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.

Gabe and Ashley 1

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.

Gabe and Ashley 2

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.

Gabe and Ashley 3 Gabe and Ashley 4

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.

Gabe and Ashley 5 Gabe and Ashley 6

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.

Gabe and Ashley 7 Gabe and Ashley 8 Gabe and Ashley 9

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.

Gabe and Ashley 10

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.

Gabe and Ashley 11

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.

Gabe and Ashley 12 Gabe and Ashley 13

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.

Gabe and Ashley 14

“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

Our Wedding Story part 9: Constructing Jamie’s dress

“A wedding gown will live for generations in photographs. It is probably the most important dress that a woman will ever wear.”  OSCAR DE LA RENTA
Jamie always wanted to surprise me with her wedding dress, but when the original dress she purchased for the wedding came in too short, we moved to plan B.  Jamie and I worked together to design a dress that was perfect for her.  Jamie is classic and timeless, but still likes to be distinctive and original.  We knew the dress needed to be timeless, but with a twist that would be unique to her.  Jamie tried on endless amounts of dresses to determine what silhouette she wanted to wear, and I flew to New York just weeks before the wedding to purchase fabric.

Although we hadn’t planned for me to make the dress, we were both so happy that we had the opportunity to do this.  I will never forget the late night and early morning fittings, the quick day trips to NYC, and the laughter we shared as we had this unique experience of building her dress together.

Although we had people that thought we were crazy and that it was inappropriate for me to make and see the dress before our wedding day, Jamie and I would not change anything, and love that this is part of our story.  It is a dress that we are both proud to have live for generations through the images we will show our children, grandchildren, and generations to come.

From shopping in the garment district of NYC to stitching and layering the dress piece by piece, these images document the process of constructing Jamie’s dress.

Continue reading “Our Wedding Story part 9: Constructing Jamie’s dress”