Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ashley Baber Weddings: best coordinators in town!

I seem to be at a bit of a recap-impasse without my pictures from Jesse and Whitney (COMING VERY SOON!!!), so I'll take this break from recounting the wedding day to instead tell you more about some of the incredible people who helped us pull this thing off. Today's post is dedicated to the lovely Amanda Dana and Ashley Baber of Ashley Baber Weddings.

The one constant my mother and I both encountered when talking to friends who were former or current mothers of brides during my engagement was the insistence upon enlisting a day-of coordinator.* We heeded their advice, and, sometime late in the summer, selected Ashley
Baber from our pool of three possible coordinator candidates. If I'm being honest, I was already a little biased toward Ashley when it came time to choose. After all, she had worked with my caterer and photographers on many awesome and stylish weddings and from what I could tell she was similarly savvy and hip, not to mention young (which I liked. No offense, older wedding coordinator ladies!). Ashley came over to my parents' house to meet with us and won us over with her warmth, her charm and a nice mix of down-to-business and let's-have-fun.

After we signed the contract, our meetings and communications were with Ashley. She graciously allows all of her clients -- even just day-of types -- unfettered access via phone and email, so she helped us figure out who to look to for affordable
florals and transportation. By the time we came in for our first serious sit-down meeting in January, she had assigned us a coordinator from among her associates, since she would be elsewhere engaged on our wedding day. Ashley and Amanda both came to all our subsequent walkthrough and timeline meetings (and responded to all subsequent emails) and then Amanda really took the reins in the few weeks leading up to the wedding.

OK, so that sort of tells you how our arrangement worked. Now let me tell you why Amanda Dana is super amazingly awesome, and why you might wish for yourself such a
kickass coordinator.

The week of the wedding, Amanda came to me twice -- once to my house, once to my parents' -- to pick up things for the wedding. Programs, jars of honey, table numbers, guestbook and pens, extension cords, projector, many cases of
Cheerwine, extra flowers, etc. When she came over Wednesday morning to get the first load of stuff, she gave me a huge, excited hug, then we both pulled out our checklists and got down to business. Maybe it's just that we worked well together, I don't know, but I absolutely loved her sisterly enthusiasm and her commitment to getting everything done and done right.

On Friday, we had to resolve the fact that the
Smilebooth needed to be set up around 1 p.m. but we weren't able to get into the venue space until 4 p.m. This little snafu involved not only the photographers, but also the reception venue, the lighting contractor, and the caterer, among others. Amanda and Whitney devised a solution, then Amanda called me for the OK and went about calling each of the other vendors this change in timing would affect. I didn't have to do anything but say yes, and I knew all would go swimmingly.

Saturday she came by the house to get the last items for the reception, and I introduced her around to all the girls. Between then and the next time I saw her, in the church parlor shortly before the ceremony, she managed to make sure the reception setup was going to plan and relabeled honey jars for people whose table assignments were changed due to last-minute regretters. When Jon and I stepped off the minibus that trucked the whole wedding party to the reception at the entrance of Puritan Mill, she was waiting at the door, clipboard in hand. She whisked us away to a private table for two tucked away behind a curtain where we got to hear a tiny bit of the cocktail hour jazz combo and have some
hors d'oeuvres before we ran off with Jesse and Whitney for pictures. When it was time for us to come inside, she came to retrieve us. After we made our big entrance into the reception, she instructed us to sit and eat -- and thank god she did or I wouldn't have gotten a bite. I think we were probably the first people to sit and eat in the whole place. She took care of getting us drinks and everything.

All night she kept me posted on what was coming next, at least as long as it was relevant. Before cake-cutting time, Amanda came to me and said the DJ couldn't locate the song we had asked for to go with the cake.
Doh! That's because we never sent it to him (oops). I told her to let him do whatever, and it was so. She led us from the wedding cake to the groom's cake, and then got me a fresh glass of champagne when it came time for toasting. From there, the evening went on without any events we needed to be alerted of, but Amanda would pop up on occasion and put a mini water bottle in my hand and instruct me to drink, or ask if there was anything I needed. She was never obnoxious or in the way, but rather attentive and in control.

I was so pleasantly surprised by how well she took care of us during the reception -- I really had no idea that was part of the deal! Meanwhile, she was also gathering up all of the presents we had received and the things she had gotten from me earlier in the week and packing them up in my folks' car. After Jon and I made our exit, Amanda handed my parents their keys and told them they were good to go, everything had been taken care of. They didn't even need to go back inside.


To make a very long post short (too late, I know), as much as I'd like to think my mom and I could have pulled this whole wedding thing off ourselves, the truth is that we couldn't have -- or if we'd tried, it would not have been pretty. Mom and Dad would have been worried about what should happen when, I'd have been trying to keep track of time, and it would have been a terrifically stressful occasion. With Amanda and Ashley's help, we were all able to focus on visiting with our friends and family and celebrating as heartily as we wanted without having to divide our attentions elsewhere.

In summary, get a coordinator, and if possible make it Ashley or one of her associates. You won't regret the investment!

--
*There is no such thing as a day-of coordinator! It's true.

2 comments:

  1. I absolutely second every word of that!

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  2. Thank you so much, Kathleen! It was absolutely our pleasure to work with you and your Mom throughout the planning process and I know Amanda enjoyed ya'll as well!

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