    5 agree
  2. I just adore the colour scheme, the green with dashes of orange and green especially looks good on the bridesmaids. I did wonder if the books at the very underneath base of the cake were edible and if not, did any children accidentally try to eat some real book 😀

    1 agrees
    • Thank you SO much! Glad you liked the colour scheme.

      NONE of the books on the cake are edible actually! The ones underneath the cake are real books that were in the "to send to the recycling plant" pile at the charity shop where my wife's dad works. The ones in between the cake layers are actually foam cakes coated in sugar paste. The white round cakes are the only actually edible cakes. They were Victoria Sponge cakes and OMG they were delicious!

      1 agrees
        • Haha no probs! I'm just so impressed at how Dani made it and pulled it all together. I have none of that creativity or know how!

  3. I love both dresses, the theme, the venue, the colors. I would be happy with this as my wedding.

  4. Beautiful brides! There is such joy shining in every one of these pictures!

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