Disney Land Magic

Disneyland.

A place I thought I would one day end up taking my kids to but since with cancer I cannot have them I still fancied going as I had never been myself as a child so wanted to know what the fuss was all about with my own eyes and so I did just that. I booked a few days away with a friend if mine who is well and truely disney mad, which definitely help to make it a magical week.

We travelled via Eurostar from London which was the easiest thing ever. A relaxing way to begin a journey and very quick.

We had booked into one of the Disney hotels Sante Fe, on a bed and breakfast basis. This was such a good shout as it meant we were close enough to head back throughout the day to have a rest as the shuttle buses literally took only a few minutes from the station so we could go and check in and freshen up before heading to the parks.

Being christmas time it was magical arriving into the park as the whole place was decorated up. I love christmas and so was so happy hearing all the festive songs throughout each day.
One thing which made the whole trip a lot easier was getting their green card (it is their disability card which you can get if showing evidence you need one, in my case my blue badge) which allowed both of us to queue jump via the exits on all the ride so we didn’t have to stand around for hours queueing. Everyone was super helpful with this and not judgemental in any way. This also meant we could try out all the ride at our own pace, stopping for breaks when we needed them.
The one thing I absoloutly loved were the shows. They put on amazing displays with the parades each day and the fireworks illuminations on the castle each night were outstanding. So magical and such a treat to be able to see which a spectical more than once.

Over the few days we were there we enjoyed roller coasters, magic carpet rides, drank mulled wine, ate yummy food, met Cinderella and Micky mouse took to many photos and laughed a lot as we just enjoyed being big kids.

We didn’t have the best weather as it rained on and off practically the whole time we were there but this didn’t dampen our spirits and we still were able to enjoy the magic of Disney.

Getting away from normal life for a few days to the magic of disney should be prescribed from the doctors as it would help so many people.

Thanks to kate for making my first experience such fun. I shall be back!

Monaco Grand Prix

Wedding blues were starting to set in as we flew home from our amazing honeymoon and life was about to turn back to normality. But on route home, we received a message from my uncle and auntie asking if we were back yet so we decided to give them a call to say hi. Completely unexpectedly we were asked if we were free the following weekend as they wanted to take us over to Monaco to watch the Grandprix. We didn’t need to think twice about it and there it was, we had just said yes and were suddenly not feeling sad anymore. Brad LOVES formula 1 and so he was ecstatic for the rest of the drive home.

So little over a week later we were back at Heathrow airport on route to Monaco. I actually know Monaco pretty well as we have been many times before. My uncle has an apartment and business there and I also worked as a stewardess on a super yacht based there when I was 22. But I have never been to see the grandprix and it has always been Brad’s dream to go.

The Saturday night we joined my uncle and his work colleagues for a lovely 4 course dinner at the Cafe De Paris in the casino square allowing us to meet some of the people he works with. It was a lovely evening and a great start to the weekend.

Sunday morning was grandprix day. We headed out to my uncle’s office for midday. We watched the race from the office balcony which was amazing. I knew where it was however I had never been inside so when we were informed they were putting on lunch, I had not expected there to be space to seat 120 people on the balcony, enjoying a 4 course lunch with cocktails and champagne flowing throughout the day. But the balcony was huge. It all looked incredible, the food was beautiful and the view was spectacular. We overlooked corner 1 and had an amazing view of all the yachts in the port, allowing to us soak up the atmosphere from above. It certainly was a fantastic way to experience he grand prix and we spent the day chatting to lots of very interesting people. The race itself was fun to see. You don’t realise how loud those cars are until you are there but they certainly make some noise.

Later on in the evening, after the race had finished and the lunch party died down we choose to join some of the others at a street party at a bar called Slammers. This was fun, again having a brilliant atmosphere but it had been a long day of drinking and so by 9.30pm we started to make our way back to the apartment as we were ready to hit the sack.

Sending a huge thank you to my uncle Joff for this amazing treat and allowing me to tick off another amazing experience from my list.

To read about my wedding day head to this link – the new mr and Mrs Middleton-Hughes

The New Mr and Mrs Middleton-Hughes

I suggest before reading this, grab yourself a quick cuppa and get comfy as this is the longest blog post I have written to date.

As a little girl, like most I always dreamt of finding my prince charming and one day getting married. I grew up a very girly girl, always loving my pretty dresses, high heals and of course sparkle, so the idea of becoming a bride and getting to wear a wedding dress was an amazing dream to have. But what I hadn’t envisaged was to get married having fake boobs, short hair and a 6 inch scar slapped right across my right arm, let alone the knowledge that I had incurable cancer. Far from the perfect fairy-tale I once envisaged.

But dreams still do come true!

After being with Brad over 8 years he choose to proposed, which was a huge surprise. We had spoken about the idea of marriage (and kids before this was cruelly ripped from us) in 2013 after being together over 3 years but then lots happened in life which took major priority and stopped any plans of marriage in it’s tracks.

It basically meant that anything we had wanted to do in life got throw in to a cupboard, locked away and the key had gone missing until we were able to find a spare 5 minutes looking for it. And with everything else life has dealt us it was now not on either of our radars.

My secondary cancer diagnosis then came along meaning the key got lost even further and it was now never going to be a ‘goodtime’ to do anything. But even with all this over our heads Brad is not the type to be pressured into anything, quite the opposite. I mention marriage and he would have never even contemplated the idea. But in his own time and in his own way (after me believing it may never happen now as who would want to marry someone with incurable cancer) he took it upon himself to buy a diamond ring (which is totally gorgeous) and propose to me, catching me completely off guard whilst we were on holiday in Croatia. And there it was, that feeling of utter love as this guy declared himself wanting to spend forever with me, even with the utter shit future which will realistically lie ahead for us both. And that is where it began. A chance to plan our very own wedding day, together!

We started by looking at budgets, which were fairly strict, and dates but with my ill health it meant time wasn’t necessarily on our side therefore we decided on a date 8 months away on a Friday in April, as it was still spring so things were also a bit cheaper to book and it was easier to get suppliers on a Friday. We also had already booked a holiday to the Maldives 5 months before he proposed,  after I found a stupidly cheap deal we couldn’t not miss, therefore we chose a wedding day around our holiday to allow this to now become our honeymoon. So the date was set. Friday 26th April. Now to find a location.

VENUE

We wanted something small, cosy, rustic and pretty. I had a rule it couldn’t be a place I had either been to a wedding at, or I had been to get a bride ready at (I use to do wedding hairdressing before the cancer returned!), it couldn’t be a hotel and it had to be in Norfolk, so in a good way this limited our search quite a lot. Oh and it had to be affordable. Soon, after looking around a few venues we came across Glebe Farm Barn. 15 minutes outside of Norwich, on a farm, rustic and cosy and above all within our price range. They also allowed us to had it a for 5 days meaning less pressure on getting it set up and taken down, they allowed us to use what suppliers we liked and there was no corkage charge. We were sold there and then! But the only down side was they were not able to do the legal marriage there. So a plan B was to find somewhere for this. With 80 guests on the invite list the local registry office was to small and to me this part of the day meant the most, as it was in fact the reason the whole day was happening, therefore having just a celebrant was not a viable option. Only a few days later we found ourselves at Greenacres, Colney. It was a wooden celebration room with floor to ceiling glass windows on one side of the room looking out over the beautiful trees. It was peaceful and absolutely stunning and being able to hold many more people than we had on the list it soon became our perfect location to get married. It was in between both our house and the reception venue so felt just right. And just like that we booked and another piece to our day was booked and things were beginning to fall into place.

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INVITATIONS

As soon as I had confirmed the venues and the wedding date we were wanting to get save the dates out. For this I found a beautiful design online and created my own save the dates and the to save money, instead of printing and posting these we chose to just send them via a what’s app message to everyone.Once these were out we got on with designing our main invitations. Again, using the same template I had found online, I created my own design for the invites, for both the daytime and evening guests and set about finding a company to print these. We discovered printed.com through a friend and decided on a beautiful, shimmer paper. When they arrived they were perfect and very pretty. To save costs again we chose to make a free website to go along side our invitations as this meant we could have all the required information provided with out extensive pieces of paper required.

DRESS

Again knowing about weddings, having been in the industry for a number of years, I knew the dress needed to be chosen and ordered around 6 months in advance. Only a few days after Brad proposed I was looking at pinterest at wedding ideas and came across the dress of my dreams and due to working with a lot of brides, I knew roughly what I wanted, shape wise anyhow. It was every bit ideal and a perfect princess look with a gentle and elegant ruffles down the full skirt, a delicate lace bodice overlapping the sides to soften the edges, a strapless, sweetheart neckline with a scattering of clear sequins adding to the look of tasteful sparkle, a dropped, low back and a champagne coloured belt emphasizing the waistline. Just perfect. But I had know idea where I would begin to find such a dress in real life. The search began in Norwich and after visiting a few shops to try on a selection of different style dresses it certainly made my mine up that the style I saw was the one I liked best, but unfortunately they were never quite the right one with some having the ideal skirt but having a bodice which was to heavy beaded or some having the perfect bodice but a skirt which looked like it came off my nan’s toilet roll holder. I almost gave up and considered choosing a dress I also had tried on and loved, but it wasn’t THE dress. Then I went to spend a weekend at my aunties and whilst enjoying a glass of wine she asked me about dress options and what I has looked at. I showed what I loved which she agreed would look amazing and she suggested googling the dress image. Was that really a thing! And soon enough we had posted the image to Google and up came the dress, alongside the designer and the shops which stocked it. The dress was by a make called Watters and it range called Wtoo. The dress itself was called Rowena and soon enough I tracked down a shop in Essex called Amara Bridal who had it in stock I could try so an appointment was booked for the following week to go and try it on, and as my auntie was the one who helped me discover it I asked if she fancied coming along with me. Heading to the shop, I went with the knowledge it was either going to be THE dress or I would walk away changing my while mind to a completely different dress. Upon seeing it first hand in the flesh it was beautiful and every bit what I imagined. I excitedly tried it on and came out to show my auntie. She welled up (the kind of thing you want when someone sees you in your perfect dress). It was just perfect and I felt amazing in it, just like a princess. And so my mind was made up. And even better it was the shops birthday weekend therefore all dresses were discounted. Bonus! I was then sized up for the order and left happy and satisfied my dress would be on it’s way to me soon. A few months later it arrives in store. I drove over to see it, this time with 2 of my bridesmaids, my auntie and my little cousin who was to be one of my flowergirls. Trying it on, knowing it was MY dress was incredible. It was too big on the bodice but much nearer my size than then first one I had tried. Everyone loved it and so did I. Now to accessorise. I wanted a veil and originally I saw myself in a long, cathedral length veil with lace or beading on it. But this soon changed as they got lost in the dress with so much fabric. So I then tried an elbow length, double layered, simple veil with soft piping on the edges which worked perfectly complimenting the skirt of the dress making it feel elegant. I was sold.

My dress shop didn’t do alterations and so after looking around and being quoted way over £100 just for my bodice to be taken in by other bridal shops, I eventually was recommended Brenda’s Alterations who did a fabulous job altering my dress perfectly to fit me like a glove, and to take up 3 of my bridesmaid dress’. And spending only £80 on all 4 dress’ she is certainly one to remember for alterations.

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SHOES

I had no idea what I wanted for shoes. I knew they had to have a heal and a strap and probably some sparkle but other than that I had no clue. So just by accident I was walking through Debenhams on black Friday and decided to pop to the shoes section. I found a wedding shoes section and had a quick peek. Staring in front of me where the most beautiful pair of Jenny Packham shoes in a soft pinky colour with a t-bar, open toes and pleanty of sparkles on them. And even better they were reduced from £90 to £60 so I was instantly I love. Other things ticked off the list.

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JEWELLERY

With the dress being strapless I knew I wanted a statement necklace with some sparkle but finding something on the high street was almost impossible. I saw an amazing necklace in Swarovski which I fell I love with but at over £200 for just the necklace it was sadly a no go. So the hunt for something similar began. Etsy became My best friend for this wedding. I discovered a stunning necklace, which was very similar and 1/4 of the price then I found a matching bracelet and earrings to. When they arrives I loved them. The earrings were however slightly to large with the necklace and it looked a bit to much but I then found a beautiful, smaller pair of drop earrings from a cheap jewellery shop in Norwich called Lovissa. And they were perfect.

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HAIR PIECE

I again didn’t really know what I wanted. Working in wedding hairdressing for years I have seen all sorts of pins, tiaras, hair vines etc but I knew I wanted something different. After speaking with a lady I knew through the wedding industry I decided to have something made. I collected a few ideas together of things I liked and went to see Denise from Crystal Pigs. She listened to my wishes and set about designing me a unique piece (which she has now names the Laura design). A couple of weeks later I went to collect it and it was every bit as beautiful as I imagined. Full of sparkle and so pretty. It was perfect and I loved wearing it on the day. She had even added a tiny blue crystal in the piece to work as my something blue if I need it to. 

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BAND

Next up was to choose our band. Living close to the Trafford pub for many years we went to hear a band play there often. Brad mentioned on several occasions ‘if ever we were to get married I want them to play at our wedding’ so that was that sorted. We booked Energy Function Band there and then without another thought as it was only ever going to be them. We had organised them to turn up earlier to sort out the playlist music for the welcome drinks and the meal before they were to play live in the evening. They were just fantastic and played so many brilliant songs, filling the dance floor up all night. Everyone loved them and me and my 3 sisters also became their backing singers for a couple of tracks which gave everyone a good giggle.

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MUSIC
We choose our songs for the ceremony fairly early in our planning as this was important to us both. We chose a song called ‘The One’ by Matt Johnson and John Adams to walk down the aisles to. The words are so beautiful and very meaningful. It gave me goosebumps when I first heard it and even now I well up when I hear it. And to leave back down the aisles we chose ‘Paradise’ by George Ezra. It is fun, upbeat and just perfect especially as Brad loves his music. Our first dance was ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ by Elton John. A song which means a lot to us both. We use to listen to it when we first met all those years ago and so there was no discussion about it. We both wanted it.

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CEREMONY

Meeting with the registry office for the first time to discuss out marriage was the first time it all felt very real. Neither of us are religious therefore we wanted to make sure the service was very personal and emotional. After everything we have both gone through this moment was the main event and so special. Along with the songs we chose to walk in and out to, we also choose to have 2 readings. One read by my sisters, a poem I wrote all about promises to each other, and a reading I wrote titled ‘Our Story’ which my good friend Oa read for us. It certainly turned the waterworks on in the room for most people but it made the ceremony so special and totally personal. I loved that my dad walked me into the building and up the aisle as a miss and I left with my new husband as a Mrs. 

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PHOTO & VIDEO

With my career in wedding I also know many photographers and videographer so I knew it was important to firstly, have people I got on well with, and also people who’s work I loved. Especially with are circumstance it was even more important to make sure we had a video and photos of our special day for future memory, as one day I may not be here, so we eventually booked Mike Savory for videography and James Rouse for photography who are both just awesome people and their work is gorgeous. You will see just how awesome when you see the work they have created for our day. They were an absolute pleasure to have around all day with us. All the photos you see on this blog are by James Rouse.

And here are a few of my favorite photos which were done on a whim in the evening as both James and Mike wanted to use the awesome sky in some shots. We cannot wait to see the video now.

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MAKEUP

Knowing a few make up artists through my career in the wedding hair industry, I had the lovely and super talented Melissa Abel booked to do mine and the girls make up on the day. I have know Melissa for quite a few years now and I knew she would be a calming influence in the morning. She was joyous to have around on the day and my makeup was absolutely beautiful. It lasted all day and I felt amazing. I just wish I could hire Melissa every morning to get me ready.

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WEDDING PLANNER

This is something I never, ever thought I would have. But thanks to The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation we did. Where do I begin. A few months after we got engaged I got speaking with someone about my wedding and I mentioned we only had 6 months to sort everything else and she mentioned this amazing women Naomi who ran The Wedding Wishing Well who help people organise and run their weddings when they have terminal or life limiting illness and Naomi herself, has secondary breast cancer. She runs the charity with her husband Graham. I was told to apply, so I did. I sent off an application form along with medical letters and a short story of me and Brad, then waited. I didn’t hear anything for a several weeks but a letter dropped though our door one day with the magical words on informing us our application was successful and they were able to help us to organise our special day. Were were so excited and instantly the pressure and stress was lowered knowing we had some added support. The first time I actually spoke to Naomi on the phone, a few months after we heard we had been accepted, I instantly knew she would be amazing. She was calming, knew so much about weddings and was just a lovely person. Due to her distance (they live the other side of the country) we never got to meet her until 2 days before the wedding day but she asked me to send photos of things I liked for the wedding, my ideas, colours, things we liked and disliked then she would see what she could do to help with our wedding as she had many contacts with suppliers and also stocked several things themselves which they use for weddings which we were able to use. I shall mention her more throughout the rest of the blog but I just want to say a huge thank you as she is fantastic and a lovely person. They also took the pressure off us the day before the wedding meaning I could rest up a bit to preserve my energy for the big day itself which meant the world to us and made the huge difference allowing me to enjoy it fully so for that I will be forever grateful. 

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BRIDESMAIDS

I choose to have 4 of my close friends to fulfill this role. A lot of people assumed I would have had my 3 sisters however they were going to be a large part of the day anyway as the sisters of the bride so I wanted to choose a few friends. Heather was my Maid of Honour and Vicky, Emily and Tash were my 3 bridesmaids. I also wanted to involved 3 very special little ones into my day as flowergirls, my cousins Evie, Addie and Elodie. Bridesmaid dresses were next on the list to organise. I ordered several from ASOS to look at in the sale (buying dresses in the winter time means they are so much cheaper) and I didn’t really have an exact colour in mind meaning I was pretty open to all colours and styles. I just knew I wanted something dusky. We had success on the first batch of dresses with a dusky mink coloured dress which fitted 2 of the girls. So I decided 2 would have this one and I would find another style for the other 2. And at only £35 each it was a steal. We found the other 2 girls dresses by accident. We went for a shopping trip and tried on so many dresses in a dusky pinky colour but none came in 2 of the correct sizes. About to give up we headed to Quiz and came across a soft grey dress which wasn’t immediately in my colour pallet however they tried it on and it was fabulous. They had 2 of the right sizes and again, in the sale so it was a bargain. When I got home I held it up against the other one and wow. The colours just worked so well together. Lastly I needed to find the flowergirls dresses and Monsoon was the first pick as they have such beautiful little girls clothes. I found the perfect dress. White top with a floaty, dusky pink skirt and a soft grey sash. They worked perfectly well with the other 2 dresses I had so I was pleased. With tights and shoes also sorted for the little ones the bridesmaids were all done. I also chose to buy them all a little something for the morning of the wedding. The older girls received a set of pjs (just Primark but were lovely) and a robe with their name on for the morning from Etsy. I got the adults a set of earrings and bracelet to wear on the wedding day to add a bit of extra sparkle to their look and the little girls received girls goody bag with a puzzle, to keep them occupied on the morning of the wedding, some sweeties, pretty hair slides to wear on the day and a personalised bracelet for them to wear at the wedding and have as a keep sake.

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SUITS

Brad choose to have 2 bestmen. His 2 good friends Ross and Matt. We started to look for suits which would work with the venue as the barn was rustic, Brad wanted to go for something which fitted in with the theme , which was a bit different and wasn’t to formal. Naomi gave us lots of ideas for places to look. She mentioned a company called Marc Darcy for suits as this sort of style would fit our theme. We had a look and they were lovely. We ordered a few styles to try for Brad but eventually he choose a gorgeous 3 piece suit called Dion which is Blue tweed with lovely pocket detail (which worked so well with my dress sash although he had no idea and I couldn’t tell him). Brad also decided be wanted bowties instead of normal ties so we went on the hunt for one which worked with the suit. Eventually we found these beautiful linen ones from a company called MR Linen Tie on Etsy (again my new favorite place) and we choose a dusky pink colour with Brad’s one being slightly larger than the others. They were all perfect and went with the look perfectly. I also had personalised cufflinks made up for Brad (B&L) which he could wear on the day and keep as a special something.

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HAIR

Being an ex wedding hairdresser meant I was a little worried about this part. I knew what I wanted for my hair but I am useless at my own, therefore I needed someone to do it for me. Also as a wedding hairdresser you rarely work with other hairdressers so I didn’t know a huge amount of people around Norfolk and part of me just wanted to find someone who didn’t know me or that I use to do hairdressing. Naomi suggested a lady she knew from Hertfordshire who travels for weddings so we got in contact with her. Kim Sandford was lovely. She came to my house for a trail which was brilliant and I was really happy with the style we chose. I have fairly short hair still so I choose to use clip in hair extensions to allow Kim to create a side updo style, giving the impression I had longer hair. It was beautiful and the hair piece went with the style perfectly. On the day Kim was calm and just got on with it. She created beautiful styles for my bridesmaids too which were lovely. My hair lasted all day and I was really happy with it.

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SOMETHING OLD, NEW, BORROWED AND BLUE

Parts of our wedding day was not traditional but parts of it was. And this part I wanted to have. My old was my grans silver locket which held a photo of my mum in (she passed away almost 3 years ago) so it could be tied onto my bouquet. This was also tied with a blue ribbon as my something blue. My borrowed was my clutch bag which my bridesmaid lent me and my new was my dress. I also added a little touch at the ceremony for my mum where I placed a photo of her and a single pink rose (the flower we placed on her coffin at her funeral) on a chair at the front of the ceremony next to the aisle. It was important to me to have her there with us on the day.

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FLOWERS

Due to cost, I was originally going to make my own bouquets and only have a few really simple flowers on the tables but when Naomi mentioned they could help organise the flowers I was a little bit relieved (as I am not sure how good my floristry work is). I was also contacted by a lady I had worked with on weddings many times called Jo from Constance Rose. I put her in touch with Naomi and I left them to it, conspiring with out me knowing what to expect. Like other things I had sent a few images of things I likes and the only stipulation I really wanted was Hydrangeas in the theme somewhere as these are my favorite flowers. I had no contact with Jo until about 2 weeks before the wedding when she asked to see the bridesmaid dress’ for the colour match. I popped in to see her as she is local to me and we discussed a few ideas but I was informed there were a few things up her sleeve I was not to know about. And on the day she arrived at my house with the bouquets and my dads button hold (after dropping the other button holes to Brad and the boys first). My bouquet was huge and absolutely stunning. She had done an amazing job. And upon arriving at the venues I realised she had created the most beautiful arch way and milk urn filled with flowers. The barn had also been decorated with a stunning spray of flowers all along the tables creating a soft, romantic feel. It was just beautiful. So a huge thank you to Jo.

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CAKE

We decided very early on we were not having a traditional wedding cake as we didn’t want to do the tradition of ‘cutting the cake’ plus wedding cakes can be very expensive and rarely eaten. So instead, as I am a huge chocaholic, we decided we wanted to have a chocolate brownie stack which would both look pretty and then be served as a pudding. Originally we were going to attempt to make them all ourselves and pull favours from friends who like to bake but Naomi suggested a lady she knew who makes brownies and told me they were amazing. Lady Bobwomble brownies were utter heaven. We were sent some tasters to try of a few of her flavours which were all amazing and we ended up choosing 3 flavours for the wedding, chocolate orange, salted caramel and triple chocolate. Not only did they look amazing when stacked but it was a bit different from the norm and was a huge success with us and our guests. I certainly wasn’t behaving with food even in a wedding dress so on the day I ended up trying all 3 flavours. And I found out you can order boxes 12 which will be very dangerous as now it may become a monthly treat.

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TABLE FAVOURS

Being so close to easter, and being a chocoholic, I decided to do Mini Eggs in little bags as the favours. These went down a treat and because all the colours fit my theme (apart from the yellow which myself and my bridesmaids were allowed to eat when making them) and everyone likes a sweet treat. I ordered organza bags off amazon which were really cheap, added a few mini eggs and they were popped into the wine glasses of each person. A simple yet perfect favour.

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FOOD

On the night we got engaged we went for dinner and had a huge antipasti which was amazing so we decided this would be a brilliant starter to have and we liked the idea of fish and chips for our main. Simple but tasty food. Again our original plan was a fish and chip van due to cost but Naomi mentioned they had Florentina Catering on board to help with the food and they could create the exact menu I originally wanted but just a slightly posher version which would benefit all my guest. They are just amazing. There food is absolutely delicious and their staff are incredibly friendly and helpful. I cannot thank Jake, Natalie and the team for helping with the day and giving us and our friends the best food. Along with helping to set up the barn by organising the tables, they created yummy canapes for us to begin with, the starters and the mains. They worked alongside CMA who provided the tables, chairs, cutlery, crockery, napkins, table runners and glass wear which were all lovely and worked perfectly with the theme to the room and their other business Fizante who ran our bar in the evening mixing up lovely cocktails and from what I heard, pouring lots of shots.

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RINGS

Brad proposed to me with a stunning, platinum, solitaire diamond ring from Winsor Bishop in Norwich which I love and they had a matching wedding band I could have gone with but because it is a solitaire ring I felt I wanted to have something a little different as my wedding band and I choose to go down the bespoke route and create something truly personal for me. It is something I will now wear forever so I wanted it to be right. It was always going to be platinum to match my engagement ring and it was always going to involve diamonds (as when else in your life do you get an excuse to buy a piece of diamond jewellery hey). After a recommendation I choose to speak with Sonkai to see what they could create for me from an idea I had in mind, and with their expert design skills, they created a digital image of my wedding band which was stunning. It hadn’t really prepared me for when we saw the real thing made which was just so perfect and totally gorgeous. A platinum band with 9 Diamonds ranging from sizes, shaped around my engagement ring perfectly with exquisite and intricate setting detail. I was so excited to receive it and to finally be able to wear it on the wedding day. And I cannot stop looking at it. Brad opted for a gorgeous hammered effect wedding band which suited him perfectly from Bullens Jewellers. We stumbled across this by accident one day just having a look at wedding bands and after a little thinking he went back to buy it. Such a nice and different twist to the plain wedding band.

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DECOR

Both the barn and woodland hall were beautiful and really didn’t need a lot to make them even more wow but along with the help from the florist providing her part of the decor, we also had the lovely Belle and Beaus provide some lovely bits to use for both venues including seat covers for the ceremony room and a decorative ladder in the barn, Epic Event Hire providing some fabulous festoon lighting for the outside of the barn which made it look magical in the dark, and Naomi who brought quite a few bits from their wedding collection including these gorgeous LOVE letters which worked perfectly in the cowshed of the barn. The fairy lights within the barn were already installed and made the barn look so pretty already. We also had a few games fun outside games which created a bit of fun provided by Cosy Tea Party.

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A FEW EXTRA SURPRISES WHICH I WAS UNAWARE OF UNTIL THE DAY

Car – I knew were were having a car but until the day Naomi had kept it a total secret but the surprise was certainly a good one. Celebration Cars and Event provided me with the most beautiful wedding car I could have ever imagined which made me feel like a princess in my carriage and it fit my dress perfectly. We both were over the moon with this beautiful car.

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Toastmaster – This was not on my list of things I would have ever organised for my wedding however he was a very welcomed surprise and we were so chuffed we did in the end. Toastmaster Nigel was on hand to help the day run smoothly. He was professional, polite and so fun to have around on the day.

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Magician – I remember a long time before the wedding, when we were discussing the wedding Naomi asked if I could have any other entertainment at the wedding what would it be? I mentioned magician would be cool not thinking any more about it. And low and behold, as if by magic, Nick Twist was there in the evening to entertain my guests, and he was amazing. I was so impressed by the tricks he performed and I have kept my card from a trick he showed us for my memory box. He also provided some amazing balloon characters for the little flower girls who loved it too.

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Caricaturist – This is something I would have never of guessed we would be having, and because I was so busy with my wedding guests, I didn’t even notice he was there drawing my guests until much later on in the evening. But wow what an artist. Literally his 5 minute drawings captured my guests perfectly and providing them with a lovely memory from the day. Coley Caricaturist even realised we had no time to stop to get ourselves drawn that a few days later he sent us a wonderful coloured drawing of us both which we love and cannot wait to get printed.

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Balloons – We had some amazing large balloons provided by the wonderful Victoria Marquees which looked amazing and were used to create some beautiful images in the field.

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We had the most incredible day and I loved every minute of it from the moment I woke and opened the curtains to blue skies and sunshine, to the hustle and bustle of the house in the morning as me and the girls got ourselves ready for the day and then heading to the ceremony (where I was fashionably late) to marry the man I love. After all the sadness and worry the last 5 years have brought us it was amazing to finally have a day full of laughter, positivity, tears and love surrounded by all our favorite people in the world and getting married which was ultimately the most important part of the day. The day went without a hitch, the sun shined throughout and we were able to just enjoy having a lot of fun with our guests. The ceremony was so personal which is exactly what we wanted, our flower girls stole the show and had the best time, the speeches were a huge rollercoaster of emotion with one minute we were all laughing our heads off and the next we were in bits with tears filling our eyes, and the epic party which rolled on right through until the early hours with many amazing shapes being created and facial expressions being pulled on the dancefloor. I didn’t want it to ever end but at 12.50am we were bundled into a taxi and sent off to our hotel for the night with the biggest smiles and the fullest of hearts we could ever have.

We did manage to return for a bbq the next day back at the barn with around 60 of our guests returning to, even with stinking hangovers and I re wore my dress with a denim jacket over the top which everybody loved. It was so nice to be able to re live the day with those who came and talk about the wedding so freshly on people’s minds. Such a great idea to do.

We are so grateful for everyone who was involved in the planning and organisation of our wedding day, making it the best day of our lives. We are so excited to begin life as Mr and Mrs Middleton-Hughes and hope you will continue to follow us throughout the highs and lows of our married life, whilst dealing with life with incurable cancer. If you are on instagram you can follow more of my daily antics at @baldbooblessandbeautiful 

I have linked many of our suppliers on this page throughout so feel free to go and check them out and book them for your next event. I apologies if I have missed anyone off this blog but there were so many people to remember.

And last but not least I want to thank the main man in my life, Brad. For not only asking me to marry him and allowing me to become his wife, but for sticking by my side through the good times and the bad times and for that I love him wholeheartedly. 

I shall leave you lastly with a few more of my favorite images from the day but as I am in love with all 820 images we had taken professionally these are just a snippit of the day itself. I hope you all enjoyed reading this huge blog post as much as I have enjoyed writing all about our wedding.

 

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Silent Disco

Last night I had a ‘Whale’ of a time with 2 of my sister’s, Martha and Grace, dancing under the giant blue whale in the Natural History Museum for my first ever silent disco experience. My sister Martha gave me a ticket for my christmas present so I have been excited for it for a while.

We began the evening with dinner and drinks at Martha’s flat before leaving hers at 9.45pm (not far off my usual bedtime) and tubes across London to the venue. On arrival we received a pair of head phones and got stuck into the fun of the evening.

It was a weird but enjoyable experience. Seeing everyone dancing to different tunes with a huge variety of music genres was awesome and it was even better when taking the headphones to watch everyone in their own little bubble, singing their hearts out and sounding, in a way I can only describe as pretty terrible.

I really got into it and managed to make it till the very end, getting back to the flat after 2am. I was wiped out the next day but the sun was worth it and I’m sure it won’t be the last silent disco I attend.

And another tick off my list!!

Skiing

My 2019 Lauras Life Is For Living List has well and truly begun.

I have always wanted to learn how to ski. It looks fun and the places everyone visits to ski always look incredibly beautiful and I want to see these. But for one reason or another I had never given it a go. Then when my cancer moved to my bones and I had to go through my large arm operation, I felt it was something I would never actually get around to doing. After all my bones are also now weaker so it’s not the most sensible of things to try. However, I wrote down on my list and decided I still had to try it at least once.

For my 30th birthday, one of my gifts was a voucher towards a skiing lesson at Snozone so obviously I now had to do it. When I spoke to the snozone team they advised I had an adapted private lesson due to my diagnosis and with my arm weakness which would allow me to try it at my own pace. Now it was finally booked.

On the day I was pretty nervous. I had no idea if I would like it or be any good. Then when we arrived and I put on the ski boots I realised how right people were when they said they are the most uncomfortable thing to wear. It was such a weird feeling to get use to.

Finally on the snow I put the ski’s on. It was a great feeling to at last be having a go at skiing. I spent an hour with my instructor and in this time learnt how to walk in my ski’s, snowplough to a stop, ski straight down the slope (not too high to begin with) and make turns whilst skiing. It was amazing and I had the biggest grin on my face. This was probably helped by the fact I managed to remain upright and didn’t faceplant the snow but I really loved it and cannot wait to have another go soon. And maybe one day I will make it to the proper mountains to give it a proper go!

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So now that is another thing ticked off my list I shall be getting on with the planing the many more fun thing 2019 will bring.

Huge thanks to Rosie and Dave for encouraging me to have a go and helping me fulfil one of my wishes. xx

2018 – What a year!

As we enjoy the penultimate evening of 2018 I thought I would write a little blog recapping some of the amazing things I have experienced this year which have been inspired by having this list. I feel as though I haven’t had much going on to write about the last couple of months but it is probably good to have a little breather as I have had so many amazing times over the year.

Firstly January – We began the year in January by moving into our new home. We had lived at the flat for over 4 years and although the location was amazing, it was time to move into a house with a garden just outside of Norwich. It is lovely. A great location for dog walks and not too far from the city to get into if we need. Almost a year on we are very settled and happy here.

In February I went to watch Cirque Du Soleil at the Royal Albert hall. If you have never seen one of these shows – go!

I attended my first ever rugby game watching England play Wales at Twickenham. It was actually a great day and since I have been back to watch another.

Then in March I took a trip to Cape Verde with a friend for a week in the sun.

I also visited Chewton Glen for a Spa day with my Auntie. It was amazing and such a treat. I am so pleased she suggested it for one of my activities and it certainly lived up to expectations. We even had a trip back there in May, for an overnight stay as we enjoyed it so much.

March also saw us hire a motor home and take a trip down to beautiful Cornwall. It was somewhere I had always wanted to visit and being in the motor home allowed us the freedom of travelling all around the coastline and being able to see so much of the county. It was great fun and such a fun way to holiday.

Then came April and an excuse to enjoy many celebrations as I turned 30. And one of my tasks as to hold a 30th birthday party so obviously I did. It was amazing and having all my friends and family there in the same room was the best thing. There were also many other celebrations. A night away in Cambridge, dinner with friends and a posh family lunch. Lets just say I was truly spoilt.

May meant one thing, Chelsea Flower Show! Every year I mean to get tickets and every  year for some reason I miss it. But this year I was going, no matter what. It was brilliant. So much to see and a really lovely day out.

And I also took a trip to Palma for a few days away with one of my besties.

Then in June I had a few treats, one was to see Ed Sheeran (not on my list but it was amazing), I went to see my very first opera at the Royal Opera House which I loved, and I also fed baby lambs too ticking off another thing from my list.

July I spent a lovely day out with 4 of my good friends (we met through having cancer) getting dressed up and enjoying a day out in London with Afternoon tea at Claridges. Everything was wonderful and it was such a treat for us all.

Then in August came the biggest and best surprise. Brad proposed! It was very romantic, the ring is gorgeous and I am loving being able to call him my fiance. It was the last day of a lovely weeks holiday spending time with family on their yacht around Corsica. Since being back the wedding planning has taken over and I cannot wait for out wedding day.

But amongst the wedding planning I did manage to get to Barcelona with some friends for a few days to explore the beautiful city. It was a great place to visit.

September, myself and my friend Oa had an unexpected day out with Chris Evans at the Goodwood revival with less than 24 hours notice. It was a brilliant day with VIP access, yummy champagne fulled lunch and great company. It was all very last minute but it was very worth it as we even got the chance to ride around the track in an old Jaguar.

And I popped over to Paris with my sister for a bit of sight seeing.

I also took to horseback for the first time in years having an afternoon at Squirrel Wood Equestrian centre. We spent the afternoon learning all about the horses and how they are looked after and we also rode a horse which was far more fun than I had imagined (I thought I would be terrified). I hope to go back and do more in 2019.

And we held an engagement party to celebrate our news.

I took part in the Keeping Breast More than just fashion show again in October, strutting my stuff on the catwalk in some beautiful clothes with many other amazing women.

And stayed in a Italian Villa for a week with my family to celebrate my Grandma turning 90.

And lastly for the year my ultimate dream seeing Strictly Come Dancing being filmed live came true and not only did I see the show being filmed, I was able to meet many of the dancers and celebrities. It was better than I ever imagined.

So as you can see my year has been busy, amazing and above all fun. It has been special to have made so many memories with some of my lovely friends and family and I cannot wait to see what 2019 brings. I already have some booked in the diary but I have many more tasks on my list to complete.

May 2019 also bring you lots of excitement.

laura x

Dreams Come True

For a long as I can remember I have loved everything girly and anything sparkly. I am pretty much a magpie when it comes to glitz and for many years, since it first began, I have always watched and loved Strictly Come Dancing. The dancing, those amazing costumes, the music and the celebrity stars make the show one of my favourite things about Autumn. And as much as I have always dreamed of watching the show live, it was something I knew would be pretty impossible to get to but as this is my wish list I decided to write it down and see what magic happened.

And that dream came true….

Yesterday myself and my friend Heather were not only in the audience for the live filming of the show, our tickets had been provided by Kevin Clifton himself so they included access to the friends/family tent after the show where we were able to hang out with and chat to the starts of the show. A magical experience.

The day began with a good lunch before making our way to Elstree Studios. We had been told to arrive after 3.20pm which gave us plenty of time to get some prosecco at the bar while we eagerly awaited our access call to the main studio. Our phones were taken off us at this point also as we were not allowed them on us whilst in the studio.

We finally were taken through to the the Ballroom at around 5.40pm. It was beautiful although it seemed smaller in real life than it looks on telly. Everyone is sat in their allocated seats and we were lucky to have seats opposite the judges desk and 2nd row back so we had a fantastic view.

The atmosphere was pure excitement. Everyone was chatty and smiley which was great to see. The pro dancers came out to see us all and wowed us all with their group routine which was such fun to watch. We then were treated to a song by the amazing Jess Glynne who was fantastic to hear live before the wait for the live show to kick off.

Bring in the audience makes you realise just how much goes into these shows. Not only are all the celebrity’s, judges, pro dancers and band a huge part of the show, there are also hundreds of bodies running around bringing new sets on to the stage, touching up the makeup and sweeping the floor in between dances. Such a slick process and so much more than what you see on the TV.

All the dancers were amazing to see and my hands were red raw with clapping so much throughout the night. The live show finished allowing us a 15 minute break before they began to film the results show where we were treated to another amazing performance from Paloma Faith and saw the dance off between the 2 couples in the bottom 2. Sadly Vick Hope’s time was up with the strictly family after losing out in the dance off but she was brilliant and such a beautiful person.

After all the filming had finished we made our way back to the exclusive tent where we spent the next 2 hours talking to and getting photos with all the stars. I must say they are all so lovely. Faye had a long conversation with us and was a delight to meet. Vick was sad to be going but was still chatty and smiley for us. We also spoke to so many others (many whom we got photos with too). And we finally got to introduce ourselves to Kevin as he was the one who made the experience happen in the first place. After a chat and a hug we also got a photo with him and Stacey. It was just amazing how each and every one of them had the time and energy to chat after such a long day dancing and filming.

A huge thank you to Hiten (from Bbc Radio 2) for being the driving force in making this experience happen and to Kevin Clifton for making my strictly dreams become a reality.

BEST DAY EVER!

to see the rest of my list please follow this link – lauraslifeisforlivinglist

Horse Riding

For one of my 30th birthday treats, my friend Oa’s mum Joc wanted to treat us to my activity of horse riding so on a beautiful, Autumnal day the 3 of us went to Squirrel Wood Equestrian Centre for an afternoon of fun.

We began the afternoon with a yummy picnic on the farm whilst we waited for our 2pm booking. The sun was shining which was so nice and a great way to start the day. Once the picnic was over we made our way over to the farm office and met the owner, Lisa.

After a short introduction we were straight in to getting up and close to the horses. We started with grooming, learning all about the different types of brushes as we helped to make their coats and manes all neat and tidy. Once we had finished this it was time for our ride. I hadn’t been on a horse for over 12 years and so I was quite nervous but it didn’t take long before I felt amazing being back in the saddle.

We took our horses for a walk around the woods and lake which was so beautiful. We had helpers walking with us to ensure we were in safe hands and eased us back into being on a horse slowly. I certainly want to go back to have a proper lesson to learn how to control the horse again properly so I do not need to be lead.

Once back from here we got off our horses and got them ready to go back out into the field for the night. We got to walk them back to their fields, sorted out their food and finished a few jobs before our day was over.

It was so lovely being up close to the horses again and a real treat so a huge thanks to Joc for organising it for us. It certainly won’t be the last time I do it. x

An Unexpected Surprise

On Thursday 6th September I was looking forward to 2 pretty chilled days where I could sort the house and get on with wedding plans. But little did I know at 8am my name (alongside friend and founder of littlelifts charity, Oa) had been nominated for a chance to win a place on the BBC radio 2 vintage bus with Chris Evans for the following day.

I only discovered we had been nominated when the receptionist at the hospital said she had heard my name on the radio but by 2pm I hadn’t heard anything so I guessed we had not been chosen.

Roll on half hour and I received a very exciting phone call. Due to them not originally having our phone numbers they couldn’t offer us the nomination tickets however they finally tracked us down and offered us 2 tickets as there had been a set of tickets auctioned which couldn’t be used so they chose us to come along. We immediately said yes then the panic set in about how we would get there, where would we stay etc etc.

Only 3 hours later a small case had been packed and I met Oa at Norwich station where we began a very exciting 24 hours with a train down to London. We managed to track down a place to stay after kindly being offered a friends place and once there crashed for the night ready for our 6am start in the morning.

Up and dressed in the most vintage looking clothes we could find in our wardrobes at such short notice, we made our way to the BBC radio2 studios for 7.45am.

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On arrival we were offered a cuppa then within only a few minutes we were chatting to Jamie Oliver and Jack Black which was a pretty cool start to the day. Then we headed into the studio with Chris Evans where we watched him interview them live on the breakfast show. Actor John Simm joined in the line up and we were treated to 4 songs by Razorlight who were awesome. Not a bad beginning to the day and certainly something I am glad I got up for. We even got to taste some of Jamie Oliver’s Bread which was so yummy.

Then after the show had ended we were all taken onto a vintage bus which was to take us to the Goodwood revival event.

The journey was such fun. So much banter and laughter between everyone. We arrived finally about midday to a huge crowd gathered to see our arrival as Chris Evans drive the bus into the event.

Here we were treated like VIPS. We had a room set up for our lunch which we had access to all day. Our tickets for us in any area of the event, even places the general public couldn’t go and we had champagne alongside our 4 course lunch. Our room was track side so we could see the racing live whilst enjoying some wine in the sunshine.

After lunch, after some people waved some magic wands after finding out all about my Lauraslifeisforlivinglist, myself and Oa were treated to a drive around the racetrack in a vintage Jaguar which was a fabulous experience. Be car was beautiful.

Then afternoon tea awaited us on our return. We managed to have a wonder around too where we got access into the car paddock and saw some amazing cars on show.

I just want to give a huge shout out to all those who came on the bus with us as they helped to make it a day to remember. Everyone was so friendly and fun to be around. The chat flowed, the laughter continued all day and the kindness shared was amazing. You all helped make our experience complete.

We left Goodwood and headed back on the vintage bus to Chris Evans pub, the Mulberry Inn where we continued the fun with a few drinks before making our way to the train station for our journey back London.

It was mad to think just over 24 hours before we were only just finding out about the nomination. We had such fun and see so thankful for the experience.

Thank you to Andrea Jacob for nominating us in the first place!

Chris Evans and all the BBC radio 2 team for organising an amazing day out and inviting us along.

All the staff at Goodwood, especially Louise for making our visit to you one to remember and organising our ride in the car.

The other 18 lovely ladies and gents who so came along for the ride and made it such fun.

To Jamie Oliver, Jack Black, John simm and Razorlight as it was so brilliant meeting you all.

And of course Oa for coming with me and just being bloody awesome. I’m so pleased I got to have this experience with you. Xx

To see the full video of our day click here.

My #lauralifeisforlivinglist can be found here

A Huge Suprise

So like many other women, I from young age have thought I’d like to get married one day, wear a beautiful dress and say I do to a man I love. But at 25, after actually talking about the idea of this being a thing, both mine and Brad life was turned upside down with my cancer diagnosis and hasn’t really ever righted itself over the past 4.5 years. He has always said it may happen one day but was a bit anti the engagement thing and to be honest with everything we had gone through, the fact he was still by my side through my illness has been good enough for me (although secretly I hope it may still happen one day).

So it came as even more of a surprise when only last week, whilst in holiday in Corsica, he actually proposed. And not only proposed verbally…. He had a beautiful ring to give to me.

The day was our last day on holiday. It started out nice and chilled. I popped out to get some fresh pastries whilst brad made the tea and we sat and had breakfast in our little apartment. Then after we had got ready we headed down to the beach for a few hours of sunshine and swimming. I chose to read for a while before getting far to hot so we headed into the sea to cool off. Such beautiful, shallow and warm waters meant we swam about for some time. I decided I was going to head back on for the beach but as I was about to leave the sea brad said to stay in a bit longer as it was so nice. Nothing out of the norm. Then a few minutes he pulled me in for a hug. We chatted and I happened to mentioned how nice the week had been and how relaxed we both were. He agreed with me and said “what would make it even better would be if you would become my wife.” He then got down on one knee in the water, pulled out a gorgoeus ring and asked me to marry him. I was in shock but beaming from ear to ear. I think I said something along the lines of “are you sure” of which he replied of course. I SAID YES!! And then I think I asked if it was insured as he was waving it around in the sea so I was scared it would get lost. I quickly put it on my finger and carried on smiling as we spent the next 15 min (it seemed a lot longer) hugging, kissing and taking. He apparently had the ring in his pocket all holiday just waiting for the right moment to come along and at last it did.

It was the perfect proposal. Unplanned, personal, romantic, very us and a complete surprise. I loved it and love him and cannot wait to get married.

We celebrated with a lovely dinner that evening and look forward to sharing our wedding planning journey with you all soon too.

I shall leave you with a few picture from our

The ring is a diamond solitaire set in an open tulip platinum setting from Winsor Bishop in Norwich.