Can a wedding planning group help its members with more than just “I do?” Absolutely.
When Brides of Long Island founder Heather Cunningham said “yes” in 2016, she felt a little lost- she was one of the first of her friends to get engaged, and she had no idea how crazy wedding planning could be. So she decided to start a group for other brides on the Island to share ideas, vent frustrations, give advice, and review local vendors. Fast forward to 2020, and Brides of Long Island (or BOLI as the insiders call it!) has surpassed 10,000 members, helped countless newly engaged Long Islanders navigate the tricky territory of wedding planning, been the starting point for lifelong friendships, and supported various charitable groups. BOLI is more than just a wedding planning resource- it’s an organization that has touched thousands of lives!
“BOLI is a safe place for so many people to get help or give help.”
“Wedding planning is one of the hardest things I have done,” says BOLI council member Janis. Despite being shy at first, she decided to attend the BOLI Soirée (a yearly get together where members can meet, win prizes, and celebrate) by herself one year. “After reading all the encouraging comments, and that there were so many others going solo, I stepped out of my comfort zone.” While she was there, she worked up the courage to introduce herself to another BOLI member attending on her own. “I walked up to her and said ‘I’m so nervous, I don’t know anyone.’ She said ‘neither do I.’ So we started chatting, and then the two of us walked up to another girl, then the three of us walked up to a fourth girl! Let me tell you, those three ladies have become closer to me than some of my long time friends. Without BOLI, I probably would have thrown in the towel a long time ago and just eloped, but then I wouldn’t have these friends I have today. BOLI is a safe place for so many people to get help or give help. I will be forever grateful for BOLI, the admins, and my new friends.”
“Without BOLI, I wouldn’t have had the knowledge, confidence, and strength to do what I did.”
BOLI member Crystal Costello got engaged last May after 9 years with her now-fiancé. “I knew nothing about wedding planning, where to begin, or what to do.” Eager to find a venue, she toured close to 15 sites in a matter of two weeks, booking on the spot at her last appointment. However, despite having her venue finally set, something still didn’t feel right. “After telling all our guests, making payments, and securing every vendor, I wasn’t happy. I always saw myself on a beach and enjoying the company of my family. I put my dream on hold to please everyone else.” She decided to use BOLI’s “Anonymous Post from a Bride” feature to get fellow members’ opinions on her situation. “The minute I saw it live, I saw comments and likes from other brides saying ‘go with your dream and do it!’ Some brides even wished they had backed out of their original plan and gone with a destination or beach wedding.” Member feedback inspired Crystal to make a huge decision: she canceled her venue contract and decided to search for what she truly wanted. “After narrowing down recommendations, I was able to secure a place within our budget and with all the things I envisioned for our big day. Without BOLI, I wouldn’t have had the knowledge, confidence, and strength to do what I did. I would have stayed unhappy and really regretted my decision. I’m truly so grateful to be a part of this group.”
“The overwhelming amount of women empowerment that flows within the group has boosted my self esteem and has made me a better person.”
It’s safe to say that BOLI has changed founder Heather Cunningham’s life drastically. It brought about a career change, store ownership, and business growth. But for Heather, the best part is the lasting friendships she’s formed. “My closest circle of friends is comprised of women I met through BOLI, including the Godmother of my son, Suzanne.” Equally as important to Heather is the confidence the group has given her. “The overwhelming amount of women empowerment that flows within the group has boosted my self esteem and has made me a better person. I will be forever grateful for Brides of Long Island, the friendships I’ve made, and for all the things I learn from others every single day.”
Written by Jennifer Rizzuto,