A group of local suppliers worked together to create a dream wedding and raise money for a great cause

A bride and groom getting married in front of a flower arch
Credit: Richard Savage Photography

A couple from Port Talbot, Ryan and Darcie, teenage sweethearts and very much in love, were dreaming of being with their nearest and dearest and being married, but they’d just ploughed all of their disposable money into renovating their home, so plans for a big doo were put on ice. Until they won a competition for a dream wedding worth over £25k!

Rachel Jenkins, owner of The Dancing Daffodil florist in Port Talbot and mastermind of the huge fundraising endeavour, thoughtfully put together a wedding of any couple's dreams, a big day filled with top suppliers and nothing too much trouble, all while boosting the fundraising efforts for a little girl from Cwmavon.

The community was desperately raising money to help four-year-old Olivia Finch, who had been diagnosed with childhood cancer. It was stage four, high-risk, a condition called neuroblastoma, a very rare form of childhood cancer, with under 100 cases diagnosed each year.

The family had an initial fundraising goal of an ambitious quarter of a million pounds needed to support Olivia to receive pioneering treatment within international clinics that could save her life. 

Such was the heartfelt nature of the appeal that many businesses in the area rose to the challenge and the florist brought together her network of wedding suppliers to donate their services for the fundraising effort, and Rachel arranged everything needed for a dream wedding that would be hosted at the outstanding Gellifawr Woodland Retreat in Pembrokeshire.

A bride and groom walking hand-in-hand laughing
Credit: Richard Savage Photography

Everything for an exclusive and dream wedding was included, including fine dining and an evening buffet supplied by the venue; an award winning photographer (Richard Savage), highly-rated videographer Paul Harris (of Paul Harris Wedding Films), stationery (Quaint Hearted Weddings),  bespoke venue decor (Megan and Claude), suits (from Formal Hire), wedding dress voucher (from Willow in White), hair and make-up (from Bethan Bennett, mobile hair dresser and Zoe May make-up artist), Cookies for the after party (from Honey Suckle Bakery) and a wedding cake (by What Sophie Baked), there was also a celebrant to marry the couple (Hwyl Ceremonies) and of course award-winning florals from The Dancing Daffodil.

The wedding date was set for Friday, February 17, 2023, and Rachel set about advertising the raffle on her social media pages, selling tickets for £25 each. 

Ryan Phillips, a welder fabricator and himself an enthusiastic fundraiser, called into the florist on Beverley Street in Port Talbot and bought a few tickets. The couple has been through some tough times; Ryan lost his dad very suddenly, and Darcie lost her mum following a very brave battle with cancer, so family is everything to them; they know the importance of making memories.

The prize draw was made six months before the wedding date, and an incredibly brave Olivia was well enough to go to the florist and make the draw for the wedding herself. She wore a princess dress and a flower crown, and she enthusiastically pulled out a name from a glass jar – it was Ryan!

A groom reading a speech while the bride laughs
Credit: Richard Savage Photography

The draw was live on Instagram and Ryan heard he’d won through a friend and raced into the shop, tears everywhere. Soon joined by Darcie, they couldn’t believe it and were so delighted to receive the good news. 

The wedding was everything that a happy couple could have dreamed of – the girls got ready in the stunning surroundings of the Gellifawr Woodland Retreat salon, and the boys had their own man cave. 

All guests assembled at the Seren y Codi ceremony room. Darcie and her dad arrived to a string quartet playing One Day Like This by Elbow; there was not a dry eye – including Ryan, who has since been given the nickname “Tiny Tears” as he cried for most of the heartwarming and very personal ceremony, officiated by Vicky from Hwyl Ceremonies.

Drinks flowed, and Richard Savage captured the special atmosphere with beautiful photos taken in the beautiful grounds of the woodland retreat before guests were called into the function room, decorated to perfection by The Dancing Daffodil and tablescapes designed by Megan and Claude

Following the speeches, including a letter from Olivia herself wishing the couple well, the cake by ‘What Sophie Baked’ was cut, and cookies by ‘Honey Suckle Bakery' were enjoyed. The guests freshened up and partied on to The Midnight Fiddle Band.

Darcie and Ryan have been overwhelmed with the wonderful celebrations and are soon to celebrate one year of marriage. They say that it has been the best start to married life and they are still in disbelief that their dream wedding began with a raffle ticket. They have since continued fundraising efforts for Olivia, and the whole community is wishing her well.

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