During a long drive home to visit her family freshman year, Jordan Owens couldn’t help but reconsider her major for the fourth time.
“If I didn’t have to worry about money, I’d be a wedding planner,” Owens said to her mom, seeking her advice.
With her support, Owens found the right fit in management. Now a junior, she’s set out to accomplish a dream of starting her own business after gaining experience from a full-time wedding planner.
“I always grew up watching wedding shows on TLC like ‘Four Weddings’ and ‘Say Yes to the Dress.’ I’ve seen every episode,” Owens said. “I’ve just been really infatuated with weddings and love.”
At a previous job as a senior representative for a photography company, Owens established a connection with Kat Schmoyer, a wedding planner based in Harrisonburg. The two got along well and Schmoyer mentored Owens for the next two years, showing her the ins and outs of how to be prepared for the day of a wedding.
Using what she’s learned, Owens said wedding planning is like a spectrum. She could do the bare minimum called “day of execution.” This means the bride and groom have already planned out most aspects of the wedding, but it’s the planner’s responsibility to tie up any last-minute loose ends. This could include telling the vendors the time and place to be on the day of and making sure the scheduled timeline of wedding activities runs smoothly.
Or, she could do the maximum, which includes first discussing with the bride and groom about their budget and what they want that day to be like. As the planner, Owens picks a venue with the approval of the couple, sets it up, orders decorations, meets with vendors and supports the couple throughout the process.
“The whole goal is to make the engagement process and the marriage day more stress-free and relaxed so that way, they can focus on what they really should be focusing on — an engagement that’s preparing a life with each other versus preparing a one event day,” Owens said.
Last November, Owens planned her first wedding by herself for a family friend. She over-prepared because she wanted to make the best impression possible.
But, not every detail of a wedding always goes as planned. Once dinner was served, a bridesmaid came running up to tell her the head table had collapsed.
Owens’ mind raced, concerned about the guests. She was also worried about the white table linens, because she knew red wine was on the menu. Thankfully, there wasn’t much of a mess and everything was cleaned up swiftly so the couple could get back to enjoying the party. Once the moment passed, Owens said it was a funny learning experience and few guests had noticed.
“Throughout the entire night, she was pivotal in making sure all events for the evening flowed, and flow they did,” Taylor Milbrath, the bride of the wedding, said in a testimonial. “She kept in touch with me and my husband as the night went on, getting us anything we needed. To say Jordan went above and beyond as our wedding planner and day-of coordinator would be an understatement.”
Owens hopes to plan multiple weddings at any given time and says it’s important to stay organized so she doesn’t mix up each couple. To help, she makes lists, writes in notebooks and uses online platforms specifically made for organization like Trello and HoneyBook. On the day of a wedding, she keeps a clipboard with her that contains the itinerary and all printed plans so she knows every detail.
Schmoyer, whom Owens helped plan multiple weddings, said that while the day of can be fun and exciting, it’s also hard work. A planner can be on their feet for 12 to 15 hours, handling many different logistics with each vendor and dealing with family dynamics and emotions. She thinks Owens was smart to shadow her before deciding to start her own business since the job is demanding.
“While she still has questions now, she’s also gained a lot more confidence on wedding day of knowing what to expect what to do, how to take charge and really stepping into that role,” Schmoyer said. “As somebody who’s mentored her, it’s made me feel so good to see her grow and blossom in that.”
Since she’s a full-time student, Owens wants to work with students and alumni who are in search of a planner that’ll understand what being a Duke is all about. She hopes to use her talents to give back to the community that’s given so much to her throughout her time at the school.
“JMU Nation is a family — everyone kind of takes care of each other and is really supportive and so friendly,” Owens said. “I just really want to be able to tap into that to be the foundation of my business. It’s those first few clients you have that really set you on the direction of where you’re wanting to go.”
She recently launched her website, Boundless Love Events, officially starting her company. Owens cares about each of the couples she works with so she also runs a blog through her website to give them weekly tips and tricks for planning their big day.
When all is said and done, Owens’ favorite part of the night is getting to sit back and watch the two joyous families dance together, knowing she contributed to the success of the happy couple’s wedding day.
“I’m definitely a perfectionist in the fact that I don’t like to fail, and I’ve been that way my whole life,” Owens said. “Stepping out of my comfort zone and launching a business is really scary for me, but at the same time, it’ll be so rewarding when I’m looking back to see that I’ve built this business and have been able to serve so many people through it.”
Contact Traci Rasdorf at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.