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Life often has a way of surprising you. You might have a job that is just a job, truly a means to an end... A stepping stone. Nothing is wrong with these types of jobs. Stepping stones lead you to bigger and better things. It takes vision and determination to know a stepping stone vs. the mountain. When you lose sight of the grander picture, those stepping stones become boulders, weigh you down, and then you fail to reach the peak. I’ve had my fair share of stepping stones. I have waited tables, delivered food, I even worked at a nursing home. All of these were great stepping stones and taught me things that I still use to this day. One job in particular carved the path that I am still walking down.
I met George Bozonelos, the owner of Gaslite Manor Banquets, through one of those stepping stones. I waited tables at a restaurant and my manager (Patrick) happened to be George's cousin. I began telling my coworkers my passion for weddings and my desire to one day be a wedding planner. Patrick knew I was terrible at waiting tables. He almost fired me on more than one occasion for dropping a platter of food. What he saw in me was potential. Patrick saw a drive and determination that was greater than waiting tables. Patrick connected me with George and I began a college internship at Gaslite Manor Banquets. I was able to experience every aspect of an event from the sales and logistics to placing food orders with vendors and managing a staff of 20 people. I got to work an event from beginning to end and see it truly come to life. Sure, I had to do some not very glamorous things like helping do the dishes but in those menial tasks, I saw true importance and then delighted in the fun tasks like linen and cake selections.
Eventually, the internship turned into a summer job and I was offered my very first full-time position right out of grad school. I could not have been more excited. The hours were long and I learned the meaning of “working weekends” but I would not have changed a thing. I consider George to be my mentor. I learned how to plan my very first wedding from watching him. He taught me to NEVER run in front of guests, even if there is a fire in the kitchen! If a guest sees you run, they know something is not right. “Walk with purpose” is what he used to tell me. Hurry, but don’t run. I can hear his voice in my head every time I casually walk with *intense purpose* across a room.
He taught me that there are busy seasons and slow seasons in the wedding industry and eventually it will all work itself out. He taught me that funerals can be just as entertaining as a wedding, and that when you sit in your office with the lights turned off, you will see people do the darnedest things as they exit the bathroom and think no one can see them.
Please enjoy this very candid interview with the man who put me on the path to my personal mountain, George Bozonelos. I owe this man everything.
Tell me how you got started in the wedding business.
I've been working in the business since I was kid, started with folding napkins and peeling potatoes. Then in September 2000 we bought Gaslite Manor Banquets, and the rest as they say is history.
How did your Venue come to be? Are there any interesting facts about the space? What was the space before it became a wedding venue?
Gaslite Manor Banquets has been in this location since 1968. We completely renovated the space in 2001, and again in 2008. Our crowning achievement is the addition of The Gaslite Chapel, which accommodates all weddings that we host at all 3 of our banquet facilities. Lincoln Inn Banquets in Batavia and The Courtyard Banquets in Warrenville.
How long have you been at Gaslite Manor?
We have been at this location over 17 years.
How many people does the space fit for a cocktail reception? Sit down dinner? Can you accommodate Ceremonies?
We can accommodate as few as 100 people to as large as 900 people. The Gaslite Chapel can seat 160 people for the ideal wedding ceremony.
What do you love about the job?
Best part of the job, by far, is watching a couple come in nervous and scared at the first consultation, to then a ball of energy and pure joy the night of the wedding.
What do you not love so much about the job?
My biggest gripe is when family members try to take over the coordination of a ceremony & reception. We have people in place to make sure that everything goes according to plan, and family tend to input their 2 cents and try to convince the bride that we aren't doing things properly. We have been doing our job for way too long to not know how to cut a wedding cake!
What is something you wish all couples looking at Gaslite Manor considered or asked when booking a venue?
The best questions to ask us, or any venue for that matter, What keeps your repeat clients coming back? Why do they trust Gaslite Manor Banquets with their important events? (Editors Note: Gaslite Manor has done baptisms, birthdays, weddings and funerals for many repeat families in the Chicagoland area)
Besides your venue, what other venues do you respect or refer clients to if you are booked?
We have 3 facilities, so we keep our referrals in the family.
What is your favorite wedding trend for 2017 or 2018?
We have seen more and more weddings going back to live music for their receptions. It really is a treat to not have to hear the same songs, every weekend.
Tell me one thing no one knows about you or your venue
Very few people booking Gaslite Manor Banquets know that I was an actor in college, and have a movie credit to my name. If you see me around, go ahead and ask. I'm not shy about telling you the details of filming a movie in Chicago.
On a follow up note, being a wedding planner, I see tons of venues. Really cool industrial spaces, chic barn venues and luxury city ballrooms. I chose to get married at the place where it all began because I know the passion George and his entire staff have for each and every wedding. I chose to get married and celebrate my special day with the person who gave me a tiny spark of his own passion. If our big brother/little sister relationship tells you anything...I stopped working there years ago, and I still have a key to the building. You should totally stop in and ask him to tell you the story of filming a *very famous* Chicago movie. the stories of the other *very famous* actors are pretty amazing. But really, if you are getting married or know someone getting married and you want an awesome experience with an affordable price tag, please stop in and visit George and the rest of the talented staff. Gaslite Manor Banquets will not disappoint.
Stephanie was interning at the Wide World of Sports complex in Disney World and Alex was working for a marketing company on special assignment. One day at work, Stephanie was scheduled to work security... Don't get me wrong, Stephanie is a strong girl, but not very intimidating! Sometimes, the universe conspires to put you in direct path with your future spouse. In this case, it put Stephanie on a direct collision course with her future husband, Alex! Stephanie, having been originally from California moved to Florida for the Walt Disney internship and Alex was currently living and working in Florida. After Stephanie finished school and Alex applied for a new position, he followed her and his dreams across country as they made a new home in Sunny San Diego.
Joy from Being Joy Photography captured their love as we visited some of the most iconic locations in San Diego on an unseasonably cold and windy day. Stephanie proved to be a complete bombshell in the custom Alyssa Kristin bridal gown and her flowers were provided by Wyld Blooms. Stephanie’s hair and makeup was provided by Flora Hair and Makeup. Stephanie and Alex, you both were such troopers braving the cold and wind! You deserve a lifetime of love and happiness and I wish you nothing but the best!
Every once in awhile, I find a venue that welcomes me like family. As a wedding planner, connections are so important. I call my encounter with the hottest venue in the burbs an incredible chance of luck and even happier accident. Late one night, instead of sleeping, I was killing time, while surfing Facebook...doesn’t everyone do that these days!?! I answered a status request for a possible wedding assistant at a venue I have never heard of, The Haight. Pronounced HATE. As a boutique wedding planner, I book a handful of event each year. I work a lot of weekends but typically not every weekend. I figured, why not!? It would be some extra cash, I get to see a new space and it will keep me involved in the wedding industry even when they are not “my” clients. I figured I would try it for awhile and then leave after the busy season. Two full wedding seasons, I am still here and loving every minute. My roles have changed and the Haight family has been so incredibly generous to me and all of the staff they have acquired over the past few years. It is really hard running your own business. (girl speaking from 40+ years of family run businesses) but this family has opened it arms and is making the very best of what they have to offer to brides in suburban Elgin.
I am happy to introduce you to two venue managers who I am also happy to call my friends! Briana and Lauren.
1. Tell me how you (the venue manager) got started in the wedding business.
B: I did events throughout my university and loved it! I got an internship with a national events company once I graduated and then found a job as a wedding planner once that internship ended. I just love planning events so much and weddings were definitely my niche!
L: I got started in the wedding business by a happy accident. I had been working in a management position in the service industry and was thinking about moving on when I ran into an old acquaintance, whose wife just happens to be one of the owners at The Haight. He let me know they were looking for someone and a few emails and an interview later I became a part of the Haight family and the wedding business.
2. How did your Venue come to be? Are there any interesting facts about the space? What was the space before it became a wedding venue?
B: The Haight family had owned it since the 80's and John Haight Sr. rented it out to companies that used it as a factory or warehouse. It wasn't until Doree, his daughter, got engaged and they decided to renovate it for her own wedding! Obviously, the space is gorgeous so everyone kept telling them they just HAD to make it a business and so they did! Everyone always asks "Why The Haight?" since it's just a unique name, especially for a wedding venue, but it was named after John Haight Sr. who passed away before Doree's wedding. I'm sure he would be extremely proud at what they've accomplished today with his old warehouse building in downtown Elgin. Who knew?
L: Everything Briana said, but in addition, our building is over 100 years old and the cocktail area once housed horses! The building has a long history, it began as the Elgin Storage and Transfer Company, then it became a warehouse for Ludwig Dairy, and was home to a chalkboard factory as well.
3. How long have you been at The Haight?
B: I have been here 2 years and 7 months!
L: I have been working at The Haight since August of 2016.
4. How many people does the space fit for a cocktail reception? Sit down dinner? Can you accommodate Ceremonies as well?
B: We can do up to 400 for a cocktail reception, 300 or 250 with a dance floor for a sit down dinner and up to 200 max for a ceremony.
5. What do you love about the job?
B: Working with our amazing couples and getting coordinate the best day of their lives. I love creating friendships with my couples and thank social media for allowing me to stay connected with them even after their wedding is over.
L: I love that we get to work with so many different couple for their big day. Every event might take place in the same location but no two are the same. I love to see how each client changes the space to match their style and their vision. It is so much fun to be a part of the big day and help make it come to life.
6. What is something you wish all couples looking at The Haight considered or asked when booking a venue?
B: Compare apples to apples!! Almost all venues are priced differently so take into consideration the ALL-IN pricing, not just the venue pricing! Just because X venue is a cheaper price does not mean your catering or bar will be! We had a couple almost go to a different venue because they were $1,000 less than us, but factoring in our bar prices vs. the other venues, they would be SAVING $300 by booking us! It's not easy, but it is worth it in the long run if you're in-between 2 venues and price is a determining factor.
L: This isn't just for our venue or our line of work, but ask the professionals you are working with what works best. We know what works best in our space because we are here for a wedding or other event every weekend. Chances are if we suggest something different then what you had in mind it is because it didn't work well in the past for someone else.
7. Besides your venue (obviously!), what other venues do you respect or refer clients to if you are booked? Why?
B: We like referring Firehouse Chicago because their venue works well for a smaller wedding. We don't do many weddings under 100 guests due to our size, and Firehouse is such a cool space.
L: We are always happy to give suggestions for other venues when our space is not the right fit for someone or we don't have a date available. We see so many great places when networking it is hard to pick one!
8. What is your favorite wedding trend for 2017 or 2018?
B: Velvet (suits, dresses, an table runners) SWOON!!!
L: I am loving hanging florals!
The Haight offers a beautiful bridal suite which is ideal for getting ready prior to the ceremony. The guys even have their own space fully equipped with Nintendo to ease those wedding nerves! Contact the Haight today to see if your wedding date is available! Click HERE to see their calendar of availability!
Photo credit can be found on the Haight's full website.
Sometimes, being a business owner, you get to create epic work. Like out of this world beautiful work. This week, I was commissioned to create such work and I am SO EXCITED! Here is a sneak peak of where I will be for the next three days. Creating stunning photos of love, life and marriage. Follow along with my Insta stories @ashleynicoleevents_Inc or the photographer @beingjoyphotography to get more behind the scenes details! California, we are in love with you!
This is a sneak peak of our two day photo shoot. Apparently, Joy and I brought the Windy City with us, because San Diego reached record breaking lows with 40 mph wind gusts. It was quite the chilly day. Real life couple, Stephanie and Alex were such troopers braving the temperatures and looking stunning while we dragged them all over the city. We ended our day with some of the most adorable seals...San Diego, you have our hearts.
Here is my happy dance
February 14 is widely known as Valentine's Day in Canada, the United States, Mexico and parts of Western Europe. Do you know how the candy and flower empire began? See below for this interesting breakdown of Valentine's Day numbers.
Typically, Valentine's Day in my house was always spent working at my grandparent's flower shop. I would help sort the flowers, run bouquets up and down to the cooler after they were designed. When I got older, I would even get to help wait on customers and try and sell the unsuspecting and obviously terrified guys the most expensive thing in the store. Let me say, I was pretty darn good at my job. Also, perhaps, they couldn't say no to a 10 year old.
Wether you are spending the day with your boo, or are hitting up the town with your best girlfriends, take the time to tell your loved ones, how much they mean to you. It seems that on Valentine's Day it is common to spread the love, but what about the other 364 days of the year? A few years ago, I had the extreme pleasure of being the creative director for this Girl Power Bridal Brunch Photo Shoot. It applies for weddings or for a girls afternoon party, spend time with your friends and there is never an occasion to small to have a party.
Creative Director: Ashley Nicole Events Inc
Photography: Being Joy Photography
Venue & Stationary: Ijorere
Floral & Event Decor: JD Event Design
Hair: Mariefel Lagatuz Westa
Makeup: Adrianna Gilarducci
Fashion: Whimsy Luxxe and Abby Bella Couture
Jewelry: Gemma Jewels
Bakery: The Sugar Path
Balloons: Oh Shiny Paper Company
China: Kate Spade
Wrapping Paper: Paper Source
Are you afraid of your wedding? Are you afraid that your guests won’t have any fun? That you might step on your dress and rip it? Do you wake up in cold sweats having nightmares about messing up your vows? I am here to tell you: “Be Not Afraid” Never before in your life, did you care about what shade ecru was, until now. Did you even know ecru was a color? If not, be not afraid!
When all is said and done, nothing will matter except you both are married and you are in love. Do not let the many little details that need to be done at the very last minute throw you into a stress-induced downward spiral. Your friends and family mean well, however, they are not the professionals. They have only their past wedding experience or their opinion. Trends have changed and etiquette is vastly different than it was 30 years ago. If having friends and family helping you begin to cause stress instead of relief, perhaps you might need to look into investing in a wedding planner.
Wedding planners are an investment in your mental sanity. Wedding planners are here to make your life easier. While it is an additional expense, let me give you a few tips on how to ease into the idea of hiring a pro!
Find someone who you connect with. Do they get your sense of humor? Do you find them trustworthy? You will be spending a lot of time with this person.
Make sure you understand exactly they will and will not help you with.
Make sure you are aware if they take more than one wedding/weekend. You do not want to be splitting time with another bride on your wedding day.
Find someone who will be as involved or not as involved as you wish.
Find someone who can help you manage your budget. Not having someone monitor your budget is the #1 way to blow the budget.
I am here to tell you, be not afraid! Wedding planning is tough but you will get through it. Even if you decide to not hire a professional, you will survive. You might wish the wedding to come and go as fast as possible, but you will survive. You will live to see another day. In the end, you will walk away a married couple and begin your new life...together.
If you are still waking up with nightmares, talk to your friends and family. They do not want to see you suffer. Yes, weddings are tough. They are usually the largest event you will ever host in your life. They are full of opinions, ideas and conflict. They do not have to destroy you. And if all else fails. You can always call me. I am happy to help bear the load.
If you still have questions, scroll through some of my old blog posts. I have plenty of ideas on how to kick fear in the face by being prepared and planning an epic event.
Ashley Nicole Events is not just a company, it is a person! Hi, I am Ashley Nicole. I am a Chicago based wedding and event planner and love all things weddings. I have recently gained a lot of new IG followers and Blog subscribers, so it is time I do another vendor introduction. Every time I get a notification that I have another follower, I literally do a little happy dance. It may sound corny, but it’s true. I love you guys!
There are three Ashley Nicole Events companies in the United States! No, our businesses are not related or connected in any form, other than our names...One in South Carolina, one in Denver and me! I have concluded that we are all products of the 80s and there is nothing we can do about our names. Our names are really all Ashley Nicole! Denver Ashley and I pass back and forth client information when they get confused. It is nice to have a connection and help each other along the way.
WHO I AM
I have been planning events for the past 11 years and have done everything from baptisms, baby and bridal showers, birthdays, weddings, and even a few funerals. People are really wanting to go out with a bang these days! One interesting thing to know about me is that I am really an introvert. Shocking, but I am actually a very quiet and reserved person. While I have no problem jumping on a mic giving directions to a large group of people, when I get home, I enjoy curling up on the couch.
I have been married for *almost* four years. I can’t believe it, this time has just flown by and I know the next 60 will go by just as fast. We have two dogs, Kaine and Mollie. Kaine, is an all around good boy, but a total goofball. Mollie is the more reserved, protective and serious of the two. She can be a bit feisty at times and this is something we are still working on. Just like people, dogs come with their own personality.
I am a very sarcastic person. Sometimes, this gets me into trouble and people have a hard time reading me. This means they clearly have not spent enough time with me and once they do, they realize that I am actually quite funny (In my opinion). My eye rolls, sighs, and facial expressions are simply love. I express love through sarcasm and dry humor. Trust me, it’s great. No, really...it is!
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandparents owned a local floral shop for 40 years, my parents have owned their ice cream shop for 35 years and my aunt recently opened her floral shop 5 years ago after my grandparents closed their doors.. Owning your own business is hard! It is all up to you to sink or swim. With my families love and support, I am able to swim. Most dinners revolve around talking about one business or another. Valentine's Day (and Mother’s Day) are all hands on deck at the flower shop.
If I had to pick my spirit animal, I would say, I would be Rose Nylund from the Golden Girls. I always used to think I was more like Blanche, but it has become much clearer to me that I am Rose. If you have no idea who I am talking about, please, do yourself a favor and watch all 7 seasons on Hulu. You are welcome.
WHAT I LOVE
I love bagel bites. I currently have 3 boxes of them in my freezer, each time I go to the store, I am afraid that there will be a bagel bite shortage I might run out...I basically horde bagel bites. There is a science to cooking them and if you are someone who puts them in the microwave, you, my friend, are doing it wrong.
I love office supply stores. I blame my dad for this. He has every color sharpie known to man and if there is a new gel roller pen, he owns that as well. I love the smell of a fresh notebook. Potential and possibilities lie in those blank pages. I am a habitual list maker. I will literally write things I have already accomplished on a to do list, just to get the satisfaction of crossing it off. I can’t be the only person like this? Can I?
WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN
In conclusion, I am a sarcastic, office supply-store junkie who is addicted to bagel bites and loves dogs (actually, I just love my dogs). What does this say about me? Why would you ever want me to plan an event for you? These terrible descriptions have an underlying theme. I will always tell it to you straight. You will always know where I stand. I love lists and strive to accomplish my tasks, I have awesome taste in crappy frozen food, and I am extremely loyal. If you are on #teamashley I will be loyal to you, and serve your wedding with everything I have. I will be your trusted companion and your friend and if there is ever an apocalypse, come to my house, there will be plenty of bagel bites to go around.
Weddings can be expensive, I get it. When you start reaching out to vendors and you say, “Hi, I am getting married let’s chat about how you can create my dream wedding!” you are so optimistic and excited you spend your time blissfully chatting about flowers, lighting, linens and the best photo package possible. Everything is perfect until you get their proposal and all you see are the $$$. Ensue mild panic attack.
One solution you might think of is to reach out to a friend who really likes to bake cakes or another friend who just picked up photography as a hobby. While these friends might offer to provide you with your dream wedding at a fraction of the cost or even free all together...please, for the love of all that is holy, carefully consider your options. There are plenty of ways to thoughtfully and methodically save on extra expenses. Taking a chance on an amature is not one of them. While all vendors start somewhere, there is a huge difference between running a profitable business and doing something a hobby. Below are photos of how much of a difference a professional vs amature wedding can turn out.
Let me say this again, all vendors start out somewhere. Not all new vendors are bad. Not all experienced vendors are fantastic. While I would always recommend hiring a professional to provide a service on your wedding, there are ways to cut costs on other aspects of your big day. While weddings are expensive, your sanity and the stress of wondering how something will turn out will always trump the extra few dollars. It is ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry...
Having friends who want to help contribute to your wedding is fantastic. Allow them to bake a cake for your bridal shower or have them take photos at the bachelorette party. Please, allow your friends to be guests on your big day and take a boat load of stress off your shoulders. You are hiring professionals because they will know how to handle any situation. Amateurs or hobbyists are simply not worth the nominal savings. Trust me. You and your guests will thank me for it.
If you are recently engaged, congratulations! Wedding planning is a ton of fun. I love it, (clearly) and cherish every wedding I get to be apart of. One of the really fun parts about getting engaged is having what I call the Glam Squad. Typically, this is the one (major) time in your life when you get to have professionals working with you for basically everything. I like to think of a bride as a mini celebrity leading up to her wedding. Think about it: hairstylists, manicurists, makeup artists, personal trainers, dentists (gotta have those pearly whites) stylists and estheticians all working to transform you into the best version of yourself. Don’t get me wrong, you on a drizzly Tuesday is fantastic too, but when you are all dolled up...you carry yourself differently. Trust me, my hubby says he prefers me in a hoodie and sweatpants, but he certainly doesn't complain when I come home with professional hair and makeup and a killer dress. (Maybe he *would* complain if he knew the price tag, but I digress). ;-)
Why am I rambling on and on about being a mini celebrity? Two words, Engagement Photos. Engagement photos allow A. a bride to get a test run with her hair and makeup artist B. a test run with the photographer C. one on one quality time with your sweetie and D. great looking, professional images for your save the dates.
TEST RUN HAIR AND MAKEUP
In my opinion, it is important to meet with your professional hair and makeup artist prior to your wedding. Most, if not all, HUMA provide a trial as part of your wedding day package. Some might have this service built in to the over all price, some might charge a little more for the trial. While some brides get frustrated with having to pay additional for a trial, that makeup artist is using product on you that he/she can never get back. It is not like they can scrape off the foundation and re bottle it for the next bride. Even places like Sephora require a minimum purchase for makeovers. In most cases, you will do a trial with the same person who will actually be doing your hair and makeup on the wedding day. Sometimes, this is not the case. Ask about company policy when it comes to scheduling your HMUA. That person will get to know the texture of your hair, the quality of your skin and can make recommendations based on what they see. They can chat with you about your style, how much makeup you normally wear, etc. Because these are just the engagement photos, you could do a similar style of hair and makeup or even a more natural look to get the feel/style of the artist. Leave the big transformation for the actual wedding day.
When I got my hair and makeup trial, I went after work and when it was done, I went home, showered and went to bed. I knew this going in, but I desperately wanted to work with this particular Chicago based company. If they told me to show up at 5:00 AM on a Sunday to do my trial, I would have. When you find your dream team, you listen to them. Typically, trying to schedule your engagement photos on a Saturday and expecting your HMUA free on a Saturday is a slim shot. However, if you are flexible on days/times for your engagement photos (read more about that below) then perhaps the scheduling gods will work in your favor! If not, then you could see if an associate HMUA could do your trial/engagement makeup and perhaps relay information to the person doing your makeup on the wedding day. Early communication and scheduling is key and all HMUA companies run differently. Make sure you ask these questions in advance and never assume.
TIME TO BOND WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
If you are planning your engagement photography, it is most often because, you have hired a photographer and this session is included in your wedding package. “Engagement Sessions” can last anywhere from 1-2 hours and can include 1-3+ outfit changes with multiple locations. It sounds like a long time to be the center of attention, but trust me, that time flies by. If you have selected a boutique photographer (meaning they are the owner and main photographer) you were drawn to them as a person and for their photography style. Having this time to get to know each other and get all of the potentially awkwardness out of the way will make for a much smoother, less stressed and more enjoyable wedding day. Having a stranger “be all up in your business” literally touching you and positioning your face, arms and body and watching you get dressed can be quite intimidating. A good photographer will make you feel comfortable, probably make you laugh and work to put you and your fiance at ease. When the three of you spend time at an engagement session, you get to know more about each other and when they show up on the day of the wedding, it’s as if a friend is walking through the door, not a paid vendor. If you have opted to go with a “big box” photography company, meaning, you select from a portfolio of photographers and do not meet the person until either your engagement session or wedding day, ask if you will be guaranteed the same photographer for both days. If not, can you meet the photographer prior to the wedding to make sure you mesh well? Ask what happens if you do not like the person you have been assigned. Always ask, never assume.
QUALITY ONE ON ONE TIME WITH YOUR SWEETIE
You and your fiance have spent countless hours making tough decisions. Which vendors to hire, where to have the wedding, what your colors should be, on and on and on. By taking this time to get all dolled up and simply have fun with each other will come as a much needed respite. Do things on this “planned and highly photographed date” that speaks to you as a couple. Do you love to spend the weekend casually sipping on a perfectly brewed cup of coffee? Go to your favorite local coffee shop. Do you love spending time in the park playing fetch with your fur baby? Go do that! Do you simply adore biting into the cheesiest slice of pizza? Go to your local pizza parlor and order an extra large pie...you’ve got another person along on your date! Do something seasonal! If your photos are around the holidays, go to a Christmas tree farm and get cozy with each other while “shopping” for trees. Have a snowball fight and warm up with some hot cocoa! Don’t take engagement photos in a campground if you have never, in your life, went camping. Your friends and family simply won’t get it.
SAVE THE DATES
Once you have completed your engagement session, your photographer will tell you when and how to expect the images. You might get an online gallery, you might go to their studio and have a slideshow of your day together and then you pick your favorite images in person. Once you select the images, you can begin ordering save the dates. Shout your love from the rooftop and announce your wedding information with the photos from your engagement session!
THREE MORE PIECES OF ADVICE
Think of hiring a stylist to help you select the best outfits for your engagement photos. You want to find outfits that flatter your body type and coordinate. I have seen some very mismatched outfits and it can throw off the entire photo. A stylist can also help with selecting your bridal gown and all of the important events during your engagement (bachelorette party, bridal shower, engagement party, groom’s fashion, etc) Get your ring professionally cleaned prior to your engagement session. This will be your most photographed piece of jewelry and it needs to be looking its best! You want that bling to sparkle! Be flexible! If it starts raining on the day of your shoot, be flexible and either work with the change of plans (embrace it) or reschedule. Don't let a kink in the gears ruin what should be a special day.
Finally, smile and enjoy this fun experience with your fiance! It should be a stress-free, fun activity that you both will remember for a lifetime.
Part of being a wedding planner is being connected. I "know a guy" that can help with whatever you are looking for. Do you need an authentic cuban cigar roller? I know a guy. Perhaps a master sommelier or someone to hang from the ceiling while pouring tequila shots? I know a guy...or girl. Really, I do! When it comes to wedding photography, I know Ashley Hamm. When I met Ashley, we immediately connected over having the best name on the planet! Hello, Ashley Squared! :-) Ashley has been the owner of Ashley Hamm Photography for ten years! Ashley was a blast to interview. Please get comfy, grab a cup of coffee and get to know my friend.
How did you get started in the wedding photography business?
Gosh, that's a great question! I remember the first time I found a disposable camera in my parents' junk drawer and went out to play with it in the woods. I was maybe 7 years old and I loved the clicking sound of the camera when I pressed the button and the way the light shone through the trees. At first, it was a hobby, just for friends and coworkers, but then it became something I just couldn't live without.
What do you love about being a wedding photographer?
I love working with people capturing their favorite moments. The moment they say I do, the moment they hug their children and watch laughter spread across their face or the moment they hold hands and fall in love all over again. I get to see how people look at each other and love and embrace and cry and just be amazing.
Let's be honest, what do you not love so much about wedding photography?
Honestly, it's the laundry (from working with kids getting on the floor and getting dirty) and finding comfortable shoes. That's it. Worst answer ever? Maybe. There is not much I don't love about this profession.
You deal with couples on the most important day of their lives, what is something you wish all couples looking at photographers considered or asked?
Full weddings! Before you book, ask to see at least 3 full galleries of the most recent weddings from your photographer! From start to finish, consistency should be a key element when booking a photographer for your wedding day.
Where are some of your favorite engagement session locations?
Downtown Milwaukee, Starved Rock, and The South Shore Cultural Center!
What is your favorite wedding venue? Why?
Wandering Tree Estate, Salvage One and Emerson Creek.
Wedding days can be stressful and over in a flash. What do you wish people considered on the day of the wedding?
I would actually prefer it if they didn't think about it at all. Be in the moment, live it up, smash the cake all over each other's faces. Be present! I am there to document your day just as it is, so be there and enjoy!
Tell me one thing no one knows about you (but you are okay with the world knowing!)
I own 35 cameras (film and digital) and collect them from all over the world when I travel! I'm also allergic to kiwis :)
Thank you, Ashley, for joining me and allowing my corner of the internet to get to know more about you! If you are interested in meeting Ashley, or getting to know more about her, I recommend you reach out directly to her. You can find her corner of the internet by clicking Ashley Hamm Photography Tune in next week when I provide my top 5 Engagement Photo tips!
Each holiday season, I do my absolute best to stop, look around and and truly reflect on what this past year has brought me, this year was no exception! I was incredibly blessed this year and I can't wait to see what 2018 has in store for me, my family and Ashley Nicole Events Inc.
In 2017, I have been able to serve wonderful clients and turn their wedding dreams into a reality. I began working more regularly with The Haight, one of the hottest venues in Chicagoland, as a part-time venue manager (the venue is literally booked until 2019...they are that busy folks!) I was able to travel to a business conference to sharpen my craft and I even snuck a way for a few days to see some close friends. While I help my clients spend time making memories with their families, it is always a special treat to make memories with my own family.
Here is a look back at 2017
Leslie and Dave celebrated their love surrounded by friends and family. I was so excited for Leslie & Dave when they told me a few weeks into their wedding planning that they were also expecting a little bundle of joy. So much love radiated on their wedding day. Stay tuned for their full feature later in 2018! Photo credit: Crane's Photography
I am so excited for Leslie and Dave to welcome into the very FIRST ANE BABY!!! Just look at that adorable little bundle of Christmas joy!
The 15th Annual Paramount Theatre’s “Under the Stars” Gala in Aurora, Illinois was an exceptional evening filled with dinner, entertainment, raffles and auctions, with all proceeds benefiting the Broadway Series and the stars of our future: Children. Last year alone, the Dreams Do Come True program brought more than 3,500 underprivileged children and families to see a show at the theatre for free. I was honored to be able to brighten the lives of children from disadvantaged homes, low income schools and special needs organizations.
C&C's wedding was a breathtaking wedding celebration. When you mesh Greek and Italian you are sure to get some high fashion, great food and stunning decor...and A LOT OF PASSION. For security purposes, for the groom, I am not able to show more, but let me tell you, this wedding was certainly on the top of my list...of all time!
Kayla and Kyle were such a joy to work with. They were BOTH so giddy with excitement all day! Kyle is not shy about his feelings for Kayla and their summer wedding filled with bright, bold colors was nothing short of exhilarating. Stay tuned for their full feature later in 2018! Photo credit: Love & Ink Photography
Kylie and Brian got married on a beautiful September day. It was a family tradition in Kylie's family to have her father sing. Her dad jumped at the opportunity to perform for her daughter and new family at her wedding and there was not a dry eye in the house. Stay tuned for her full feature later this year. Photo credit: Mary Rose Photography
Wes and Gus have a once in a lifetime kind of love. They knew that being present in the moment was their top priority and threw tradition to the wind. Stay tuned for their romantic, fun, energetic and magical wedding feature later this year! Photo Credit: Wynn Wiley
Ioana came to me wanting to surprise her husband, Ovi for his 40th birthday. When it comes to planning a milestone event, just like a wedding, honing in on their likes and priorities truly make the party come to life! Photo Credit: Snap Happy Pics
This year, in addition to providing planning services, I was able to provide beautiful rental pieces such as this arbor, to clients across Chicagoland which enhanced their ceremony spaces. Flower credit: Town and Country Gardens
Anna and Joey wrapped up the 2017 Wedding Season and we could not have ended on a higher note. Having fought bad weather all day, we were able to sneak in this *very important* shot for the bride and groom. Stay tuned for their stunning wedding later this year! Photo Credit: Dave Pavlina
This year, I had the pleasure of creating a stunning Thanksgiving tables cape for a private residence. Ashley Nicole Events can not only handle weddings, birthday parties and corporate events, but private dinner parties as well! Photo Credit: Ashley Hamm Photography
For the first time, I was able to attend the Wedding MBA, a business conference that provides continuing education for all aspects of business and the wedding industry. I was able to attend with my business bestie (aka mom) and connect with many amazing friends and vendors from he Chicago region. Below are a few photos from the conference! The rock statues are the 7 Magic Mountains, located outside of Las Vegas. My friend Joy, humored me enough to sneak away to capture these literal magic mountains!
During the off season, I was able to spend a little quality time with my husband, Adrian and take a class in outdoor floral design. It was such a fun day! The photos below are highlights out of my personal life from doing fall activities, attending my Godson's baptism, celebrating my other Godson's 6 birthday, making and donating 145 dog toys to a local shelter and spending time with family. 2017 was a great year and I can not wait to see what 2018 has in store for both me personally and my family!
Thank you for all of your support this past year. I could not have done it without each and every one of you. Without all of your love, support, guidance, friendship and faith, Ashley Nicole Events would not be looking back at another successful year, and certainly not looking to a brighter future. May your new year be filled with love, faith, family and friends! Cheers to 2018!
I can not believe that Christmas is over! It seems like we have been preparing for weeks and in some cases, months of preparation have gone into finding the perfect gift, making the perfect meal and hanging the perfect decorations. With all of the Christmas festivities behind us, it is time for the most exciting party of the year...New Year’s Eve!
Some years, I like to get all dolled up and hit the town. Other years, I like to stay in curled up on the couch watching the ball drop. One NYE I was hired to plan a party for a private residence and boy was that fun! Having never done a small intimate NYE party before, I really was able to stretch my creative juices. This particular client was having about 6 guests over and wanted food stations, a smores bar and plenty of festive spirit.
When planning your own party, whether it is a wedding or dinner party, keep in mind your guests comfort, decor, food, fun and activities to keep your guests entertained. One way to add festive NYE cheer is to A. leave all of your Christmas (or insert holiday celebrated here) decorations up. Everything looks better with the warm soft glow of holiday lights. B. go to the party store and grab a helium tank (you can grab one for right around $30) and get a package of festive balloons. If you want to really spice things up, grab some long strings and suspend as many balloons as possible. If you want to have the balloons float along the floor, use some old fashioned lung power and blow up those balloons!
One really great trick I like to use frequently is to have some type of activity for your guests to partake in. Whether it is dancing at a wedding, crafts for a kids party or an action smores station, give your guests something to do other than mingle and drink…not that those are bad ideas either! Wink...wink.
When it comes to food, decide if you are going to do all of the cooking, hire a caterer or have a pot luck dinner. Sometimes, for NYE parties, the party starts after the traditional dinner hour so you can get away with cheese platters, sweets, snacks and drinks. If you are hosting a catered dinner party, keep things simple and finger food friendly. If you don't have a table and chair for everyone, finger food is key. You can't expect guests to use a knife and fork while standing around. Finally, if you do a pot luck, remember to keep it simple. Your friends and family will be happy to contribute, just guide them with what you are looking for so you don't end up with 6 platters of cookies and nothing else! One easy yet simply delicious appetizer I have used is found on Sparrow & Lily and you can dive right in by clicking HERE. I can take zero credit for this, but you will thank me after.
If cranberries are not your thing, try a little guac in wonton cups instead! You can find a similar recipe HERE.
May your days be merry and bright and your new year filled with love, light and laughter.
When planning a wedding, one of the most important aspects is the music. As a planner, I can work on the pre-wedding preparations, the logistics, design aesthetic and timeline for the day. I work closely with all of the hired vendors to ensure a successful event, but once the reception begins, it is really the caterer and musicians who set the tone for the rest of the evening.
One of these Chicago wedding professionals I want to introduce you to Brent Rolland from Fig Media. He has worked in the Wedding DJ industry for 13 years.
Please enjoy the following interview I recently had with Brent. He is quite special and I just know you will love him as much as I do!
Tell me how you got started in the DJ business:
It was a complete accident—but one of the best of my life: I have a background in multimedia and design, and I needed an internship to graduate from college. One of my instructors asked me to check out Fig as they were looking for design interns. I applied and got the internship for the summer (yay!). Part of the curriculum of the tenure is to assist on events; I chose to work on DJ gigs. My first experience was a wedding at the Adler Planetarium. I loved that guests were happy, dancing, and unified. I then started learning from my team and leading my own events. The rest, as they say, is history!
How long have you been a DJ? How many years at Fig Media? -- 13 years, all of them at Fig!
What do you love about the job?
I love the philanthropy of the business—bringing people together with music. I believe my calling in life is generating unity and joy in the world, and this is one of the ways that I am accomplishing it. I also love all the long-lasting friendships and relationships that I have made in this profession, and for the number of people I’ve been able to serve and bring joy to. I also am grateful for my team at Fig for their feedback, training and support over all these years.
What do you not love so much about the job?
Aside from the physical (lifting, setting up, etc.), being a DJ can be emotionally challenging: Sometimes, I’m seen only for my job title and not as a guest or an equal. The hospitality of folks at venues varies, as well as the attitudes of the people I meet and their requests or reactions to song choices. Despite this, I still enjoy and love this art form.
What is something you wish all couples looking at bands or DJs considered or asked?
One big question that I’d love to hear more of is, “Tell me more about yourself.” I love getting to know all the wonderful people I meet and learning their story, but I occasionally get to tell mine! Relationships are a priority of our process, and I love when I can make the people I meet feel comfortable and like friends. I also like couples considering their vision for their night and their guests critically—that is, who is coming, ages and demographic, and whom in the group likes to dance. Fun groups always lead to an awesome party, and it’s great data for us to have early on.
If you had to pick a top processional song what would it be?
If you had to pick a top recessional song what would it be?
“You Are The Best Thing” by Ray La Montagne Click HERE to watch video
If you had to pick a top cake cutting song what would it be?
“L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole Click HERE to watch video
If you had to pick a top first dance song what would it be?
“At Last” by Etta James Click HERE to watch video
Tell me one thing no one knows about you.
I have never traveled outside the United States—but want to do so!
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, Brent! Anyone in the Chicago area looking for a wedding or corporate event Deejay, consider booking Brent or one of his associates at Fig Media. They are professionals, they get to know their clients and they truly want to make your event as awesome as possible. Fig Media also offers photography and video production for corporate clients. You can find out more about Fig Media, by clicking the link below.
If you are a wedding professional or know of someone who I should feature next, please drop me a note! Email firstname.lastname@example.org
There is an ancient proverb that says the gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. The two people connected by the red thread are destined lovers, regardless of place, time, or circumstances.
I have met a lot of couples but none more clearly that represents this Chinese proverb then Alex and Kelly. Alex and Kelly met as children and became friends in middle school. Through the years, they ebbed and flowed but were able to maintain their friendship into college. They felt the stars were aligned and found the one whom their soul loved. Friendship turned into dating and on a flight to Walt Disney World, in February 2015, Alex tightened the bonds of the red string by proposing to his long time girlfriend.
Disney World holds a special place in their hearts, after all, they did get engaged on a trip to the happiest place on earth! Disney themes were woven into their Chicago wedding by incorporating Mickey and Minnie trinkets around the venue and a Disney sing along during the toasts. Alex and Kelly love Disney World so much, they visit at LEAST once per year! Since they have been married, they adopted their very own Pluto, a fluffy golden retriever fur baby.
Alex and Kelly professed their vows in their childhood church, St. Patricks in McHenry, Illinois on June 18, 2016. It was very important to them as a couple to get married in the same church that they received their First Communion and other sacraments throughout their lives. They never lost sight of their beliefs, their family culture and their values as a couple. Alex got to bring a little of his fun-loving and goofy personality to the wedding when his colorful socks poked out from under his pant leg during the ceremony.
As a nod to Alex’s career, pilot at American Airlines, Alex and Kelly wanted to take their bridal party photos at a local regional airport in the suburbs of Chicago. Standing on an active runway (no planes were actually landing) is such an exhilarating feeling. I have had this experience once or twice! It is a place where not many people think to have their photos taken! With modern day security issues, actually, not many people are allowed to go. As a note to other couples, think outside of the box when it comes to finding locations to take your photos. If you are a fireman, think of taking photos with a fire truck. If you are a musician, perhaps taking photos (or having your ceremony) on a stage or in a theatre. Be creative!
Alex and Kelly had a beautiful wedding and since their Chicago suburb wedding, we have become great friends. Alex works with my husband at the airlines, (which is how he discovered Ashley Nicole Events) and we enjoy getting together when their crazy work schedules allow. Alex and Kelly, your red string of fate might have stretched and tangled, but never broke. Congratulations on your big day! It was such a pleasure working with you both. Much love!
Planner: Ashley Nicole Events Inc.
Ceremony Venue: St. Patrick's Catholic Church
Reception Venue: Concorde Banquets
Photographer: Lex Alexander
Videographer: With Love Productions
Florist: Trellis Weddings
DJ: Fantastic DJ
Hair: Hair Philosophy
Makeup: Nina Trader Makeup
Transportation: Exquisite Limousine Chicago
Lodging: Courtyard North Arlington Heights
Having worked in the wedding industry for over a decade, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some amazing talent. As a planner, my job is to share my knowledge and by creating a Vendor Spotlight, I can share some of Chicago's best and brightest (and most coveted) wedding professionals with you! Without further ado, please meet Joy Bijedic from Being Joy Photography!
Tell me how you got started in the Photography business.
I have always loved photography. Growing up my Mom was always taking photos of me and my brothers. It never really dawned on me that I could make a career out of it until I started "modeling" for a friend who was newer to the photography business. Then another friend asked me to pose as well. After that I was hooked. In 2010, I purchased my first nice camera and began learning.
How long have you been running Being Joy Photography?
Starting out I had three jobs. I waited tables, bartended and worked on building my company. In 2014 when I relocated back to Chicago from Oklahoma I cut down on waitressing in order to really make a go of my company. In May of 2015 I went full time.
What do you love about the job?
I think what I love most about my job is being able to give other people those moments frozen in time that they will be able to look back on years later. When my father passed in April of 2014 it made all those photos I have of him even more special. I think everyone deserves photos of their loved ones as well as each important moment in their lives. No matter how busy we get.
What do you not love so much about the job?
Being a photographer owning a small business is a rollercoaster ride. You never know if you are going to book the next year. You never know if you will have the income to pay your bills. You never know if your company will survive in an industry that is surging with talent. It's hard. Keeping the faith. Believing that what I do matters and that I am impacting the lives of others. Every time I meet a new couple it's like going on a blind date. You chat on the phone or exchange an email, you seem to hit it off so you set up a "coffee date". Afterwards you leave on a high, filled with excitement and anticipation of working with them. However, all you can do is wait. Wait and hope that they felt the same way. Wait for the phone to ring. Wait for your email to pop up with a new message. Wait and hope that they want to book you. Just wait. That is the hardest part of the job.
What is something you wish all couples looking at professional photography considered or asked?
Don't just look at the price tag. I understand how easily the price of a wedding can escalate, however, keep both eyes open. Meet with your potential photographer and see if you both like one another. That is step one. Next, ask to see an entire wedding. As artists we all try to display our best and favorite pieces, but that doesn't always tell the full story. Ask to see a recent full wedding so you can see how your potential photographer handles different lighting situations. Know what you want going in. What is most important to you from your photographer. Do you want two photographers? Do you want a wedding album? Do you want an engagement session? Lastly, don't be scared to ask questions. We know you probably haven't done this before. There is no stupid question.
Where are some of your favorite engagement session locations?
If I had to pick just one in Chicago, it would probably be Montrose Harbor because it gives me the best of everything I love. I love water! Lakes, rivers, oceans. I will always find a reason to take a photo there. I also love nature with the greenery as well as the city skyline. Montrose Harbor offers all of that. In the burbs I think I would say Fabyan Park is my favorite (along with many other photographers). It's close to downtown Geneva to get that urban vibe. It's on the Fox River (again water!). It has gorgeous stone architecture and an iron gate that makes me drool.
What is your favorite wedding venue? Why?
There are so many gorgeous venues in the Chicago area, many of which I haven't even seen. My favorites are always changing. At this moment in time if I had to choose my favorites it would have to be Emerson Creek Pottery & Tearoom and the Monte Bello Estate. Both of those venues take my breath away. I never get tired of photographing there.
What do you wish people thought of for photography on the day of the wedding?
One of the biggest hiccups I run into on a couple's wedding day is timing. Early on, when setting the times for your ceremony and cocktail hour think about how much space you leave in between for your photographer. The more time you give them, the more photos you get! Plus, it gives us a little more flexibility to be a little more creative. I have done portraits in only 15 minutes more times than I like to say and at the end of the day they are nice, but I am always disappointed I couldn't give them a little more.
Tell me one thing no one knows about you (but you are okay with the world knowing!)
One thing no one knows about me, butterflies and daisies are two of my favorite things. My freshman year of high school I broke both bones in my right forearm during gymnastics practice. I had to have surgery to have two plates and 12 screws placed so that my arm would heal. They are still there to this day. A year or so after the scar healed I noticed that if I flexed my arm the scar moved in one spot. I use to draw butterflies on that spot and flex to make it look like it was flying. Eventually I wanted a butterfly tattoo there. However, as I got older I decided I wanted it in a more subtle place. No bigger than a quarter. It's something I drew that's for me. I love my little butterfly tattoo.
Thank you, Joy, for being the first Vendor Spotlight! I know that couples all over Chicago would love to meet you, see your beautiful work and have you capture the moments that matter most. One side note about Joy, is she is a fur momma to not one but three adorable fur babies and she has seen every Disney movie ever made! She takes an annual pilgrimage to Disney World and loves to run. Please check out her amazing work!
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During the past three weeks, we have walked this path together while I have been answering all of your burning questions about wedding planning. We are in the home stretch and I am so happy to have taken this journey with you. My goal is to set your mind at ease during this crazy busy time in your life. Let's get to it, shall we?
Q. How do you handle difficult family members?
A. Unfortunately, we live in a world of divorce, remarriage and lifestyles that not everyone agrees with. I would hope that for one day, people could put their differences aside. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn’t. If it is two parents who are divorced and do not get along, it could be as simple as placing them at separate tables. Each situation is different and I am happy to listen and work together to find a mutually agreeable conclusion for all parties involved. I have dealt with every situation imaginable and am happy to offer suggestions on a case by case basis.
Q. How do you deal with difficult vendors?
A. This generally does not happen if my client has selected someone off of my preferred vendor list. I reserve the right to remove any vendor off of my list at any time for actions that do not best represent me or my brand. If there is a specific situation, I work it out with that vendor individually. If and only if the client needs to become involved would that conversation happen. Most of the time, it was all based off of a simple misunderstanding and all can be resolved to provide you, the client, with the best service possible.
Q. What happens if the wedding gets cancelled or we have a change of heart?
A. It would break my heart to see you cancel your wedding for any number of reasons. I understand sometimes, things happen and you might no longer need my services. I do require a non-refundable deposit upon signing the contract, which guarantees you are my only client on the date of your wedding. This ensures that I begin working right away and do not book another client for the same day. Depending on the payment structure you have chosen and when the wedding has been cancelled, would determine if you owe any additional money beyond the deposit.
Q. What happens if my planner is unavailable?
A. This is a great question! You are hiring me to do a job for you and I will in good faith be there to accomplish the vision we have created together. If for some reason beyond my control, I am unable to attend to the duties set before me, three things would happen. First, I would reach out to you and let you know the situation. Second, just like the relationships I have created with vendors, I have the same relationships with other event planners. At any given time, I have 6 planners I can call who would step in for me during an emergency. Third, I would connect you to the planner and you would approve the change.
Q. What happens if something goes wrong on my wedding day?
A. If we have had clear and constant, open communication throughout the planning process, this generally does not happen. People are human and make mistakes, such is life. It is my job to divert any issues that might arise before you ever knew there was a situation to begin with. This is why you hired me to be your planner and not your Mom/sister/friend/aunt. For example, if by mistake, your caterer ordered the wrong number of chairs and you were 10 chairs short you would never know I had to do an emergency chair order. I wouldn’t bother you with the little, but necessary details unless it was a dire emergency. I offer a debriefing after each event with my client to go over all of the details of the wedding. This allows for open and honest communication between myself and my client. I am always looking for ways to improve and it is only through client feedback I am able to improve my service.
Whew, that was a lot of really great questions! I am so glad you stuck it through until the end. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to ask. I absolutely love making sure you are comfortable in this process. Weddings are tricky, but they don't have to be.
I couldn't keep you hanging for long! Here is round two of Ask A Wedding Planner Anything. Clients ask planners these questions over and over (and over) so I figured, I would answer my most FAQ here!
Q. What happens if it rains on my wedding day? I am having an outdoor event!
A. I LOVE rain. Should I say that again? I LOVE rain on a wedding day. In many traditions it is good luck. In my family alone, it has rained on three generations of wedding days. Mine included! However, I understand not everyone has the same affinity for rain on weddings as I do. There is not much we can do to control Mother Nature; as best we try. If you had an outdoor wedding, it would always be advisable to have had a backup location built into the day well in advance. If we don’t need the rain location, then fantastic. If we do, then rest easy that I have the entire process of rearranging everything and everyone to the new venue all figured out. It is never a good idea to not have a back up plan. Any professional planner would be ill advised to not have brought up a plan B. Not to mention, most Photographers, DJ's and bands are not willing to plan an outdoor event without a back up plan as they won't want to risk damage to their equipment which costs thousands of dollars.
Q. Why do we need to use vendors off of your preferred vendor list?
A. I have spent the better part of a decade cultivating relationships with some of the best vendors in the industry. Each client has a different vision, budget and idea of the perfect wedding. There is a photographer, videographer, caterer and DJ to go along with every client. If you just typed “photographer” into Google, you would get a thousand different results. You would have no idea if they are in your budget or if they “get” you and what you are trying to accomplish. It is my job to make sure they fit you and your fiancées style. Also, a side note, I DO NOT take a commission from any vendor on my list. I reserve the right to remove a vendor at any time for anything that does not match my brand or my expectations of a professional in the wedding industry. I ask that each vendor who would give me a commission, defer that back to you as a discount.
Q. Will you consider using someone who is not on your preferred list?
A. This can be tricky. Refer to the photo above. If you have hired a professional vendor (insert category) before you hired me, I would need to review their information before I attach my name to them. If you want to use your “friend” who has a nice camera and enjoys taking photos at family parties, then unfortunately, we might not be the best fit. As your planner, it is my job to make sure you get the best possible professional vendor for your budget. You only get one chance to make this right and I would hate for you to not be thrilled with each vendor you choose. I am happy to consider each situation on a case by case basis, but generally, my answer is no.
Q. How do you handle the gifts and cards we get at the reception.
A. I immediately go shoe shopping! ☺ (not, really! But if you want to surprise me, I'm an 8.5 and Christian Louboutin's are my jam) In our extensive pre planning, we set a point person who will be responsible for taking the gifts and cards home at the end of the night. We also find a safe location for them to be stored until the point person leaves. This location could be in the locked bridal suite or in a someone’s car, etc. I do not take any gifts or cards in my vehicle at any time for any purpose.
Thanks for checking in for round 2 of ask Ashley anything! Stay tuned for round 3...
Believe me, no question is a silly one, especially if you haven’t worked with an event planner before! I wanted to start a 4 part series of top questions wedding planners get asked ALL THE TIME! Now, in full disclosure, these are my opinions and my responses to these FAQ. Other planners might handle situations differently but that is what makes the multitude of planners available perfect for clients. You (the client) can find someone who fits your specific needs!
Q1. I am not sure I need an event planner. I have my mom/sister/aunt/friend and they can do it.
A. You have worked so hard planning the day of your dreams. I understand that letting someone else step in can be overwhelming. My job (or any planner's job) is to take what you have dreamed and execute it flawlessly. There are so many details that go into planning a wedding that cannot be completed until the day of the wedding. The special people in your life should be able to enjoy the day with you, primping and relaxing; not stressing about the delivery of the cake. They will do their absolute best, but in the end, they will turn to you for direction. When you have an event planner, you become the star, not the director.
Q2. What specifically does an event planner do?
A. There are many things that event planners do, there are also many misconceptions. Many people think that planners “take over the show.” In all actuality, working with me, is the complete opposite. I am honored to have been hired by you and your vision is my main goal. I engage each vendor as an equal partner to turn your day into reality. Each person involved has their part for a successful wedding. Depending on how involved you want to be, we work together to create the wedding of your dreams. I can either plan the entire event from start to finish or I can help in specific areas that you simply do not want to deal with! I offer guidance, unbiased opinions and knowledge of the industry. I establish vendor relationships in every aspect of the wedding. I can guide you to the best photographer, DJ, band, caterer who will also “get” your vision to create a unified event for you and your guests to enjoy.
Q3. How have you handled being behind schedule?
A. We live in a perfectly imperfect world and sometimes things happen. Being a skilled wedding planner, I buffer scheduled time into every aspect of the day. Sometimes, limos get flat tires and sometimes the ceremony runs longer than expected (or shorter!) I know how to handle these minor bumps in the road (as most professional planners do!) and notify all of the appropriate vendors who will also be affected to give everyone a heads up of the situation. The key is staying in constant communication with all vendors to create a seamless day. A minor bump in the road should not derail the entire day. As your event planner, I work with your vendors to gently guide you along the day.