Guarding a wall of glinting crystal, bridal consultant Jane Eiring contemplated the nearness of her final day of work at Doris Diamonds.
"I won't be worth a flip the last day," she said as she wipeda tear.
Part of the emotional response was prompted by thoughts of leaving her customers, who have become like an extended family, Ms. Eiring said.
In an age of mass marketing and slick advertising, Ms. Eiring has developed a loyal customer base during the past 7´ years by focusing on individual relationships.
And before she leaves Augusta to help her daughter open a tax service office in Nebraska, Ms. Eiring wanted to deliver a message to all "her brides."
"I want to make sure they're all thanked for letting me be a part of their lives," she said. "It's been a wonderful experience."
As a bridal consultant, Ms. Eiring has worked with thousands of couples on their first step of the wedding process - after the proposal - by helping create their gift registries.
Ms. Eiring said something symbolic occurs during the process of helping a bride-to-be pick out her first set of china, crystal and silverware.
"You're helping them plan their life, their future, their future home," she said. "You get very close to them."
That process is not as simple as some might think, Ms. Eiring said, and her type of job was not one many people wanted to tackle.
To prove her point, Ms. Eiring pointed to a wall lined with row after row of china settings, the myriad patterns blending into an overwhelming array of potential decisions.
"Product knowledge is a lot, but you get to know what people like," said Ms. Eiring, who juggled the details of more than 250 china patterns.
Then there's the crystal selection and choice between sterling and silver-plated cutlery - all decisions the couple must make before creating a gift registry.
"If you don't register, you're going to get like three Crockpots," she said. "They come in and they're so confused. It's just watching that bride, and a lot of times the groom, and seeing it all come together."
And usually Ms. Eiring's couples have found ways to show their appreciation. She's received numerous thank you cards, wedding photographs and invitations to ceremonies.
There have been so many wedding invitations during Ms. Eiring's employment that she was unable to attend them all.
"If I did I would be exhausted. I would have retired a long time ago," she said.
For a recent wedding that she did attend, Ms. Eiring said she looked around and saw several faces of previous customers.
"It was like seeing my children. They become a big part of your life," she said.
When Penny Nelson's daughter married in 1997, she experienced Ms. Eiring's business approach firsthand and has been a loyal advocate since.
"She was always friendly - real helpful and knows what the bride really wants," Ms. Nelson said. "She's the type of person that makes you feel like you're just the person she wanted to see - I hate to see her go."
Ms. Eiring said she hated to leave, largely because of the joy she found in her work.
"You can't imagine the number of lives I've touched," she said. "I'm going to miss them all."
Name: Jane Eiring
Occupation: Bridal consultant at Doris Diamonds. She has worked for the previous 7´f years in area jewelry stores coordinating wedding registries
Business background: Has worked in retail sales in some capacity since she was 12 years old.
Plans: Will move to Omaha, Neb., to help her daughter open a tax service office
Quote: "You're helping them plan their life, their future, their future home. You get very close to them."
Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 823-3227.