Jacksonville Bride Spring/Summer 2012 : Page 42

Saying YES to the Dress One NFL Player’s Bride-to-be Shares Her Story of Finding the Gown of Her Dreams BY KERRY SPECKMAN as Maurice Jones-Drew, was drafted by the Jaguars in 2006. “We were just out of school and didn’t know what to expect. I wanted him to focus on his career and didn’t want to push any-thing,” Hamasaki says. “We just looked at it like if it was meant to be, we’d be together.” Fast forward six years, and Hamasaki and Jones-Drew are still together and on April 1, 2012, they’re making it official. When it was time to pick out her wedding gown, Hamasaki scanned every bride magazine she could find and scoured the internet for im-ages of real weddings (at 5’3”, she says, she’s well aware that clothes look much different on “real people” than models). After “looking at pictures of every bridal gown ever made!” and trying on at least 50, she was beginning to give up hope when she finally found the one, a beautiful gown by Maggie Sottero. “I saw it online and said, ‘oh, my goodness! This is it!’” she recalls. Once she found the dress, she got a babysitter for her and Mau-rice's three children and darted off to Park Av-enue Bridal. “When I saw it, I literally got chills. It was everything I wanted,” she says. “I did not want to look back in 15 or 20 years and say, ‘ What was I thinking with that dress?’” We don't want to ruin the surprise for MJD, but we do know that his bride will walk down the aisle in one of these gowns. Check the Fall/Winter 2012 edition of Bride to see which dress Ashley chose. v A t the age of 8, Ashley Hamasaki had no idea she was determining her fate by pick-ing up a pair of black and yellow pom-poms to cheer for a Pop Warner-esque league in Califor-nia, where she met a young player named Mau-rice Drew . They became fast friends and soon became boyfriend and girlfriend, dating off and on throughout junior high and high school. When he went off to play football at UCLA, though, she remained in the Bay Area to attend The Paul Mitchell School. Hamasaki also stayed behind when the star running back, then known 42 SPRING/SUMMER 2012

Saying "Yes" To The Dress

Kerry Speckman

At the age of 8, Ashley Hamasaki had no idea she was determining her fate by picking up a pair of black and yellow pom-poms to cheer for a Pop Warner-esque league in California, where she met a young player named Maurice Drew. They became fast friends and soon became boyfriend and girlfriend, dating off and on throughout junior high and high school.<br /> <br /> When he went off to play football at UCLA, though, she remained in the Bay Area to attend The Paul Mitchell School. Hamasaki also stayed behind when the star running back, then known as Maurice Jones-Drew, was drafted by the Jaguars in 2006. “We were just out of school and didn’t know what to expect. I wanted him to focus on his career and didn’t want to push anything,” Hamasaki says. “We just looked at it like if it was meant to be, we’d be together.” <br /> <br /> Fast forward six years, and Hamasaki and Jones-Drew are still together and on April 1, 2012, they’re making it official.<br /> <br /> When it was time to pick out her wedding gown, Hamasaki scanned every bride magazine she could find and scoured the internet for images of real weddings (at 5’3”, she says, she’s well aware that clothes look much different on “real people” than models). After “looking at pictures of every bridal gown ever made!” and trying on at least 50, she was beginning to give up hope when she finally found the one, a beautiful gown by Maggie Sottero.<br /> <br /> “I saw it online and said, ‘oh, my goodness!<br /> This is it!’” she recalls. Once she found the dress, she got a babysitter for her and Maurice's three children and darted off to Park Avenue Bridal. “When I saw it, I literally got chills.<br /> It was everything I wanted,” she says. “I did not want to look back in 15 or 20 years and say, ‘What was I thinking with that dress?’” <br /> <br /> We don't want to ruin the surprise for MJD, but we do know that his bride will walk down the aisle in one of these gowns. Check the Fall/Winter 2012 edition of Bride to see which dress Ashley chose.<br /> <br /> high-profile planner<br /> <br /> Planning a Wedding Is Hard Enough. Try Doing it For an NFL Celebrity.<br /> <br /> For Hamasaki and Jones-Drew, securing a venue, picking out invitations, choosing flowers and the myriad other details of arranging a wedding for 250-300 guests (with a list that's still growing, by the way) was a little overwhelming, so they called in a professional: Crystal M. Lequang, event producer and owner of Amazáe Special Events.<br /> <br /> The deadline of four months to get everything together wasn’t cause for concern for Lequang, since the general trend in wedding planning has been for brides to start planning six months out, as opposed to a full year. But when it’s a highprofile wedding, involving, say, an NFL superstar and three-time Pro-Bowler who led the league in rushing yards this past season, the planning process becomes slightly more complicated.<br /> <br /> “Let’s just say there are a lot more hoops to jump through,” Lequang says. Where she usually meets one-on-one with the bride immediately, Lequang, along with five other wedding planners, had to be vetted through Jones-Drew’s publicity agency, then interview with Hamasaki via phone.<br /> <br /> It didn't stop there. Though Hamasaki handpicked Lequang to bring her “romantic, but not too frou-frou, yet still edgy” vision to life, many ideas had to pass through Jones-Drew’s publicists throughout the entire planning process. Lequang took extra measures to ensure the couple’s anonymity by not disclosing their names to vendors until contracts were executed and by offering to sign a non-disclosure agreement. As for the event itself, she’ll only say it’s being held at a winery estate in Tri-Valley, California; the colors are gun-metal gray and blush; and it’s going to be “lush” and “contemporary.” <br /> <br /> But it’s not just the wedding crashers, Lequang is trying to keep at bay. Many of the details, including the reception band and other entertainment, are being kept under wraps so as not to spoil the event for guests. “There are a lot of elements that Ashley and Maurice wanted to include because they’re part of their life together,” Lequang says. “And their guests will be surprised by them all night.” <br /> <br /> As for Jones-Drew, who did give his bride-to-be a budget, he’s hoping that the final bill won’t be one of them.

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