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The Wedding Planner

Are you getting married? Let us take some of the stress out of the planning with our comprehensive wedding guide.

We can take the headache out of making your wedding plans as we talk to some of the best wedding venues and suppliers in the local area. 


The Location
The Dress
Looking Your Best
The Cake
Something for the Guests
The Finishing Touches
The Honeymoon
Real Couples
Venue Directory

The Location

For the majority of soon-to-be married couples, booking the venue is the first thing they do when planning their nuptials. Luckily for local brides and grooms – the local area is home to plenty of stunning venues, from castles to country houses.

A Place in the Country

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Set against the backdrop of the Welsh countryside is Bodidris Hall and its nine acres of grounds, it even has its own lake! ‘Bodidris is a unique and romantic wedding venue,’ says Gari Wyn-Jones, manager of the hotel. ‘The Grade II listed 16th century hall makes for a spectacular setting for any wedding. We’ll do our absolute best to make sure that the couple’s big day goes perfectly.’

Bodidris Hall offers an all-inclusive wedding package that includes drinks, wedding breakfast and evening buffet. Prices start from £3500 plus a service charge, which includes use of the ceremony room where civil ceremonies for up to 65 guests can be held.

A Fairytale Come True


Every bride should feel like a princess on her big day, and what better way than having your wedding in a castle? Glandyfi Castle is the perfect romantic fairytale venue for small weddings of up to 40 people. ‘The castle is a very unique building and has amazing views,’ says owner Maureen Holmes. ‘Couples love the privacy of the venue and the fact that the castle feels like their own home for the day.’

Couples can have exclusive use of the venue for the day and night of their wedding with accommodation for up to 16 people in eight luxurious rooms followed by brunch for 16 the following morning for just £2000. May 2014 couples can also get married in the summer house in the garden with spectacular views.

A Magnificent Manor

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Set in Abergele, surrounded by the beautiful Welsh countryside, the Kinmel Manor Hotel certainly makes for a picturesque venue. Whether you’re planning an intimate wedding, or want to invite all your family and friends, the hotel can accommodate you – you could have up to 300 people at your wedding breakfast and up to 250 at the ceremony itself!

The Kinmel Manor complete celebration package costs just £3999 (based on 50 guests) and includes a dedicated wedding planner, venue hire, drinks package, wedding breakfast and evening buffet for up to 100 people. The package even includes accommodation for the bride and groom on the wedding night. However, if you need something tailored completely to your needs, the hotel will be happy to put together the perfect package for you.

A Secret Worth Sharing


Shooters Hill Hall in the heart of the beautiful Shropshire countryside was built in 1822 and is set in eight acres of parklands and woods with uninterrupted views across 40 miles to the Welsh Hills. The hall has been specially designed for the exclusive use of 10 to 200 guests, with owners Richard and Ishbel MacInnes-Manby living in an adjoining wing to ensure everything runs smoothly.

‘Shooters Hill Hall is licensed for civil ceremonies and sleeps 10. The bridal suite features a dressing room, spa bath and a two person steam and hydro-massage shower room,’ explains Ishbel. ‘For weddings, we work with carefully chosen experts in catering, photography, floristry, entertainment and event planners to cater for our guests' every wish.’

Luxury by the Sea

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Cae Mor Hotel in Llandudno is a luxurious wedding venue that can accommodate up to 55 guests during the day and 70 for the evening reception. ‘We offer three all-inclusive packages with the aim of helping to take some of the stress out of planning your wedding,’ explains manager Stuart Desborough. ‘We also offer a discount of 15% for your wedding guests.’

‘My daughter had her wedding at the Cae Mor Hotel,’ says one of the hotel’s customers. ‘It was the best wedding food, wine, ambience and attention to detail I have ever seen. A special mention to the manager Stuart who couldn't do enough for us.’

Complete wedding packages at the Cae Mor Hotel start at £55 per person, while evening reception packages start at £25 per person. Exclusive use of the hotel including all 23 bedrooms, food and drink is available from as little as £6500.

A Magical Day

Carden wedding couple

If you’re looking for luxury and splendour, then look no further than Carden Park near Chester. ‘It is such a pleasure to be involved with one of the most important days in a couple’s life,’ says Liz Pickering, wedding co-ordinator at Carden Park. ‘If you are looking for a picturesque venue and a team to help with all the special touches we would love to welcome you here so you can see for yourself how magical your day can be.’

Carden Park offer an all-inclusive 60 guest Sunday wedding package costing £3999, available for 2014 and 2015 weddings. Other wedding packages start from £55 per person during low season (October to May) and £60 per person in high season (June to September) for 10 to 350 guests.

A Tranquil Setting

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‘We know that every wedding day is unique, so we make sure to tailor our service to suit the couple, letting them relax and enjoy themselves,’ says Vanessa Thomas, manager of Mellington Hall Hotel in mid Wales. ‘Our wedding co-ordinator Kim Evans can work with the couple to help them find what’s right for them and to make sure that no detail, however small, is overlooked.’ In fact, the service at Mellington Hall is so good that they have been shortlisted in the Welsh National Wedding Awards, including for 2012 and 2013. The venue itself is just as stunning as the service – the 19th century Victorian gothic mansion is set in 280 acres of mature gardens and tranquil parklands.

If you want a stress-free wedding, you can get everything you need to accommodate 40 daytime guests and 60 evening guests, including photographer, florist, cake and evening entertainment for only £4250. This offer is only available on remaining dates throughout 2014, so if it sounds like the offer for you, act fast!

Plenty of Unique Character

Brookhouse Mill

With 25 years of experience hosting wedding receptions, Brookhouse Mill in Denbigh offer plenty of advice to make sure that your wedding reception is a party that won’t soon be forgotten by you or your guests. The large function room in the old mill is the perfect location for a celebration, whether you want a sit-down three-course meal, a buffet or a gourmet barbeque. ‘We can host wedding receptions for up to 300 people,’ explains Karen Hall of Brookhouse Mill. ‘Up to 65 guests can enjoy a meal in our main function room during the day or we can accommodate up to 110 in the evening. Brookhouse Mill itself is full of unique charm – it’s a 17th century flour mill with low wooden beams and cogs and machinery still visible. We can accommodate 150 day guests and 300 evening guests in our marquee, which can be set up on the riverside at Brookhouse or at other venues in north Wales. We also supply flooring and heating where needed.’

Simply Stunning


As well as being a stunning wedding venue, Hawkstone Park Hotel in Weston-under-Redcastle has numerous facilities to help you relax before your wedding, including two golf courses and the famous Follies. For the wedding itself, there’ll be a dedicated wedding co-ordinator to help you choose the right details and make sure that everything runs smoothly. What’s better, your wedding will take place against the spectacular backdrop of the Follies, a 400 acre historic woodland.

All inclusive wedding packages at Hawkstone Park Hotel start at £3250 for 50 day guests and up to 100 evening guests from May to September or just £2500 from October to March. Get in touch to discuss your specific requirements.

Historic Hotel

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Set in over four acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, Albright Hussey Manor Hotel in Shrewsbury makes a stunning backdrop for a wedding. The Grade II listed classic country house dates back to 1524 and still has many original Tudor features, including a moat. The family-owned and run hotel is one of only two hotels in Shrewsbury to be awarded four AA stars, so the staff are well poised to make sure that your special day runs seamlessly.

Albright-Hussey Manor can cater for anything from 40 to 200 guests. The complete wedding package includes everything you’ll need, including room hire for the ceremony, wedding breakfast and reception, food and drink for 60 day guests and 100 evening guests, services of the hotel wedding co-ordinator and master of ceremonies and the bridal suite for the night of your wedding, all from only £3900 for 2014.

A Wonderful Welsh Wedding

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In the village of Llanbedr, near Harlech is Plas Gwynfryn, a beautiful Welsh country house. ‘Plas Gwynfryn is a very unique venue in a beautifully private setting’ says owner, Caroline Evans. ‘We offer an individual, completely customisable service, which is perfect for couples who know exactly what they want.’

The exclusive use venue can host weddings for up to 60 day guests, with the possibility of small receptions in the house or larger celebrations in a marquee. The civil ceremony can be held in one of three very beautiful, very different rooms or under the open air veranda.

Complete wedding packages at Plas Gwynfryn start from £3500, which includes exclusive use of the house, two nights’ accommodation and breakfast for up to 14 people, a three-course wedding breakfast and all the finishing touches to make the big day truly special.

Got it Hall!

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Rossett Hall Hotel combines old-world charm and grandeur with all the amenities and comfort of a modern hotel – it really is the best of both worlds! ‘Our wedding team understands that your wedding day must fulfil all your dreams and aspirations,’ says Tracy Elliot, business development manager at Rossett Hall Hotel. ‘We place great emphasis on the quality of our service and will do everything we can to guide you through all stages of planning your big day. However you picture your dream wedding, we can help you realise your dream'.

For dates in 2014 you can take advantage of the dream wedding package for £3500 which will provide everything you need for your wedding ceremony, wedding breakfast and reception for 50 daytime and 80 evening guests, including wedding cake, table decorations and evening entertainment. The dream wedding package will also be available in 2015 for £3950.

A Memorable Occassion

Penrhos Arms

The Penrhos Arms in Machynlleth is a 15th century hotel, complete with original period features and traditional charm that will guarantee a memorable occasion with plenty of photo opportunities to be found!

‘We can offer fantastic rates and can make sure that you feel happy and relaxed on your big day,’ says Dawn Davies at The Penrhos Arms. ‘We will cater to your budget, so whether you want an intimate celebration or the party of a lifetime, we can take a very flexible approach. We can even arrange for the rooms to be decorated or, if you prefer, make the rooms available the day before your wedding so you can make sure that everything is done exactly to your tastes.’

Love Light and Peace

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Love Light and Peace Tents is a small family run business that can offer a unique venue for your wedding celebrations. ‘We have a range of beautiful sustainable and organic vegetable dyed canvas marquees for hire,’ says Melanie Bainbridge-Hickie, joint owner of Love Light and Peace Tents. ‘They brighten up any event! All of them are fully lined and come in a variety of options available with flooring, decor and furnishings. We can provide everything from small tents suitable for children’s areas, holistic treatments or as a private space for the bride and groom, right up to a giant tent that can hold up to 500 people!’

By the Seaside

The Quay

The Castle Suite, where weddings at The Quay Hotel and Spa on the Deganwy Quay, Llandudno are held, is widely thought of as one of the most desirable wedding venues in north Wales, and with the spectacular and historical waterside backdrop of Conwy Castle, it’s easy to see why.

The experienced in-house wedding co-ordinators at the Quaycan make sure that you have the wedding of your dreams in this beautiful seaside location. With seven wedding packages to choose from, all of which can be altered to suit your needs, you can have the perfect celebration for up to 180 guests for the ceremony and 200 for the wedding breakfast.

A Beautiful Barn

Plas Isaf

Plas Isaf, a beautifully restored barn and country house in Corwen, could be the perfect venue for your wedding if you’re looking for something a little unusual. The barn has been lovingly restored, complete with oak trusses and slate floors and, along with the Georgian country house, is set in stunning landscaped gardens that provide plenty of photo opportunities.

‘Our beautiful barn is open-plan and can hold ceremonies from 20 to 180 guests, and catering for up to 350 guests in the reception,’ explains owner Liza Francis. ‘As we’re a small family business, we can offer you the flexibility to make sure that your day meets your specific requirements. Get in touch with us to discuss your special day.’

The Dress

Every bride wants to look her best on her big day, and the biggest part of that is the dress. Your first outing to a bridal shop may well be daunting – with so many styles to choose from and the potential minefield of sizing, trying on a dress for the first time can be nerve-wracking, though undeniably exciting. Luckily, help is at hand to make sure that you find the perfect dress.


At Dolly Blue Bridal in Whitchurch, you’ll not only find a wide range of stylish and contemporary gowns, but plenty of advice and guidance as well. Owner Adele Nortcliffe is a highly qualified bridal seamstress who has worked for leading bridal houses. ‘My experience in the industry has taught me that you don’t need to spend thousands on a dress – what’s important is the finished fit and quality of service,’ she says. ‘Once you have made a decision on your bridal gown we will take your measurements and order a dress as close to your size as possible. We are expert seamstresses and can alter your bridal gown to fit perfectly once it arrives.’

Dolly Blue Bridal offers a carefully selected collection of bridal gowns and accessories as well as new and vintage gowns under the in-house label, Archive Atelier. The collection is focused on quality fabrics, superior styling and beautiful detailing, with all dresses retailing for less than £1000.

Dolly Blue Bridal is open seven days a week and late night by appointment. Call 01948 667759 to make an appointment or visit www.dollybluebridalstudio.co.uk to find out more.

With two floors of stunning bridal and bridesmaid dresses, designer gowns and eveningwear, from sizes 4 to 32, Trisha’s Bridal Wear in Oswestry should be your first port of call on the search for your perfect dress. With 17 years of trading experience, the shop has had a very successful three years after moving premises. The frequently updated stock of bridal gowns will give you plenty to choose from. As well as being named regional winners of the Linzi Jay stockist of the year award, Trisha’s is also the exclusive stockist of Venus bridal wear in the area and any alterations needed to make sure that your dress fits perfectly can be done in-house.

Visit www.trishasbridalwear.co.uk for more information or call 01691 671133 for an appointment.


Looking Your Best

A stunning dress isn’t the only thing needed to make sure that you make a beautiful bride – there’s hair and makeup to consider, plus a vast array of treatments you can undergo to make sure that your hair and skin is in top condition for your wedding day.

Heavenly Hair Dos


The morning of your wedding can be stressful but The Bellissimo Bridal Team will travel to you, and take the stress out of doing your hair and make-up. Owner Jane Bellis has 18 years’ experience as a professional stylist and makeup artist and with over 500 brides delighted by Jane and the team, it’s little wonder that they’ve gained the reputation of the leading bridal hair and makeup team in north Wales and the North West. You can even get 15% off beauty treatments leading up to the day as well!

It isn’t just on the day of your wedding that Bellissimo can help – they also offer a ‘Thread Up and Get Lashed’ package for hen dos to help you get the party started in style. For just £30 per person, you can relax in the VIP area of the salon and enjoy a glass of bubbly while you get your brow or facial threading done plus full makeup and lashes!

Find out more about Bellissimo at www.janebellis.com or call 01244 536313 to make an appointment.

Stunning Skin

Every bride wants to look and feel her best on her wedding day so why not plan ahead to make sure your skin looks radiant and youthful, and feels smooth and hair-free? Thanks to Total Look Beauty Salon in Nesscliffe, it's easier than you'd think.

‘UltraPlus VPL treatments are an ideal option in the months preceding your special day, offering long-term hair removal and a range of skin rejuvenation treatments,’ says Jo Suckley at Total Look Beauty Salon. ‘UltraPlus VPL treatment is world-renowned and has been clinically proven to permanently reduce hair from all parts of the face and body, and rejuvenate skin. Such treatments include collagen stimulation to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, close open pores, and for the removal of pigmentation marks and broken capillaries. It’s advisable to book a consultation about six to eight months before your big day so your therapist can make an assessment of the best line of treatment for your needs and determine how many treatments will be needed.’

Find out more about UltraPlus VPL and the other treatments available at Total Look Beauty Salon, visit www.totallookbeauty.co.uk or call 01743 741327.

Don’t Forget Your Smile!



Esthetique Dental
offer many solutions to make your smile picture perfect from whitening to invisible braces not just for the bride and groom but for the entire wedding party! ‘Many brides and grooms want to improve their smile leading up to their wedding,’ says Deb Price at Esthetique. ‘The key to getting the smile you have always wanted is to come and see us for a consultation early so that we can plan the best treatment to get you the best results.

If you have grey amalgam fillings that make you self-conscious when you laugh, why not get them changed for tooth coloured fillings? Do you wish your teeth were straighter? Then Dr Emily Wright can offer cosmetic orthodontics solutions. Concerned about a gap? Talk to Dr Thomas Norlin about implants. Whatever your concerns our experienced team are here to guide you through each option step by step.

Call for a consultation on 01939 211150 or visit www.estethiquedental.co.uk


The Cake

As well as being an eye-catching centrepiece and a tasty treat for your guests, there are many traditions concerning the wedding cake. Wedding cakes can be anything from simple and traditional to lavish and out of the ordinary – some couples even choose to have cheese wedding cakes!

Something Sweet

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With 20 years of baking experience, Benjamin Lee Cakes on Anglesey can make you a stunning cake for your big day. Owner Benjamin Lee creates handmade, award winning cakes and has worked for many prestigious clients. Back in 2010, he even made a congratulations cake for Prince William and Kate Middleton to mark their engagement!

Visit the shop in Menai Bridge to take a look at the many fantastic wedding cake designs on offer, all made from the best Belgian milk, white and dark chocolate. Benjamin is able to work closely with his clients to create a cake that fits any theme and can create unique designs to meet individual specifications. He can also create delicious award-winning chocolates for wedding favours, or just a treat for yourself!

Find out more about Benjamin Lee Cakes at www.benjaminleecakes.co.uk or call 01248 712778.

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Sugar and Spice in Wrexham have been making cakes for many years and can help you make your dream wedding cake. ‘I recommend that couples order their wedding cake as soon as possible, usually six to eight months before the wedding so there’s plenty of time to discuss what they want,’ says Mike. ‘I can get cakes made quicker if needed though, provided I have what’s needed in the shop.

‘All the cakes are priced by size and decorations. A basic three-tier sponge cake with white icing costs £119. I can also make fruit cake, chocolate, lemon, carrot, coffee and even more unusual flavours such as chocolate and violet or rainbow sponge! Each tier can be a different type of cake if needed – couples can get in touch to discuss their requirements and to get a quote.

Contact Sugar and Spice on 01978 264355 or visit www.cakesbysugarandspice.co.uk to see more of their amazing cakes!

Say Cheese!

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If you’d like to have something a little out of the ordinary for your wedding, a cheese wedding cake from Porter’s Delicatessen in Llangollen is a great alternative to a traditional fruit cake. ‘We encourage people to enquire early so they can come in and taste the cheeses that we have on offer,’ says Tracey Hughes of Porter’s Delicatessen. ‘We have access to a full range of both continental and British cheeses, including a wide selection of Welsh cheeses. We also have a heart shaped French cheese called Neufchâtel, which is a very popular way of finishing off a cheese wedding cake. Once the couple have chosen what cheeses they want to be included, it usually takes four to six weeks for us to source them in the right condition. We can deliver to local venues or, for those further afield, we can send the cheeses by courier along with step by step instructions to assemble the cake at the other end.

‘Cheese wedding cakes are becoming more and more popular as not only are they something a bit unusual, but they’re also very cost effective – prices start at around £2 per person. We offer a very flexible service and do our best to do whatever suits the couple.’

If you would like a cheese wedding cake at your wedding, contact Porter’s Delicatessen at 01978 862990 or visit www.portersdeli.co.uk to find out more.



Helen Baly

Photographs are the best way to preserve the precious memories of your wedding day and Helen Baly Photography based in north Shropshire can make sure that you have a full album of pictures worth sharing. As an artistically trained photographer, Helen has an exceptional eye for detail and can create some stunning shots that you will love and cherish, and she has already gained a fantastic reputation as one of the best wedding photographers in Shropshire.

‘Every wedding is unique, exciting, romantic and fun and I would love to hear from any couples wishing to talk about the photography for their special day,’ says Helen. ‘We can discuss their requirements, look at my wedding albums and hopefully find a package to suit their wishes.’

Helen Baly Photography covers Shropshire, Cheshire and north Wales. To see more of Helen’s work, visit www.helenbaly.co.uk or call 07970 027766 to discuss your special day.


Something for the Guests

Traditionally, guests are given sugared almond favours, but modern couples often choose to be more creative – personalised chocolates, lovehearts, small gifts and lottery tickets are just a few ideas.

Cathryn Cariad

Award-winning chocolatier, Cathryn O’Connell from Cathryn Cariad Chocolates can create wedding favours that are completely unique to your wedding, ‘All wedding favours are handmade to order,’ says Cathryn. ‘I am happy to discuss your requirements, so get in touch as soon as possible so I can mark your wedding date in my diary.’

Among the delicious offerings from Cathryn Cariad Chocolates are personalised chocolate place cards, chocolate spoons, truffle pops and gorgeous chocolate stiletto shoes made to match any colour scheme.

Get in touch on 01766 762796 or visit www.cathryncariad.com to find out more.



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It wouldn’t be a wedding without flowers and Flowers by Sally can create the perfect floral arrangement for you. From her base in Bronnington, Sally Davies offers a fully bespoke personal floral service for any special occasion and can create your dream bouquet.

‘Contact me and I will personally see you through from your initial ideas to your perfect day,’ says Sally. ‘From the day you contact me, I will be there every step of the way, from your own bouquet, bridesmaid’s flowers and buttonholes for those special guests.’

Take a look at more of Sally’s work at www.flowersbysally.com or call 07949 440026 or 01948 710631 to discuss your flower arrangement.



Make a spectacular entrance on your big day!

Something Old…


If you want to make a memorable entrance on your big day, what better way than picking an unusual vehicle to get you to the church on time? How about hiring a classic VW campervan from Hilltop Classics near Wrexham? Campervans Molly and Emily can help you get to your wedding in quirky style, as can VW Beetles Billy and Cherub. Other cars you can choose from include a stunning Jaguar E-Type (Eleanor), a 1984 Jaguar XJS (Jilly) and even a beach buggy (Georgie). ‘All our cars are available for wedding hire,’ says owner Paul Williamson. ‘The campervans are very popular because they really have the wow factor and can carry up to five people. All of the cars are available chauffeur-driven, and our campervans can also be hired for self-drive so the bride and groom can head off on their honeymoon right after the wedding! Half day hire costs from £250 to £290 depending on the vehicle, but we’re very flexible – it’s your day and we do our best to do it your way! Whenever you hire one of our vehicles for a wedding, it will come fully decorated with ribbons, bows and flowers and we will include a bottle of bubbly for the happy couple!’

Visit www.hilltopclassics.co.uk or call Paul on 01978 755100 to find out more about Hilltop Classics.

On the Buses

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‘Our beautiful classic 1962 Leyland Tiger Cub has been lovingly restored and refurbished,’ says Vivian Lawrence from Tanat Valley Coaches, who are based near Oswestry. ‘She’s a beautiful bus and is very unique. She has a new interior and is due to have a new coat of paint any day now, so she will look very smart for the start of the wedding season!’

‘We price the Tiger Cub on the details given to us by the customer. By chatting to the customer and gaining exactly what it is they require enables us to give them a fair price and ultimately keeps the customer happy – which is what we strive to achieve! The bus can be used to transport the bride and groom, the wedding party, the guests or whatever is required of her – no job is too big or small and nothing is too much trouble! Our drivers are uniformed and look very smart. They also undergo in-house training with regular assessments, so rest assured you will be well looked after on the day!’

‘We will decorate the outside of the bus with ribbons for no extra charge but for an additional £30 we will decorate the interior with ribbons and bows to match the bride and groom’s colour scheme. Of course, if they prefer, they can decorate the bus themselves and we can make arrangements to let them have access the day before the wedding if needed. After all, it’s their big day, and we want to make it as lovely for them as possible.’

Find out more at www.tanat.co.uk or for an informal chat call Viv direct on 01691 780909

A Little Glamor

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Inject a little 1930s style and elegance into your wedding with Bespoked Wedding Cars. ‘We are a family run business serving the areas of Cheshire, Wirral, North Shropshire and North Wales,’ explains owner Derek Brooks. ‘All of our cars are in matching ivory with black hoods, and are finished to exacting standards. They have the detailing and feel of vintage vehicles, but with pristine finishes, comfort and reliability of modern vehicles. 

‘Our cars are designed for ease of access for brides with those important wedding dresses specifically in mind. As members of the National Association of Wedding Car Professionals we have the experience and exacting operational standards to ensure your wedding day runs smoothly and to plan. Our aim is to help make your day perfect. Prices are based on your individual requirements to offer you flexibility and best value for money. Our cars are available to view at most times, just 15 minutes from Chester Business Park, call or email us for a free consultation or to arrange a viewing.’

Find out more at www.bespokedweddingcars.com or contact them on 01978 762015 or 07919 273527.

Arrive in Style

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Cheshire Luxury Cars has a fantastic reputation for quality, whether that be in the jaw-dropping beauty of their superlative cars, or the attentive service which comes as standard. ‘For the ultimate white wedding you could choose one of the hauntingly beautiful Rolls Royce Ghost replete in English white, they are quite simply the ultimate wedding car,’ says Peter Harmer of Cheshire Luxury Cars. ‘The imperious Rolls Royce Phantom looks imposing in midnight sapphire and has been long renowned as the most luxurious car on the road today. The impressive fleet also boasts two state-of-the-art Range Rovers – the black Vogue and the white Autobiography, or you may wish to choose the Mercedes Benz S63 AMG.

‘For the thrill seekers out there, the Ferrari 458 Spider lives up to its billing as being the greatest sports car on the road and is ideal for the Groom. We know that wedding days are the most magical day of a couple's life. Our service is to provide that extra bit of elegance to make their day even more special.’

Cheshire Luxury Cars have a range of wedding packages available, including discounted multi-car packages. Give them a call on 01244 505894 or visit 07850 326109 or visit www.cheshireluxurycars.com

Very Vintage

Make sure that you arrive for your big day in style in Belles and Beaus. They can transport you from your home, hotel room or wherever else you might be to your venue in one of their stunning vintage cars driven by one of their professional and fully qualified drivers.

Belles and Beaus can travel to anywhere within 40 miles of Mold and can give your wedding the classic vintage look that you’ve always dreamed of – get in touch to discuss your requirements and to make sure that you’re transported in comfort and look fantastic doing it!

Visit www.bellesandbeauschester.co.uk or call 01244 725131 to find out more.


The Finishing Touches

Say It With a Poem

What better way to say how you feel at your wedding than with a poem? If you’re not the wordy type, but still want to commemorate the occasion with a verse, Brian Stone at Your Personal Poetry can help. For just £19.50 Brian can write a personalised poem just for you.

‘I don’t need much time to put something together,’ says Brian. ‘All I need is a bit of information about the person that the poem is for and a general thrust of what you would like the poem to be about – whether you want it to be happy or sad, funny or serious.’

Brian has already delighted many customers with his poems, with customers calling their personal poem ‘absolutely brilliant’ and ‘absolutely fantastic’. Joyce and Albert Payne, who had a poem written for their 70th wedding anniversary said: ‘The poem was a beautiful and tender tribute to our years of happiness, love and devotion. Most moving – we cried.’

Contact Your Personal Poetry on 01691 652956 or visit www.yourpersonalpoetry.co.uk

Bridal Birds

Releasing white doves at the end of your wedding is perhaps one of the most romantic endings to your perfect day, but it’s far from the only way to involve birds! Cheshire Falconry not only offer white dove release, but can also arrange for your wedding rings to be carried down the aisle by a free-flying hawk or owl! ‘Our ring delivery really does add an extra element of magic to any wedding day,’ says managing director, Steve Birchall. ‘Imagine an owl or hawk carrying your wedding rings silently across the heads of your wedding party, or down the aisle to the groom.’

Cheshire Falconry can also arrange for wedding day flying displays or can let your guests have a hands-on flying experience with these magnificent creatures. It’ll certainly make your wedding day memorable!

For more information visit www.cheshirefalconry.com or call 01606 882223.

The Honeymoon

Once the wedding is over, you’ll no doubt want some time to relax. Head to Delmar World to talk about your travel ideas and their friendly staff will help you put together your ideal tailor-made travel experience. As wedding and honeymoon specialists, with 50 years’ experience Delmar World can help you find somewhere to get married abroad or find the perfect place to relax after the big day.

Find out more about Delmar World at www.delmarworld.co.uk or call 01978 853886.

If you’re looking for a bargain on your honeymoon, HolidaySuperDeals can help! Whether you want a cheap getaway or an all-inclusive luxury trip, HolidaySuperdeals have a huge choice of worldwide destinations available.

To find a honeymoon deal for you, visit www.holidaysuperdeals.co.uk or call the travel experts on 01978 268830.

If you’d rather stay a little closer to home, head to page XX and take a look at some of the best local holiday destinations.


Real Couples

Jade and James

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Jade and James had known each other for five years before they decided to tie the knot. ‘We originally met through a friend of a friend, but we got on really well’ explains Jade. ‘James always said that he didn’t want to get married, but when we decided to start a family, we thought it was the best thing to do. We didn’t see much point in dragging the planning out as we were getting married for the sake of starting a family, not just for the day itself.’

Jade and James planned their wedding in just 12 weeks and got married in December 2012. ‘We wanted a winter wedding,’ says Jade. ‘We chose lots of deep reds, silver and of course, white. Because we got married so quickly, there was a lot to do in a short space of time, but I had a lot of help from my mum and my mother-in-law. James was very good as well and did quite a lot. It was quite stressful and I was glad when it was all over, but I’m really glad that we did it!’

Mel and Matt

mel and matt

A chance meeting at Butlins, Minehead led to love for teenagers Melinda Beattie and Matthew Hartley. Fast-forward eight years and the couple are planning their wedding after a truly romantic proposal during another holiday, albeit in a slightly more exotic location! Melinda explains, ‘We went to Barcelona, and Matt proposed to me in Placa de Catalunya Park. It was perfect, although we both got very emotional!’

The happy couple will wed in early April at Chester’s DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Spa. Says Melinda, ‘ To get married at The DoubleTree was an easy decision to make – it’s such a lovely place, and it’s located pretty centrally between Matt’s family in Manchester and mine in Wrexham so it’s the ideal venue for us.

‘We don't really have a theme for our big day, but there will be lots of pale pink, with touches of lace, pearls, sparkle and a slightly vintage feel.’

Melinda is understandably excited about her big day and really looking forward to seeing Matt waiting for her at the end of the aisle. ‘I can’t wait to see his face!’ she laughs before adding, ‘I think we are both quite nervous about the first dance; we don't really like being the centre of attention and we both have two left feet!’


Venue Directory

Albright Hussey Manor Hotel
01939 290571

Bodidris Hall
01978 790434

Brookhouse Mill
01745 813377

Cae Mor Hotel
01492 878101

Carden Park
01829 731555

Glandyfi Castle
01654 781238

Hawkstone Park Hotel
01948 841 700

The Kinmel Manor
01745 832014

Love Light and Peace Tents
07967 020235 or 07727 278384

Mellington Hall
01588 620456

The Penrhos Arms
01650 511243 

Plas Gwynfryn
01341 241363

Plas Isaf
01490 412486 or 07891 501833

The Quay Hotel and Spa
01492 564100

Rossett Hall Hotel
01244 571000

Shooters Hill Hall
07917 445560





Thomas the Tank Engines: Steaming Through the Valleys

Enthusiasts, passengers and sightseers alike have long recognised the charm of steam railways – few fail to be moved by these animated locomotives which capture the imagination with their majestic presence, mournful whistles and evocative smells.

John Betjeman, in his famous poem, Dilton Marsh Halt spoke of his love for these beautiful machines, lamenting, ‘Steam trains will return’ and, indeed, few people can remain unmoved by the sight of these magnificent beasts as they thunder through the countryside, pistons thrashing and trailing a plume of steam behind them. Wales has a rich history of steam, spanning over 100 years, and a journey on board one of the many narrow gauge trains this area has to offer is, without doubt, the best way to enjoy the magnificent landscape of the country.

The Ffestiniog Railway

Ffestiniog Railway


Built in the mid 1830s to carry the slate from quarries at Blaenau Ffestiniog, the Ffestiniog Railway was designed to have a continuous falling gradient so that laden trains could be worked down by gravity and the empty wagons pulled back uphill by horses. The demand for slate in the developing industrial areas meant that the railway was hopelessly overworked so, in 1863, the track was modernised and two steam locomotives, The Princess and Mountaineer introduced. The Prince and Palmerston arrived in 1864, leading the way to the carriage of passengers in 1865 in small, four-wheeled carriages. These passenger trains were the first ones in Britain to run on a narrow gauge.

Today, this atmospheric railway (the oldest operational railway company in the world!) takes you on a 14-mile journey over 700 feet from sea level into the mountains through tranquil pastures and impressive forests, past lakes and waterfalls and even through the mountain itself!

Talyllyn Railway

Talyllyn Railway

The Talyllyn Railway, opened in 1866, carried slate from the Bryn Eglwys quarry to a wharf at Tywyn. The minimum of equipment was provided for this enterprise – two steam locomotives, Talyllyn and Dolgoch, four four-wheeled passenger carriages, one guard’s van and a fleet of wagons. With the addition of a further carriage, this was all the railway had for the next 80 years.

For much of its existence, the Talyllyn Railway ran at a loss and in 1879, both quarry and railway were put up, unsuccessfully at auction. Eventually William McConnell, one of the original investors, bought it for £18000. McConnell died in 1902 and the business passed down to his son, W.H. McConnell. In 1911, the local MP, Sir Henry Hadyn Jones, took over both quarry and railway and managed to keep the railway going until his death in July 1950.

Following Sir Henry’s demise, a meeting of enthusiasts was held in Birmingham to consider the future of the railway. They decided to form the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society with Jones’ widow, Lady Hadyn, who agreed to hand the line’s reins over to the group. The railway was safe again, and reopened for business in 1951 – the world’s first preserved railway.

Today, the Talyllyn Railway provides a vital boost to the rural economy by attracting more than 40,000 passengers every year. Operated by volunteers in their spare time, the railway is going from strength to strength as it approaches 2015 and its 150th anniversary.

Vale of Rheidol Railway

Vale of Rheidol Railway

Towards the end of the 19th century, the Rheidol valley was a hive of industrial activity. However, its metal mines were suffering due to the lack of communication between them, the port and the resort of Aberystwyth so when construction of the railway began in 1901, it was welcomed with open arms.

The new railway traded successfully and in 1912, it had become so busy that an engine had to be borrowed from the Ffestiniog Railway. Also at this time, there were plans to convert the line to electric traction, using hydroelectric power from the River Rheidol. However, following a disagreement with the company board, the railway was taken over by Cambrian Railways and the plans failed to come into fruition.

In 1923 Cambrian Railways were, themselves, absorbed by the Great Western Railway and a review of services were undertaken. Goods services were withdrawn and the harbour branch closed due to the decline in mineral traffic. The review also revealed a lack of cattle vans and other goods wagons deemed necessary for the success of the railway. By 1930, the winter services were withdrawn and The Vale of Rheidol Light Railway had become a popular tourist line.

Due to nationalisation in 1948, ownership of the line passed to British Railways. The railway become the last to be owned by BR until privatised in 1989, and is now owned by a charitable trust, who are involved in all aspects of its operation and efficiency.

Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway

Welshpool Railway CREDIT Hugh Ballantyne

Using powers obtained under the 1896 Light Railway legislation, and supported by the Earl of Powis, this railway was able to persuade its larger neighbour, Cambrian Railways, to take over the building and running of the line. Work began in 1901 and the line was opened in 1903 to link the market town of Welshpool to the rural community of Llanfair Caereinion. Passing westwards through the town and along the top of a brook, the line followed the contours of the countryside to its summit of 600 ft, and was built with the minimum of disruption to the area.

The railway was built to serve local agriculture in this remote area of mid Wales but little money was spent on the upkeep of the line and improvements. In 1931, the passenger service was withdrawn and five years later the coaches were put into store at Swindon and then scrapped. Freight traffic lingered on until 1956, by which time BR decided to close the line, with services ceasing on 5th November.

Today, the company is owned and run by the W&LLR Preservation Company who, alongside their tireless volunteers, ensure that the unique Hungarian and Austrian coaches transports passengers effortlessly through the beautiful mid Wales countryside and into the Banwy Valley.

Snowdon Mountain Railway

Snowdon Mountain Railway web

Snowdon Mountain Railway is exceptional in that it was the first railway to be built in the UK with the main objective being the carriage of tourists.

In 1894, the Snowdon Mountain Tramroad and Hotels Co. Ltd were empowered to build a railway, which could climb the steep gradients of Mount Snowdon safely and efficiently. Whilst the carriages, wagons and track materials were sourced in the UK, three steam locomotives were ordered from Switzerland, the centre of mountain railway expertise and technology and home of the patented rack and pinion system, designed by German engineer, Dr. Roman Abt.

The official opening took place at Easter, 1896, and got off to an inauspicious start when one of the locomotives left the rails above Clogwyn and slipped down the mountainside, damaging a telegraph pole as it fell. This made a bell ring at the summit, causing the staff there to believe that this was their signal to leave. They did, running in to the carriages of the first train, and, tragically, a man lost his life. All operations were suspended until safety was improved and the railway reopened to the public on April 19th, 1896, proving to be extremely popular.

Visitors to the railway today are guaranteed the same wonderful, scenic ride to Snowdon’s summit afforded to passengers back in the late 1800s. The journey begins at Llanberis Station and continues across a viaduct and past a spectacular waterfall before entering open countryside dotted with long abandoned dwellings and grazing sheep. In addition, at the station there is a free film show and shopping and refreshment opportunities along with an exhibition area.

Fairbourne Railway

Fairbourne Railway

This railway began life as a horse tramway in the late 1800s and was built to help Fairbourne to become a viable tourist resort, with much of the development undertaken by flour manufacturers, McDougall.

After the war, the line was deemed unfit for use. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1947, thanks to a group of Midlands businessmen and the line’s owner, John Wilkins. In the 1950s and 60s passenger traffic was on the rise and the owners invested in new locomotives and rolling stock.

The line's ownership changed again in 1984 and in 1986, the track was regauged. The railway also took delivery of four locomotives, originally intended to run in Brittany.

When the late Prof. Tony and Mrs Atkinson, and Dr and Mrs Melton bought the line in April 1995, they invested heavily in order to preserve it. From February 2009, the ownership of the railway was transferred to a charitable body in order to safeguard its long-term future, and now this characterful railway is as popular as ever.

Llanberis Lake Railway

Llanberis Lake Railway

Built on the track bed of part of the Padarn Railway, a line that carried slate from the great Dinorwig Quarry to the Menai Strait, Llanberis Lake Railway opened in May 1971 with the help of enthusiasts who obtained leases on part of the line and bought redundant quarry railway equipment. By the end of the first year, the line had become a popular tourist attraction, and had carried in excess of 30,000 passengers. Extended northwest to Penllyn in 1972, its popularity continued and now this narrow gauge heritage railway delights visitors with a leisurely five-mile trip through breathtaking surroundings.

The journey begins at Gilfach Ddu and travels past the 13th century Dolbadarn Castle and Llanberis' twin lakes then on to Llanberis village. From here, the train runs non-stop through the Padarn Country Park, joining the 1845 slate railway route and offering stunning views of the majestic Mount Snowdon.

The return journey sees a brief stop at Cei Llydan – an ideal lakeside picnic spot – before returning to Gilfach Ddu and an opportunity to watch the driver stoke the fire, or visit the well-stocked gift shop. The journey takes about an hour and is a great treat for the whole family.

Llangollen Railway

Llangollen Railway web

This, the only standard gauge heritage railway in north Wales, closed to passengers in 1965 and to goods traffic in 1968, but restarted in 1975 thanks to a group of enthusiasts who rallied to preserve it. Such was the public’s affection for this railway that over 1500 people turned out to witness the re-opening. However, the restoration of the line was an expensive venture so a new group, The Llangollen Railway Society was set up in 1977. With much fundraising throughout the community and a generous donation of almost two miles of track from Shell Oil, the railway began to expand.

Llangollen Railway has seen many changes since its conception, and this year is no different – work is almost complete on a two-mile extension from the current terminus at Carrog to a new station on the outskirts of Corwen, which will bring the railway’s total operating length to 10 miles. However, this project will cost an estimated £1.25 million and although some grant funding has been obtained from the Welsh Assembly Government and Cyfenter, the railway still needs more donations.

Aberystwyth Cliff Railway

Aberystwyth Cliff Railway web

One of the longest funicular electric cliff railways in Britain, this atmospheric line in Aberystwyth, with its undulating track and tilted carriages, climbs Constitution Hill to the north of the town and is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the breathtaking views whilst immersing yourself in some local history at the same time.

The railway has been delighting visitors and transporting them to the summit since opening in 1896, originally running on a water balance system until electrification in 1921. Now a powerful electric motor hauls the carriages at a sedate four miles an hour, giving passengers time to enjoy the vistas and take some photographs as they ascend to the summit station.

Once at the top, visitors can experience the views afforded by the one of the world’s largest camera obscuras, or enjoy a bite to eat at the famous Y Consti restaurant.

Aberystwyth Cliff Railwayis operated by Constitution Hill Ltd. – a registered charity run by trustees and volunteers – with all profits used to cover maintenance and restoration costs.

Welsh Highland Heritage Railway

Welsh Highland Heritage Railway

In 1961, a group of railway enthusiasts formed the Welsh Highland Railway Society in order to preserve and rebuild the original line, which had operated from 1922 to 1936. The restoration began in the 1970s following the acquisition of land from British Railways.

Today, this quaint railway just north of Porthmadog centre is a popular family attraction, which offers an unusual, close-up experience lasting about an hour. The diesel or steam engine will take you for a short ride before stopping at the engine sheds where you can explore the cabs of the locomotives, peruse the museum sheds and even take a ride on a miniature railway as well!


Love is in the Air


Hearts and chocolates take over supermarket shelves, florists and jewellers gird their collective loins, and fluffy teddies bearing romantic messages find themselves in huge demand, but where did the madness begin? Yattar Yattar finds out...

In the ancient world, the month of February was traditionally a time of year associated with fertility, reproduction and unions. In Athens, Greece, mid January to mid February was taken up with celebrations of the marriage of head god Zeus and the goddess, Hera while in ancient Rome, February 13th until the 15th played host to the archaic rite of ‘Lupercalia’, a pastoral festival celebrating purity, health and fertility.

Royal Connection


However, St. Valentine’s Day was not associated with romantic love until the ‘Father of English Literature’, poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, linked the day with the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia in the late 1300s, composing a 700-line poem in their honour.

The earliest known Valentine’s message was sent in 1477 in the form of a letter penned by a woman named Margery Brews to her lover, John Paston, who she described as ‘my right well beloved Valentine’. However, it wasn’t until the 1500s that written Valentine messages were exchanged in Europe and England. By the 1600s, Valentine's Day had entered the popular consciousness to such an extent that even The Bard himself, William Shakespeare, mentioned it in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and during Ophelia's crazed lament in Hamlet – the latter implying that it was customary for young people to go wooing on the eve of the festival in order to find themselves a spouse:

‘To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine’.

Pepys Show!

Samuel Pepys

In the 1660s, the famed London diarist Samuel Pepys recorded his own celebrations of the event. According to his journal he would gather his family, friends and wealthy members of society on Valentine’s Eve for a party during which they would write their names on pieces of paper before drawing anonymous lots for a ‘sweetheart’. On the feast itself, and for a few days thereafter, the ‘Valentines’ were expected to pretend to be real lovers by flirting with one another, and the men would give the women elaborate gifts, such as embroidered gloves, silk stockings and expensive chocolates. As part of the tradition, it was said that the first person seen that day would be one’s destined Valentine; Pepys observed that in 1662 his wife, Elisabeth, refused to move her hand from her eyes, as she was desperate to avoid seeing some workers who were in the house!

Love Letters

During the mid-18th century, the passing of love-notes became a popular pastime in England – a precursor to the St Valentine's Day card, as we know it today. Early versions of cards were made of lace, satin and paper and adorned with flowers, ribbons, and images of cupids or birds.

By the early 19th century, Valentine’s cards became so popular that factories started to mass-produce them. The introduction of the Universal Penny Post in 1840 made it possible for more people to afford to send items through the post, and in 1936, thePost Office introduced greetings telegrams, replaced in the 1980s by telemessages which also proved popular with lovelorn couples.


In Wales, the most romantic day of the year, St Dwynwen’s Day, is celebrated on 25th January. The woman in question was the beautiful and virtuous daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog – a legendary king in 5th century south Wales. After a disastrous love affair with a Welsh prince named Maelon Dafrodill, a distraught Dwynwen fled into the forest, pleading with God to help her end her misery. Her wish was granted when an angel appeared, giving her a sweet potion that erased Maelon’s feelings for her (turning him into a block of ice), thus releasing her from heartache. The angel then granted Dwynwen three wishes. For her first wish, she asked for Maelon to be thawed. Her second request was for God to grant the hopes and dreams of true lovers, and for her final wish, she asked that she never have the desire to marry so that she could dedicate her life to serving God alone. Legend states that it was the angel who bestowed upon Dwynwen her title of Patron Saint of Love.

Loving Spoonful 

Just like Valentine’s Day, Dydd Santes Dwynwen is the time for sweethearts to exchange love tokens, with the traditional Welsh lovespoon being top of the list. Originally carved by young men throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, these spoons were presented to the object of their affections to represent true love. These keepsakes were fashioned from just one piece of wood, into which lovestruck suitors would painstakingly carve intricate designs during long sea voyages. Certain symbols came to signify different meanings or intentions – a horseshoe for luck, a cross for faith and marriage, hearts for love and keys with which to unlock the heart!

 Did You Know?

Valentine's cards are not always used for romantic purposes. Police in Liverpool sent some out to wanted criminals, which read, 'Roses are red, violets are blue, you've got a warrant and we'd love to see you'. Who says romance is dead?

Let’s Talk About Sex!

Once upon a time, adult shops were considered seedy establishments, visited only by dirty old men in dirty old macs. However, in recent years, they have shaken their sleazy image and have re-emerged as couple-friendly environments, making sex respectable again.

Husband and wife team, David and Yvonne Brown, have run The Fantasy House, in Wrexham, since 2009, and their seductive lingerie, massage oils and saucy accessories have proved immensely popular. David tells us, ‘People are more comfortable today with their sexuality. Television and the internet have made sex far more accessible, and even mainstream magazines can be found advertising adult products without stigma or shame.’

Valentine’s Day is a special date in the calendar for many people, whether they’re celebrating with a long-term love, a new partner or even on their own. The Fantasy House attracts a lot of regular customers but nearing the most romantic time of the year it sees many new faces too, mostly female. David says, ‘We don’t bite so why not pop your head around the door, even it is just to say “hello”. If you take a stroll around the shop you may be pleasantly surprised at what is on offer!’

Experimentation in the bedroom is not a dirty phrase and The Fantasy House is proof that you don’t need to be Christian (or Christine) Grey to thrill your partner this Valentine’s Day!

Visit The Fantasy House in Mount Street, or their website at www.thefantasyhouse.co.uk

Sweet Somethings

Valentine's Day can be a minefield: too extravagant and you’re accused of having something to hide, too low-key and you’re deemed uncaring. Here are some ideas to make the occasion meaningful and memorable... without breaking the bank!

* Invest in a bottle of wine from a significant year, such as your first date, wedding anniversary or the year your first child was born.

* Don't pay an obscene amount of money for a set meal in a crowded restaurant – show that someone special you care by making your own romantic meal at home. (You won’t have to worry about finding a decent parking space either!)

* Write a poem – it doesn’t matter if you’re not quite up to Lord Byron’s standards, it’s the thought that counts and, as long as it comes from your heart, your beloved is sure to be delighted!

*Create a CD compilation of your favourite love songs or tunes that have special memories for the two of you.

* Make your other half breakfast in bed. A tray of their favourite morning foods, orange juice and coffee with a red rose in a vase is a great way of showing your love. You could write a romantic message on the napkin too!

*Be original! Instead of buying a box of Milk Tray for your better half, why not make your own chocolate fondue. All you need is a bowl of melted chocolate, cream and flavorings. (We tried Baileys and peanut butter variations.) You can dip anything you like including fruit, biscuits, crackers, marshmallows and, of course, your fingers!


A Tasty Treat

Do you want to give something a bit more special than a supermarket-bought box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day? Check out these offerings from two great local chocolatiers.

Benjamin Lee Chocolatier and Patissier

Benjamin Lee

The range of chocolates you can get from Benjamin Lee Chocolatier and Patissier are as attractive as they are delicious and the tasty goodies certainly make a great gift. Among the many flavours on offer, you’ll find some more unusual choices, including chocolates containing fresh herbs. As well as chocolates, Bejamin Lee Chocolatier and Patissier can create you the perfect cake for any occasion. Visit www.benjaminleecakes.co.uk or call 01248 712778 to find out more. You can also visit the shop in Menai Bridge to see Benjamin Lee’s creations for yourself.

Cathryn Cariad Chocolates

Cathy Cariad

With a wide selection of flavours, including several that have won accolades at the Great Taste Awards, there’s something to suit everyone available from Cathryn Cariad Chocolates. All of the chocolates are made by hand using the finest Belgian chocolate and ingredients from local Welsh ingredients wherever possible. Particular favourites include the salted caramels (winner of a Gold Great Taste Award and a Silver True Taste of Wales Award) and Welsh honey truffles (winner of a Gold Great Taste Award). Visit www.cathryncariad.com or call 01766 762796 to make an order.




New Year, New You


According to historians, the oldest recording of the celebration of New Year began with the Babylonians approximately 4,000 years ago. Although they had no written calendar, for them New Year’s Day was March 23rd – a logical choice as this was the beginning of spring, a time when the crops were planted, thus marking the rebirth of nature.

The occasion involved an elaborate religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley) which saw a different ritual take place on each of its 11 days. Atiku also celebrated the mythical victory of the sky god, Marduk over the evil sea goddess, Tiamat and served an important political purpose, namely the crowning and investiture of a new king. During this time, the Babylonians would make resolutions or promises to pay off debts or return farm equipment in order to garner favour with the gods, so breaking these vows was a rare occurrence – nobody wanted to tempt the wrath of the gods, for obvious reasons!

However, it wasn’t until Julius Caesar implemented the Julian calendar in 46 BC that January 1st became the common day for the celebration. The Romans originally dedicated New Year's Day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings after whom the first month of the year is named. Janus was depicted as having two faces – one that looked backwards at the departing old year, the other looking ahead to the future, and during the celebrations, the Romans would exchange gifts of nuts or coins, imprinted with Janus’ image.

When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, a number of emperors continued holding riotous and unseemly New Year’s celebrations – including their infamous toga parties and orgies – much to the disgust of the Church. In an attempt to stop these practices, the Church established a holy day on January 1, theFeast of theHoly Name of Jesus.

Today, with most countries now observing the Gregorian calendar, New Year is probably the world's most celebrated public festival, usually marked by fireworks and public displays of goodwill and affection at the stroke of midnight as the New Year begins in each time zone. Every country has its own traditions and rituals when it comes to celebrating the occasion, even though the essence of the revelry remains the same.

World Party

As 12 o’clock nears on Nochevieja, or ‘old night,’ on the last day of the year, revellers in Spain gather in front of television screens with a glass of Cava in one hand and a bowl containing a dozen grapes in the other. When the bells ring out at midnight, they begin to pop grapes into their mouths, one for each chime, aiming to have eaten all 12 before the last toll. If they succeed, they are guaranteed good luck in the New Year. In Greece, good luck comes in the form of a special cake called a Vasilopita, decorated with almonds. Baked with a coin or charm hidden inside, whoever receives that particular slice at midnight will have good fortune throughout the year.

Children in Romania celebrate by touching people lightly with a bouquet called a sorcova, which consists of a stick or twig decorated with colourful artificial flowers. Traditionally, these twigs would have been from an apple, pear, cherry, or plum tree to represent fertility, health, and purity, whilst in the USA, the most famous tradition is the dropping of a giant Waterford Crystal ball in New York City's Times Square at the stroke of midnight. Millions of people around the world watch the event, which has taken place almost every year since 1907.

On New Year's Eve in Japan, Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times to welcome Toshigami, the New Year's god, and people thoroughly clean their homes and send cards and gifts to friends and family.Traditionalsoba noodles are served in houses and temples across the country to be eaten on the stroke of midnight. The men folk of Ecuador have a unique way of welcoming in the New Year – they dress up as women to symbolise the ‘widow’ of the old year. Families then gather to burn pictures of things that have brought them pain or sorrow during the previous year in the hope that they will never return.

Residents in South America believe that the wearing of red underwear will bring love in the New Year, whilst those who sport yellow undergarments expect to be rewarded by fame and fortune. The colour red also plays an important part of the New Year’s celebrations in China where it is traditional for married couples and the elderlyto present red envelopes to unmarried family members, the underprivileged and children. These envelopes usually contain money in even denominations. (An odd number in cash is donated only at funerals.) Eight dollars is a common amount to give as this number in Chinese has a similar sound to the word for ‘wealth.’

The birthplace of Auld Lang Syne and the home of Hogmanay, Scotland is known world-wide for its New Year celebrations. The Scottish still observe a number of ancient traditions such as ‘redding the house’ – a ritual clean-up to ready the house for the coming year, ‘first footing’ where neighbours, (traditionally a dark-haired man with a fair-haired female companion)bearing gifts such as shortbread, black bun cake or whisky, visit at midnight and the ‘saining’ of homes. ‘Saining’ (Scots for ‘protecting’) was an ancient rural tradition, which has since died out in some areas, but involved the blessing of houses, possessions and livestock. Holy water from a local stream was sprinkled liberally around the house, and then the women would go from room to room with a smouldering juniper branch, filling the house with purifying smoke.

A New Year tradition called molybdomancy is popular in Finland. This is a technique of divination used to tell people’s fortunes. Lead is slowly melted in a small pan on the stove before being thrown into cold water where it hardens into a shape said to represent the fate of the seeker. Shops in Finland sell ladles and small bullions in the shape of horseshoes for this express purpose.

Like in most countries, New Year’s Eve in Denmark is a time for celebration, reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future. Unlike most places though,some Danes celebrate byleaping from chairs at midnight, hoping to ban all bad spirits in the coming year. Some also break dishes, throwing the remnants in their friends’ doorways – a large pile of broken crockery at your door is a welcome sight as it means you are very popular! Colombians also have a unique way of symbolising the end of the year. Families create a scarecrow-like mannequin to represent the old year, which they call Mr Old Man. The dummy is dressed in old clothes, and stuffed with flammable materials and, sometimes, fireworks. At midnight, they burn the effigy and with it any bad memories of the year gone by.

Possibly one of the strangest New Year customs is observed in Belarus where single women participate in a game in the hope of finding a husband: The rules are quite simple – each of the women sits in front of a small pile of corn, and then waits for a rooster to choose which pile to peck at first. The winner can expect to be the first to marry. A different game sees married women hiding items around their houses for their single friends to discover. It is said that those who find bread during this New Year’s Eve treasure hunt will marry a rich man, and those lucky enough to find a ring will marry a handsome one!


How Strong is your Resolve?

We’ve chosen the most popular resolutions for 2014 and added some inexpensive ways to make them a reality.


I must get fit!

If you’re looking to get fit, New Year can be a great time to start with plenty of gyms offering reduced joining fees or other incentives if you start now. Be wary, though – only sign up if you’re actually going to go! Squeezing in the time to go for a workout around work, family and other commitments can be a challenge, so make sure you can find some time before you commit your cash. Finding a gym that’s right for you is the next challenge. Gyms usually offer a variety of classes and all have different equipment, so take a look round and find one that has the classes and courses to suit you.

For those without the time or cash to go to the gym, we are lucky to have some amazing countryside on our doorsteps so why not make the most of it and go on an invigorating hike with a friend, or take a regular walk in the park. You'll probably have so much fun you won’t even realise that you're exercising!


I want to lose weight

Beware of expensive diet plans and ‘quick fix’ schemes, however good they sound. They may help in the short-term but are destined to fail, as you are likely to revert to the habits that made you overweight in the first place. It may sound obvious but the most efficient way to lose weight is to change your eating habits and take regular exercise. Try keeping a food diary; it will put in to perspective just how many calories you are consuming and will make you think twice about between-meal munching! Also, be careful with your portion sizes and if you know that you are going out and having a big slap-up dinner that evening, cut back on your calories in the day. When eating out, always opt for dishes that are grilled, baked, steamed or poached rather than fried – check before you order. Select lean meats, fish or vegetable-based dishes and if you are having pasta, choose tomato-based sauces avoiding creamy ones at all costs! Finally, don’t feel obliged to finish all the food on your plate – stop when you are full!

If you want advice about weight loss and healthy eating, visit the NHS Change4Life website at www.nhs.uk. This free public health programme is aimed at families wanting to make healthy changes to their lifestyles.


I will eat more healthily

Having over-indulged over the Christmas period, many of us resolve to give up the chocolate and crisps in the New Year, perhaps hoping that the previous resolution to lose weight will quickly follow. For many of us, this resolution will end in disaster as we try to survive on lentils and thin air, but then end up gorging on chocolate biscuits in a moment of hunger and weakness.

If you’ve ever tried to commit to eating healthily before, you’ll no doubt be aware of the age-old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and there’s certainly some truth in it – heading out to work with a full belly means that you’re less likely to snack during the morning, but that only really applies if you have a good breakfast. If you’re after something that’s delicious but will keep you full, check out Mornflake’s range of porridges and oatbrans. The slow-release carbs in these oaty goodies means that you’ll stay full until lunch. Head to www.mornflake.com to find out more.


I want to stop smoking

Just slap on a nicotine patch and stop smoking, right? Wrong. Quitting the demon weed is probably the hardest resolution to make, as nicotine is incredibly addictive. The good news is that there is help available. Your GP can provide information and advice about stopping smoking, offer nicotine replacement therapies such as patches or chewing gum or refer you to an NHS support service. To contact this service directly and order a free Quit Kit (a box of practical tools and advice developed with experts, smokers and ex-smokers) visit www.smokefree.nhs.uk


That’s it – no alcohol for a month!

After the liquid excesses of Christmas, many decide to keep January a dry month to ease the pressure on their bank accounts and livers. However, doctors suggest that this approach is not the best and instead, those looking to improve their health should make a decision to stay off alcohol for a few days every week throughout the whole year. The reason for this is that experts are concerned that giving up alcohol in January lulls people into the false sense of security that they can go back to boozing energetically in February! If you are a social drinker and are concerned that you are drinking too much, always try to eat before you drink alcohol and don’t indulge if you are thirsty. A good tip for cutting down your alcohol intake on a night out is to alternate alcohol with soft drinks or water and to keep within drinking guidelines: women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units per day and men 3-4.

If you are concerned about your drinking habits, call Alcoholics Anonymous on 0845 769 7555 or go online at alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk


I need more ‘family time’

This is an extremely common New Year’s resolution for people of all ages, but very few manage to achieve it. We spend so much time in a frenzy of work, social life and day-to-day issues that we are often left with precious little energy for the important people in our lives. However, more family time is achievable if you prioritise intelligently. A good way to do this is to organise a schedule and stick to it as closely as possible. Your plan could include a family games night, a sit-down meal together or even a regular stroll around the block, if that’s all you can manage – the important thing is that you make the time count so turn off the computer, put your ‘phone on mute and reconnect with each other.


Happy New You!

It’s easy to make a resolution in the heat of the moment but in the cold light of day, sticking to it is another thing altogether, especially if it’s the same one you make year after year. Whether you want to be more assertive, kick a habit, or learn a new language, you have the ability to change for good. Here’s how...

Keep it simple

Many New Year’s resolutions are destined to fail from the start, simply because they have unrealistic goals, are too complicated or are too unspecific. Do not aim for an overhaul of your entire life, as this is a guaranteed recipe for disappointment and guilt. The best approach is to focus clearly on one or two of your most important goals and break them down into attainable, monthly segments that will lead you to reach your final target.

Write it down

The simple, physical act of writing down your goals in a notebook and seeing them in black and white helps to cement the desire in your brain. Remember to add your motivations for wanting this life-change and how you will expect to feel once you’ve achieved it. Keep your notebook handy and, in the evening, write down at least one positive thing to do with your resolution that you have experienced during your day. It really does not matter what it is, it will act to keep you enthusiastic and motivated for the following day.

Tell someone

Telling your friends, work colleagues and family about your goal allows them to encourage and support you by providing resources and information you may need. If you know someone with a similar resolution, it’s a good idea to ‘buddy up’ so that you can support each other along the way. You could even use social media like Facebook to set up a private group where you can share your progress, hiccups and successes with likeminded people – those who have a support network are much more likely to increase their chance of success.


Celebrate your successes. Every time you reach a milestone, acknowledge your accomplishments in an affirming way. For example, if your resolution is to lose weight, treat yourself to a new top when you drop your first half stone. Celebrating success will keep you focused on the larger picture. However, do not fall into the trap of jeopardising your goal – it is very easy, for example, for a dieter to say, ‘I’ve been really good this week, I deserve a takeaway’ – one slip is enough to scupper your willpower completely.

Just imagine...

Spending a few minutes each day imagining yourself in the future when you have achieved your goal is an excellent way of keeping yourself focused on the task in hand. Think about how you’d look, how you’d be perceived by others, how your interaction with others would change. Try to look through the eyes of that future you. What would you see that lets you know you have been successful? What would you hear? You would be surprised at just how effective this little trick can be when it comes to strengthening your resolve!

Don’t give up!

You are human which means that a little slip-up is inevitable at some point. If you do have a wobble, all is not lost so don’t use it as an excuse to give up. According to research, just one in 11 people manage to keep their New Year's resolutions for at least six months, so make sure that one person is you! Draw on your reserves of self-belief and strength, forgive yourself and begin again.


Look and Feel Great for 2014! 

Pretty Amazing 


It’s New Year and time for an all new and improved you! The weather outside might be miserable, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t look your best, and thanks to Jane Bellis at Bellissimo, it could be easier than you think.

Jane has been a makeup artist and creative hair stylist for 16 years and a holistic therapist and nail technician for 12 years. ‘When I started, I found that people were going to different places for different treatments, so we aim to offer everything under one roof – there aren’t very many places like us,’ says Jane. ‘Our main ethos is to offer city centre quality in a family setting with tailored individual service.’

Services at the salon include a wide variety of beauty treatments, including waxing, revitalising and holistic facials, aromatherapy and the Jane Bellis signature makeover, which includes hair styling and full makeup, as well as much more. There’s also plenty of full body treatments to help you relax.

In addition to the wide range of in-salon services, Bellissimo also offers a ‘glamour squad’ mobile service for parties, events and festivals, where they offer many of the most popular services. ‘Mobile services were something that was really lacking in our area, and we used to get requests for it all the time,’ says Jane. ‘There’s a minimum of six people, but it’s great if you’d rather stay at home with a bottle of wine!’

Find out more about Bellissimo at www.janebellis.com or call 01244 536313.

Total Look 

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Have you committed to losing weight this New Year? If you'd like to get your weight loss off to a good start, Lipofirm Plus could be just the treatment that you're looking for and it is just one of the treatments offered by Total Look Beauty Salon in Nesscliffe. 

The exclusive new treatment works using ultrasonic cavitation, which forms bubbles which then implode, damaging fat cells and breaking them down so the body can expel them. The treatment is suitable for both men and women. 'It is suitable to treat “man boobs” in men and tops of arms for ladies,' says Jo Suckley, owner of Total Look Beauty Salon. 'Cellulite, which can be difficult to remove, is not a problem for this treatment. Radiofrequency is a particularly good facial treatment as it tightens the skin and reduces the signs of aging.’

Total Look Beauty Salon has an ideal location in Nesscliffe. ‘We’re in a peaceful setting,’ says Jo. ‘As we’re out of town, there’s plenty of space for people to park and it’s easy for people to drive here. We always concentrate on results rather than volume so take the time to discuss each client’s needs.’ As well a Lipofirm Plus, Total Look Beauty Salon also offer an extensive range of other treatments. 

If you would like to discuss a treatment at Total Look Beauty Salon, call 01743 741327 or visit www.totallookbeauty.co.uk to find out more.

Your Body Matters

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If you’ve determined that a gym is the best option for you, getting the right one is crucial – if you’re going to be visiting multiple times a week, you should at least make sure that it’s somewhere that you’ll feel comfortable. For ladies looking to get in shape, Your Body Matters in Wrexham could be the ideal solution. The unique ladies only fitness centre is designed to meet the needs to real ladies in the real world. Whatever you fitness level or age upon arriving at the centre, their dedicated instructors will make sure that you have a fitness regime to suit you. Their 30 minute programmes are currently the most popular memberships and are perfect for those who don’t have the time to commit to hours of working out a day. Anyone can improve their fitness, figure and energy levels with this programme, and the instructors will look after you throughout, reassessing you and your needs every 10 to 12 weeks. ‘An instructor will always be on the circuit to help if you need it,’ says Alex Maggs, general manager of Your Body Matters. ‘As long as you’re able to climb the stairs to the gym, there is a programme they can set to help you improve your fitness.’

Alex is just one of the people that Your Body Matters has helped. ‘After losing 42 inches and 7st in 10 months after I first joined as a member, I knew there was something special about the exercise techniques and I wanted to be a part of it. A vacancy became available and in 2008 I began to work for the company. Shortly after, I was promoted to staff trainer. When the business was taken over, I was offered the general manager’s position and I jumped at the chance! When I joined the ladies only gym I thought I’d tried everything and didn’t think I could lose weight, but I did! I’m now half the person I once was and if that wasn’t enough, now I’m general manager of the company, doing something that I love and proving to members that anything is possible.’

If you think that Your Body Matters could be for you, visit www.yourbody-matters.co.uk or call 01978 314898 to find out more or to book a session. 

Boo Skincare

If you want to face the New Year with great skin, then look no further than Boo Skincare. Owner Karen Yates has been working as a beauty therapist for over 20 years since she qualified in 1991 and she now offers a wide range of skin rejuvenation treatments. If you’re looking to improve aging, dull or dry skin or want to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone or acne scarring and blemishes, Boo Skincare offers the most effective and safe non-surgical treatments that deliver long lasting results.

The skin rejuvenation treatments on offer at Boo Skincare work using tissue remodelling. ‘Tissue remodelling stimulates the skin from the lower dermis to healthily renew and repair itself how your skin would have 10 years ago,’ explains Karen. ‘This is combined with gentle skin resurfacing treatments to remove the top layer of dead skin cells. This combination therapy obtains excellent results in treating all skin types and areas of concern for clients.’

Karen does not believe that one cream or one treatment can totally obtain the results that clients are fully satisfied with and that the skincare programme should be unique to that individual client. ‘Firstly the client will have a full consultation incorporating a skin scan, establishing the clients concerns and required results,’ says Karen. ‘An initial facial is carried out where a further analysis using Chinese face mapping is carried out during the facial to fully feel and analyse the client’s skin.’

At Boo Skincare, there are a range of New Year promotions to help with post-party skin or to kick start your ‘New Year, new you’ skincare regime. All treatments are carried out in fully equipped treatment rooms in a grand Georgian listed building.

Boo Skincare is located in St Asaph. If you would like to find out more or would like to book an appointment, contact Karen on 01745 797007.


Based in Oswestry, KruKira provides a full system of KaiAmea complementary therapies, helping you to reach your optimum health and vitality for the New Year. ‘I come from a medical family – all my family are doctors or surgeons, so I have grown up around people who help others,’ says Tom Dewar, owner of KruKira. ‘I chose to work in complementary therapy as I believe that everyone has a natural path. I provide holistic complementary therapies and associated consultations that I am qualified and insured to practice. Complementary therapies have been around for thousands of years and known to have been practiced by various ancient civilisations such as the Mayans and Aztecs, Chinese, the Egyptians, the Japanese and the Native American Indians as far back as 10000BC. Complementary therapies can help boost the immune system, eliminate toxins, relieve pain, improve circulation, improve sleep patterns, increase energy levels, induce deep relaxation, reduce stress and tension and restore balance to the body’s systems. They are non-invasive and you can’t become addicted to them like you could do with conventional medicine. There are many sceptics that have experiences the therapies and they have seen the benefits. There’s certainly no harm in trying them out!

‘Most people nowadays can relate to a computer, so think of the physical body being your computer. The therapies provide the equivalent of a disc clean up and de-fragmentation, removing clutter and realigning our files thus providing energy rebalance and optimizing health and vitality. The same applies to a crystal therapy session that provides a therapeutic process to free up and improve energy within the physical body. I’m a certified, qualified therapist and practitioner in KaiAmea Crystal Therapy and KaiAmea Therapy. KaiAmea is a therapy in its own right, founded in the UK by Kay Challenor. KaiAmea is a ‘hands off’ therapy of high vibrational energy. I’m also certified for the NOCN level 3(Anatomy and Physiology Professional Standards). I’m fully insured to practice as a therapist and practitioner and a full member of The British Complimentary Medicine Association, Association of Energy Therapists and The Complementary Therapists Association. Naturally I work to a strict Code of Practice and assurance of client confidentiality at all times. I do home and workplace visits for no extra cost (within a 25-mile radius of Oswestry) if required.’

Find out more about KruKira at www.krukira.com or contact Tom at 01691 688911 or 07904 388675. 


Give Something Back

Do something new for 2014 a give a little back while you’re at it by volunteering…

If you’re looking for something new to do in the New Year, then why not consider volunteering? If you can give a little free time, you can help a local charity continue its good work and could even help a cause close to your own heart. Volunteers are vital to the running of many charities, including the National Trust, Shelter Cymru, local food banks and many local animal shelters and charities.

Of course, volunteering benefits the charity that you’re working for, but it can be good for you as well! Volunteering is a fantastic opportunity to gain experience in a variety of areas and can be a good way to gain to try something out before embarking on a new career. By giving some of your time, you could get to see behind the scenes of some very interesting places – by volunteering for the National Trust, for example, you’ll get to see the inner workings of some of Britain’s historic buildings and stately homes. You’ll also get to meet plenty of interesting people and some volunteering programmes even run special social events!  



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