Event and wedding planning course graduate Kaloni Jensen of Cherry Creek Events - Photography by Yelena Tsioma Photography

Graduate Feature: Kaloni Jensen

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I’m a small-town Idaho farm girl with big dreams. The fifth of seven children, I have over 20 nieces and nephews who are my number one fans! Family is the most important unit of society, and I was blessed for a supportive, loving unit of best friends. Our family motto is “We work hard, we play hard, but we do it all together.” I believe this motto has prepared me for the life I live.

I enjoy hiking, camping, and travel. I’m a bit of a genealogy nerd and love learning about my ancestors and the cultures they lived.

Why did you become a wedding planner?

I grew up helping my Aunt Brenda decorate tables at her restaurant and banquet hall. I learned to tie my shoes in kindergarten so I could help tie the chair sash bows. Seeing the bride in her dress was the best part! I knew then that I wanted to help brides on their wedding day. My Aunt Brenda has long been my mentor and event hero. She taught me that if I believed in myself and worked hard to think outside-the-box, I could have a successful career I love and enjoy.

viking themed wedding - wedding planning and event design by Cherry Creek Events

Yelena Tsioma Photography

I attended my first wedding show as a high school junior where I networked with local professionals in the wedding industry. Leslie Charles of Leslie Charles Events influenced my decision to pursue professional event planning. She answered questions I had about the industry and was honest about the positives and not-so-bright sides of the industry. From her, I learned not to take the stress-talk of my clients personally and to always have a back-up plan.

My senior year of high school, the school didn’t have the budget to run the music program (that I loved so much) the following year. So for my senior project, I planned and hosted a Christmas dinner and musical fundraiser, raising over $1000 for the music program. Planning for a cause became a passion.

I was the Director of Student Social Activities at Brigham Young University — Idaho, planning weekly dances, leadership retreats, classic movie nights, talent competitions, and more. Working through my degree, I took many floral arranging, clothing construction, and event planning courses that allowed me to help plan and participate as a designer in three bridal fashion shows. During that time, I also worked at The Atrium of Hemming Village as the Office & Wedding Assistant. I was the first manager of Signature Party and Event—Rexburg when the Idaho Falls company expanded.

What’s the significance behind your wedding planning business name, “Cherry Creek Events”?

Cherry Creek Event Decor - event decor course graduate Kaloni Jensen

For the event and wedding planning course, I had to come up with a name for my event planning business.

I grew up in a small farming community in Southern Idaho called Emmett, the home of the Cherry Festival. The Squaw Butte is our town’s natural landmark, and Cherry Creek runs down the hill to the valley below. I also grew up working at a cherry orchard in our community. I knew no matter what, I wanted cherries to be included in the name because it’s so deeply rooted in my childhood experience.

Cherry Creek Events is primarily an event and wedding planning business, but you also offer other services such as dance and life coaching. Can you tell us more about them?

I have a huge passion for dancing! When I was 7-years-old, I won my first local, state, and national clogging titles as a dancer, eventually being inducted to the Gem Clogger Hall of Fame at age 18. I taught myself ballroom, country, and Latin-style social dances. At 12, I became a dance instructor for clogging. I continued to do choreography throughout high school and college for large productions.

I decided to add dance lessons to my event planning business because many events include dancing, yet many people feel threatened by the dance floor. By offering dance classes, I raise the client’s confident and subsequent enjoyment of their event.

boho country wedding by Cherry Creek Events

Murphy Photography Boise

Many of my clients enjoy taking dance lessons as a couple or with their honor party. I also choreograph specialty dance numbers for clients upon request. I’m trained in how to cut my own dance tracks which always gives some fun music options for clients to select from.

How do your life coaching workshops fit into your wedding planning business?

As for life Coaching, I wanted to have a backup plan in case my wedding planning business didn’t pan out. I graduated from Brigham Young University—Idaho with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marriage and Family Relations, with an emphasis in home and family.  For a while, I kept the two jobs separate and focused on weddings or family advocacy and life coaching.

But things changed once I had was on the planning team for events such as World Congress of Families IX in Salt Lake City and The CSW 60 Conference at the United Nations in New York. Planning, presenting, and participating in these large-scale events taught me that my life coaching and event planning careers didn’t need to be separate.

Cherry Creek Events

Working as a wedding planner. I found many of the skills I was teaching in my enrichment programs were applicable to my wedding clients. Many clients would book wedding planning and my enrichment programs separately.  Eventually, I tailored all my planning packages to include the enrichment program for individuals and couples. It’s been a great blessing to include these services in our wedding planning packages.

Why did you decide to enroll in an online event planning school? How has QC prepared you for the event decor business?

I researched many event planning schools that offered event decor and event planning certifications. Ultimately, I selected QC Event School because of their flexible study schedule and quality ratings. I loved the student showcases on their social media and website. It took me less than an hour chatting with Student Support to convince me of the professionalism of this planning school was at the caliber I was looking for.

My first tutor was Heather Hawes. Enrolling in a program mentored by professionals in the field absolutely trumps the lecture-style event planning courses I was taking at university. The courses contain information that’s current and can be tailored to use in any specific situation. And the tutors at QC encouraged creativity and producing your own style.

QC had prepared me for the event decor business by helping me identify boundaries between themes. While decorating events prior to taking the course, clients would have terms and a Pinterest board with theme ideas, but they would be all over the place. The most helpful aspects of the course were learning about trends over time and how to identify and hone-in on themes.

event decor of Cherry Creek Events for a Viking Themed Wedding

Yelena Tsioma Photography

Beyond anything, I love how QC continues to support students even after finishing the courses. Business templates are available on the Student Center, allowing me to start my wedding planning business with ease. The student forums are fantastic for asking questions and getting creative inspiration from other professionals.

I attended QC Event School in 2013 between my sophomore and junior years at Brigham Young University — Idaho. I worked with college brides using my QC wedding planning certification to plan their weddings. This helped me finance my way through college. I graduated QC in December 2013 and booked my first client in January 2014. Amber and Jeremy William’s destination wedding took place that April.

You rent event decor as part of your wedding planning business. How did you make the decision to own your own decor?

Originally, I was focused just on planning events and renting event decor from other businesses. But fate had a different plan. While being a wedding planning college student, I received a call from a woman who was cleaning out her storage sheds. She offered me decorations from family weddings free of charge if I showed up and hauled the items away that day. Opportunities such as these don’t often fall into one’s lap, so I didn’t want to pass the opportunity up. So began my decor rental journey.

Yelena Tsioma Photography for Cherry Creek Events - wedding decor

Yelena Tsioma Photography

Once I started decorating weddings professionally, clients would give me decor items they had purchased as a “tip” for a great event. I also received items from my aunt from her restaurant and banquet hall. My inventory grew once I bought out Elegant Flare Events’ entire inventory as the business owner was retiring from the industry.

Over the years, many clients would come to me with specific themes based on books or movies. I began collecting theme specific pieces for Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Vikings/Game of Thrones themes, to name a few. I want my decor to be as authentic as possible. So I collect period replicas of weaponry, accessories, and accent decor.  My latest addition is a custom-built gourd dragon head and tail to attach to a canoe to resemble a Viking boat!

What advice do you have for new event and wedding planners who want to hold their own decorating stock?

Event decor and event and wedding planning business of Cherry Creek Events

When it comes to acquiring event decor stock, I think it all comes to opportunities you can find within your start-up budget and working with what your clients desire. It’s important to register with wholesale decoration companies when purchasing decor for your inventory. You could also network with other local planners and decorators to get different items you can sub-rent from one another for a percentage cut. I do this with many in my local network. It allows us to meet the needs of any client who walks through the door, strengthens our professional bonds, and keeps our inventories reasonable.Regular inventory is key. Every few months, I check in on my stock and evaluate how they’re stored.

Yelena Tsioma Photography

You want to make sure heat in storage warehouses isn’t melting plastic items. Sometimes, you may even boxes breaking under the weight of their items and damaging other items as they collapse. I also like to spring-clean my inventory and sell decor items that haven’t been rented out often since being purchased. If an item doesn’t sell, I re-purpose it into something else for a themed package, or I donate it.

What’s one thing you wish someone had told you before earning your event decor certification?

I had already been in the industry a few years before taking the event decor course. But I wish someone would have told me (before pursuing a career in event planning) that event planning in real life isn’t like the Hallmark movies. I believed that because I loved what I did, things would just work out. Sometimes, they don’t. I would have loved to learn how to handle the disaster moments ahead of time instead going by trial and error.

Also, I would have liked to be taught about styled shoots for marketing purposes. How to plan one, how to write a contract for one, and so forth. I participated in a couple shoots after being invited as a vendor to join. But I was very confused at first as I didn’t understand what a styled shoot was at the time nor how to participate in a way that would best reflect my wedding planning business.

Country boho wedding tablescape decor by Cherry Creek Events

What is your biggest career highlight so far?

In 2015, at age 22, I was awarded the Excellence Award for the Woman of Distinction Magazine. It was an honor to be recognized and awarded as the youngest ever Woman of Distinction at the time. The feature was in the November 2015 issue.

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