My Farewell to Style Me Pretty

With the news of Style Me Pretty shutting down, I wanted to share my thoughts and a proper farewell. Although there has been talk about saving that beautiful space on the internet (hope so!), it is uncertain. 
I am saddened that we as vendors and brides are losing such a popular source of inspiration and beauty. But it may be because of the transition I am in, this stage in life, or my exhaustion with the wedding industry that leaves me to say something bold. Although saddened, I think the closing of SMP says a great deal about our worlds and the wedding industry in general. 
For one, nothing is guaranteed, and certainly nothing we find on the internet (or the internet itself) is ours forever. Just as quickly as it came, and as it changes, it can also go. I upload so many annoying baby photos to my personal Facebook because I love organizing them chronologically, to reference forever. It wasn't until my brilliant husband pointed out, "Facebook could be gone tomorrow, you know?" And I didn't know that, actually. Or atleast it hadn't dawned on me! So this week, I plan to print all of those photos in my annoying typical "mom" albums.. so I can have them FOREVER. This place on the web, as useful as it is, really plays no difference in our worth, both personally or professionally. It's a hard reality for the millions who have web-based businesses, but it is the truth.
Second, what pregnancy first taught me was how tired I was. How exhausted of weddings I was and the soul-sucking day-to-day to-do's I had that stripped me of all my creative juices and honestly, joy. This has nothing to do with SMP or the internet, but my business had taken a turn.. I was now an employee to everyone else. Instead of RUNNING my business. I suddenly was bending all the rules because, well, #weddings. I let brides tell ME what they could pay, and what they wanted for that amount. I let vendors boss me around because I was on the softer side (not walking around in a pencil skirt with a walkie-talkie attached to me, ya know?). I lost sight of who I was as a creative, and my objectives with VAD. I am so thankful for the break, because I can see my burnout so clearly now. I think styled work is great, and it's usually a lot of fun, too. But I think many of the big, favorite blogs may have driven the wrong points home to brides. A good styled shoot costs a TON of money, time and resources. A lot of money, time and resources that most brides do not have access to. But it seems to me that when the wedding blogs are being flooded with the best of the best, brides start seeing JUST the best and well, have unrealistic expectations for their budgets and resources. I stopped doing unpaid styled work in 2016 for this reason only. I wanted to put that extra money and time into my clients, amping their details up when I could and saying no to all "fake" or styled work. I haven't looked back on this decision, it was the best thing I ever did for myself, my family and my business. No matter what happens with Style Me Pretty, I hope that the shock of their sudden closure snaps other vendors and brides back to reality. Because all those bucket list shoots and weddings that made their way onto the front page of SMP, will quickly disappear soon. I don't mean any of this to sound as negative as it may be coming off, but it puts so much into perspective for vendors. What is worth it, and what isn't? 
With all that being said, I wanted to share a photo from each of my SMP features that I could find! I am SO proud of these, some being from my first year in business. It's an honor to be among so many talented vendors and I know that these features were the little confidence boosts, pats on the back, high fives and stepping stones I needed along the way.

 Carol and Ryan, New Orleans

Carol and Ryan, New Orleans

 Kaylie and Cory, Florida

Kaylie and Cory, Florida

 Kaylie and Cory, Florida

Kaylie and Cory, Florida

 Sarah and Ty, Lake Louise

Sarah and Ty, Lake Louise

 Caitlin and Colton, Atlanta

Caitlin and Colton, Atlanta

 Julie and Austin, San Juan Capistrano

Julie and Austin, San Juan Capistrano

 Julie and Austin, San Juan Capistrano

Julie and Austin, San Juan Capistrano

 Kaylie's Bridal Shower, Florida

Kaylie's Bridal Shower, Florida

 Shea and Reese, Nashville

Shea and Reese, Nashville

 Emaline and Beau, Fairhope

Emaline and Beau, Fairhope

I think that's it! So fun to look back on so many fun stationery (and one floral and one styling client)! These are all special to me in different ways, but mainly because like I said before, they gave me those extra nudges I needed along the way, to get to where I was going. What I love the most is that these are all REAL events. Real love stories, real memories, real dancing and drinking and celebrating. That's my favorite part! 
xoxo,
Tori

A Time for Everything

I’m dusting off the old blog to share some things that have been on my mind lately (both personally and professionally). I’ve been playing tug-o-war with my heart/my mind and God for the last 7 or so months and it feels good to “come clean”, I guess.

Becoming a mom proved itself to be a lot more trying (for me) than Instagram and pretty photos lead you to believe. I cried almost everyday, fighting back the urge to say, “I can’t do this” over and over again. Thomas was and is everything we prayed for, why was I not happier? I felt so good during my pregnancy, the realities of motherhood swept in with a colicky newborn boy and it felt a little like I imagine drowning feels like. The crying. No one warns you that your baby MIGHT cry the majority of the day. He never seemed to be content.. and if he was it was so short-lived, I wouldn’t even get the chance to appreciate it! I was breast feeding, pumping, washing the supplies, then starting again. And repeat. Turns out, Thomas was just hungry. My milk was not enough. And pretty rapidly he fell off the growth chart (that thing is annoying). Anyways, we were happy to get that worked out and see him with a smile and a full belly but then I beat myself up for not knowing my sweet little cranky as hell boy was just HUNGRY for months (😩). You go into everything thinking you’ll “just know”, but will you? I’m here to say.. maybe not. ha! It all sounds trivial when I type it out, honestly, but man there was a time when he was about 4-5 months old that I thought I. just. can't. do. this. another. day. 

I went back to work when Thomas was about 6 weeks, but was already back on email long before that. My body felt ready. My mind and heart, not so much. But it was hard to tell at the time, because I wanted to “do it all”. I wanted to make Andrew proud, and Thomas proud, too. The thing about the work I do that I think made going back to work tricky, is it always seems all or nothing. The flood gates opened. It seemed like everyone needed me, at all times and in so many different ways. I know this isn’t the reality but that’s how it felt. I’ve always been one to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, this is no different (have you ever noticed my posture? Lol jk kinda). But in retrospect, during those tough months with Thomas, work was probably a Godsend. Giving me little breaks here and there to go freelance and my sweet Mother in Law would take over with a peaceful heart (I was basically running out the door but then would cry on the way to where I was going because I didn't want to leave him... #hormones).

And now, in his 7th month, I finally feel like myself again. My heart could burst when I look at him! He is just perfect and he is growing SO FAST. He learns something new every single day (or hour it seems) and I hate missing even a moment. What I hate most are the days I have a long list of work to do and I catch myself wishing for him to nap so I can run to the computer and answer the many people who are EXCITED about their wedding days, and want immediate responses. I log on to my email and feel tinges of resent that it is more important than my own shower, or eating breakfast, etc but you only have so much time to do this (Thomas seems to hate my office, p.s.). Then toward the end of day I feel sad that I didn’t look Thomas in the eyes enough. Or didn’t love on him enough because I was so worried about him napping so I could give that energy to a stranger. Wow. Those crazy Mom guilt feelings just repeat everyday.

Then there are the days when Thomas doesn’t nap at all. And just like that I am anxiety-stricken (I kind of get irrational work stress ha). I don’t sleep well, don’t eat well, don't enjoy evenings with Andrew because off to the computer I go. Anyways, I say all this not to de-glamorize working moms. Because let me tell you... the work they are doing inside and outside of the home IS glamorous. To do all that with poise and still manage a household is pretty incredible. And some women (and men) do it SO WELL. I’m not that person, yet. When I would reflect on my days and the mother I was learning to be, I didn’t love what I saw. I felt like I was always just getting by. Not thriving at work or at home. And I didn't like the chaos I saw of rushing, running late, on the road, etc. 

I picture(d) a different lifestyle for myself and for Andrew... and mostly, for Thomas.

I DEFINITELY don't say any of this to make anyone feel guilty, either. The work I have done since Thomas was born has been some of my favorite and some of my best. And those clients worked with me through such a complex time in my life (and certainly the hardest). So in most ways, I am so thankful for the clients I had this year. Because one, they put up with ME when I felt like an emotional headcase and two, they have helped me realize so much. Without their business, I would not be where I am right now (which is happier, healthier, and more content than ever).

So, there is a time for everything and right now, it’s time for me to scale back on VAD weddings. I know the only way to hold myself accountable to actually saying no, is to put this all out there. VAD will be back, a little more refined, refreshed and understood but I won't be booking any more weddings until I feel ready to balance the two "babies" simultaneously.

Of course I’ll be finishing out some beautiful projects and weddings this year (and lots of pretty paper), and plan to share all the fun motherhood moments (and DIYs, duh) along the way. 

If any of this resonates with you, or you feel like you’re in the thick of things with motherhood and/or work.. keep praying. Eventually, the tugs on your heart will be strong enough not to ignore. And then, you’ll know exactly what direction you need to go in. 

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Ecclesiastes 3 - "a time to plant and a time to uproot..."