Divide + Conquer

Divide and conquer: your task list. The to-do list for planning a wedding is way longer than some anticipate at first, and will seem to only get longer as planning progresses. Too many cooks in the kitchen is usually a recipe for endless stress.  You are more likely to cave to someone else's opinion because you just want the conflict to be over with, which is different then consciously and happily choosing for one person to have what they want to make them happy. You may even begin to agree with a cook you have a conflict with and then walk away and wonder when the heck just happened, no! 

Divide up all your tasks and then let the cooks in the kitchen know which course they are being assigned to. Who is most passionate about what? Who has a better eye or mind for one task versus another? Where will they feel and be of most value? You can always give them a few choices, that you have chosen, so it feels like they are making a choice too, and they are! Having a few ideas to choose from is always better than just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Think of the larger areas of action like hotels, catering, decor and music as subheadings for planning. Then collaboratively conquer each to-do with the one or two people assigned to that area. You can do this with or without a planner involved. A great wedding planner is able to navigate multiple relationships with you that may all funnel into the planning of one wedding, to help you stay sane, organized and cohesive. 

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Only real friends should be your wedding guests

Couples who have been married only a few years often remark how there were so many people at their wedding, or even bridal party, who they no longer speak to. They have fallen off the face of the Earth since the wedding. Maybe life shifts, attentions divert, people move away. For the most part, included in this group are people with which your bonds may have been superficial. 

Do not invite certain people to look good. Do not fear you will look less than if this or that person does not attend your wedding too. So what if they were in your fraternity - be the cool discerning outlier and do not invite everyone. There are other innovative people in your alumni association that will accomplish more and be a better contact for life, and they do not care about being invited to your wedding. Similarly, do not invite people that will attend your wedding just because they too have FOMO. Your wedding day is too meaningful for that. 

Do not invite work friends that are not going to be friends after you change your job. Invite no one for work. If anyone asks say it was your in-laws rule. Just think how much less annoying it will be if you plan on keeping your job. No endless stories for years to come about your gross cake (joking) or the time Timmy decided to use the bushes to relieve himself and your grandma saw. Joking again or maybe not. Additionally, your parents should not be allowed to invite their work friends either, and that goes for both sets of parents.

Lastly, in the New York City and surrounding suburban areas it is really hard to find many attractive venues that have a guest count at or exceeding 250 people. There are enough venues that push their max capacity to be more attractive to more couples. If you doubt how comfortable their max capacity would be for you and your guests, then you may want to ask your coordinator to tell it like it is - is your guest count pushing it? Maybe ask for some photos of past weddings with a higher guest count or stalk instagram.

Having problems with your guest count? Ask yourselves who really will be there for you in five years. Those who are there for you for the long run do not need an event or milestone to take place in order to stay in touch and vice versa on your end as well. Plus, a smaller wedding makes for a more intimate wedding, which often times equates to a more relaxed atmosphere.

True friends = wedding guests

New Year’s State of Mind 2018

Every year I give books as gifts and below are this year’s picks. 

Waking Up by Sam Harris

Oh and download the app too. Harris’ book is an exploration of spirituality for those of you that are as interested as I am in the nature of reality.  Both knowledge of and the experience of reality come about by way of our minds. I’ll leave it at that. Headspace is also a great app too and I have heard of some other great meditation apps. Try them all!

Thirst by Scott Harrison 

The biography of charity: Water’s founder Scott Harrison. I adore this organization as many of you do I am sure. Not just because of its mission but because of its transparency. Harris is someone who has truly thought outside the box and gone far. He is truly an inspiration. 

Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris

I am a Tim Ferris fan. Pick up Four Hour Work Week too if you have not already and do not poo poo it because of its catchy title. In Tribe of Mentors, Ferris asks a bunch of successful people questions such as; ‘what is the book, or books, you’ve given most as a gift and why?’ Or ‘what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?’ ‘What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months, or recent memory?’ For me, that would be the app Waking Up. Headspace is both a great read and purchase because you can read one of these entries before bed say without needing the added concentration a novel calls for. 

Happy Reading! 

Enough of that….

Each year I do this New Years end blog. Unbeknownst to me, my year-end blog post has really resonated with those who read it. A few vendors and friends have asked about this years post. A few of you also know that this past year has personally been a noteworthy one, which for us all here is the same thing as a professionally noteworthy year. I am sure many of you are probably thinking ‘something went horribly wrong; or ‘something really good happened.’ Well, both inclinations are entirely wrong. It is this year that I have grown the most and subsequently ADE has grown the most.

I did have a health scare earlier this year, but this noteworthy of a year began well before that.

Each year I ask myself where I want to go and how I’m going to start down this renewed path. This is why I love the New Year - Planning! To drive this idea home, more often than not I will only have one glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve! New Years is the most religious of holidays for me.

About a year ago, I began to take a good inventory of my life. I literally wrote a mini pamphlet for myself on living my own life. No, you will never see this. It went through revisions, discoveries and more revisions. I can narrow it down to this………

I have three words: Simplicity, Intimacy and Wealth. If you fancy the word abundance more you can replace it with that.

I greatly value Time. Our mind is the primarily tool for making use of that time. Time looses its value if our mind cannot show up to meet it. Time is all we have.

Do not look at your emails on your phone and perhaps include in this list your texts as well, until after you are ready to show up for the day. For me it is after having had my morning coffee, some water and meditation.

What is most important to us here on a day-by-day basis is productivity. I am a recovering perfectionist that has resolved herself to excellence instead. As technology is designed to distract us, I do not let technology take control of my time or productivity.  If we allow each bell, whistle, prompt, text and alarm to take our attention there will be nothing left of us. We will loose ourselves and our ability to create whatever we have to offer. 

I have been meditating for well over a year now, every single day, sometimes twice a day. Just try meditation. I promise you, after some time, you will “get it” and not know how you ever went without it! Maybe I will write another blog post on this soon.

I also write in a journal every day and have been writing pretty much my whole life. I think you should too.

I work out at least five days a week. I always have and if I do not, I am not ‘normal Ashley.’ 

I read every day. I think you should too, and social media does not count. 

Nothing is ever about you. I repeat, nothing is ever about you.

Show up more and do less.

You really do feel, look and think better if you predominantly eat veggies. And living longer is worth it. 

We crave authenticity and we hope you do too.

Struggling is a habit. You can stop struggling and still accomplish as much, maybe even more!

Most days I commit to tackling the hardest thing first and move on from there.

We schedule time in the office because the more time we spend outside of the office; the less work we get done.

Everything that happens to you, happens for you. This is my life motto. 

You really have to take care of you first to take care of others. Doing otherwise is not a badge of honor but a selfish cry for attention, its you making it about you. 

That is all folks! Until next year! xo

Instagram Obsessed vs Smart Consumers

Social Media is a part of our lives now like Netflix and brushing our teeth. We are use to being turned on and inspired by pictures wherever and whenever...harmless of course. However, small bits of information, photos and the non regulated flow of information on most sites, such as Instagram, is just that, a random unregulated flow of information.

When many people become engaged, such as maybe yourself, they become obsessed with all of it. And you make assumptions and draw opinions about choices and vendors, and everything under the sun because of what you have gleamed from these sites or photos. The thing is if this cumulative impression of a vendor's quality, as taken from social media and press alone, is a driving force in your decision making, you are bound to come up short a noticeable portion of the time. You are being sold

Photos are not indicative of a job well done, nor is press, nor are followers. We know our social media presence and press is not a direct by product of our success with our clients, neither is it our definition of success and it should not be yours either.  Having a consistently exciting social media presence takes time and attention, perhaps away from clients. If you are a blog or a product like a bridal gown designer that is different - social media may actually be your job, your money-maker and passion. If a company wants to be huge they will bring on additional personelle, an expense that only increases the cost of a vendor or planner or that company's volume increases. Granted we have gotten substantially better with social media so it takes significantly less brain space and time. Also, companies can purchase followers and likes, and do not think that they do not. Lastly, when some attend industry seminars, they whip out manuals, programs and brochures and follow each and every person that is also in attendance or speaking. There is nothing wrong with being wonderful with PR, in fact it is smart. A good first impression is irreplaceable but there is a mountain more to be putting above what little you gleamed from a vendors social media presence. 

Why do we post this blog when we hardly blog at all? It is because talking with clients about why they should hire some vendors over others has become a larger part of the conversation since social media, in particular Instagram, has become more prominent in our every day life.  We are all susceptible to being sold - gather information and make educated choices but do not believe everything you read or view.

You may be thinking we are hypocrites because since January we have been in print twice and had four blog posts on national sites. We also have three more weddings for print to come out prior to September of this year and three more blog posts on the horizon. Well, some of this is luck, the fact that these weddings were enough "on-trend", those clients' hired great photographs that are popular on their own, and the fact that many of these time demanding submissions were handled by those appointed to do so at the photographer studios or the photographers themselves. Oh and did I mention luck?

Some ideas to ponder...

A luxury wedding client is not looking at the larger industry media outlet listings of vendors so they are significantly less inclined to go online and review a vendor because they never joined such and such a site in the first place - the process is much ore annoying to begin with a profile you otherwise would not have made. Many would prefer to write a hand written note, perhaps send a gift, as a thank you rather than go onto a website. They also don't want to reveal their identity on such sites and don't want more spam!  Furthermore, the luxury market puts more stock in referrals than reviews, made by random people, whose taste may be different than their own. The volume of reviews online should also not be a deciding factor. 

Maybe a vendor does a kick back to the past client once they review them with five stars? Maybe if they do so a bouquet will show up at their door or another person's door, so they save reviewing the vendor until the day of their BFF's birthday so their BFF gets fresh flowers delivered to their door for free. These are all realities we have heard about and know to be a fact. You are smart - do not be sold but fluff! 

There are photos out there that are lies. Planners posting as the full planner and designer on weddings they worked on starting three or four weeks out - this is a super common one we see all the time. 

There are photos of events posted by various vendors that are not even weddings or events they have worked on. Make sure posts are very clear about what they did on such and such an event, and who did what. Taste does have value but not misleading posts, those are lies. 

Hire vendors you know in your gut are straight shooters, have engaging conversation with you rather than just ask you what you want from them because they should already know the job and be asking you thought provoking logical questions.

Do not purchase a price tag or a package - Hire a person you want to be around that is highly passionate, experienced and competent, and with whom you feel heard.  

This concludes our Saturday afternoon-wine-blog-chat. Happy Spring. 

{Insert clever photo}  Ha!