Bride to Be Diaries: Our Procrastinating Bride is feeling on top of things!

Good morning one and all!

Sweating enough!? Sheesh its a hot one this week, not that we are complaining particularly, just wishing the UK was a little more equipped with air con and ceiling fans!

So its time for our gorgeous Natasha, aka The Procrastinating Bride, to let us know how her planning is going in her second instalment.  And considering her moniker, she appears to feel on top of things…

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Our Procrastinating Bride is feeling on top of things!

Tash1Hey, Cwtchers!

Hope you’ve been enjoying the glorious sunshine we’ve been having. I can’t believe that this time last year, Steve proposed! He came home with a bunch of beautiful lilies last week for our engage-iversary (we didn’t actually celebrate this by the way) and it suddenly dawned on me that there are less than 6 months until our wedding, eeek!

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Now, considering I’m the Procrastinating Bride, a lot of things seem to be sorted. I say a lot of things, we’re talking on Tash terms here. By a lot of things, I mean the venue, the dress, and we’ve almost come to a decision on food. (We’re both foodies so narrowing our choices down needed a lot of thought.)

If you’re an organised bride, you’re probably thinking that I’ve only scratched the surface with planning but, in my head, we’re on top of things.

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So, what did we do first?

We booked our venue pretty quickly. My mum and I were browsing at venues online a few weeks after Steve and I got engaged; admittedly, I wasn’t really looking properly because it seemed like early days, but there was one venue that stood out from all the others. It happened to be holding a showcase event the following week so Steve, my parents and I decided go along. We loved it and so it was decided that we’d get married at Oldwalls: the first and only venue we went to see.

As I said earlier, Steve and I are foodies so it only made sense for us to go to a cake tasting session. I was in my element. Not that I ever need an excuse to eat cake but, when it’s part of the planning process, wedding planning instantly becomes more appealing when cake is involved. Particularly when you’re not a planner anyway.

We stuffed our faces with a range of delicious favours, including chocolate and salted caramel Italian buttercream, and around two hours later, we rolled away with full stomachs and happy hearts. To all couples getting married: cake tasting is an experience not to be missed, even if you just come away from it with ideas.

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I came across Cakes by Katy at Cwtchfest. Go along to the next one if you can; it’s worth it and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Cwtch Girl!

Next: the dress. I won’t share details of my dress on here for obvious reasons but, Laura May Bridal on Cardiff’s Crwys Road and Allison Jayne in Swansea are two shops that I’d recommended to any bride who hasn’t yet found ‘the dress’.

Not only were the dresses beautiful, the overall experience at both stores couldn’t have gone any better. When you’re trying on a dress, the last thing you want is to feel rushed or under pressure to make a decision and I can honestly say that Laura May and Allison Jayne did not even come to close to making me feel this way. I tried on my first ever wedding dress in Laura May, an Enzoani number, and remember feeling how surreal it was to be trying on wedding dresses!

That’s all from me for now. We’ve got our 6-month meeting with Oldwalls next week, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to update you on next time!

Happy planning to all brides and all grooms! If all else fails, eat cake.

The Procrastinating Bride xxx

Cwtch Of The Week: Our Boobless Bride Dawn and her family

Good morning all

We have a completely delicious Cwtch of the Week for you this week. Shot by our very own Maria Farrelly, this is a stunning shot of our Boobless Bride, Dawn and her gorgeous family.

After receiving the devastating news that her cancer had returned last month, they arranged this shoot with Maria to create more wonderful memories, and I think you will agree, this is a wonderful one. We love you Dawn….

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Our Boobless Bride Dawn and her family

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When the wedding dress has been worn, the cake cut, the wine all drank and the songs all played, married life begins. And for some it can be a breeze, for some they face obstacles, and for others its a roller coaster. But no matter what life throws at you, if you love each other, you will find a way to get through. Find ways to smile, laugh and hold each other that bit tighter.

Our boobless bride Dawn & her husband Steve celebrate their first wedding anniversary and are holding their family tighter more than ever as Dawn faces the return of cancer. If you missed her special post, you can read it here.

 

Bride and Groom to be Diaries: The Carnival Couple are Squeezing in Time to Plan!

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Planning the thing!

Over the past few months we have found ourselves completely overwhelmed with work. We have been getting home about 9pm, after leaving at 7.30am, working all evening, weekends, Easter ‘holidays’, Bank ‘holidays’, and every spare five minutes. The illusion of the non-stop holidays for teachers is just that, a complete and utter illusion!

With that being said, I am getting more and more anxious about being able to get any wedding bits and pieces sorted out. Simon has a much more laid back approach, telling me that we have ages. But less than three months feels far from ‘ages’!

We have managed to do some planning though!

In the week following the engagement we managed to get the church and marquee booked, after looking for a slightly alternative, carnival-feel to our reception, and felt as though we were really in control of the whole wedding thing. After a bit of consideration and discussion, our caterers were booked and I had picked my dress. What on earth was all the fuss about??

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And then life happened. Well, no, we wish life happened; work happened. As we both work as secondary school teachers teaching mainly A level there is a non-stop bombardment of students, deadlines, data, coursework, planning, marking, essays, revision, mocks, feedback, parents’ evenings, options evenings… the list really does go on. Our time with each other becomes limited, never mind time to plan a wedding. We understand the fuss!

Despite this, we have snuck in some things. After our first Cwtch the Bride experience we booked a photographer, ‘Camera Sioned’ and met up to discuss our big day and have our engagement shoot. Previously we would have probably dismissed this as a daft expense, but it was included in the package and turned out to be a great afternoon!

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We would thoroughly recommend taking part in an engagement shoot. We got to learn about our photographer and she learnt about us, our likes and dislikes. The photos she took are fab! And we can access all of them and print them as we please. It isn’t going to feel like someone we hardly know will be at our wedding now, and neither of us are fans of staged photos so Sioned was the perfect choice for us.

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We have also started the DIY bits and pieces to make sure the carnival theme runs throughout, from spray painting to sewing bunting, it is all go when we are able to find a few minutes to spare. I even attempted hand sewing some bunting pennants on the bus to Llangranog on a school trip, but it didn’t take me long to realise that my sewing machine was a far better option. Although my far better option has just given up on me, so it is right back to plan B and a needle and cotton! Our amazingly talented friend Sian has been busy creating a masterpiece of an invitation, which has involved us having many meetings over glasses of wine to tweak the colours, style, images and wording.

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She took our carnival theme and managed to make our personalities show through. We managed to squeeze in an invitation writing session (supported by a few glasses of fizz) so the whole thing feels very real now! Our wedding webpage is live, as is our gift list, and we do not want to disappoint on the day!

Some of you may have bumped into us at CwtchFest where we were helping out, having a fantastic day, meeting some passionate and talented exhibitors. It made us realise how lucky we are to be part of the Cwtch team, who are like a little family, it’s great! And we know that it’s going to be a full on couple of months, but our big Carnival day will be more than worth it.

For now, we are just packing for our Hag/Sten do! That’s right, we wanted a joint one! Why go away for a weekend without your best friend? So I am sure you will hear all about that in our next instalment! Hopefully our planning will all be coming together by then too. Wish us luck Cwtch family!

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Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh we cannot wait to hear about the Hag! Speak soon Lowri and Simon xx

Bride to Be Diaries: The Tinder Brides Wedding Party!

Good morning everyone!

Time for your second instalment from the gorgeous Tinder Bride, and its time to be introduced to the girlie contingency of her wedding party!

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Hello Cwtchers!

I hope that you have all been keeping well since I did my last Tinder Bride post!

The Tinder Bride (Jenine)

I think most girls in their lives have been asked or have thought to themselves ‘If I ever get married, I would ask so and so to be my bridesmaid or part of my wedding’.  I can actually remember having hypothetical questions growing up with my girlfriends. Although for me it was simple when the hypothetical became reality it was also a very hard as I didn’t want to leave anyone out.

I do not want to come across bigheaded or arrogant but I genuinely feel that I am a very lucky lady and I thank God every day for blessing me with not only an incredible family but also an amazing group of friends. Coming from a Welsh/Arab background, I have a large and very close family filled with two fab sisters, three gorgeous nieces and two lovely sisters-in-laws who are all involved and so supportive along with my mother and mother in law to be. My friends derive from various walks of life and I genuinely didn’t want to let anyone down. However I had to draw the line somewhere and decided on having 2 maids of honour, 6 bridesmaids and 2 flower girls. I’m sure there has and will be some negative mutters or expressed views away from our ear shots about how our wedding is big and/or too expensive but it is our beautiful big day and Tom and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

From my perspective I couldn’t envisage my wedding day without my two sisters and three nieces by my side; it was not even something I would even contemplate. I am the middle of two sisters (5 siblings in total!) and we have an incredible bond. It was therefore an easy decision to ask each sister to be my maids of honour. Rema is my big sis and the rock of the family. She is the sibling who everyone goes to and I always turn to her as I trust her opinion as being on the same par as that of my Mother’s. Rema is the type of sister who doesn’t like a great fuss or the limelight but I’m making sure she encompasses her main role on my big day and she feels like the special sister she is to me.  Rema says ‘To be asked to be my sister’s maid of honour is a huge privilege. I was so emotional when I was asked as the gift they gave me to ask was so personal and thoughtful. In Tom she has found the perfect person who is loved by the whole family – they are perfect together. I am so looking forward to seeing my beautiful sister marry her prince charming’. Sariyia is little sis and the youngest sibling; she is also the most famous non-famous person I know! She loves being the centre of attention and we love her for being like that.  She truly is unique and I love her and all of her ideas to date! Both sisters have an amazing bond with my fiancée Tom. In fact when they are all together it’s like they are the three sisters! ‘When I was called by JOM to tell me they were engaged, I sobbed uncontrollably; together with the rest of the family we are ecstatic. I cannot wait for the wedding of the decade and I am so honoured to be their MOH. Jenine will look beautiful but I will definitely be better looking still!haha!’. 

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Aleah is the eldest of the grandchildren and I became an aunty when I was 14; we have always had a special relationship as I do with each of my five nieces and nephews especially as I have been such a big part of their lives as they have been in mine. Tom is adored by them and they adore him too.  Aleah is going to be a bridesmaid along with her sister Farah who will be 14 when we wed. To think of these two in their bridesmaid dresses makes me feel very emotional. Aleah says ‘I was so grateful to be asked to be a Bridesmaid on my Aunty’s special day; it is a day we are all waiting and looking forward to. Jenine has always been there for me and she could not have found a better husband and Uncle in Tom’. Farah’s thoughts are: ‘When Jenine asked me to be her Bridesmaid, I wanted to cry with happiness as I always wanted to be a Bridesmaid and I keep counting down to the big day; it is even more of a dream come true as my Aunty is so special to me. I especially loved the bridesmaid gift they gave me which I will treasure forever’. 

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Gabriella is who we refer to in the Abdo Family as Princess Abdo – she is the little apple of everyone’s eye. Although she is 5, she constantly looks online for flower girl dresses and matching shoes which is so very cute. She once told Uncle Tom that she found a dress which ‘only cost 50pence and that she and Holly-Mae would love to wear it’ it was in reality £500! Gabby ironically was the main reason I chose my wedding dress but I’ll talk about that more another time. Holly-Mae is 2 years old and is also our flower girl. Being the eldest and currently only grandchild on the Sulley side it will be lovely for my fiancé’s family as she is understandably adored by them all.

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I know that Tom is so happy to have his niece involved and for me having Gabby and Holly-Mae holding hands together walking down the aisle will not only epitimise ultimate cuteness but also will personify and will symbolise our families coming together. I just pray they don’t get stage fright!

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Although I could have kept my bridal party at just family, I couldn’t not have my best friends by my side either. Kate is a friend who I first met playing netball at the age of 10 years old. We were marking each other on the netball pitch. This game should have been the battle of the best- the battle of rival Primary Schools – instead we bonded sisters from other misters growing up together and even our sisters are the best of friends.  Kate is currently a teacher at an international school and I can’t wait to have her back home this summer!

‘Over the years Jenine has definitely earned the title of my sister from another mister. We have been there for each other through the best and worst times and I am so excited to be a part of what will be one of the most important days in her life. Being Jenine’s bridesmaid is a massive privilege and I can’t wait to see her looking amazingly beautiful walking down the aisle to marry the man she loves and luckily for him we approve. Jenine and Tom deserve to have the best day and I look forward to having a role in making that happen. I promise to be caring, attentive and I will NOT turn up hung over to anymore official bridesmaid duties unlike when I had my bridesmaid dress fitting!

Rachael – I first met Rachael when we sat at our High school induction day. We both turned around to each other and acknowledged our checked trousers which were both wearing! Our friendship began in the Howell’s School sports hall and has seen us through to living together in London and back home again. Rachael is such a thoughtful and kind person who shares my love of RnB music, comedy, pizza and nacho Saturday loving winter nights in watching Strictly and the Xfactor like no other!

‘Jenine is probably the most organized bride I have come across and I love hearing all the plans she has got for the wedding! We have been friends for over 20 years so I am excited and honoured to be part of the big day and I cannot wait to see everything come together’. 

Claire – my real life Barbie doll! I not only went to high school with Clairey but also ended up very randomly at the same university. We have shared so much together whilst sharing two sets of different friendship groups due to school and uni which in turn means we are part of a ridiculous amount of WhatsApp groups. My fiancé is basically the male version of Claire – always happy, positive, fun and annoying early morning people. 

I’ll never forget the overwhelming feeling of happiness when reading a poem written to me about our blossoming friendship over the years and asking me to be her bridesmaid. It is safe to say that I welled up. To be part of your friend’s big day is so special and I am so privileged to be by her side when she says I do’. 

Helen – I have known Hel since my high school days too right through to living in Wimbledon together with Rach. Helen is my straight talking, quirky and inspirational friend of mine. Hel is not only an amazing science teacher, cook and baker, but such a fab mother to Harrison and wife to be this August! I am so proud to be in turn Helen’s bridesmaid this year and having shared the experience of being engaged and organising a wedding with her.

‘Every girl has a different idea of how her wedding day should be, but what unites every woman is the desire to be surrounded by their best girlfriends leading up to and on that day. He role of a bridesmaid is truly an honour and I am so excited to have Jenine by my side at my wedding this August and to be able to reverse that next September when I am one of her bridesmaids. Our friendship has always been extremely strong and full of love; to be able to support each other and share the fun and laughter throughout the intimate stages of planning a wedding takes that bond to the next level – bring it on!!’  

Then we have three amazing ladies giving readings. Bonnie is one of my best friends who I met when in high school and I was Bonnie’s bridesmaid in 2014; Bonnie is one of the kindest and funniest people I know, as well as being the most caring and best Dr ever!

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Caitlin is my Twinny – fellow Solicitor who I met before we qualified at work. We soon realized we shared a love for football and also our Birthdays hence the nickname! We also have Tom’s girl best friend Kelly. Kelly has been so warm and welcoming since Tom and I met and it was fab knowing Tom had such a close girl-friend as it resonated with myself having close boy-friends too!

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That’s my female entourage..keep watch for the introduction to the male party in due course..!

Disclaimer: Please note I did not bribe the above mentioned people for their overwhelmingly kind comments – thank you xxx

Our Boobless Bride Dawn on her first wedding anniversary

Today, its our Boobless Bride Dawn‘s first wedding anniversary with Steve and she has written a very special post telling us all about their first year of Marriage. NB: brace yourselves for a hell of a read. It breaks my heart to see a very dear friend of mine have to go through this. But its so important we all talk about it and help in any way we can. ~ Maria 

All photographs by Maria Farrelly Photography

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My First Year Of Marriage

It’s hard to believe that it was a year ago that my sister-in-law Beth and I embarked on the first part of the marriage adventure. We headed to Wrexham to collect Jessie, the VW Split Camper. Wedding car, Honeymoon, Taxi and Camping adventure. I still remember the fear of the ‘slow brakes’ as we started rolling down the side of a mountain. And to be honest, that was the scariest part of the whole wedding. I found myself the day of the wedding – composed, excited and just so so happy.   I know that your wedding day is supposed to be the best day of your life, for a lot of brides it is the total opposite. But for me it was. It was bursting with laughter, love, fun and a massive party with all those around me that I love. Everybody had an absolute blast and it made Steve and I very aware of how fortunate we are to have such loving friends and family around us.Dawn_Steve_Wedding-286-of-964Dawn_Steve_Wedding-420-of-964Dawn_Steve_Wedding-650-of-964So, we toured Wales in ‘Jessie’ and loved our family camping trip. We were a proper family – not conventional but still a happy little family; Me, Steve, Imogen, Madeleine and Yvie. Made up of step parents, parents, step kids and daughters but so unbelievably happy.
It reminded me that the happiest times are being together, not spending money and paying for theme parks; but playing rounders, surfing and playing games together. Although it was not an ‘easy holiday’ it was perfect. At the time, this was THE honeymoon. However, thanks to the wedding party’s generosity, we were able to have a beautiful honeymoon in Mauritius – just the two of us! (Admit it, you just sang that in your head). We met some fantastic friends and enjoyed some ‘us time’. However, as in life nothing is perfect – while we were away Steve was head hunted for a dream job (so negotiations were rife throughout the trip) and the sale of our house fell through. It was a very harsh reminder that even in paradise, life has a funny way of throwing things your way. Little did we know how much could change in a year! And this crap was nothing to worry about.triple_negative_breast_cancer_maria_farrelly_photography-8

When we got back to ‘real life’ we worked hard to re-sell the house and finally found the house of our dreams. I had lost my father in the April, so when we found this house – I felt like my dad had somehow played a part in it. My dad’s Chinese sign – a dragon, everything at his funeral was blue as he was a MASSIVE Blue Bird supporter. This was a blue house, on Dragon Way; it was destined to be. While Steve worked like a dog, I was able to co-ordinate the house being turned into ‘ours’. Every single part of it was chosen together; the decorating, light fittings, furniture, colour scheme, bedding… you name it, we chose it together. (Like most couples I showed Steve what I liked, we ‘discussed’ it until he realised I was right and then he agreed. Like I said, we chose it ‘together’ lol.) For the first time in a long time I felt Steve and I were truly together; married, living together and settled. Don’t get me wrong, I paint this as a blissful event – but it was far from it; chasing workmen, tidying dust and constant tip runs made married life stressful in the beginning. Poor Steve coming off nights to a constant sound of workmen and machinery. But we got there – because we ALWAYS made time for each other. By Christmas our happy ever after was here. My follow up scans were clear, my check-ups good and I had just started applying for new jobs to start in Easter/Summer.

Steve and I know how important time is. Time together. Proper dates. So every Friday we did something even if only a film. Then once a fortnight we embarked on alphabet dating and had some incredible fun doing them; Arcades, Boat trips, Clay Pigeon Shooting, Devon, Egg Hunt, Forests, Glamping, H…..triple_negative_breast_cancer_maria_farrelly_photography-16

Then BAM… it’s all totally f*@cked up! A lump. A BLOODY LUMP! The C word didn’t even give me chance to enjoy my happy ever after. Didn’t even get half way through the bloody alphabet. How can I have had a check-up less than a month ago and now the dreaded lump – the lump that tells me I’ve definitely lost my battle with C. She’s won. I know now the hope of a long happy ever after was gone… as if it returned in less than 2 years it would be incurable. Through my tears and shaking body I held on to the hope that I had caught it early enough to remove it and start again with treatment – but I knew that was a long shot. Scans, scans and more scans, and I’m given my prognosis. Terminal. That bloody word. The word you only want to see at an airport. Ok, so 10 years…. 5 years…. Nope – the average is 11 months. How? I feel so well?! This was not supposed to happen. Not so soon after having my happy ever after. FFS. What have I done to deserve this hand? I ask myself this question daily.   It’s part of my mantra these days.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not terrified of death, what happens when I die… the horrible thoughts that we all push to the back of our minds as they make our tummy’s flip and mouth dry out. But through my own anguish and heartache the real pain I feel every day is for my girls. My poor girls. 12 and 8 years old. triple_negative_breast_cancer_maria_farrelly_photography-7How can life be so cruel. Then I think of my poor Steve. How selfish it was of me to pull him into this nightmare… thinking love would get us through. Then my poor mum, brother John and his wife Beth. They haven’t fully grieved over the loss of my dad and here they are again – living this nightmare with me every day in true ‘Abram’ style. Solid. Brave. Defiant. We close ranks and rally around and we are a force to be reckoned with.

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Life will never EVER be the same again. It is so unfair. Two perfectly healthy people have 2 beautiful girls. Who would believe 7 years on our girls would have both parents terminally ill. It is unbelievable! So as he has every other time before, my Angel is there… by my side, never faltering. Putting up with my mood swings, my utter despair and yet still looking at me as if I am the most beautiful person in the world. I thought he was my angel. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe he is my children’s angel. The person who can help raise them as a team effort with my wonderful family.triple_negative_breast_cancer_maria_farrelly_photography-10

My friends have all been incredible too, all helping in their own little ways. One came around to make random cocktails (and have a looooong lie in the next day) – Sorry A! Others have sat drinking tea and watching films. Some have helped financially while others have entertained the girls. Some have even enabled me to do special days with the girls like trying on wedding dresses (Staff at Do You Believe are legends) while others have organised fund raisers that proved to be a legendary after school party. Some have organised photo sessions, others have sent me photos from times gone by. Some people I have never even met have donated – it’s incredible, others have reached out on social media. Every single one playing their part in the drama that is my life. From school, college, uni, work, ponty, holidays – you name it, they’ve been there. One has touched base with her god daughter all the way from Tel Aviv and one has even gone as far as to get married – just for me! (lol… okay – it may be because she’s in love with her soldier, but we both know really, she’s getting married this year so that I can be there and enjoy her special day with her). All in all… I have simply amazing friends. This kindness gives me strength every day. I love you all and can never tell you how grateful I am and do it justice.

So now it’s time to stop crying and FIGHT. FIGHT HARDER THAN I HAVE EVER FOUGHT. So here I am on a clinical trial… praying for my miracle. I am reminded daily that a long life is unachievable. I keep telling my clinical team that I WILL be that miracle that sits there in a few months and is told that I am NED. The most amazing letters in the alphabet. No Evidence of Disease. (This would mean I am still incurable – but am keeping the cancer under control). With Triple Negative Cancer, it tends not to be receptive to treatment – but, for some it does and no one knows why they are the lucky ones. So I remind my nurses and Doctors that I am indeed the chosen one. I see their looks sometimes; a mix of fear that I do not understand the severity of my situation and sadness that I am deluding myself as experience says I am wrong. But I don’t buy it. No-one will tell me when I am going to die. I will decide… and it will be when there are ZERO options left as I will try everything! I will NOT go down without a fight.

So screw you Cancer. This is only the FIRST of MANY anniversary’s with my man. I mean the present I got him is legendary – I have to be able to buy more. Where there is life there is hope. Where there is love there is hope and where there is hope there are miracles. And if my fight is not as long as I hope it will be – I have had the privilege of knowing my fate. I have been able to do memory days with the girls, talk through memories and photographs and simply be together. Not stuck is school, marking every night, working 70 hours a week. Good. Quality. Family Time. So, you see, I am not the cursed one I thought I was – I am blessed. Not many mums are lucky enough to have this special time. So, as I go off to my romantic weekend in Cornwall with tranquillity and a hot tub, I thank you… all of those that have helped and continue to do so. You know who you are – too many to mention. But I beg you – every single bride… follow my very simple rules in life and you will be happy;

Live every moment

Laugh every day

Love beyond words

Dance like no one is watching.

Wow, Dawn my lovely… you know how much I value our friendship. You are one very special woman! Myself and all the other Cwtch girls are right here for you and will do everything we can to help! (even if that means making more cocktails ;) ~ Maria