Dawn bravely shared her wedding story with us last year. And while some of us stress about the seating plan, our bridesmaids arguing or a typo on the invites… Dawn not only fought cancer once but was sadly having to also cope with her father suddenly passing away only weeks before her big day. Her story really does put life into perspective. She is nothing short of an inspiration to us all. A year on from her wedding, she was then dealt a devastating blow. Life really can be cruel at times.
And yet, through all of this, she has still managed to help and inspire all our readers, with posts such as this: checking your boobs!
So please, bring your bridesmaids, your mother, your father, your grandparents… bring whoever you wish… Cancer affects us all. Lets celebrate friendship in all its forms and raise some much needed money for this special woman to enjoy with her girls. Lets help her create some wonderful memory days.
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….
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.
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
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.So, 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.
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…..
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. How 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.
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.
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 x
Today, It is with a very heavy heart I write this post.
I’ve sat here for hours trying to find the right words but nothing seems to be working. The tears just roll.
My Cwtch Girls are like sisters to me, best friends, the bridesmaids I never had. The success of Cwtch The Bride has never been down to me. It’s these incredible women that work with me. We all ride this wave together. So when one of my Cwtch Girls are hurt, so am I.
Owen Mathias Photography
Last week we were given some devastating news that left us all numb. We didn’t really know how to process it. We cried, we sat there speechless and felt utterly helpless. I wanted to scream and post angry statuses across the blog but I couldn’t find the words. We also needed to get Cwtchfest out of the way before we shared this.
Our brave and inspiring Boobless Bride Dawn had found a new lump. For anyone, finding a lump of any kind is scary. However, When you’ve already battled triple negative Breast Cancer, lost both breasts and survived… this lump brought with it a terrifying new fear.
Dawn let me feel the lump. It was small, about the size of a Cadbury mini egg (sorry… theres a bag of them on my desk and it’s the only thing I can see that’s similar in size). This lump isn’t going away either. It brought with it the devastating news that her cancer is back. Only this time, its worse….it’s incurable and doctors have told her she may only have two years left.
Please let that sink in for a moment. TWO YEARS!
Today, I’m asking for your help. I’m sharing Dawn & Steve’s beautiful wedding again which I had the honour of photographing. They haven’t even celebrated their first wedding anniversary yet. I want you all to look at each and every photograph and think about how special every moment of this day is. The beauty of life is not seen in staged photographs, its in the everyday moments. The laughter, the tears, the things we don’t realise we take for granted. Our Time.
We all know a wedding day is special yet i’m now learning just how special EVERY day is. Every moment we get to share with loved ones is precious, we just don’t realise how much until we’re told our time is being taken away.
Dawn has two beautiful Daughters Imogen & Maddie whom I’ve gotten to know very well. What makes this all the more heartbreaking is that the girls father (Dawn’s ex), is in the advanced stages of Huntingtons Disease (a progressive brain disorder) and the children are facing the prospect of losing both parents before their teenage years. (This breaks my heart)
A Just Giving page has been set up for Dawn and her family. If there is one thing you could do for her right now, Its donate what you can to help fund some very special memories her children need to make with her right now. In the past week (thanks to donations), Dawn has has already been able to start creating happy memories with her girls. The media are also following this story and helping to raise awareness. But we need to do more.
Dawn asked me to photograph her entire family together last saturday, it was something very important to her. She wanted me to create some fabulous images of her family together before her chemo starts and she loses her hair. (Damn that was so hard to write) I’ll be sharing the images very soon.
Helen from Do you Believe invited Dawn & Imogen into the boutique to try on some wedding dresses. A special moment every daughter cherishes with their mother.
We are planning to organise something very special for Dawn and are asking all our readers and fabulous wedding businesses to come forward and work with us on this. If you’d like to get involved please email us directly here and don’t forget to donate
Real Weddings: Our Boobless Bride Dawn, and Steve’s Perfect Day
Maria Farrelly got to witness their day, and capture it, makes it even more wonderful.
What was your budget?
We need to keep the costs as low as possible as I have been off work for over 18 months. But realistically I think it came in at around £7,000.
How would you describe your wedding theme?
As you already know I have been battling breast cancer for almost 2 years now. In August 2015 I was awaiting very serious scan results to see if the cancer had spread. A terminal diagnosis would have overshadowed any future plans, I had always wanted to take the children to Disney so thought – right now, I am not terminally ill so would embrace the opportunity to have a carefree time with my girls. So, with one of my closest friends Marie and her daughter Isabella in tow, we headed off to Euro Disney. Although it should have been the most frightening time of my life, somehow I barely thought of the scan results. The magic of Disney completely consumed us and we had the best time. One of the days we were there, the children were playing in the Alice and Wonderland Maze. I can remember feeling so full of love, hope and determination – after all I have so much to live for. So, when Steve proposed to me it just seemed absolutely right for the theme to be Alice in Wonderland. Not only was it such a positive memory for me with the children, it married well with my love of vintage clothes and big Petticoats! What was your favourite part of your wedding?
I know this is going to sound ridiculously cheesy but for me the best part of the wedding was having all of my loved ones and friends with us to celebrate not only the wedding but getting through the previous 18 months. It felt like both families really united and all our friends came together to have one hell of a party. The band were incredible… everyone danced the whole night long.
However, there were two moments that were particularly special for me on the day…
I organised a balloon release in memory of my father. All guests had a balloon with a label on saying a guests name, the details of the wedding and an email address to tell us how far the balloon had travelled. All of my friends and loved ones gathered on the golf course, each holding a different coloured balloon in memory of his name. Instead of crying I stood proud and watched every balloon slowly float to the clouds – hoping that my dad would see them pass by. Unknown to me at the time, the guests were eagerly trying to find out who had their balloon and it acted as an ice breaker and became their favourite part too. I would never have dreamed when I planned this part of the wedding that it would become the most special part for me. Each balloon symbolised hope, love and freedom. It was not sinister or morbid, it was a happy moment with my father close in my thoughts and resulted in one of my favourite photos of the day.
The second moment that was particularly special to me was captured by Maria. Steve was saving for a VW Camper before he met me, I kind of ruined his plans. Instead of a vehicle symbolic of freedom and carefree life, he bought an engagement ring and wedding symbolic of restriction and responsibility. So I decided, I wouldn’t have a stuffy wedding car. I would hire a vintage VW camper. So I started ringing around and all of the companies I spoke to quoted over £600 to simply pick me up and take me to the first venue. So then I discovered ‘Split the Difference’. A couple who manage a company that hire out VW Campervans. For the same money I could hire the camper…for a week!!!! Bosh!!!! Wedding car and honeymoon sorted in one go. So… mad you may think, the day before the wedding. Beth and I (my Maid of Honour) set off from Newport to Wrexham to collect ‘Jessie’ our beautiful camper. A very slow and long journey home was worth every second when I saw Steve’s face when we came out of the ceremony. It was sheer delight. A magical moment.
Tell us about your Wedding Dress
Choosing a wedding dress was always going to be a difficult part of the wedding planning for me. When I met Steve I was a size 12, long legs, beautiful hair (extensions cough cough) and excuse me for being crude but as Steve said “a great rack”. But here I was newly engaged, a size 20, completely bald – not even an eyelash and no breasts. I thought it would be impossible to find anything that I would feel beautiful in. But my sister-in-law was fantastic she came to shop after shop in a bid to find this miraculous dress that in essence would replicate the powers of the Harry Potter invisibility cloak. You know… make me feel thin, attractive and sexy – all the things I did not. I came out of every bridal shop feeling exactly the same; deflated, insecure and reluctant to continue looking. Then Beth reminded me of how wonderful Helen at Do you believe? in Newport had been when she married my brother. So we headed to Helen in a bid to find a wedding dress like no other.
Immediately Helen made me believe that not only could we find a beautiful dress but one that would meet my very obscure specification. Tea length dress with a vintage feel that would nip in at the waist, have a high neck to hide my prosthetics and sleeves that would enable me to cover my arms as the Lymphedema swelling is very unpredictable…. oh and more importantly would go with my beautiful blue petticoat that I bought at the vintage Fair in Cardiff. Helen didn’t feel that she had anything that match this criteria, however this was not going to stop Helen giving me that bridal moment. Together we designed my dress – a completely bespoke dress. We chose the style together, the lace, the embellishment and I simply knew that she would give me a beautiful dress.
Everything was going beautifully and as with all perfectly laid plans we hit a problem. Where I’ve had the mastectomy fat pockets collect in the most bizarre and unusual of places so imagine my surprise when I have my final fitting and discover my body has miraculously started to grow its own breasts!!!! On my bloody back!!! That’s right – my dress is done up and from the front I look beautiful… but…I turn around and there hanging over the back of my dress are what can only be described as two of the biggest boobs I have ever seen made from back fat. So as you can imagine the meltdown began. Helen with the help of Val at House of Couture in Maindee set about hiding my new assets. They removed the cap sleeves, found a lace bolero and added embellishment to the edge of my dress to match. Before I knew it I was feeling more confident again. I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t wish I was a size 10 with long flowing hair a beautiful waistline and an ample bosom, but with all things considered I felt as beautiful as I ever could have felt on the day and that was all thanks to Helen going above and beyond what was required of her. I was absolutely delighted when Helen agreed to be a guest at the wedding because truly I went into her bridal shop a customer and came out a dear friend.
Who did you pick as your bridesmaids &/or best man and why?
Picking the bridesmaids was probably one of the most difficult tasks for me when it came to the wedding. How could you choose a select few when so many had been wonderful to me over the years. One thing that I did know, I wanted my sister-in-law Beth to be my Maid of Honour, she has become more like a sister to me over recent years and would keep me calm on the day. But how do I chose the bridesmaids? There’s Cath – the bestie that went all through school with me and shared many a night on MD 20/20 with me in Caerleon? Boon -who went all through college with me, can make me laugh in any situation and is yet to have a boyfriend with an actual name!? Pirate!? ASDA!? Millionaire Guy?! No idea what any of them were actually called… go figure. Jodie – who was there when I had a complete melt down and stayed sober enough to make sure my antics came back to bite me in the bum. Emma – my partner in crime on school trips who is my rock when it comes to the children or Lindsay who swam across the river Thames with me after a drunken night as it looks like a shortcut. I mean how can you choose from such a high calibre of Friends lol? Simple really…. I asked them all!!! Now don’t get me wrong there could have been so many more as so many of my friends have been an incredible support over the years but most of them were married and it made sense that they could sit in the congregation with their husbands. So that what it… my 6 Single Sisters would be asked to be my bridesmaids.
Now for the flower girls…well we’ve got three children between us Imogen, Madeleine and Yvie and I couldn’t leave out Ngaire and Isabella who are like daughters to me, so the bridal party doubled in size. I know what you’re thinking… more people are going to walk down the aisle than be seated but that’s a luxury of it being MY wedding… I can do just as I please – so I did.
As for the best man it was a simple choice for Steve. He asked his lifelong friend and advisor Mike. Mike was given the job of embarrassing Steve and boy did he do a brilliant job of that. He provided one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard – and he tucked me up beautifully by quoting some of my face book posts during our time together. All based around food which poo poo’d my theory that the weight gain was solely down to steroids during treatment. Damn him lol.
Why did you choose your venue?
The Venue for us was very easy. When I was going through treatment we would go to Bellevue Park in Newport a couple of times a week to feed the squirrels. It was just about all I could manage but it was a beautiful location, the children absolutely loved finding squirrels and we enjoyed amazing food and drinks in the cafe. We became good friends with Matt and his team at Parc Pantry and new immediately this would be where the ceremony will be held.
When we started to put invites together it was quite apparent that congregation was going to be too big to fit in this venue for the whole day so looked for an evening venue. We Struck Gold when we found Tredegar Park Golf Club. Not only were the grounds absolutely breath-taking, but Neil and Kim were absolutely exceptional from start to finish. Although they had never done it before, they accommodated an afternoon tea as the wedding breakfast and purchased vintage crockery to make the tables look authentic. The food was plentiful, cakes as fresh as if they had just come out of a bakery and the hog roast was a massive hit. The function room is beautiful, big windows overlooking the course and exposed beams giving a wonderful ambience and we even got to sit with Neil for an hour at the end of the night and share what a wonderful time we had. I cannot recommend both venues more highly – they truly made it a magical day.
Tell us about your photographer
I’ve been very fortunate when planning my wedding, things just seemed to fall into place. Not only was I able to enjoy all the girlie aspects of planning it, but I actually met a number people that have gone on to be really good friends. None more so than your very own Cwtch Queen, Maria Farrelly. When a friend of mine Amy recommended I entered the competition to join Cwtch The Bride as a ‘Bride to Be’ contributor, I never dreamt that I would not only win, but meet an incredible group of women. I found in Maria a kindred spirit, we instantly hit it off and I found writing the blogs not only purposeful but therapeutic. When Maria when I started talking more we realised we had a lot in common and although women follow cwtch from all areas in Wales, we actually lived very close to each other… so we met up and have grown closer friends ever since.
At this point I did have a photographer booked but fate stepped in and my photographer called to explain they had been double booked. Immediately I got in touch with Maria in hope that she may be available. Maria had very few dates available so it was looking unlikely that this would be an option, however I truly believe it was just meant to be as she was indeed available on the 28th of May. Without even looking at any of her photographs of portfolio I booked her. I am a people person and knew instantly I wanted her involved in the day and trusted that she would give us the most beautiful photos. More importantly she understood my body confidence issues and could help me work through that on the day – and I wasn’t disappointed. She made us feel relaxed and was the professional throughout. At no point did it feel staged or uncomfortable – in fact at some point I don’t even remember her being there. She disappeared into the shadows and captured every moment beautifully. The only thing I regret is that because she was so busy working on the day she was unable to really celebrate with me. She is a dear friend of mine now and I would have liked her to have been there as a guest.
How did the proposal happen?
Well, unknown to me, Steve has tried on 4 different occasions to propose, but because I had just had the all clear and the kids were off school – I kept bringing the girls along to our ‘date day’ – oops. So eventually Stephen put his foot down – “I haven’t had a day on my own with you since your ‘all clear’ so we need some ‘us’ time. I agreed, and we decided to celebrate by climbing pen-y-fan, it would be symbolic of the journey we have climbed. True Welsh style, it hammered down with rain. Someone got struck by lightning up there during the last storm so we both agreed that I have danced with the devil lately as it is so this would be stupid. So instead we would head to Neath Waterfalls. 8 Miles we walked – 4 waterfalls later and a beautiful day had by all. Soaked through we went back to the car, changed into dry clothes and went into a little hikers pub. We had a beautiful meal and I said – as if setting the moment “this is a beautiful pub, warm, lovely and full of character – if I ever get married again I’m going to take up hiking to shift the weight” with that he said – best start walking then and put a little black box – not the type that find aeroplanes – this is the one that finds tears, immediately. Tears rolling down my cheek he asked if I would marry him – of course I said yes.
But this is not the real story of the proposal – the real story is how I ruined the intended proposal. Picture this – beautiful waterfall, full as it was raining so heavily, no one around, beautiful sounds of wildlife active in the storm…I’m stood on a little bridge gazing into the waterfall. Steve walks to me, puts his arm around me (in his head this is the moment) – “Dawn” Steve said… “Yes babes” I said…. then before he could say another word I interrupt him – I’m known for it, I’m an excitable person – to advise him that I would like to head back to the car soon as I’m that wet my pants are soaking and its chaffing my arse. NOOOOOOO!!!!! Moment killed…so that was the end of the beautiful waterfall proposal. Oops. But to be honest, it makes the whole ordeal more ‘me-like’.
Any DIY stories/tutorials you’d like to share?
For me the little touches in a wedding are what makes it special. So I spent hours making little bits and pieces that would make the difference on the table. I ordered off eBay bags of little brass keys and painstakingly tied luggage labels to them for name cards that would complement the theme. I also wrapped all the cutlery in beautiful little Ribbons embroidered with mine and Steve’s name and the date of the wedding.
One of my bridesmaids Lindsay also made beautiful favours for me which really added to the impact of the Alice and Wonderland theme. Little mini eggs in jars with ‘eat me’ labels and small shot bottles with ‘drink me’ – everyone commented on how beautiful they were.
I designed vintage themed name labels and used Microsoft Excel to mail merge them so that they could be printed on mass in a few minutes. Ladies – MAIL MERGE IS THE WAY FORWARD – it saved me hours, was the best thing I did. Finally, the centrepieces I made myself by simply collecting old vintage books from car boot sales and tying them in hessian and lace. I couldn’t have been happier with my tables and my boss was so impressed he tried to convince me that there was a career in wedding planning for me!!!
What was your first dance & why?
When Stephen I first started getting serious it was a standing joke that he wouldn’t say he loved me – just that he tolerated me more than anyone else he had ever met. This went on to him saying he would write his own vows as he could not commit to ‘til death us do part’ as he had no way of knowing what the future held. (Of course this is all bants) But it seemed only fitting to have a song that was special for us bad had the underlying tone of sarcasm that Steve is renowned for. So there was only really one choice it had to be Beach Boys, God Only Knows – Steve was a keen Surfer in his youth and I genuinely would not have got through the relentless treatment and surgery without him, so I really don’t know what I would be without him. Plus the first line said ‘I may not always love you’ anyone that knows Stephen would find this funny. So we both started the first dance, awkwardly swaying back and forth singing to each other at top pelt ‘I MAY NOT ALWAYS LOVE YOU and sobbing by the ‘God only knows what I’d be without you’ line… but found the children surrounding us in a circle – never one to miss an opportunity I pulled the kids into our dance and our romantic moment became the ‘Okey Kokey’. It was amazing.
In hindsight, was there anything you would have done differently?
In hindsight the only thing that I would have done differently was not wait so long to get married (although 9 months sounds a short engagement in our situation we should have seized the day). We waited until May hoping that my father would have overcome his treatment for leukaemia, little did we know that by waiting that few extra months, my father would not be there. And that truly breaks my heart.
Do you have any advice for future couples?
The best bit of advice I can give to future couples is…don’t get so pulled into the obsessive perfectionism of the day and lose the significance of why you are there in the first place. Enjoy every second the day will be over in a flash. Stephen and I had a good 90 minutes to leisurely have photos taken, but we were in our own golf buggy travelling across the golf course which gave us time to enjoy the moment together before the ‘mingling’ and ‘drinking’ began. We were completely loved up in that moment. I think every bride and groom should time at least an hour alone – not surrounded by photographers and caterers and bridesmaids but the two of you alone in love – time to … just be.
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you received?
I’m not sure this is a piece of marriage advice but it is my mantra – the way I keep positive and happy… with a little Dawnism thrown in for good measure.
Live every moment – Don’t waste time arguing, say your piece and move on.
Laugh everyday – Get pleasure in those little moments (I recommend Alphabet dating)
Love beyond words – Don’t assume they know, tell them every day.
And dance like nobody’s watching – Don’t worry what other people think… dance together in the rain!
What was your favourite thing about planning a wedding?
The best part for me about planning the wedding was meeting so many amazing people along the way. Although I went to them as a client I genuinely felt I met friends – I have already mentioned so many but there was Molly – the lead singer of The Supers. They were an incredible band that got everyone dancing, completely adjusted their running order to fit around the beautiful weather and played like their life depended on it. Lucy and the Girls that had 11x hair and makeup to do in one morning…what an accomplishment and great fun. Pat and Paul who let us use Jessie and made the most beautiful bouquet as decoration inside, Neil at AJC Cardiff who designed and created the most beautiful engagement and wedding ring, Elisa who designed the table plan, Hilary at Hilarys flowers who produced the most beautiful Top Table pieces using cake stands… too many to name everyone but thank you all the same. I just seemed to experience such kindness and generosity – One lady on ebay for example… I sent her a picture from Pinterest of a setting I was trying to recreate…she went to the length of folding about 30 different napkins in the exact way I showed her, with cutlery, photographed them and sent the pics to me so I could see what went best with the crockery I had. It must have taken her hours… all because she wanted to do her bit to make my day special. It’s completely restored my faith in humanity because it’s easy to only remember the idiots that plague your day.
Today is a very significant day. Today is the 3rd March! Many of you won’t know the importance of this day but Dawn, our Boobless Bride, will explain all.
Hey girlfriends. Can you believe we are in March already?! Spring is fast approaching and March holds a very important date for me and thousands of other women across the globe. So, I hope you don’t mind… but I am going to throw a curve ball this time and not actually talk about anything Bridal and I will explain why.
Every bride is unique; her style, shape, height, complexion and preferences differ – resulting in every wedding being an exclusive event. But there is one thing all us brides have in common. We are women. Very busy women. We are Daughters, Girlfriends, Mums, Employees, Managers, Entrepreneurs, Friends, Trouble shooters, Role Models, Cleaners, Chauffeurs, Chefs, DIY experts, First Aiders, Wedding Planners… the list goes on. Our lives are crazy busy and we are often so good at looking after EVERYONE else around us that we neglect ourselves. That is why March is so important.
3rd March is the Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) Awareness Day. Prior to November 2014 I had never heard of Triple Negative Breast Cancer. In fact I thought breast cancer was breast cancer… one potentially deadly disease that has a very good prognosis these days. My ignorance was short lived (probably not the best choice of words) – because I was told that not only did I have breast cancer – I had Triple Negative – arguably the worst type of breast cancer due to the nature of how it grows. Would you believe it…There are 8 different types of breast cancer?! And each cancer has sub groups so there are significantly more than 8 in reality. Each cancer has a specific course of treatment tailored to each patients’ symptoms, scan results and needs.
So what is TNBC?! Don’t worry – I won’t go too scientific as I am certainly not a medic, but there are 3 receptors in a cancer cell; Oestrogen, Progesterone or Her2 and the presence or absence of one or more determine the cancer type.
As explained by Cancer Research UK…Receptors are proteins that some cancer cells have. When specific substances in your body attach to specific receptors, they trigger a reaction in the cell. When they are triggered, oestrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and Her2 receptors can tell breast cancer cells to grow.
Oestrogen attaches to oestrogen receptors. Progesterone attaches to progesterone receptors. And Her2 attaches to Her2 receptors. Some breast cancers have one or more of these receptors. Triple negative breast cancers don’t have any of them.
Because there are no receptors this cancer grows incredibly quickly and aggressively, it is more common in younger women and is often a sign that you are carrying the BRCA1 (Breast cancer gene). As part of the process, I completed a medical family tree – no one in the family had had breast cancer so the oncology team were happy that it was unlikely to be genetic as my mum and nan had not had it or my fathers sisters. However, I read a lot about TNBC and felt with two daughters it was important to officially rule this out. Thank god I did as I was told (after several months) that I have the breast cancer gene. How is this possible? No women in my family have ever had breast cancer?! Well the sneaky git travelled down my dad’s side of the family so I was the first female to be affected. The genetics testing team were as shocked as I was. So frustrating as if I had known I had the gene I would have been screened regularly and would never have found myself in this position. But at least now my girls will be tested and if they have the gene they will be screened closely and given the chance to have elected mastectomies and reconstruction. The BRCA1 gene also increases the chance of ovarian cancer so I have had a hysterectomy and again my girls will need to decide if they have an elected hysterectomy in their 30’s. It makes me wonder how many other women are carrying this serial killer around with them – completely unaware that he may strike at any time and change your life forever.
I must point out that breast cancer in someone my age (33) is very rare – but not unknown. Because of this it is easily misdiagnosed. You know your body… so if you find ANYTHING that you feel is not ‘right’ or has changed. Get it checked out. I genuinely knew from the moment I found the lump that something was seriously wrong. It took 3 trips to the GP before I received an appointment to see a specialist as experience said under 40s don’t have breast cancer and with no breast cancer in the family it would almost always be a cyst. But my case is not exclusive so I beg you ladies…push to see a breast specialist.
So…why am I banging on about cancer…again…how boring I hear you cry. Well I found the lump in September 2014 the size of a pea. By the time I was diagnosed 8 weeks later it was 12cms and had spread to my lymphatic system – meaning my treatment needed to be quick and extensive. I acted the second I found the lump – and it was still touch and go. A tumour over 5cm in size generally means the cancer will have spread. I was extremely lucky that mine hadn’t and with only a 6% 5 year survival rate for my cancer and number of lymph nodes affected. I am definitely not out of the woods – but imagine if I had delayed seeking medical advice. I would almost certainly not be sat here in my pjs writing a blog to you lovely people or planning a beautiful wedding with my best friend.
So on the 3rd March it is National Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day. And I beg you to;
And continue to do so EVERY MONTH thereafter.
I have been working with Breast Cancer Care – who have been my rock throughout my diagnosis and treatment and they have sent me details to help you know what to do.
• There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts. Whatever your age, it’s really important to get to know your breasts and what’s normal for you.
• Breast cancer’s not just a lump, try to be aware of any changes that are different for you – things like puckering or dimpling, redness or a rash, your nipple becoming inverted (pulled in) or changing its position or shape, a change in the size or shape of your breasts or any discharge from your nipples.
• Remember to check all parts of your breast, including your armpits and up to your collarbone.
• Knowing what warning signs to look for can lead to earlier detection of breast cancer. This can be crucial in providing more effective treatment and, ultimately, saving lives.
• If you notice any unusual breast changes go and see your GP as soon as possible.
• Not all changes will be breast cancer, but if you are diagnosed your specialist team will then discuss your treatment options with you.
• Call Breast Cancer Care’s nurses free on 0808 800 6000 or visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk for more information.
We aren’t just brides, we are women and we need to look after ourselves.