Bride Bio # 2: Ashley Back Hoffman

Wedding date: December 29, 2006
The groom: Mike
Ages at wedding: she was 19; he was 22
Wedding location: Florida
Honeymoon:Jamaica
Now living in: Alabama
Photographer: Melody Overholser

Ashley is the kind of bride every other bride needs to talk to as they stress over their weddings. She’s got a solid perspective on what weddings and marriage mean — and she had a beautiful wedding and has a strong marriage.

WBG: When you got engaged, you were only 18.  Do you think your age had any impact on your wedding planning?

Ashley: I think that I still had some pie in the sky ideas about what a wedding should be like and I wanted a wedding like I saw in all the movies. I chose to wear the big poofy dress and long veil, selected traditional music played on an organ for the ceremony, and tried to do everything by the book. I think that if I were to plan it all over again today, I would try to be more unique and less traditional.

WBG: That kind of answers the next question, but maybe you can elaborate: Now, as a 23-year-old mom, are there any aspects of your wedding that you would plan differently?

Ashley: In general, I would spend far less time focusing on the details of the wedding day and more energy on preparation for marriage. Specifically, I think that I would choose to have a more casual and less formal wedding — an event where I could let loose a little more, not worry so much about every little thing being perfect, and just enjoy my friends and family. My wedding day and all its little mishaps was just a preparation for life with a small child — planning is great, but life happens very differently than we often plan. I think that a more laid back feel to the wedding would have allowed me to overlook the mishaps and just enjoy the moment.

WBG: For many brides-to-be, the engagement period really feels like a dream. When and why did it really sink in that you were getting married — and that it was a forever promise?

Ashley: I think this happened long before the actual engagement for us, although I can’t say I remember when or why this took place.

WBG: That kind of explains how you and Mike started planning your wedding, and even booked your venue, before you got engaged.  You must have really known that was a spot you wanted!  Why were you so drawn to that location?

Ashley: We loved the way the room overlooked the river and had windows all the way around. The elegance of the building itself and the beautiful bride’s room sealed the deal. We didn’t want to lose our date, so we locked it in ahead of time. The ring was more of a formality for us. . . .

WBG: With the venue taken care of, how did you settle on your wedding’s theme and choose your decorations?

Ashley: I took the season and time of year into consideration. Since December 29th was after Christmas, I knew that I didn’t want to rehash burgundy and green. Instead, I chose black and white and used wintery feeling decorations such as snowflakes, ice crystals, white tulle, and winterized “pine” wreaths.

WBG: Did you have a strong support network to help you get through the wedding planning and preparations?

Ashley: My mom, grandmother, aunt, and bridesmaids all helped me to plan and prepare. Two of my roommates and several of my classmates were engaged at the same time and I enjoyed “talking weddings” with them as well.

WBG: That’s great that you had a lot of help — but that could have caused a problem, too. A lot of brides have trouble narrowing down their list of friends and family to select bridesmaids. How did you choose yours?

Ashley: I first chose family members. After that, I tried to select friends who had not just been friends to me as an individual, but had spent time with Mike and me as a couple.

WBG: As an only child, how did your marriage and the whole excitement of your wedding affect your parents?

Ashley: I think it was very bittersweet for them. They were excited to host such an important event, and yet a little sad to lose their little girl.

WBG: Is there one image — either a photograph or a moment that sticks in your mind — that you think really captures your feelings from that special day?

Ashley: I love the pictures of Mike and I on the dock overlooking the river. It was after the ceremony and I was starting to relax a little bit. I especially love to look at his face in the pictures.

WBG: If a bride-to-be asks you for wedding advice and you only had thirty seconds to talk to her, what would you say?

Ashley: If I could go back and take my own advice, I’d do it in a heartbeat: 1) Genuinely consider the opinions and preferences of your fiance and family members. The day is just as much about them as it is about you. 2) Keep the future in mind before the immediacy of the wedding day details. Flowers will be forgotten, but family and friend relationships will (hopefully) endure after it’s all said and done. 3) Spend more time preparing to be the kind of wife you would like to be than the kind of bride you will be. One lasts a lifetime – the other lasts a day.

[Note: Bride Bio interviews may be edited for grammar, spelling and length.]

~ Laura

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