I can't even remember how long ago it was, but my favorite DJ in the biz, Brandon sent me a message connecting me to a random lead that he received. He had introduced me to Molly, who quickly we became my client, but most importantly we became fast friends. After talking once, she had booked our services & even my husband for photography, on top of the DJ... before even deciding on the venue for her September wedding. Sometime in between booking us and not booking the venue, Molly found out that her and Jake were expecting a baby. She had contacted me to tell me the news and we celebrated over the phone. We decided to let things sit for a few days and reconnect after her first doctor appointment about how we were going to fit a wedding into their lives.
A week went by and when we reconnected she had informed me that since her appoint, she had miscarried. My heart broke immediately. Molly is the kind of girl that makes SO much lemonade out of lemons, you thrive off of her ability to turn a negative into a positive. Planning for their first baby one day and then having that taken away in an instant put their life & priorities into perspective. Their priorities shifted quickly and starting a family took precedence over planning the "big Austin wedding." Since Molly had never put the deposit on the venue, we began planning a small elopement so they could get back to their dream of starting a family together. From ideas of Arizona, to New Mexico, her and I became two balls of excitement going back and forth about a mountain elopement; we shared inspiration, Pinterest ideas, and finalized on the one day our schedules could align together. We decided on Wednesday, March 18th in SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO - that was the final destination.
Within a week of deciding where, I had everyone's airfare, hotel, and rental cars booked. I searched tirelessly through hashtags on Instagram trying to find the perfect spot in the Santa Fe mountains for their ceremony. I contacted photographers I did not know, random brides from blogs, and every type of local vendor possible to see how I could fit them into Molly & Jake's big day. Before we knew it, we had the perfect venue to use for a "styled shoot" elopement, the sweetest officiant, a baker, and an even more amazing florist, Carol, with Amanda's Flowers. We had everything sent to New Mexico to prep each part of the elopement. Unfortunately, during the weekend before, we got news that the blanket she had been the most excited about got stolen in the mail. In truly Molly fashion, she rolled with the punches and continued to stay her optimistic self. Within hours of the news, I had an exact replica of the blanket being shipped and arriving the same day we arrive. Nothing can stop us now.
With all of the recent bad news, also came the fast spreading outbreak of COVID-19. Somewhere between the Saturday, March 14th and Monday, the 16th everything was escalating quicker than we could have ever imagined. On Monday, we knew it wasn't good and we were leaving Tuesday for a Wednesday elopement We were all dead set on going. It must have all hit us when we checked into our Southwest and STILL got A boarding group. As the day progressed and social gatherings were discouraged, we saw schools, bars, restaurants, and all non-essential businesses begin closing all over the states. That afternoon it hit us... This wasn't a trip that we should take to jeopardize any of our immune systems and exposure to COVID-19. By Monday evening, it was called off, again. The flowers had been ordered, the cake had been made, all of the details were set in place, but we never got on the plane. Jake had emailed me to ask about a back up plan, Molly had text me, "Austin elopement?" WE ARE MAKING THIS HAPPEN this week, EVEN if the city is shutting down.
On Tuesday, without much of a plan, I made Molly & Jake get the marriage license in Austin. Tuesday and Wednesday were a blur, as the counties were reducing social gathering from 250 people, to 50 people, to 10 people & I had to plan their elopement on Friday in midst of 30 of my other weddings postponing or cancelling. Come Thursday, the governor had a statewide announcement and in my head I was thinking, "if this comes down to less than 5 people at a social gathering, this will be one of my unluckiest chances I am taking!" Things just started clicking again towards the end of the week - I remembered that one of my weddings the week before had cancelled and I begged the owner to let us use the venue for a few hours. Less than 24 hours before the elopement, I text Jessica, the longest employee of Ashley Nicole Affair, to bake a cake from scratch for Molly since the grocery store's bakery was closed. We even went as far as to find food coloring, gold edible luster dust, and a few other supplies off of my neighborhood Facebook group. We combined all of our kitchen ingredients and Jessica accepted the challenge.
In the middle of our baking challenge one of my longest friends from Austin, Kat, who also is in the wedding industry posted on a local wedding vendor page asking if anyone had any idea where she could donate a wedding's massive amount of florals from a postponed wedding. My dearest friend's bride could not have her wedding, but she had thousands of flowers that deserved a better home than a walk in cooler. On the same vendor page, I took a chance and asked if someone would be willing to donate their officiating services... from a safe and healthy distance. James Simmons, with Austin Area Weddings immediately came through like the knight in shining armor.
On Friday, March 20th, I woke up without much of a plan and definite lack of a mountain backdrop. I met Kat at her venue bright and early with a cooler and filled it with just enough flowers to make Molly smile. We were going to attempt to build her a floral semi circle alter that she loved from Pinterest & had planned to do in Santa Fe. I packed my car with the most random rentals from my inventory and headed to the venue to stage the elopement.
And if you have to know the last wrench thrown our way, PLEASE ask us about Friday's weather. Of course, it was a torrential downpour from morning to afternoon. If there was any question if we were still doing the damn thing, the answer was ABSOLUTELY. We had a list of what we envisioned to accomplish to surprise Molly & Jake when they got to their elopement: ↳ A local officiant ↳ A whole lot of random Ashley Nicole Affair decor rentals ↳ A cake, made from scratch ↳ A semi circle floral alter, with hundreds of donated flowers ↳ Her dream picnic scenario with a boho inspired blanket ↳ Her bouquet, which we had overnighted from Santa Fe to Austin On Friday, we pretended that we were florists. We pretended that we were high end event designers with a plan. We pretended that we were wedding cake bakers. We pretended that every time there was something bad thrown our way, that we would defeat it. We didn't have to pretend that love prevails. WE DID IT.
My husband, John with Moodyography, photographed them all around Austin, which then resembled a ghost town with all of the recent restrictions. Afterwards, Molly & Jake showed up at 6:30 to their ceremony. We walked them through each part of the venue that we had designed, based off of her vision and got them married!
Without further ado, we introduce you to the victorious elopement that COVID-19 could NOT stop & the best, rapidly evolving love story that we have ever been a part of.
FINALLY, WE GET TO INTRODUCE TO YOU, MR. + MRS. BLICKHAN.
And to my COVID-19 postponed and cancelled weddings, my heart aches for you. There is nothing that we want more than to execute your picture perfect, magical wedding. With the unexpected tragedy of a pandemic that has come our way, we want to be the comfort and light in your situation. We pride ourselves on being experts in chaos on wedding days. Now that everything is out of our control, wedding planners and vendors in the industry all feel helpless and completely defeated. All that we have coming into this world is health and love... and that's all we have when we leave this world. Right now, as long as your love stays strong, you continue to avoid situations that could compromise your health, we guarantee that your special day will be here before you know it. When social gatherings of more than ten are allowed, we are ready to come back and make every single one of our brides and grooms forget that COVID-19 even existed during their wedding planning process. In a world full of unexpected losses, unprecedented pandemics, be a Molly & Jake; a couple that let love lead their way when the times got tough.
Peace, love, and hugs from six feet away, Ashley