November 1, 2018
To the Once Wed Community :
When I founded Once Wed eleven years ago, I had no idea what a wonderful (and at times crazy) journey I was about to begin. I actually started the site as a platform to sell used wedding dresses because after buying my own used wedding dress online I discovered a lot of other women were looking to do the same and there wasn’t a free platform available for these exchanges to take place. I had no experience running a company and no college degree, but that wasn’t going to stop me from taking the little bit of savings I had to start Once Wed and chase my dream with the hope of turning this idea into a big reality. I worked as a nanny during the day to pay the bills and spent every moment of my free time trying to grow Once Wed – one dress listing at a time. Those early days consisted of emailing thousands of women on wedding forums (remember those?) asking them to list their wedding dress on Once Wed and scanning images from wedding magazines for content on the blog (all before social media took off).
I began blogging on the site to bring more traffic to the listing service, and it quickly became evident that brides and wedding vendors alike were looking for a place to find inspiration for unique weddings. In the beginning years, I worked late into the night, sometimes in tears, because I wasn’t sure this crazy dream was ever going to work. In the midst of great uncertainty, I kept pushing through, even on those days I wanted to give up. And finally, after 2 years, I was making enough from selling advertising to leave my nanny job and devote my full-time attention to building Once Wed.
Creation is incredibly messy, and building Once Wed has stretched me in ways I didn’t know were even possible. The mistakes I made, hard lessons I learned, and my failed ideas are all a part of its story. That’s what makes Once Wed so special to me – we’ve really grown together over the last decade.
Over the years, Once Wed has evolved in many ways, and I am very proud that is has become something way beyond what I could have ever imagined: bringing wedding inspiration to thousands of brides and vendors every week; serving as a platform for people to share ideas; providing that little boost of confidence to the bride who was planning her wedding all on her own; and maybe giving someone else something to dream about…
To those couples who have entrusted us to share their love stories with the world, thank you! It always warms my heart when we receive emails from couples telling us how they used Once Wed as a guide for designing and planning their weddings. I know hiring a wedding planner isn’t always in the budget, and before Pinterest, blogs were the main source of inspiration for brides. I’m so glad I could be a part of planning so many weddings – even in a small way. And featuring real weddings sent in by our readers is still one of my favorite parts of running Once Wed. Thank you for letting us share one of the most important days of your life with so many others. To have touched so many people during such a special time in their lives is truly an honor.
As fulfilling as running the daily bog has been, what I never expected (and that has had an even bigger impact on me) has been getting to know to so many of the wonderful creatives in the industry: photographers, floral designers, planners, stylists, videographers, makeup artists, event designers, stylists, stationery designers, and more.
I am constantly amazed by the wedding industry. I tell people all the time “Wedding creatives are the most talented, hardest working individuals I’ve ever met”. Working in the wedding industry is not for the faint of heart, and we’ve all experienced the rapid amount of change happening in our industry over the last decade. Even as trends have come and gone, as industry needs have changed, and as the landscape the entire wedding community has evolved, you’ve always been there right alongside me. Thank you for working so hard to create beautiful weddings for your clients and thank you for letting me share them with our readers! We couldn’t have done it without your inspiration and support.
Besides being a mother, it has been the greatest privilege of my life to work alongside, learn from, and feature the work of so many talented creatives over the years. I have had the pleasure of meeting many of you in person, and have been able to hear about your passions and challenges first hand. Somewhere along the way, I realized that this shared knowledge had also become my passion.
Because of a desire to give back to this wonderful wedding community that has given so much to me, a few years ago I pursued another crazy dream and started my second business, If I Made. It is almost three years old now, and I am happy to say it is keeping me very busy. It has allowed me to create a space where experts can share their knowledge with others in an accessible way, inspire creativity and help businesses thrive.
As If I Made continues to grow, I have realized that it is now time for me to devote my full attention to it (you can learn more about why here). So as of today I will be turning over ownership of Once Wed to a new company. They will continue to share beautiful, inspired weddings with you on a daily basis, and I ask that you support the new team as warmly as you did me and my team. I’m excited to see the beautiful places they plan to take Once Wed. While I will miss creating the blog, I am glad that this isn’t really a farewell. I will see you daily over at If I Made!
With Love, Emily Newman
Founder of Once Wed and If I Made
To My Family and Friends:
I wouldn’t be where I am today without some incredibly special people in my life who have loved and supported me along the way:
To my daughter Lily – Everything I do is for you. Being your mother is the best thing that has ever happened to me. You are my heart, and I am so very proud of you, baby girl. Your savvy sense of humor and joyful spirit light up every room you enter. Keep shining bright. I can’t wait to see you who you become. Every day with you is a wonderful new adventure.
To my Mother – Everything I know about hard work, overcoming, and following your dreams is because of you. Working full time, raising 2 little girls, going to school, and studying until 3AM every night – I still don’t know how you managed it all those years. But what I do know without a shadow of a doubt, is I can do anything I set my mind to because of the example you set. Through sheer willpower and abundant love, you modeled that the impossible is possible. Thank you for telling me and Hannah 87,432 times while we were growing up that “Whatever the mind conceives and believes, the mind can achieve”. I heard you :)
To my late Father – When I came to you at 18 about my decision to be the only senior out of my 375 classmates to not attend college, you wrapped me up in your arms and gave me the biggest hug, telling me how proud you were of me for following my heart. When I was expecting disappointment and condemnation, I was given love. It was through this act of love I found the courage to move halfway across the world by myself at 18 to pursue my first dream. Thank you for being my biggest cheerleader, and instilling in me the confidence that I already had everything I needed inside of me to succeed. I miss you every day.
To Brett – You were the first to believe in Once Wed, and that this crazy idea I had at 21 was a worthwhile pursuit. I am forever grateful to you for your unwavering belief in me during that time, and for giving me the greatest gift I’ve ever been given in our precious daughter, Lily.
To my sister Hannah – Thank you for never giving up on me, even in my darkest hours when everything felt like it was spiraling out of control.
To my Aunt Rosalyn – Thank you for loving me like I was your own, and saying YES 5 years ago to working alongside me on this rollercoaster ride that was Once Wed. I couldn’t have done it without you.
To my friends Ashley and Dusty – Thank you for loving Lily and me so well. I couldn’t ask for better friends than you two.
To my former Creative Director Joy Thigpen – We lugged props, flowers, and babies all over this earth while creating for Once Wed. Thank you for all the beauty you brought to the blog, and for our friendship over the years.
To my If I Made team – You ladies are rockstars. What a gift it is to spend my days working alongside such a fantastic group of women.
Photography Haley Sheffield