Community over Competition

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

It’s the time of year when you’re likely to see lots of posts that look back over the last twelve months, giving a roundup of the wins, the best bits and the favourite memories of the year before the calendar flips into 2018. This year has changed my life in a myriad of unexpected and often intensely painful ways. It’s tested my strength in the face of trauma, loss and grief, but it’s also left me with a rock-solid conviction that this industry is where I belong. I’ve been totally bowled over by the support from other wedding businesses that I’ve received, and the new friends I’ve made have helped to soften some of the year’s sharp edges.

While it might not make for easy reading, it’s really important to me that I share some of the journey I’ve been on over the last few months, and say thank you to some incredibly special people. So grab a cup of tea and a mince pie and get comfy – this is my 2017.

On the morning of the 28th February, I woke to a crust of snow across the Welsh moorland. Today was shoot day at The Giraffe Shed, and while the weather made conditions trickier, it intensified the atmosphere and made for some beautiful shots. I was working with a fab team including Hannah from Rocksalt Photography and Donna from Pheasant Botanica, and the styling and co-ordination of the shoot kept me run off my feet for most of the day. When I finally checked my phone I found lots of messages and missed calls, and immediately knew something was wrong. I phoned my husband, who with an extremely heavy heart, broke the news to me that my mum had been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, and the prognosis wasn’t good.

Over the next six months, I spent as much time as possible with my mum: lying in bed with her watching our favourite Italian movies, going with her to chemo, and sharing as much of my life and my daughters’ lives with her as I could. She fought like a lioness, but devastatingly on the 28th August my lovely, feisty, funny mum passed away.

I could write thousands of words’ worth of stories about my mum. She was vibrant, sometimes hot-headed, always mischievous. The Eddie to my Saffy. Her wicked sense of humour never failed to shock me, and she was a fiend for hilarious memes and videos that would pop up in my inbox or on my phone to make me smile. Even towards the end, she never lost her sparkle. She’d sleep through her chemo, but ping awake the second it was over and say ‘right, I’m taking you for lunch’. She ALWAYS wore her best shoes, no matter how awful she was feeling, and was never too tired to listen to other people's problems, no matter how big or small. She was, quite simply, my hero.

And more than that, she was my number one fan. Ever since I started For The Love of Weddings she has been there, cheering me on. She accompanied me on one of my first shoots (where she did a fabulous job of styling the models’ hair and putting everyone immediately at ease when I was a bundle of nerves); she ran out and bought dozens of copies of Wedding Ideas magazine the first time I appeared in print; and any time I had the slightest wobble, she’d push me forward. She just refused to even countenance that this business of mine would be anything other than a roaring success, and she made me feel proud of myself for doing it.

After that February phonecall and the news of my mum’s diagnosis, the world shifted in focus for me. I had to split my brain and my heart in half, to be able to keep the business I love so much going, while simultaneously caring for my mum; my daughter’s precious and beloved ‘naughty Nana’. I found that keeping busy helped my brain from running away with me, and have been immensely thankful that the work I’m doing is something I’m genuinely passionate about. But there were some things that I just couldn’t do, and for those, I reached out to the wedding community in the hope that someone might be able to assist me. The response I got was totally and utterly overwhelming.

Two days after the diagnosis I was due to be styling another shoot at stunning manor house Twyning Park with Katrina Bartlam. This ‘white simplicity’ shoot had been months in the planning, and I was determined not to cancel on my team of talented suppliers. I posted in the UK Planners and Stylists Collective group on Facebook, asking for last minute help, and not one but two talented ladies immediately offered their services. Lauradana of Wedding Creations and Holly of Daisy Says I Do stepped in for me and styled the shoot to perfection – it was exactly as I’d imagined it would be (you can see it in all its light and elegant glory on Rock My Wedding).

The gorgeous Hollie styling this stunning cake from Cake Daydreams

The beautiful Katrina Bartlam photographing the very talented Lauradana’s flatlay consisting of stationery from Ollie’s Studio, silk from Kate Cullen and jewels from Glitzy Secrets.

The wonderful results...

Photo credit; Captured by Katrina

My biggest wedding of the year; a three day extravaganza of modern romance for a wonderful couple at