2019, what a year you have been! Over the past 12 months, we’ve laughed, we’ve learned, and most importantly, we’ve loved. We loved every second of collaborating with Clients, teaming up with talented vendors, and most importantly, we’ve loved the growth we’ve seen at AFA. We’ve been blessed this year with a whirlwind of incredible opportunities, remarkable experiences, and tremendous support from our family, friends and community.
We’re taking some time to reflect on the year as we recharge this holiday season and gear up for a wonderful 2020. In doing so, we took a look at our year by the numbers:
- 12: The number of fabulous weddings we planned and designed in 2019. We traveled across the state of Maine for these days, creating intimate affairs, grande events, and everything in between. As our many years in the industry remain, we thrive to take on less weddings in order to maintain the highest quality and focus for our couples and allow more time for our own family adventures.
- 8: Styled shoots we were blessed to be a part of this year. Showing off our inventory and creating beautiful, interesting designs is what we live for. More from this styled shoot soon in glorious print!
- 5%: We donated 5% of our net sales to charitable causes, philanthropies and organizations that make an impact on our community, our children, our animals and our land. We are proud to support our Maine economy and organizations that bring awareness and help to less fortunate.
- 1,089: Our inventory growth. In 2019, we added wicker pieces, sofas, new rugs and unique pieces that inspired us. Our online store is always growing, and will also be undergoing a complete redesign in 2020. Be on the lookout for some fun changes and inspo in the new year!
In reflecting on the past 12 months, we also learned a few things in 2019 that we wanted to share. Lessons learned, takeaways… call them what you want. But these three things defined our year and helped us grow.
Business growth can happen fast. But it’s important to embrace it.
This year, we hired a fabulous new team member who has been critical to our growth. We had a complete overhaul of our sales approach, as well as our planning software. These weren’t necessarily changes we anticipated in 2019, but we ran with them – and now, we’re excited to share some of what we’ve been up to.
To kick off 2019, we hired none other than Marie Grasser, AFA’s newest team member and Wedding Planner extraordinaire. Marie came to AFA with 5+ years of event management experience, a deep passion for the industry, and an unparalleled enthusiasm for wellness, life and her sweet family. She’s grown tremendously in the short time she’s been part of the team – Marie leads the majority of planning, serving as the point of contact throughout the process and on the day-of, and is beginning to spearhead sales efforts as well.
In case you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her yet, here’s a few of our favorite things about this sweet soul:
- Her family and her husband are her rocks. She’s inspired by the many strong women in her life, and never takes time with her loved ones for granted.
- Marie’s favorite song is Run the World by Beyonce, and her ultimate dream is to be best friends with Jennifer Lawrence. We can relate.
- She’s a fitness and wellness enthusiast, and loves helping others reach their goals. Go girl!
Clearly, Marie is a TOTAL rock star. We couldn’t be more grateful for the skills and growth she’s brought to the team!
Aside from hiring the wonderful Marie, one of our biggest labors of love we’re excited to share is on the sales front. We strive to work with Clients that allow us to lend advice, guide them along the planning process, and create design magic together. To do this in 2020 and beyond, we’ve revamped our sell sheet to include AFA’s most FAQs so potential Clients can get a better sense of how we work. We know Clients have questions, and we’re thrilled to be able to answer them in this new format. Check out a little sneak peek below!
The final – and most drastic – change we made in 2019 was introducing Aisle Planner to our Clients. We put a ton of thought into how we can better help our Clients in 2020, and we’re confident that this change will make the planning process more streamlined than ever.
Here’s a few of the features we’re most excited about:
- The Contact Feature: A central location for all vendor information, contracts, invoices and payments. This tool also allows for vendor comparison if Clients are facing a tricky decision.
- The Checklist: The most comprehensive list of tasks from proposal to wedding day. We manage this list for Clients and have monthly check ins to make sure we all stay on track.
- The Design Studio: An AFA team favorite. We use this feature to pull together all Pinterest dreams and design inspiration into a more clear and concise vision for the overall look of the day.
- The Guest List: Import a guest list and track RSVPs, meal choices, whether or not a gift was received, and if a thank you note was sent. More than just a wedding guest list, Clients can add multiple events to manage guests – from the Bridal Shower to Bachelorette Party to the Rehearsal Dinner.
- The Budget Tracker: This tool is as helpful as it sounds. Clients can test out budget scenarios as well as actual budgets to have a sense of overall budget for the day.
So as I mentioned… a huge overhaul. But an exciting one that we can wait to introduce to our newest Clients in 2020! Change came fast this year, but helped us grow. And we’re thankful that it challenged us and propelled our business forward.
Sometimes, the biggest (and most challeging) moves result in the most success.
Over the past six months, we’ve been transitioning to our new showroom in North Yarmouth. And it has been a MOVE. We left behind our first ever studio in Gray after three amazing years, filled with fun memories as well as incredible personal and professional growth. It was the first of it’s kind for me and I am so proud to have lived that dream out in the best possible way.
The good news? We’re on to even bigger and better things. Our new space is one that’s near and dear to my heart. We’re packing up and moving to a restored barn on my parent’s property. We’ve stayed true to our name throughout the years, but now, we’re bringing new meaning to ‘A Family Affair’ of Maine. Sharing space with my parents means the absolute world to me, and for our business, it means more space for rentals, collaboration and design.
And the biggest takeaway of all (one that remains true each and every year): Clients are everything.
They’re the reason why we do what we do. And the reason we LOVE what we do. Clients give us the opportunity to create, to surprise and delight, and to make others dreams come true. We could never thank them enough for letting us be involved in such a memorable event, but we can take a look back on the year to showcase their beautiful wedding days. Cheers to everyone involved in these special days and sending endless love to our 2019 Clients!
We kicked off the year by styling an open house at one of favorite places in Central Maine: no other than Beech Hill Barn. We used a blush and grey color palette to create a romantic design for the event. To create this dreamy look we used our cranberry Churchill china plates, vintage pink goblets, white milk glass goblets, tufted grey settee and white washed wood taper holders.
From here, we officially kicked off the wedding season with Griffin & John at William Allen Farm. These two made our hearts swoon.
Mickey & Stephen stole the show next, with a design to die for. They took full advantage of our vintage china and put a whole new twist on a barn wedding. The Barn on Walnut Hill served as the backdrop for this stunning day.
Next up was Emma & Conor’s sweet day. In the mountains of Western Maine at Hardy Farm, these two said “I do” surrounded by endless natural beauty and their closest friends and family.
Chelsea & Austin had a weekend to remember at The Barn on Walnut Hill. From a Hunger Games style weekend kick off to a southwestern styled cocktail reception, these two cool kids knew how to throw a party. They took advantage of vibrant lounge seating to elevate the look. And we loved every second of it!
In July, we headed to Historic House Island to celebrate Margo & Colin. Think: traditional church ceremony, a GORGEOUS ferry ride to the island, and a classic, beautiful design that is still on my mind to this day.
Madison & Austin kicked off a fabulous August for the AFA team. These two took us to Shady Lane Farm for a memorable, vintage inspired day. We used vintage china, vintage amethyst goblets and mismatched seating to create the look they dreamed of.
Next in our 2019 season was the beautiful wedding of Alissa & Hayden at Cunningham Farm. These two souls filled our hearts with so much joy.
We headed back to The Barn on Walnut Hill for a fabulous day that was Meghan & Ed’s wedding. In their unique design, they incorporated the universal symbol of a circle into numerous elements of the occasion. Said to represent wholeness, completion, and inclusion, the circle created a cohesive vision for the event, and filled the day with a reminder of the greater purpose of their union and love for one another.
Kylie & Chris added a sweet end to our August weddings. These two bold individuals said “I do” on the Harbor Queen overlooking the picturesque Casco Bay. And we were here for all of it. To add to the fun, we collaborated with Kylie & Chris to plan a killer rooftop party at Bayside Bowl. This unique day was one we’ll never forget!
As we headed into the fall, Lauren & Colin stole the show for the month of September. Just as the vibrant fall leaves hit their peak, these two lovelies cemented their love for one another in an outdoor ceremony at the Library Amphitheater in Camden, Maine.
To close out our 2019 wedding season, Tess & Nick’s stunning day at Cunningham Farm was filled with much love and beauty. From the smallest details to the overall design, their day was a true showstopper.
One of our most favorite projects was co-hosting and styling a pop up dinner at The Public Works smack in the middle of wedding season. It was an incredibly fun break, and something I’ve always wanted to do. We are already scheming more on my radar for 2020 for sure!
We ended 2019 not only saying goodbye to 5 Main Street, but by also saying farewell to our amazing Event Design Assistant, and rental coordinator to so many awesome planners and Clients, Abby Johnson. Abby worked with us for nearly two years in this role, and while she was with us not only did she create some fantastic plans for rentals for so many, but for our drivers and on site stylists. She created gorgeous cakes for our couples and the most beautiful cake pops for my girl’s teacher gifts. She designed beautiful graphics for some of our day of paper designs, modeled at two styled shoots and photographed some of our props for beautiful website imagery. She was one of the best employees I had ever been blessed to work with and I will miss her with all of my heart. Thank you, Abby! We are so honored to have worked with you and can’t wait to watch you keep being the amazing human you are.
Last and most importantly not least, my family deserves a huge 2019 shout out as well. They are my rock and keep my centered throughout the year. My girls bring endless joy and pride and my sweet, hardworking Pete is a true partner in my life. We had the most rewarding year and we can’t wait for all that 2020 has in store.
We are all wishing you so much love, wonder and excitement for 2020 and beyond. Cheers to a successful 2019 and a fabulous New Year!