Monday, 3 June 2019

May Life Lately

I've been asked a lot this month "how's married life?". Some people scoff at this question and answer, "it's exactly the same", but for me, it just...isn't. Married life is absolutely flipping awesome. I absolutely love being married.

So here's what I got up to in my first month of married life (and you can see my One Second Everyday for May here!)...

Where I've been

One of the most exciting wedding presents we received was corporate tickets to the last Liverpool game of the season away at Newcastle. We'd been looking forward to it for weeks but had no idea how insane the night and the game would be!

Despite it only being a few weeks after our minimoon we decided to make a weekend of it. The match was moved twice, so we had to cancel the hotel we'd originally booked for Sunday night, and after a long search we managed to find a hotel in Jesmond.

We headed up on Friday night precisely so we could do parkrun, and the hotel we eventually found was only around the corner (some of the other hotels we'd looked at would have involved a couple of buses or an hour walk to get us to parkrun!). It was a beautiful park and I ran my best time in 2 years!

It worked out quite well for us that the match got moved to an evening kick off as it meant we got the day in Newcastle. We explored the city, had a coffee at the brand new Everyman Theatre, met a colleague of mine for a pre-match drink, and we did a full tour of Newcastle Castle, which was really cool!

The match was absolutely unreal and we had the absolute best time. Despite it being corporate in the home end, it was full of Liverpool fans and everyone was chanting during the meal when we were meant to be on our best behaviour! It's probably the best match I've ever been to.

On the Sunday we decided to take advantage of our beloved National Trust membership. We'd picked up a few leaflets from a service station and liked the look of Fountains Abbey. As we got closer I realised I definitely recognised it from Sian's blog!

Fountains Abbey is absolutely beautiful and it was the perfect place to explore for a couple of hours. I especially loved the old monastery ruins, and the incredible church full of stained-glass which the National Trust man recommended. We are already planning a trip back - mostly because they have a parkrun!

I always say I was brought up on country music. As a kid, we never had Sky tv, but we had a box where we could get some channels, and one of them was CMT - Country Music TV. I remember it being on constantly. Ever since I got a Spotify subscription a couple of years ago, I'd been revisiting some of my old country favourites (most of which make me cry) and I slowly started to dip my toe into modern country music too, dragging Phil down the rabbit hole with me. I would estimate now I listen to country music more than pretty much any genre, besides film scores. My parents also love country too, and listen to a country radio station in the car and at home. So when my Dad said there was a country festival on every year a few miles from our house, we couldn't say yes fast enough.

We parked in a field a few miles away and started the day in the back of a "bus" (it was a van) before arriving at Buckle and Boots Festival which took place on a big farm. There was a big barn with haystacks to sit on, tents with merch and food and two stages. We arrived at 1pm and left at midnight. Buckle and Boots had set up a Spotify playlist we'd been listening to so we had an idea of the bands we liked and which we wanted to see. While quite a few of the artists had come from the States, I was surprised how many were from the UK. We jumped from stage to stage seeing dozens of different bands, and managing to get right up close to the front. We spent the whole day dancing and it was so so so much fun. I already cannot wait to go next year!

What I've been doing
I've gotten really into baking bread this month! We very occasionally get a "nice loaf" on a weekend and promptly eat an entire loaf on a weekend. I'd been reading about making crusty bread in a dutch oven and after being too scared to use the cast iron pot I'd had for over a year, I decided to give it a go on a quiet Bank Holiday Monday (proved while watching Game of Thrones). It was such a success I followed it up with a wholemeal one, and next I want to try seeded bread! I like the white bread best as it doesn't need to be left overnight and it can be done in 3 hours, but I'm excited to make more bread!

We are incredibly lucky to have such amazing friends and family who travelled for our wedding, brought us incredible gifts and made our wedding the perfectly incredible day it was, so we spent a whole day this month writing thank you cards. We wrote over 90 cards, it took 7 hours, and we took ourselves out for pizza afterwards! It was a long day but we wanted to write personal messages to everyone, including our incredible suppliers and it gave me all the warm and fuzzies writing to everyone we loved!

I've kept this a bit on the DL, but a few weeks ago we got all of our wedding photos back! At the moment we're just making sure we show them to all our friends and family before we put anything online, but I can't wait to share them with you - they are incredible!

We had a night with our friends a few weeks ago and, as part of a private joke, bought a novelty game called Peach Snaps. We laughed about it and thought we'd have a game and then it would end up in the loft. No. Peach Snaps is amazing! It's such a fast-paced, fun game which you can just shove in your handbag. Just don't play it with my friend, Simon. We don't know how he does it.

As you have probably gathered, 2019 is not a big running year for me. I haven't run one race so far, I don't have any signed up for, and it's likely I won't do any this year. This has made me feel a bit weird and sad, especially when I didn't run the Great Manchester Run for the first time in 5 years, but with the wedding and the honeymoon I just haven't been able to, or wanted to, train for a big race. But one thing I decided I would try was improving my short distance times. I've run over 180 parkruns, but my time at my local park hasn't seemed to be getting any faster. I've been chasing a PB for over 2 years, and I've never even really gotten close. A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to work on my short distance speed, and I started a Hal Higdon 5K advanced plan. I'm only partially following it - doing 2 days of speedwork a week on top of two BMF classes and parkrun, but I enjoy speedwork and it makes a nice change from just plodding along.

I ran a great time for me at Bramhall a couple of weeks ago, and had jokingly said to Phil, "I think I'm close to a PB!"

My home parkrun is quite busy, so we got a little further to the front than usual - something we often find makes a big difference. And I was feeling good. My park also has heavy tree-cover which causes nightmares for my GPS, so it always comes up short on my watch (they've told us multiple times it's measured perfectly, it's just GPS can't detect under the trees as accurately) and I've never completely sure what my pace is. I've run Bramhall over 80 times though, so I've started to get a bit of an idea of what my "timing points" are, and I try to use those to gauge my pace.

I knew I was on for a PB after the first lap, but it's also a really hilly park (I'm not selling it to you really am I?), with three big hills you run twice, so I was worried I would lose momentum on the hills second lap. As I got to my final timing point I knew I was on for a PB. What I didn't know is it would be a PB of 40 seconds.

After initial shock and celebration and excitement, my lovely husband then said to me "well you obviously haven't been trying hard enough!"

I've literally done 3 weeks of this 5K advanced plan so I'm quietly hoping more PBs might be around the corner!

What I've bought
I absolutely loved Sarah's post on Becoming a Lipstick Person. I am definitely a lipstick person, but I cannot stand reapplying it, so I rarely wear it for work or stick with neutral colours. However, her recommendation of Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink lipsticks interested me with their premise to last all day. I initially bought myself Seductress and Pioneer because they were two for £12 in Superdrug, then found myself buying Loyalist and Romantic, and finally Dreamer. Pioneer (a deep bright red), unfortunately, is the only one that doesn't seem to last all day but honestly the others are a dream. The first time I wore Seductress I could barely get it off! Highly recommend if you like a matte lip all day long.

May has been the BEST month for recipe books, with new books by Elly Pear, Rukmimi Iyer and Jack Monroe! 

Elly Pear's new book Green is entirely vegetarian recipes. Her first two books have some really good recipes, but I don't like that her first book promoted a diet, and her second wasn't for me beyond the first meal prepping chapters (which I loved). This instead is like a greatest hits. Honestly on an initial flick through there was almost nothing I didn't want to eat, and that included marmite spaghetti! I am super excited to get stuck into this!

And then of course, my favourite recipe book series has a new addition, The Quick Roasting Tin! I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy last week and I cannot wait to get stuck in! I've already made a batch of salted chocolate brownies, and have dozens of recipes marked up to make. Keep your eyes out for a review!

I've also just received the new Jack Monroe book, Tin Can Cook, which is all meals made from tins, and thousands of copies have been donated to foodbanks. If you want to donate just £3.50 you can send a copy to a foodbank here.

What I've been reading

Eight books read this month:

Going Clear - Scientology and the Prison of Belief
The Tyranny of Lost Things
The Dollmaker
Boy Swallows Universe
Little Eve
The Talented Mr Ripley
The Burning Girl
The Maid's Room

My favourites were The Tyranny of Lost Things (thanks, Joe, for the recommendation!) and The Talented Mr Ripley. I can't wait to read more of that series!

What I've been listening to
Ooh look a new section! I've always loved a podcast while out for a run, getting ready in the morning or doing work around the house, and I've found I prefer an on-going podcast series or an audiobook. I've been getting audiobooks for free from the library for a few months (I've been so surprised by how good the selection has been!) and I'm weighing up getting Audible at some point, especially for our road trip across Canada.

This month I listened to Robert Webb's How Not to be a Boy on audio and I absolutely loved it and cannot recommend it more.

I also listened to two podcast series, Maddie and Over My Dead Body. I absolutely love a multi-episode podcast on one topic or delving into one story or crime, so if you have any recommendations for these kinds of podcasts, please let me know!

What I've been watching
One trip to the cinema to see John Wick 3, which I enjoyed when I wasn't hiding under my coat. Three films at home - Good Time (which we watched a few weeks before the Robert Pattison Batman news which allowed up to be super-smug and say things like, oh have you not sen Good Time?), Headhunters because Jaime Lannister, and Crazy Heart because we'd just got home from a country festival.

TV-wise, obviously Game of Thrones and the 50% of Chernobyl I've seen from under my coat. Yeah I basically didn't watch episode 3 and episode 4 made me cry. We've also just started The Sopranos from the beginning seeing as we started it 4 years ago and we are terrible at watching TV.

What I've read online

Stylist - The reality of visiting a spa as a plus-sized woman
Swoonworthy - 7 decorating mistakes to avoid when using colour
The Telegraph - Alex Timpson, children's campaigner, obituary (I had absolutely no idea of the amazing work Alex Timpson did, and I'm so glad I read this. What an amazing woman)
The Guardian - When working class life can be so rich, why does reality TV belittle them?
Daisy Buchanan - Please stop asking me about my career
Biscuits and Blisters - Don't answer that
The Face - The Anatomy of Depression
Refinery 29 - In defence of being unproductive
Newsweek - 9 Simple things that can help calm anxiety
Unbound - My year of reading dangerously

With some new recipe books and a quiet June I've got loads of posts I want to write this month so hopefully I'll be back soon!

Charlotte x

Friday, 3 May 2019

April Life Lately

April has been a strange month because everything has either been BW (Before Wedding) or After Wedding (BW) and I think I've already written enough about our wedding for now (catch up with part 1, part 2 and part 3), so this post might be a bit shorter and more disjointed than usual!

Here's what I got up to in April and here is my One Second Every Day for the month!

What I've been doing

Phil and I had 3 days off before the wedding which was perfect and completely necessary. We'd thought 3 days would be too long and it was, but in a good way. We had a few errands to run in the few days leading up, including picking up suits, meeting with our wedding co-ordinator to finalise the last details and our rehearsal, but we also chilled out a bit, cleaned the house and car (it was sooooo good coming home to a spotless house on Sunday!) and gave us enough time for anything last minute. I think it definitely contributed to how relaxed I felt on the day!

Oh and then I got married, did I mention that?

On the Sunday after our wedding, once we'd cleared all our stuff from the hotel (our back bedroom is now full of centrepieces yet again!) we had a few jobs to do and then we headed to my Mum's for a little party. We'd been really looking forward to this as a chance to catch up with people we might have missed on the day and to hear all the stories and see all the photos from the night before! We also opened some of our amazing presents, including a personalised drawing of the church we were married in from my parents, a signed Liverpool shirt and an amazing print of the Royal Exchange Theatre, which is a really special place to us. I also got to show off the watch Phil bought me as a wedding present, and wear my new Liverpool shirt with Cantillon 19 on the back!

This month also meant the 21st Birthday one one of my favourite people, my new little sister! I am incredibly grateful that not only have I married the best person, I've also inherited the best family, and I'm so lucky to have two amazing new siblings. As an only child I can't explain what it's like to gain the best little sister I could have asked for.

Where I've been

On the Monday after our wedding we had a few jobs to do (and Game of Thrones to watch....) - taking back suits, dropping off vases at the florist and taking my bouquet to my Mum's so it could be sent off to be freeze-dried. So at about 3pm we were finally ready to head onto our minimoon!

We had booked 2 nights at the amazing Lygon Arms in Broadway - the most amazing spa hotel I've ever seen. We were upgraded to a junior suite for our minimoon and we were in what looked like a converted stable. We had a four poster bed, a roll top bath and the both beautiful surroundings, honestly, it looks like Game of Thrones.

We had dinner in the incredible restaurant ("It's booked under Mr and Mrs Cantillon?") and then we were absolutely exhausted!

On Tuesday we had some time in the morning to look around Broadway before our message at 11am, so we went around the little shops and I discovered my dream shop - selling nick nacks, board games, books, homeware and gin!

We had an amazing massage and then had some time in the pool before we headed out to walk up to explore more of Broadway.

Broadway is like toy town. It is all cute little stone buildings and shops selling chocolates or tweed, cutesy cafes with cakes in the window and an amazing two-storey deli. It doesn't look real.

I browsed both the bookshop and the deli before we decided to grab some cake before going for a walk. We popped into the Market Pantry and settled on a chocolate brownie and some sticky ginger cake. The brownie was honestly one of the best brownies I've ever had!

Once we were fuelled up we decided to walk up to Broadway T0werThis was a decent walk and maybe more of an ascent than we had expected, but it was a lovely cool day and the walk was amazing. It was a little foggy so we didn't get the full view, but we met some sprightly lambs on the way up! Broadway Tower was well worth a visit even though it was a bit overcast for us to experience the amazing views it boasts!

There isn't loads to do in Broadway, but it was perfect for two nights when we wanted to relax without feeling the pressure of trying to squeeze everything in. The Lygon Arms is one of the nicest hotels I've stayed in, and was perfect for our minimoon but I don't think we'll be staying anywhere that lavish any time soon!

On Wednesday we left Broadway and decided to visit some of the little chocolate box villages we'd been told to see in the Cotswolds. We bought cheese and went to two bookshops in Stow-on-the-wold, drove through Upper Slaughter and found a parking space in Lower Slaughter.

From there we walked through to Bourton-on-the-water which was my favourite place on the trip. It reminds me of the villages in the Lake District - lots of little shops, tiny niche museums, ice cream shops and cafes. We also sampled some Cotswolds gin but unfortunately we couldn't get on a distillery tour (maybe next time!).

On our walk back we were looking for the Cotswolds Brewing Company. We'd seen a sign for it, but Google Maps seemed to show it in the middle of a field which erm, it was! The bar wasn't open so we got a cider for the road and walked back to the car with a cider in hand in the sunshine. It was one of my favourite parts.

On Wednesday afternoon we drove to Cheltenham to our airbnb where we spent the rest of the week. 

On Thursday we went for brunch and explored the city, walking through Montpellier Gardens and to Pitville Park. We knew Pitville Park was where we'd be going for parkrun but didn't realise it was so huge! It's a good job we checked where the start was! 

We'd spotted the Everyman Theatre on Wednesday night and seen they had a Thursday matinee of Avenue Q which we'd never seen, so we spent the afternoon in the theatre which was great fun!

When we'd been out for brunch we'd spotted the most amazing restaurant in a converted cinema and we earmarked it for dinner. The Daffodil does a pre-theatre menu (which for us for post-theatre!) which made it quite reasonable for an amazing meal in the most incredible setting!

On Friday we took a day trip to Gloucester on the bus which took about 45 minutes (hey you can take the girl away from work but she'll still find a Stagecoach bus!) and was a lovely journey. It was Good Friday so there was a service on at Gloucester Cathedral but they still let us walk around as long as we were quiet! The Cathedral was absolutely amazing and I'm so glad we went. 

We also had a walk around Gloucester Docks which were beautiful on a sunny day, and around the outlet mall before we headed back to Cheltenham.

We decided we wanted to buy a bottle of the Cotswolds gin as a memento, so when we got back I searched for where to buy it, and that was when I found the best bar in Cheltenham! John Gordon's is half a gin bar and half a whisky bar, and they will help you find something perfect to your tastes. As we'd already had the Cotswolds gin and really liked it, I asked for something similar, and was given a Garden Swift gin which I absolutely loved, and we promptly bought a bottle to take home!

We decided to spend our last night in, and had spotted a pizza place called Fat Toni's that we realllllly wanted to try, so we had another few drinks and ordered a pizza to collect. Their pizzas are 20" in diameter so you definitely don't need more than one, but luckily they can do it in thirds, which was perfect for us. We got a third meat for Phil, a third veg for me and a third margherita. It was the crispest sourdough base in a woodfired oven and it was amazing (and huge!).

On Saturday we headed over to Pitville Park again for parkrun, and it was one of my favourite parkruns I've done! It was a beautiful park, the sun was shining and I really enjoyed my run!

The plan was to go to Stratford-Upon-Avon on the way back home, but once we'd got back and showered and checked out after parkrun, it was gone 12.30 by the time we got to Stratford. We drove around for 45 minutes (it looked lovely!) but on a beautifully sunny Saturday, there was nowhere to park! Oh well! I'm looking forward to going again and properly spending some time in Stratford in the future.

So what to do on our way home? I had a look on my phone and found a few National Trust sights nearby, so we decided to just head home and see if we saw any signs for anywhere we could visit on the way back. About 15 minutes into our drive home we saw a sign for Charlcote House and we decided it would be perfect.

Phil and I have been talking about National Trust membership for years (in fact, we nearly signed up in Lyme Park the day Phil proposed!) and with the wedding planning done, we decided now would be a good time to actually sign up. I was absolutely buzzing! We have definitely hit peak old married couple now!

Charlcote House was amazing and the grounds were even more amazing. We had a lovely walk around in the sunshine and it was the perfect end to our amazing minimoon!

Phil and I also got our money's worth of our National Trust membership this weekend with a trip to Quarry Bank Mill. I'd not been for absolutely years and I'd forgotten how beautiful it is (not something you really appreciate as a child!). We only walked around the grounds (and a bit beyond, okay we got completely lost!) on this trip, but I can't wait to go back in the Mill for the first time in about 20 years!

What I've bought
Bosh! was pretty much my favourite new recipe book of 2018 (besides The Green Roasting Tin, of course!) so I was thrilled when I found out the Bosh boys were creating a 
sequel! Keep your eye out for a review of Bish Bash Bosh over the next few weeks.

The nice weather also got me thinking about my summer wardrobe, so I treated myself to some cool trainers, and finally replaced my denim jacket I got for my 20th Birthday (no, seriously).

Whatb I've been reading
Ooooh some bangers this month. Like everyone else in the universe I fell hard for Daisy Jones and the Six and straight after I read Taylor Jenkins-Reid's previous book The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo which I also absolutely adored!

Not a high reading month with the wedding and a pretty busy minimoon, but I also read The Summer that Melted EverythingA Ladder to the Sky and Bitter Orange, and listened to American Kingpin on audio.

I read Pet Sematary last month and made the mistake of reading the book way too close to seeing the film. I'm usually terrible at remembering details from the book when I see a film but I adored the book and it was so fresh in my mind that I couldn't stand all the changes they'd made for the film, and how thematically different it was. Pet Sematary is a book about loss and mourning, and this was a straightforward horror with the same title. And I think if I'd known that I would have enjoyed it more, but wanting a straightforward adaptation of one of my new favourite books, this was disappointing,

I did completely love Eighth Grade which I'd wanted to see for absolutely ages. It was exactly what I wanted it to be.

At home we've watched Tropic Thunder and finally finished Fargo season 3. Fargo is pretty much my all-time favourite TV drama and this article summed up perfectly how I felt.

And also, obviously, Game of Thrones.

What I read online
Yes and Yes - How to live within your means

April was the best month ever but I'm excited for what May will bring!

I hope you enjoy your long weekend!

Charlotte x

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Our Wedding - Part 3

This is part 3 of my wedding posts. Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.  As I started to write I realised I had wayyyy too much to say for one post, so I've split the day into 3 posts (4000 words!). I wanted to get as much down as possible to share with you guys (and for future me!) while it’s all still fresh in my mind, but I’m sure over time I’ll do more posts on the details of the day (I mean, let’s face it I have nothing better to do now!) when we get more of our “official” photos back. But for now enjoy a few of our amazing official photos (taken by the incredible Amy Louise Photography) and a few family snapshots. 

During the meal, Amy, our photographer, came over to me and asked “what is happening at 7.30pm?”.
Nothing, I said, but the evening guests are arriving then.
“It looks like there’s going to be a sunset around then. If we’re quick we can get some more photos.”
This was perfect. For what most people didn’t know was that I had a change to my dress for the evening. The lace top and sleeves of my dress were actually a separate little jacket, and once removed I could pull a pair of diamante straps which had been hidden in my bodice. The actual dress was backless, which perfectly showed off the beautiful bow I’d had attached to the back. This meant I had the chance for photos in both “versions” of my dress.
These photos are incredible. I’ve only seen a handful so far, but what I have seen are stunning and I’m so incredibly grateful that we had a chance to capture them.

We were taken in to see the “evening” room as the rest of the guests arrived, and then the cake was wheeled into the dancefloor ready for us to cut.

We went for a 3 tier naked cake from Cherry Blossom Bakery – one tier lemon, one tier vanilla and one layer lemon and raspberry, decorated with fruit. It looked absolutely stunning.

James, our DJ had arrived too and ushered us to the dancefloor for our first dance.
Our first dance song was My, My Love by Joshua Radin. Two years ago, for Phil’s birthday, I surprised him with a trip to Berlin to see Joshua Radin, who Phil had introduced me to. As soon as he started playing this song, I burst into tears, and we knew then, over 6 months before we got engaged, that that would be our first dance.
We sang the words and I cried and Phil span me around. It was perfect.
Then James played our “second dance” – My Girl, by the Temptations and everyone joined us on the dancefloor.
Then I had one last dance before the party started – my dance with my Dad. Once my dad was located (!) he came onto the dancefloor and the opening of I Hope You Dance started and honestly, we  both basically sobbed in each other’s arms for 3 minutes. It was the most lovely and beautiful moment for my Dad and I.

I wiped my tears and positioned myself firmly on the dancefloor for the rest of the night – one my bustle was in place and I could stop worrying about people standing on my dress!

Phil and I had spent a lot of time working on the perfect playlist and I might be biased, but we absolutely smashed it. I couldn’t stop dancing, and ended up asking my Mum to tell people to come to the dancefloor if they wanted to speak to me!
A big thing for Phil and I was the inclusion of LOTS of power ballads as we love the Ultimate Power night we used to go to in Manchester when we lived in town. So halfway through the night, the DJ announced that the next half an hour were going to be power ballads only, and threw out the inflatable instruments we had bought as a surprise!
I danced all night long and had the best night of my life. My feet were soooooo sore in my heels but my dress was too long to take them off!

Towards the end of the night, our two best friends said they had to go, but I wasn’t letting them go until we gave them a final surprise. And the opening drums of I’ll Make a Man out of You from Mulan started to play...
About  10 of us lost our minds while 100+ people stared back wondering what on earth was going on.  It was one of my favourite moments.

At 1am, it was time for the last song. I choose my favourite song, Wagon Wheel by Old Crowe Medicine Show and we all stood arm in arm on the dancefloor while I cried that it was over.

I finally pulled off my heels and dragged my dress into the cocktail bar where I promptly ordered a cup of tea, and, exactly as I knew I would, sat down in my big poofy dress drinking tea in the early hours of the morning.

I was determined not to let anyone go to bed after me on my wedding night, so Phil and I stayed up til 3.30am with my cousin and his brother, before finally stumbling to our suite.

Our bags hadn’t arrived but we didn’t even care. Phil dutifully, drunkly, unbuttoned the dozens of tiny buttons that had been a nightmare to do and we fell into bed exhausted at 4am.

It was without a doubt, the best day of my life. The most perfect day with everyone I loved, and most importantly, married to the man of my dreams. I loved every single moment and it was even better than I could have imagined!

As I get more photos I’m hoping to do more posts but having written nearly 4000 words on the topic now I think it’s probably time for a break. For a couple of days...

Thank you to everyone who left us a comment or message. It’s been amazing sharing our journey with you.

Charlotte x

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Our Wedding - Part 2

This is part 2 of my wedding posts. Part 1 is here. As I started to write I realised I had wayyyy too much to say for one post, so I've split the day into 3 posts (4000 words!). I wanted to get as much down as possible to share with you guys (and for future me!) while it’s all still fresh in my mind, but I’m sure over time I’ll do more posts on the details of the day (I mean, let’s face it I have nothing better to do now!) when we get more of our “official” photos back. But for now enjoy a few of our amazing official photos (taken by the incredible Amy Louise Photography) and a few family snapshots. 

The church we got married in is my family church. Every Crowley family wedding I've been to has been there, every christening. It was where my parents’ were married and where we had both my grandparents’ funerals.

There was never much I’d planned about my wedding before we got engaged but I always knew it would be at Our Lady’s.

Phil and I are both Catholic so we decided to have a full Catholic mass, and we’d had several meetings with the priest in the months leading up to the wedding.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’d been really calm all morning (only stressing briefly when we were getting me into my dress!) but when we walked into the church entrance and I heard the opening bars of the bridal chorus, I gasped “Holy shit!” – not ideal to say in a church!

The doors opened and the bridesmaids started to walk down the aisle, and I held my Dad back for a minute while I had a moment. I took everything in, and then I was ready to go.
I’d spent so long practising walking in my dress, but when I came to walking down the aisle, I wasn’t focusing on that at all, and instead was looking around at everyone I loved. I was ecstatic. I couldn’t stop smiling. And then I could see Phil.

It was surreal when I heard “we are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Philip James Cantillon and Charlotte Elizabeth Crowley”. I couldn’t stop grinning at Phil, who was being very focused and listening to every word the priest said!

The first hymn and readings which we had so carefully chosen – one from my Maid of Honour and one from Phil’s Dad, went by so fast and suddenly we were about to say our vows.
Guys, I was doing SO WELL seriously, and then in the middle of my vows the enormity of the situation hit me and my lip wobbled and my voice caught. I was marrying Phil! I was making my vows to him! I didn’t properly cry but I definitely had a wobble!

Then James, one of Phil’s best men, presented the rings, and there were those beautiful rings we had spent so long choosing, and I was slipping it onto Phil’s finger and oh my godddddd Phil is wearing a wedding ring. And there was my beautiful platinum ring with the tiny jewels that I adored.

And then, we were married!

The priest beckoned us to a side room to sign the register, and as soon as I started walking... uh oh. My garter was around my ankle! I walked very slowly and carefully to the room, trying not to trip on my dress or veil, then suddenly I couldn’t feel it anymore!

We got into the register room and my Maid of Honour whispered to me “your garter is in my bra”. Somehow, without anyone seeing she’d whipped it up off the floor for me!

Signing the register was one of my favourite parts of the day. It was just Phil and I, our parents, the bridesmaids and best men, and we were all completely giddy. It was such a nice moment with us all. And once we’d signed, we were officially married!

For the first half of the wedding we obviously had our backs to everyone, but for the rest of the mass we were sat at the back of the altar. I loved this because I could properly look around and see everyone! I could see my Dad and Mum and my bridesmaids and my cousins and aunties and Phil’s friends and family. I was looking around taking everything in and feeling so happy to be surrounded by everyone we loved!
We sang our final hymn (with clapping led by myself and the bridesmaids!) and then the wedding march starting playing and I beamed past everyone I loved holding my husband’s hand.

Outside it was like a celebrity meet and greet with everyone queuing up to congratulate us! The sun was just poking out through the clouds in time for our family photos and confetti! Honestly, I was finding confetti all day – how it got down the bodice of my fitted dress I’ll never know!

We decided to do the big group photo at the reception, so everyone dispersed – some into cars but lots of people onto the bus. Phil had the good thinking to grab him and I a glass of prosecco each for the car journey too!

The journey to the reception in the car with Phil is one of my favourite memories of the day. People on the streets waved at us in our car and we waved back enthusiastically. We were both absolutely buzzing to see each other and couldn’t believe we were married! We laughed at our almost-matching wedding gifts to each other – navy and gold watches – and we caught up on our mornings. Every now and again we just kept saying “we’re married!”.
The bus took a wrong turn, so we actually ended up at our reception before most of our guests, and we were greeted at  Mottram Hall with a glass of prosecco and a red carpet rolled out for us.

This is the one part of the day which is a bit of a blur! We had some group photos outside and photos of Phil and I on the bus, then we were whisked off to see our room for the first time! It was so bizarre seeing the dozens of sunflowers and beer bottles that had sat in our spare bedroom for months transformed into centrepieces on the tables, and we got a first glance at our cake!

As everyone was going into the room for dinner, Phil and I snuck off for our portraits in the beautiful Mottram Hall gardens. It was nice to get a little bit of time together especially as this was the point where I was started to get a bit overwhelmed! My Nan’s vintage white gold Rolex which I wore as my “something borrowed” wasn’t set so I had no idea what time it was and I was worried I was making everyone late!
As everyone sat down to dinner, our wedding co-ordinator Paul directed us where to go and we were announced as Mr and Mrs Cantillon for the first time!

During the meal it was so nice to see those seats we arranged on pieces of paper filled with our friends and family. I kept taking a moment to look around and enjoy the buzz of the chatter. 

And then, suddenly, it was time for the speeches!

We had six speakers at our wedding and we’d done a little sweepstake card per table where people could place a bet on how long the combined speeches would be. Our friends had done something similar at their wedding and we loved the idea! 
First up was my Dad, which I was dreading. In the weeks leading up to the wedding I’d had multiple texts from my Mum about how much my Dad was crying practising his speech! I’m a proper Daddy’s girl and we are so close I swear he cried every time he looked at me on my wedding day! He absolutely smashed it though, crying himself during the speech, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Which was a problem because... I was up next. I’d always wanted to speak at my wedding. I wanted to ensure it wasn’t just men speaking (there’s enough of that in the world, amirite?) and I also wanted a chance to talk about Phil. I’d only managed to go through it without crying once, and I faltered a couple of times but I’m so glad I did it.

Phil’s speech was lovely, and his toast to absent friends set everyone off crying again. And of course he got a Jurgen Klopp quote in!

Carrying on the theme of women speaking at weddings, my Maid of Honour was next. She absolutely smashed it! She even made a last minute addition to her speech to include the retrieval of my garter earlier in the day! She had me laughing, crying and cringing with her stories of our 18 year friendship.

Finally, Phil’s two best men did a brilliant joint speech. Phil was gently roasted, but it was also a genuine and heartfelt speech. 

The speeches are always one of my favourite part of a wedding so I’m so glad ours were so good – someone even told me they were the best wedding speeches they’d heard!

And then as soon as the speeches were over it was 7.30pm and the evening guests were arriving!

Read Part 3