Before we dive deep into this bittersweet blog post, we’d like to preface it with these verses from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.”
To everything there is a season. That is the essence of what we’re about to share with you. The specific verses/words from that passage that really resonate with our current season of life would be “a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted”, “a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing”, “a time to gain, and a time to lose”. Maybe after this brief intro, you already see what’s coming. Whether you do or don’t, we kindly ask that you read these words to the very end, so we can fully share our hearts with you, dear friends.
One of the many definitions of the word “season” is as follows: a proper or suitable time. For Happily Ever After, our season began in 2010, and it will be ending at the end of 2020; it is currently the suitable time to end our season – a beautiful, challenging, rewarding, sacrificing, ten year season. Wow. Let’s switch this metaphor of seasons to that of books; and here is our story.
Every book has an ending, even if there’s a sequel. There is always a final chapter. In conjunction, every book also has a beginning and chapter one for us began with our first contracted couple in 2010. Throughout our story, we have stayed true to the values that were laid upon our hearts from the very beginning, not only with each of our couples, but with our business decisions as well. However, as we approach our tenth year in business, our values and heart songs are shifting. It has been a long, tearful, and prayerful journey together, individually, and with our families to come to this decision.
Over the last several months, we’ve been having some tough discussions about feelings and thoughts we’ve both been having for quite some time, but were too scared to say out loud. In May of this year, our hearts were finally both in a place of surrender, ready to yield to what God had been trying to show us for months. So, we got together for coffee, and finally verbally said what was lingering inside. Although tears were shed, it was a relief to resonate in our honesty, even if it was hard and uncomfortable. To be transparent with you, over the last few years we have been working diligently at trying to control the trajectory of our business. We were making decision after decision that seemed like wise choices for growing this small business of ours; we rebranded and had an amazing website created from scratch (which was a huge financial investment), hired an ads manager to look at the back end of our web traffic, tried to be more active with blogging and figuring out SEO, and the list goes on and on. However, God was quietly shutting doors (actually, who are we kidding, sometimes it felt like He was slamming them in our face) trying to get our attention, but our hearts weren’t ready to listen or surrender. Now that we’ve had some time to pray and change the posture of our hearts, we can now see clearly how those closed doors were not due to our failures, but were signs of Him gently and lovingly preparing us for what was to become our final chapter…..our “happily ever after.”
Our individual paths of how we both came to this point of surrender look a bit different, so we’d like to share some of our thoughts individually…
A Message from Lynn
“There is no greater joy than to know you share the same heartbeat as your child. God has truly blessed me with a daughter who is not only beautiful on the outside but on the inside as well. She cares deeply for others and will always do her best to make sure her bride, groom, their families, friends and the vendors she’s working with know she will give them 110% and go above and beyond to make sure everyone is happy and feels loved. When I read the reviews her couples leave for her or another wedding professional tells me how much they enjoy working with Jessica I can only thank God for giving her a heart to serve Him as she serves others around her. When I started this business back in 2010 I had no idea where it would take me yet alone imagine having my own daughter join me on this new and exciting journey. But over the years we grew our small business into what it is today and we did that TOGETHER. It wasn’t always easy because many times we didn’t see eye to eye on things but we always respected each other enough to say “first and foremost we are family, then we are business partners.” It was probably about a year and a half ago when I started feeling the toll of being a wedding planner. People who think our job is easy or that we have it made have no clue what they are talking about. The amount of hours we spend on emails, paperwork, phone calls, design boards, meetings and research for multiple couples at a time and then being on your feet for an average of 14 or more hours the day of the wedding can easily wear on you. Not to mention you give up your weekends during prime months of the year. It’s all part of the job and every planner must truly, truly love what they do to take on such a role. And I did. Nothing brought me more joy than being a part of one of the most beautiful days in my couples lives. To be a part of a sacred event and getting a glimpse into their love story up close and personal was always so near and dear to my heart. I have said through the years that I feel like I have so many adopted daughters out there. To work with them so closely for months at a time and then to see them ride off into the sunset with their prince charming at the end of the night was always a very emotional time for me. I do stay in touch with many of my brides and I cherish their friendship and how they choose to stay in touch with me, it’s truly very humbling. I had been saying for quite some time that I was going to cut back on the amount of weddings I would be doing and Jessica would take on as many as her schedule would allow but I would still do all the backend of the business side. But as the months went by there was just a heaviness in my heart that I couldn’t explain nor did I even want to face. This business was my baby and how was I ever supposed to let it go? The more time I spent on social media the more I felt I needed to keep the business going and do all I could to take us to the next level. There was always this feeling of “we’re not as good as that planner” or “why are they getting published and we’re not?” or worse yet “why are they getting so many bookings?” It was robbing all the joy I had at just being me and doing what God called me to do for His glory. It was such a sad time in my life because I was afraid to tell Jessica because we had made so many big financial decisions for Happily Ever After and I didn’t want her to feel like I was letting her down. But little did I know, she was having her own struggles and not telling me. So on Mother’s Day this year we met for coffee and we were both able to finally share our hearts with each other and through tears and prayers made the decision that it was time to say goodbye to the business and trust that God would lead us in just exactly how we were to do it and when. I don’t know what it’s like to have mother/daughter time without discussing weddings or the business. We’d go for pedicures and talk business, go out to eat with family, and talk business, go on vacation sitting at the beach, and talk business. So I’m looking forward to the day when we can just be Jessica and Lynn, a mother/daughter duo who loves coffee, the beach, sipping homemade margaritas, shopping and getting pedicures together. All the while talking about my grandkids, our husbands and our future. I’m also looking forward to my husband saying “you want to go camping next weekend?” And then I can finally say “yes!” rather than, “Sorry, I can’t. I have a wedding.” Seeing how we are empty nesters, that’s how it should be.”
A Message from Jessica
“First and foremost, let me say how grateful I am to my mom for taking a leap of faith and starting this journey in 2010, not knowing exactly what would become of it! I am thankful I joined the fun in 2012, and my mom is a huge part of this story in my life. Not many people can say they got the chance to work alongside their mom doing fun and beautiful work. But, I am ready to just know my mom as “mom”, and not my business partner.
When I began with Happily Ever After, I became pregnant only months later, and had my first child in 2013. So I’ve never really known what it’s like to be “just a mom” or “just a business owner”; it’s always been both, simultaneously. For most of my journey, that has been a huge blessing, and beyond anything I could have ever hoped or imagined. Now, in present day, I am juggling two kids (and boy has the second one thrown me for a loop), a business, an amazing husband, a home, a social life (or lack there of), and hopes and dreams that sit in the back of my mind, because I just don’t have the time or energy to cultivate them. Surprisingly, I came into January 2019 like most gung-ho entrepreneurs, ready to tackle it all… to do more, and do more better! Then in April of this year, it hit me like a ton of bricks… I don’t want more, I want less. The weight of feeling like I wasn’t a good mom, a good business owner, a good wife, a good friend, a good daughter, came crashing down on me one day, and I lost it. I cried almost the entire day, wondering “how do I do less? What needs to go?” I knew I’d reached a breaking point, and instead of trying to push it aside and telling myself “get it together, pull up your bootstraps and deal!” (typical of type 8’s on the Enneagram, which I am), I allowed myself to just feel these feelings, and sit with them for a while. Certainly, I didn’t want to give up my kids, my husband, my family, or my friends… which left me wondering, “God, is this the point in life I walk away from the business?”. It felt weird to ponder the idea, and it was something I let bounce around in my brain for about a month before I did anything with it (enter the coffee date with my mom referenced above). During this month of pondering, I thought about ways I could continue to make it work even though I felt bogged down, but I also wondered what life would be without it, how freeing that would be. As I’m sure you’ll read in my mom’s story, I knew her time of being on the forefront of this business was likely coming to an end soon, which meant I would be the one and only lead planner. At one point in time, I thought I was fine with that. But, after thinking, resonating, and praying, I finally admitted I just can’t do it. Maybe it’s not a matter of “I can’t”, but simply that I don’t want to. My marriage, my kids, and even my own inner self needs a better version of me than the depleted one they are getting now. If you’ve ever heard of Lara Casey, you probably know her famous statement that goes something like, “where do you envision yourself when you’re 80?”. And I can tell you one thing, I don’t want the leftover scrap pieces of me sulking into a rocking chair with sinking feelings of regret and exhaustion because I kept fighting for something that pleases others at the expense of my own family and my own sanity. No, I’m changing the trajectory of our path to be one that leads to fullness, and the ability to be wholly submerged in the present each and every day. Now, let me close with this, I LOVE weddings, and marriage, and my couples. I always have, and I always will. It’s the business ownership that weighs heavy on me. My work on wedding days are only about 10% of what I do; it’s the other 90% that has me flat out exhausted. I’m ready to be just Jessica: wife, mom, daughter, friend, and always and forever a creative individual. And I want the margin in my life to do whatever else God decides to do with me!”
Although we are approaching our final chapter, we still have lots of beautiful pages to be written until the end of 2020! We still have so many amazing couples this year and next that will receive the same level of service and care our past couples have received. So please understand, this announcement does not mean we are closing our doors tomorrow and running for the hills. Quite the contrary, we will continue working with as much heart and passion as ever. Our doors (as in our website, social media, and relationships with vendors and clients) will remain open until the very end! Over the last nine years, we have formed some amazing relationships. In regards to vendors, the support, loyalty, and overall love and respect they have shown us has played a vital role in who we are as individuals, and as planners. We have also made lasting friendships with many of our couples, who we are blessed to call friends. We are truly humbled by the trust they put in us on one of the biggest days in their lives. All of the support we’ve received has encouraged and blessed us in unimaginable ways, and we are so grateful for each and every one of you!
Our last contracted weddings are on October 17th, 2020. Yes, that’s right! We both have a wedding on the very same day, with different clients (which doesn’t happen often) to close out the final chapter of our book. How cool is God?! We’re 99.9% sure once the venue cleanup is complete, and we’re each making our drive home, we’ll be on the phone with each other in tears. Although endings can be sad, we also have hope that the next season of our lives will be worth the tears. It will be bittersweet, but we know that after serving almost 300 couples, the last few words in our final chapter will be from God Himself saying “well done, good and faithful servants”. It is then that He will lovingly close our book and place it on a shelf that is never too far from our reach. It will always be close by for both of us to read; at any time we can flip through the pages, over and over again, marveling at the blessing it was that we were able to use the gifts and talents He gave us for those sweet ten years.
In closing, you may be wondering what’s next for us. Honestly, we’re not entirely sure, but we feel that is exactly the posture God wants for our hearts; to be completely open. It feels very liberating to not know, as crazy as that sounds. We are looking forward to diving deeper into our relationship with Him, with our families, and with each other. For almost a decade, we haven’t been able to truly know who we are outside of Happily Ever After. This mother/daughter duo doesn’t even know what it’s like to go shopping or out for coffee without discussing our business or the wedding industry in general. It’s time for us to dive deeper into the other roles God has called us to; we know once we do, with open hearts and open minds, that God will truly show us what our next book title will be. Maybe something like, “My Big Fat Greek Life”? And we can finally visit Greece together, just as a mother and daughter.
That was a lot to take in! Thank you so much for being here. Below are a few answers to questions you may have…
*Are you booking any new clients?
We have made a joint decision (with much prayer) to not add any more couples to our calendar. So if you are currently an HEA couple, you are the final and last clients, and we are so excited to end our story alongside you!
*What will happen to your Instagram after your last wedding?
We aren’t entirely sure yet, but we will definitely keep it active until then.
*Will you be attending or joining any industry events?
We’ve already begun to cut way back on what we participate in, because we want what energy we do have left, to be fully invested into our couples. This is not to say we won’t be attending any meeting/function at all, we are just being very selective about how we spend our time.
*Will you be selling the business?
No, this baby lives and dies with us 😉
*How are your husbands handling this?
Um, they are freaking pumped to get more time with us, because we’re awesome, ha! No but in all honesty, they’ve been so supportive from the very beginning of our business, cheering us on at every turn. But, once we shared our hearts and our reasoning on our decision, they were completely in agreeance and want us to be happy and healthy!
*Do you think you’ll ever work in the wedding industry again, or pick your business up at a later date?
Right now, we are saying our final goodbye, pretty certain this is the end of our wedding planning careers. But our God is bigger than what our feeble minds can muster up – He could open any door at any time!
If there are any questions we didn’t answer, please let us know! We are an open book. Hopefully this blog post encourages someone to take the leap, whether it’s closing a door or opening one. Be true to yourself <3
Lynn & Jessica