It’s officially been 5 years since my mom, Susan Marie, passed away. I can’t believe it’s already been that long although the pain hits like it was yesterday. Two weeks, almost to the day, before she passed, we sat around the table at our mountain house on Black Friday and said “It’s time, let’s open the bridal shop”. The very next Friday, she had her heart attack, and by Thursday, we knew we needed to let her go. So on Thursday, December 8, 2016 I said goodbye to my mom.
It took a while (well, it’s still an ongoing process, if I’m being honest), to get back on my feet and decide to do this without her. You see, my dream was always to be a wedding planner, and hers was to open the bridal side of the business. In March of 2016, I started working at BHLDN in Atlanta to get some bridal experience and by November of that year, I was on board with mom’s dream too.
We hadn’t chosen a name for the business yet. I don’t remember when it came to me, but I chose “Katharine Marie” for a few reasons. Katharine Reed was my great-great-aunt on my dad’s side. She had a bridal shop on McDuffie Street for many years and my mom actually got her dress from Aunt Katharine. Her store was called “Katharine Reed Bride & Formal” and we have her sign hanging out front of our store now. The pedestal that our brides stand on is from her store as well and we love that our brides get to stand on this same one!
So much has happened in the last five years. We purchased 106 E. Benson St, we rented 3 other locations since February 26, 2019, finally had our grand opening, hired stylists and interns, and even this week, I onboarded a new team member that I cannot wait to introduce y’all too! A team member I wasn’t sure I could hire for a little while longer and it’s already here.
It’s been so hard to do this without her. Days that honestly, I’ve wanted to quit. But when I think back on some of the best times with Momma, it was while we were planning my sister’s wedding (almost exactly 10 years ago – 11/19/2011). The day we found my sister’s dress is still one of my most favorite days.
I was in college in Athens, Ga, my sister was in Birmingham, AL and Momma was here in Anderson. It was a mild March day, my aunt and I hopped in her convertible and drove to Atlanta to meet Momma and Amanda. We shopped for Amanda’s dress first, grabbed lunch and then shopped for bridesmaids dresses. We laughed, we talked, and as Momma would say “we made memories”. And boy was she right. She brought along her camera to document the whole thing and I’m so glad she did. We don’t have pictures of her from that day, and I wish we did.
Over the next several months, we’d do so much together – registered for gifts, picked out invitations, stuffed save the dates, met with vendors, learned how to make our great-grandma’s special tea, and kept making memories. I think it really clicked for both my mom and I during this time that Anderson could be a wedding destination town. The Bleckley also opened that year and my sister had her reception there. Momma and I dreamed about moms and daughters shopping for their dresses at our store and then grabbing lunch at Sullivan’s and getting their nails done at Lilia.
We briefly discussed opening the store back in 2014, but my eyes were set on NYC and Momma wasn’t quite ready to leave her family’s business. I moved to Atlanta that fall and you can fast forward to working at BHLDN and then to December 2016.
Why am I sharing this with you? I hear from so many brides that planning a wedding is stressful. And it breaks my heart. Granted my mom planned a ton for my sister’s wedding, and I clearly wasn’t the bride, but the three of us had the best time. I would go back and do that whole time period over and over again, because it really bonded us. It might have even been when my sister and I became best friends and not just sisters. Maybe…hadn’t thought about that until now.
Anyway, my desire for all of my brides, whether a bride who gets her dress from us or one we’re helping plan, is that this season is one you will cherish forever with your family and not just your fiance. As Momma would say “make memories” during this time, not letting stress get between you and your loved ones. Hiring a planner can really help with this but there are other things that will help too.
- Keep in mind that there are so many emotions at play – your last Christmas at your parents’ house, moving your stuff out, your parents changing your room into something else, maybe you’re the first to get married of your siblings, or the last, or the middle, and everyone’s just having a hard time with it. They may be so excited for you, but also sad that life is changing.
- Be respectful of each other’s financial responsibilities & priorities. If your parents are helping to pay, keep clear boundaries of how much of their wishes you’ll respect. If they’re not paying for any of it, be kind when you let them know you’re not doing things how they’d wish.
- Spend time together not talking about the wedding. Take a pulse check on if your parents or siblings are getting stressed or sad or feeling left out, and just go do something fun that puts the focus on them and not you. Your world is revolving around the wedding, but theirs may not be, and that’s okay!
I feel like I’m rambling now, but I just wanted to share this with you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with wedding planning or want us to help you plan a full girls’ day for wedding dress shopping (you can view our downtown Anderson guide here, here and here) please reach out! If you’re missing a loved one during this special time in your life, please reach out, I’d truly love to grab coffee or wine and cry with you.
We’re here to help you make memories,