Jessica Keglovich will never forget a very special moment she shared with her now fiance.
“We followed the candlelit path down to the beach,” Keglovich recalled about a special date she had planned in Ft. Lauderdale as a surprise.
“To see this glorious table with columns and fabric draped everywhere,” she described. “It was like our own little room.”
It’s been more than a year since former Chief Stew Nicole Johnson planned the evening as a favor, and yet the details are still vivid in Keglovich’s memory– right down to the asparagus.
“She really blew me away with what she presented,” Keglovich said about the moment Johnson designed.
“She went above and beyond. I’m a total foodie. Everything was perfect. I was impressed that the asparagus was the perfect temperature and really crisp.”
For Johnson, 33, who worked as a chief stew catering to her clients’ needs for eight years, only the best will do. And transitioning to a career that involves creating memorable romantic moments has been a smooth transition, she said.
“I was working on yachts constantly having to come with up with ways to celebrate an owner’s birthday or yet another year with their wedding anniversary,” Johnson said.
“I was creating these special moments for even the toughest charter guest. And they always yielded the same result,” she added. “This great memory that the owner was happy about and everyone remembered and wanted more of.”
Johnson decided to take her romantic event planning on land and to the next level by recently launching Society Romance, a company that specializes in creating romantic experiences including marriage proposals, professional party planning and personal shopping services. Her website societyromance.com displays the phrase: “Live your love story.”
Johnson, who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, studied communications and psychology. After she earned her degree, she said she packed her bags and moved to Miami and became a wardrobe stylist working behind the scenes of more than 100 commercials.
She got into yachting when a friend of hers became a captain. “He hired me in a pinch to work on his yacht and I ended up never coming back,” she said.
Johnson said she has kept a little black book of contacts of colleagues she has worked with and only hires those crew to help her with the romantic gestures she designs.
“My staff that I hire is all yacht crew,” she said. “I trust no one else. Really, truly I don’t. No one does it better, we’re right here in Ft. Lauderdale. I feel really lucky.
“My photographers, videographers, private jet companies, florists, cake designers, that’s where my team comes from.”
And the romance she creates comes from her desire to connect people, she said.
“It comes from a place of wanting to create special moments in time and special memories and making people slow down and spend time together,” Johnson said, “Rather than a place of love novels and goosh and over the top romance.”
Clients interested in using Johnson’s service can contact her through her website or by phone and describe what they want to accomplish. Then, Johnson said she maps out a plan and designs an experience based on a budget and desired outcome.
“It’s about customizing experiences based on who they are as a couple, what their budget is and what they want to accomplish,” she said. “Sometimes they want a quiet night to do something special.”
Johnson said she is surprised that most of her clients are women wanting to surprise their husbands.
“It’s wives of yacht owners who feel pressure to up the game every year and keep it fresh,” she said. “They have the time, resources and the money to seek someone like me out.”
Recently, Johnson helped create this scene for an anniversary celebration.
“He thought he was out for a boat ride,” she said about the husband of her client.
“But then, the captain slowed down. I had set up a red carpet that started at the break of the water and led up the hill to a bonfire and private chef, jazz music playing, lots of tiki torches.”
It was a complete surprise, she said.
Johnson’s favorite aspect of creating these moments is working with local venues, such as state parks after hours.
“I like seeking out unique venues, places that people wouldn’t think to go that are right in our backyard,” she said.
What about Johnson’s own romantic life?
“I’m not married,” Johnson said. “I’m not single,” she added.
Her most memorable date happened not too long ago.
“A few months ago, I was taken in a helicopter to a private picnic in the Grand Canyon,” she said. “Champagne and cheese and a view of the sun setting over the Grand Canyon. That was really romantic.”
Whatever her inspiration, Johnson said the ideas keep coming.
“I want to keep this niche of intimate moments, upscale romance, luxurious great moments in time. “Not weddings, though,” she said. “I’ll leave that to the wedding planners.”
As for Keglovich, who is engaged, used photos from that special date planned by Johnson at her engagement party.
She said she will always cherish the romantic date on the beach that night, a year ago.
“Champagne definitely came out first,” she recalled. “It was so romantic, I didn’t want it to end.”
Suzette Cook is editor of Triton Today. Comments are welcome at email@example.com.