I can remember the very first time meeting this Southern Bell Planner who little did I know would eventually “ROCK” my world upside down. See I was site managing a venue in Mebane and she was their planner. Her style was something new I’d never seen before out there, and I was intrigued. We instantly hit it off. She’d always share the story a little differently as remembering me flapping in the wind as I closed the flaps of their tent as “hurricane” force winds blew in… (really it wasn’t that bad) but I may have dangled from the ladder a few times lacing the panels up…LOL! I can still see the menu cards on the table of peach/coral and mint green color scheme with woven burlap… YES Burlap! Back in the day Leigh really knew how to enhance burlap and boots and take it to an elegant level.
I can even remember having lunch with her and having her slip her boots on for meetings afterwards if they were out at barn or farm… little did they know she really was more “Grits & Grace” than “Boots & Burlap.” She’d eventually retire those boots and fully showcase her inner “Charleston Roots.” She truly was our Southern Bell who loved her sweet tea & pimento cheese anything!
She graduated about 7 years after me at UNCG, and although she was younger…sheShe inspired so many throughout the wedding community. I always asked her to come and speak to my class at UNCG because she showed that you COULD succeed after graduating… she’d always share her story how she worked several part-time jobs while starting her business and then finally got to where she could work less and less. “Leigh, I hear you in my ear RIGHT NOW! I’m focusing more and more on our company and working less and less with my part-time gigs.” She always pushed me to go solo and only do my company. She always told me I should charge what I’m worth and never settle for less. She’d always say to JUST BE YOU and YOUR clients will hire you because of YOU. And she’s never been more right. The more I showcase our designs, our style and our personalities…the more couples LOVE US! I can also hear her in my ear every time I post: Give credit to every vendor in that photo! And we’d have long debates about inspiration photos off of Pinterest vs creating a style shoot that’s all your idea… And I’d do anything to have one of those debates RIGHT NOW!!! Don’t worry Leigh, all the photos in this post were taken with my crappy camera phone lol!
This past Saturday morning, my day was rocked after receiving news that one of my friends and mentors had passed. Like many, I quickly questioned the information, Googled, searched, called and emailed to verify…. I went through every emotion I could…shock, questioning, and then numb for most of the day. How could someone so incredible be taken so soon when she had so much left to do…. But then again Leigh did more in the few short years she was on this Earth than most do in a lifetime. She enriched so many lives, impacted the wedding and event industry to strive and be better through networking, not to mention the numerous memories she created for couples, families and friendors. I can remember grabbing dinner one night last year after speaking to my class and how much she would push me to inspire others. So Leigh, I’m gonna do just that!
This is the part that gets difficult and hard… How do you say goodbye to someone that has impacted your life so much and in so many ways?
You DON’T! I refuse to actually. Instead, I’m telling myself she WON the BIGGEST client… GOD just needed a kickass Party Planner up in Heaven… so Leigh, hold my RSVP, I’ve got to go out and do as you told me too and inspire others a little more! I’m going to do my best to be at your service… but honestly I don’t know how to say goodbye to someone who forever changed me, inspired me and encouraged me to be the best version of me. So I may only make it the parking lot but know you are forever in my heart. May tea be a little sweeter up there and may peonies forever be in season…and when the sweet tea ain’t hitting it…. May they have slushy bubbly easily accessible!
I would love to ask friends, family and friendors to donate their love and support to:
The world will forever be changed since you embraced our presence…even if it was short lived! See you soon my sweet friend.