Have you dreamed of a fairy tale wedding since you were a little girl? Do you have the Pinterest boards all prepped and ready? You may even have a ring on your finger, but the next thing you need is a powerful, charismatic, creative and passionate planner to help bring your day to life. Ashley Cash is all of those things and more, and it never ceases to amaze us just how much energy is bursting out of her. When we get married, rest assured you will be hearing her name, but for now take a look for all the little details she has to share with us, you may want to take notes (or check her out at her company The Graceful Host).
When planning a wedding, what is your favorite moment?
There are so many moments and milestones during wedding planning that could qualify as my favorite! I enjoy the entire process of wedding planning, really, and love working with brides and grooms to bring their wedding dreams to life. We spend so much time planning all the little details and talking about what to expect on the actual wedding day, that it makes the big day that much more rewarding. I absolutely love to be there when the bride puts on her dress. Out of all the little moments of a wedding, that small time is full of so many emotions – giddy anticipating, pure excitement and genuine joy. It feels like time stands still, and it’s just the beautiful bride with her best girlfriends and mom having a sweet moment helping her look her best for the man she’s about to marry.
What tips do you have for making your wedding unique?
The best thing you can do for your wedding and your sanity is to stay away from Pintrest! Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Pintrest fan and I’ve made a number of boards for collecting and sharing inspiration with clients. It’s an amazing tool for sharing ideas and finding examples of things you’re trying to articulate. But, when it comes to making your wedding unique and personal, Pintrest is your worst enemy. Who wants to copy someone else’s ideas when your ideas are so much better! I hear from brides that they want a wedding that is beautiful, romantic, and “pintrest-worthy”. I can’t blame
them – I mean every bride wants to have the wedding of the year! The way to reach that goal of a one-of-a-kind wedding is to create a day that is inspired by no one and nothing else other than you and your unique style. Go old school and gather magazine clippings to share color samples and flower samples, and focus on collecting words that would describe your wedding day style. It’s okay to use magazines and Pintrest for inspiration – After all, Pintrest is an inspiration site! But, be sure to use it wisely in order to elaborate on your ideas, not find your ideas.
We noticed you do styling for shoots; where does your inspiration come from?
I have a love/hate relationship with styled shoots. I absolutely love to do them because they give me creative freedom to do things that might otherwise be considered off the wall or impractical for a real wedding and I get to express my style. Which is where my dislike of styled shoots come from because brides fall in love with these ideas that just would never work in a real setting. That is the part I hate about having so many styled shoots pushed out into the world because I hate seeing the disappointment on brides’ faces when they realize it isn’t something they could afford or reproduce. But going back to your question: my inspiration comes from so many things! I love finding something tangible to base my inspiration on. Whether it be a flower, pillow, pattern, fashion, location, food, etc. I find inspiration from some of the most random things. I’m very influenced by architecture, art and fashion, and I love finding the beauty in the simple things that go unnoticed in day-to-day life.
What sparked your interest in the wedding world?
I never in a million years thought that I would be a wedding planner or do something related to weddings! When I was in high school, I started singing at wedding ceremonies to earn extra money. I really loved watching the wedding and seeing the groom’s face as he saw his bride approaching. Once I graduated from college, I needed a job! (Who hasn’t been in that
position, right?!) So, I was searching for something creative to do and I thought of weddings remembering how much I enjoyed witnessing weddings when I was younger. The more I learned about the details around being wedding planning and what the job entailed, the more I fell in love! Not only would I be able to use my love of organization on a day to day basis, but I’d have the opportunity to design unique weddings in all different styles for amazing couples. It seemed like the dream job that I never even realized existed!
Tell us about your wedding day!
My wedding day was all sorts of funny looking back at it – I have a lot of stories I could say on this subject but I’ll keep it brief. 🙂 I grew up in New Orleans, and I always knew that I would go back home to get married in the greatest city in the world, in the same church that my parents were married. Planning a “destination” wedding (which is what it felt like since
I lived in another state) wasn’t easy and added so much stress to what is already a naturally stressful situation. So once I finally landed in New Orleans that week, I felt like I could finally relax and enjoy the week with my family and friends that had gathered to celebrate with my husband and I. Of course, I choose to get married in June – it was my parents 28th
wedding anniversary – so it was hot as can be and pouring rain all week long. The entire day felt like a blur. I wasn’t thrilled that it was raining on my wedding day, but that’s just how my luck goes! Luckily, everything was planned for indoors, so nothing was really ruined. My girlfriends and I spent all day getting our hair and makeup done at the
hotel suite. As the time to for me get dressed was getting closer, I started to get a little more anxious realizing what was actually about to happen! Knowing this about myself, my husband and I opted to go with a first look so that we could get some of the formalities out of the way beforehand and we could get to our reception as quickly as possible. Waiting behind the church doors with my dad felt like an eternity. I’ll never forget those feelings! The actual ceremony itself went by so quickly, even though it was a Catholic mass. I really don’t remember much detail from the actually wedding day because it all went by in such a blur! I just remember dancing all night long with family and friends, and never wanting the party to end. (I was absolutely in love with our band – they were the first thing I booked!)
What would you tell future brides?
I tell each of my brides to make sure they don’t get distracted from the most important thing that matters – the fact that at the end of the day you get married! It’s easy to get caught up in the planning and overwhelmed by the details, but none of that will actually matter in the long run. Don’t lose sight of why you’re planning a wedding in the first place!
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a wedding planner?
For me, I struggle with boundaries. I tend to not know how to set office hours and really stick to them. Which can make my life feel out of balance and that there is no sense of normalcy because it’s all work all the time. It’s so hard to turn off my email and take time away from my job because my job is such a huge part of me and I am so invested in my weddings.
What is your favorite wedding theme?
It’s so hard to pick just one! I absolutely love being able to create so many different styles of weddings. If I had to pick a favorite I think it would have to be a garden wedding theme.
Do you think age matters when it comes to marriage?
Age isn’t as much of a consideration, I think, as maturity and the realization that marriage is a huge lifelong commitment that is not to be taken lightly.
As a twenty-something, how has your age impacted your business?
Being a twenty-something business owner has its benefits and it’s drawbacks. I think my age surprises people at times and I’ve had situations where others have been condescending to me because of my age. But, I think it’s more of a positive, really. I’m able to relate to my clients so much better because I’ve gone through many of the same things they’ve gone
through. Being able to empathize with my clients is a big deal to me!
What is your guilty pleasure?
Champagne. And lots of it! Whoever said that champagne was for special occasions only was completely wrong.
What is your must-have item when meeting with a couple?
I always carry a notebook with me. Things are really digital these days, but I love writing things down and sketching out ideas, so I bring a notebook with me everywhere I go. And then I add my notes to my computer documents later.
If you could use one word to describe your twenties, what would it be?
Discovery! If you would have asked me at 20 what my life at 27 would look like, it wouldn’t look like anything like my life today. I always heard my mom say that your twenties was a time for change and self-discovery. Who knew that moms would be right? I feel like my life has evolved so much over this past decade and I (without a doubt!) have learned so much more about myself than I ever expected to! It’s been a roller coaster ride, but the best roller coaster ride I’ve ever ridden.