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

JORDAN + ERIC | Westchester Country Club | Rye, New York | June 2017

This wedding appeared in the pages of The Knot in January 2018, on Inside Weddings, inside Westport Magazine, on Carats & Cake, Style Me Pretty and Westchester/Hudson Valley Wedding Magazine. 

This wedding was a class act filled with creativity and smart choices! We LOVE the vendors we love and cannot say enough about how hard they worked with us on this wedding to make everything come together on point. And the spirit and love at this wedding equaled its beauty! 

As most wedding decor, we started off with an inspiration board that came out of Ashley Douglass's first conversation with the beautiful and fun Bride Jordan. We both shared our love for home design, kitchens in particular, marble, mixed metals and pillows. You can see a screenshot of a portion of the first design inspiration board Ashley Douglass sent on to Jordan below. As you can see the wedding in the end did reflect some of these initial ideas, which is not always the case.  

Masarek Inspo 1 JPEG.jpg
Masarek Inspo 2 JPEG.jpg

Then somewhere down the line, once we have the florist contracted and in this case the lovely KDJ Botanica who we adore collaborating with, will get more specific on details and arrange a decor rehearsal day, the most fun you will have while planning!  KDJ and us have the same taste and could at times finish each other's sentences and I think she would say the same. Not to mention how stunning her arrangements are and the quality of the flowers she is able to procure time and time again! 

We played around with adding marble as an element or adding more grey/blue chiffon like runners and a zillion linens. In the end the result was a bit less romantic and more bright and a more refreshing take on modern for a wedding while still being happy and soft. The marble sealed the deal, as did the linens and then which shade of candle to be used. We love colored candles - so many options! 

This crowd was a super passionate, loving and happy a crowd, and clearly knew how to bust a move on the dance flower with fabulous tunes and endless amounts of time on preparation by Starlight Music NYC. 

We can't thank the Bride, Groom, and family enough for being open to ideas and having fun playing around until we got everything just right. It was a super fun night and thank you to the team at Westchester Country Club for accepting our endless back and forth with logistical ideas and details, and helping to make the planning perfect for both entire families. 

This wedding was featured in PRINT in The Knot New York. Check out the fabulous (and large) three page spread below and on newsstands all throughout New York! Vendor credits below as well! Thank you, thank you! XO 

The Knot 2018 SSNY Jordan Eric 1.jpg
The Knot 2018 SSNY Jordan Eric Melani Lust Ashley Douglass.jpg

Thank you to the fabulous team, including our own! Thank you Paige, Julia, Rachel, Page, Sarah and all! 

Planning + Design | Ashley Douglass Events

Florals + Design | KDJ Botanica

Photography | Melani Lust Photography

Venue | Westchester Country Club

Gown | Caroline Castigliano from The Plumed Serpent Bridal, Westport, CT

Bridesmaids | Joanna August from Bella Bridesmaids

Band | Starlight Music NYC

Cinematographer | Seaglass Studios

Lighting | Social Decor

Make up | Truly Happy Beauty

Tent | NY Tent

Rings | Diamond Cellar

Invitations | Bella Figura 

Poster Sketch of Dog | Social Alchemy Design

Day of Stationery | GCD Weddings

Lounge Rentals | Gather and Lounge 

Rentals | Borrowed + Blue

Rentals | Party Rental LTD. 

RACHEL + DAVID | Ritz Carlton, Westchester, New York

Every wedding is different as every family is different, let alone each couple and venue. Planning a wedding for a couple that has been together for over a decade has its own special characteristics too. Also, this is a second marriage for them both. The inclusion of children became most important, and sweet, and honoring both family members and friends that have been by their side through thick and thin, for decades. 

While most couples today want their ceremony to be over as soon as possible, it’s the ceremony we talked about most while planning this wedding. For one, limiting the bridal party was hard! Does the Bride and Groom keep it to friends or to family because having them both was just too many people! In the end we got very creative which made for a more personal, goose bump worthy ceremony. 

First in the processional came the Bride’s closest friends, some of which have become the Groom’s as well. These friends were coined “the flower friends”. They walked first and to assigned seats, which lined the ceremony aisle. Once they got to their assigned seats, they stood by their chair until it was time for them to sit. In their hands they carried a portion of Rachel’s bridal bouquet. Then came her closer family members - her niece, the Groom’s niece, siblings and then last, the Bride’s two daughters, all of which stood under the Chuppha with the Bride and Groom, and Rabbi. Rachel then walked the aisle by herself making her way from one flower friend to the next, building her bridal bouquet as she walked. Each piece was wrapped in ribbon with a heavy duty magnet inside to help keep the pieces together. Once she got to the Chuppha her long time friend and mentor, who sat in the front row, met her by the Chuppha. This friend has been in her life since they met at Summer camp when he was just a few years older and her CIT - “Counselor in training” for those of you who never went to camp! He helped her tie the pieces of her bouquet into one, and lifted her veil over her face as a father would, and helped her walk up to the Chuppha to meet her Groom. It was a tear jerker to say the least. Guests hummed to Do Di Lee along with the musicians.  

When it came to design, she would use the words such as lush, feminine and romantic. While she loved the pictures she accumulated that were more traditional for a ballroom or hotel setting, she also loved more modern weddings and couldn’t really make up her mind what direction she wanted to move. In the end she felt if she went too modern then she may regret it later on, so the sense of modern was minimal, such as chairs we chose. This is a common conversation that comes up with wedding gowns more often but for venue design as well. If I really express myself and how I feel today, will I regret not having been more traditional in design twenty years from now? For her the answer was yes.

The venue was chosen for a host of reasons and in the end, the main ingredient they wanted in a venue, which was to be by the ocean, was not possible. The couple resides in Westchester and needed the venue to be rather local to accommodate all the people they hoped to attend - more important than the ocean. Having hotel accommodations on-site to make the weekend easy for all far away family members, many of which have children, and to be close to the city, close to LaGuardia and close to their home. The Ritz in Westchester is located near metro north and there is another hotel that is brand new as of 2016 right around the corner for those that wanted to spend a bit less on accommodations.  The weekend started with dinner at a near by restaurant and ended on Sunday with guests being shuttled to the couples brand new home in nearby Rye, New York - something that was very important to them both. 

We got lucky that day on traffic. As sometimes is the case we watched WAZE like a hawk and all roads were clear, so the couple, along with their fabulous photographer we love so much, Roey Yohair, traveled to Greenwich to get in some waterfront photos.  Then on the way back they also managed to take a quick pit stop at their home in Rye, NY to include Ackerman, their family dog in the festivities. Then back to the Ritz in time for the Ketubah signing and ceremony. All roads where clear and gosh are we thankful. The risk was worth the reward said the bride and I was happy to oblige as long we the risks were understood. Thank you to the traffic gods!

Thank you to all the vendors that made this wedding exactly what the couple wanted it to be! They waited a awful long time for this day to come and they couldn’t have been more thrilled. I will never forget the look at Rachel’s face when she entered the reception room during cocktail hour and her jaw fell. She screamed, “My white dance floor, my big white dance floor” and began to dance as the band, The Carlos Estrella Band, warmed up. They were fabulous by the way and nailed the very much rehearsed first dance the couple had prepared with them for weeks beforehand. 

Photography below by Roey Yohair 

Planning + Design | Ashley Douglass Events

Florals + Design | Fleurs NYC

Photography | Roey Yohai Photography

Venue | Ritz Carlton

Gown | Austin Scarlett

Band | Carlos Estrella Band from Hank Lane

Cinematographer | First Day Films

Lighting | Social Event Decor

Make up | Amanda Shakleton

Gown Dresser | The Stylish Dresser

Invitations | Bella Figura

Caligraphy & Design | Sarah Hanna

Rentals | Nuage Designs

Rentals | Party Rental LTD

2017 updates!

Just like the economy and weather, each year has a bit of its own character in regards to the industry's health, for lack of a better word. Next year, 2017 (even 2018 dare I say), seems to be a rather healthy one.

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Extra Set of Hands, By Julia D'Agostino

Extra Set of Hands, By Julia D'Agostino

In just a few short weeks our Summer Intern Julia D'Agostino goes back to complete her BFA in Photography and Journalism from Loyola University Maryland. Below is her Summer's end blog, that is enough to make me cry! She is always welcomed back, and speaking of which, we hope to see her still, virtually, this Winter season. Without further adieu.... "Extra Set of Hands"

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