Tucker business turns wedding dreams to reality

Amanda with accessories2

Amanda Lankford admits the name of her business, Amanda Jewel Floral + Design, often leaves people confused. “Most people think we’re a florist shop. Even though we deal with a lot of flowers, we’re not a florist. In fact, I often refer people to a very good florist right down the street from us,” Lankford said.

Amanda Jewel Floral + Design in Tucker actually is an event venue design business that deals largely in high-end weddings. “We do anniversary parties and other special events, but most of the business is luxury weddings,” she explained.

And the word jewel in the name? “Oh, that’s my middle name,” Lankford said with a laugh. “I didn’t think about it when I included it in the business name, but it does lead some people to wonder whether we’re in the jewelry business.”

Although Amanda Jewel Floral + Design isn’t a florist shop, flowers are a big part of the business. “Flowers are central to most weddings,” she explained. “They create the atmosphere. I love working with flowers because the make people happy. People’s faces light up when they see a beautiful floral arrangement.”

Lankford, who said she is largely self-taught, got her start in the flower business. “I worked in a flower shop when I was in high school. That was where I learned about different types of flowers and how they can be arranged and used.

“Weddings are big in the South,” Lankford said. “For most people, it’s the most important day of their life and they want to create a truly memorable celebration.”

Lankford said she takes people’s dreams and makes them a reality—to the extent possible. “Brides tell me what they’d like to see and I explain the practical aspects or make suggestions as to how to capture their vision.” Some, she said, spend thousands of dollars not just on flowers but also on lighting or building an install—a major piece of carpentry designed for the occasion.

Special installations can really run up the cost of a wedding, Lankford said, “but it’s their day and they want it be exactly as they envision it. It means completely transforming a space whether by building a trellis or a moss wall.”

Once these are built, they are never reused though some may be modified and used in a different way, Lankford said, every wedding is unique.

When carpentry is needed, Lankford’s husband and business partner, Michael Lankford, steps in. “Fortunately, Michael is skilled and clever carpenter and can create pretty much whatever the client needs,” she said.

Michael, who much of the time it the business’ less visible partner, also leads his business expertise to Amanda Jewel + Design. “He has formal business training; I don’t,” Lankford said. “But he tells me that I have excellent business instincts. He often says that what I’m considering is exactly what he would do.”

The size of a wedding, she explained, isn’t determined by the number of guests, but by how elaborate the décor is. “We really look at the budget rather than the number of guests. A wedding with 40 guests can cost as much as one with 300 or 400 guests, depending on the decorating requirements.” Lankford said, noting that most of the weddings she works with have a total budget of approximately $100,000.

After operating the business from home for several years, the Lankfords last year acquired a site across from the Tucker Library in what once was a private residence.

“This is perfect for what we do. This charming 85-year-old house with a screened porch has the ambiance that allows us to extend the type of Southern hospitality that’s our hallmark. Here, we can offer the client light refreshments and talk about what they want in a cozy, homey setting,” Amanda Lankford said.

Personal service, she said, is the central the AJ+D’s brand. “I want the customer to see us at every phase. We don’t set up and disappear. We only do about 15 weddings each year, but we throw ourselves into each one.”

She added that she also likes the location because it’s near I-284 on Lavista Road, a main artery of the area, making it easy for customers to come there. The Tucker community, she said, has been helpful and welcoming. “The mayor even came by to meet us. That certainly was more than we expected.”

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