This past week I had the opportunity to sit down with Ashley, the Owner and Executive Coordinator/Designer for C & A Event Planning. At C & A Event Planning, they offer wedding planning/styling and floral design. Ashley is such a sweetheart! I really enjoyed talking with her as she gave me a tour of the grounds at Gilbertsville Farmhouse (one of her favorite wedding venues and ALSO where Ashley is getting married this fall... how exciting!) in South New Berlin, NY.
Rebecca: How did you get started with event planning? Is this something that you've always wanted to do?
Ashley: So, Im an only child and I grew up with my mom working in the wedding industry as a food and beverage director at an elite hotel, as well as a sales manager and event director at a member only country club. Middle school is actually when I started; I would set tables, fill out contracts and I would pretty much do anything that they would let me do. In 2009, we decided to launch our own wedding planning company; It was a dream that we had always had and it was kind of like a now or never kind of situation. C & A Event Planning stands for Cathy (my mom) and Ashley (myself). My mom is like my right hand working behind the scenes. I do all of the social media managing and marketing and my mom does a lot of the flower counts, tells me what to order, and venue walk throughs. Then we come together on the actual wedding day to execute everything. When we first started the company we were based in Richmond, VA. We moved back to Upstate NY back in 2013 (where I am originally from) and we saw a need for the specialty that we wanted for our brides so we added flowers into the mix in 2014. Is this what I've always wanted to do? Yes, weddings are pretty much in my blood. That's what I grew up around; As a kid I used to get to see the spaces after my mom and her team had set them up and I would kind of thrive on the adrenaline rush that you get before an event and then through college (believe it or not, I actually went to school for Psychology) I worked banquets with her to pay for school and it was the adrenaline that hooked me.
Rebecca: What inspires you as a wedding planner? Is there a certain person in the wedding industry that you look up to?
Ashley: I wouldn't say there's a certain person that I look up to. I would say it's the fact that people can really make their wedding completely unique. As much as we do weddings here at Gilbertsville Farmhouse, there's never ever been two wedding that have looked the same. So that inspires me that you can make each wedding completely unique to you and your personality and that's what I try to push our brides to do. I want to make them feel like they don't have to do something traditional just because that's what's always been done. I want them to be as comfortable as possible on their special day, and if their personality is showing through they will be comfortable.
Rebecca: What is your favorite part about planning weddings?
Ashley: I think really getting to know my clients is the most fun. We've set up our company to be a very family oriented company and we really thrive to get to know our clients. I want to laugh with them, I want to cry with them, and I want to see their vision come to life with them. Our clients are not just a number with us, they're family. My favorite type of wedding to plan is a rustic, elegant barn wedding.
Rebecca: So you're a bride to be yourself... What has it been like planning your own wedding?
Ashley: It's been interesting. It came together really easily, which kind of makes me second guess everything but I have all of the connections so that has helped it go much smoother and faster. I'm making it unique to us, we didn't want anything big. I typically plan larger events but we wanted a smaller more intimate wedding. It's going to be all about my son, my fiance and I celebrating.
Rebecca: What is your best advice for engaged couples that are planning a wedding? And on their wedding day?
Ashley: If you're planning your wedding, take it one day at a time. Don't rush through it and enjoy the process. Even when it gets stressful, enjoy it because it's going to be over before you know it. And ultimately stay true to yourself and your personality because at the end of the day this is YOUR day! On your wedding day, try to soak it all in as much as you can because it really will go by with the blink of an eye and I want them to really feel the emotions and be present. Don't be preoccupied with what the weather is; just enjoy and savor all of your hard work coming together and ultimately you're getting married at the end of the day... that's what this is all about!
Rebecca: What do you like to do on your free time when you aren't planning weddings?
Ashley: I like to be crafty, bake, cook and just have family time. I have a 5 year old and he is all boy, so we are always outside and doing projects.
Rebecca: What are your future goals and plans as far as your business goes?
Ashley: I want to continue to grow. I would love to do a destination wedding. That's kind of been on my bucket list for a long time. I'm doing a destination styled shoot in Waco, Texas (Today...I'm so jealous... hope you're having an awesome time Ashley!). Ultimately, I would love the opportunity to really grow and kind of stand out more than in just New York as a planner. I would love for somebody in a different state to find us and want for us to plan their wedding.
Rebecca: So you're doing a styled shoot in Waco, Texas? How exciting... How did this all come about?
Ashley: There is a group of us wedding professionals out of The Rising Tide Society's, Scranton chapter going. I've never actually met the women that I'm traveling with. I'm meeting them on Monday when we board the plane. So, they posted something about wanting to take a trip down there and that it would be fairly cheap and the more people we got the cheaper it would be. Then, they posted a couple days later that they wanted to do a styled shoot so I was just like, Ok, just tell me where you need me and when! I was like I can do flowers and I've actually kind of helped to take over the styling coordinating of it as well. It's a brand new venue that we're doing it at, so it'll be a lot of fun! The theme is going to be a kind of magnolia true southern belle theme.
Rebecca: That sounds amazing! Where is the best people for people to reach out to you?