Season 3 Love Is Blind Officiant, Jennifer Allen, shares her whirlwind experience on the hit Netflix show along with advice for a bomb marriage and insight into her innovative wedding company: Just Elope.
Jennifer Allen never expected to grace the screens of our living rooms.
The multi-faceted couples counselor, wedding officiant, business owner, and mother of 3 first heard that Love Is Blind was coming to her home state in Dallas, Texas, back around December of 2020. She recalls, “I sent them a DM and I was like, “If y’all are in Dallas, need an officiant, or a premarital coach, I just want you to know I’m here.” While she received a reply thanking her for reaching out, she didn’t give it much thought. What were the chances, right?
Nevertheless, her PR Representative, Dalila Brent, followed up via email in January 2021. This time there was no response. “I really truly didn’t think anything else of it,” Jennifer says. She had accepted it just wasn’t meant to be. However, months later, an unexpected email popped up in her inbox at 10:15 am.
On June of 2021, I think it was the 27th, I get an email, it was a Sunday, saying, time-sensitive Netflix show. And I’m like, what is this?”– Jennifer Allen
The email was from a Love Is Blind producer! It stated an officiant who was originally scheduled to appear on the show could no longer make it. The words “We’re filming tomorrow” and “can you come?” stood out to her. While she had just had her third baby in March, was solely breast feeding, and had never bottle fed before — time was of the essence! Without hesitation, Jennifer responded at 10:17 am: “I am a hundred percent available and I will be there.”
Of course, thoughts about how she would actually make this whirlwind of a day work went through her mind. But truly Jennifer out of anyone was capable of making this happen. With the support of her husband, family, and friends, she was on her way to the Small-screen!
For more on Jennifer’s Love Is Blind experience, how she got into the wedding industry, and all about her Officiant, Elopement, and Micro Wedding business, Just Elope, keep reading below. And make sure to watch Netflix’s Love Is Blind, Season 3, dropping tomorrow October 19th!
It started with “I-do”…
Jennifer’s first step into the wedding industry truly begins at her own wedding. In 2010, she and her now hubby, Tavarous, got engaged and married in the span of five days. Yes, you read that right: five days!
“He was leaving for deployment, so I was trying to find a company that could marry us within that five-day frame so that we did not have to go to city hall because I did not want to go to the courthouse.”
Unfortunately, the expedited full-service wedding experience Jennifer was hoping for seemed impossible and essentially non-existent. Trying to figure out a venue, a photographer, and an officiant all while coordinating schedules (especially on a weekday!) was not an easy feat.
In the end, a City Hall wedding was their only option. They had an intimate and quick ceremony and about four hours later, Tavarous left for a 1-year deployment.
Dreams of a “big old wedding”…
During the time he was gone, Jennifer began planning for a “big old wedding.”
“It was going to be an epic blowout bash,” she says, smiling. “But I quickly realized that my taste and my finances did not match.”
Reality started setting in and thoughts of “we’re already married” crept into her mind. The excitement of being able to plan and the “I’m so excited to get married” feelings began wearing off. “I really felt like I didn’t have anything to look forward to.”
In spite of those feelings, she didn’t give up. “I kept trying to plan something. I first thought we’ll do something for when he comes back. Then in 2012, we had our first son. Then I was pregnant again in 2013. And daycare is a mortgage payment!”
The marathon of life was picking up speed and amidst all her wedding planning hopes and dreams, one day, it hit her all at once: “I’m done.”
Facing the facts…
It’s a long time to be so focused on something that wasn’t happening and I felt like I was forcing it. So I said, you know what? I’m done. I want to create a business where other brides don’t have to choose between going to city hall or running off to Vegas. There has to be some type of local medium that they can experience.”– Jennifer Allen
Closing one door often leads to another opening. For Jennifer, letting go of her dream wedding and realizing she could make her ideal vision a reality for other couple’s brought a sense of peace and purpose to her own wedding experience.
Without any wedding planning background, she started reflecting on her own wedding and laying out what she did and did not want. For one, she never wanted anyone to feel like “just a number” or simply “the next person in line” as she did. And two, she personally wanted to connect with brides who did not want to go to city hall but were still looking for a fast, convenient, yet luxurious wedding service.
The first step…
In 2015, Jennifer actually became an officiant herself because she had started doing photography. In her mind, she thought, “how can I marry [couples] and take their pictures?” Then she figured, “what if I memorize the vows?”
The process of piecing together all the details of her company, Just Elope, took about two years to come to fruition. It wasn’t easy. “Initially, I could not figure out how I [was] going to do this by myself. I realized the only way I was going to be successful is if I had somebody else with me. So eventually we grew our team.”
Working with a small group of contract photographers and local wedding vendors, Just Elope officially launched in February 2017. The initial launch was intimate and truly a family affair. Jennifer’s parents and sister even joined in on the photo shoot!
Jennifer recalls, “…My mom went and bought a wedding dress, my dad wore his suit, and my sister was the officiant. I took their pictures so that we could have some photography because I’m really big on showcasing your own work.”
The early years…
In its first year of business, Just Elope performed eight weddings.
“I was shocked,” Jennifer admits. “I cannot believe that eight people let me marry them at a park! Everybody that we married that first year was a direct person that we knew. It was strictly word of mouth. It was insane.”
The following year, the business continued to grow. “That next year we married 32 people and it was from people that they knew or who knew them. Then the following year, we did 40 and then the next year we did a hundred. I’m like, what is going on here?”
As business blossomed, so did their team. Additional contract photographers, officiants, and day of planners were brought on to execute the many wedding requests pouring in. And Jennifer, being the jack of all trades, filtered in wherever she was needed.
If somebody can’t do something, thankfully I can be the photographer, I can be the officiant, I can be the day of, I can fill in wherever I need to.”– Jennifer Allen
By the company’s third year, Jennifer began reaching out to different venues in the area. She hoped to add a bit of luxury to the experience (since not everyone wants to get married in a park!). She reached out to potential venues, pitching partnerships and appealing to each location’s needs.
“We are coming here for a two-hour time slot,” she would explain to them. “We’re going to leave the place the same way we found it. All we need for you to do is open the door.”
To her surprise, it worked. Venues jumped on board and opened more opportunities for the company. A major drawing point for couples and venues alike is Just Elope’s streamlined communication. With one point of contact, “On the couple’s end, they never have to talk to the venue. And on the venue’s end, they never have to talk to the couple.”
It’s the perfect union!
Just Elope Vows…
Around 2019, a couple reached out asking if Jennifer could be their officiant. They already had their own photographer and they also wanted her to write custom vows for them. Keeping it real, her initial thought was: “How long is that going to take?”
Up until this point, a major part of Just Elope was the “Just Elope vows.” As Jennifer explains, “because we marry couples as soon as the same day, they choose from two to three options for their ceremony script. We don’t have time to customize.”
However, inspired by this couple’s question, she started diving deep into learning how to perfect writing a ceremony script. She sent out questionnaires to learn more about couples, then sent separate ones to learn more about them individually, and even started doing Zoom calls to get a vibe for their personalities.
A natural progression into marriage coaching came after couples started asking if she offered counseling services. While she did not at the time, in true Jennifer fashion, she strived to figure out how to provide such a thing.
“That led me to learn about the SYMBIS program and become certified through them to offer premarital and marriage coaching. Then I got certified through the state to be able to offer it as a part of an incentive. If you go through my coaching program, you get $60 off your marriage license through the state.”
Using the tools of the SYMBIS program, Jennifer guides couples through a 4-week coaching program that dives deep into how to cultivate and maintain a healthy relationship and hopefully, a lasting marriage.
Striving for a “bomb marriage”…
After delving into couples counseling and bringing so many milestone moments to life, Jennifer realized the most important thing to her was making sure couples are “having bomb marriages.”
This epiphany led her to create her first couple’s workbook: #RELATIONSHIPGOALS. Used in tandem with the SYMBIS program, her 12-month workbook covers a wide range of topics and has unique activities, including weekly questionnaires to complete with your partner.
Married for 12 years herself, Jennifer pulls a lot from her own marriage experience and incorporates tips and advice she and her husband utilize. For instance, one of the activities couples complete is a “cleaning swap.” This is a tried and true method in Jennifer’s household!
“So it’s all the things that you typically do,” she says, “but y’all are going to switch and the other person is going to do [that task] for a week. Number one, it gives you a true appreciation for the things that you don’t have to do and it makes you appreciate the things you don’t realize your partner is doing.”
Other highlights in the workbook include 60 date night ideas to try, a calendar where each partner picks a six-month span to plan intentional date nights, a space to interview other couples for advice, and an intimacy tracker.
Keeping it real…
While Jennifer’s entire business revolves around weddings, she admits that the “Just Elope experience” is not for everyone.
“Many people will call and at times I will literally talk them out of booking with us, and my husband is like, “Are you crazy?” Since I handle every booking that we get, I don’t ever want anybody to feel like they’re settling by choosing our company. I want you to make this decision because you feel like it’s the right choice for you.”
She adds, “So many people say, “Well, we’ll just do this now to have something big later.” I always explain to them, I am living proof that later may not come. We had our 10-year vow renewal planned for Mexico. We got married in 2010. What’s 10 years later? 2020.”
Covid was crazy in so many ways, but it also made me realize that all the people that we worked with before, were our ideal clients because they chose to go this route because they wanted to.”Jennifer Allen
In 2020, Covid caused an incredible uptick in micro weddings and elopements, which meant business was booming! However, as a company, it also brought a lot of learning curves and challenges.
“A lot of the brides that got married during Covid, they didn’t have a choice. So that kind of really made us as a business realize we’re explaining things, we’re breaking stuff down to make sure that we were tapering expectations.”
The pandemic also made them re-evaluate and reach out to more exclusive wedding venues. This coincided with their growing popularity and increasingly famous clientele.
Jennifer shares, “We married NFL Hall of Famer, Jerry Rice’s daughter. He was at the wedding walking her down the aisle. She really could have had a multi-million dollar wedding… [but] they eloped. So for a lot of couples, it’s not about the money, it’s about the convenience. We really pride ourselves on giving our white glove customer service every step of the way.”
A Love is Blind experience…
Although Covid was still very much a thing in June 2021, hearing back from Love Is Blind was the perfect start to the next chapter of Just Elope! However, Jennifer (who was deep in the throes of motherhood with her third child) was freaking out.
Looking back, she says: “I really felt I was going from Cinderella. But I wasn’t Cinderella at all. I wasn’t even the maid turning into Cinderella. No girl. I was the pumpkin.”
In spite of her fears, with an amazing support system behind her, including her husband (who took her braids out), her best friend (who did her hair), and her mother (who watched the baby while she got her nails done) — they made it work. The next morning, she was off to get her hair and makeup done. And then, like Cinderella arriving at the ball, she was outside the studio. And then she had to take a Covid test.
“I knew I hadn’t left the house, so I knew I didn’t have Covid, but it’s still that little weirdness of what if I have it somehow? And they’re like, Girl, go home.”
Luckily, she was in the clear. She was officially going to be a Love Is Blind officiant!
Behind the scenes…
Sitting in her car trying to discreetly pump breast milk, a producer handed her a script. “I didn’t get the ceremony script until I got there,” she reveals. “So it was a foreign script. Never read it, didn’t know anybody’s names.”
About 15 minutes later, the producer came back and asked her to do a recorded reading of the script at the altar. This would only be used if she happened to stumble over her words during the wedding so they could dub that part in. The experience was nerve-wracking.
“It was dead silence. All eyes were on me. Here I am, standing in my high heels I haven’t worn in over a year, boobs this big — I’m the joy of motherhood!” she says, laughing. “Then I read the script and it was flawless. And I’m thinking to myself, man, I did that.”
With the producer’s “Okay, that was great,” it was time for the actual wedding to start.
A real wedding…
Of course, Jennifer can’t reveal who she married or what they said (you’ll have to binge-watch the series tomorrow to find out!), but she can attest that this wedding was in fact a legitimate one. She shares, “There was no, okay, we’re going to take y’all back out and bring y’all back in. No. It was one take.”
Another thing she had to consider while being on Television was that in a typical wedding scenario, showing expression as an officiant is normal. Officiant’s are encouraged to show emotion and connect with the couple, friends, and family. However, as a Love Is Blind officiant, that was a no-no. Her husband, Tavarous, was actually the one who advised her to keep a neutral face no matter the outcome, since you never know what will happen on Love Is Blind.
Ultimately, Jennifer’s Love Is Blind officiant gig on TV was a positive one. “It was a beautiful production,” she says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience in doing something like this.”
Little did she know, the experience would eventually lead to many more amazing opportunities. Reflecting on her brief time on the show, she shares: “I do feel like it prepared me for when I had the opportunity to marry Da Brat and Judy, because it wasn’t my first time being on camera. So it just made me practice, practice, practice. Because you want to get it right. And just really thinking back, like girl, you have done this so many times!”
Is love really blind?
While wrapping up our interview, I had to ask Jennifer the age-old question: Is love really blind? The show itself strives to answer this. But I was dying to hear her take on the topic.
“I feel like love is one of those things. True, deep, intentional love is going to expose everything about you. When you are truly vulnerable and you let someone in a hundred percent, it is going to open your eyes up to so many things. For my husband and I, we met and started dating young. He was 19. And so when you meet that young, you are growing up in front of somebody else and it’s really hard to be all the things that you need to be to somebody else when you barely know who you are.
So my experience has made me believe that love is not blind. It is that transparency of people’s reactions to death, job loss, weight gain, and having kids and dealing with finances and all that stuff. Those are the heavy topics that I think surpass the “Oh, you’re cute” phase… But I’m thankful that my husband is fine.”
We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Love Is Blind Officiant, Jennifer Allen!
Follow her journey here.