Do you remember the game The Sims Life? If not, the idea is that you create people and assign them aspirations. You then play the game attempting to provide opportunities for your characters to achieve their aspirations. Each step in that direction your character is given “life”. I always created my world with myself, my friends, and the latest crush at the time. But no matter how many times I started over, I always assigned the aspiration “family” to the character that represented me.
When I graduated high school and began to look forward to college, the thought of “what do you want to be” crossed my mind for the first time. I never really thought it about it before.
My childhood, though amazing and I would never change a moment of it, didn’t really lead to thoughts of the future. My main focus was on the present and I didn’t have faith in what the future held for me. By the time I graduated from high school, I had attended 13 different schools in as many years.
I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to be when I grew up but I did know one thing! I wanted to know more about people. Over the years I had met so many different personalities and some were similar and some were really different. I wanted to know what makes people unique. I also had a desire to fix what I saw was broken – Marriage.
In 2007, I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from the University of Mary Washington. This time I knew what I wanted and I was ready to tackle grad school. I wanted to be a Marriage Counselor. But a wise question caused me to pause, “Do you want to be surrounded by angry people yelling every day?” No, I didn’t want that. So I decided against grad school and started my career as a Federal Government Contractor. Same thing, right?
For the next 12 years I supported the Federal Government’s Mission Assurance Program. My job was to ensure the mission of the organization continued regardless of the situation – think doomsday planning but on a major scale!
What I loved most about the job was the annual exercise. I loved planning out how we were going to test a particular section of the plan to ensure that it was written appropriately. I was responsible for planning out all of the details at least a year out, gathering all of the people that
would assist, and ensuring that they knew their part! I loved exercise days, the excitement of seeing my efforts from the last year playing out in front of me brought me satisfaction!
Something was Missing
Over the years I found that I was growing restless in my position, looking for ways to find joy in the day to day. I was miserable and it was starting to change my personality. My once positive can do attitude was starting to erode and I wasn’t happy with the person I was becoming.
What I didn’t know at the time was that I was unhappy with my career choice. It wasn’t fulfilling my lifelong aspiration – Family. Each morning after dropping my babies off at daycare I found that my contempt would grow with each mile. I was not feeding my aspiration and therefore I was not giving myself “life”.
I had unconsciously made the decision that the only position that I was able to take to provide for my family was in government contracting as it had proven year after year to be guaranteed job security. I just kept pushing my unhappiness down until it began to eat away at me. I felt like there was no other option for me.
Introduction to the Wedding Industry
In January of 2018, my mother purchased a Bridal Shop in Richmond. One foot in her shop and you couldn’t get me to leave. I would drive each weekend down to Richmond to help get the shop running the way she wanted and come Monday morning I was even more depressed than ever as I went back to my government position. I knew the wedding industry was my future. So I made a 5-year plan and the Mister and I started looking for retail space in Loudoun for me to open the Bridal Shop.
Change in Direction
In the Summer of 2018, I transferred to a position in communications to be closer to my family. In my eyes, this was an opportunity to increase my marketing skills while I waited for my dream career. A few weeks in though, the only other girl on the team got engaged and during our talks of wedding details it finally hit me. It felt like I had been walking a dark path and the lights suddenly flickered on and I could finally clearly see the path before me!
I was a planner by nature and had spent that last 12 years perfecting my skills. I had never worked retail in my life. Why am I opening a bridal shop? I was born to be a planner why am I not working to become a Wedding Planner? I purchased the LLC that night and Sweetly Southern Events was open for business that Fall. Within six months of opening my own business I walked away from the corporate world to pursue my passion.
Sweetly Southern Events
It has been over a year since we opened our doors to couples and I have never been more sure of anything in my life. I am humbled to help couples remove the stress that comes with planning a wedding so that they can focus on meaningful moments with those that they love and fully experience the joy that this season has to offer. I love that I am able to help preserve relationships in a season of life where emotions are heightened, thoughtful intentions are misread and the potential for ruined relationships is high. But most importantly, I am honored to ensure that the bride’s voice is not lost in the planning process.
I love people, I love relationships, and I love helping couples have a wonderful first start their happy ever after! No, I don’t want to be surrounded by people yelling everyday – I want to be surrounded by love!
It was a long path but a path worth taking!
Photo by Anna Filly Photography