High street stores should do more to make women feel body confident

A story on Mail Online really struck a chord with me yesterday.

No, not the one about the American strippers who had to call their show quits early because they all got diarrhoea and shit all over the stage - one slightly closer to home.

A girl had been to H&M and struggled to find a dress that was true to size and fit her slender, size 12 frame.

Lowri Byrne posted images online of the pretty blue dress blasting the high street store for its insane sizing of clothes. She said she could barely breathe in the size 16 and asked the shop assistant if they had an 18, which they didn't.

I have had exactly the same experience, and it left me feeling so incredibly downcast and despondent about myself.

It was back in 2014, when I was shopping for an upcoming holiday. I worked in York at the time and nipped to H&M on my dinner to pick up some shorts, dresses and bikinis for my holiday.

I wasn't feeling massively body confident, but I was still wearing size 10/12 clothes which fit my well. I picked out some shorts I liked, and a couple of dresses, and headed to the changing room.

I tried on the size 10 shorts and I couldn't get them above my knees. I knew starting with the 10s was an optimistic move, but to not even be able to get them over my knees hit me hard.

Onto the 12s and I had the same problem.

I went back onto the shop floor and got a pair of size 14s. These went up to my thighs but no higher.

Out again I went and got a size 16. These came up to my bum but would never have fastened. By this point, I was stress sweating like there was no tomorrow.

Remember the scene in Friends, where Ross can't get his leather trousers back up after going to the toilet and he gets all sweaty and makes it worse? Yep, that was me in the changing rooms of H&M on that May dinner time.

I gave up then, I wanted the changing room floor to open up and swallow me whole. I just couldn't believe it. How could the trousers I was wearing that day to work be a size 10, and I couldn't even fit into a pair of size 16 shorts?!

From then on, I have very rarely bought anything from H&M.

Their sizing guides are insanely small and give me the biggest body worries ever. And what girl needs any more anxiety or hang-ups about their body? I'm pretty sure we've all got enough of those!

A few weeks after the horrific H&M incident I braved holiday shopping again. I had just about recovered from the harrowing experience.

I went to Miss Selfridge and got myself two pairs of high waisted shorts, both of which were a size 12 and fit me perfectly.

In fact, the photo actually came up on my Timehop the other day after I gleefully took a changing room selfie and slapped it straight onto Instagram.

I was no Victoria's Secret model, but hell I was definitely slimmer than the H&M sizes made me feel.

I know it shouldn't matter what the label in our clothes say, nobody else can see that. If we feel good, and look good, that's all that should matter. But high street shops, in particular H&M, could really do more to help us along the way with this.

I must stress, it's not just H&M I have had this issue with.

I once bought the exact same dress, in two different colours, from Primark because I liked it so much. One was grey, one was burgundy. Both were a size 10.

The grey one fit like a glove, it was perfect. The burgundy one was so much tighter and, when I lay them on top of one another, could see it was noticeably smaller. My mum has also had the same thing with jeans from Primark.

Come on, high street stores, start making your sizing more realistic and uniformed, and stick to those sizings.

When you order a foot-long sub from Subway, it's always a foot-long. Never a foot and a few inches, or a few inches short of a foot. So why should a size 10 dress in one place, be a size 16 in another?

This girl can

The worst thing anyone could ever tell me is that I can't do something.

All my life I have wanted to achieve everything I set my mind to, no matter what. Some might call it stubborn, but I see it as being determined.

From wanting to press the big red button that says "do not press", to wanting to ride my bike without the stabilisers straight away, I've always been determined to do whatever I have set my mind to.

My earliest memory of this is when I was at primary school. I remember being moved down from the top table in maths because I wasn't as good. I was put on a lower ability table and I was devastated.

I worked so incredibly hard, to the point where my teacher even called my mum and dad in to praise me, and was moved straight back up to the top table.

I didn't not want to be good at anything, even the things I found hard. At high school I remember going to maths revision workshops during the school holidays to make sure I was ready for my GCSEs, eventually bagging myself an A.

Similarly, when I was doing my A-Levels, and I failed my History exam in second year.

Thankfully, there was an opportunity to resit, but I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I went to revision sessions after college, spent hours in the library and worked my butt off to smash the exam and get the grades I needed for university.

Even now, when someone tells me I can't, or they don't think I can, do something, it makes me so determined to prove them wrong. Even if part of me is unsure whether I can actually do it!

If Tom tells me he doesn't think I'll be able to carry something upstairs because it's heavy, I will make a point of getting whatever it is right to the top to show that I can do it.

The same when the Morrisons delivery man offers to carry my shopping into the kitchen because the bags are heavy.

Hey, pal, I am a strong, independent woman - I can do this shit!

I don't think it's a bad personality trait to possess - determination. I would rather give everything my go, try my hardest at every possible opportunity, and have my sights firmly set on my goals than never bother to even try.

Part of my dad's speech at my wedding pointed towards my determination to always succeed at whatever I set my mind to.

He recalled how, when I was little, I told him I wanted my stabilisers taking off my bike. He said he got all his tools out, took said stabilisers off, and began putting his tools away before readying himself to hold onto my seat and set me off on my way. He said he expected to be running down the garden, holding my bike, before letting me go and me toppling off. It was a scene he imagined to go on for some time, but before he had even finished putting his tools back in their boxes, I was off - cycling down the garden, no stabilisers, not a care in the world.

My dad said I was always so determined to do things on my own, and whenever I set my mind to something I did it.

It's definitely a trait I still possess today. As I said above, some may see it as stubborn, but I like to call it determined.


"Journo duo tie the knot at Yorkshire hotel"

There's a running joke in my family that no 'Derham event' would be complete without dozens of cameras going off in everyone's faces. Given my side of the family's notoriety for being avid, keen photographers, I knew we wouldn't be short of some brilliant 'unofficial' shots from the day.

And they didn't disappoint. After collecting two discs from them at the weekend, we had over 1,000 photos to sift through. And, my word, were there some absolute gems. 

Some of them, I joked on my Facebook page this week, looked like they could have been on Mail Online. They were proper pap shots!

So, with that in mind, I decided to write a Mail Online-esque article, and captions, to accompany some of the best pap shots from the day.

Huge thanks to Elaine, Rob and Pip for the photos. We have another disc from superstar Jen, Tom's cousin, to go through - so no doubt we'll have even more favourites to add to the ever-growing album!

Journo duo tie the knot at Yorkshire hotel

Two local journalists tied the knot in a romantic ceremony at a quiet country hotel in Yorkshire recently.

Tom Kershaw, of Howden, East Yorks, wed 25-year-old Natalie Derham, from Selby, North Yorks, at Wentbridge House Hotel, near Pontefract, on Saturday, May 6.

The country house hotel, made famous when Louis Tomlinson's late mum, Johannah, tied the knot there in July 2014, was the setting for the big day.

Guests began arriving from late morning, with many braving the inclement spring weather to enjoy drinks outside before the ceremony.

The bride's father, Geoff Derham, a director at a waste management company, was snapped making a phone call as guests began arriving.

Geoff Derham, father of the bride, was pictured outside the venue making a phone call.
In a lovely twist to the day, Geoff and wife Jane, mother of the bride, were celebrating their 28th wedding anniversary on the same day as their daughter was to marry. Coincidentally, it was also the 28th wedding anniversary of the groom's parents - Lorraine and Adrian.

Both sets of parents were married on the exact same day in 1989, which is reportedly the reason why Tom and Natalie picked the significant date to hold their own nuptials.

Natalie, who works at local newspaper group Chronicle Publications, publishers of weekly newspapers Goole Times and Selby Times, has spoken previously about the significant of the date to the families.

Guests arriving at the hotel wore an array of pastel colours ahead of the celebration, willing the sunshine to break through the grey skies.

Mr Derham, a director at a waste management company, took the call outside Wentbridge House Hotel ahead of his daughter's marriage to Tom Kershaw.
Many female guests decided against a jacket, instead off their colourful, spring-inspired frocks. Although, of course, the wedding was in Yorkshire - and Yorkshire girls don't need coats.

Guests gathered for a drink before the ceremony.
The groom was seen welcoming guests to the venue, holding back the tears as he embraced family and friends.

The 26-year-old, who works for a press agency in Leeds, wore a smart blue three piece suit and smart, brown brogues.

Tom opted for a slightly different waistcoat and tie to his seven groomsmen, all of whom were looking incredibly smart as they patiently waited for the bride and her tribe to be ready for the 1.30pm ceremony.

Tom was pictured welcoming guests to the venue ahead of the much-anticipated ceremony.
The mother of the groom, Lorraine, kept with the blue theme in a gorgeous blue and grey number, finished with an elegant hat.

Her outfit, and matching jacket, perfectly complimented the suit worn by her son as they chatted outside Wentbridge House Hotel.

Tom chats to his mum before the ceremony.
It was a busy morning for the groom, who spent time with all the guests as they arrived - ushering them into the hotel and directing them straight to the bar.

He was snapped talking to close pal, Paul, who it is understood is to marry Natalie's best friend on August bank holiday weekend.

The two looked deep in conversation for some time, perhaps sharing wedding planning stories and offering advice to one another ahead of their nuptials.

Close pal Paul chats to the groom before the ceremony.
As the guests headed inside for the ceremony, we were left waiting to see the bride's dress.

When the wedding party headed back out, some 20 minutes later, into the magnificent gardens of Wentbridge House Hotel, we couldn't fail to notice the beaming smile on everyone's faces.

The bride looked beautiful in an elegant Sophia Tolli gown, which boasted an open back and intricate detail on the body.

The bride is pictured talking to a close friend from school.
The newly married couple mingled with their guests and posed for photographs while a drinks reception took place.

Prosecco and Peroni was served under the magnificent folly structure on the beautifully manicured lawns at Wentbridge House Hotel, with guests determined to enjoy the stunning hotel grounds, despite the chilly weather.

The new Mr and Mrs Kershaw looked thrilled to be meeting and greeting their guests, although the groom looked slightly emotional.

Sources revealed to us that he was somewhat emotional during the ceremony, particularly when he saw Natalie for the first time walking down the aisle.

The pair looked thrilled to be the new Mr and Mrs Kershaw.
As the drinks reception got in full flow, the newlyweds were pictured having a 'moment' just the two of them, perhaps taking in the magnitude of what had just happened.

The newlyweds were caught having a moment during the drinks reception.
It wasn't long until they were back chatting to guests, though.

The pair were in demand for selfies, hugs and conversations with their 80-strong attendees. It is understood guests travelled from far and wide to attend the wedding.

Brother of the bride, Jack Derham, saw his fiancee Lauren fly all the way from Minnesota for the big day. While best man, Sam Cooke, jetted in from Ukraine for the big day.

Family and friends also drove up to Yorkshire from London, Bristol and Sussex for the ceremony.

Natalie showed off the beautiful back of her dress as she chatted to family and friends.
Before long, the official photographer for the day sprung into action and the famous wedding group shots began.

Andy Crozier, from Insight Photography, was on hand to ensure every single detail was perfect for the couple's official pictures.

He was even seen fixing the mother of the bride's hair, which kept getting in her face due to the light breeze.

The newlyweds began posing for their official photographs, helped by Andy Crozier from Insight Photography.
Guests continued to mingle on the lawns until they were required for shots, sipping on the Prosecco and Peroni provided by the bride and groom.

Guests enjoying the drinks reception.
Friends new and old met each other on the lawns as everyone chatted before heading inside for the wedding breakfast.

It is understood that Tom and Natalie chose a four-course menu for their guests filled with their favourite dishes - from leek and potato soup to sticky toffee pudding. Wine was also served with the meal, before a champagne toast.

A videographer from Dave Spink Photography was on-hand to film all the action from the day.
A source close to the couple revealed that the speeches were a moment from the day to be remembered, with the groom breaking down several times while thanking family, friends, and paying tribute to his new wife.

As the day celebrations drew to a close, the couple were joined by Mark Waddington, a Yorkshire-based magician, who entertained guests into the night. His slight of hand magic and incredible tricks wowed those in attendance, with many left baffled by his brilliance.

The couple's first dance is believed to have been to Kodaline's 'The One', before Natalie and her dad took to the dance floor for an emotional 'father and daughter dance' to 'I Loved Her First' by Heartland.

Guests then took full advantage of Wentbridge House Hotel's bar selection, dancing the night away before the party finished in the early hours of the morning.

Tom and Natalie returned to their home in Selby, North Yorks, the following morning before heading off on a 'mini moon' to Northumberland. It is understood the pair will honeymoon in Dubai and Seychelles later in the year.

You may also like: Tom and I are at sixes - not sevens


The heartbreaking attack in Manchester reminds us that hate will not win

The news coming out of Manchester today is absolutely heartbreaking.

As I read the various online articles, tweets and social media posts, my heart hurts for the families of those affected by this awful, awful act of terror.

As we were going to bed last night I saw early reports online of explosions heard at Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. I saw various reports - everything from a speaker blowing to a bomb.

When I woke up this morning and saw the news, I couldn't believe it. I asked myself, once again, what kind of world do we live in?

As soon as I saw it had been at an Ariana Grande concert I knew it would be mainly children and teenagers in attendance. What possesses anyone to want to target young, innocent people?

For many of these children it will have been their first concert experience. Some will have been waiting for this concert for months - the tickets will have been Christmas or birthday presents. They'll have got all dressed up after school, probably gone out for a nice tea beforehand, as the excitement for the evening built.

Many of the youngsters in there will have been without parents. I know when I was younger, and I started showing more of an interest in going to concerts, mum and dad used to drop me and my friends off outside, decide on a meeting point for afterwards, and pick us up when it finished.

The last time I was at Manchester Arena was when I was 17, to see Miley Cyrus. My mum and dad dropped me and my friend outside as the doors opened, they went off to the cinema and for some food, then met us back outside afterwards.

For so many of the kids inside Manchester Arena last night, this will have been the same.

These kids will have been taking selfies, videos, and pictures galore to share with their friends on social media and at school the next day; ready to make everyone jealous that they'd seen Ariana Grande. It's such a shame it had to end in the way it did.

They'll have all had plans for the rest of the week, the summer, the rest of their lives. Some will have been looking forward to a holiday, or another concert later in the year, or had plans for the upcoming bank holiday weekend.

Not even a pop concert filled with kids is safe. And the fact this coward has used the fact the arena will be filled with children to maximise the impact of this disgusting attack is even worse.

Terrorism will have been the last thing on their minds, just like it's the last thing on most people's minds as we all go about our day-to-day lives.

Those people walking along Westminster Bridge in March won't have expected a terrorist to strike, neither did the holidaymakers enjoying the sun in Tunisia in 2015.

At present, the death toll for last night's explosion stands at 22 - with 59 injured. This is, I'm sure, bound to rise as the day goes on. The news is reporting this morning that parents are still looking for their children who were inside the concert last night. Kids as young as six years old, who got split up from their parents during the stampede. How can that even be comprehended?!

What an agonising 12 hours it must have been, and continues to be, for them. I hope and pray that every child missing is safe, well and being cared for until they are reunited with their parents. I cannot imagine the pain, anguish and heartbreak they are experiencing right now.

Looking on Facebook and Twitter this morning has been heartbreaking. I've seen countless posts being shared - parents looking for missing children, children looking for missing parents - it's difficult to comprehend this is all going on just an hour and a bit down the M62.

But what social media has also shown me this morning, is that terrorism will not win. These cowardly terrorists will never squash or eradicate love. It's times like this we need to stand strong, united and show that they will never win.

I've seen people offering space in their cars to take kids home, people offering beds for the night, hotels taking in lost children to keep them safe - it's always the worst times when the best people shine.

Those who are planning to go to concerts in the coming weeks - go and enjoy yourselves. Keep going to concerts, keep going shopping, keep going to the theatre. Keep living your life, keep loving and caring, and cherish every moment. Hate will not win.


I'm starting to get used to being Mrs Kersh now

I can't believe it's been two weeks since I became Mrs Kershaw - a wife!

Everyone keeps asking me how married life is and I feel really boring telling them it feels exactly the same.

The first time a piece of post came through the door addressed to Mrs N J Kershaw was exciting, I must admit, but other than that it feels exactly the same.

I still can't stop watching the incredible highlights trailer put together by the amazingly talented ladies at Dave Spink Photography.

If you've not yet had a nosey, here it is:

Wedding Trailer | Wentbridge House Hotel | Natalie & Tom from Dave Spink Photography on Vimeo.

After finally saying goodbye and goodnight to all our wedding guests; lugging the post box, gift bags, and boxes of table decorations up to our room; taking out the hundreds of hair grips keeping my barnet in place and yanking my hair extensions out, we saw that the highlights trailer to our wedding had been shared on Facebook.

This had already been shown at our evening reception, projected onto the wall for about half an hour before our first dance. It was so lovely to see moments from the day captured for everyone to see.

However, it was played at the evening reception without the Ed Sheeran track accompanying it; it was just the video.

Whilst it's still beautiful without the sound, it doesn't quite tug at the heart strings in the same way when the Star Wars theme tune is playing alongside (I think it was our page boy who requested that one from the DJ!)

As we sat down to watch the video, by this time it was approaching 2.30am, we couldn't have comprehended how beautiful it would be with the music. We must've watched it 10 times before eventually going to bed.

Tom was still an emotional mess as it was, having never recovered from me walking down the aisle/his speech/the general day. Added to this mix the majority of alcoholic beverages sold by Wentbridge House Hotel, he was never going to keep it together.

It's strange, though, the amount of people who have got in touch with us about it. People who don't know us - friends of friends etc. - to say how lovely the video is and how even they shed a little tear.

It's so nice to watch the video and re-live all those happy feelings and memories from the day. It's also nice to be able to watch it and Tom not cry now. I was beginning to think the tears were tears of regret the longer they went on!

We've also had some other videos back this week, which has been lovely. I wasn't expecting them back so soon but we've been able to re-live the ceremony, speeches and first dance.

I couldn't believe it, watching them back, how much stuff I had forgotten already from the day.

Tom's speech, for example, was memorable - anyone who was there will tell you that. But I couldn't actually remember anything he said in it. While I can tell from the video, I am listening to him intently (I was, honest!) I didn't actually seem to process or register any of the words coming out of his mouth. Except, that is, the string of expletives he muttered under his breath while he tried to compose himself.

Then there's the ceremony. That went by in a blur.

Someone asked me the other day if I remembered everything from the day. I thought they meant had I had too much to drink and forgotten it due to alcohol, so answered "yeah I made sure I didn't drink too much so I didn't forget anything."

What they actually meant was, do I remember the day in general. And, when I thought about it, I wasn't actually sure. Yes, I remember getting ready in the morning, the laughs we had in the room as we all got dressed, Soph springing into action when I started to get all sweatt, seeing Tom just break down when he saw me... But there are so many other things people have told me since, that I literally have no recollection of.

For example, apparently when the doors opened for us to walk into the ceremony and I saw Tom crying, I turned to my dad and said: "Oh god, he's gone already."

Don't remember that whatsoever!

Anyone planning a wedding who isn't too sure on getting a wedding video, I would highly recommend it.

I'll not lie to you, I wasn't keen at all on getting one. I didn't see the point and said to Tom we would never watch it.

He, however, was insistent that we got one and I hold my hands up now for being completely and utterly wrong because I am so glad we did. Being able to return to the moment and watch it all again, from an outside perspective, is amazing. And as far as the 'never watching it' goes - I haven't stopped watching it!

Every time I watch it I notice something new - a guest's reaction or something I had just simply forgotten.

When I was little I loved watching my mum and dad's wedding video, so I am so glad our children will have the chance to do exactly the same.

We've still got our main video, which is a collage of the whole day set to music, to come and, if the rest are anything to go by, it's going to be amazing.

One thing they didn't capture - which is a blessing - was some of the dance moves as the night went on.

When shopping for my wedding dress, one of my friends said to make sure I picked a gown that I could 'get low' in. I knew this would be an important requirement but, the fitted nature of my dress around the booty region, placed doubt in my mind as to whether this would be possible.

Thankfully, Flo Rida's 'Low' came on quite late into the evening - when I was a jager bomb or three deep - so I didn't hesitate to get low, low, low, low, low, low, low.

Liz, the friend with the spiffing advice about making sure I could get low, even caught the momentous move on video. This will make the 'unofficial' edit...

You may also like: We did it!


I am now officially a Slimming World 'diamond member'

In true Monica Geller style - this Slimming World bride is no longer a bride, now I'm "just a wife".

For those not as in tune with Friends as myself, when Monica and Chandler have got married there's a scene where they check out of the hotel the next morning. Monica said she was checking out the bridal suite because she's "no longer a bride, now just somebody's wife."

I'm not sure Slimming World wife has quite the same ring to it as Slimming World bride, so I'll maybe just hang onto that tag for a little longer!

After a surprising few losses in the run-up to the wedding, I was dreading getting back on the scales this week.

The last weigh-in before the wedding saw me lose one pound, and drop right to the bottom of my target range. While this was great, as it gave me more room to gain and not creep out of my target range, I was shocked at the scales result given what I had consumed in the week.

I put it down to stress largely, so expected my weight to soar once the stress was all out the way.

Add onto this the vast amount of food and drink consumed, I was sure I'd be out my target range. I had a sneaky weigh-in at home and my scales told me I'd put over half a stone on. I was gutted.

But not surprised.

Since the wedding, I've eaten so much rubbish. Some days went by where I don't think I had any fresh fruit or vegetables - completely unheard of for me, even on days when I wasn't food optimising 100%.

While we were on our mini-moon I ate white bread, pizza, garlic bread, scones with clotted cream, chocolate, cake, and drank my body weight in prosecco and red wine.

Even when we came home the bad eating habits continued with a takeaway. I even had two puddings at a BBQ at mum and dad's house.

Given all of this, I was expecting a huge gain at Slimming World on Wednesday. To the point where I couldn't even bring myself to go to the gym beforehand. My usual ritual, the same every Wednesday, is going to the gym before weigh-in. I then wear the same clothes every week to get weighed in, convinced that changing out of these would ruin my run of good luck.

Wednesday, I just couldn't be bothered with this ritual. I'd resigned myself to a gain, and most likely seeing my weight rise above the target range threshold.

However, when I stood on the scales, I was shocked to see I had only put four pounds on.

Now, any other week, I'd have been in tears at a four pound gain. However, given the types/quantity of food and drink I have consumed since my last weigh-in, I was chuffed.

It also meant I still had a pound and a half until I reached the top of my target range. I was chuffed!

I also received my diamond award on Wednesday evening, celebrating being at target for over 12 months. My consultant had even filled it out in my new name. I was feeling very chuffed as I strolled out of group on Wednesday night.

I was determined that this week I would slip back into good habits and get back to food optimising 100%, but that hasn't quite gone to plan so far.

Last night started with all good intentions as I chopped all the fat off my bacon and fried it ready to make a syn free carbonara. I had the bacon sorted and ready to re-heat when Tom got home, only to go into the kitchen and discover one of the cats had troffed pretty much the entire contents of the pan. Leaving tea's plans in tatters.

When Tom came home and I told him what happened his words were "ah well, let's have a takeaway."

Now, this isn't usually our attitude to life, but I had to agree with him. It was 8.15pm, all the other meat we had in the house was frozen, and I couldn't be bothered to start defrosting two chicken breasts at that time.

Aside from the Indian, my Slimming World week has been a good one so far. We are going to stay with family this weekend, which will no doubt see lots of alcohol flowing, but I am hoping the walking we are planning will counteract that to some level.

It may be that next week's weigh-in takes me out of my target range, and I have to properly get back on that car bonnet the week after.

I do still have lots of things to aim for, so it's not that I will be taking my foot completely off the gas and ballooning. 

I am a bridesmaid for my best friend in August, and we are going on her hen weekend in a couple of weeks. Then it's our honeymoon in September. These will keep me focused and, hopefully, on track.

Until then, I will just keep staring at photos of myself in my wedding dress to keep me properly motivated.

When I started Slimming World, there was no way on earth I would have felt comfortable or confident wearing the dress I did. 

Before I went shopping for my wedding dress, the gown I chose was the one I had seen on Pinterest and had labelled as my "dream dress". People always said to me that the dress you have in mind and the one you pick will be totally different, but for me it wasn't like that.

I felt exactly as I imagined I would when I tried it on and when I wore it on the big day. It was just such an amazing feeling.

None of that would've been possible without Slimming World, so I will always be thankful for that when I remember how great I felt.


Tom and I are at sixes - not sevens

Anyone who isn't already aware, Tom and I have a weird connection with the number six. It all stems back to a discovery that I remember, clear as day, three years ago.

It was just after we had both swiped the right way on Tinder, got back in contact with one another and started 'dating'. After the embarrassing conversation on Tinder where Tom told me to just text him as it would be easier and I had to confess I had deleted his number as I'd not spoken to him in so long!

It was 6th May 2014. I was stood in the kitchen with mum and dad about to open a bottle of champagne to toast their silver wedding anniversary before heading out for a meal. Tom was texting me, as he did often (#persistent) asking me what I was up to. I replied and told him that I was just getting ready to head out for a meal as it was my mum and dad's silver wedding that day.

He replied with something along the lines of "no way - today? It's my parent's silver wedding anniversary today too!"

I thought he was taking the piss, so I did what I do best and went on a social media stalk. I came across his sister's Twitter - who I didn't follow at the time so had to be careful when scrolling - and saw a photo of flowers, cards and gifts as well as a message wishing her parents a happy silver wedding.

I also saw an announcement in the local paper, to Mr and Mrs Kershaw congratulating them on their silver wedding on 6th May.

I couldn't believe it - both our parents married on exactly the same day - what are the chances?

From there, the coincidences just got stranger. We learnt that both our parents lived at number 66 on their respective streets, we both had grandmas called Dorothy, and we both ended up working at the same place after I applied for a job at Selby Times prior to us reconnecting, unaware he already worked there!

The big one came when we were buying our house. We originally went down to Persimmon looking to get a house that wasn't yet built - giving us time to save and move in when the house was built some 7 or 8 months later.

However, when we got there, we discovered there was a house ready to go with a really good deal on it. We were torn, we wanted to wait but we also didn't want to miss this good deal.

When the sales woman told us the plot number, we couldn't believe it. It was only plot 66! When we told her both our parents lived at 66, she told us it was a sign. Of course she'd say that, though, she wanted a sale!

When we went back into the sales office with our decision, she told us she'd looked up what our address would be and that it would be number 6.

Literally, what are the chances?

To make it even weirder - if that were possible - when the photographer at our wedding uploaded his 'sneak peek' photos on Facebook, he chose 66 to share. I thought this was intentional, but he swears it wasn't.

My dad joked in his speech at our wedding about naming a future son 'Damien' and him having 666 carved in the back of his head!

After we got engaged the first thing we did was look to see when May 6th was next on a Saturday. The fact our parents were both married on the same day was too special to ignore, and we wanted to mark that connection by doing the same thing. Had it been a special anniversary for them, like their 30th, then we would have probably avoided it so as not to take too much away from their special anniversary. But they've still a couple of years to go until that, and they were more than happy to share their anniversary with us.

It's strange to think that there are so many connections between Tom and myself. I'm not sure I've ever really believed in fate, but all these signs definitely point towards what I already knew - that him and I really are meant to be.

You may also like: We did it!


We did it!

After almost two and a half years in the planning, the big day has been and gone.

Everyone said to me to take it all in, soak up every second, because it goes by so fast. And it really, really does.

From waking up at 5.25am, to going to bed at 3am, the day went by in what felt like a blink of an eye.

The excitement started on Friday, with a pampering day at my mum's house courtesy of my incredibly talented friend Claire. Claire made sure we were all preened to perfection and really kicked off the celebrations as me and my girls gathered together to start a weekend of fun.

We got to our venue late afternoon and, after checking in, I finally got to give the girls their gifts and I could not wait to see their faces as they opened them. It was such a special moment and I was so glad they liked everything I had picked for them. From there, it just got incredibly emotional.

We headed down to the bar and met my parents for a drink before going for a last supper. While down there, I was surprised with a gift box. Soph, my maid of honour, had told me the box contained a present for my parents. I felt awful when she said that - I hadn't got them anything!

However, it transpired that it was actually for me. It was a scrap book filled with letters from my family, Tom's family, and members of our bridal party. I was in bits before I even started reading them, It was such a beautiful touch and such a sentimental gift that I will keep forever.

Our evening was lovely and chilled, topped off with us all snuggled in bed watching Bridesmaids.

Saturday morning, as I lay in bed at 5.25am trying not to wake Soph up, I knew I wouldn't get back to sleep. I knew Amy was awake, she'd been messaging me like a kid on Christmas morning wanting to know when we were awake so she could come into our room! About 5.45am I knew Laura must have been awake too after hearing Amy, through the wall, scream "IT'S WEDDING DAY!" 

If Laura wasn't awake already, she certainly was after that!

A relaxing bath later and I was joined by my mum, Amy and Laura. My hairdresser, Paula, arrived just before 7am. With a bride, three bridesmaids and a mother of the bride to get ready she really had her work cut out.

Straight away she got to work putting rollers in my mum's hair and sticking her under the hood (not sure what it's proper term is!) That provided plenty of entertainment early on, with my mum enjoying a crash course in Snapchat while looking like Frenchy from Grease.

Our incredibly talented make-up artist, Beth, arrived at 8am. Soph and Amy, complete with dressing gowns and slippers, went out to meet her and bring her to our room. 

Preparations were well and truly in swing, and room service delivered our breakfast just before 9am. It suddenly started to feel really real as I sat on the bed eating watermelon watching the main ladies in my life get ready around me.

As the boys started to arrive at the venue it got even more exciting. I was getting my hair done and the girls were giving me a blow-by-blow account of who was arriving.

Everyone kept asking me if I was feeling nervous, but all I could feel was excitement. I was so, so excited!

When the gorgeous, amazing flowers were delivered I knew it was getting close. Before long, the videographers and photographers joined us in our bedroom - which was now rather full - and everything was in full swing.

Paula and Beth did an absolutely outstanding job, we were all ready right on time and before I knew what was happening we are all dressed and ready for photos.

Our gorgeous page boy, Mason, joined us in the room as well as my future sister-in-law, Lauren, who helped us all with finishing touches.

When my dad joined us, and saw me in my dress for the first time, it got a bit emotional. One of my 'something old' pieces was a hankerchief of my grandma's that I had tucked in my dress. As my dad teared up I whipped the hankie out - a moment that really makes me smile when I watch it back in our highlights video.

The registrars visited and did all the final questions before taking us all downstairs ready for the ceremony.

As soon as the doors opened I saw Tom was in bits. I couldn't look at anyone else but him as I walked down the aisle, it felt like I'd not seen him for ages and it had only been just over 24 hours.

The ceremony was amazing and soon we were husband and wife.

The rest of the day feels like a complete blur.

No sooner was the drinks reception underway but we were into photos, then the meal, and before I knew it the speeches.

I won't dwell too much on the speeches. Those who were there will know how emotional, special and unique they were. And those who weren't will see what we mean when we get our video back!

The amazing Mark Waddington arrived in perfect time after the speeches to provide our guests with entertainment between the day and evening reception. He is an absolutely amazing magician who I would highly recommend anyone planning any sort of event looks up and books!

More pictures later and we joined our guests for our evening reception. We did the cake cut and first dance before finally letting our hair down and racking up the jager bombs.

Before we knew it, it was 2am and we were lugging gift bags and leftover cake pops up to our bedroom.

The day literally went by in the blink of an eye. As we were getting into bed we finally checked our phones and saw some sneak peeks of our day had been posted on Facebook.

Our absolutely incredible photographers from Insight Photography had posted a beautiful confetti shot, while our supremely talented videographers from Dave Spink Photography had posted the beautiful and emotional highlights trailer.

We really did have some of Yorkshire's best involved in our day. Insight Photography and Dave Spink Photography worked so well together. It was hard to believe the two teams had never worked together before, some people even thought they were all from the same company. Everything felt natural, nothing was intrusive, and what we've seen so far has been just beautiful.

The addition of the incredible magician, Mark, was also a highlight of the day.

All day, all we did was smile and laugh. The whole atmosphere was just amazing.

It was the most perfect day - more perfect than we ever imagined.

Our venue, Wentbridge House, was also incredible. The staff made everything so easy and nothing felt too much trouble.

I just can't believe it's all over now. All day I have been looking through all the amazing photos our guests have been posting, reliving the day moment by moment. I'm now charging my phone for the fifth time I've been on it that much!

We can't stop watching our highlights trailer, it's just so incredibly beautiful and so well put together. It's all been an absolute dream. To watch the masterpiece, follow this link.

Tom and I still feel like we're in a little bubble.

We've honestly had the best weekend of our lives and cannot thank those involved enough.

Those who have travelled from afar - Sam all the way from Ukraine and Lauren from Minnesota - and those who have come from all over the country to share our special day. 

The best men, for helping Tom keep it together best he could, the two Jacks for being brilliant ushers, our parents for supporting us through everything, Mason for just being the best page boy ever and his gorgeous mum Charlotte for raising such a handsome, polite and well behaved young man. Then, of course, there's a big thanks to the bridesmaids for being the best friends a girl could wish for.

A special shout out to Soph for fulfilling every single duty imaginable for a maid of honour. I'm not sure my mum will ever recover from walking into the room to Soph with her head up my dress making sure I was 100% ready to walk down the aisle.

If I could bottle the feelings I felt yesterday and sell it, I would make a fortune.

There was so much love and laughter, captured beautifully for us to remember and cherish forever.

Thank you to our amazing family and friends who shared in our special day with us. We love you so much and are so grateful for your kind words, best wishes and gifts. Our house looks like a pop-up Card Factory shop! 

When we return from our mini-moon we will tackle our thank you cards. Jen, we may need you and your skills again..!

Thank you to Insight Photography, Dave Spink Photography, Wentbridge House Hotel, Paula, Beth, Jen, Claire, Lisa's Florist, Mark Waddington, Mini Couture Cakes, Jayne's Bridalwear and everyone else who helped make our wedding absolutely perfect.