Photography by Joseph Hardin for Seventh and Central Weddings and Events QC Event School graduate feature

Graduate Feature: Jordan Merlino of Seventh & Central

Photo of QC Event School graduate Jordan Merlino by Mary Crozier

Photography by Mary Crozier

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am originally from New Jersey but now reside with my husband in the Seattle, Washington area. My husband, Wayne, and I met on a blind date eight years ago, and we’ve been married for just over seven years. In 2015, I opened Seventh & Central, which was previously based in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, about 25 miles south of Tokyo. This month, my husband and I relocated, along with my wedding planning company, to the Pacific Northwest.

I am the proud dog mom of a six-year-old English Pointer and a four year old Labrador mix who love hanging out with me at the beach and cuddling on the couch. You can usually find me in my office, working on someone’s wedding, or perusing the aisles of Target with a Starbucks drink in-hand. My favorite things include thrift shopping, traveling, Diet Coke, and anything pineapple related.

Why did you decide to go into event & wedding planning? What about it appeals to you?

Seventh and Central wedding planning - Photo by Elizabeth Gibbs Photography
Photography by Elizabeth Gibbs Photography

The first time I decided to “plan a wedding,” I was about ten years old; I didn’t know what a wedding planner was or even if I could do that as a career, but I knew it was fun to plan weddings for other people! All of my little sisters’ Barbies had to be married, sometimes repeatedly, just so I could practice. By high school, I had my own subscription to wedding planning magazines, and I was actively seeking opportunities where I could learn the necessary skills to become a professional wedding planner.

I’ve always been a highly organized person, and I built upon that trait to become a successful planner. At the age of 16, I became a certified emergency medical technician. I quickly learned how to make the best decision quickly as well as how to manage chaos. While many people may not realize it, first responder skills are extremely valuable in the event planning field. Since then, I have designed and delivered wedding cakes, worked as a personal stylist for brides, and managed one of the largest bridal gown salons in the country. After assisting a wedding planner in San Diego, CA for several years, I knew I was prepared to go out on my own—that was when Seventh & Central was born.

Jordan Merlino wedding planning - Photography by Kristine Marie Photography

Photography by Kristine Marie Photography

Photography by Kristine Marie Photography - Seventh and Central Wedding Planning

My favorite part of each wedding is watching my couple repeat their vows to each other. I will always cry during that moment. The feeling of helping them facilitate their dream wedding day is an incredible feeling that makes all the months of planning and stressful situations worthwhile. That feeling of joy and passion I found in weddings when I was ten years old has never died out, and I know this is my life’s work.

What’s one thing that you wish someone had told you when you were just starting out in the wedding planning business?

Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. It is so easy to get on social media, compare yourself to talented planners who have been in business for 5-20 years, and wonder why you aren’t as successful as they are. It’s easy to question how you can add value to your client’s wedding day as the new planner on the block, but remain confident in yourself!

It’s okay to only have three beautiful events to show while more senior planners have two or more Pinterest-worthy events each weekend. Just because you don’t have the beautiful Instagram feed that they do, doesn’t mean that you aren’t, or will not be successful. Focus on giving your clients the best experience possible instead of how many Instagram followers you have. Keep yourself focused on tangible goals and continue to set new ones!

Seventh and Central's Jordan Merlino styled shoot - Photo by Joseph Hardin
Photography by Joseph Hardin

We’ve noticed you love to travel! Is destination wedding planning in your stars? Or would you rather keep that aspect of your life separate from your work life? We all need a little R&R sometimes!

I absolutely love to travel! One of my biggest sources of design inspiration are my favorite travel destinations. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on R&R when I walk down an alleyway and dream of the wedding I could plan in that location. Luckily, my husband doesn’t seem to mind that I’m always on the lookout for an inspirational scene while traveling. Indonesia and Macau, China are two places that have most inspired me; after returning home, I had so many wedding ideas in mind!

Destination wedding planning brings some new challenges I’m not sure Seventh & Central is quite ready for yet. But it is definitely something I plan on exploring in the future. Paris, Bali, and heading back to Japan for more events are all on my list for wedding destinations I would love to make happen in the future, when the timing is right.

You seem to move around often, too. Does it affect your business if at all? Do you find yourself making changes to your business since you have a fresh start in a new local industry?

My husband is an active duty military police officer serving in the United States Navy. Because of his career, we move every 1-3 years. While there have been improvements in the last seven years that I’ve been married to my husband, it’s very challenging to find a job as a military spouse. There are often additional challenges to being self-employed that I have to face, too. One of the largest challenges is that I have to relocate and break into a new market every time that we move.

Photography by Kristine Marie Photography - Seventh and Central Wedding Planning
Photography by Kristine Marie Photography

Photography by Kristine Marie Photography - Seventh and Central Wedding Planning

Most recently, we moved from Yokosuka, Japan to Seattle, Washington, while temporarily staying in Texas for a month in between. I have learned to make the most out of the opportunities, and I was fortunate to learn so much about Japanese culture and wedding traditions that I know will bring value to the Japanese community in the Pacific Northwest.

Also, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many talented wedding vendors all around the country and the world. We recently hosted and designed beautiful styled shoots in Fujisawa, Japan and Waco, Texas.

While my husband and I’s lifestyle does bring many hurdles, it often brings many blessings and many additional skills that truly benefit my clients and my local wedding market.

What is your biggest career highlight so far?

Seventh & Central has had so many highlights so far! I’ve been lucky enough to plan weddings and events on two different continents so early in my career and learn so many fascinating wedding traditions from around the world. I’ve also had the immense honor of planning events on behalf of United States Navy leaders and commanders, and received some really unique traditional military gifts afterward. Also, there was the wedding that the San Diego Chargers attended!

Of course, this year I completed all three of my wedding planner courses online through QC Event School, which was a huge highlight and milestone of my career.

Jamie Lee Photography for Seventh and Central's Jordan Merlino, a QC event School graduate
Photography by Jamie Lee Photography

Congratulations on becoming a QC Event School graduate! What do you think the future holds for you and your business?

Thank you! Also, thank you so much to my amazing tutor, Athena DeVonne! I am excited to see Seventh & Central blossom in the Greater Seattle Area over the next several years hope to expand to another location in the next five years. Most importantly, I look forward to celebrating the love of all of my couples and creating beautiful wedding days for many more years to come!

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