2015 In Reflection | A Personal Post
2015 In Reflection | A Personal Post
Another year has passed in the blink of an eye, and today, I sit down to write and reflect on all that life has blessed me with in 2015, as well as to remember the not so great moments that have taught me life lessons in one form or another. Is a website that is meant to inspire engaged couples the right place to air my personal life? No, not really, but bear with me….there is a bigger picture set to be revealed.
Best year yet for unique vistors (50% growth)
On a business note, Bride Club ME is doing great. Our website stands stronger then ever in a growing industry and we have recorded our biggest year yet for unique visitors, YAY! More and more brides are using our website and that brings a massive smile to my face.
As for the industry, I have seen vendors I first met 3 years ago grow and flourish into successful businesses and I am so immensely proud of them all. A special shout out to Mylist.ae, who have now branched out into Qatar, and will further expand regionally in 2016. You go guys! I must also mention Jive events who heeded our professional advice early in the year and have done a major U-Turn with their marketing and PR. They are rocking the social media scene and planned their first styled shoot a few months ago, which is ABSOLUTELY stunning! We look forward to sharing the shoot with our readers in 2016.
The team expands
This year saw our little team grow from three, to five people. When I say team, these guys may not be working with us in the traditional 9-5 office bound sense, but none the less, they are team BCME!
In September, we introduced you all to Rachael Bruford, our Assistant Editor (pictured below on her wedding day), a tall, statuesque blonde bombshell with brains to match! Rachael started her journey with Bride Club ME as a bride to-be herself, using our site to assist in her wedding planning. With her new found love for weddings, in-depth knowledge of our style and website, as well as her past credentials writing for UAE based publications and her own lifestyle blog, Rachael was the perfect candidate to assist me with our editorial content. We look forward to working further with Rachael in 2016. You can read all about Rachael’s Dubai wedding here.
Our carefully curated vendor club is growing nicely, and with that, I needed some help ensuring all our vendors’ accounts are managed properly, with the attention they deserve. Finding a decent account manager for a site like ours, as a start-up, is tough, but Bonita and I gelled immediately. She gets the wedding industry and understands how online media works, so today, I’d like to officially welcome Bonita aboard. Our BCME vendors can rest assured that they will be in good hands with Bonita’s help.
And lastly, when it comes to our team, Adam and Maha (pictured below) are my right hand angels, my IT, Admin and graphic design gurus…you can read more about them here.
I love that Bride Club ME is not just a website, but has also blossomed into a friendly community where vendors can collaborate, where brides can confidentially email us for advice and a place where wedding pros can proudly showcase their work. As many of my readers, friends and clients know, Bride Club ME has been my baby from day one and I care for it with all my heart, which brings me on to the next chapter of my personal 2015 story…
Personal tradegy, with lessons learnt
It was time for the hubby and I to start considering trying for our very own ‘real life’ baby, he-he! And in September, we did just that, expecting to wait a good few months, at the very least, before I had to excitedly rush out to pick up that all important stick that would say ‘pregnant’…or not! Well, let’s just say we didn’t wait long, and I literally fell pregnant straight away. Our worlds were shook, in a good way, and I felt very pregnant very quickly, so much so, that I needed to shop for a maternity bra the week I found out. No further details required. Just as we were getting used to the idea and started to discuss how our lives would change, and how we would break the news to our loved ones, around this time, on new year’s eve (after the 3 month safe zone), our world crashed back down with a thump.
I was shopping in Dubai Mall, for my first pregnancy purchase (the maternity bra), when I started to bleed… I was suffering a miscarriage. So much happened from that moment, including an awful experience with an Obstetrician-Gynecologist. I finally found one who took great care of me during the process, Dr Salma Bilal; she was amazing, patient and more importantly, she expressed human empathy, unlike the other Doctor I had the misfortune of dealing with. I won’t go into graphic detail, but the natural miscarriage process was physically draining, extremely painful and lasted 11 days in total. Once the physical pain was over, I then focused on healing myself emotionally.
Miscarriage has always been a bit of a taboo subject, something that is never really understood or discussed, even for me, prior to going through it oneself. No one quite knows what to say to a couple who have just suffered a miscarriage, and that’s understandable. Many couples also choose not to discuss it or talk about it all, and a lot of women may silently blame themselves and feel a sense of guilt. I planned to start a social media support group for other women who have suffered a miscarriage, but found that one already exsisted. Should you know of anyone who may need support during such a time, you can point them in the direction of Angel babies, a private members only facebook page.
What does this have to do with a wedding website? Well, both BCME and I promote love and the sanctity of marriage! This experience can go one of two ways for married couples, and it’s a fate that unfortunately affects 1 in 4 couples who fall pregnant. My husband was my rock during this experience. He cared for me, cooked for me, comforted me, watched me cry in pain and physically throw up due to my discomfort, all while feeling helpless despite doing his best to help. As much as I was suffering, so was he and we got through this experience together, learnt from it and moved forward…our ‘bean’ (I call it our bean) taught us lessons, such as the fact that I can rely on my team to hold the fort when I need to, (they were amazing during this time!), and that, whatever life throws our way as a married couple, we will get through it.
Ladies, weddings are wonderful, but it’s how you work together through the good and bad after the vows are declared that really matters. Life won’t always be sunshine and roses, but if you remain a tower of support for one another when grey clouds descend and the rain pours, you will see brighter days, I promise. We plan to try again in 2016 and pray that we will have a healthy and happy baby this time next year.
RIP my ex business partner, mentor and friend
Unfortunately, not long after this episode, more tragedy hit and a few weeks ago I got a call at midnight, with the news that my friend, mentor, ex business partner for Bride Club ME and Founder of CPI Publishing, Dominic De Sousa, suddenly passed away whilst belting out his Elvis classics on stage at the BBC Good Food Awards. What a way to go Dom! Doing what you loved! Only a week before he passed, I saw him at the Mother, Baby and Child Awards. We hugged, and he told me he was proud of me and all I have achieved at Bride Club ME. I told him how much his help and support meant to me….and I thank God I did, I just wish I had hugged him tighter and for longer. He asked me to sing with him and I declined (we used to sing together in his CPI band). If only I knew what was to happen, I would have sang with him at the drop of a hat, I would not have hesitated.
In the days since, I will admit that I have been feeling very down. Although I hadn’t seen Dom daily like I used to when I worked at CPI, his death has hit me hard, but I have come to terms with it and me being me, I refuse to dwell. Rather, I remember Dominic for the fun, outgoing and wonderfully quirky man that he was. The man who belted out, “YES, LET’S DO THIS!! Let’s launch a wedding website and a divorce website,” when I shared my ideas for Bride Club ME with him! Oh he made me laugh! He was a stubborn guy too, with a rebellious streak; traits we both shared. Although we parted ways a year after Bride Club ME launched, we parted amicably, with nothing but love and respect for one another.
Dom’s memorial in Dubai was like a reunion of epic proportions, and I just wish it was under better circumstances. If that day showed me anything, it’s that one can have a huge impact by making differences to peoples’ lives simply by being kind; from grand gestures to telling someone that you believe in them, people remember, and they will never forget. That’s a true legacy. Dom cared for many, many people, as well as animals. He was a mentor to so many people and for me personally, he ignited my entrepreneurial streak and championed it. Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Rastafarians, atheists, tea boys, drivers, lawyers, shop assistants, CEO’s, sales managers, car dealers, environmentalists, government officials and more all under one roof for one man. That’s a legacy. Dom’s legacy lives on in all of those who have been ‘Dommed’, as his friends and colleagues affectionately say. I’ll miss his big silly big face, we all will.
Bride Club ME is and will always be part of Dom’s legacy and I am honoured to be part of it. RIP my super star!
Looking forward with a positive mind-set
So, I will end my year of reflection there, as this really is turning into a novel of sorts. It’s amazing what floods out when one sits down to write and reflect. 2015 has been a year of ups and downs, joy and tears, but I look ahead to a new year with faith, peace in my heart and a positive mind-set.
For any of you who have suffered heartache this year, I leave you with this quote and hope 2016 brings you the happiness you deserve:
Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place ― Rumi
As for Bride Club ME, we are here to stay and you can expect loads of exciting announcements, including the launch of our sister website (fingers crossed) in March 2016, lots more inspiring wedding related features and fabulous vendor introductions on www.brideclubme.com in 2016.
A huge welcome and congratulations to all our new readers who got engaged over the festive period, we are sure there will be many more of you after the clock strikes midnight at the last hour of 2015 too.
HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all, see you in 2016!
*Thank you to Maria Sundin Photography (images 1, 5 & 6) and Melissa Beattie Photography (images 4 & 8) for the above mentioned images.