After the honeymoon
What happens when a weddings influencer gets divorced?
A woman who bought her wedding dress at Stone Fox Bride was probably going to wear a flower crown along with it. She most likely idolized the Olsen twins and had an active Instagram presence. Her wedding was not going to be religious, but it was going to be spiritual, and her vows might even include curse words. She was going to buck tradition, and she was going to do it in a sunset-pink robe dress with silk chiffon bell sleeves that cost $6,800.
“Cool wedding culture — I’m proud to say, I think I was the pioneer of that space,” said Molly Rosen Guy, the writer and designer who founded Stone Fox Bride in 2012. The high-priced bohemian wedding brand was born out of Guy’s frustration when she planned her own wedding and didn’t see retailers and media brands that reflected her vision for her special day.
“I couldn’t find anything that looked or felt like how I looked or how I felt,” Guy said. “I felt like I was entering this radical union with this really radical person, and I wanted to celebrate it and explore it. But all I could find was like, articles on bouffants and Bergdorf Goodman, where my sister got her wedding dress.”
Once she got into the business, Guy started posting “cool wedding” content on Pinterest and Instagram, which were beginning to take off. Sharing photos of her clients, herself, her family and glamorous weddings past, she amassed over 100,000 followers on Instagram. She also started a website and an email newsletter, landed a book deal and became the executive weddings editor at Domino magazine.
From the outside, it all looked picture-perfect. But like so many online personas, Guy’s masked the more complicated aspects of her personal life. In 2017, she separated from her husband, but she did not tell her followers or clients for fear of losing authority as an expert on weddings and all things happily ever after.
“I did start to feel like, I have to be the perfectly imperfect bohemian mom, because that was the brand,” she said. “You know, because I was selling $10,000 dresses or $5,000 dresses.”
Even as her own marriage was falling apart, Guy continued to post about flower crowns and heirloom emeralds. That is, until 2018, when she came clean to her followers and renamed her brand. What happens to a weddings influencer when the honeymoon is over?
“First of all, the plan was never to be the public face of weddings,” Guy said. “The plan was just to be a writer. To be the next Great American Novelist. I’m just kidding.”
Sort of kidding. From the time she was young, Guy was obsessed with writers, celebrities and writers who became celebrities. She grew up in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. She attended college at Brown and spent a summer in Los Angeles trying to become an actress and a model, and going to clubs with Leonardo DiCaprio.
When Hollywood didn’t pan out, she graduated and moved to New York to pursue a career in fashion media, landing writing jobs at Nylon and the nowshuttered teen bible YM.
In 2005, she took a break from the workforce to get an MFA in creative writing. She ended up selling a novel to Grove Atlantic, but “it sort of turned into a disaster,” she said. She returned the advance and the book was never published. Then the recession hit, and Guy found herself boxed out of media, working instead as a copywriter for a large beauty conglomerate. After her wedding in 2011, she landed on the idea for Stone Fox Bride.
Guy secured $250,000 in investment from her brother-in-law, Peter Shapiro, the owner of Brooklyn Bowl. She rented a retail and studio space and started cold-calling designers to make samples for the store. Many of them, including Ohne Titel and Ryan Roche, said yes.
When she introduced her own collection in 2013, her friends Pamela Love, a jewelry designer, and Jemima Kirke, an actress, modeled the dresses for the photographer Cass Bird. One of the photos, featuring Kirke and Love kissing, made headlines. “That’s when we started to blow up,” Guy said.
Instagram became her journalistic outlet. It also became a place where Guy would share photos of her daughters and her husband.
“In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done any of that,” she said.
By 2016, her marriage was coming to an end, and selling wedding dresses, in person and online, stopped being so fun. Guy closed her studio “the day Trump got elected,” she said, and started selling her inventory out of her apartment, while her estranged husband lived in an Airstream around the corner.
“I was doing some wedding-dress fittings at my apartment with some very high-profile clients, and I would, like, pray to the gods that they wouldn’t see him as they were walking in,” she said. “I didn’t want anyone to know that we were split.”
“There was a lot of mental and emotional gymnastics that I was doing to sort of keep the brand afloat,” she added.
At the end of 2017, Guy published her first book: a wedding planning guide “for the wild at heart.” She was advised, she said, to keep her separation and eventual divorce a secret until the book was released. But shortly after, her father died, and she decided she did not want to keep up the “patina that I had things under control.”
On Mother’s Day in 2018, she announced her divorce to her followers on Instagram. To her surprise, they were supportive. In fact, the post got more “likes” than any wedding photos she’d shared before.
With her wedding-dress business all but shuttered, Guy wondered how she might connect with these clients again. She still had her Instagram following, which included a new set of women drawn to her long, confessional captions. And so last year, she asked them if they would be interested in taking a writing class about “love and loss.”
Twenty-seven of her followers signed up for her first class. Now, teaching writing is Guy’s main profession; she calls her new business the Brooklyn Writers Collective. Some of her former bridal clients are her students.
In a syllabus from this past summer, she described the course as a “crash course writing workshop” for “foxes in flux.” She shares some of her students’ best work on, yes, Instagram.
Guy said she created the class as a way for women to tell stories that are not easily represented with a diamond ring or a white dress. But she may find a way to do that in the future too: Women have started to approach her to make rings and dresses fit for a stylish and spiritual divorce.
Molly Rosen Guy, the writer and designer who founded Stone Fox Bride, now teaches a writing class on “love and loss,” in Brooklyn, New York.