Looking Back: 10 beautiful years

Have you ever had a moment when time stood still, and you knew exactly what you were supposed to do with your life? A moment when confusion and chaos were replaced with clarity? Have you ever experienced an overwhelming urgency to pursue a dream accompanied with that feeling like you might just burst if you don’t at least try? Has your soul ever been filled with that sweet peace that passes understanding, as you choose to push aside your fear of failure? Have you been in that place where you stopped asking ‘what if?’ and you started figuring out ‘how-to?’

That moment in time came for me at Ashley and Gabe’s wedding, 10 years ago today.

This was the day I knew what I had to do or I would live a life filled with regret.

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At the time of Ashley and Gabe’s wedding, I was recently graduated from college and working as an intern for a local ministry. I was considering going to seminary school to become a pastor, but doors were not opening for me. Job opportunities were falling through, I couldn’t afford more schooling, and I just didn’t know what to do with my life. I remember waking up scared almost every morning as I wondered what was going to become of me. The fear of becoming nothing paralyzed me, and I just felt stuck.

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I had dabbled in weddings since I was a kid… my mother made wedding cakes and taught me her craft when I was 13… I started playing piano at weddings when I was 14… I taught myself to sew and made a wedding dress for my sister when I was 15. I helped friends all throughout college by making their dresses and wedding cakes, but starting a “real” business felt out of reach, impractical, foolish and doomed for failure.

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I had become involved with Ashley and Gabe’s wedding when Lynne (Ashley’s mother) called me and asked me about a wedding gown for Ashley. I had never made a dress for someone other than a friend, and I was so scared I was going to fail.  Nevertheless, I faked enough confidence to convince them I was the man for the job and we set out to design the perfect dress for Ashley.

Somewhere in the process of determining silhouette, neckline, fabric selection and dress fittings, they invited me into the process of planning the wedding, and I got to shadow Lynne and Ashley as they worked through every detail. I remember feeling like I was out of my league. I felt like a fraud, and I was constantly afraid they would find out I was just a poor kid who had never experienced the kind of wedding they were planning. I had never been in a home as beautiful as theirs. I had never worked with such expensive fabrics. I didn’t know all of the possibilities or just how amazing a wedding could be. I felt like I was watching the kind of thing that I had only seen in the movies. Everything felt so foreign to me.

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But I loved it. Every moment. I listened attentively to every word that was spoken, and gleaned every ounce of information that I could. I watched as the beauty around me unfolded and developed. I quickly learned that a wedding celebration can be a work of art that tells a story and reflects the character of the bride and groom. Other than my own wedding, I have never approached another wedding with as much excitement, anticipation and a bit of fear as I did for Ashley and Gabe. I knew it would be special but I don’t think I knew it would be life changing.

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I remember seeing Steve Martin’s ‘Father of the Bride’ when I was only 12 years old. Truth be told, I knew in that moment as a 12 year old that I wanted to be a wedding planner. It just always seemed like an unattainable (and let’s be honest… kind of weird) career move, and so I never gave it real considerable thought. Yet, as I watched Ashley walk down the aisle in the gown (ok… I might refer to it in my mind as a masterpiece) that I sewed for her… and when I saw the flower arrangements I had spent all night creating (and re-creating over and over as they kept falling apart on me), I knew exactly what I had to do with my life. I knew what I was created for. I saw that everything in my life was pointing me towards one direction. I was certain of what I had to do. I closed my eyes that night with my heart filled with an inexpressible joy knowing my life was going to change.

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It didn’t happen over night. I didn’t go and quit my job immediately. I had many doubts return to me (the very next morning actually). It hasn’t been easy. I haven’t floated through life. Nothing was handed to me freely. But, it has been good. It has been rewarding. It has led me down a path of fulfillment I never knew existed. It has introduced me to people I would otherwise have never met.

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10 years. 10 amazing years. Gabe is a talented photographer and has developed a successful business with his brother.  Ashley is famous… seriously. Her award winning blog has landed her attention from Martha Stewart, People Magazine, San Pallegrino and her book ‘Dating My Husband’ has been sent to the editor and will hit the stands in 2015. Together, they are happily married and have 3 of the most beautiful children I’ve ever seen. Lynne and her husband, Gerald, are still sources of inspiration to me and very influential in my life; they also are the owners of the farm where my design studio is located.

And me?  I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought I could, and have gone further than I had imagined. I still have dreams.  I still have un-met goals. At times, I still question what am I doing. I often still feel stuck, wondering daily if I will ever get to where I want to be. But that is what gets me up in the morning, and what gets me excited for life.

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Today is Gabe and Ashley’s 10 year wedding anniversary but it is also a special day for me, and so I celebrate. I celebrate God’s faithfulness. I celebrate his mark on both Gabe and Ashley’s marriage and my own life. And, I celebrate the hope and aticipation He gives me for what is to come in the next 10 years of life.

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“Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago”  Isaiah 25:1

Happy Anniversary Gabe and Ashley

After the Wedding: a lesson from the rain

Halfway through wedding season I received a text from my friend Ashley, asking me if I had any décor ideas for the surprise 40th anniversary party she was throwing for her parents. Now, when friends ask me for anything during wedding season (other than what time they can come and help me) I often times cringe because I just don’t have much extra time.  But this request was very different.  I quickly texted back and offered to handle all of the décor for this party as my gift to her parents.

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Ashley’s parents, Lynne and Gerald Baron, are the owners of Carriage Hill Farm where my design studio is located.  10 years ago I had the opportunity to work with this family on Ashley’s wedding, and since then they have had such a huge impact and influence on my life and business.  It was an honor to give back to them, and make their celebration beautiful.

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The celebration was held at Carriage Hill Farm.  It was the middle of August, and we expected a beautiful sunny day. But the day came, and the dark clouds and threats of rain felt more like Autumn.  I wanted to move the party inside to be safe, but Ashley wanted to stick with our original plan and have it outside.  She was hopeful the rain would hold out.

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It didn’t.  The rain started and it was more than a sprinkle.  I  ran outside to start the process of moving the party inside, but the family insisted on keeping the dinner as planned.  They weren’t bothered by the rain and they were optimistic that it would quickly pass.  Despite the clouds and the falling rain, they were filled with so much joy.

I walked away that day with an unexpected lesson in marriage, as I realized I had just seen first hand why Lynne and Gerald had made it through 40 years.

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In marriage, things don’t often go as planned.  Not every day is bright and sunny.  The rain comes- even when you think it is going to be a beautiful day. You get a little wet, and things don’t look as perfect and beautiful. But… that doesn’t mean you pack things up and call it quits.  You stay strong and weather the storm with optimism, having faith that it will pass.

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And you wait for the storm to pass…because it does.   And when it does there is beautiful celebrating that happens.

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I have many reasons to be grateful to Lynne and Gerald- one of which is for being a great example to Jamie and I of what a healthy marriage looks like.  I hope Jamie and I weather the storms of life and come out the other side with the same optimism, joy and love that the both of them have.

Happy 40th anniversary!

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You can see more images from this family celebration (and get some great recipes) on Ashley’s award winning blog, Not Without Salt 

All of these images were taken by Ashley’s talented husband Gabe Rodriguez of  Gabrielle Boone Photography 

Stationery was designed by Brittany of Spruce Stationery and Design 

Design, flowers, tables, props, soft seating are from our company,  Sinclair and Moore

Carriage Hill Farm

When Jamie joined the business, I felt it was important to change things around so everything felt like ‘ours’ and not just ‘mine’.   So, in addition to changing the name, the logo and the website, and I knew it was time to change the location.

The past 5 years I have been working out of a studio that I was very proud of; it was my first professional space and it helped me grow my business to what it had become. I loved the garage roll-up doors that opened onto the courtyard, the beautiful hardwood floors and the professional edge it gave me. I never thought I would want another space.

Then we moved the design production studio to Carriage Hill Farm, and I couldn’t be happier with our decision.  It is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been, and for the first time in years I feel a whole new inspiration come over me and an excitement for designing. It is located near many of the farms where our flowers grow, and positioned in a central location so we can have easy access to all of the wedding venues we work at.   I absolutely love our new site.

We made some macarons and a cake, put together some flowers (not to mention picking the coldest day of the year) and invited Belathee  Photography  out to the farm to shoot these photos so we could give you a glimpse into our world.

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And, I have to say this…  What’s even better than the farm itself are the people who own it. Lynne and Gerald Baron define the term ‘power-couple’.  Lynne is a gifted designer and Gerald is a brilliant businessman and artist.  Their home and property is like a museum of beauty.

What makes them even more special to me is the impact that Lynne has had on my life.  Ten years ago, when I was still in college, Lynne hired me to design and construct her daughter’s wedding gown.  Why she took a chance on someone with very little experience I’ll never know, but what she did was take me under her wing and introduce me to the world of event design and the people I needed to know to get my business started. She offered her garage for me to work in, her keen eye for detail, and the encouragement to keep going even when I was discouraged.  She inspired me to design and to bring personality into each event. Our business would likely not be where it is today if I had never met Lynne, and I am forever grateful.