Sunday Ramblings: My story so far…

Hello Cwtchers,

Its been a while since I’ve posted a sunday rambling. Brace yourself, its a biggy! A lot has been going on in the background that I now feel ready to share and talk about.

If you are new to the blog and have no idea who I am, Hello! I’m Maria, creator of Cwtch The Bride, I’m 41, a Professional Photographer and mum of two awesome boys. I set up this here lovely Welsh Wedding blog back in 2013.

For seven years Cwtch The Bride has inspired countless welsh brides, helped a great many welsh wedding businesses grow and we’ve had great fun hosting CWTCHFEST! (our successful annual Wedding Festival).

What you may not know is why I set this all up.

That year, My husband wasn’t well. He started suffering with double vision and i noticed he was dragging his leg while walking. Doctors appointments turned into scans then long periods of waiting for results and trying not to think the worst. Finally, we got the news he was diagnosed with M.S. devastating on one hand but a relief on the other as we though it was Cancer. I didn’t know anything about M.S other than there are two types. Relapes/remission and progressive. He has the better one. Nonetheless, with it being unpredictable, it forced me to take a long hard look at my photography business and realise shooting weddings all over the UK and abroad was not going to work anymore. Things needed to change. I looked at what platform was available at home in Wales to showcase my work and nothing inspired me. Thats why I set up Cwtch The Bride. I wanted to work more locally, help others and be at home should things get worse for my husband. When you take those vows, in sickness and in health… you step up.

I had absolutely no idea Cwtch The Bride was going to get as big as it did. I’ll never forget we had 2,500 hits on the first day of launching! Within two years we were averaging tens of thousands of views on the site per month. For a niche blog, this was brilliant! It had firmly established itself as the leading go-to resource for any Welsh Bride. We also started winning awards too and my team started to grow.

All this happened while I was still running a full diary of wedding photography because I couldn’t risk losing the security that income brought. The stress of everything, including family life and the uncertainty of my husbands health was all beginning to take its toll on me.

People would often ask, how do you do it all? The truth was, I didn’t know. I just kept my head down and grafted hard. The trouble with that was I created enormous pressure on myself to keep doing well for my family. I struggled to say no and turn work away. I worked constantly. Would even take my imac on holidays to west wales and work while my boys played on the beach (NUTS RIGHT!)

Eventually, everything came to a head and sadly my 16 year relationship (9 year marriage) broke down and so did I. We were all so deeply unhappy.

I couldn’t cope anymore. I felt like i’d completely lost myself. I needed to break. I needed to take time out to look after myself. What i didn’t anticipate was the lorry load of hurt, pain, shame, guilt, rejection, humiliation, anxiety, depression and every other kind of sad, dark emotion you can think of.  And as you can imagine… weddings was the last thing on my mind. Yet… I had to find some way to carry on. I didn’t want to let my clients down.

I tried very hard, put on a brave face but the truth was, working in the wedding industry when you’re going through a divorce is torture. Photographing weddings when your heart is broken, is torture. I couldn’t cope. I was too embarrassed to tell everyone what was going on.

So how do you run a successful wedding photography business, wedding blog, festival and deal with a broken marriage all at the same time? The truth is… you don’t. You need help and something has to give.

That is the reason things have been quiet here until now. I needed to take a step back from this. take time to heal. I needed to be with my two children that were heartbroken and devastated. I needed to get myself straight and in a good place to be able to move forward and lead.

I will forever be grateful for the wonderful women that rallied round to help keep my businesses going. Anna, Dawn, Donna… you ladies are flipping awesome! And Lindsey… your hard work, support and belief in me is what kept Cwtchfest going!  These girls are my tribe, my CWTCH GIRLS. They saw me at my lowest and never judged. I love them to bits!

Owen Mathias Photography

They also encouraged me to seek professional help too. I was very reluctant. There is such a stigma attached to counselling and medication…I even felt it from my own family… I was seen as a failure by some, even a loved one cut me deep with her words of shame. I knew I was just hurting and lost.

The NHS waiting list was 6 months, so I went private. I have to say, It was worth every penny. Counselling ROCKS!! there really is no shame in it whatsoever. If there is one bit of advice I can give anyone going through a tough time right now… its talk. Talk to someone. ANYONE that will listen. It really does help.

Its taken me a few years to finally feel happy within. Its been the toughest and most defining part of my life so far. A very profound and bitter sweet experience.

So here we are today…I’m back in the driving seat, feeling good and ready to roll my sleeves up, only this time with a new exciting vision. It feels a bit like i’m starting again, only this time I have no stress or pressure and a bucketload of great experience, LIFE! Having ridden the highs and lows of marriage I feel stronger and better equipped to start conversations here that I was once afraid to. Conversations that I feel are important and relevant to everyone getting married.

I very nearly walked away from Cwtch The Bride and closed it down but something told me not to. Just scale it back, put it to sleep for a while and don’t give up. Upon reflection now… I do believe everything happens for a reason and I understand more about love than I ever did.

My plan now is very simple. To lead my team, inspire brides, to help local businesses and to grow Cwtch The Bride even bigger and better than before.

We begin posting regularly from Monday YAY!!! We have lots to share, lots of opportunity to get involved, competitions, meet our new team members, let us inspire you, show you real weddings across Wales, introduce you to some great wedding experts, tell you all about Cwtchfest2020, how to become a cwtchgirl, lets talk about difficult things, lets celebrate the little wins, lets do some cool DIY projects, lets show you upcoming trends, lets have some fun here!!!

Getting married is such an exciting time of your life. yeah… life can throw you a curve ball but I totally believe in love and when you find the right person, they’ll ride that wave with you and will never leave your side. (i’m just not convinced I’m going to find him on Tinder hahaha)

Lets do this!

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