Love is Love is Love!

Love is Love is Love!

All love should be celebrated. Young love, new love, familiar love, old love, playful love, enduring love, soulful love, passionate love, wholehearted love, blissful love, devoted love, enamored love, inspirational love, soothing love, energetic love, love between a woman and a man, love between two women, love between two men, LOVE BETWEEN PEOPLE. Love is love is love is love. There is something beautiful to be found in each love. Something unique that only exists within that love, between those  two people. Sometimes we can see a glimpse of it from the outside and it is such a wonderful thing to witness. Since June 25th, 2014 here in our city we have had the pleasure of seeing types of love that had been forcibly uncelebrated by matrimony. When St. Louis legalized same sex marriage, our eyes were opened to celebrating equality in love and we haven’t closed them since.
This week, four years ago, our community and Mayor at the time {Francis Slay}, pushed for love equality and four same sex couples were legally married! One of the couples, Miranda Duschack & Karen Davis had previously been married in a spiritual ceremony however they remarried to celebrate a legality of their love. Tod Martin and David Grey, also married on 6.24.14, had been in a committed relationship since 1991. They were engaged on June, 26th, 2013; the day the Windsor decision was handed down from the Supreme Court. John Durnell and Richard Eaton had been together for 39 years, living together in Soulard. On their special day they were finally able to wed at the ages of 63 and 75. The fourth couple, Bruce Yampolsky and Terry Garrett celebrated their 30 years of love and wedding day bliss on that fabulous day in June four years ago as well. Bruce and Terry both served on many community boards including Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders {SAGE}. Can you imagine not being able to be legally joined with the one you have shared your life with for decades? Neither can we. We’re so happy to support all couples in our community and their love journey.
You know that type of love that is so powerful you want to shout it from the rooftops? So do we! We see it in our lovely couples {like these two handsome guys above} and it is such a magical thing. Its something too special to be hidden. So, this weekend, in honor of the four couples married on June 24th, 2014; those that fought for their rights before them; and the many happy duos that have and will wed after them we will celebrate the outcome of the battle of love equality. Because we’re firm believers that LOVE WILL ALWAYS WIN!
Want to celebrate too? Check out PrideFest St. Louis for details. LGBTQ+ Vendors we had the pleasure to work with on this lovely affair. Kassaundra Schario {St. Louis Wedding Officiant}, Bobbi Brinkman PhotographyJewel Box {Ceremony and Reception}, CJ’s DJ’s {Music and Lighting}, Celebrating Life {Cake}, Jed Transportation      Photos Courtesy of Bobbi Brinkman Photography
2015: Very Married and Bright Year!

2015: Very Married and Bright Year!

This year at Signed Sealed Delivered has been the most magical! It was a roller coaster of amazing events and learning curves sprinkled with old friends and sparkled with new! Here is an SSD year at a glance! I am so proud and full of love when I look back at these memories I was a part of creating and the team of people who came together to execute just that!
I kicked off the year with a photo shoot that I had been dreaming about with a dear friend and photographer Dreaming Tree. She captured my joy with my real life SSD brides! We designed the backdrops with Grand Rental Station! Love that Lea! Flowers by An Affair to Remember Hair and Make Up by Halo Salon all took place at the Regency Conference Center and the sweet Sugarbelle Cakery made adorable cookies for us!
SSD’s first event of the season was a vow renewal at my old stomping ground, the Four Points with two people so deeply in love after 35 years you will want to take tips from them! I worked with A Special Touch Florist and the ever jazzy Green Wall Studio Sparked Media Collective Grand Rental Unique Moments Epic Entertainment My favorite part of this event was all listening to all the kind things that their family had to say about them. And I know that typically people say nice things on camera about you at your party- but these guests were literally choking up while they were talking about how genuine and kind and loving Mark and Donna are. It will make you wish you were a part of their family. Watch their event video here. And try not to cry while Mark reads his vows to Donna. Pure love.
In March I attended the Wedding Market Expo where I met Johnny Lewis at HoteLumiere. He recently took over in the wedding sales department at this hidden gem and asked if I would collaborate with him Trotter Photography and TKO DJ’s to create some prettiness for his marketing material that really showcased their space. From there we built a team consisting of  Tower Studios Artistry Florist Ultimate Bride Savvi Formalwear Sugarbelle Cakery La Belle Mariee Carolyn Burke Weinhardt Party Rentals and PK Paper Art The HoteLumiere has an incredible lobby with grand piano, a bar, and a modern waterfall, and skylights – perfect for hosting cocktail hours, a ceremony and even the reception. And their theatre space is unlike any other in the city. It’s a must see plus Johnny is simply the best and you will love meeting him! PS The food here is splendid!
 
Now I am the first to admit that I am awful at saying no, but this year I tried really hard to say: I have enough on my plate, but thank you for asking. But when my favorite Amber Green Photography says lets get together for coffee, I knew exactly where it was going. I went to Starbucks kicking and screaming- full well knowing that I would figure out how to add that one more thing to my plate. Wonderful things always happen when SSD and AGP get together and this time was no different.Our other carefully chosen vendors included the glamorous Magnolia Hotel with  Clementines Creamery Sparked Media Collective Ravishing Bridal Simply Elegant Men’s Warehouse Adam Foster Fine Art JewelryUnique Moments St. Louis Officiants Allegro Entertainment  Sugarbelle Cakery An Affair to Remember We created 3 separate scenes with 3 separate real life couples (an engagement, a sparkly and colorful wedding and a classy, more glamorous look). It was a 12 hour shooting day and countless hours of editing for AGP but the final product was gorgeous and each tells a beautiful story.
Super proud to say this bad boy was published in the The Westchester Wedding Planner And Amber, I won’t ever say no to you, but I will always give you a hard time because I love working with you!
June started off with an intimate country backyard ceremony followed by a reception at the American Legion. Two Less Fish in the Sea, Lindsey and Nick, have been together since high school so family and friends waited a long time to get these invites in the mail! Their big day was documented by husband wife team For the Moment Photography (heart their work), florals and decor/linen by  An Affair to Remember Cakes by Marla Unique Moments McMusic DJWhite Traditions Bridal Behind the Veil Media Watch video here The Glam Fam Worn Vintage Rental Lindsey has a degree in interior design and you sure can tell with the magical palate of colors, patterns and textures she brought together with a hint of vintage. So many of these details were handmade and that made this wedding even more special. Favorite part of this wedding was the beautifully close relationship between Lindsey, Lexi (her sis) and their wonderful momma!
 
I was in Disney on the monorail in January for my half marathon when I received a call from Ashley to discuss planning support for her June 27th nuptials. I explained where I was and asked if I could email her some information since it wasn’t equipped with a pen and paper. She was elated when she heard where I was: “You are in Disney? Mickey Mouse is practically my brother!” LOL “me too!” So we set a date as soon as I came home to meet. I fell in love with Ashley’s smile (she is literally a ray of sunshine) and the way Brian is so attentive and involved at our meeting (and he was at every meeting thereafter. I nominate him for Groom of the Year). Like a good bride and mother of the bride, they followed all the wedding planning rules and interviewed multiple vendors from each category before they made their final decision. They even called my past SSD clients which I thought was pretty cool. And I have to say weddings are one time events so it is important that  you pick the right team and that you are comfortable with them and excited to have them aboard. Needless to say it was an honor when they chose me! Ashley and Brian’s absolutely perfectly detailed bash took place at Windows on Washington with the most perfect arrangements by An Affair to Remember
Serendipity Photography (we heart Melissa) captured the day with so much enthusiasm and heart- it was awesome! Sugarbelle Cakery CJ’s DJ’s The Glam Fam Maiden Voyage Bridal
Favorite part of the night was the family dancing Gangnam Style! Oh and it was pretty amazing that papa bear had a hidden Mickey sewn into Ashley’s dress as a surprise!
You know when a family comes into your life and then moves into your heart? That is the Howald Family. I knew most of them before I met them and Roxanne, my mother of the bride still checks in every few weeks. This Fourth of July themed roof top wedding at Aeries Terrace in Grafton is one I will cherish forever. Whitney and Brady are both in the military and spent most of their relationship apart. With one in Alaska and one in Korea they would skype as much as possible. They would brush their teeth together, fall asleep with one another all from 18 hours apart. It was so wonderful to watch them come together- physically together in the same state after several huge emails and skype dates ourselves. Check out their wedding video here by our favorite little Brit- Sparked Media Collective. Photos by Brandi Burnet / Hair and Make Up by Casey James Styles The rest of the party crew Epic Entertainment Steve Mueller Florist Unique Moments Lunch for the Bunch Mens Wearhouse Hair pieces custom designed by the precious Branded By Beauty
A big thank you to Kelly at Aeries Terrace- she is seriously one of the most dedicated and big hearted catering managers out there! This was the first wedding ever where I choked up so bad I couldn’t speak while reviewing the ceremony timeline with Pastor Jeremy BEFORE the actual wedding. I knew I was screwed for the real ceremony. My favorite part of this wedding was the flickering balloon release at the end of the night.
 
Kicked off this breathtaking blue wedding at the Jewel Box with a beautiful tear jerking ceremony by St Louis Officiantsand a never ending dance party with CJ’s DJ’s. There was a “delicious and dazzling” culinary spread by Ces and Judy’s Catering Can I get an Amen for that carrot souffle??? If you haven’t tried it yet, you need to! This transformational uplighting (all 60 of them) was designed by CJ’s DJ’s and we had a great time installing them around the flower beds and mini forest in the Jewel Box. Always an adventure! Music by Rosewood Ensemble Celebrating Life Cakes Centerpieces and decor designed by the couple’s dear friend. And last but not least, it was an honor to finally work with Bobbi Brinkman (and the fabulous Tina)!!! To be a part of a team who is passionate about what they do brought so much joy (and tears as if the ceremony wasn’t tearful enough)! Favorite part of the night was when the ENTIRE party was laying on their backs dancing to SHOUT! compliments of the best DJ in town!
Fast forward to a warm August day wedding for a couple who will make you laugh for hours! This wedding was so well thought out and planned by Ashley and Devin. Even the proposal took months to plan and Devin didn’t miss a detail. Their day was documented by none other than Kurtis Hall and video by Millenium Productions! Dragon Duo The Cup World Class Catering Beauty by Whitney Fenton Flowers Grand Rental Demetrios Bride Ceremony at Charles F Knight Center and Reception at Neo on Locust.
Favorite part of this wedding was when our groom Devin walked down the aisle and his groomsmen started clapping. Oh and have to say that moment was tied for favorite with the father daughter dance to Don’t Worry Be Happy.
 
Fast forward to a warm August day wedding for a couple who will make you laugh for hours! This wedding was so well thought out and planned by Ashley and Devin. Even the proposal took months to plan and Devin didn’t miss a detail. Their day was documented by none other than Kurtis Hall and video by Millenium Productions! Dragon Duo The Cup World Class Catering Beauty by Whitney Fenton Flowers Grand Rental Demetrios Bride Ceremony at Charles F Knight Center and Reception at Neo on Locust.
Favorite part of this wedding was when our groom Devin walked down the aisle and his groomsmen started clapping. Oh and have to say that moment was tied for favorite with the father daughter dance to Don’t Worry Be Happy.
 
On a perfect September day , I coordinated a gingham and floral country dream wedding at the Weingarten in Belleville, Illinois. This sunset ceremony for Mr. and Mrs. Walker was complete with the sweetest DIY details (including a scrapbook made by the groom) and honey pot party favors! The Weingarten is one of this area’s best kept secrets and their team is fabulous (heart you Emily)! DJ Brockstar from Let’s Celebrate DJ’s  (it’s actually Brock but he was the bomb.com so I gave him an upgrade)! Nikki Baum Photography- I heart her and want to work another wedding together! TapSnap Photobooth Roy-el Catering A dear friend Becky made all the delicious cupcakes. I loved the simplicity and airiness of this wedding. Gingham is such a charming print and Makenzie really executed her vision perfectly with Jenny’s Florals
I loved her dress from BHLDN and that one of her bridesmaids did her hair and make up, that the girls all wore navy dresses of their choice. All in all, I just can’t say enough about this wedding. It was one of those where I called my mom and said: “maybe I should get married at the Weingarten- you will love this wedding! It’s all just so precious!” I do this at all my weddings- send my mom updates at end of the night of photos and best parts, emergencies avoided and first dance songs, how the food was, how happy the parents are.
It was also an awesome bonus that my assistant on this day was 2014 SSD Bride Jenny Glenn who’s dreamsicle wedding is featuredhere. Favorite part of the day was watching how relaxed and happy Makenzie was. That makes me so happy!
This DIY wedding created all by our bride, Tori and her mommy, Janet to match the couple’s blue and orange, University of Illinois theme, took place at the exquisite Magnolia Hotel! I teamed up again with CJ DJ’s and Kassaundra of St Louis Officiants Epic Entertainment Unique Moments LC Photography Studio captured all the details of the day including Tori and Ben’s dog Louie (he was a gift when Ben proposed to Tori) and his silly antics as he walked down the aisle!
 
I loved working with this family and we are already planning Ali’s wedding to take place in a castle in Ireland- we are just waiting on a groom! And by the way, it’s totally normal to have a wedding planned and not have a groom yet, what do you think I did all the years before I met Jason? Favorite part of this wedding day was watching Ali (little sis) do Tori’s hair while all the bridesmaids watched. It was such a tender moment.
Back up to Grafton for Gena and Brad’s Tuscan inspired wedding at Pere Marquette beautifully orchestrated by An Affair to Remember! Captured by Kurtis Hall and video by Megyme Productions! Huge shout out to Brittani Joyce for all your support and love in keeping our couple and their family on point during the planning process! I actually acted as an assistant on this day which was quite a change of pace! The Ridolfi’s are a very family oriented group and they wanted their reception to reflect just that so we had huge harvest style tables flanking each side of the dance floor with loads of eucalyptus, fresh basil and garden roses with twinkling candles down the center of each. The room not only looked amazing but it smelled amazing. Clarice’s Bridal Millenium DJ Premier Party Rentals Gentelin’s on Broadway Vintage Hair Salon and Sweet Life Spa and Salon
Favorite part of this day was right before Papa Ridolfi walked Gena down the aisle – in those few quiet moments, in the back of St. Mary’s church, nervous giggles and anticipation ran deep.
Right before go time, she said: Are you ready dad? and kissed him on the cheek. This is why I cry at every wedding. Gena is the first of 3 daughters to get married. Here’s hoping SSD will be involved in future family affairs. He he he.
 
Gena was one of our most radiant brides- her smile was just contagious and warmed every room she entered.
Union Station is a venue that surprises you at every angle with its immaculate detail and decor with amenities and an incredible staff built in that wow your guests! We worked with Heather Roth (flipping love) and Poppies Design Studio(flipping love) and The Cakery Bakery (I just can’t get enough) on Christine and Doug’s beautiful day!
Absolutely loved her dress by Fluer de Lis Bridal Hair and Make Up by Emily Miller A really great way to get your friends and family incorporated into the wedding is by bringing their wedding photos. That is what Christine did. The bar was lined with beautiful framed memories from weddings passed and also honoring those who were there in spirit. Christine also used her grandparent’s original cake topper which was incredible- so delicate and yet so timeless. Even her grandparents were mentioned in the toast. Something that will stick with me and Jenn (my assistant) forever: In the words of Grandma, “it will always work out, just stick together.” (or something close to that- I don’t want to be responsible for butchering grandma’s famous words.)
Favorite part of this wedding was first look with mom and dad. There were tears all around as daddy saw daddy’s only girl as a bride.
Meanwhile at the Fabulous Fox Brittani Joyce was making wedding dreams come true for no doubt two of the sweetest most genuine people you will ever meet! Courtney and Russell were so excited about their wedding! Every meeting we had with them was just a treat, watching them interact, throw ideas off each other and just being in each other’s presence. You could really feel how in love they are. Photos by the very talented K. Corea Photography Video by Mike Dalton Films Hair and make up by Style Seat and Ginger Bay
Incredible music flown in from Texas Dallas The Band The bride and her maids put together their own bouquets and centerpieces with the help of Les Bouquets Encore Bakery and Poptions Popcorn along with baked goods from family and friends filled up the dessert table. Special shout out to the sweet Patrice for assisting Brittani. I luckily got to swing in at the end of the night and saw Courtney and Russell (and the entire party) still dancing their little hearts off. That was one hell of a band no lie!!! I was greeted by a huge (and a little sweaty) hug from Russell saying the day was perfect!!! Yay for Brittani and Patrice!!!
Favorite part of this wedding was the sparkler sendoff outside the Fox as horns played “when the saints go marching in”!
In October, Jill and Todd got married at Chandler Hill Winery on an overcast day. All turned out fabulously though and it was a sad day to me that this wedding was over after so many wonderful months working with this family! This couple had accomplished so much in the 18 months I knew them, you would be surprised they could manage planning a wedding between graduation, law school, internships, buying a house, passing boards, training for a half marathon, etc. But determined and goal oriented Jill and Todd, with the help of her awesome mom, Julie, we planned a really beautiful wedding that I am so proud to say I was a part of! A fun thing I have to share is that Todd has a soft spot for chick flicks and one of Jill’s (and my) favorite movies is Love Actually. We even themed their engagement pics around it and then their save the dates! Jill and her dad are cookie people. We tasted every cookie in the city to get the right ones for the wedding! And we found them atGrandma’s Cookies – you gotta do yourself a favor and go to St.Charles to try them. And call me and the Sharp’s- we will totally meet you there!Our dream team: Joshua Luke Photography The Film Perspective Watch video here Sisters Flowers Sugarbelle Cakery 2 Chics and a Photobooth Clarice’s Bridal Willard’s Formal Wear Unique MomentsAn Affair to Remember Grand Rental Allegro Entertainment We literally had 30 minutes to set up the ceremony and another 30 to set up the reception at Chandler Hill since the venue closes to the public at 5:00pm and our prelude started at 5:30pm. It was total chaos and a miracle that we got it all set up but that’s because we had such a great crew!
Favorite part of this wedding was the ceremony beautifully performed by The Rev John Doll and seeing the emotions on both Jill and Todd’s faces, at one point you see nerves, then you see fighting tears, then a hint of giggle and then a genuine relieved smile… “oh yea, it’s you, my love and we are getting married right now.”
My final styled shoot of the year I collaborated with Blue Garnet Weddings Free Cake Film Unique MomentsSeasoning Bistro Flowers by Dave Hair and make up by Kayla Hudgens and last but not least our genius creative friend Deliciously Ordinary at a Camp Manitowa in southern Illinois for two whole days of creative magic! More of this to come after the new year!
Jessica and her soulmate, Mike tied the knot at a beautiful ceremony followed by a rocking reception at Ameristar Casino!  Before they booked SSD, Jess knew what she wanted, had already booked the majority of her wedding vendors, was organized, task oriented, but she knew there would be lots of details that need to be managed not only on wedding weekend but the million little details that brides don’t know about until they happen. I was so glad Jess called- her wedding was truly one of my favorites of the year. Jess and Mike’s love story is beautiful and it was a part of their wedding ceremony that was performed by her brother. It was my first time working with Cindy Lee Photography and I adored her!
Video and DJ by Millenium Productions were awesome as per usual! Rentals by Premiere and Parties and Props and Grand Rental Twisted Willow created gorgeous orange and white and red arrangements accented with golds and loads of candles which looked phenomenal in HOME, the event space at Ameristar. Beauty by Whitney JE Designs Susie G’s Specialty Cakes PS the food and service at Ameristar is amaze.
My favorite part of this day (and this is tough because there are so many great parts to this day) is the first look with the groom- his face says it all! Be still my heart. Yes you will see this picture hanging in the SSD office forever.
Out of all of the gorgeous photos from the day, this was the photo that stole my heart. It is true love!
November kicked off with my most important wedding of the year – my sister’s!
It was hosted at the Grafton Winery The Vineyards – and it was their first wedding in fact, the windows went in that very morning. Talk about stressful to a wedding planner who is also maid of honor in this wedding! But as per usual, it worked out with the help of an incredible team! Together we, my sister and brother in law and I, handpicked vendors (which was so hard since I love so many of my vendor friends and respect their work) to create a day that fulfilled their vision.Derek calls Chelsea his key. I was thrilled to learn about this little detail since it became the theme of their day: Key To My Heart Centerpieces had antique skeleton keys incorporated throughout and we had a wall of doors that created a awesome backdrop for the massive dessert display of handmade cakes and pies (made by my mom, mother in law, aunt and sister) and Sugarbelle Cakery, but also a divide between ceremony and reception. I was also very inspired by a remake of Pete Towshend’s Let My Love Open the Door that my mom and I saw on our fave show to watch on Sunday funday The News Room That song became the recessional song! It was perfect! Dreaming Tree Photography St Louis Officiants Elegance in Bloom CJ’s DJ’s Grand Rental FairviewHeights Mane Attraction Unique Moments
My favorite part of my sissy’s wedding was the ceremony when Derek met her half way down the aisle, as their song Just the Way You Are played. I love this version, seriously listen to it. The words and a love like that is every girls’ dream There is no gift better in this world than seeing your sister so happy and her dream come true.  Derek is her key and they were made for each other. Not a dry eye in the crowd. It was beautiful. Jeez, pass me the tissue, I’m reliving the day again!
The second week of November I flew to St Petersburg, Florida for Lori and Steve’s wedding at the Don Cesar on the beach! I could go on and on about all the magic that these two people and the details of this day but I will save it for its own blog! See there, I promise. Lori and Steve got engaged over Easter this year, and Lori had to find her ring in an Easter egg! What is really cool for those of you that know them, that is also how the dearest Nancy and her husband Mike, of Artistry On Cakes got engaged and they have been married over 48 years and still best friends! I think this is the most greatest of luck and only means Lori and Steve will obviously have a long happy married life together. The odds are in their favor! I worked with Lori on every detail of the wedding from colors, vendors, dress shopping (including being skyped into her appointment at BHLDN in Chicago to find her perfect dress), to choose which city they would host their wedding, and how their furbabies, Bonnie and Clyde would be included in the festivities! Every week we would meet and review and plan and suddenly the client relationship turned into a friendship that I am keeping forever. Sorry Lori and Pooks, you don’t have a choice at this point. I ADORED working with K and K Photography and they were the best part of this destination wedding.  This crew is so energetic and friendly and did I mention talented!??!!?? Our wedding day team included Cake Zone Simply Elegant Unique Moments Cheree Berry Paper FH Weddings and Events Breeze In Entertainment and saving the best for last PK Paper Art! Jenn flew down to install her beautiful backdrop and she was the best assistant/dog walker a girl could ask for! Love ya girl!
Favorite part of Lori and Steve’s wedding- don’t make me pick please!!!! – was watching Lori shimmy and shake rattle and roll on the dance floor for hours in her gold sequin Tina Turner number!
And the final love extravaganza of the year had me back at the Magnolia Hotel working with an awesome crew and my fave dude Alen! Ashton and Alan contacted me on Facebook the year before their wedding! “Hi! I just got engaged and I have always known I needed a wedding planner!” Well my sweets, you have come to the right place! Let’s plan your wedding! And I am so glad they chose me because it was just a joy getting to know them and building their vision for their big day. The A Team chose a classic red, navy and gold theme that was executed so beautifully by An Affair to Remember! Photo by Arndt Photography (wait till you see the rest of these breathtaking photos!) Sugarbelle Cakery Allegro Entertainment  Lakeshore Quartet Champagne and Lace and Willard’s Formal Wear Unique Moments Grand Rental Alan was so dang dapper! And Ashton’s dress was some kind of wonderful! The ladies of the bridal party wore gold sequins to the floor… oh la la I teased Ashton I would weart my gold sequins too but decided at the last minute I would stick to my regular black costume.  Your welcome sis. I loved every ounce of this day and watching these two say “I do!” Can we do it again? Pretty please????
Favorite part of this wedding was their first dance “Home” performed live by two friends from Ashton’s home town. Home is wherever I’m with you. And now I’m moving in with you guys!
And to top all this off, Signed Sealed Delivered Events was humbled and honored to be nominated at the Vendor’s Choice Awards for Rock Star of the Year and Wedding Planner of the Year.
I am ecstatic to say that I won Wedding Planner of the Year. This is my fourth nomination and second win in this category. Since I was in Florida during this awards dinner, my little buddy Bennett accepted the award on my behalf (his mom is my bff Kassaundra of St Louis Officiant.)
SSD also won The Knot 2016 Pick Best of Weddings and a nomination for St. Louis Best Bridal Best of the Best Award as Wedding Planner of the Year.
A huge shout out and high fives to two ladies who really helped me kick some serious booty resulting in super happy clients and beautiful events this year!
Jenn, my mini me, who kept me on track and organized, my life hacker, the best listener and the best assistant. Thank you so much for being a part of SSD this year! It has been truly a joy and you are an asset to any team! Jenn also ran day of coordination for my sister’s wedding. You didn’t think I was going to do that myself did you? LOL She did awesome, I felt sorry that she had to deal with me and my triple checking all day long, but she did and did beautifully!
And Brittani, my other half, who also has her own wedding planning business Brittani Joyce Events was lead planner for two of our weddings this year and assisted me on two more. Her comical relief and quick thinking saved the day, but even more this bundle of sparkle became a life long friend! Thank you for everything.
My mom Lynn, who not only keeps the design and styling part of SSD organized (because I am like a bull in a china shop when it comes to keeping our workshop clean) and is on site for events to insure all is set up exactly as the client ordered, but she works behind the scenes managing a lot of our paperwork. PLUS she’s my mom so she is also my rock and counselor and my best friend. Thanks mom!
This photo taken by the AWESOME Photo Elegance 
And last but not least my love connection (because I don’t brag about him enough on the faceboo), Jason. This man has taught me so much in the last year alone. He is my sounding board and my “make it all better. ” He is my rock and my solitude. Thank you babe for stealing my heart and keeping up with this adventure. I love you forever for it.
I swore in March I would write a blog about each of these weddings and I’m sure I still can! But for the record I started out with a boom in the blogging depot and then life happened and weddings were every other day (it seemed) so confirming and reconfirming and trouble shooting took priority! So next year I promise to be better and maybe catch up! Now accepting tips and tricks for making blog writing fast, efficient and mega entertaining!
Here’s to an incredible next year of wonderful clients, gorgeous weddings and amazing teams of vendors!
Cheers!
xoxo
It’s Been One Year

It’s Been One Year

Always N Forever Photography
Happy anniversary to me. Today is exactly 365 days since I left my job of wedding and event planning at a hotel and biweekly paychecks so that I could plan weddings full time with Signed Sealed Delivered Events- the little wedding planning business I had dreamed about in private and joked about in public since college. One year later, this is what it looks like. It is a rainy Thursday morning and I am writing from my dining room table while drinking chai tea. A regular occurance actually since we decided to adopt a puppy during wedding season (who’s the smartest b*tch in this place) so to spare the carpet and Holly’s sanity, I work from this spot many a mornings before I head to the office for appointments or tastings or tours or venues or networking events. I am not fluffing this blog up with pretty pics although you know I love pictures so much. My every day is documented by the iphone and then updated to all the social media sites so I can share how much I love these people I work with.  But today it’s just me and the computer and a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that I want to share. Raw. No filter. No pretty. Yes I am still in my jammies and glasses and a side pony because I am bringing the 80’s back. I also want to add that it’s a reheated chai tea from the Bucks from yesterday. Told you it’s not pretty and I am being honest. So here we go: musings from the love aficionado I am blessed beyond words. I am a super spoiled rotten girl. I seriously cannot imagine being loved and supported by more people. It’s just rediculous. Every morning I list them off in my head. Attitude of gratitude. And then it happens and I meet some new wonderful person and I pinch myself. There truly are so many good people in this world. I just say goodness, we are going to be great friends and I already love you. I never slowed down before. Yes, my hours are crazy and I dream about weddings and I wake up to text an idea or reminder to a bride or sketch out some back drop and I type up timelines and to-do lists till 2 am. But before I was in fight or flight mode, racing here to there. Always in a hurry, most of the time late, trying to get that last call in, pleasing everyone in my path. Having the best of intentions to be present and enjoy the moment, to read that book, to have coffee on the deck or go visit that 6 month old baby I haven’t seen since she was born. Constantly on the go and promising myself that I would make a vision board and go to yoga and read The Secret and devote time to a relationship and go four wheeling with my dad. Now I slow down. I notice that I don’t need music when driving or to be checking my email every 2 minutes (not to say that I don’t but I don’t feel like I NEED to). I meditate when I catch myself getting overwhelmed. I read that darn Secret twice in the last month and practice affirmations. I see the beauty in a country road, the sky, a couple of kids on bikes in the park, a simple and kind interaction on the street. An opportunity to open the door and smile. I even introduced myself to a stranger when walking the dogs yesterday. I am actually listening when people are talking. I still get frazzled but smelling the roses is a must, it’s a “bring you back to Belleville” if you will, connecting with nature and people. I still haven’t gone four wheeling but hey, I’m not perfect and it gives me something to look forward to. Speaking of perfection, it does not exist. And we are about to get personal. I have always strived for this rediculous expectation I put on myself and guess what, it made me miserable. I will be happy and love mysefl after I look and feel a certain way or do that next half marathon. Finally at thirty something I can say hey, you know you really do have great curves, and yes you gain and lose the same 10 pounds and sometimes it happens twice in a year. #dontjudge It doesn’t change who you are. I used to look in a mirror and look for something wrong. Now I go, hmmm those jeans actually look better tighter. #yourwelcome and wow, you look pretty today. Self talk is very powerful and although it seems silly it can actually make or break your morning. So no more getting down on myself when I go to the cake tasting or order a real calzone WITH gluten and WITH cheese because jeez, life is short and it tastes so good. Just may have to spend a little more time on those hill workouts is all. Miss Independent (aka me) wanted to know everything and do everything herself. My ma says I came out of the womb in heels and knowing more that everyone else and when I didn’t know it, I would stomp my feet. That is true, the stomping part. I used to get so upset when someone asked me to do something I didn’t already know how to do. Now I look at this as an opportunity to grow and learn and that I should always be growing and learning. Occasionally my blood pressure rises when I have to figure out something new and make mistakes and try again. But it’s ok and it’s always ok and I will eventually figure it out. And if you have to pour a glass of wine on your third try, that’s ok too. And it is ok to ask for help. This year my amazing ma didn’t make me ask, she just swooped in with answers and suggestions and support and very fierce loyalty. Sometimes it was just to be there to pour the wine while I figured it out. The point is I now know I don’t have to know how and I don’t have to do it alone. Following your intuition. Oprah talks about this A-ha moment. I love Oprah. I know I mention her often, but I can’t help it. Sometimes I even introduce people in her voice. #mygoodfriendjohntravolta For years I have been asking where this magical intuition is. The answer was: it was there but if you refuse to listen and base your decisions on the reactions of others, then of course you are never going to experience the A-ha. This year my sweet little intuition worked super hard for months to talk to me and at points, screaming at me. Now, I couldn’t necessarily understand what in the hell she was saying let alone defend my decisions to clients, family, friends, colleagues- but bottom line is I finally let that girl shout it from the rooftop and I just followed with unwavering trust. Lets be honest, it wasn’t totally unwavering. But she’s there now, shouting A-ha. We are a team and there are lots of high five’s. And damn it feels really good to say hey, I made that decision and that’s that and I trust myself (because the little voice in my head told me to). I love weddings soooooo much. It almost doesn’t make sense to me. I got teary eyed at a floral design meeting last week because the flowers were more perfect for the bridal bouquet than I could’ve imagined. I scan through engagement and wedding proofs and I am in awe. I can walk into a venue under construction that is merely a structure and a pile of bricks and I can see the space completed in my head and get goosebumps. I get so much joy from being with my couples and helping them pick out their first dance song or invitations or cake- you name it, it fills my heart with so much happiness to see the culmination of their love and their relationship come together and represented in this beautiful day that I find it unbearable sometimes. Someone once said Ashlee, you love love more than anyone I have ever met. And it’s true. My house and office are decorated like it’s Valentine’s day all year round. I used to avoid Valentine’s day. Perhaps a little saddened that I didn’t have a signif other or that I listened to the on and off banter of “he didn’t get me a gift” “it’s singles awareness day” “I don’t need to show you how much I love you just one day a year” But now I can’t get enough red, pink, gold, heart shaped jazz. And I tell people how much I love them everyday. And you best believe that on Valentine’s day I am going to go all out to make sure they know. Speaking of love, I had the idea for years that it had to look a certain way. It doesn’t. I have found love in the completely and utterly unexpected and that is quite possibly one of the coolest things I discovered this year. And that is how I know that I am in the right place. That I am living the once little dream that now has a family of the awesomest couples and coolest projects ever and the most incredible team of wedding professionals and support staff I could have never imagined. Happy anniversary to me. Can’t wait to see what the next year brings. xooxoxoxooxoxooxoo, Ashlee
Dreams Do Come True

Dreams Do Come True

A few of my closest know that I am a huge fan of Mary Poppins and that the word “magical” is in my hourly vocabulary. So for me to title this post like a Disney movie is not as cliche as it may seem. Perhaps it is because you don’t know me well enough… I suggest sticking around and checking out my other posts too and you will come to know me quite quickly. And if you still like me after that, send me a friend request so we can connect. You can never have too many friends. 🙂 This year has been an absolute whirlwind of magnificent opportunities and challenges on top of meeting some of the greatest folks in the wedding industry. At times I feel as though I am spoiled rotten.
Courtney and Maggie from 2 Chics and a Photobooth. These BFF’s, co-owners and work colleagues will easily win your heart over as they do with everyone they meet. The are the sweetest, most genuine and fun broads! What a blessing!
The Fabulous Dorini Ottolini with Allegro Entertainment. I met Dori at Association of Bridal Consultants and we have been attached at the hip since then. I joined in April this year and it’s been one of the best networking groups I have ever been a part of. The group is super supportive, professional and they have all become family.
And then I remember, it wasn’t always so magical or magnificent and that I made a decision to create this life, that I determine how magical and magnificent it is going to be. Last summer I remember working at the hotel and of course LOVING wedding season because it’s my thing. But as the summer months rolled into fall, it got busier and more and more changes happened and something felt as though it was missing. I would be lying if I didn’t mention (because withholding info is the same as lying) that I actually talked to a tarot card reader, studied my horoscope daily and spent hours reading self development books, blogs, motivational websites, you name it, on how to trust the process, rest in trust and live your best life. Plus you know my mommy and BFF is a life coach Owl Nest Coaching so I had someone who could listen and clear out the crazy, over emotional stuff that always comes with big life choices.
Me and Ma- she’s pretty much the world’s greatest I once even made her a CD of training songs called the world’s greatest I know, best gift giver ever right???
I made the decision to start my own business so I could spend all my waking hours (and sleeping hours) working on my most favorite things: weddings and love!!! Clearly this was my something missing… About this time I was nominated by my peers as one of the top 5 wedding planners in St. Louis at the Perfect Wedding Guide’s Vendor’s Choice Awards. I was on cloud nine as I went to the awards banquet in November of 2012. I certainly hadn’t expected to win as the majority of the voting populous and attendees were St. Louis folks, and I worked in Illinois. BUT nevertheless, I was incredibly honored and excited to be there surrounded by the best of the best- folks who loved their jobs and this industry that I loved. As I watched Shelli win Wedding Planner of the Year, among all the other winners, I thought to myself: gosh how amazing to win such an award; an award voted on by your peers. Not brides rating you on a website, because all of us had stellar reviews. To me, this was even bigger. I wonder what that would feel like. What I would say. Who I would thank. What I would wear. How I would do my hair.
Carla of Mane Attraction working on my fabulous updo! I worked with Carla for years but got to know her on a more personal basis through ABC. Not only is she sweet as can be but she does amazing hair and makes THE most spectacular toasted coconut cream pie in the world!
And then I did. I began imagining the whole night for the next year. Getting nominated. Seeing my name and Signed Sealed Delivered Events on the ballot. Going to the dinner. Winning the award. Making a speech. Having a blast with all my wedding friends. It became one of my dreams for 2013.
My parents, Stanimal and Lindy Lou They have been my biggest supporters and I wouldn’t have wanted to share this night with anyone else.
The nominees for Wedding Planner of the year met secretly prior to the Vendy’s to make a video about planning which included a cake fight. One of my favorite memories of 2013.
And then it happened. Another dream came true. And although I spent hours imagining this night, I was shocked as h.e.double hockey sticks when my name was called.
Cried like a baby all the way up to the stage while hugging everyone…
And then saying a bad word into the mic. Whoops!
I can’t thank this one and her family enough for being so supportive and most of all for being a friend. The Perfect Wedding Guide is the bomb.com!  
And then I will be darn if it didn’t happen again…
I won Rookie of the Year! Having two awards is heavy business. I really just wanted to show you my shoes. They were so cute and sparkly! 🙂
And my favorite pic! Starry eyed surprise! and ma teary eyed surprise!
The whole point of this little (not so little) blog post is that if you want something badly, imagine it. Imagine every detail. Live and act like it is already true. And eventually it will come true in some way or another. Things have a way of working out. Not that I just imagined winning and than BAM it happened. I put in 6 years in this industry and have loved every minute of it, have treated every couple and family with the most love and attention as possible, took extra time getting to know my vendors and building a team of folks that work hard to make weddings beautiful, seamless, and the best day ever for our clients.
I love what I do and I am incredibly humbled and grateful for these awards.
Thank you to everyone in the industry- new friends, old friends and even those who aren’t friends yet- rest assured we will be- for your love and support and your talent.
I am thrilled that I get to spend my life doing what I love with folks that feel the same way.
Magical and magnificent dreams do come true.
XOXOXO