Vol 10: The Real Life of a Mompreneur – Running Your Business with Postpartum Depression

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Image: Abby Grace

Today’s post is one I feel so strongly about – it’s a topic that I don’t feel we do enough to talk about openly in our country: postpartum depression. Most of the stuff you read online or the way they portray motherhood on TV/movies is a partial truth. It’s not all magical butterflies & rainbows. It’s not always this instant love affair. It’s hard. It’s life changing. It’s confusing. It’s challenging. Now fast forward this life changing event to the time when you start to attempt to run your business again, while home full time with a child – and well, things don’t get magically easier, they get harder, and more complicated.

Today’s post was not written by me, it was written by a dear friend that wished to remain anonymous. Her messages & experience is so important though and so I felt compelled to share it here, with the hopes that it could potentially help even just one other Mompreneur out there that might be struggling. So enough from me … here goes one of the most important posts I have ever shared.

Life of a Mompreneur Vol 10: Running Your Business with Postpartum Depression

Let me start out this post with a suggestion: don’t do what I did and hope you can tough your way through this.  Make this a priority for yourself and your family, and get some help (whatever help means to you.) Even if you wonder if you even have depression, even if you know you don’t and you just need a way to express the craziness of how your life is different now – share your struggle so that the people who love you can support you.  I’m obviously not a therapist or a medical professional, I’m just sharing my personal limited experience.

During pregnancy, you start to hear the words postpartum depression floated around.  Your doctor or midwife mentions the ways they’ll use to evaluate your mental health, and how you should try and examine your own thoughts to see the difference between sheer exhaustion and a deeper problem. You’re told that everyone has their own emotional response to the deeply personal experience of having a baby, and that you should try hard not to judge your reactions as a new parent against anything you “should” be feeling or “should” have done differently.  They say it’s going to be hard but you are enough, and that you should never hesitate to get seek help if you feel overwhelmed.

I have always had a mercurial temperament, which seems to be an artistic thing – big highs and lows, generally huge enthusiasm for new projects, and not a lot of patience. Before we even decided to try and have children, my husband and I looked at some of the red flags there and knew stay at home, full-time parenting wouldn’t be a good fit for me. As we had no resources to cover the cost of childcare, we knew that at least at first I’d have to muddle through being both a stay-at-home parent AND keep running my business.

So once our son was born, we started going about the business of surviving the newborn period. And it really went just fine.  My son grew, my husband and I tried our best to support eachother and navigate this new normal. I reacted in a typical way to the craziness of my hormones and it made me pretty emotional, but it was nothing we weren’t told to expect and it seemed fine.  We could handle it. Right?

The problems became obvious slowly, because over time we noticed that I just wasn’t feeling better.  Once I relaunched and started to take new clients, the frustration of not being able to take care of business grew. I wanted to launch new products, services, and a rebrand I was excited about, and at every turn felt I was not getting anything done.  I realized I was starting every single email I wrote with an apology for it taking longer to respond than I would have preferred. The mountain of work in front of every day piled higher, the mess in my office became unbearable, and I also became unbearable to my family. There were many days where I was upset or felt defeated before I’d even managed to get out of bed.  Answering a simple email felt like a herculean task, and when you’re a business team of one it is very easy to fall behind.

Small business owners can be especially susceptible to depression or generally poor mental health because they often work in isolation, and they need to plan and perform a huge variety of roles within their business just to tread water. While there are many benefits to working from home, there is also the added stress of feeling like you never escape your work if you can’t mentally separate yourself. My business was like another baby, and it needed all my energy and care to grow. I felt like a bad parent on two fronts, and saw no way to move forward.

I wish I could tell you that all that past tense above meant I have found a great solution and that I feel amazing now, and that I never work on nights or weekends because I’ve found this amazing balance that works for me.  In reality, things are very much the same a year later, except my son can now run and naps for less than half the time – you can imagine the positive impact this has had on my work schedule.

After some self-reflection, many meltdowns, and more sleepless nights that I would like to admit, I can see that my problem is less motherhood itself and more the enormous/impossible task of being a full-time mom running a small business. The few things that are making a difference for me:

  • More communication with my husband: I’m used to being “the boss” because that role suits my personality, but what that also meant was that I was the mental workhorse in our house. I carry the mental weight of all the meal planning, scheduling the bills, coordinating schedules + our social calendar, and generally moving us forward.  When I started to feel overwhelmed by my business + my son, handling all of those things felt like insult added to injury and I got very resentful.  After a few unreasonable explosions on my part, I realized that my husband couldn’t understand what I was dealing with until he had more information – now he works on helping me carry those tasks.
  • Setting realistic expectations: This is still a work in progress, but as Bree has written about before there’s just a cap on what is possible for my time right now. To get the most satisfaction out of my day, I need to figure out how to maximize this space without pushing myself over the edge.
  • Adjusting my business policies and procedures based on reality: For now this is the real life of my business. I can’t still have policies that assume I am getting a solid 10 hour workday in 5 days a week when in reality I get 2-3 hours of piecemeal time weekdays, and 3-5 hours of chopped up time on weekend days.  And yes, that means I don’t get that time to spend with my husband or my son.
  • Honesty: Above all this means being realistic with my clients and other vendors when my calendar is full.  It also means that when I am overwhelmed and need help, I do my best to ask for it.

If you’re feeling this way too, please know you’re not alone. I am doing my best to make small adjustments that make day-to-day feel almost like progress, and in the background I try to plan bigger moves. Seeing a therapist is on my to-do list, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. I find talking to people I don’t know very well exhausting, so support groups on their own seem unlikely to be helpful. I’m leaning hard on my family, and I’m trying to be patient.  Some days that’s really all I can do.


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Let’s Get Personal: How to Start a Wedding Business (Without Really Trying)

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Images: Maggie Winters Gaudaen Photography

Did you guys have a good weekend?! Mine was chock full of driving & family time (as we spent 6 hours driving to NJ on Saturday for a family reunion). They shut down 95 northbound (not ideal) but at least we had a blast once we finally arrived. We’re headed out AGAIN this weekend – this time to Connecticut to visit my brother and celebrate our friends’ nuptials on a lake. Evie’s second trip on a plane this year – she certainly is racking up the miles for a just over one year old.

For today I thought it might be fun to share a little bit about how I became a wedding coordinator (thus the blog post title). I get emails from time to time from people in the DC area that want to start a wedding business, or are already in event planning but think about entering the wedding space and they often ask me to grab some coffee so I can share any tips or advice. It kind of makes me laugh because I actually have no formal training or certifications whatsoever in event/wedding planning. It’s literally something I just fell into … really without even trying.

Most of you probably know how the blog got started (but in case not: a combination of having too much fun planning my own wedding, seeing a need in the DC wedding scene for more common sense & practical weddings, and a desperately boring day job), but my wedding coordination business was not something I ever intended to get into. I graduated with a degree in Information Science & Technology from Penn State and still hold my IT consulting job by day – neither of which typically bring you into the wedding space.

But about a year after I started the blog, my friend Traci asked me if I would consider coordinating her wedding – she thought I would be good at is and she had planned so much of it … she just needed some help pulling it all together and making sure it all happened like she wanted on the wedding day. I thought it sounded fun (doesn’t everyone?) and after one of the most tiring and sweatiest days of my life, I thought, man, I think I could do this – like as a real side hustle.

 After Trey & JD’s wedding I learned some things (a skirt and flats are NOT appropriate attire when coordinating a wedding, there is such thing as a wedding hangover, and buttercream icing most certainly will melt in 95+ degree DC heat), but I also got totally addicted to the feeling I felt, helping two people, their families & friends, all have a huge party celebrating the love & commitment of two people. The wedding day high is such a real feeling (as are my swollen feet at the end of every wedding night), but what keeps me in the game is most certainly the emotion on my couples & their families’ faces at the end of the night — absolute, pure happiness & joy. When they thank me for helping to make their wedding day exactly as they imagined it, well it’s just such an awesome feeling.

So there you have it – the origin story of Capitol Romance Wedding Coordination – a wedding business I had never planned to start, but one I now couldn’t imagine my life without. It’s been an incredible journey this far and I can’t wait to see where it continues to take me and how many more amazing people I will get to meet because of it.

And for any of you inspiring wedding coordinators out there – though I don’t have much time these days to grab that cup of coffee and share my secrets (not sure I have many anyway ;-p ), feel free to let me know if there are things I could blog about that might help OR check out this new business venture my dear colleague Jasmine has started that I hope to help out with in the future.

Janvi & Kavel’s Mixed Tradition Indian Wedding at the Dulles Hyatt in Virginia

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Images:  Potok’s World Photography, LLC

Here we are at another end of the week. As usual I didn’t blog nearly as much as I planned (I think we might all just want to accept this as the new normal … for the recent future anyway). I am working on getting some guest posts in place to help bring this blog back to its more regularly content posting, but man I am just finding it hard to find time to get ALL THE THINGS done. At any rate, Indian weddings are some of the most magical in my opinion – the traditions, the colors, the emotions – everything feels so rich and thick. The images from Janvi & Kavel’s wedding feel like something out of a movie!

Hope you all enjoy this gorgeous wedding inspiration post & have a fabulous weekend!!

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Janvi and Kavel were introduced to each other by mutual friends in 2014. They liked each other enough to start dating, even though he lived in Toronto and she in Maryland. After two years in a long-distance relationship, Janvi and Kavel united for good and tied the knot.

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Their July 2016 wedding mixed traditions from their respective families’ ancestral homes in Gujarat. On the first day, each alternated taking center stage for an elaborate series of blessing functions and exchanges of gifts.

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The second day kicked into high gear when Kavel rode to the ceremony on a white horse. After the couple exchanged vows, their families, friends and other guests celebrated raucously late into the night.

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Vendors –> Photographer:  Potok’s World Photography, LLC | Event Venue: Dulles Hyatt | Cinema and Video: Halaja Productions Video | DJ: Live Sound Entertainment | Makeup Artist: Mala”s Bridal Services | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

Helena & Stephen’s Romantic, Virginia Winery Wedding at Stone Tower Winery

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Images: Sam Hurd Photography

Guys I’ve been a horrible blogger – I know. But most of this is due to the fact that my submissions are at an ALL TIME LOW! IDK where all my submissions went (please come back!) but for any of you reading this – this blog only works because of the amazing vendors and readers that submit content to it. So if you have an amazing wedding you are sitting on, (or maybe it was yours!), or you got married and have some advice or insight into being a newlywed, or WHATEVER, I want to hear about it! This blog is not just wedding specific anymore – we post on life, love, parenting, business owning, and home decorating – so anything you’d like to share on any of those topics, we’d love to blog it! Hit me up: bree (at) capitolromance.com.

But for today I have the MOST GORGEOUS romantic winery wedding from Sam Hurd. This one is drool-worthy. Here goes.

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Helena and her parents came to the U.S. from Portugal when she was 4 years old. As immigrants her parents wanted a better life for their family, while keeping the Portuguese traditions with them. When she became engaged to her now husband she knew he was the right one for her because he also understood the importance of having Portuguese traditions in their wedding!!

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Although they chose not to have a traditional church ceremony, they were able to hold a traditional Catholic ceremony.

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How to Freeze Your Wedding Cake (So You Can Actually Eat it On Your Anniversary)


Image: Mathy Shoots People

We’ve got a guest post for you guys today – courtesy of our resident recent bride expert & rockstar wedding coordinator, Kara. Kara’s wedding, you’ll remember, was AWESOME and their cake was no exception. Key Lime cake .. it was delicious. Kara & Justin lovingly brought us a chunk after their wedding for Andy & I to enjoy, however they STILL had cake leftover even after pushing leftovers on family and friends and so they decided to freeze it and eat it on their first anniversary. Kara’s here today to share her tips and tricks for successfully freezing your cake!

How to Freeze Your Wedding Cake (So You Can Eat It On Your First Anniversary) | By Kara

Following our wedding last year, we found ourselves with quite a bit of cake leftover, including our top tier. We didn’t want any of it to go to waste since it was sooo delicious, so we followed tradition and decided to save our top tier for our 1st anniversary. I scoured the internet for tips and tricks for successfully freezing cake, and I’m happy to report it was a success! Here are the steps we took for freezing, and then defrosting our cake:

1. Start by freezing your cake. Just place it on a plate, and stick it in the freezer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. You just want the frosting to firm up a bit before you wrap it. Otherwise, everything will get smooshed and your frosting will stick to the plastic wrap. (ignore my overstuffed freezer!)

2. Once your cake and icing feel a bit firm, take it out of the freezer and tightly wrap it in plastic wrap. I found it was easiest to use 2-3 pieces of plastic wrap. Make sure you tightly cover every side.

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3. Next, you’ll wrap your cake in foil. Again, make sure its wrapped really tightly. This is another layer of protection from freezer burn.

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4. For one more layer of protection, I was able to fit my cake into a food storage bag. I squeezed all of the air out and then sealed it. Then just place it back in the freezer for the year.

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5. The day before you want to eat your cake, take it out of the freezer, and unwrap it. Hopefully, you’re cake is free of frost and freezer burn. Place it on a plate and leave it in the refrigerator so it can start to defrost (like you would with a piece of meat).

6. About 2 hours before you’re ready to eat the cake, pull it out of the refrigerator and let it come up to room temperature. Then just slice it up and enjoy!

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Jasmine & Devin’s Capitol Hill, DC Neighborhood & Home Engagement Pictures

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Images: Bowtie Photo

Another Monday, here we go! I LOVE love love at-home/neighborhood lifestyle engagement sessions. Really they are SO much more inspiring to me! Jasmine & Devin told their photographer that the most important places to them were their home, fav coffee shop & their neighborhood – so naturally that’s where they had their engagement session! The beautiful sunshine and dazzling smiles don’t hurt either. Happy Monday Romancers!

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How they met:


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How he proposed:

We had planned to hike the Billy Goat Trail on our anniversary. When we woke up, it was cold and windy and I was a total grump about going. But Devin insisted, rather uncharacteristically, that we go. We got to the top of a big rock overlooking the Potomac and stood for a moment. I was ready to move on but Devin stopped me and said “I like this rock.” I was totally weirded out and wondering how long we were going to stand there for when he asked me if I wanted my anniversary present and got down on one knee. The best part? We got photos of the whole thing! Devin had contacted my former roommate and close friend, a freelance photographer, to have him “stalk” us as we hiked so he could capture the big moment. We celebrated afterwards with bubbly at Old Angler’s Inn, where we held our engagement party later that year.

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Rebecca & Craig’s Super Fun, TV-Themed Wedding Outside Virginia

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Images: Jessica Latos Photography

I always get a little over-excited when fellow wedding industry peeps share their wedding with me/this blog! Craig & Rebecca’s awesome, TV-themed wedding is no exception. I have to absolute pleasure of knowing Rebecca as a fellow wedding planner/coordinator in the area. She is an absolute bundle of joy & SUCH a helpful resource for my/my biz. Her wedding to Craig is so insanely reflective of the two of them, you’re all going to LOVE it. So here it goes:

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Craig and I had been discussing getting engaged when two friends went on a weekend trip to Capon Springs. When they got back, they both emailed me separately and told me that we MUST get married there. Craig and I made a trip to visit on the final weekend that they were open for the year and absolutely fell in love with it, and booked our wedding right then and there. We loved EVERYTHING about it — the owners (the same family has owned and operated Capon Springs for generations) were just about the most lovely people you could ever meet, the setting was ABSOLUTELY stunning, and the food was exactly what we had always wanted — delicious, plentiful, and appropriately casual for our very non-fancy families! We booked the venue, got engaged a couple of months later (officially), and started on a year and a half of planning.

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It was important to us to have as many friends and family members involved in the wedding as possible. Because we’re a little older, a large number of these people have children, and since we love them ALL, we knew we had to have a wedding with kids…we just didn’t realize that this would lead to there being over 70 children on the guest list, most of whom were under the age of 8!

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Because our venue was at least 2 hours away for pretty much everyone, nearly all of our guests stayed on site, so we wanted to make our welcome bags really special. One of my former brides, Trish Willard, is a graphic designer, so as our wedding gift, she designed the logo for our welcome bags (which I then ironed on cotton tote bags) and water bottles. They included the phrase “I love you and I like you” from Ben and Leslie’s vows on Parks and Recreation — a theme we carried throughout our wedding, both on a banner at the reception and in our own vows.

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We wanted to involve the kids closest to us in the ceremony, so we planned on a little “parade” to kick off the processional with the kids carrying a banner (made by one of my former brides) and waving ribbon wands (made by the bride and groom!).

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For our first Christmas together, I gave Craig a copy of the book “A Lovely Love Story” by Edward Monkton, so as one of our readings we had our friend Meghan read it to the kids — I dyed a drop cloth and we set it out for the kids to come sit on so they could hear better and look at the pictures while she read — everyone loved it! We also had a reading done by Craig’s mom’s best friend (Craig’s mom passed away before we met) from Justice Kennedy’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized gay marriage throughout the country.

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Wedding Planning Advice: Logistics Are More Important Than Decorations


Image: Capitol Romance Wedding Planner by Maggie Gaudean

Let me start off by saying that this might be a pretty unpopular post – in that a lot of bloggers, websites, and even my readers may not agree with me here. But after having worked/attended over 50 weddings in the past 5 years, I can’t help but share something I feel needs to be said. I think it’s critical for those of you planning a wedding to hear, and I think it’s the #1 most useful piece of advice for engaged couples to use for their wedding planning journey.

Logistics are more important than decorations.

There, I said it. I already feel better. Don’t you? The issue with attending weddings as a guest these days is that it’s almost impossible to completely remove my coordinator hat. I find myself thinking (ok, let’s be honest, mostly whispering to my husband), “if they had only moved this … if they had only accounted for that … if they had just put a little more time in for X …. this wedding would be SO much better”. Just like Hillary sweats the details of policy, I sweat the details of logistics on a wedding day, because to me, a well planned/coordinated day, that takes travel times, guest flow, and maximizing dance time, into consideration, always results in a fantastic wedding, with extremely happy guests, families & couples.

Blogs tend to focus only on details: look at how cool this chalkboard menu is, look at the intricacies of this hanging altar backdrop, check out the tri-color foliage of this bouquet … and while yes, details like this are gorgeous, they are not critical to the overall enjoyment of your guests. Think about the last wedding you went too – what do you remember? The centerpieces or how long it took to get your food? The color of the bridesmaids dresses or that there was no time left to dance?

Now before you get too mad at me – you’re looking at someone that POURED over the details of our wedding. I made my mom painstakingly hand-make each of our tulle & christmas ornament bouquets, and I fretted over each shade of pink we used and I counted out each number of pieces of the centerpieces. The details were important to me (and yes, they can be important to you too) but what I don’t want you to do is to focus entirely on the details and forget about the logistics & timing of the day.

When my team and I meet with our clients to build out the custom day-of timeline for their day, our #1 concern is ensuring that there is a flow to the day, room for some lateness, and most importantly, maximizing the time for guests to enjoy the reception. I can think of nothing worse than wasted time on a wedding day – because I know how much that wasted time costs (to the couple and/or their family). I’ve attended a wedding that looked straight out of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, but dinner was an hour late, and the 12 piece band literally watched us eat dinner (instead of playing) because things were so delayed. By the time we got to dancing – we only got to groove for 45 minutes. I attended another wedding where the toasts were given before any food was served. We all waited (not so patiently … hungry guests are not happy guests) for what seemed like forever, for the toasts to end … only to have to wait AGAIN for the salads to show up.

Consider pre-plated salads (woo hoo instant food when guests sit down and one less thing for servers to have to serve/cutting into your reception time) and doing your toasts while people are finishing up dinner – just a few simple ideas we propose to our clients when building the day of timeline. (If you’d like more consider hiring us to ensure your wedding day runs super smooth & effectively or buying our planning binder to help you manage it yourself!).

Regardless of the planning option you pursue, I urge all of you to take a step back from the seemingly stressful decisions of picking between ivory and champagne, or deciding on the perfect shade of blue, and remember not to let the logistics & timing of your day slip. Build a timeline or plan for your wedding day that considers your guests expectations, builds in buffers for travel or tardiness, takes the flow of your evening into consider, and maximizes your time having fun with the people you paid A LOT of money to celebrate with!  Put your logistics over your decorations and I guarantee you and your guests will have the most satisfying and smooth wedding day possible!

Tashana & Howard’s Super Chic Maryland Engagement Pictures

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Images: Mlaw Studios via Two Bright Lights

Another weekend come and gone and Andy is FINALLY done working insane hours. It was so nice to have a “normal” day together yesterday as a family – meeting neighbors at the local park, organizing & cleaning the office, and mostly just spending time together :) We have a great week ahead on the blog and I am looking forward to the not AS ghastly hot temperatures. Here’s a gorgeous engagement session to get your Monday going.

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I remember when I met this lady my now soon to be wife. I had nothing, she had nothing. She was fresh out of college just moved back to Baltimore. I had just lost my apartment due to me losing my job at the time. We exchanged numbers via Twitter. We talked on the phone for about 3 months just getting to know each other before we even went on a date. After the long conversations day in and day out we finally went on our first date. From there we never looked back.

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We built a friendship than built a relationship. We helped each other find jobs which we both lost and later found careers. It took me no time to realize that this was the woman for me! I thank spoke with her parents and got their blessings. I planned a surprise engagement party which then I proposed as soon as she came through the door, she cried I cried as she said YES! Till this day I still crush! We still build and we still grow! Love! #FrinksToBe

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