One Year On (a bit of a ramble)

On our wedding day. Image by the amazing Maria Farrelly

On our wedding day. Image by the amazing Maria Farrelly

This week we booked a cottage in St David’s to celebrate our first wedding anniversary when it hit me – that is only 6 weeks away! I don’t quite know where that time has gone.

This time last year I was suffering from laryngitis and hoping my voice would come back in time to say my vows, it eventually came back during my amazing hen weekend (read about it here, and see our wedding here) where I discovered that laughter really is the best medicine, well, laughter and prosecco. Now I’m sitting here in our new house reflecting over the past year.

My amazing hen. Image by I Am VIP

My amazing hen. Image by 

When you get married there are three words you will hear A LOT and I don’t mean “I love you”, I’m talking about the question you will inevitably hear often: “how’s married life?” In reality on a day to day basis our married life isn’t much different to our pre-married life. We still live together, we went from saving for a wedding to saving for a house and now we are saving to do up that house, we still go to work every day and we still spend far too much time on facebook groups (ok maybe that’s just me). But there is something about being married that does feel different and it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what it is; it’s a sense of security and contentment that comes from being an official unit, we are family now, we have the same last name (although that bit did take a lot of getting used to!) and it’s a nice feeling.

If you google (other search engines are available) the first year of marriage you will see pages of articles on how hard the first year of marriage is, I won’t deny that over the last 11 months there have been times that I’ve wanted to kill him but then he does something like putting on our wedding video or pulling out colour charts for me to pour over and all is forgiven.

We have had a busy year, following our amazing honeymoon in Sorrento we started house hunting and we finally bought our first house together in June this year. It’s a real DIY project and we have a busy few years ahead of us making it beautiful, Mark has been slogging away to give me a gorgeous fireplace and magnificent restored parquet floor and I am so proud of him. I have been doing a photography course through Ffotogallery in Cardiff and am absolutely loving it, I’ve made some great new friends and find it very therapeutic.

Visiting Positano on Honeymoon

Visiting Positano on Honeymoon

The Great Big House Project

The Great Big House Project

Progress so far thanks to my amazing husband (I did help!)

Progress so far thanks to my amazing husband (I did help!)

I am lucky to have a great circle of family and friends, many of whom came to my incredible surprise birthday party that Mark arranged on Easter Sunday, I am still a bit in shock about that- biggest surprise ever! I also count myself lucky that I met three amazing ladies Sarah, Karen and Philippa who also got married last year and because we are all going through very similar things they have been an amazing support system. Thank you wives.

My amazing birthday cake made by my friend Bonnie and based on our E Shoot photos by Maria

My amazing birthday cake made by my friend Bonnie and based on our E Shoot photos by Maria

Most of you are still planning your weddings and I am mildly envious of that but am really enjoying my old married status. I’m not sure if this post is intended to give advice or if it’s more of a ramble but if I was going to give advice I would say: get yourself a support system, don’t take your new husband for granted, enjoy each other’s company and arrange treats or weekends away together when you can, get yourself a post wedding project to stave off the post wedding blues but keep reading Cwtch the Bride for that little wedding fix :)

If like me you are at or past the one year point and have any advice, comments or just general wisdom please get in touch through the comments below, and any brides to be if you have any questions then likewise please use the comments box and all of us here at Cwtch will do our best to help.

Lots of love

Charlie x

Alternative Order of Service ideas

Our Classic Bride Charlie is back on the blog today offering some alternative Order of Service ideas for you all. Over to you Charlie :) 

Maria Farelly Cardiff Castle Wedding Charlie&Mark_077

 A couple of months ago the lovely Kelly from White Crafts wrote this post telling us how to write an Order of Service.

This is mainly important in religious ceremonies where guests need the words to the hymns so I know a lot of civil ceremony brides wonder if they really need one. As always I say “If you want to”! It certainly isn’t essential but we decided we wanted one so that guests would have an idea of the timings of the day and also to give the bridal party a mention.

There are some really simple ways you can make an order of service that looks great and gives people all the information they need. One way that doesn’t involve printers (almost everyone I know who DIY’d their stationery had a printer disaster at some point! We ended up having to buy a new one, oops) is to use a blackboard like this one below, this way you have all the information in one place and can set it up at the entrance to your ceremony room.  Cheap but effective!


Source: Cedarwood Weddings

 Or for something a little bit different how about sticking your OOS on a lollypop stick like my friend Sarah did:

gemma williams photography

Image by Gemma Williams Photography

If you are having a summer wedding you could always make your OOS double up as a fan!

OOS fan

Source: Etsy

 And I absolutely love these order of service confetti bags that I found on eBay!


They would be a really fun DIY project and quite simple too. If you try it please send in pictures to us, we would LOVE to feature them!

We DIY’d ours and made them “Orders of the Day” rather than Orders of Service. They were pretty simple in design, we made little booklets and included images from our Engagement shoot to brighten them up, along with a Celtic border to symbolise that we were getting married in a Welsh landmark.

c&m0545Image by Maria Farrelly

 We wanted to let people know the timings of the day and we also wanted to thank some specific people for the important roles they played in our day and the favours they had done for us so we included them in our OOD. We also included the order of ceremony and a little ‘who’s who’ of the bridal party on the centre pages.

photo 2 (2)

As you can see I bound them together using my sewing machine. I don’t profess to be the best seamstress so the sewing was a little bit ropey but it worked! We also decided to put a little Dr Seuss quote on the back page!

 photo 3 (1)

Have you decided whether you are going to have an order of service/order of the day? Are you going to DIY. We would love to hear your comments and see any photos you may have of your handiwork! Do drop us a line below

Until next time,

Charlie x


From Groom-to-Be and Beyond…The Honeymoon Edition!

Our Groom-to-be is now a fully fledged married man (if you missed his gorgeous wedding then you can check it out here!). Today he he’s tell give us the low down on his beautiful Italian honeymoon :) Take it away, Al! 

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I have to admit, there is something flagrantly ironic about a newlywed gay couple spending their first few nights of honeymoon in the Roman Catholic Capital of the world. But after seeing ‘Roman Holiday’, it seemed a pretty romantic place to begin our life of wedded bliss. Plus, I gather the new Pope is pretty liberal.

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Being the clichéd homosexual men that we are, our main concern on arrival at the Star Metropole Hotel was locating an iron. We had brand spanking new chinos to don and who wants to walk around Rome with crumpled pleats? No one in their right mind, obviously.

Upon discovering a trouser press we could relax and get on with enjoying our trip.

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The first night was surreal to say the least. In a good way. It was hard to believe that a mere 48 hours previous we had been sat on a marquee dance floor gyrating to “oops upside your head”. Not wanting to venture far due to post-wedding fatigue we had dinner in a nearby Japanese/Italian fusion restaurant- very trendy, darling- and were accosted by a middle aged Belgian couple who were sat at an inappropriate proximity to us (Italian seating has no sympathy for personal space).

Amongst the chit chat about Italian food, culture and architecture Mr Belgian Man came up with a nugget of advice so awesome in its simplicity that I was slightly taken aback: “Buildings and food and art are all great, but it’s relationships that truly matter.” Not to sound like a soppy fool but that has really stuck with me and was a perfect launch pad for our honeymoon… Maybe you just had to be there?!

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I won’t bore you with the details of our extensive sight seeing- that’s akin to a barrage of holiday snaps- but I will say that neither of us burst into flames on entering the Vatican, so that’s a plus. Also, Rome is beautiful. Crazy, loud and commercial, but beautiful all the same.

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My fondest memory is of our last evening spent at a roof-top restaurant, the name of which escapes me. The waiter greeted us with a booming “Buona sera, Meester and Meester” and seated us next to what can only be described as the campest collage in human history; comprising of Madonna and Marilyn Monroe images, torn from magazines. Loved it.

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The meal was pretty rubbish but we got plastered on limoncello and gorged on ‘Fagola’ breadsticks, so what more could you want? Before leaving, and this is my favourite part, our vociferous waiter bounded over to tell Jonny that he looked like Andrew McCarthy: “You know, the guy from ‘Mannequin'”. My first thought was ‘how random’, closely followed by ‘does that make me Kim Cattrall in this scenario?’

Our next stop was the homoerotic hub that is Florence. Never have I seen so many statues of naked men with gloriously chiselled biceps, buns and pubic hair (oddly). I was surprised to learn, therefore, that Florence is actually quite conservative and has one of the smallest gay scenes in Italy. It seemed strange to me that a city famous for nurturing Renaissance art and culture could be quite so repressed. Not that you’d know it- the shopping alone was a gay man’s Mecca (Versace, Gucci, Dior. Oh my!) Correction, THIS gay man’s Mecca *no stereotyping*

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The hotel was a complete contrast to that of Rome’s. When arriving at the Alba Palace we instantly felt at ease. Granted, there were one too many replica busts in reception and our room was where yellow went to die, but there were sweet personal touches everywhere. For example, atop our mini bar were ‘his and hers’ teddy bears propped against a bottle of prosecco with a sign that read: “Happy Anniversary”… Awww, close but no cigar.

Florence was my favourite city of the tour. I’d like to say there were mostly cultural reasons behind this (of which there were a few) but mainly it was down to one thing: gelato.

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Somehow the stars aligned on our first evening stroll and we discovered what can only be described as the home of ice cream porn, in gelateria form. The Gelato Gods had smiled upon us and we did gorge. Sufficed to say this gelateria was frequented over the next few days and on each occasion the little plastic spoon had to be wrestled from my quivering hands. Unfortunately, I was so dazzled by the confections that I’ve forgotten the name of the place, but if we ever go back I know exactly where I’ll be heading.

Of course Florence houses several other impressive attractions. We were blown away by The Birth of Venus in the Uffizi Gallery, and the Ponte Vecchio has immense quirky charm (although best appreciated from the next bridge along), and if you’re not hampered by claustrophobia or vertigo the view from Giotto’s Campanile is pretty nifty. Okay, it’s stunning!

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But, oh! The gelato!

The next stop was Venice, and I am going to be stating the obvious here when I say it is an incredible place. For starters there are no deranged Italian drivers trying to run you over at every turn (always a plus). Of course we weren’t expecting any cars but it was bizarre nonetheless.

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Again, I won’t relate all details of our exploits but know this, dear readers: Venice is a labyrinth, and there’s no better place to get lost. For instance, it’s hard to stay angry with your husband during a row over directions when you really just want him to take a picture of you next to another beautiful bridge.

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I do have one anecdote that Cwtch readers will appreciate. While queuing for an evening concerto – as one does- a Japanese couple emerged from nowhere with an over zealous photographer in tow. That in itself was not weird, but the girl was dressed in a floor length red couture ball gown, diamanté tiara and crystal encrusted Louboutins (yes, I clocked those red soles immediately), while her beau was trussed up in a tux. They plunged into the queue for a series of awkward group shots with complete strangers, one of whom asked “Have you just got married?” The young lady replied “No, we just got engaged”, and off they scampered into the next gathering of unwitting tourists.

What the hell?! Firstly, had the photographer been present for the proposal? And secondly, if that was their engagement shoot what was the wedding going to be like?!

Our last three days in Italy were uber romantic. In fact with all the operatic gondolas, concertos and candlelit ‘meals for two’ it felt like a Rom Com on steroids. In retrospect this amorous haze had a slight opiate effect, resulting in temporary loss of reason and delusions of grandeur. Case in point; hiring a water-taxi to convey us 4 1/2 miles to the airport at an extortionate rate. At the time there seemed like no better way to end our adventure than waving arrivederci to Venice from the back of a speedboat at sunset, and thank goodness for such delusions, otherwise we’d have spent two hours on a water bus with 100 strangers.

Gay Honeymoon in Italy - Slightly Wobbly Designs_008I believe there is an expression which goes something like: “You will get lost in Rome, find yourself in Florence and fall in love in Venice”. For us it felt more like you will get lost in Rome, you will get lost in Florence and you will get lost in Venice. But that’s no big deal; we were pretty much in love at the start.

Thanks for reading Cwtchers! This is Mr Watkins-Stuart Esquire signing off


I Wish…Some Wedding Day Regrets

charlieOur classic bride Charlie is here today to talk about something that doesn’t often get mentioned – regrets from your wedding day! If you’re getting married soon take note from someone who has been there and done it – it won’t always be perfect (but that’s okay!).

Hello lovely Cwtchers!

This week I am going to be honest, in fact painfully honest with you, and say:

“My wedding day wasn’t perfect.”

Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing! But there were a few little things that meant it wasn’t the “perfect” day I had obsessed about for two and a half years! I am going to share them with you in the hope that it may just help one or two of you.

I wish we’d got married earlier

Everyone says it: “The day goes by so fast”, well I’m here to tell you that is an understatement! Our wedding day went by in such a blur that afterwards I honestly could hardly remember it; it was like trying to remember a dream. Having spent a large amount of money on our big day it was really upsetting to not be able to remember everything. We crammed so much in to quite a short space of time (our wedding was at 3.30pm) and I just think that getting married an hour or so earlier may have given us just a little bit longer to savour everything.

I am just so glad that we hired a videographer (we have watched the video so many times!) and that we allocated a large chunk of our budget to photography – Maria was literally there all day documenting every detail and when we got our wedding photos back I was over the moon to realise that I was finally remembering and reliving the day.

I wish I’d relaxed more

I planned to! When I pictured our wedding day I imagined being in my happy little bride bubble gliding around greeting everybody. In reality as soon as I arrived at the castle the nerves went into overdrive. I was so nervous I practically ran down the aisle! I became obsessed with time “Are we running late? Should we be doing such-and-such?” and stressed about guests “Oh I haven’t spoken to so-and-so.” “Is everyone having a good time?”.

The only times I was really relaxed were getting ready in the morning (before the nerves kicked in) and when we were having our couple photos because that was the only real time that I stopped and breathed and took it all in. Take it from me, do try and relax!

I wish we’d had a better wet weather plan (in writing)

I am still a bit gutted that it rained on our wedding day which is so silly because it is the one thing that we could do NOTHING about. My plans for relaxed outdoor games and photos were ruined! Maria kept her eye out for a little dry spell but it rained continuously from the time the bridesmaids left the hotel so we had no chance to get the guest pictures outside at all.

The castle had agreed verbally that we could have access to the beautiful upstairs rooms for photographs in the event of rain but unfortunately on the day we were told we weren’t able to take any guests up with us until the castle was closed to the public. Understandable but it did make us run VERY late and I was very aware that the evening guests would be downstairs waiting for us which was something I REALLY didn’t want! Definitely have a strong wet weather plan; we are in Wales after all!

I wish I hadn’t let my hair down (literally)

This sounds silly but I really do. My hairdresser Kellie did such a good job of my hair and I absolutely loved it, but in the weeks leading up to the wedding I had become unsure of my decision to wear my hair up. So many people were saying how lovely my hair would look if it was down so I made the decision to literally let my hair down in the evening and change up to my MAC Russian Red lipstick for two different looks.

But my hair didn’t fall how I’d imagined, the time it took to pull out all the pins made me even later and left me in a mad rush to get down to do the first dance on time before Frank our videographer was due to leave and then it was so hot that I was wishing for an elastic band all night! The main reason I’d decided to have my hair up was because I knew I would get hot and bothered with it down so I really wish I’d stuck to my guns.


Charlie & Mark Photobooth - Maria Farrelly

See what I mean! (Photos © Maria Farrelly)

Some of you are probably wondering why I am telling you all of this, but if it helps any of you to iron out any little issues before your day, or if it makes just one married person think “Oh thank goodness it wasn’t just me!” then I will be happy. And remember, things don’t always go to plan on the day but even if your day isn’t “perfect” it doesn’t mean it won’t still be amazing! Ours was! :)

Do any of our married readers have any I wish-es? If you don’t mind sharing them with us then please pop them in the comments box, I promise it’s therapeutic!


Charlie x

How to Avoid the Post Wedding Blues

charlieOur classic bride Charlie is here today to reveal her big plans for beating the post wedding blues. Take it away, Charlie!

Because we had such a long build up to our wedding, Mark had been saying all along that I needed a project for post-wedding so that I didn’t succumb to post-wedding blues. As I was starting to get a bit fed up of all the organising towards the end of our engagement I was sure it wouldn’t be an issue but that bump back to reality did hit me harder than I expected it to. So along with some friends I turned my mind to post-wedding projects and ways to combat the post-wedding blues.

Firstly there’s the obvious one – babies! But if you aren’t ready for that particular adventure just yet (or if you have already been there and done that!) there are plenty of other things you can do to fill the void left by DIY projects and table plans.

As my wonderful new husband bought me a camera as a wedding gift I am starting a photography evening class in January, I can’t wait to develop a new skill! We are also in the very early days of house hunting so hopefully before too long we will have our own home and I can also turn my hand to a bit of interior design. Of course I am also lucky enough to be a part of this lovely blog which is a great way of keeping myself busy!

I asked some of my recently married friends and also the other lovely Cwtch the Bride ladies about their post-wedding projects and advice on beating the post-wedding blues, and they kindly obliged! Thank you lovelies.

Sarah Jolly

“Try not to let wedding planning occupy your whole head, (don’t get me wrong- the last four weeks be prepared for wedding brain!) we built in lots of small and big post wedding plans: birthday weekends, weekend in London etc. or go large like buying a house like we did….. (Our holiday snug, Seasgair) My Pinterest habits turned from weddings to coastal chic interiors. I didn’t experience any post wedding blues, quite the opposite we both felt immensely proud about pulling off our wedding shindig”


“After the wedding, I suddenly realised I had no outlet for my new found love of crafts and making things. Then, one day over a glass of wine with friends, talk turned to finding a group in our area that we could join.

It soon became obvious that there was nothing available to fit the bill, so we decided to set up our own! Neighbourhood Sewcial was born. Now I get to continue organising fun events, I’ve made some fantastic new friends AND I get to make beautiful things to go in our new family home.”


“The DIY element of our wedding was a joy, but all-encompassing. We pretty much DIY-ed the entire thing. After the wedding there was a definite void, but it felt liberating to have some time and space without a massive DIY to-do list every weekend.

With all this new-found time we spent the summer reconnecting with our love of the outdoors: camping, cycling, walking. Breathing. This led me to create a website celebrating all things outdoors, where I share our adventures, with tips, reviews, recipes and stories along with some diverse contributors. I definitely feel it’s been an antidote to the bereft post-wedding feeling that so many brides experience!”

Cwtch Sarah

“We went straight on our honeymoon after our wedding, so that helped to delay the post-wedding blues a bit but it felt like an extra hit when we finally got home (from sunny, sunny Mexico to cold, cold Cardiff – to add insult to injury!) and we definitely had a couple of weeks of feeling like “what now?”.

We were living in a one bedroom flat at the time, and started looking for houses a couple of weeks after we got back. Tzevai also decided to take on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for those not in the know, where you attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November) which definitely kept him occupied for a bit! :)

I started working on the next issue of the photography magazine that I create – it was nice to work on something creative without accidentally covering everything I own in glitter ;)”

I hope that’s given you some ideas to help combat post wedding blues if you feel like you’re suffering from them! :)


Charlie x