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SALTWATER PORTRAIT

Annette Babich: From Brooklyn to Milton

Longtime New York event planner discovers small-town charm
March 5, 2019

Milton is a world away from Brooklyn, but for Annette Babich, Milton is not only a different pace of life, it also means it’s less likely she will have to find a Bengal tiger on the fly.

Babich worked as an event planner in New York City, with a specialty in home weddings. And that’s where the Bengal tiger story comes in.

“The bride went to Princeton and the groom went to college in Colorado, and the mascot for both was the tigers,” Babich said. “So the mom came to me and asked, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the tent could be flanked with Bengal tigers?’ We had two to three weeks left before the wedding.

“I never say no. I got lucky; there was a local circus that happened to be in town, and I asked them if they could be part of this wedding. We had to build a four-foot barrier where the guests couldn’t go past.”

Last year, Babich and her boyfriend, Mal Meehan, bought a house on Chestnut Street, which was built in 1921 and had been running as an Airbnb. Since the house still had bookings when she bought it, Babich decided to honor them. She enjoyed the experience so much, she has decided to renovate the guest rooms to have themes - one a beach theme and the other a farmhouse theme. They also decided to rename the Airbnb as Inn The Doghouse.  

When asked about the name, Babich said with a laugh, “We have a dog. The top gable reminds us of a doghouse. We thought it would be fun.”

The house has two guest rooms and a common area in the front. Babich and Meehan, use an upstairs room.

Babich has three children from a previous marriage, ages 25, 22 and 20, while Meehan has two kids of his own, 17 and 15.

They discovered Milton by chance.

“I was always Googling, ‘10 Best Places to Retire in America,’” Babich said. “Just for fun, really I’m not near retirement age. It was just something I would do. One time, 20 clicks in, I clicked on Lewes. I thought, ‘What a cute town.’ I did research. I sort of became obsessed with this town. I visited Lewes a year ago. We came down, we loved it. We thought, ‘We’ll check out some real estate.”

During their search, Babich said their real estate agent showed them houses in Milton, and they immediately fell in love with the town.

“A month later, we found this house. By June, with no plan to move here, we just thought we had an amazing opportunity to move here. We didn’t want to pass it up,” she said.

Originally from Long Island, Babich had been living in Brooklyn, with a 27-year career as an event planner. Besides at-home weddings, she also did corporate and social events. She said she hopes to continue her career in Delaware.

Babich began working as an auditor for an insurance company. In 1992, she was planning her own wedding during work when one of her coworkers suggested she plan weddings as a career.

“Something in my head clicked. I guess it was an ‘ahha’ moment. I started looking at the wedding magazines in a different way. I looked up some wedding planners in New York City. After my wedding, I decided this was something I wanted to do,” she said.

A year after she started planning weddings on the side, she quit her auditing job and started planning full-time. Babich said it was hard work, building up connections with people within the wedding industry.

“Over 25 years later, I’m still doing it. I can honestly say I’ve never advertised. It’s just been a word-of-mouth business,” she said.

Babich said she had a number of breaks along the way. Early in her career, she helped another planner with the wedding of the daughter of the president of the Rolling Rock brewery.

“I had been doing small weddings, but nothing of that magnitude,” Babich said. “I was in awe the whole time. I couldn’t believe how beautiful this wedding was.”

That wedding served as her entrance into large-scale weddings. Her next major wedding, this time on her own, was for the daughter of then-New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean.

“That wedding changed my entire career. That wedding spawned every wedding,” Babich said. “It just got me into a community of people. The word of mouth is all I needed.”

While for many, the day of their wedding is stressful, Babich said she feels the other way and tries to project a calm exterior. Right up until the ceremony.

“You do it for so long, you don’t think about stuff,” she said. If anything, she said, “The ceremony still stresses me out because that’s the wedding. The party is easy. The ceremony is one shot. You have to get it right. That causes me a little anxiety until I see her walk down the aisle with her dad,” she said.

Now 53, Babich is excited for the slower, small-town life in Milton.

“Even when I lived on Long Island, it wasn’t a small town like this,” she said. “I love that you get to know people and get involved.

“Working with the Milton Historical Society, I’ve never done that really. But here, I feel like it’s important. I like feeling like I’m part of a community.”

While she admits to still being a city girl at heart, she has taken a liking to her new surroundings.

“I like that it’s nice, and it’s quiet. It’s its own little town, but if you want to be somewhere you can drive 20 minutes and be in Rehoboth.
“I feel like everything is here. It’s not like I’m missing anything,” Babich said.

For more information, visit Airnbnb under Inn The Doghouse or visit annettebabich.com.