You guys.

I can’t even tell you how much this post fires up my “little engine that could.”

I had the absolute honor of hosting the 2nd annual Starlit Supper with Lauren Grove of Every Last Detail this past December. For the second year in a row, we worked with a team of extraordinary vendors to execute an evening full of incredible inspiration and networking.

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As much as I desperately want to gush about it here, I wholeheartedly ask you to go support Lauren’s post and read more about the inspiration and vision behind this evening there. I was so amazed and inspired by the whole group- and am even more grateful to count them all as friends.

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Naturally, I am very much an introvert (as my last post written eons ago describes). Networking events are often tough for me, and I really have to pep myself up for them. With A Starlit Supper, however, that simply is not the case. I so look forward each year to relishing in an evening with these vendors- celebrating a year of hard work and many fantastic collaborations along the way! To be inspired by these people, and have the opportunity to host them for an evening in my own little town- what a gift. What a privilege. I thrive watching vendors push themselves and stretch their limits to create artwork- which is exactly what happened this year.

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Kat Braman and Shutterlife Productions absolutely knocked this shoot out of the park in capturing so many of the details. You simply must see it!

So please, do me a favor (or four)- read Lauren’s post, scroll through the gorgeous images, watch the video- and then share it! I would be honored if the handiwork of these amazing people inspired you like they did me.

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Happy 2014, everyone!

Vendor credits:
Co-host: Lauren Grove / Planning & Design: Ashton Events / Photographer: Kat Braman / Cinematography: Shutter Life Productions / Invitations & Stationery: A&P Designs / Flowers: Taylormade Floral & Event Decor / Catering: Good Food Catering Company / Cake Baker: Hands On Sweets / Linens, Chair Covers & Chargers: Kate Ryan Linens / Vintage Furniture Rental: Wish Vintage Rentals / Plates & Flatware: Dishie Rentals / Chiavari Chairs & Tables: Signature Event Rentals / Calligraphy: Juliet Grace Designs / Hair & Makeup: Michele Renee The Studio / Band: Busted Blues / Photo Booth: Bash Booth / Bridal Salon: Malindy Elene / Custom Painting of Sweetheart Chair Covers: Kerry Vosler / Hotel: The Terrace Hotel / Rentals: Party People Celebrations / Location: Lakeland, Lake Mirror

Happy Monday, y’all!

It’s a great one over here, indeed. The ever-splendid Southern Weddings has featured Ashton Events again! I am SO excited to share these pictures with you- Alicia Swedenborg captured the day perfectly.

You may remember Dave & Juliet from this proposal, but I had the privilege of trekking up to North Carolina for their wedding in August.  Their day ended up being a “Plan B” day: we literally tore down the outdoor ceremony site and moved inside within a matter of minutes, amidst an absolute sudden down-pour. The most amazing part for me? Literally seeing the calm settle in over the ceremony room, after scurrying to make the switch. Observing the grins, and a few tears, on everyone’s faces as Juliet walked down the aisle was a moment I will never forget. It was perfect, and everything it should have been.

A most sincere congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. David Lapham- I couldn’t have been more honored to be part of your day!

Oh- did I mention that these two ended up in my new Southern Weddings V6 Magazine ad? Below is the runner-up image. You’ll have to go buy a copy of the magazine to see the real deal!

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Now, go enjoy the feature! ;)

on courage.

2013 has been a tough year.

Though I’ll own that entirely, I’ll explain it here in small parts. If you want to grab coffee, I’ll share details of the bigger picture that I’ve begun to realize. It’s almost comical- to think that I claim to understand “the bigger picture” after only having a month to process life on the other side of the many curve balls. But to realize I’ve gained, learned and grown from my experiences? I’ll take that. And, I’d like to document where the first month has brought me. Because I’m sure there will be copious amounts of realizations coming, and I’d like to cherish the baby steps.

Allow me to back track altogether.

I grew up awkwardly shy. Yes, I had my core group of girl friends and places that I felt comfortable and safe- I didn’t struggle with shyness there. However, put me in the slightest situation of unknown and I would quickly clam up. As soon as I would feel uncomfortable, I’d skirt conversations, avoid eye contact, etc.

I remember hearing my mom talk about how shy she and dad were growing up- and it was hard for me to believe. For as long as I have known her, she’s been teaching women bravely, courageously. My dad, though more quiet in nature, has always had quick witted remarks and wise words. I regularly saw warm smiles, firm hand shakes and big hugs to friends and strangers alike. And yet, they would tell me tales of a different time. Like when they were so shy they didn’t even invite their extended families to their wedding.

“I was a wallflower,” Mom would say. And I would look at her incredulously- because I saw her courage, and her poise.

I’ve continued to struggle with confidence my entire life. If you would have told me that I would move across the country, away from family, and start my own business- I would have probably nervously laughed and asked you to take it back. I wouldn’t have wanted to think about what that independent life would look like. I had always dreamt about meeting Mr. Right in college, getting married, working “a year or so” and then having a family. Because it would mean companionship and comfort (and yes, I realize that those of you who are on that path are laughing at that equation being a breeze). 

But, I did. I moved to Florida right after college, promising to move back home after gaining “two years of experience” (spoiler alert- it’s been longer than two years).  The longer I lived here, the longer I wanted to stay. I worked in the corporate world, realized it wasn’t for me, and started Ashton Events. I’ve depended heavily on others with each turn in the road- navigating through hurdles very carefully and cautiously. Not to say I didn’t get hurt, but it was routinely someone else’s final shove that got me to take any leap. I was stretched, but it was often still within my limits. And in small doses.

So then this year happens. Life looked a lot different. It was heartache, and lots of sickness, lots of questions, and moving, then surgery, and traveling for appointments, then- Ashton Events full time. Which I probably should have shouted from the roof tops (because I’m doing my dream job!), but I was so terrified it would fail that I just wanted to test the waters first. Regardless, many of the items I’ve clung to my entire life (my relationship status, my health, my family, my financial security) were repeatedly plucked from my hands. I saw huge, heart scarring gaps left by the idols I found my identity in. Each one was taken away- and the Lord just continued to shape me. Push me. Mold me. To take what I see as “worth” and completely shatter it.

However, when I look back at the past year, I realized I gained something along the way. I saw me for me, stripped of my idols and holding nothing that “I have done.” I saw the frivolity in selfish ambition and the emptiness it yields. I saw the joys of the weird, quirky passions He has given me- and the privilege I have to use them for His glory. And I know that that is enough. I learned to love being Laura Helm, and not be so shy about who He made me to be. I feel more confident in owning my weaknesses, improving on them, and offering my strengths. I am excited to offer others my absolute best and pour into the lives of those around me.

I know that life is a journey. I’ve talked about this frequently with others this year. It has peaks and valleys. 2012 was practically a year long peak. 2013- more the opposite. But I’ve learned that it’s not about surviving the valleys or anticipating the peaks. We’re not guaranteed any peaks! It’s about moving through life with the courage that He is everything you need. That’s the awesome thing- He is infinite. He can fill any void, to a point that it not only saturates you, but spills onto those around you. A hole that you thought endless, suddenly transforms into a fountain of His love pouring onto others.

I remember hearing my mom give her testimony- about how the Lord changed her. He gave her Moses-like faith to conquer things she would never have dreamt of doing. I’d like to think that I am taking steps to learning the same.