I tell you, I am so about to love the hell out of this post. I think you will too. OK, remember a long-ass time ago (OMG, almost a year ago now. Wait, did I just type "OMG"? I totally did. Sorry.) I was one of the many, many people who came together to ambush a one Miss Hillary Robson, a florist in Nashville, for the show What Not to Wear, on TLC. You can read the backstory and my experience with that here. But more importantly, you can see Hillary's kick-ass What Not to Wear transformation here.
I watched the show when it premiered and there's like a few nano-seconds me on camera as well as a slew of Nashville friends and acquaintances from the wedding industry there. It was so fun to watch Hilary go from her frumptastic approach to fashion to a complete freakin' bombshell. A few months after the taping, I was the Ashley's Bride Guide's Sex and the City party and Hillary came up to me and started chit-chatting. I hadn't seen her since the taping and I swear, I was standing there looking at her, going (in my head) "I know this person. I know this person. How do I know this person? What is this person's name?" and then I almost fell over! Of course I knew her name, I just didn't freakin RECOGNIZE her without her apron on! She looked fantastic. Seriously, like bombshell fantastic. I couldn't get over it.
So Hillary has her own wedding blog she writes called The Renegade Bride, aptly named as she had started planning her own wedding before she was even engaged! Her floral design work has been featured everywhere as she is the hugely talented brain-power behind Nashville's Brocade Design Arts. Seriously, go check out her amazing portfolio. The woman is an incredilby talented florist.
So as a regular lurker on both her floral website and personal blog, I just about fell over dead when I saw her amazing engagement pictures. I immediately emailed her and demanded a feature. OK, I didn't demand, per se, but I was super excited about them and had high hopes that she would share. And being the wonderful person she is, she did. But it wasn't just the pictures I was interested in. I wanted to know a little bit about her WNTW experience and how it has affected her. I also wanted to know what it was like being a wedding vendor and planning a destination wedding (Hawaii - WOOT!). So please check out her kick-ass pictures, but then make sure you read her interview below. Hillary's transformation, both inside and out, will tug on your little heartstrings.
So without further ado, may I present the Unfake Engagement of Hillary Robson and Donald Yeager (also a wedding industry insider, Donald Yeager Photography)
All photos by Sam Hassas of Hassas Photography
First, as a bridal industry player, how has your wedding planning been easier?How has it been harder?
In some ways, it’s been both...it’s easier because I know for the most part what’s out there and what I can expect out of the process. The ease has been in the familiarity with the subject, but believe me, everything is totally foreign when it’s your wedding, even if you’re an expert. I’m constantly annoying myself with my inability to make decisions. I feel like they are so permanent and I hate that I can’t see and experience every aspect before I book it, so I get really nervous and apprehensive. For example, I’m walking down the aisle to a Ukulele version of one of our favorite songs, and for the life of me I can’t imagine how that song can sound GOOD and not like it’s from some strange movie or alternate universe where I laugh the entire way down the aisle in embarrassing snort laughter, which would so not be cool...
Do you see yourself the same way you see other brides you've worked with? Do you catch yourself doing things you find distasteful in bride-clients?
Of course! Being a bride is a universal experience. We’re all going through the same thing-- every bride is at sea when it comes to her own wedding. It’s a big day and it’s important! That being said, I know that i’m a total type A, Control Freak, crazy-o bride who agonizes over every decision and has nightmares about people forgetting things. I constantly am hoping I don’t tragically insult our wedding planner in Hawaii for my MS Word documents with ideas, organizational tools, and pieced together Photoshop design files of my wedding cake. It’s not that I don’t trust her, it’s just that I like to be thorough. :)
You've had significant weight loss - how has that affected how you feel about dress shopping, wedding planning, life after the wedding?
I actually went dress shopping pretty soon after WNTW, and even though I’d lost 40 lbs before I went on the show, I still had a long way to go in terms of overall health and being at a healthy weight. When I went dress shopping, it was a totally invigorating experience. I loved trying on all the different dresses and being in my own skin. But in July, I kind of kicked my focus on being healthy inside & out in full gear and have since lost thirty pounds, which is totally incredible. The way I feel trying on clothes now is even better, since I’ve not been at this size and weight for over ten years...which is kind of insane! Loosing that weight helped me to feel all the more comfortable in my own skin, and really kind of reflected the inner transformation I’d gone through in the months following WNTW. I sometimes catch my reflection and have to take a second look, because I feel like I’m someone that’s the same, yet entirely different. That feeling has impacted my life in lots of ways, all of which are positive. I’ve never been happier or more focused, and I love it!
How has the WNTW affected you as a person? How has it changed your life? How has it affected you in terms of wedding planning, if at all?
I’ve thought about this question a lot in the months that have followed WNTW.
A year ago today I was in a really different place emotionally. I had an entire host of issues that largely stemmed from a general lack of self confidence. I had an amazing business, an incredible boyfriend, and the best friends that anyone could imagine, and I still felt kind of like a total outsider in my own life. There wasn't a day that I woke up and looked in the mirror and said "I'm going to take this day and own it." I just never felt like I could have any kind of power to do that-- to just be totally self confident in who I was and what I could accomplish.
Enter What Not to Wear. I can't tell you how many times I had watched self-improvement shows and argued, "there's no way that person could have totally changed their outlook and view of life in a week, that's impossible," but seriously...that show changed my life. I was so timid and scared when I left Nashville. I cried in the car ride to the airport after being picked up by the driver, crying like a child because I was going to be alone in NYC in a strange hotel room and my boyfriend wasn't going to be there. I lugged my three pieces of luggage and went to New York with this crazy fear in the pit of my stomach that threatened to consume me whole.
In that crazy whirlwind of an experience,as the old clothes stripped off and I started trying on the new clothes, the evil little self esteem monsters came and latched on to my shoulder and started their dangerous whispers. "You're fat. You're ugly. Look at how disgusting you are." Those are the nice versions. I'd look in the mirror and see nothing but a blob of a girl, an ugly, unlovable thing. I wanted my sweaters back.
But then, something happened. Talking about my feelings after every single turn in front of a camera, listening to what Stacy and Clinton had to share...I was breaking, emotionally, and instead of it being a breakdown, it was a total break out. I had my hair and makeup done and when I looked in the mirror, someone else was looking back at me: a woman I didn't even know existed, and this lady was ready to take on the world. From that moment on, I've not looked back at ugly sweaters or covering myself up. I have totally changed my entire philosophy I’d had about myself for my entire life, and I really do kind of get up and look in the mirror and want to own my day. :)
When it comes to planning-- before WNTW I was planning *my* wedding, not our wedding. There’s a big difference. Once we got engaged and started talking about what we wanted, it was amazing. I thought I’d had everything all figured out, and being on the show helped me to just fully actualize every.single.thing in my life, and that’s been awesome.
What kind of stone is your ring?
It’s a yellow Sapphire in an Asscher cut. The center stone is surrounded by diamonds & accented with four yellow diamonds that match the color of the sapphire.
How does planning your destination wedding been harder/easier than doing it at home?
For me, planning a destination wedding has been harder than doing it at home, mainly because I’m so familiar with everything locally that I feel the pressure of that distance. I’ve never even been to Hawaii, and as we get closer to the wedding, my lack of familiarity becomes more and more apparent, and that’s hard! I have to rely on email and phone to make connections with my vendors, and that’s a bit disconcerting...so far there are people I’ve only spoken to via email, and that can make you kind of paranoid that you’re going to miss some detail, colossal or tiny. I think if we were still having our wedding here in Nashville, I’d feel a lot more confident, since I’d actually *know* all of my vendors.
CONGRATULATIONS TO HILLARY AND DON!