10 Little Lessons from an ADE Intern
We hope you find this as entertaining as our staff did!
After a summer jam packed with weddings, an engagement party and numerous client meetings I could write a novel. But instead I will give you the concise version of my summer as an intern at Ashley Douglass Events by telling you ten little lessons I learned from following around the Energizer Bunny that is my boss. Before I start, however, I will tell you this: an event planned by Ashley epitomizes a true balance of orchestration and aesthetics with great care and energy put into creating a uniquely personalized celebration.
1) The Client comes first. It is their event after all. As event planners we need to be readily available for the client to help ensure that their day is exactly as they pictured it. On wedding days we are there to hold the bride’s bouquet as she takes pictures, or instruct the members of the band where to set up their instruments for the ceremony. We are there to ensure that everything runs smoothly while the client is enjoying the special day. If we need to drive to a Stop & Shop at 11pm down the road to get bread and cheese so the caterer can make the five-year-old ring bearer a grilled cheese, we will do it. Trust me, I know from first hand experience. I am the intern. The bond that we form with our clients is close-nit and the smile on their face at the end of the night is priceless. Nothing is more humbling than watching the clients enjoy the event they so eagerly anticipated.
2) Don’t leave home without THE binder. I think the last time I used a binder was in middle school, when all my classwork was compiled into one large, bright pink, well-ordered binder. I had no idea that a binder would come back into my life in a day and age when technology has completely consumed us. But trust me, an organized binder is crucial in this field. Now, each event gets its own binder complete with protective sleeves for each piece of paper that relates to that particular event - ya know in case you spill on it or need multiple copies of each piece of paper. From emails with clients and vendors to a list of contacts for the event, these binders have it all. And of course Ashley knows the contents of all of these binders without even looking at them. This is what OCD looks like. For someone, like myself, who cannot rattle off the names of the entire bridal party of one wedding, I rely heavily on the binder and its contents to provide me with all the information I need. Now if you think that is organization than you have never seen a timeline.
3) No time like the timeline. In my mind, timelines are the saving grace of weddings. Every hour of the day planned and compiled onto one piece of paper, nothing gets much better than that. Timelines help keep us alert and aware of what is happening on wedding days, from when the photographer will begin shooting to when the band arrives and needs to do sound check by. In the event that one of the guests asks “what time do I have to be at family photography and where” we can immediately flip through the timeline and tell them “3:10pm at the entrance of the tent.” After entrees are removed, move this table to position C, then flag the smaller bus, then roll out the cake, alert the firework man of the cake cutting five minutes before its rolled out and cut the cake ten minutes after its rolled, and the fireworks will begin seven minutes after its rolled out, etc. Honestly I’m going to start organizing my days into neatly planned timelines. LOL! With events having so many moving parts, organization is key to maintaining a smooth event.
4) Napkin folding is an art. Need I say more.
5) The Devil is in the Details, large and small: A Wedding day is similar to collecting hundreds of loose ribbons and tying them together into a neat bow. There are so many elements that make up an intricately designed event, whether it is something as large as the venue or as small as the guest book and the linen it sits on top. Everything done at an event planned by Ashley is done thoroughly; nothing can slip through the cracks. Each table setting must be arranged precisely, escort cards lined up symmetrically, chairs tucked into the table with just the right spacing. While these details may seem small, they add up to WOW. When you see a client walk into their reception room or tent for the first time when its all set up, its well worth the sleepless nights!
6) You can’t have enough hands. The day before my first wedding of the season Ashley told me, “wear a black dress, bring a phone charger and don't forget to print the day of papers.” So that night I packed my bag with a portable phone charger my brother happened to have and printed out the timeline and all of the necessary papers for the day of the event. Little did I know that I would need to carry around those papers all day long with a pen in hand to jot down notes or make necessary changes. So after fumbling around with all of my belongings and having no free hands, I decided to invest in a folder to hold the papers and a black blazer with pockets of course. As a wedding planner you are constantly on the move, checking in with vendors or assisting the bride and groom. There are times when you wish you could grow a few more limbs on the spot. Not only do you have to carry your own belongings but you might have to carry the mother of the bride’s bag of shoes, the bride’s bouquet, the maid of honor’s bouquet and a spare bottle of water all at the same time. It becomes a juggling act but as wedding planners we are great at juggling. And you must also invest in a cross body bag - Ashley has about ten.
7) Expect the Unexpected. It is inevitable.
8) Get a little Creative. Now as someone who took art throughout high-school and college I embraced the crafty tasks that were thrown my way. Write names on magnolia leaves to make escort cards? Bring it on! And the crafts did not stop there, I found myself creating escort cards out of driftwood and writing on chalkboards to make welcome signs for a lakeside engagement party. I was excited to find that events are not just the niddy griddy of securing a venue and vendors but also have many elements of craft and design as well. However, this summer I learned I have the handwriting of a calligrapher and Ashley says there should be a new font named “The Soaper”.
9) Be There. This is probably the most important lesson I learned as an intern. And it is as simple as that. Making yourself available for clients, vendors and the rest of your team is crucial as a wedding planner. So many different people are counting on you to answer their questions or provide them with a little more insight into their event, you need to be there for them to help guide them through the day. One of the busiest people I know, Ashley is constantly on the move, traveling from client meetings to vendor meetings to site inspections, the woman does not stop. When I go to sleep at 10:30 pm I know that Ashley will be up for several more hours responding to emails or re-organizing the timeline. If I can lighten her load by making calls or picking up samples from a vendor consider it done.
I cannot begin to thank Ashley and the rest of the team for such an incredible learning opportunity and summer. Never in a million years did I think I would get out of bed every morning excited to go to work. This is a field that never slows down, but luckily Ashley has rechargeable batteries; this little bunny isn't slowing down anytime soon.
Initially I told you there were 10 lessons I learned as an ADE intern, but there is actually one more. That lesson is this: 10) ADE Rocks! After months of watching her events unfold I have realized that with Ashley behind the wheel any celebration can be as beautifully managed as it is artfully designed.