It’s Handled

Melissa Jakes turns chaos into picture-perfect events

By Gina Gallucci-White

Thirty minutes before a bride was set to walk down the aisle, her dress ripped at the zipper.
While many would panic, Columbia-based event planner Melissa Jakes calmly brought out her rescue kit. 

Holding such items as mints, gum, Tylenol, hemming tape, lip balm and a mirror, the kit coughed up a needle and white thread so Jakes could stitch the dress back together. No one knew there had even been an issue. 

The problem was handled.

Jakes has earned the nickname The Olivia Pope of Live Events after the heroine of ABC’s hit television show Scandal, who leads a crisis management firm. 

“Guests really don’t see all of those behind the scenes actions,” Jakes says. “When everything comes together, they are seeing the perfect, final picture.” 

Jakes developed her planning instincts as a child organizing her family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, and later served as president of Morgan State University’s Student Government Association, a job that involved putting together conferences and gatherings. “I actually like taking chaos and making things perfect,” she says. She also likes to show her 4-year-old daughter that women can own and run their own businesses.  

After she planned her own wedding, Jakes started to get requests from family and friends to help with their nuptials, baby showers and other events. In 2015, she founded RESCUE Event Planning. 

Arlene A. Asante, founder of EAGER, Inc., has hired Jakes to put together multiple events for the nonprofit for mentoring adolescent girls. “She is really about making sure your vision comes to life,” Asante says. 

Jakes’ self-published “Make Money Through Live Events,” is a 19-page workbook available on Amazon. She also presents an annual workshop on campus event planning at Morgan as a way to give back to her alma mater—and to nurture the next generation of event planners. 

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