Personal Letter To Wedding Vendors

It’s about to get real.  I’m opening up for probably the first time in years to an industry that has my heart - the world of weddings.  

When I first started Always Planned you found me at every networking event, social hour and opening party.  I started my day with early coffee dates, and finished most nights hopping into bed with a mind full of ideas, business thoughts and a to-do list that never stopped.  I immersed myself in the world of weddings – attending conferences and workshops to further my knowledge and make important connections.  While my business grew, I expanded and added to my team, then I launched new concepts and businesses (Simply Love Studio), along with it came our own vendor parties and networking events, then educational nights and bridal shows for couples planning their ultimate day.  I was busy, incredibly busy.

While I loved every moment of launching and growing my business – the larger it grew, the more my personal life suffered.  On the outside life was perfect, and on the inside I was failing hard and I didn’t know what to do, or how to handle it.  So I worked more, and harder - pushing the issues in my marriage to the back burner.  We would take exotic vacations thinking some time alone would help, but it didn’t.  We would fight almost the entire time.  I would come home to my happy business filled with champagne and happy brides celebrating love.

Finally I had a car accident and well, with it, a wake-up call.  My life wasn’t the “happy” that everyone thought it was and the more I tried to “fake it” the more I became a fraud.  So I addressed it, we entered counseling and I gave my business some space, selling off SLS and taking some things off my plate so I can focus on priorities.  But, I’m stubborn and hardheaded, and well our issues were monsters at this point.  I was tired, and wanted to give up, but we kept going. One night, after 6 months of counseling we got into a huge fight and I was done.  Officially over-it and utterly crushed.  

I told few people what was happening in my life, and the world of weddings that I loved for years, that had became my home, my solace, my retreat – was now where I felt most embarrassed.  I lived in a world where the only thing we did was celebrate love – and I was getting divorced.  I was the ultimate failure.

So after years of being the social butterfly, I became the recluse.  Instead of networking events, I made personal time a priority and instead of coffee dates, I planned for cocktails with friends.  I found myself hiding from the world that I felt most at home, and my wedding business only brought extreme sadness.  My family didn’t understand and my friends didn’t really know.  I felt utterly alone.  

But, as hard as it was, I knew that this was the industry I belonged to.  Oh I was still running from the friendships I loved in the industry I adored - and still embarrassed at the fact that I was divorced now and “selling” couples on the idea of “lifelong love”.  But I never gave up.  In my failures I found myself - vulnerable, hurt, angry, hard at times, often weak, but in the end stronger than ever and always the hopeless romantic.  

It’s been almost 5 years now, and I still have embarrassment.  I still have an entire world that I have’t been honest with.  This is the first time I’ve shared this part of me with the world of weddings that is my home.  I find complete strength and awakening in being so real and open with you.  This is my love letter to my friends in the wedding industry.  Thank you for accepting me, thank you for always giving me the space I needed, and for welcoming me when I was ready to come home.  

Next year, my company celebrates 10 years and there is no way I could have done it without you.  In order for me to grow into the business woman I want to be, I have to practice what I preach.  I believe in transparency and today I’m facing my biggest fear – that I let you down.  I’ve written this countless times, but today I send it to you.  Please be kind, it’s not easy to admit that I’m not as strong as I seem.  

To grow and be better, we must first face the fear that keeps us from doing so.  Today - I slapped fear in the face.  It feels pretty great!

xo, Rayna

Rayna Wallen

AP KENTUCKY, 2240 Executive Drive #203, Lexington, KY 40505, USA