Wedding Contracts: Not A Dirty Word

 Contract is not a dirty word! 
Contract is not a dirty word! 

Contracts are not a dirty word. They protect all parties!

— Ashley Radosav

We are surrounded by contracts every day and there is no real end in sight. We live in a “I’ll sue you!” wold, thus our lives now revolve around everyone covering their butt ALL.THE.TIME. Here is a list of the daily contracts we enter without even thinking about it: Cable, Internet, Cell phone, Car loan, Mortgage, Gas, Electric, Amazon Prime and so many more. When it comes to arguably one of the most expensive parties of your life, having and reviewing wedding contracts are a necessity. 

This is NOT a post about prenuptial agreements! 

Finding all of your wedding vendors can be hard enough. Once you find them, they shove these legal papers in front of you and make you feel as if you are signing your life away a little at a time. Wedding contracts do NOT need to be scary or overwhelming. Arguably, these are fun and exciting things that you are agreeing to (Photo, Video, Bar, Lighting, Flowers) and not something overwhelming, or at least it shouldn’t be. It is a simple agreement: Here is the product or service I provide, this is what and when you will pay me for it. 

Making sure that you sit and speak with the vendor to explain in detail what their contracts mean is very important. The basics of a wedding contract include the names of the people entering the contract, the event date, the times of provided service and what the outcome will be. For example, you sign a photography contract and you will expect to have him/her onsite with you for 8 hours and in 6-8 weeks you will get a beautiful wedding album. My contract for example basically says, “be a nice human being, I will be nice back.” Please feed me, this is what you will get in return…fairly simple. 

 Google Images
Google Images

Here is a brief run down of the key elements to a successful wedding contract:

  1. Make sure that all of the wedding/event dates are the same. I have caught more than once a wrong event date as I reviewed my client’s contracts. 
  2. Make sure your guest count is the same. The worst thing ever would be to have 225 guests and only food for 125. Double check your numbers…OFTEN!
  3. Make sure the timelines are corresponding. If you sign an 8 hour photography package, make sure all of the important events (ceremony, cake cutting, first dance) all happen within that 8 hour window. Otherwise, you will be missing some key elements of your day in the album you receive after the wedding. 
  4. Follow up and confirm with all vendors a week or two prior to the wedding day to fill them in on any last minute changes. A wedding vendor will always refer back to their notes or their contracts if something goes awry. If you do not inform them of changes, these vendors are NOT mindreader! 
  5. Hire a wedding planner to help catch some of these common mistakes. At the time of signing a wedding contract, there might be some gaping holes in your timeline, this is quite common. However, that is something a wedding planner can help fill in for you and make sure your other vendors are all kept up to date! 

I hope this shed a little bit of light on how to approach a wedding vendor’s contract and have them break it down into simple easy to understand language. You are getting married, not trying to pass the bar. Have them (or a planner) break it down for you!

If you have other questions about wedding contracts, send me an email at Hello@AshleyNicoleEventsInc.com and I will be happy to help!

 Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography
Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography

How a Former Chicago Film Star Turned Me Into a Wedding Planner!

Life often has a way of surprising you. You might have a job that is just a job, truly a means to an end… A stepping stone. Nothing is wrong with these types of jobs. Stepping stones lead you to bigger and better things. It takes vision and determination to know a stepping stone vs. the mountain.  When you lose sight of the grander picture, those stepping stones become boulders, weigh you down, and then you fail to reach the peak. I’ve had my fair share of stepping stones. I have waited tables, delivered food, I even worked at a nursing home. All of these were great stepping stones and taught me things that I still use to this day. One job in particular carved the path that I am still walking down.

I met George Bozonelos, the owner of Gaslite Manor Banquets, through one of those stepping stones. I waited tables at a restaurant and my manager (Patrick) happened to be George’s cousin. I began telling my coworkers my passion for weddings and my desire to one day be a wedding planner.  Patrick knew I was terrible at waiting tables. He almost fired me on more than one occasion for dropping a platter of food. What he saw in me was potential. Patrick saw a drive and determination that was greater than waiting tables. Patrick connected me with George and I began a college internship at Gaslite Manor Banquets. I was able to experience every aspect of an event from the sales and logistics to placing food orders with vendors and managing a staff of 20 people. I got to work an event from beginning to end and see it truly come to life. Sure, I had to do some not very glamorous things like helping do the dishes but in those menial tasks, I saw true importance and then delighted  in the fun tasks like linen and cake selections.

Eventually, the internship turned into a summer job  and I was offered my very first full-time position right out of grad school. I could not have been more excited. The hours were long and I learned the meaning of “working weekends” but I would not have changed a thing. I consider George to be my mentor. I learned how to plan my very first wedding from watching him. He taught me to NEVER run in front of guests, even if there is a fire in the kitchen! If a guest sees you run, they know something is not right. “Walk with purpose” is what he used to tell me. Hurry, but don’t run. I can hear his voice in my head every time I casually walk with *intense purpose* across a room.

He taught me that there are busy seasons and slow seasons in the wedding industry and eventually it will all work itself out. He taught me that funerals can be just as entertaining as a wedding, and that when you sit in your office with the lights turned off, you will see people do the darnedest things as they exit the bathroom and think no one can see them.

 

 

Please enjoy this very candid interview with the man who put me on the path to my personal mountain, George Bozonelos. I owe this man everything.

Tell me how you got started in the wedding business.

 I’ve been working in the business since I was kid, started with folding napkins and peeling potatoes.  Then in September 2000 we bought Gaslite Manor Banquets, and the rest as they say is history.

How did your Venue come to be? Are there any interesting facts about the space? What was the space before it became a wedding venue?

Gaslite Manor Banquets has been in this location since 1968.  We completely renovated the space in 2001, and again in 2008. Our crowning achievement is the addition of The Gaslite Chapel, which accommodates all weddings that we host at all 3 of our banquet facilities.  Lincoln Inn Banquets in Batavia and The Courtyard Banquets in Warrenville.

How long have you been at Gaslite Manor?

We have been at this location over 17 years.

How many people does the space fit for a cocktail reception? Sit down dinner? Can you accommodate Ceremonies?

We can accommodate as few as 100 people to as large as 900 people.  The Gaslite Chapel can seat 160 people for the ideal wedding ceremony.

What do you love about the job?

Best part of the job, by far, is watching a couple come in nervous and scared at the first consultation, to then a ball of energy and pure joy the night of the wedding.

What do you not love so much about the job?

My biggest gripe is when family members try to take over the coordination of a ceremony & reception.  We have people in place to make sure that everything goes according to plan, and family tend to input their 2 cents and try to convince the bride that we aren’t doing things properly.  We have been doing our job for way too long to not know how to cut a wedding cake!

What is something you wish all couples looking at Gaslite Manor considered or asked when booking a venue?  

The best questions to ask us, or any venue for that matter, What keeps your repeat clients coming back?  Why do they trust Gaslite Manor Banquets with their important events? (Editors Note: Gaslite Manor has done baptisms, birthdays, weddings and funerals for many repeat families in the Chicagoland area)

Besides your venue, what other venues do you respect or refer clients to if you are booked?

We have 3 facilities, so we keep our referrals in the family.

What is your favorite wedding trend for 2017 or 2018?

We have seen more and more weddings going back to live music for their receptions.  It really is a treat to not have to hear the same songs, every weekend.

Tell me one thing no one knows about you or your venue

Very few people booking Gaslite Manor Banquets know that I was an actor in college, and have a movie credit to my name.  If you see me around, go ahead and ask. I’m not shy about telling you the details of filming a movie in Chicago.

On a follow up note, being a wedding planner, I see tons of venues. Really cool industrial spaces, chic barn venues and luxury city ballrooms. I chose to get married at the place where it all began because I know the passion George and his entire staff have for each and every wedding. I chose to get  married and celebrate my special day with the person who gave me a tiny spark of his own passion. If our big brother/little sister relationship tells you anything…I stopped working there years ago, and I still have a key to the building. You should totally stop in and ask him to tell you the story of filming a *very famous* Chicago movie. the stories of the other *very famous* actors are pretty amazing. But really, if you are getting married or know someone getting married and you want an awesome experience with an affordable price tag, please stop in and visit George and the rest of the talented staff. Gaslite Manor Banquets will not disappoint. 

 

Vendor Spotlight: Ashley from Ashley Nicole Events

Ashley Nicole Events is not just a company, it is a person! Hi, I am Ashley Nicole. I am a Chicago based wedding and event planner and love all things weddings. I have recently gained a lot of new IG followers and Blog subscribers, so it is time I do another vendor introduction. Every time I get a notification that I have another follower, I literally do a little happy dance. It may sound corny, but it’s true. I love you guys!

There are three Ashley Nicole Events companies in the United States! No, our businesses are not related or connected in any form, other than our names…One in South Carolina, one in Denver and me! I have concluded that we are all products of the 80s and there is nothing we can do about our names. Our names are really all Ashley Nicole! Denver Ashley and I pass back and forth client information when they get confused. It is nice to have a connection and help each other along the way.

 meet the two other ladies who share my name and passions.
meet the two other ladies who share my name and passions.

WHO I AM

I have been planning events for the past 11 years and have done everything from baptisms, baby and bridal showers, birthdays, weddings, and even a few funerals. People are really wanting to go out with a bang these days! One interesting thing to know about me is that I am really an introvert. Shocking, but I am actually a very quiet and reserved person. While I have no problem jumping on a mic giving directions to a large group of people, when I get home, I enjoy curling up on the couch.

I have been married for *almost* four years. I can’t believe it, this time has just flown by and I know the next 60 will go by just as fast. We have two dogs, Kaine and Mollie. Kaine, is an all around good boy, but a total goofball. Mollie is the more reserved, protective and serious of the two. She can be a bit feisty at times and this is something we are still working on. Just like people, dogs come with their own personality.

I am a very sarcastic person. Sometimes, this gets me into trouble and people have a hard time reading me. This means they clearly have not spent enough time with me and once they do, they realize that I am actually quite funny (In my opinion). My eye rolls, sighs, and facial expressions are simply love. I express love through sarcasm and dry humor. Trust me, it’s great. No, really…it is!

I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandparents owned a local floral shop for 40 years, my parents have owned their ice cream shop for 35 years and my aunt recently opened her floral shop 5 years ago after my grandparents closed their doors.. Owning your own business is hard! It is all up to you to sink or swim. With my families love and support, I am able to swim. Most dinners revolve around talking about one business or another. Valentine’s Day (and Mother’s Day)  are all hands on deck at the flower shop.

If I had to pick my spirit animal, I would say, I would be Rose Nylund from the Golden Girls. I always used to think I was more like Blanche, but it has become much clearer to me that I am Rose. If you have no idea who I am talking about, please, do yourself a favor and watch all 7 seasons on Hulu. You are welcome.

WHAT I LOVE

I love bagel bites. I currently have 3 boxes of them in my freezer, each time I go to the store, I am afraid that there will be a bagel bite shortage I might run out…I basically horde bagel bites. There is a science to cooking them and if you are someone who puts them in the microwave, you, my friend, are doing it wrong.

I love office supply stores. I blame my dad for this. He has every color sharpie known to man and if there is a new gel roller pen, he owns that as well. I love the smell of a fresh notebook. Potential and possibilities lie in those blank pages. I am a habitual list maker. I will literally write things I have already accomplished on a to do list, just to get the satisfaction of crossing it off. I can’t be the only person like this? Can I?

WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN

In conclusion, I am a sarcastic, office supply-store junkie who is addicted to bagel bites and loves dogs (actually, I just love my dogs).  What does this say about me? Why would you ever want me to plan an event for you? These terrible descriptions have an underlying theme. I will always tell it to you straight. You will always know where I stand. I love lists and strive to accomplish my tasks, I have awesome taste in crappy frozen food, and I am extremely loyal. If you are on #teamashley I will be loyal to you, and  serve your wedding with everything I have. I will be your trusted companion and your friend and if there is ever an apocalypse, come to my house, there will be plenty of bagel bites to go around.

2017 In Review

Each holiday season, I do my absolute best to stop, look around and and truly reflect on what this past year has brought me, this year was no exception! I was incredibly blessed this year and I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for me, my family and Ashley Nicole Events Inc.

In 2017, I have been able to serve wonderful clients and turn their wedding dreams into a reality. I began working more regularly with The Haight, one of the hottest venues in Chicagoland, as a part-time venue manager (the venue is literally booked until 2019…they are that busy folks!) I was able to travel to a business conference to sharpen my craft and I even snuck a way for a few days to see some close friends. While I help my clients spend time making memories with their families, it is always a special treat to make memories with my own family.

Here is a look back at 2017

Leslie and Dave celebrated their love surrounded by friends and family. I was so excited for Leslie & Dave when they told me a few weeks into their wedding planning that they were also expecting a little bundle of joy. So much love radiated on their wedding day. Stay tuned for their full feature later in 2018! Photo credit: Crane’s Photography

I am so excited for Leslie and Dave to welcome into the very FIRST ANE BABY!!! Just look at that adorable little bundle of Christmas joy! 

The 15th Annual Paramount Theatre’s “Under the Stars” Gala in Aurora, Illinois was an exceptional evening filled with dinner, entertainment, raffles and auctions, with all proceeds benefiting the Broadway Series and the stars of our future: Children. Last year alone, the Dreams Do Come True program brought more than 3,500 underprivileged children and families to see a show at the theatre for free. I was honored to be able to brighten the lives of children from disadvantaged homes, low income schools and special needs organizations. 

C&C’s wedding was a breathtaking wedding celebration. When you mesh Greek and Italian you are sure to get some high fashion, great food and stunning decor…and A LOT OF PASSION. For security purposes, for the groom, I am not able to show more, but let me tell you, this wedding was certainly on the top of my list…of all time!

Kayla and Kyle were such a joy to work with. They were BOTH so giddy with excitement all day! Kyle is not shy about his feelings for Kayla and their summer wedding filled with bright, bold colors was nothing short of exhilarating. Stay tuned for their full feature later in 2018! Photo credit: Love & Ink Photography

Kylie and Brian got married on a beautiful September day. It was a family tradition in Kylie’s family to have her father sing. Her dad jumped at the opportunity to perform for her daughter and new family at her wedding and there was not a dry eye in the house. Stay tuned for her full feature later this year.  Photo credit: Mary Rose Photography

Wes and Gus have a once in a lifetime kind of love. They knew that being present in the moment was their top priority and threw tradition to the wind. Stay tuned for their romantic, fun, energetic and magical wedding feature later this year! Photo Credit: Wynn Wiley

Ioana came to me wanting to surprise her husband, Ovi for his 40th birthday. When it comes to planning a milestone event, just like a wedding, honing in on their likes and priorities truly make the party come to life! Photo Credit: Snap Happy Pics

This year, in addition to providing planning services, I was able to provide beautiful rental pieces such as this arbor, to clients across Chicagoland which enhanced their ceremony spaces. Flower credit: Town and Country Gardens

Anna and Joey wrapped up the 2017 Wedding Season and we could not have ended on a higher note. Having fought bad weather all day, we were able to sneak in this *very important* shot for the bride and groom. Stay tuned for their stunning wedding later this year! Photo Credit: Dave Pavlina

This year, I had the pleasure of creating a stunning Thanksgiving tables cape for a private residence. Ashley Nicole Events can not only handle weddings, birthday parties and corporate events, but private dinner parties as well! Photo Credit: Ashley Hamm Photography

For the first time, I was able to attend the Wedding MBA, a business conference that provides continuing education for all aspects of business and the wedding industry. I was able to attend with my business bestie (aka mom) and connect with many amazing friends and vendors from he Chicago region. Below are a few photos from the conference!  The rock statues are the 7 Magic Mountains, located outside of Las Vegas. My friend Joy, humored me enough to sneak away to capture these literal magic mountains! 

During the off season, I was able to spend a little quality time with my husband, Adrian and take a class in outdoor floral design. It was such a fun day! The photos below are highlights out of my personal life from doing fall activities, attending my Godson’s baptism, celebrating my other Godson’s 6 birthday, making and donating 145 dog toys to a local shelter and spending time with family. 2017 was a great year and I can not wait to see what 2018 has in store for both me personally and my family! 

 Photo credit: Mary Rose Photography Venue: The Haight, Elgin, Illinois 
Photo credit: Mary Rose Photography Venue: The Haight, Elgin, Illinois 

Thank you for all of your support this past year. I could not have done it without each and every one of you. Without all of your love, support, guidance, friendship and faith, Ashley Nicole Events would not be looking back at another successful year, and certainly not looking to a brighter future. May your new year be filled with love, faith, family and friends! Cheers to 2018! 

Vendor Spotlight: Brent Rolland from Fig Media

When planning a wedding, one of the most important aspects is the music. As a planner, I can work on the pre-wedding preparations, the logistics, design aesthetic and timeline for the day. I work closely with all of the hired vendors to ensure a successful event, but once the reception begins, it is really the caterer and musicians who set the tone for the rest of the evening. 

One of these Chicago wedding professionals I want to introduce you to Brent Rolland from Fig Media. He has worked in the Wedding DJ industry for 13 years.

Please enjoy the following interview I recently had with Brent. He is quite special and I just know you will love him as much as I do! 

Tell me how you got started in the DJ business:

It was a complete accident—but one of the best of my life: I have a background in multimedia and design, and I needed an internship to graduate from college. One of my instructors asked me to check out Fig as they were looking for design interns. I applied and got the internship for the summer (yay!). Part of the curriculum of the tenure is to assist on events; I chose to work on DJ gigs. My first experience was a wedding at the Adler Planetarium. I loved that guests were happy, dancing, and unified. I then started learning from my team and leading my own events. The rest, as they say, is history!

How long have you been a DJ? How many years at Fig Media? — 13 years, all of them at Fig! 

What do you love about the job?

I love the philanthropy of the business—bringing people together with music. I believe my calling in life is generating unity and joy in the world, and this is one of the ways that I am accomplishing it. I also love all the long-lasting friendships and relationships that I have made in this profession, and for the number of people I’ve been able to serve and bring joy to. I also am grateful for my team at Fig for their feedback, training and support over all these years.

What do you not love so much about the job?

Aside from the physical (lifting, setting up, etc.), being a DJ can be emotionally challenging: Sometimes, I’m seen only for my job title and not as a guest or an equal. The hospitality of folks at venues varies, as well as the attitudes of the people I meet and their requests or reactions to song choices. Despite this, I still enjoy and love this art form.

 Brent has a contagious smile and gives the best hugs. From the moment he meets you, he treats you like an old friend. 
Brent has a contagious smile and gives the best hugs. From the moment he meets you, he treats you like an old friend. 

What is something you wish all couples looking at bands or DJs considered or asked?

One big question that I’d love to hear more of is, “Tell me more about yourself.” I love getting to know all the wonderful people I meet and learning their story, but I occasionally get to tell mine! Relationships are a priority of our process, and I love when I can make the people I meet feel comfortable and like friends. I also like couples considering their vision for their night and their guests critically—that is, who is coming, ages and demographic, and whom in the group likes to dance. Fun groups always lead to an awesome party, and it’s great data for us to have early on.

SONG SELECTIONS

If you had to pick a top processional song what would it be?

       “Perfect” (Ed Sheeran cover) by The Piano Guys  Click HERE to watch video
       “Perfect” (Wedding Version) Featuring Cannon in D –I also love THIS version

If you had to pick a top recessional song what would it be?

       “You Are The Best Thing” by Ray La Montagne  Click HERE to watch video

If you had to pick a top cake cutting song what would it be?

       “L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole  Click HERE to watch video

If you had to pick a top first dance song what would it be?

       “At Last” by Etta James  Click HERE to watch video

Tell me one thing no one knows about you.

I have never traveled outside the United States—but want to do so!

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, Brent! Anyone in the Chicago area looking for a wedding or corporate event Deejay, consider booking Brent or one of his associates at Fig Media. They are professionals, they get to know their clients and they truly want to make your event as awesome as possible. Fig Media also offers photography and video production for corporate clients. You can find out more about Fig Media, by clicking the link below.

 Thanks for following along my interview with Brent! I recently got a new headshot from Mary Rose Photography. Isn't it pretty!?! Hair and Makeup was by Blow Bar!
Thanks for following along my interview with Brent! I recently got a new headshot from Mary Rose Photography. Isn’t it pretty!?! Hair and Makeup was by Blow Bar!

 

If you are a wedding professional or know of someone who I should feature next, please drop me a note! Email hello@ashleynicoleeventsinc.com