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How a loss of power led me to be empowered to start my own business at 28.

I’ve always believed in love and its power. It’s why I have always been enamored of weddings. I would spend time in bookstores looking at bridal magazines and spend hours watching shows about weddings (ask anyone who has lived with me, they’re sick of Say Yes to the Dress).

I didn’t always believe in marriage as a concept. I know it doesn’t make sense – I love weddings but was iffy on marriage.

For the longest time, I thought marriage was a silly thing that people do. Legally tie yourself to one person for the rest of your life? Why would you want to do that? But for people who are happily married or engaged, this concept isn’t crazy at all. It’s right. It’s beautiful. It’s perfect.

It wasn’t until I fell in love with the right person that I got it. I am a fiercely independent person. I always have been. I don’t like doing what others do and I don’t like being told what to do. I always thought that marriage was ruining my chance at independence – that it was harming my empowerment. It wasn’t until I met the right person that I realized independent people can still have a partner. I finally understood the people on The Bachelor (well, sort of).

But falling in love isn’t why I started a business that is all in on marriage. That would be a little crazy.

It didn’t start out with a fabulous love story. It started out of darkness and pain. It started because my world was shattered.

Let me step back: I was born lucky. I was raised by wonderful parents who inspired me to want to be as successful as they are. But that perfect life, where I was on a fast track for success, was derailed my senior year of college.

My world as I knew it was taken from me like it was taken from so many women whose truths hide in shadows of memories. It was taken from me by a man who wanted power over me. Someone who had been in my life for half a decade. A man who was my boyfriend’s best friend. My best friend’s ex. A man I trusted. In one horrifying day, my perfect life was destroyed. By many accounts, I was “lucky.” It could have been worse. But I don’t feel lucky.

I was brave until that day. I never understood why someone wouldn’t want to report what happened to them, until it happened to me. I let fear into my life. I let it distract from what I had worked hard to achieve. I let it disrupt my relationships. I let it win.

It wasn’t until the day I let fear completely defeat me that I pulled my life back together. I became someone I wasn’t and hurt the people closest to me at (of all things) a wedding. Most of this story is between me and those involved. But I will say this: I will never let go of what happened. It was my lowest moment and I’m not proud of it. I hold it with me – not to dwell – but, rather, to remind myself that I am better than that.

It wasn’t until after my friend’s wedding that I started to pull my life back together. Those scars on my memory made me stronger. I put alcohol down and picked a pen up. I wrote, I learned, I listened, and I figured out where I wanted my life to go, what I wanted my life to be.

I wanted my career to make people happy, and I didn’t want what happened my senior year of college to hurt me anymore. I decided I wanted a career in weddings. Something that I originally loved because of their inherit beauty, but I had avoided because of the shadows I associated with them. I had lost track of why I loved weddings. Weddings make people happy and celebrate love.

My partner and my family are the ones who pushed me in the right direction. I owe where I am to the push they gave me. I think mostly they were sick of hearing me talking about bridal and weddings. I decided to leave the comfort of my safe job and learn the business I was so fascinated by my whole life. I worked at Alfred Angelo and took my first step into bridal fashion. But that wasn’t enough. I found the business I belonged in, and I wanted more.

I started working for the best in the business, Betsy Robinson’s Bridal Collection, and for the queen herself, Betsy. It was there where I learned the inner workings of the industry from people who really have faith in what they are doing. Betsy believes in the power of love and has spent her career helping families come together. At Betsy Robinson’s is where I truly fell back in love with this world. I turned a fascination into a career. It was a job that I didn’t just roll out of bed for, but that I was excited to go to.

Every day I get to play a small part in making a dream become a reality. I get to watch the moment loved ones see a person take a new step in their lives. I get to witness fairytales.

It’s incredible to be a part of such a perfect moment in a person’s life. It’s what makes me want to continue doing this for people every day. It’s what makes me believe that weddings are important. Not because it’s a social construct ingrained in our country’s laws, but because it’s celebration of love. At its root, that’s what makes weddings so beautiful. It’s a celebration of two people finding their soulmate.

Phone: 856.779.0384
Email: info@lauraandleighbridal.com
Address: 937 Church Road, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
(near Philadelphia, right outside the Cherry Hill Mall)

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