The story of Santes Dwynwen

These days, most people know what St Valentine’s day is, but only the Welsh seem to know about Santes Dwynwen. Following on from my last blog talking about Welsh wedding traditions, I thought I would write about this girl from the 5th century. This is the story of St Dwynwen. She’s the patron saint of Welsh lovers.

A welsh bride walking into the woods

Dwynwen took herself into the woods….Photo by

A Beautiful Welsh Princess

Dwynwen was one of King Brychan Brycheiniog’s many daughters, all of whom were beautiful young women. While living in Brecon with her family, Dwynwen fell in love with a man from the north, Maelon Dyfodrull, “Aaaah!”….But Brychan forbade their marriage “Booo!”…… Royal marriages in the 5th century were very political and Dwynwen had already been promised to someone else.

Bride and groom in a tipi

Every one of my brides is a “Princess!” Photo by Tony Wilson

Forget Him!

As the tale goes, Dwynwen went to the woods to pray after running from her father for denying her marriage with Maelon. Maelon became angry and threatened to rape her since she wouldn’t defy her father. Dwynwen prayed for safety and God granted it in the form of turning Maelon into a block of ice. He also offered her a potion that would allow her to forget him completely.

Bride and groom share a ceremonial goblet

Sooo…..How about a wedding potion linked with memory rather than forgetfulness! Saffy and James sharing a cocktail in their ceremony!

Here come the Three Wishes…

That night, an angel visited Dwynwen in her dreams and granted her three wishes. Firstly, she wished that Maelon be defrosted and allowed to return to his home. This showed a kindness of heart that we can all aspire to. Secondly, she wished that she would never marry (I’m unsure what  the moral of this part of the story is!).  Finally, she wished to help other lovers. From then she travelled around Wales with some of her siblings, preaching and establishing churches. Once on a little island off the coast of Anglesey, Dwynwen decided that she would start a small church there and live as a nun. Today, the area is known as LLanddwyn.

A girl in a white dress with wings

An angel appeared to St Dwynwen…Photo by Alireza Dolati

Love and Luck at Llandwyn

People began to visit Llanddwyn if they had had troubles in love. They would pray to Dwynwen and visit her holy well. It’s said that if the well water boils while you’re visiting, then love and good luck will be coming your way. Don’t worry, though, if the waters DON’T boil, it doesn’t mean you WON’T get love and good luck! Parts of Dwynwen’s church still remain and can be visited via the Anglesey Coastal Path.

You could visit the places where Santes Dwynwen walked in preparation for your own wedding. Photo by Rhian Jones

How About a Winter Wedding?

So, that was the story of St Dwynwen. Here in Wales, we only began to observe Dydd Santes Dwynwen in the 1970’s. Since then, Welsh lovers have taken the day “to their hearts” as they celebrate their love for each other and their cultural heritage. So, when is Dydd Santes Dwynwen, or “Saint Dwynwen’s Day”?

It’s on the 25th January every year, the perfect date for a winter wedding! Have you considered the importance of the day you’re getting married? Do you observe Dydd Santes Dwynwen instead of St Valentine’s day, or are you happy to celebrate both? Leave a comment below about what it means to you. Also, how might you incorporate more Welsh traditions and culture into your ceremony? Jump to my blog about Welsh Wedding Traditions here. 

Winter wedding

Have a Winter wedding around Christmas, or on January 25th. Very romantic! photo by Aga Tomaszek

Thanks to the photographers;;; Rhian Jones; Aga Tomaszek , Tony Wilson