19 things in '19

Phew! Where. Did. The. Time. Go? Last year I recapped my year and it was a great excuse to look back and appreciate everything we did. Interestingly, last year I struggled to write 18 highlights and I have reminded myself of that throughout the year. So having to write a list of 19 things I'm grateful for throughout the year actually forced me to go out more, say yes more, just live a little bit more. I recommend everyone try this!

As 2019 comes to a close, I'm sharing some of my favourite moments on the wild ride that was 2019…

1. We Got Hitched

2019 was the year I became Mrs Bleakley. My favourite thing about getting married this year is calling Karl 'husband". No idea why exactly it's so fun to say but I get a thrill every time I find myself saying things like "let me check with my husband first". Definitely used it unnecessarily and excessively! Nosey at all our photos here.

2. Wearing my Granny's wedding dress to my own wedding reception.

There’s something just a little bit magical about stepping into a piece of clothing that has a whole other history of its own. I love my gran's 1963 wedding dress and the fact that she kept it in such good condition all these years. It was really special to wear this to my wedding and see her reaction. A wedding dress symbolises so much about marriage, and I couldn’t imagine anything more special than carrying on the legacy of love that my grandparents have for each other. The original story of it is here.

3. Our honeymoon in Japan and China

hereFor our honeymoon, we ticked off a big bucket list trip, criss-crossing China and Japan, hitting six cities in just under two weeks and we can now say, after all the places we've visited in the world, Japan and China for so many reasons, are our favourites. Exploring both this year felt like one big dream. We made new friends and sang Mariah Carey karaoke in Hong Hong, explored The Neon Lights of Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe and strolled down the winding streets of Kyoto, admiring the ancient temples and wooden teahouses. We found some of the nicest people and best-tasting food we’ve ever experienced. In our life. My favourite photos from our trip are .

4. Unexpectedly ending up in Hong Kong

I guess this is more of a 3b. We were supposed to fly to Shanghai before travelling onwards to Japan, however there was some confusion over our transit visa and Virgin Atlantic took a hard stance and refused to let us board our original flight. They compensated us by upgrading our tickets to club class and flying us to Hong Kong. A totally unexpected detour and a fantasticl night out in Hong Hong, which was bigger and more dazzling than I imagined. It made Tokyo look like Greenock.

5. Wilderness Festival

Karl and I hit Wildnerss Festival this Summer with our wedding videographers, and now dear friends, Rosie and James. As someone who's festival experience so far has amounted to 4 soggy T in the Park's - it was a revelation to party in the sunshine. What an incredible weekend! If you're interested, the photos are here.

6. Photographing Rosie Hardy

I discovered Rosie on Instagram many, many years ago and have revered her as an inspiration for her beautiful, romantic and eternally feminine portraits. I would never have imagined that I would find her in the viewfinder of my camera. This year has taught me some really interesting lessons on the often bewildering chain of events and human links that form the course of our life. and btw... that thing they say about never meet your idols? Absolute bollocks! Rosie is the sweetest, most generous, spirited gem of a lass and I feel all the more fortunate I spent so much time with her in 2019. The photos of her and James larking out on a rocky rowing boat can be viewed here.

7. My hen week in Portugal

My girls surprised me with a week in a villa high in the hills of Portugal. From wild nights out in Farro, hacking through the countryside on horses, swimming in a freezing pool at 2am and declaring Murder on the Dancefloor to be the anthem of the holiday, we had the best time.

8. Spending More Time with our Friends and Family

This has by far been the busiest year of our lives, and for as much as we loved all the travel and the constant pace we ran this year, it made us cherish time with our families even more. We celebrated weddings, birthdays (A LOT of birthdays!), Karl's mum's 7th decade with the whole family in Northern Ireland, enjoyed lots of time around lots of dinner tables and were reminded of just how lucky we are to have combined two large, loud, laughter-filled, loving families.

9. Our romantic trip to Barcelona for my birthday.

I've wanted to return to Barcelona since I last visited with my little brother 5 years ago. Spain remains one of my favourite countries in the whole world and I took my favourite self timer photo of Karl and I yet.

10. Our mini-moon in York.

Speaking of romantic trips, we headed to York for a couple of nights after our wedding and a wonderful time wondering around.

11. Alton Towers

This was my favourite place as a child and I fondly remember the summer days we spent crammed into the back of the car and the hours long journey down south, where we would race around Alton Towers. I'm glad it's not changed much in the 15 years since I was last there. Who's coming with us next year?

12. Girls trip to London

Mandy and Yardley are two of the oldest friends I have. Mandy and I go back 25 years which is pretty crazy! I love our annual Christmas meet ups and this year We had the funniest weekend of my life in London. I can't wait to go to Italy next year with our husbands! When did we get so grown up?!

13. Settling into our new home

We were lucky to buy a home that was only 3 years old so it was pretty clean and neutral but it's been a lot of fun making it feel like home. We are still lacking ceiling lights and curtains in most rooms but it's coming together.

14. Hosting a Family Christmas in our House

We bought our first family home last year and I wanted to host everyone for Christmas and it finally happened this year! If anything it was a good excuse to reuse all our wedding tableware and I think we made a success of dinner, if I do say so myself.

15. Getting nominated for Confetti Awards wedding photographer of the year for the second year.

16. Getting IN FRONT of the Camera

It’s so important to me to document the lives of other people, my clients and especially my family and friends. I always think photos spark memories of days often otherwise forgotten, plus how cool will it be to sit down 50 years from now and have 50 years of beautiful photos to tell your life's story? Sadly, I'm always the one with the camera and I never get any nice pictures of us. I volunteered us for models at the Photography Farm workshop in Glencoe this October and we got images from the grand wizards of photography Mark Pacura, Jo and Liam and Niki Leadbetter plus their students. So many talented photographers captured images of us that we will treasure long after 2019.

17. Meeting and Working with New Industry Friends

Getting to know other incredible professionals in the industry on a personal level has been a highlight of my year. I’ve been so lucky this year to build friendships with other photographers, florists and other talented creatives who I can turn to for advice, offer assistance and collaborate on future projects. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this amazing community.

18. Seeking more opportunities

This year we fished in Osaka, ordered raw chicken (and enjoyed it), tried flying in an anti gravity wind tunnel, GOT MARRIED, said yes to wilderness festival with new friends, tried land yachting, axe hurling, surfing, modelled for a photography class, went to a free Jack Whitehall gig and Rod Stewart, rode every single rollercoaster at Alton Towers, went to a cat cafe, the theatre, held snakes and reptiles with our nieces and generally lived a good life and got out of the house more.

19. Another year in business

THIS is the true highlight of my year. I truly have the best clients in the world and met so many new couples that i absolutely fell in love with. My 2019 wouldn’t be anything without you! Thank you for trusting me with your most precious memories. I can't wait to 2020 as I've not only got my first destination wedding, I have TWO, as well as some amazing new venues, 2 former brides as bridesmaids and some exciting creative projects.