Monica Sheppard, Adlynn Keith, Rome, Northwest Georgia, Wedding Planner, Burk Farm, Rome Civic Ballet, v3, readv3

Adlynn Keith is the most accomplished 20-something that I know, and I’m not kidding. Not because she has cured cancer or figured out how to put humans on Mars or anything that huge. It is because she has fearlessly jumped with both feet into everything she has tried and mastered things that it would take the average person years to achieve, seemingly overnight.

Adlynn knew from a very early age that she wanted to be a wedding planner. She liked to watch wedding shows like “Whose Wedding Is It, Anyway?” all the time, and was fascinated by the process. I think it is so cute to imagine her, the fourth of six children, watching the show and assigning superhero status to the planners who saved the day in each episode.

The real superhero woman in Adlynn’s life, her mother Kim Watson, homeschooled all six kids at their Taylorsville, Ga. home, and when Adlynn turned sixteen, she encouraged her to intern at a wedding venue to see if that was truly something she would like to pursue. She ended up volunteering with Emily Turner at Stonewall Manor in Cartersville, Ga. for a couple of months, eventually settling into a paid internship. Just one year after Adlynn had started working at the venue, Emily needed to take maternity leave and asked Adlynn if she would fill her position.

Yep, at 17, Adlynn was a full on full-time wedding planner, managing the most important day of numerous couples’ lives, all on her own. This was on top of dual-enrollment at Georgia Northwestern Technical College, where she graduated with an associate’s degree just one year after graduating from high school. So, at 17, full-time job, full-time school… but that’s not all.

Adlynn’s family split their activities between Rome and Cartersville, driving to soccer practice and other activities for all six kids. Adlynn’s extracurricular choice was to study dance at Rome Civic Ballet starting in the sixth grade. When she graduated high school in 2013 the school’s director, Meredith Thomas, asked her to stay on and teach, and she has been an instructor there ever since. Keeping score that means, full-time job, full-time school, part-time teaching… but there’s more.

When Emily came back to Stonewall Manor, she asked Adlynn to split the job with her so that she could work part-time. A friend at Rome Civic Ballet told her about a new venue opening in the Armuchee area that was looking for some help, so Adlynn met with Quincy Maples at Burk Farm and was hired to shadow her and begin to learn the operation. Oh yeah, and she was nannying in the midst of all of that, too. I think we should stop counting now.

I asked Adlynn if she ever felt that she was in over her head for her age. How could she not feel underqualified to take on such tremendous responsibility as a teenager?

“Yeah, there was a time in those two years when I was still a student that my mom started to worry about me,” Adlynn admits. “You’re going to burnout, she warned.

“I was going from school three days a week, or nannying the other two, to teaching at Rome Civic Ballet, and then on Friday I would have a wedding rehearsal, on Saturday I would have an all-day wedding, and then on Sunday I would either crash or have another wedding.”

“My mom was concerned, but I’ve always liked having my hands in a lot of different pots and I couldn’t decide what I liked best or what to give up,” she recalls.

It is important to notice how she doesn’t talk about ever feeling intimidated, or feeling that she didn’t have the skills to do the job. When I asked point blank about those kinds of feelings, she said they could creep in occasionally, but that she always tries to focus on solving the problem in front of her and plow forward, leaving no room for such self-doubt.

I don’t know about you, but I am getting confused and stressed just writing about her life. I can’t imagine living all of the responsibilities she was taking on at such a young age. When I was 17 I had a part-time job and sort of played basketball. When I talk to Adlynn about her teenage years, I feel like a real underachiever.

Did I forget to mention that, in the midst of all of that stuff, she long-distance dated and eventually married her husband Braden?

They had known each other as children before Braden’s family moved away, and thanks to Facebook they had kept in touch over the years. He ended up moving to Rockmart, Ga., and a few months after she moved to Rome, he bought a house and they got engaged and married.

Not long after they married, Braden was offered the opportunity to buy a web technology company, now called Romega Digital. Oh, and that was right about the time that she was having hip repair surgery and they were planning to travel across the country in an RV for a year while she recuperated. With the business investment, that trip became a couple of month-long stints on the road while he worked to develop the new project. They then decided to turn their house into an Airbnb knowing they could live in the RV when it was rented out. They quickly had the home rented most of the time, then bought the neighbor’s house to do the same.

Are you tired yet? I know I am, but not Adlynn.

While attending a web conference in Las Vegas in 2017, Braden mentioned to Taylor Otwell, a framework developer who was planning his own conference called Laracon, that Adlynn was an event planner and he should call her if he needed help with the event. She thought he was crazy for mentioning it; she had zero experience with that kind of event, and was sure nothing would come of it. But, about a month before the 2018 event, Taylor tweeted Braden and asked if she would be willing to coordinate the conference for him.

“He had planned all of it, but needed someone to execute it, hosting 800 people in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, a 15-acre facility, over several days,” she recalls. “All I could think was, how do I say no to that?”

Adlynn jumped in (remember that is what she does) and pulled it off swimmingly. She and her parents had planned to go sightseeing during the conference, but instead, they became her staff and together they spent three days managing everything from meals, to speaker flights, to after-parties and more. This year she is helping from the beginning to plan the event in the Playstation Theater in Times Square in New York with 850 attendees.

She’s still doing weddings, still teaching dance and calls this just another part-time job.

Color me intimidated, but this 24-year-old dynamo is thrilled for the opportunity and the challenge of such a huge event. I asked if anything went wrong that first year (how could there not be problems in that scenario?) and she described a tense moment at the start of the event.

“We started about two minutes late because some planned staff didn’t show up and we had to check in 800 guests while short-handed, but I decided that wasn’t too bad,” she said. I have to agree.

One thing Adlynn has learned about herself is that she seems to thrive on the stress of others. There is rarely a wedding issue that she hasn’t already encountered, but for most brides it is the first time they have experienced any of it.

“If somebody says, ‘My dress ripped!’ I can immediately say no big deal, I’ve sown seven brides or bridesmaids into their dresses,” she laughs.

Starting at a young age, being willing to tackle anything and never looking back no matter how scary things may seem have made Adlynn a true Wonder Woman in my eyes. I can’t wait to see where the whirlwind will take her from here.