Thirty. The media and society tell us to fear the ‘landmark event’ of reaching the big 3-0, describing this particular birthday as the one that represents the “death of youth, the end of wrinkle-free skin and the deadline for unrestrained irresponsibility.”
Recently I came upon the realization that at the age of 32 I am significantly happier and healthier than I ever was in my 20’s. I now know who I am as a person and I am confident in my own skin.
Our culture’s obsession with youth and beauty being mutually exclusive does not apply to the reflection I see in the mirror. The fact that I feel more beautiful now than I did ten years ago may defy the media stereotype, but I had a suspicion that I was not the lone exception to this antiquated rule.
It turns out that I am not the only one outright refusing to mourn the death of my twenties. Studies show that adults in their thirties are actually happier than they were in their twenties.
I did not have to look far for further proof of this phenomenon – my friends in their thirties are more content now than they were a decade ago as they live their lives to the fullest.
When I first started writing this article on age and beauty, my good friend Niki Coker was approaching her 30th birthday…and doing so with a demeanor of both grace and excitement. Regretting my less-than-excited outlook leading up to my own 30th, an idea came to me and I recruited her for a styled photoshoot.
The impetus for the styled shoot was the amount of time and energy I wasted in my late twenties dreading my thirties. Two years into this third decade of life my advice for thirty is this:
Embrace this landmark, for it is a time where the joyfulness of youth and the wisdom of age collide.
For Niki, youth and wisdom collided in one giant cake smash. After initial hesitancy, Niki’s cheeky humor got the best of her and she came up with the idea to ring in 30 by smashing a cake 29 years later than the original ‘first birthday cake smash’ photographs trending on Pinterest.
Niki and I recruited one of my favorite photographers, Lacey Cordova of Lacey McLaughlin Photography for the shoot. Lacey, a wedding, portrait and editorial photographer, is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore by way of New Orleans. I knew that Lacey’s fun-loving spirit and editorial eye would be the perfect match for this birthday bash and cake smash.
We knew that in order for the imagery of the cake to be adequately smashed it must first be beautiful, so only the best would do. Niki contacted her favorite bakery, Ellen Jay Stylish Events + Sweets. This boutique bakery, located in Midtown Mobile, is known for its fusion of modern design and decadent flavor. We topped the cake with blush orchids and ivory and peach teacup roses.
The cake was truly a labor of love, prepared by hand at ellenJAY with impeccable attention to detail. The confection – a beautiful naked cake with pale pink drip – provided the perfect juxtaposition as Niki quite literally smashed the common misconception that thirty is ‘old.’
With the cake and photographer in hand, we added local interior designer Leslie Bradley to our growing team to help us style the shoot. Leslie has worked with me in the past on large, intricate styled wedding shoots as lead set stylist (our first Wisteria Way Designs shoot will be on the blog soon!). While Niki and I styled the clothing, Leslie put her phenomenal eye for design and exquisite taste to work styling the set at Lacie McLaughlin Photography’s studio in downtown Fairhope.
While I pulled wardrobe from my own personal collection, Niki searched for the perfect birthday look at La Robe Boutique in downtown Fairhope. La Robe is a family owned boutique with true Southern style.
Estate jewelry from Zundel’s provided the perfect contrast to the youthful actions of smashing a cake.
Zundel’s Jewelry, located in downtown Mobile, is a family owned business that has served the community for over 75 years.
Zundel’s is known for their rare and unique estate jewelry collection; the gorgeous jewels donned by Niki in the photoshoot gave us the air of sophistication and grandeur we needed to represent the more mature aspects of aging in our youthful shoot.
Our personal favorite piece? The emerald and diamond ring that was designed and handmade at Zundel’s. Truly, this ring is what wishes and dreams are made of!
No shoot is complete without a glam squad. Niki’s hair and makeup was provided by Kristen Johnston, a hair artist at Vanity Hair Studio in Mobile who is becoming quite the local celebrity for creating art through balayage. Be on the lookout for her work featured in future shoots!
In this day and age, being thirty is not just about PTA board meetings or building a career. Thirty is for enjoying youth with the newfound wisdom of living through your 20’s. With this shoot, I think that we proved that at thirty you can have your cake, smash it…and eat it, too!
Cheers! xx, Sarah