For event planner Jaime Engebretson, making the switch from a marketing job at Target to running her own business started with a simple church bulletin. “It kind of started with doing day-of coordination at our church,” Engebretson says. “They had put something in the bulletin asking for a volunteer, and I thought, ‘This would be fun on the weekends.’ I kept getting told that I was really good at it.”
Weekends at the church eventually led to Engebretson’s decision to take the leap and start event planning full-time, opening J’aime Events, in late 2015. “I was out on maternity leave and had all intentions to go back to my job,” she says. “I kind of shocked my husband when I said I wanted to do this full-time. He said, ‘Can you make a living doing that?’ and I said, ‘We’ll see!’”
Almost four years later and Engebretson’s Maple Grove business is booming. J’aime Events offers full-service planning for all kinds of gatherings, including weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations and showers. She also recently won the title of Best Networker in the Twin Cities from the Twin Cities Wedding and Event Professionals, an industry-specific networking group. “It means a lot to me because growing up, I was pretty shy and didn’t just go up to meet new people,” she says. “One day, I realized there are worse things that can happen to me than just saying hello to someone ... now I introduce people to others.”
The networking award and others, like the company’s 2018 WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award®, have reinforced Engebretson’s decision to start her business. She’s glad she took the chance and loves spending time with her clients. “I really feel honored when people choose me to be a part of their day. A lot of times, especially with weddings, I work with them over a year and really get to know the person,” she says. “Almost every time, I tear up at an event.”
Engebretson’s love for helping people plan the biggest days of their lives also inspired the name for her business, J’aime, meaning “I love” in French and also being a version of her first name. “When I was growing up and young, I really hated the way my name was spelled because of the [alternative] spelling,” Engebretson says. “But when we were thinking of names, it kept coming back to ‘I love doing events,’ so it fit.”
Beyond just a natural affinity for party planning, Engebretson’s professional background gives her a distinct advantage. Along with her bachelor’s degree in marketing, she earned a master’s degree in project management and a certificate in wedding and event planning. Her education is useful when keeping track of all the tiny details involved in planning a large event. “At every event, there’s something that doesn’t go exactly as planned,” Engebretson says. “I know how to transition to the next part of the event or adjust the timeline. I do an extended timeline for the day, so I know when things will happen. I keep lists of décor and have a habit of double and triple checking things.”
After planning many events, Engebretson is familiar with common pitfalls. The biggest one she sees—not getting invites out soon enough for holiday parties. “[Hosts will] try to send it the week before, and your guests didn’t have time to plan or make arrangements or RSVP,” she says. “A month before [the event], send out invites. It gives time for everyone and for you to prepare.” Other common mistakes include not getting enough food and drink for the guest count, not sticking to a budget, micromanaging vendors and not having a backup plan for outdoor events.
For weddings, Engebretson recognizes that trends come and go. “The big trends right now are trying to find innovative or creative spaces to hold the events. People don’t want places their friends used,” she says. “Another trend is lighting—up lighting, neon installs, changing the look of the space with lighting.” She notes that classic wedding elements are also making a comeback. For example, tiered cakes are back, and cupcakes are going away. Sparkler exits are also on their way out, Engebretson notes happily. “I’m excited about getting rid of sparkler exits. I always feel like there’s going to be an accident,” she says.
As more people invite guests to their homes for the holidays, Engebretson advises that good hosts truly embrace every aspect of the season. “Having food that symbolizes holiday times or thinking through smells—having [scents] like pumpkin spice, so you feel like you’re at a seasonal event,” she says. “It’s something we all look forward to.”