I planned my wedding in 2008.
Somehow, after spending some time on the Knot and getting frustrated with the catty, click-like mentality of the community there, I was introduced to Project Wedding. Project Wedding had been a kitchen-table start up that somehow took off; as a matter of fact, eHarmony eventually purchased it. The site was beautiful and simple and helpful. It was easy to navigate, and in using it we could create ‘bios’ to highlight our weddings and ideas as we planned them.
I actually logged in there, started talking, and never went back to the Knot. Why? Because what I found at Project Wedding was a group of brides who were gracious, helpful, caring, and kind.
Many many hours were spent in the Community at Project Wedding. We celebrated each others beautiful days, helped others through heartbreak, and played games to help us pass the time on our way to the aisle.
Rarely did we have anybody who was less than generous or loving or honest, and from my time there, I developed friendships that span across the United States, into Canada, and even into Europe.
Eventually I worked my way up from a Community Hostess (pink heart) to the Community Coordinator. I was employed by eHarmony and for about 40 hours/month I was in charge of moderating vendor reviews, keeping the Community a positive, fresh, inviting, and busy place, and offering new ideas for acquiring and retaining new brides.
I loved that job. But it conflicted with my desire to also truly launch my wedding photography business; so I had to leave after one year.
I passed that job onto my dear friend Aubrie, another bride, who ended up also being the phenomenal doula at our son’s birth. Like I said, this is a tight knit community; and my love for it is beyond words.
As time went on, many of the beautiful women who shared their time planning weddings with me found each other on Facebook. Some of us launched into smaller, niche groups for parenting as we had kids, and others I’m sure created their own similar groups. But one thing was certain, the original ‘p-dub’ group of women still existed. We’ve had meet ups all over the Country. I’ve invited others to stay with my family, and one who has become a dear friend actually flew from Canada to photograph a wedding with me and teach me her ways with newborn photos (thank you Danica!).
We’ve sent care packages, holiday gifts, and hand-written notes. We’ve collaborated on projects. We’ve seen some become incredibly successful and well known. We have supported each others small businesses in childbirth, photography, crafts, custom art, graphic design, blogging, and clothing among others. Some of us even developed our photography businesses together, helped each other grow, and watched each other develop a style and a brand unique to them.
We’ve helped each other choose new houses to buy, and offered support when tough decisions came around.
We’ve seen countless beautiful babies born.
We supported one of our beautiful brides through breast cancer (she made it through!). We cried when one of our own committed suicide. We watched as some of our dear Project Wedding friends struggled to conceive, had pregnancies that weren’t viable, babies that were born too young to survive, or whose children suffer from autism, rare genetic disorders, allergies, and learning disabilities. We loved on friends who lost family members, and prayed for those who were going through unspeakable hardship. The power of a PW prayer is strong.
Our hearts broke when some of the girls that we thought were in the strongest relationships were faced with divorce; and in doing so, some actually found love with another that was stronger than they ever imagined possible.
(As a matter of fact, one of those gals is getting married this summer in Maryland, to an fantastic new man. . .and I’m their photographer. It’s such an honor!).
SO many of these women are still in my life, and I credit them for helping me to where I am today. They are some of the only girls who know many of my own deepest struggles – and I’m sure that is a street that goes both ways.
Right after I left my job at Project Wedding, they were bought and renovated by the Wedding Wire.
Imagine our surprise, our sadness, when this week we found out that the Project Wedding website we all loved was going to be dismantled. That our thousands upon thousands of posts and photos and discussions would be gone at the end of this month.
The last few days have been nostalgia central.
We have been sharing stories, remembering some of the more notorious threads were posted (like the epic DIY disaster), and talking about what we might have done differently in planning our weddings today.
Of course, I had to go back and read as much as I could. The sentimental side of me couldn’t avoid it.
I found hundreds of toasts from my friends. Endless private messages. Thousands of threads (we all talked and talked for hours).
Back in the day, you had to post 50-100 or more times in a week to make it onto the ‘top contributors’ board. Today, the top contributors all have less than 7 posts each.
We used to have ‘bios’, a collection of images and writing that we used to show off our planning, ideas, decor, how-to’s, and wedding photos. The bios are gone.
The site is slow and hard to navigate and full of errors. It’s almost like walking into a dead mall; a place that was once bustling and still shows some signs of life, but struggling to breath.
It’s breaking my heart. This feels like such a silly thing to be emotional about, but I’m going to own it.
I don’t want to see everything go. Project Wedding, and the incredible, diverse group of women from there that have become my friends, mean so much to me.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of being vulnerable with a group of people who share the same shoes that you do. These women have become my friends; I know that no matter where I go, I have their support and a couch to crash on. We may not have always agreed on things, and there have been some disagreements that I thought were going to tear all of us apart, but somehow it repairs itself and we move on.
How strange a world we live in, where we can plan our weddings with 100 other women across the Country, and have them become good friends, still 7 years later!
How cool a world we live in, that we can do that.
Cheers to Project Wedding. Cheers to my P-Dub girls. Cheers to friendships, and giving, and loving. Cheers to not judging others, cheers to being a shoulder to cry on.