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!
The Planned Proposal

The Planned Proposal

Weddings. I’m obsessed with it all. Let’s be honest. From beginning to end. Proposals though. Next to wedding cake and super sparkly things, proposals are literally a few of my favorite things. Cue Kenny Rogers singing “My favorite things.” The only thing that can make that song better is Dolly Parton or Julie Andrews.
I have to give a shout out to KR because he is one of my favorite things. I know I know, next to glitter and wine and valentine’s day and sunrises but I did say ONE OF. He is my celebrity crush/excuse. You know the game “if you could cheat with one celebrity and it wouldn’t count”?
Yup. Mine is KR. But 1980’s KR. Not nipped and tucked and lifted KR. Although my beau did take me to his concert a few weeks ago. Literally been on the bucket list. And I gotta tell you, that man is quite the entertainer, so much so that I almost reneged on the 1980’s part. I’ve actually had that convo with the beau. Recently. You might think mine is weird but his is Rachel Ray. Talk about the way to a man’s heart is his stomach. rachaelI immediately began working on my culinary skills. Mind you, I didn’t say “perfecting” my culinary skills. This girl has a long way to go. What can I say, I like to eat out. Thankfully he does too. But all kidding aside, let’s get back to the story. Proposals. They are how it all begins. Some are the super simple do it at home. I want to build a life with you right here, where we became us and where we are comfortable
And then there are the “I know you are going to propose so just do it already” proposals. They seem demanding to the lay person, but to me, I still think it’s precious. I mean he obviously knows what he is getting into in the first place right? And it’s part of why he loves you. Soooo I have never been engaged. But let’s be honest: that poor sap that commits to the lover of love, the one who squeals, tears up and gets goosebump at every little moment, has really got a lot coming to him. I can’t say I know what it feels like, looks like, etc. But to me, it’s a huge deal. What does it look like when someone says: “Hey, I want you for my whole life for the rest of my life. You and only you. I want to wake up to your face and go to bed to your face. I want to reach over and feel you in the middle of the night, every night. I want to laugh with you and cry with you and fight with you over nothing and everything forever. I want to have adventures with you. I want to have children with you. I want to burn your frozen pizza and make you runny eggs (not the good kind) and watch you try to eat them until we decide that you are the better cook and order take out. I want to be your everything.” In the words of Keith Urban from the best most poignant wedding song of 2000. Listen to the words, seriously they are perfect.
Gosh, I feel like I just proposed to someone…. Hand me a tissue. So that to me, that moment, that decision, that YES, is bigger and better than any wedding in my mind. It’s a defining part of someone’s life to say: You are it. You are the one. {Now let’s celebrate. Cue your Signed Sealed Delivered Events wedding planner here.} For someone to love you that deeply, that fiercely, with all that they have. And for you to love them back with just as much… it’s freaking incredible.  It’s Mary Poppins magical.
Thank you Rachael – I heart this series of pics of your 4th of July proposal xox
I clearly love that moment. But you know what else I love? I love knowing about that moment. The pre-planning. The anticipation. The nerves.
My absolute favorite engagement photo of all time. I met her. Saw the pic. And had to plan the wedding. The red jacket. The way her hair lays. The embrace. The surprise. Pure delicious emotion. And I am still bragging about it Val! xoxo
I’ve had folks talk to me about their proposals to get my thoughts, ideas, opinions… sometimes I give them unsolicited. And I always always always always recommend having a photographer there. Professional photographer. And if anything, have SOMEONE snapping the moment. Someone who knows in advance. Not a stranger with an iphone. And this is why.
Green Wall Studio capturing Nick and Ashlie’s winter proposal last December. We tromped around in the snow for what seemed like hours waiting for them to get to this moment. So worth it. xoxo
As a girl, here’s where I start telling you that I have been planning my dream wedding since I was five… but not so fast I was actually going to tell you this:  I have DREAMED about the day I get proposed to. And here is what I imagined it would look like.
And that bad boy would be captured via professional camera and printed real big and hung on my wall because for someone to choose me as their forever and ever amen… {I love that song by Randy Travis as a cake cutting song or first dance… adorable} …that is a moment worth capturing, worth remembering, worth seeing every single day.
And that bad boy would be captured via professional camera and printed real big and hung on my wall because for someone to choose me as their forever and ever amen… {I love that song by Randy Travis as a cake cutting song or first dance… adorable} …that is a moment worth capturing, worth remembering, worth seeing every single day. When my brother in law (numero uno) asked my parents’ permission to marry my sissy, my nosey ass was already planning the perfect costume for my sissy that I would have conveniently hanging in the closet when she asks: hey, what do I wear to this “fancy steak house”?
Drew and Brent (numero uno) – married 5 years this September xoxo
When my future brother in law (numero dos) told me he was proposing, my nosey ass asked: who what where when how? And most importantly, how can I help make this even more special. I can’t say that either one of them totally appreciated my complimentary opinions, but I can say that I hope that just a tiny bit of enthusiasm and heart that I put into those conversations made a morsel of the moment more precious to the loves of my life (not wine and chocolate clowns, I am talking about my sissies).
That’s my sis and D Lew (bro-in-law nueroon their engagement weekend xoxo
Which leads me to this, yes nowadays, it is becoming more and more popular for folks to seek help in planning their proposal, as in hire a planner. And yes, yes, I can do that. I would love to do that. To be a part of that. To be a part of helping you show the one you want to spend the rest of eternity with, just how much they truly love you during that moment we call the proposal.
Kyle and Allison Martin at the beach proposal in April 2012 They just had their year anniversary in June this year. Love these two. 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
Great things always happen at coffee shops

Great things always happen at coffee shops

Honestly, I do not think these pictures and this day could have been more magical. Except if the sun would have given off a bit more heat to warm our little Jessica’s arms and legs.
I was honored to be a part of such a A list team of wedding pro’s in this style shoot orchestrated by Amber Green Photography this spring.
Amber and I have worked together in the past and when she started with developing a new look, marketing plan which included some pretty clever style shoot ideas, she asked me to coffee.
The main question at hand: what in the world does a wedding planner do for a style shoot?
So I explained as I held her 3 month old pumpkin, Alivia, in between sips of Starbucks, I organize and recruit the players, set the scene, you shoot, I direct…
And so we began our journey of the Vintage Romance shoot.
Amber had a vision of a classic car, a dashing red haired beauty and a black dress…
From there we brainstormed how it would all come together.
And then I called a few of the folks which I too, had met in a coffee shop…
Sarah and Savanah are not only sister-in laws and BFF’s, but also owners of S&S Bridal Hair and Makeup. I discovered their biz card on a bulletin board at a coffee shop off Cherokee and after meeting for coffee in that same shop, we decided making magic in the near future was a must.
 Believe it or not, style shoots take some serious prep. Amber and I met up one afternoon to decide on timing and locate the perfect scenery as our couple prepared for their date to the country. Downtown Lebanon Illinois was the obvious choice, with it’s quaint and charming feel.
Notice all the super clever angles that Amber and Zach came up with!
These gorgeous blooms were created by the fabulous Dawn Ahner of Ahner Florist and Greenhouse
You can really see how incredibly stunning Jessica is in this shot.
The make up and hair is breathtaking.
What a gentleman right?
And after a 20 minute drive to the country…
 I think she is thrilled by what she sees…
Gorgeous jewels from Elliott Fine Jewelers. We met the Elliott family when we planned their daughter, Lauren’s wedding.
Show me Rachel McAdams in the Notebook!
Nick Proposes to Ashlie

Nick Proposes to Ashlie

Folks say that girls spend years dreaming up their weddings. This may be true… but first they dream about the boy and then they dream about the proposal. And then the wedding.
Proposals are one of the most intimate, heartfelt, most vulnerable, you-are-my-life-and-I-cant-spend-another-minute-without-you moments. The adrenaline, the nerves, the excitement. Carrying around the ring and worrying that the love of your life will find out its there before you are ready.
I’m a sucker for romance flicks, books, stories, poems, songs, sayings, embroidered pillowcases, personalized ornaments, hallmark cards… you name it I guarantee I will tell you: Awww that is soooo cute! Which is the most overused phrase in my vocabulary next to: Aren’t you sooooo excited???? I am soooo excited for you!
Here is one of my most fave proposals of all times:
And I could not have been more honored to be a part of the proposal below.
When one of my past bosses Nick mentioned that he was going to propose to his girlfriend Ashlie, I of course was all eyes and ears. Now to meet Nick in person, he is pretty serious, get-the-job-done kinda guy, you never see a whole lot of sensitivity or joking right away. So you can imagine my excitement when he got giddy like a school boy when we about his ideas, when and where, the ring, etc. My last question after hearing him go through his plan of action bit by bit was: did you hire a photographer?
He said, no, I was just going to take my camera and ask someone to take pics for me…
And boy am I ever glad that I staged this intervention!
First off, Nick was planning on proposal outside in the evening in a dimly lit area…. it was imperative to have a skilled professional behind the camera who could be there in advance, test the angles, lighting, etc.
And that we did.
After several emails, texts, phone calls, and checking the weather, we set forth a time and Michelle with Green Wall Studio and I loaded the car with layers and layers of winter gear and road tripped to Augusta, Missouri to the Annual Christmas Light Walk.
I will cut out the boring part where we scoured every part of the town for options and finally settled on the park, lit by a Christmas tree made out of green wine bottles (hey, it is Missouri wine country out there) and text back and forth with the highly anxious Nick.
We waiting in a building across the street from the park and waited till we saw them enter the clearing when we casually walked over the the snap shooting began…
This entire night filled my heart with joy. Thank you Nick for letting us be a part of it. I couldn’t be happier for the two of you and wish you a lifetime of uncontrollable laughs, never ending happiness and moments like this which you will cherish. xoxoxoox