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.
When I got an email from Deana, from Sassy Soiree, at the beginning the year about an inspiration shoot, I knew I wanted to jump in. The whole shoot revolved around showing off Lakeland, Florida (my current city). I’ve had a lot of clients ask if I would ever consider moving to Tampa or St. Pete for a closer commute for a lot of my weddings. For me, it’s a quick and easy answer: I love where I live.
This community is such a gift. The genuine people, the historic houses, the numerous outdoor activities- it is such a joy to call Lakeland “home.” So yes, of course I wanted to show it off!
The Terrace Hotel, the shoot’s location, is a historic hotel in downtown Lakeland. In fact, I worked with the Terrace on my very first “Ashton Events” wedding reception. Ryan, their catering manager, is a phenomenal guy and has always been ready for my.. unconventional.. approach to weddings. =] The Terrace has wonderful food, a beautiful suite for brides to get ready in, and superb service.
When Deana and I sat down to talk through the shoot, I mentioned that I really wanted to make sure we told a story with the shoot. I LOVE how Indie Atlantic’s film captures that story so well. We took little moments from when the couple first met (she is wearing cobalt, drinking champagne with blueberries, etc.), and created a visionboard from there. If you want to take a peek at the pinterest board for the shoot, you can find it here!
*this photo started the inspiration
Emerald has been such a popular color in 2013, and I loved the idea of using another jewel tone to accent an otherwise soft, neutral palette. Mixing tulle with velvet was an added luxurious touch. I loved the oversized velevet ribbon on the door opening into the reception- it was just so playful amidst the otherwise elegant setting.
Overall, I was just blown away by the hands that came together for this shoot. It was unique, and fun for me, to only handle the design instead of also the coordination. Deana did a terrific job keeping everyone up to speed the entire time. Katie (KT Crabb Photography) captured these images beautifully. The rental furniture & props from Wish Vintage fit the style of the Terrace perfectly, as did the artful formality of the invitations from A Fine Press.
The feminity of the gown brought by Malindy Elene was a flawless complement to the place settings provided by Dishie Rentals. The models (Let’s Make It Extraordinary), their attire (Nathan’s Mens Store, Edwards Macy), and their hair and makeup (Leilani Cooper) were fantastic.
Again, many thanks to Wedding Chicks for the feature! Be sure to check out the full gallery of pictures!
Oh- don’t forget to check out the video!
Ooooh, this such a fun day for me! I am delighted to get to finally share these pictures with you. Many, many thanks to 100 Layer Cake for featuring the surprise!
Dave Lapham, one of my favorite photographers, and I have been working together for a while. Late last fall, we met for coffee to chat industry items and he mentioned he was preparing to propose to his amazing girlfriend Juliet. He knew he wanted to do something a little more creative, and asked me if I wanted to be involved. I eagerly volunteered, and told him to just to keep me posted. We spoke off and on about the upcoming proposal- and then, in late January, he sent me a text saying he was buying a ring. He quickly followed with the fact that he needed to propose soon. Since they were dating long-distance at the time, her next visit was the only opportunity for another two months.
Her next visit was in 6 days. Ready, set, go!
The next 6 days were a whirlwind- I threw together a mock styled shoot, convinced Juliet that I ‘desperately’ needed an extra set of hands, and organized a ‘team’ of vendors (with a few fake thrown in there- just to throw Juliet off). I recruited Matt & Sara from Penny & Finn to help with photography as well as Lisa from Wish Vintage Rentals.
Here’s a shot of the “print materials” for the shoot (I had to make sure Juliet would buy it!):
Be sure to check out the rest of the story out here!
I thought it would be fun to explain a bit more of the design behind the shoot as well, since it was tailored to my unsuspecting helper. :) When talking to Dave about the design, he mentioned the following things:
1. Juliet loves traveling- and they really love to go on adventures together. Hence the “Oh darling, let’s be adventurers” nod. I also incorporated the globe and some vintage books about traveling, just to round out the aesthetic.
2. Juliet loves Italy, and Dave was originally looking at proposing on a sailboat. Because of the time constraints- proposing on the water simply wasn’t feasible. So, the next best (although not necessarily logical) thought process was to bring a sailboat to the shoot. I used old scrap wood and scrap fabric to create the sailboat- and loved the finished result!
3. Juliet is a fan of all things vintage (talk about a girl after my own heart!). I knew that Lisa’s selection would be perfect, and I had a ball selecting all sorts of fun items from the warehouse to use in the shoot! Her vintage chair selection is wonderful- and I loved that these two make a “his” and “hers” set:
4. Juliet loves lavender, and while we couldn’t get fresh lavender within the week, I did want to incorporate its natural color palette. I loved how the soft femininity of the florals were balanced by the natural, masculine wood elements.
5. Juliet also loves cheesecake, so I picked up one up on the way to shoot, along with blueberries and a bottle of sparkling grape juice. I loved how simple and understated the dessert looked on the table. Unbeknownst to Juliet, the ice that I ‘forgot’ to grab for the ice bucket was just enough time to sneak Dave behind the tree.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to have shared in just a small part of Dave & Juliet’s forever story. It truly was an honor- and I loved being able to celebrate with them!
By the way, Juliet said yes.
Congrats, you two! I can’t wait for your wedding day!!