Assem + Brian || august 30, 2014

Destination wedding, Bryan, Texas. We were contacted by Brian about seven weeks prior to their set wedding date. From a coordination perspective, it is always exciting to get to put together any wedding on a shortened deadline! Brian had flown back to the States and decided that there would be no better location than Bryan/College Station, Home of the Aggies (of course, his Alma Mater) to play…

Mock Set || college station event planning

What exactly is a “mock set” and what are the benefits? If you’ve ever been in our showroom I’m sure the words mock set have been thrown out in conversation more than once! We are strong believers in mock sets and try to encourage our coordination and rental brides to do one prior to their weddings. If you have heard the phrase in passing, but really aren’t sure what it is, or if one would be…

Abigail + Walter || june 28, 2014

Laughter, design, humor, love. These all come to mind when thinking back on the time spent with Abigail, Walter and Deborah (Abigail’s mom) planning their perfect day at Double Creek Crossing in June. The mother-daughter bond that Deborah and Abigail share is absolutely admirable. Design was always important to the two of them, and in true groom fashion, Walter was happy with what made his blushin…

In the Details || all about that bow

you consider yourself a bow person or a knot person? If you are in the midst of planning your wedding or an event with certain chairs and tables requiring sashes right now the chances that the design team you’re working with has asked you that question should be pretty high. At least, that’s always one of our first questions as we reach for a sash and start a tie with a client! If you ar…

Laura + Donald || june 21, 2014

We first met Laura and her mom (Marcy) during our initial consultation and were immediately drawn in by Laura’s calming personality. She knew what was important to her and had her hit list ready to go when it came to the wedding. We had six months to plan, she was at the beginning of her demanding time of work and knew that time management was at the top of the list while finding vendors that fit her style and budget. Marcy and Donald provided the perfect support to Laura during the planning and as a team they planned their dream day, and on the wedding day the love that Laura and Donald were surrounded by was so prominent!

Ryan Price captured their wedding day perfectly. I love how you can hear their laughter through the pictures. I think I could look through these all day, every day. What a beautiful summer wedding at The Greenbranch.

We asked Laura to share some words of wisdom with us and future brides.

q: What piece of advice would you give other couples currently planning their wedding?
a: Don’t rush to start planning…take your time to feel inspired before you decide on things. Make the major decisions first (dress, venue, photographer, food) and then all the little things will fall into place. And ENJOY the planning process, each moment is special because you’ll only do it once in your life.

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q: What was your favorite part of your wedding day?
a: I don’t think there was one particular moment, but it was all the little moments that I will remember and cherish… and having all our friends and family in one place – I just remember the feeling of being surrounded by so much love.

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q: What would you call your wedding style, and where did you go for inspiration?
a: Country Garden. Lots of Pinterest! Lavender & mint color palette, outdoor/garden/rustic barn settings.

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q: What does marriage mean to you?
a: Having someone to share life’s joys and sorrows with. Always learning from each other and growing together.

Those Involved
{bridal gown} Brickhouse Bridal || www.brickhousebridal.com
{bridesmaids attire} David’s Bridal || www.davidsbridal.com
{men’s attire} Men’s Wearhouse || www.menswearhouse.com
{rings} Ben Bridge || bride || Gordon’s || groom
{coordinator} Kelly Nail || Ashley & Co.
{venue} The Greenbranch || www.thegreenbranch.net
{photographer} Ryan Price || www.ryanpricephoto.com
{caterer} D’Vine Cuisine || www.dvinecuisine.com
{dj} Downtown Event Services || www.downtowneventservicesllc.com
{cake} Cake Junkie || www.cake-junkie.com
{florist} Postoak Florist || http://.weddings.postoakflorist.com
{bar} Luke’s Bartending || www.bcsbartenders.com
{beauty} Celebrity Salon || www.celebrityspa.net
{ceremony music} The Big Apple Trio
{honeymoon} Estes Park, CO

Laura and Donald, thank you for letting us share your day with you. We can’t wait to see how the two of you grow together in your journey of life and continue to spread more love within your family and the world!

xoxo

Engagement Season || the planning rush

You got engaged over the holidays?! Congratulations! If you did, you are not alone. We like to refer to this time of year as “engagement season” and can always tell the excitement when a newly engaged bride calls to start making those decisions. This is an AWESOME time and should be enjoyed by everyone involved, but can also become a little overwhelming. Don’t let the overall picture overtake your excitement, break it down and tackle each task to truly enjoy the process.

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If you are recently engaged, or have been engaged for a period of time and have found that you are now ready to face the task of planning, here are a few items to get you started on the right track.

{budget}
Who will be financially responsible for the wedding? In the past, tradition dictated that it was the bride’s family. Modern day has changed many things about weddings, this included. It may be one party who will be mainly responsible, or it may be a group effort with different parents paying for certain portions and the bride and groom paying for certain portions. I know it is not always an easy conversation, but it is one that must be had. The Knot reported in March, 2014, that the (US) national average for a wedding was just under $30,000.

{guest list}
Start talking with your fiancé and both sides of the family to put together a preliminary list. This could be a limiting factor when visiting venues so it is good to know if you will be expecting no less than 500 guests or 80-120 with the flexibility to cut down if necessary. You will need your guest list for save the dates, invitations and thank you cards during the planning process.

{inspiration & planning board}
Start your creative juices flowing! Gather the do’s and don’ts that you want to incorporate in the wedding so that when you begin meeting with vendors you have a base style that they can identify with and put in your file. Start a binder or folder for your contracts, pictures, pertinent information so that your information is easily accessible during meetings or phone calls.

{venue vs date}
Talk about dates. Is there one certain date that you are absolutely set on, or are flexible but want to stay within (or away from) a certain season? Is your date the most important or are you open to alternative dates if you find a venue that you fall in love with? Decide what you want your venue to encompass. Do you want it to be full service/turnkey so that they handle all food, drink, alcohol, tables, chairs, set up and break down, or do you want a venue that is more flexible with outside vendors providing these services? Do you want ceremony and reception in one location? Will you have a church ceremony?

{consider a planner}
You know your schedule and personality better than anyone, and will be able to judge whether a wedding planner would benefit you during the wedding planning process or not. There will be different packages you should be able to contract with a wedding planner that could take you from start to finish with everything, or simply tying up the final details once the wedding rolls around. You and your planner should be on the same page when it comes to your style and how your wedding day will be executed.

{wedding party…or not}
Decide whether or not you will have wedding party, and if you will, go ahead and start asking those closest to stand by you. Even if you don’t have a date, that will eliminate the questions of whether or not they will be involved when your wedding comes up in conversation. However, don’t feel obligated to have a wedding party. It is perfectly acceptable to stand at the “alter” with just the two of you and officiate and say I Do. Those you want to share the day with will still be there and can still celebrate in the same capacity.

{dress shopping}
Pick a date and take your closest girlfriends, guy-friends, mom… the people who make you feel comfortable! Some wedding dresses can take up to nine months to be received by the store, and then with alterations and final fittings and cleanings can add another one to two months onto the time. This isn’t always the case, but it is always good to be prepared for a longer time and be surprised when you get your special package early! Your dress will also help you in design meetings when selecting bridesmaids’ dresses, flowers, linens, and overall décor.

{top picks}
Sit down with your fiancé and make a “top” list that you both come to an agreement on. This will help you when you are finalizing the budget, meeting with vendors, and deciding what to splurge on. It might also surprise you to know what each of you holds most important.

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Through the planning, through the questions, through the contracts, remember what matters most. Remember to follow your heart and do what fits your personality, style and budget, not what everyone else dictates. Take each step as it works best for you and know that when your wedding day comes it will be nothing short of perfect.

xoxo

Little Blue Box || An Intership Casting Call

 

Oh that little blue box. Who doesn’t know it? What girl doesn’t get giddy when she sees it? I will never forget when I was given my first official gift from Tiffany & Co., and the significance of that gift.

It was the summer of 2002, I had just finished my junior year at Texas A&M and moved to San Francisco, CA to intern with JPM, a sports PR and event planning firm. I had no idea the true experience I would gain that summer and what it really meant to work in a small, woman owned and operated business. That summer I learned more than I could have imagined about myself, the real world, what I felt my direction should be going forward in career paths, and the true benefit of internships when finishing college. I learned to be self sufficient in a new environment far from home, and to appreciate the new relationships you build no matter how fast the encounter might be. I learned customer relations from two fabulous women in the office, Jill, Pam and Juliana, who spoke to everyone on the phone like they had known them their entire lives. I learned the importance of attention to detail and how to make paper trails in every sense of the word. I learned event planning was for me. At the end of my internship we all went to lunch for a bittersweet moment. I had become quite fond of those I was surrounded by, and hoped they felt the same of me, yet I missed Texas and it was time to go back to Aggieland and finish my college experience. As a token of their appreciation I was given the traditional Return to Tiffany Round Charm Bracelet that I soon monogramed to make my own. To this day, I wear it every single day, to the point that the monogram has faded and the hole holding the charm to the bracelet has worn almost completely out.

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Now, twelve years down the road, many more experiences under my belt and two years into our venture as Ashley & Co. I love that we are able to pass the internship experience and little blue box on to other young, aspiring souls. Kelly Nail started as one of our interns in the summer of 2013 and came on full time to be our Lead Coordinator in May of 2014 when she graduated from Texas A&M. Upon completing her internship and graduation, she was gifted her little blue box which had the same charm bracelet that I was given those short 12 years ago. It is a right of passage, a medal of honor, some fun new bling that says Tiffany, a girl’s best accessory. With each box that we get to present, there is a story of growth and maturity within that person.

There have been so many wonderful young ladies (yes, we are equal opportunity, but it seems that the young men aren’t as drawn to our industry!), that have come into our business and personal lives through our internship program who have gotten to understand the ins and outs of our business…which is really much broader than it seems! When working for a full service event company, you learn the office side of design, paperwork, file compilation, general traffic control, customer service, wedding prep and wrap up, the inventory side of prep, upkeep, loading, delivery, control, truck driving, time management, and the start to finish of working events. Whew! Not an easy job, and certainly not for all personality types. But that’s why everyone needs experience, right?

We have been lucky enough to have several of our interns turn into employees, have been able to watch several others chase their career dreams after graduation to paths all over the United States and are so proud of where each has gone after leaving us. It is time again for us to put out a call for interns. But not just anyone. We are looking for those truly interested in being immersed in the culture of event planning, design, rentals and hands on work. Everyone here is capable of doing all jobs, and that is how we like to operate, even if we are 95% women, tables, chairs and trucks don’t scare us! :) If you are interested in joining our team for Fall 2014/Spring 2015, reach out to us, we would love to chat.

xoxo ~Ashley

Bridal Planning Guide || Follow as it Fits You

 

As a general life rule, we are all different. This is a positive aspect that makes life interesting and unique, and weddings are no exception. We’ve worked with clients who have an extended planning time of up to two years and a few who have had engagements totaling only two weeks, so take the following as it fits you best. We often are asked by our clients if there is a general outline of what to do when planning a wedding. There is, yes, but, take it with a grain of salt and know that you are in charge of your own destination!
{edit dates, order, eliminate what you don’t want, don’t stress if you don’t fall right into the “norm”, etc.}

Eighteen Month Bridal Planning Guide

Twelve to Eighteen Months:

Discuss and define your overall tone of the wedding: formal, semi-formal, informal.
Decide on your color scheme.
Interview and select a wedding consultant.
Select your ceremony site.
Select your reception site.
Research the options in your area.

Six to Twelve Months:

Compile your guest lists from you, your groom, and both sides of the family.
Discuss wedding rings and begin to shop or design those desired.
Shop for and select your bridal gown, veil, shoes and other accessories.
Select apparel for bride’s attendants.
Interview and select a photographer.
Interview and select a caterer.
Interview and select a florist.
Interview and select a videographer.
Interview and select the entertainment for the reception: band, DJ.
Schedule your engagement photos.
Interview and select musicians to provide ceremony music.
If you are not marrying in a church, interview and select your officiate.
Discuss honeymoon plans.
Select and order Save the Dates: mail 6 months prior to the wedding.
Select rehearsal dinner location.

Three to Six Months:

Select and order men’s formal wear.
Select and order invitations and personal stationary: include maps, accommodation cards, etc.
Secure reservations and lodging for the honeymoon.
Place your gift registries: two to three store choices.
Select and reserve rental items.
Reserve bridal party transportation: horse drawn carriage, limousine, classic car, etc.
Begin skin routine and select make up artist.
Begin personal fitness routine and set goal.
Sample and select a baker for the wedding cakes.
Schedule final menu tastings and determine menus for rehearsal dinner and reception.
Begin pre-marital counseling.

Six to Eight Weeks:

Write local newspaper wedding announcement and submit with an engagement photo.
Mail invitations.
Plan attendants’ gifts: gifts for each other: gifts for parents.
Review and finalize floral arrangements and décor.
Experiment with hairstylist and make up artist: take veil along.
Attend your final gown fitting.
Select and purchase ceremony accessories: unity candle, guest book, ring pillow, flower girl basket, etc.
Select and purchase reception decorations: candles, draping, vases, candy etc.
Review all contracts and details of professional services.
Schedule physical exams and immunization updates.
Select photos for your video montage.
Schedule your bridal portraits.

Two to Four Weeks:

Mail invitations for rehearsal dinner.
Make reservations for bridal luncheon for wedding weekend.
Confirm honeymoon reservations.
Record all gifts as they are received and send thank you notes.
Confirm times and appointments with wedding coordinator.
Determine the floor layout for rehearsal dinner and reception: confirm seating chart and order or make place cards.
Confirm wedding party arrival times.
Begin process of change of name and address: bank account, credit cards, diver’s license, social security, etc.
Obtain your marriage license.

One to Two Weeks:

Pick up wedding rings: check sizes and engraving.
Final consultations with all vendors: florist, entertainment, photographer, videographer, decorators, rental company, baker, etc.
Confirm the final guest count with the caterer, reception facility, rehearsal dinner facility, etc.
Remind men to pick up formal wear and check fit while in store.
Complete the wedding day schedule.
Pack for your honeymoon.
Schedule a spa day for pampering for you and the girls: manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, etc.
Relax and enjoy your family, friends and soon to be spouse!

Expectations. The Big Picture.

It is hard to believe that two years have passed since Jeff and I closed on 3122 Texas Avenue South and officially began the business expansion. Of course there were expectations. There were expectations every step of the way, every phase of the project. We did the renovation of the property ourselves, which in itself was an experience. We grew, as a couple, personally, and professionally. A lot. Then we found out we were pregnant when we were about six weeks into our project, which put our little bundle of joy arriving an estimated five months after we would open our doors for business.

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I’ve always been a “Big Picture” type of person. I can see the end result in projects or situations but often the details of achieving that can appear blurry. When we started our renovations everyone thought I was crazy when I would proudly walk them around our new building and tell them what I had in my head. Especially our contractors. Those poor men had no idea what hit them. Thank goodness Jeff has many years of experience of dealing with my creative nature and can take my wild ideas and turn them into step by step reality. Day by day we saw the transformation take place before our eyes and become one day closer to our ending “expectation”. May 2012 came and we were officially cleared by all inspectors and opened for business.

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Through the summer we continued to work out the kinks in things, welcomed new clients, got many more married off, and started to prepare for the new addition to our family. I had no idea where to start and what to purchase to fully prepare for this arrival. Luckily, I was surrounded by much more experienced friends and family that could guide me to that point! I had expectations of welcoming this little person into our lives and I guess things somewhat remaining the same? I know, insert laughter here. I learned quickly that no matter what you “expect” as an expecting mother you will be given words of advice from any and everyone, so take it as you wish. My reaction was much of a blank stare to those who felt compelled to share negative thoughts, stories or words with us about how our lives would change. Brandi Laine joined the Ashely & Co. team as our Showroom Manager on October 1st and was put through a sink or swim type of training to prepare for my absence shortly after she started.

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October 16, 2012 we were blessed with the most precious baby girl, Sophie Blaine Sanders, that our family could ever ask for. She was perfect in every way and naturally it was love at first sight. We fought through the first days to get the eating on track and quickly found our routine of, well, not really having a routine. We figured out we had a really good baby. She slept well, ate well, pooped well, only cried when she was hungry or tired, and started going to work with me when she was about two weeks old. Don’t get me wrong, we had all the funny stories of new parents that I’ll spare everyone of…occasional cry sessions that didn’t make sense, sleepless nights when we still had to function during the days, and oh the poop! Sophie was soon a regular on the showroom floor and when it came time to send her to daycare in January I wasn’t ready. So what did I do, decided that I could keep her with us at the shop. Run a business, conduct meetings, and keep the baby at the shop. Sure, why not?

Again, it was the Big Picture of the more flexible schedule, the financial side, the ease of breastfeeding since Sophie would be with me all day versus pumping, that I focused on. I didn’t really know what to expect on the side of true baby detail, but soon began to figure it out. We have an amazing crew who works with us, and ladies without you this would not have been possible. For the first year of Sophie’s life she has been a social butterfly at our shop as everyone who has visited has been able to be a part of her firsts. We all got to share in her rolling over, her first tooth, learning to crawl, standing, first words, learning motor skills, and first steps. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. But now, things are a little easier to reach, much more interesting, and our little baby is motoring ALL around.

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On January 6 Sophie will start school at Stepping Stone and we will all begin another chapter, full of more expectations. Our energy at the shop will be business focused and Sophie’s energy will be focused on learning and development. I feel incredibly blessed that I was given the opportunity to “take my daughter” to work for the first fourteen months of her life, and have those precious moments as memories.

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To our clients and vendors, thank you for being you and for your friendship. We are grateful for the relationships we’ve formed, the experiences we’ve shared, and the laughs we’ve all had during the last two years. We are thankful for each of our clients, whether it be a full wedding planning experience or rentals for a small party, we are grateful to get to spend time with each of you and for what you teach us.

I’m amazed at how quickly the last two years have passed and am excited to see what the future holds for us, personally and professionally. I’m proud of how Ashley & Co. has progressed and am looking forward to more growth as we add more inventory and take on more work. Thank you for sharing our journey, having your own expectations, and being a part of our Big Picture!

Much love going into 2014, and Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

xoxo
Ashley

Steps to take After the Wedding

 

Congratulations, you’re Mr. & Mrs.! You have survived the months of planning, compilation of details, hard work, and incredible celebration with your family, friends, and new spouse. There are just a few more things to tie up the loose ends, make things legal, and get you fully settled into your new life. Read along for some guidance on what to do next and remember, the sooner you get started, the easier this will be.

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{marriage license}
Your marriage license should have been filed by your officiate following the wedding. It can be filed in person or mailed back to the county to be filed and a certified copy will be returned to the address you provided on the license. Once you receive this, hold onto it and keep it out, you will be using it quite often in the first few months to make these changes. Depending on the county, this could take a couple of weeks to process.

{name change}
This is something that offers many possibilities these days. A woman can keep her maiden name, hyphenate, take her maiden name as her middle name, drop her maiden name altogether, or just add her new married name to the last of her existing names. If you are changing your name, you will need to visit the social security office and DMV. Also remember any other form of ID that you have such as a passport, bank account, credit card, cell phone, etc., and start notifying those administrators of the change.

{say your thanks}
Be as prompt as you can with your thank you cards for all gifts you have received, which include showers before the wedding and gifts received at the wedding. Above those thank you notes, if you had anyone who went above and beyond during your wedding time that you feel needs a little extra pat on the back, send them a note. It might be a parent, an extra helpful bridal party or extended family member, or a wedding vendor who just made the day that much better. Let them know you noticed.

{cohabitating}
If you are a more modern couple, you may have lived together before this point, so this may not be as big of a step as it once was. But if you are moving in together for the first time, remember to communicate and start learning each other’s habits and patterns because you both may be moving into the other’s space. This is when you get to start setting up your house, apartment, duplex, etc. how you want it. You get to decorate and blend your styles using the fantastic gifts from your wedding registry and a little of what each of you had before the wedding. (Which can be a good and bad thing!) Again, patience is good in this situation and decorating together can teach you a lot about personalities.

{finances}
This was probably a conversation before the wedding, but it may not be a bad idea to revisit the finances. Talk about bank accounts and if you will keep everything separate or will combine, existing loans, salaries, monthly bills, general spending and budgets. This will keep you on track and in the clear with your spending.

{your gown}
Once the wedding is complete your wedding gown will need to be cleaned and you may want it preserved. Or, you may decide you want to donate or sell it. Each person is different and has a different expectation for their gown after the wedding. Decide exactly what you want done with yours after and start making those plans. If you decide to get it preserved talk to the bridal consultant that helped you with the purchase of your gown to get a direction that they trust.

{pictures & videos}
Before the wedding your photo and video vendors may have spoken to you a bit about what they need from you. For example, the videographer may need you to give them five songs to fill in for your highlight video. The photographer may need you to choose 80 images once they have processed everything so that they can begin working on your album layout. Be aware of what those vendors need and know that the sooner you get what they need to them the sooner you will have your product to share with others.

{legal, formal & little pieces}
This is where insurance, naming beneficiaries, writing wills, changing email names, business cards, name plates a work, changing your status with your accountant and all the little things come in. Look into insurance with your spouse and decide which policy fits best for needs and complete that paperwork. Once you have made the decision on your name change notify your supervisor at your job to have your new name listed on all that it should be.

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