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Always a Bridesmaid, Now the Owner of Paper Flower Weddings & Events

By Pamela Sosnowski

For many women the idea of serving as a bridesmaid ten times over within the same decade sounds like a nightmare. But for Nancy E. Ahlum, finding herself as "always a bridesmaid" inspired a new career. Paper Flower Weddings & Events, her Philadelphia-based business, was founded after years of first-hand experience tending to her bride-to-be friends and ironing out wedding day glitches for them.

"I found myself naturally taking the lead on planning all the showers, bachelorette parties, day-of schedules, hair and makeup timelines, etc.," she recalled. "In 2009, my friend Caroline told me that what I was doing was a job: a wedding coordinator! And she offered to employ me on her wedding day to run the weekend's events."

Ahlum's first official job was no small task. She worked with her friend over a six-month period, coordinating every detail for the bride's four-day weekend including 10 bridesmaids and ten groomsmen, many of whom traveled across the country to the Nashville wedding. At the same time, Ahlum had started a blog dispensing tips and tricks on wedding catering, decor and more, all gleaned from her bridesmaid experience and friends started seeking her advice. After her friend's wedding came together marvelously, she got more work and left her full-time job in 2014 to make Paper Flower Weddings & Events her full-time business. She earned a MBA from La Salle University to further feed her entrepreneurial skills.

"Now it's been over eight years," she said. "Time flies when you love what you do."

Her business's name alludes to throwing a successful wedding on a budget while still remaining elegant; Ahlum strives to be competitively priced and assists couples that are sticking to a budget. Since launching her business she's worked throughout Pennsylvania and in and around Washington DC, New York City, Nashville, and Chicago suburbs.

Every wedding or event that Ahlum takes on is different and therefore keeps her job interesting. Some brides just need an extra hand on the big day and others need Ahlum to pull off a large-scale event. She says she travels with an emergency kit that enables her to do everything from recharge a mobile device or tend to a cut or scrape.

"I have a crisis response background from my days in student affairs, so I am calm in a storm," she said. "I know I can't prevent everything, but I can swiftly and effectively adjust the schedule, replace the item, calm the upset family member, and more. I am 'on my toes' at all times."

Ahlum is also a self-professed problem solver, an important skill to have in her profession. She treats every couple individually and tailors services to their needs. With an arsenal of wedding vendors at her fingertips, she's prepared in case anything goes wrong. On the actual wedding day she "immerses" herself into the event, supervising hair styling and makeup application, checking the venue set-up, running the reception with the DJ or MC, and she even ensures couples, guests, and gifts safely make it home or to their suite.

"Sometimes I even assist with brunch or clean up the next day," she affirmed. "If couples need me, I'm there! No request is too big or too small."

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About The Author

Pamela Sosnowski is a freelance writer, social media manager, contributor for REBEAT...

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