The two met in the beginning of 2011, they were both athletes at the same university in Tennessee. They started dating soon after that and hit it off very quickly. However, their relationship was put to the test in 2012 when Shelby's fiancé moved back to his hometown in Florida. Shelby had to stay in Tennessee to finish school and after a year of long distance, he surprised Shelby and decided to move to Memphis to be with her.
By December 2013 they moved in together and were doing great. So great, that they got engaged in March and started planning their wedding for November. Shelby says, "I poured my heart and soul into the wedding plans to try and make it the best day it could be. It was going to be a celebration of our love and commitment to each other, so I wanted it to be absolutely amazing."
Unfortunately, Shelby could not hide from this heartbreaking situation. She had to call up guests, cancel services and vendors, and figure out her living arrangements. Luckily, she had friends and family surrounding her the whole time that showed her endless love and support.
As they day of the wedding approached, no one really knew what to do or what to expect. When Shelby had spoken to her photographer a few days earlier, she had suggested they do a "trash the dress" shoot to mark the occasion, not as something tragic, but as something Shelby could own and feel good about. At first, it didn't seem like the best idea as Shelby's parents paid for the dress and alterations, but with their 100% OK, Shelby took everyone up on this offer. She says, "I was not going to let my ex-fiancé's mistake of letting me go take away my happiness."
Shelby's parents and bridesmaids also participated in the "trash the dress" shoot. It is a day they will all remember for a very long time.
I think this is such an inspiring story. Shelby could've bashed her ex-fiancé or crumbled at the fact that she will have to start over, what I'm sure seems like her whole life, without this man, but she didn't. She took a symbolic yet tragic piece of the big day, her wedding dress, and made it into something even more symbolic. Shelby says, "I decided that I will not let this tragedy and heartbreak consume me, and bring me down in life."
All Photos by Elizabeth Hoard Photography
Her dress is now proudly displayed at The Barefoot Bride in Memphis. Through the beginning of 2015, a portion of each wedding dress purchased while Shelby's dress is displayed will go to a Memphis non-profit that helps other women learn how to find their inner strength. We really couldn't be prouder and have more respect for Shelby and the way she devoured the details of such adversity. Thanks for sharing this with the world and helping all women find their inner strength!