Beyond the Lens: Jennifer Onalee Weddings

I am SO excited to be sharing with you a new series while I'm out on maternity leave! I've asked some friends in the wedding and creative industry to write about a topic they're passionate about- whether that be tips helping brides while planning a wedding, what they've learned in their business, balancing life and owning a small business, plus so much more! Let me tell you- there's some amazing stuff coming up and I can't wait to share! 

Oh I am so excited to be sharing Jennifer's post today as she shares about starting a business, but keeping her family a priority. Me and Jennifer go back years and years before the wedding industry & I am so excited for her as she's started her own business as a wedding coordinator this year, Jennifer Onalee Weddings! She is so organized, detail-orientated, and the calm, collective presence you need on your wedding day! 

This topic is so near & dear to my heart- balancing business and family is always so difficult- and I LOVE hearing how others manage it throughout their days! I'm taking ALL the notes from Jenn as she just welcomed her 2nd, Edwin into the world just a few weeks before Sullivan was born! 

Lynchburg, Virginia Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Starting a Business, Keeping a Family

Hello! I am so thrilled to be guest blogging for Ashley as she welcomes her new little one into the world! Ashley and I were due within 1 month of each other, and it was so fun to be pregnant at the same time and compare notes along the way. We welcomed baby Edwin into our family on February 28 and have SO been looking forward to meeting Ashley’s baby boy!

Lynchburg Virginia Wedding and Family Photographer

When Ashley asked if I would be interested in writing a guest post for her blog while she was on maternity leave, I was humbled by her request. Ashley is one of those people who makes having a family and running her own business look easy. She always has a smile on her face and is a natural with making connections and being in the wedding/photography industry. Our family has been blessed to know Ashley for many years and she has taken TONS of family photos for us from our big extended family to personal maternity and newborn sessions. She is seriously amazing, and I look up to her in many ways.

My own journey into wedding planning started in 2005 when my friend and RA on my college dorm asked if I would travel to Maine and coordinate her wedding. I was just naive enough to think I could totally do it and jumped at the chance to put my organizational and ‘bossiness’ skills to the test! It was a ton of fun and a big learning experience! Since then, I have had the opportunity to assist family and friends with planning and coordinating their weddings and in October of 2017, with my husband’s encouragement and the push I needed, I decided to take the plunge and make it official by starting Jennifer Onalee Weddings, LLC.   

It turns out starting a business is a lot of work and thankfully my husband had been through this when he started his business years ago so he was able to help me navigate all the little details of legal and tax issues that needed to be taken care of in order to become an official legal entity. I was pretty excited when that piece of paper came saying Jennifer Onalee Weddings, LLC was established! What was less clear was how I was going to do this while also balancing my first priority which is my family. I knew that my husband Clifton, two-year old son Hamilton, and now 1-month-old Edwin were going to be my first focus even as I began this journey into professional wedding coordinating and planning. I believe the Lord led me into this new adventure but also called me to use balance and wisdom as I moved into it. I tend to jump into things – thinking up a new good idea and then going full force ahead until I realize I can’t keep it up. I overload my plate, dump a few things out of stress, get bored again and do it all again! It’s a life pattern that I’m trying to get better at…I’m still a work in progress.

Lynchburg VA Wedding and Family Photographer ||

This idea of balance and wisdom though have been my steering guide. I knew the Lord could use the gifts and talents He gave me of leadership, organizational skills, detail oriented brain, etc. in helping brides plan and organize their wedding day while also honoring Him by being purposeful as I talk with brides and accept weddings. If you are a bride looking for a wedding coordinator/planner, remember that you want someone with the mental and physical margins to devote to you and your wedding. We tend to honor the busy in America. The busier you are, the more stressed you are, we assume the more successful you are. The truth is we need people around us who are purposeful, who have boundaries in their lives, and who cherish margin for rest and family and fun! These are the people who will bring life into our plans and can be a breath of fresh air in the midst of busy and crazy wedding planning.

It has been so much fun to help brides and their families plan and celebrate! I love that weddings get to be family reunions, friends from afar reconnecting, all while getting to watch as two people bring their lives together in a commitment that is really a giving up of self in many ways. I want every couple I work with to feel completely taken care of.  I want them to know that the details are covered, the worries have already been thought of, and most importantly that as they see me balance my work with them and the love I have for my family, it will inspire them to love their families well and to allow margins in their own lives as they enter into marriage.

Lynchburg VA Wedding and Portrait Photographer

Starting a business while maintaining a balanced personal life is no easy feat and there are no easy answers so I think the key is regular reflection. How are things going? Am I feeling balanced or are there areas where I can make some adjustments? What can I say yes to and so often more importantly what can I say no to? When I first started my business, I wrote down the goals for me personally in starting the business (why am I doing this), three goals for the business itself (make a million dollars haha just kidding!), and then ways that I could use my business to glorify the Lord. If you are a business owner (or really anyone embarking on a new challenge) take time to make goals for yourself and outline exactly why you are doing what you are doing. This will probably change over the years but referring back to this vision and these goals often will help steer your decisions and help you stay focused and balanced!


Lynchburg Virginia Wedding Photographer

Ashley Eiban is a Wedding & Portrait Photographer based in Central Virginia. Serving the Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Richmond, and surrounding areas. Available for travel world-wide.  Ashley is passionate about cultivating genuine relationships built on mutual understanding, trust and lasting friendship.  

Currently booking a limited number of wedding and portrait sessions for 2018 and 2019.  Contact Ashley today for additional information!

Ashley Eiban

Hi! I’m Ashley & I am so glad you found me!

I have been serving couples for over five years and can’t imagine spending my days doing anything else. I am incredibly thankful for each and every one of my clients and I truly consider it a privilege to create memories you will cherish forever.

I love cultivating genuine relationships built on mutual understanding, trust and lasting friendship!