If you are a bride or groom anything like my new husband and me, you're probably excited and possibly a little (a lot) overwhelmed. Weddings are undoubtedly an exciting time, a celebratory time, but they can also be a financially exhausting time. They are an opportunity for creativity and growth - a reflection of you as a couple and the relationships around you. But despite the excitement and the joy and the anticipation, amidst all the planning, the inevitable opinions (whether they are asked for or not) and the stress that comes with coordinating guests and vendors, writing checks, running credit cards, and signing contracts, it's easy to lose sight of the reason for all your hard work.
Sean and I were engaged for a year and a half, and it was definitely a good 6 months before I even started the planning process, which always involved someone asking me how I was doing, how everything was going. My usual response.....
For a while I was torn between running away to some exotic location and having an intimate ceremony with an epic vacation and being able to celebrate with ALL of the people I love the most. I thought about a father daughter dance. I thought about my cousins who are more like big brothers and sisters, I thought about my best friends scattered literally all over the world that I have to alternate visiting so as not to break my bank account. I thought about Sean's family in Montreal, and I thought about the cross country kids we have coached who we love like our own. We decided we couldn't not have those people there when we said our "I Do's" without regretting it, and so we made the decision to stay in Memphis and get married.
Almost 3 months later....I AM SO GLAD WE DID! It was truly the best day and the most fun we have ever had. But it wouldn't have turned out the way it did or been even half of the experience that it was without our vendors who came together to make our wedding not just possible but truly a reflection of Sean and me. And thus this blog actually isn't about our wedding or my wedding planning process; that was just the inspiration for it. The product of the generosity I've discovered on this little journey called wedding planning and marriage? A styled shoot with several local vendors and two entirely give back companies. I had this shoot and blog in mind for the bride who is socially conscious, who justifies spending a little bit more money if it's going towards a greater cause, and who doesn't want to lose sight of who she and her future husband are as a couple or their mission together in life. This blog is your little reminder that sometimes for some of us, it's not always about the money (though admittedly, being able to afford to visit your friends all over the world is a plus....see paragraph 3). If we can make your day that much easier, help you feel beautiful for the first time, or capture the moment you've dreamed of so you can cherish it for the rest of your life, then a lot of times, for a lot of us, definitely for me, that is what it's all about.
So here you have it, a list of vendors, some who are officially give back brands and some who evidently just have a heart of gold, to make your wedding a reflection of what's most important in your heart.
MAGGIE LOUISE BRIDAL BOUTIQUE: "Our goal at Maggie Louise is to celebrate the individual beauty and unique love story of each and every bride who walks through our doors. We absolutely love the moment we get to see a bride find the gown of her dreams. In that moment, she is often seeing the desires she has held in her heart for many years come to life right before her eyes— and we get to witness that! We strive to go above and beyond to make the journey of finding the perfect gown one of pure bliss. Behind every single interaction with a bride is our longing to get to know her heart and love on her unconditionally. We want our love for her to reflect Jesus’s perfect love for her! This is an exciting time for every bride, but it can also come with a variety of questions, emotions, and insecurities. We always look for opportunities to love on each woman right where she is and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a bride grow in confidence and joy during her time with us. There are a thousand different ways that Jesus could have called us to love on women and their families, but we will always be thankful that He let us do it this way— being there for the most exciting decision for the happiest day of their lives!!"
Molly and Eric Farrell, owners of Maggie Louise, are big advocates of your day being about you as a couple. Though Molly is a brilliant bridal stylist, it's her mission to make Maggie Louise a safe haven to every woman who walks in the door that sets this classic little boutique apart from other dress shops. Together with Eric and Kaleigh, she'll tell you to remember what's important to you and to invest in your marriage rather than in temporary frills. When it comes down to it, a beautiful wedding lasts one day, but a beautiful marriage lasts a lifetime.
In addition to serving through their small business, Molly and Eric serve by sponsoring a child through Be Free Revolution - a Memphis based non-profit organization dedicated to full circle empowerment in some of the largest slums in the world.
Featured: Miss Hayley Paige Nicoletta Gown
HAIR AND MAKEUP BY FAIZAH HUSNIYAH: "As an artist, I see beauty in all things. Now, I have the honor of helping others find beauty in themselves. My mission is to provide a beauty experience through hairstyling and makeup artistry that is unparalleled. As a single mom being self employed, I find great joy in the empowerment of women embracing their unique brand of beauty. In a society that is often critiquing us, there is nothing I love more than witnessing the moment a woman sees herself with a new perspective - uniquely beautiful just the way she is!"
LYNN DOYLE FLOWERS AND EVENTS: On more than one occasion now, I've tried to convey my visions to Michael Doyle and his crew at Lynn Doyle flowers. On more than one occasion now, they have essentially read my mind, because sometimes my grandiose creative visions are a bit difficult to explain. On top of that, they'll coordinate your wedding, make sure you actually get to eat, remind you that you DO actually have to cut your cake, toss your bouquet and garter, and decorate your entire venue while they're at it.
EKATA DESIGNS: A give back brand, Ekata Designs provides employment for refugee women in Memphis by teaching them how to make beautiful handcrafted jewelry. Sustainable employment is just one small step in becoming independent in their new lives here in the United States. You can purchase these and other jewelry pieces online or in several stores around the Memphis area. To support more fair trade fashion and another mission working with Ekata, shop their jewelry at The Rev.
Featured: Amethyst Stud earrings (bride) & Gold Stud earrings (flower girl)
AGAPE NORTH: "Designed for you. Created for others." For every shirt purchased, Agape North donates a uniform shirt to an underprivileged child locally or internationally. You have the option of where your donated uniform goes too. Send it to a child here locally or have it shipped internationally. Shop all their styles online or give back twice once towards Agape North and once towards Be Free Revolution when you purchase them and/or other thoughtful fair trade gifts at The Rev Memphis.
Featured: Men's Sport Shirt in White Checker
JOHN BETTS UNCUT (RAW) DIAMOND: We featured my personal engagement/wedding ring set that Sean had custom designed with a conflict free raw diamond from the Diavik Mine in Canada. Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, are diamonds mined by rebels to fund their regional wars. The problem of smuggling has now been solved. Since January 1, 2003, the "Kimberley Process" has been put into place by 70+ diamond-producing countries. In the Kimberley Process, diamonds are sealed at the mine in tamper-proof containers, shipped in sealed containers with documentation of legitimate origin. The process has been an overwhelming success and smuggling uncut diamonds has been drastically reduced from conflict countries. All diamonds sold on this site are warrantied to be conflict-free with Kimberley Process Certificates on file with the Department of Commerce. It should be noted that cut diamonds do not have such controls in place - so the only way you can be assured a diamond is conflict-free is to buy an uncut diamond.
It turns out that Memphis was voted one of the Top 5 most generous cities in the country. In a historically rich city known for it's heart and soul, I'm not surprised at all that these vendors are apart of all the good that is happening.