Bridal Show || Fall 2014 || Brazos Valley Wedding Planning

On Sunday, September 21, our local Bridal Association held the annual Fall Bridal Show and Benefit where this year, 82 vendors in the wedding industry came together to showcase their trade and put their best foot forward to meet planning brides. It proved to be one of the most attended shows, by brides and vendors alike, which is always a good reflection of those involved!

The bridal shows have become fun for us on a few different levels of participation. We get to enjoy the “bride” side by guiding current clients that we are wedding planning with and making sure they hit certain booths while at the show to do side by side comparisons. Then, we also get to exhibit as a “vendor” but more importantly, assist other vendors in booth design and rentals to help make their booths look the best they can! Here are a few of our favorite reasons from both sides of why bridal shows are pertinent to planning…

Why attend as a bride?

Style – Yes, as a “designing” company, this is always one we stress! Whether you are selecting vendors or just visiting with ones you already have contracted, you want to know they have a sense of style that fits with what you are planning. Your styles don’t have to match, you just have to have confidence that your florist, baker, wedding coordinator, wedding designer/decorator, rental company, photographer and videographer (to name a few) have the ability to read your style and execute what your vision is.
ComparisonThis is one chance you get to have vendors of the same trade in one location where you can pick their brains and decide which you feel most comfortable with, whether it is that you make your decision that day or set up a follow up appointment to make that final agreement. Ask them the same questions, don’t be afraid to talk price, and use the time as a mini interview session.
IdeasYou may already have your vendors selected, or your wedding may be out of town, but going to bridal shows can often trigger the creative juices and add some element of surprise for your wedding. If you find something you love there, don’t be afraid to talk to the vendor about it. They should be more than happy to share the tricks of the trade even if you aren’t able to work together.
GiveawaysThat’s right, free things! Most bridal shows offer door prizes, hourly drawings, vendor booth drawings, and/or grand prizes that can really add up when you’re tallying up your budget. Don’t miss that opportunity!
Girls dayTake your mom, his mom, your girlfriends and bridesmaids and just make a day of it! This can be a good bonding time for all of you without being too overwhelming with opinions and will give everyone something to focus on. They can even have wedding specific jobs after attending the show as you get details nailed down.
Eat Cake!…and all other goodness! – Possibly one of the most fun components of planning any wedding…the cake tastings! At bridal shows, you get to taste multiple cakes by multiple vendors so you can be absolutely confident they one you have chosen is the one that matches your taste buds. But not only do you get to sample multiple cakes while at the show, you get to sample the culinary work of different caterers as well.

Why attend as a vendor?

StyleShow it off! As vendors we should be flexible with the way we work our style to make sure that the end product reflects the wishes of the client. But the bridal show is an instance, just like in a vendor’s office/showroom/personal space, that we all get to use our creativity and show what our personal style is which is a huge draw for clients and should be a lot of fun for vendors. Use trendy colors or themes, or stick with something traditional and classic that always screams your name. Just do your thing!
NetworkingWorking in a like industry we need to know who we are working with, who offers what services, what names go with what businesses, and be able to share stories, business laughs and referrals. Most of the time when we are all working together it is at a wedding or event, so the shows are a little more light hearted, a little less focused on one client and can typically spare a few good conversations. It also helps to know who you like on a personal level so that you can share that, and professional experiences, with your clients. We all know how powerful word of mouth is!
Meet those bridesWhat other opportunity are you going to have to be in a room with 250-400 brides who are in the middle of planning their weddings?! This is your platform! I hear people say all the time, “The shows don’t really work for me.” If that’s the case, no big deal, but make sure you track that progress. Know going in what will make it successful for you. How many bookings do you need to get to cover your costs? How many bookings do you need to get to exceed your expectations? Set goals and make those connections with the brides that you can feel are the right fit with you. It is a hard realization as a vendor, but we are not meant to work with all clients. A bridal show brings these different personalities to you for a mini speed dating session so that you can gather their information and follow up down the road to make sure you reconnect.
A day out of the officeThis can mix it up a little bit and give you a different line up in your schedule! In the wedding industry 8am-5pm jobs are not the norm, but this can help get you out of the office, stop the computer work, and get the social chatter going. It is usually a welcome break.
Team buildingThis is a good opportunity to give different members of your team “Bridal Show” related jobs and see how they handle the task of setting up, exhibiting and pulling together a full concept of a booth. There are more components that go into it than some expect and working on projects such as this are good steps for those coming into the industry. Make sure as the manager, or owner, that you help along the way and know what the end product will be so that you can give your stamp of approval because ultimately you will hold the responsibility.

To those who attended as brides, we enjoyed meeting you and talking briefly about your wedding plans. We’ve been excited to start relationships after the show and will enjoy seeing those weddings bloom.

To those who attended as vendors, we enjoyed talking with you, seeing your ideas and style and will see you again soon.

To those who were on the planning side of the show, job well done and congratulations on the contribution that will be given to Pink Alliance at the October banquet. The donation is always such a high point!

Happy planning, businesses and brides. xoxo

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ISO || Full Time Coordinator || Ashley & Co.

We are putting out a casting call now for qualified coordinators who have in one way or another fallen in love with this industry and are interested in being a part of our team. The “short” version of who we are is an event planning and rental company, located in College Station, Texas. We have a wonderful work family, but you have to love this industry and understand the ins and outs of many side…

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…

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…

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.


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.



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.

baby pod and bipbaby pod

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.

brandi podshop pod

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.


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!


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.


{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.

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.

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.


Outdoor Weddings {Brazos Valley Wedding Planning}


Let’s face it, you’re either the personality type who can handle an outdoor wedding ceremony and/or reception or you’re not. Yes, it is gorgeous. You have the purity of the natural beauty as your setting and you get to build on that when considering your wedding décor. But you also have mother nature as your guest of honor, who may or may not be in a cooperative mood.

If you are a bride who has always dreamed of an outdoor ceremony or reception and you know that you will not be satisfied until you find that perfect location, even if it is equipped with a questionable back up plan, by all means go outside! You have a 50/50 chance that you will get that perfect day that you have envisioned, and along the way, you will create and execute plans for “just in case”.

We have been very lucky the last few weeks to have been blessed with many inches of rain, mostly on Saturdays. That, of course, has made for some scrambling to put Plan B into place, quick drying of chairs as the rain stops 15 minutes before the outdoor ceremonies and a few nervous brides around the Brazos Valley. It has not, however, stopped anyone from getting married, having the most beautiful wedding of their dreams, and getting to celebrate and dance the night away with friends and family.

Most people think that rain is the main issue when planning an outdoor reception, but realistically it is a very small portion of what you will have to deal with when your big day comes. When planning an outdoor ceremony and/or reception, keep these things in mind to help you be prepared for what is to come.

12008_356Weddings by Crystal Littrell Photography

{Back Up Plan} – If it rains, what is your back up plan? That might be a tent, it might be another building on the property, it might be the same location as the reception with guests sitting at the tables, but you will need to have a plan in mind so that you can go to it if necessary. If it is a tent, find out what you need to do to get that reserved and what your final deadline is to reserve. If it needs to be a frame tent or pole tent. Decide on sides and flooring, and what you will do if there is a break from the tent to another building that guests will be in as well. If the back up plan is another building on property, can that building hold the ceremony and reception? Will you have to do a flip or can you have both set up in different locations? If your guests will sit at their tables during the ceremony make sure there is an aisle for you to make it down and that everyone is able to make it in out of the rain in some fashion.

{Wind} – Often the wind can be just as bad, if not worse than the rain! Keep the wind in mind when you are designing your table-scapes. Keep your centerpieces heavy enough to not be effected by large gusts and minimize what other pieces you have. Napkins may need to be weighted down by silverware, plates, chargers, or folded in a creative way to keep them in place. LED candles will be your best friend with the wind! Don’t try real candles, you will fight all night long. Table clips might be a consideration for your linens to make sure they don’t blow off the tables. You can also prop the chairs up against them to keep them in place.

{Bugs} – Most locations keep a very close watch on bugs year round to make sure they don’t have too many gnats or mosquitos as unwelcome guests during a reception, but it is always a good idea to bring some additional back up. Spray, candles, or clips can be good options, and you can ask the venue what methods they use and if they see any issues with bugs in the evenings. If there has been a large rain or there is a pond (which will provide a beautiful backdrop) you could have some extra “friends”. Keep in mind if you have your cakes, food or bar being set outside that the bugs will probably be drawn to these areas too due to the tempting sugar and alluring lights!

{Heat or Cold} – Let’s face it, this is Texas, so we can swing 50 degrees in a day at the drop of a hat. Keep heat and cold in mind and know what options you have with fans and/or heaters to be provided by the venue or rented by you and placed to make your guests (and yourself) comfortable. Large fans are great to circulate air for the heat, but “swamp coolers” are another good addition when it is extreme. Think about water or alternative beverages during the ceremony and options for shade if it is during the daylight.

Let me share with you three precious couples who made sure their days were covered in back up plans.

end of ceremony
Audrey & Glen were married in March at Astin Mansion in Bryan. They had a lovely spring wedding planned with an outdoor ceremony and reception. On the rehearsal day we had nice “springtime” weather with temperatures near 75 degrees. On the wedding day the temperature dropped to near 45 degrees and we had winds of 30 MPH. Plans changed. The ceremony was held outside with heaters to warm the guests and the once planned outdoor seating for the reception was moved indoors. The indoor seating gave Audrey and Glen a great opportunity to spend quality time with each guest at their tables while finishing dinner and was a nice intimate setting.

Heather & Dustin were married in early October in a church and went to Royalty Pecan Farms for their reception immediately following. It was a beautiful, sunny day, but there was a little bit of a breeze when setting the reception! The guests tables and dance floor were all set in a tent and to keep the linens and napkins on the tables pieces were strategically placed and used as anchors. Heather kept in mind that wind can often be a factor at outdoor receptions when planning her centerpieces and made Plan A and B for everything that would be on the table tops.

Lauren & Brant were married at Pebble Creek Country Club in a ceremony overlooking the golf course in August. An evening ceremony was planned, which seemed like a safe plan, until it was the hottest summer on the books. Five minutes before the wedding party was to walk down the aisle it was still well over 100 degrees. The ceremony was abbreviated and the guests were quickly ushered into the air conditioning to enjoy nice cold beverages and appetizers. The wedding party, bride and groom finished pictures like rock stars!

Come rain or shine, wind or storm, the show will go on. So, if you are a bride who has dreamed of that day being outdoors, keep these things in mind and keep and open mind. If you think it is too much for you handle on your wedding day, maybe battling Mother Nature is not your thing. Either way, your day will be perfect for you. Each wedding should.