postcards: cardiff and monmouth

In July, we returned from an, almost, month-long trip through Europe and Africa, and upon our return, I recapped each place we visited. I saved this post for last (and, somewhat, continuously put it off) because I knew it would take the most time to write (so many fun details). Also, this specific part of the trip was the sole reason for our jaunt across the pond in the first place so we had to make it a bit more special. If give you…Rob and Lauren’s very Welsh wedding at The Rolls of Monmouth and some other fun things.

It’s a bit of a long story on how I came to know Rob and, now his entire family, but the friendship has been maintained through extensive back-and-forth travel. He’s shown his face in Nashville a few times (once in 2009 and again for Ryan and I’s wedding in 2012) and we’ve returned the favor (once in 2013 and again this past summer for his wedding in July 2015). We also met up in NYC in 2014 just before the holidays. Lots of long-distance travel to maintain this friendship!

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We received these exceptional watercolor invitations created by Lauren’s father and I was immediately planning our adventure. Since we were flying into Gatwick, we knew we wanted to see Rob’s sisters and brother-in-law in London and they ended up putting us up at their flat in Shepherds Bush. Since we only had one day in London, and the girls were working, I knew the only two things I wanted to do was 1) walk through Notting Hill (all I ever want to do when I’m in London) and 2) visit the Liberty of London store because I’d never been before. We did both successfully.

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That night after they got off work, we walked down to the river near Hammersmith Bridge and had dinner and drinks with Rhian and Becky – Rob’s youngest sister. All along the river were rowing clubs and pubs filled with people needing a drink after a long days work.

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After London, we stayed a few days in Brighton and then drove to Cardiff for a few nights to properly see our soon-to-be-married friends before the wedding shuffle. We were thrilled to see their new (to us) home in Cardiff and partake in actual tourist activities. On previous trips, Cardiff was a mere pit-stop on the way to Aberystwyth or Shropshire. And, since Rob had to work and Lauren was putting the last-minute touches on the wedding during the day, they planned us a first-timers itinerary of Cardiff – which included a tour of Cardiff Castle. That night we had dinner before heading off to Bath the next morning. I’m overjoyed we were able to spend this time with them before the crazy wedding weekend.

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Roath Park

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row of homes in Cardiff

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The Norman Keep at Cardiff Castle

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Town Hall

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The wedding was set in Monmouth, Wales – a small town on the Welsh/English border. We stayed above a pub called The Punch House that has been around since 1769. The morning of the wedding, everyone met in the pub below for a drink before walking down to the church that was only around the corner at Monmouth Catholic Church. After the ceremony, the newlyweds were whisked to The Rolls of Monmouth in vintage Rolls Royces, course. This was only the beginning to what turned out to be such a magical day.

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We arrived at The Rolls and I was completely blown away at how scenic and grand the country club was. The Hendre House (where the reception took place) was originally a hunting lodge for over 300 years. It was owned by Charles Rolls and family (of Rolls Royce) from 1767 until 1987. Rob and Lauren charmingly carried the Rolls Royce theme into their table assignments. We were seated at The Silver Ghost table :)

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Something that was different about their wedding was that once we arrived at the reception, we were handed our confetti to throw at the bride and groom. In America, this is traditionally carried out as the bride and groom depart for their honeymoon. Rob and Lauren’s confetti was made of flowers her mother had dried and was so lovely. I almost didn’t throw mine because I wanted to keep it.

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Because their wedding was on the 4th of July, they had an adorable American candy table set up. Although it wasn’t specifically for us, it made us feel pretty special being the only Americans at the wedding :) Okay, we totally thought it was for us…haha!

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The last time we were here visiting, we went and stayed with Rob’s parents in rural Shropshire.  We went on an epic hike with their entire family and I fell in love with their home. It was beyond memorable. I love the entire Duffus family and was excited to see these bottles of Wild Raspberry Gin on the tables.

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A few things that were different about a Welsh Wedding in comparison to an American wedding…

  1. There was an almost 3 hour cocktail party from when we arrived at the reception until we actually at lunch. Lunch was served at around 3pm and after everyone ate, the toasts began…
  2. THE TOASTS! So, so fun and crazy. Before they began, Rob’s sister, Rhian and her husband, Dave went around to each guest and took a pound (£) and their guess for how long they thought the speeches would last. Whoever guessed closest out of the 200 guests that were there, would receive over £200! The speeches alway start with the father of the bride…followed by the groom. Rob’s speech was a tear-jerker and so sweet. Finally, the two best men gave speeches and it’s tradition that the best men roast the groom. I’m talking…comedy-central-worst-stuff-you’ve-ever-heard-please-don’t-say-that-in-front-of-grandma type of roast. There were props, there were images from Rob’s bachelor party in Dusseldorf…hilarious.
  3. Different guest lists –  after the ceremony in the small church, I noticed that there were quite a bit more people at the reception for lunch than there were in the church. I later found out that some people are only invited to the reception and not the ceremony. Later on after lunch, I noticed some of our other friends showing up that I had assumed weren’t invited. Come to find out…there was a 3rd tier guest list for people that were only invited to the after party reception!
  4. Welsh Weddings last all day. Literally the ceremony was at noon and we weren’t back in our hotel room until around 1:30 or 2 in the morning! Our friends know how to throw a party.

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Other travel posts from this trip include…

Brighton
Artist Residence
Bath
Copenhagen
Amsterdam
Mama Shelter
Lyon, Marseille, & Nice
Marrakech

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