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How this Harford County resident became one of the Baltimore area’s top wedding planners

Susan Siegel of Potomac says her daughter’s wedding at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore in September was everything she wanted and more. She credits Harford County resident Elizabeth Bailey with making the event a huge success.

“There was a lot going on,” Siegel says. “The amount of time that most brides have to devote to a wedding [my daughter didn’t have.] Elizabeth played more of an important role.”

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Bailey owns and operates Elizabeth Bailey Weddings, one of the region’s top wedding and event planning and consulting businesses.

Travis Tucker, band leader for Millennium, and wedding planner Elizabeth Bailey discuss a wedding at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore.
Travis Tucker, band leader for Millennium, and wedding planner Elizabeth Bailey discuss a wedding at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore.(Baltimore Sun)

Specializing in six-figure events, she’s sought out for what her clients describe as attention to detail, impeccable taste and the ability to deliver opulent, sophisticated, ahead-of-trend events.

That’s why Siegel says she hired Bailey. Siegel, a fundraiser, was referred to Bailey by her vendor contacts in Washington, D.C.

“They said, if they were doing a wedding in Baltimore, there was the only person they would use,” Siegel recalls. "She definitely lived up to the reputation.”

Finding the right planner was essential because her daughter, Jennifer Siegel, and her groom, Kevin Schwed, live in Los Angeles and were not able to meet with Bailey until the day of the big event.

Despite enjoying a simple life on an organic farm in Fallston with her husband, Wilson, Bailey, 61, has built a successful business creating picture-perfect memories at lavish events.

Building a business with style

A quick glance [or a more leisurely look] at the the company website helps illustrates why Elizabeth Bailey is one of the premiere names in aspirational weddings and events in the Baltimore region.

One scene showcases a gold metallic-themed table scape anchored by a bouquet of white roses and orchids surrounded by golden chalices, chargers and white linen napkins wrapped in satin bows.

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While Bailey’s mother worked in the telephone business spending the majority of her career at Verizon, she helped her young daughter develop a sense of style.

“My mother has great style,” Bailey says. “She always instilled that in us. Even though we were in a rural area we did travel to shop. The shopping trips would be to Hutzler’s [Department store] and [and stores in] DC.”

Originally born in Orlando, Bailey moved to Maryland with her family at the age of four. At eight, she and her family moved to Jarrettsville where her father, who was originally an engineer with Martin Marietta Inc., owned a number of greenhouse ranges. The family business was selling houseplants on the wholesale level.

“She’s familiar with all the venues in the area and beyond. She really knows what she’s doing. She listens very well. She wants to please the bride and wants to please the groom. She wants the parents happy.”


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Bailey remained in Jarrettsville until marrying her husband. From there they lived in Bel Air until 1991 when they moved to the Forrest Hill/ Fallston area.

Bailey’s career trajectory started when the wedding planning industry was in its infancy.

“When I got married, there was no one around to ask about venues and vendors. There were no wedding planners,” Bailey recalls. “I didn’t know that was a profession at that time.”

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A year after her wedding, which also coincided with the closing of her family’s business, Green Leaf Nursery, Bailey saw an ad in a bridal magazine offering certification for wedding planners.

She signed up, completed the week-long training and received her certificate in 1984.

She further honed her skills while working at a florist shop, which allowed her to learn a lot about venues and working with customers.

“I’m really grateful to have that experience. It taught me a lot,” Bailey says.

In 1999, Bailey opened a wedding décor store, Hannah Elizabeth, in Stevenson Village, in addition to her wedding planning business. During that time, Martha Stewart Living Magazine was at its peak.

“Anything they saw in Martha’ Stewart’s magazine, they wanted,” she recalls.

Bailey later moved her wedding décor business to Green Spring Station in 2001. That business closed eight years later, but the trend of luxury weddings had started to take off.

Bailey credits Stewart with growing the luxury wedding market.

“I give all the credit to Martha Stewart. She set the bar high. That was truly when the business took a turn. Shortly after that was the internet and The Knot,” she says.

That’s when sumptuous weddings started to become more of the norm, according to Bailey.

“My [wedding planning] business took a bigger turn in 2006 when I started adding other planners to my team,” she says. “We were able to do more on a bigger scale.”

From left, Lee Kendall, Caroline Bailey Sorrell, and Elizabeth Bailey, of Elizabeth Bailey Weddings, talk with Hannah Pryor, catering sales manager at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore. Bailey and her team worked on a New Year's Eve wedding.
From left, Lee Kendall, Caroline Bailey Sorrell, and Elizabeth Bailey, of Elizabeth Bailey Weddings, talk with Hannah Pryor, catering sales manager at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore. Bailey and her team worked on a New Year's Eve wedding. (Baltimore Sun)

The word gets around

Bailey’s reputation as a top-notch planner has spread throughout the region.

Laura Black, a Washington, D.C. resident, found Bailey after being referred by several people.

“I just asked for a really good, professional wedding planner,” she recalls. “Her name came up.”

Black wanted her daughter to get married at the Willard Hotel in the district. Her daughter, Jacqueline Black and son-in-law, Lorin Mones, had other plans.

Bailey was able to bridge all of their wants and planned a June wedding with 250 guests at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club in Kent Island.

“She’s familiar with all the venues in the area and beyond. She really knows what she’s doing,” Black says. “She listens very well. She wants to please the bride and wants to please the groom. She wants the parents happy.”

Black said she was showered with rave reviews following the wedding.

Bailey’s company has planned more than half the events at The Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore this past year, according to Melinda Redling, director of catering.

Redling says it takes a certain caliber of event planner to excel at the exclusive property.

“She is a team player and works well with my team, which is important when delivering luxury events,” says Redling. “I work with plenty of planners who think it is a hobby. She’s a seasoned professional.”

It’s a family affair

Elizabeth Bailey is passing on her expertise to her daughter. Caroline Bailey-Sorrell has been working with her mom for 14 years — the last five have been full-time.

“She has taught me very well. She’s definitely taught me to envision things — whether that is a room or a party," says Bailey-Sorrell, a 29-year-old Pylesville resident. "She has that unique ability to envision things. And definitely [knows how to incorporate] trends so that it’s classic and elegant throughout.”

Mother, daughter and also Elizabeth Bailey’s daughter-in-law now work together as part of five-member team.

“I love being able to know that someone has my back 100 percent of the time,” Bailey-Sorrell explains. “It’s a different relationship. We can have good conversations and a really good flow. It does have its challenges keeping work and family separate. But for the most part I love it.”

Meanwhile, Bailey says she stays motivated by her team, her clients and the joy of planning events.

“It’s the people we get to meet. We meet some amazing people. They have this confidence to pull us into their lives at this emotional time,” she says. “And I love my team here.”

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She adds, “I hate the spotlight. But I still get goosebumps when I send people down the aisle. That part is so emotional for me. I love the ceremony part of the wedding.”

When she’s not orchestrating elaborate, but tasteful events, Bailey enjoys reading, cooking and family.

“I love family dinners. I spend a lot of time cooking,” she says. “I definitely prefer comfort food. Nothing fancy at all. We live on a farm. We raise organic beef, chicken and pork. So it’s usually one of our own farm products.”

Even though she prides herself on simple home cooking, there is one spark of pizzazz that always slips through.

“The table looks really pretty. We have never eaten off of paper plates or plastic,” she laughs. “That’s a little bit of the wedding part at home.”

Elizabeth Bailey Bio

Name: Elizabeth Bailey

Resides: Fallston

Company: Elizabeth Bailey Weddings

Address: 211 Old Padonia Rd., Cockeysville

Specializes in: Planning weddings and events

Number of employees: 5

Family: Husband, Wilson, two children, Nick Bailey and Caroline Bailey-Sorrell

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