We're Elevate

What started as a side hustle for two creative, driven sisters has now become one of the Midwest’s premier event planning and design firms. At Elevate, we find pure, unbridled joy in celebrating all aspects of life - big moments, small gatherings and anything in between.

Real Event: Rad Photographers’ Retreat

In the fall of 2015, we were approached by Christine Dopp of Natural Intuition Photography with a request to help with the planning and execution of the inaugural Rad Photographers’ Retreat; a workshop made just for photographers packed with development activities, incredible speakers, and, most importantly, a place where everyone could feel safe sharing their failures and triumphs, both personal and business-related. Since it was the first of its kind, we were obviously a little nervous about pulling off such a feat, but with Christine’s huge heart and genuine desire to help others, things fell into place with ease! 

As we dove into the plans, we realized a common theme: this entire retreat was definitely all about creating a safe, welcoming space for dreaming, discussion and growth, and much less about finding “the perfect shot” or helping the attendees make tons of money. Instead, we did our best to make the Rad Photographers’ Retreat feel organic, because who is about to share their deepest, darkest secrets and passions to a room full of strangers if the mood isn’t right!? 

The days were filled with speakers in the living room, markers on the table and detailed “dream maps” pinned to the walls, splayed-open suitcases in the bedrooms where the attendees had shared their clothes and jewelry to help each other feel beautiful, and comfort food for every meal. It was messy and it was raw, but above all else, it was exactly the atmosphere Christine had hoped to create. 

From the beginning, we knew we wanted this retreat to focus on personal development, setting goals for future business, and ultimately, breaking down any barriers standing in the way of achieving total success. Kala Grove, a facilitator and personal development extraordinaire, helped the attendees map out their own personal “word clouds,” finding out what truly defined each of them. She then dug into figuring out what “success” meant to each and every photographer, and finally, helped them figure out the best path toward achieving that success. When we walked in and saw the place littered with brightly colored paper packed with words of encouragement and plans for the future, we knew that Kala had expertly accomplished what she set out to do. 

Floral provided by Cathy from Premier Petals definitely softened the space and made it warm and welcoming. We loved her inclusion of cotton in the floral arrangements! 

One element of the RPR that we really loved was having the chance to make the photographers feel beautiful. So often, they are the ones behind the camera, capturing gorgeous couples, precious babies and stunning details; so why not give them a chance to be pampered!? Shellady of Beauty by Shellady took the time to glam up each and every attendee so that they could be fully “dressed for dinner” on the final evening – it was awesome to see how the photographer’s confidence blossomed! 

One thing we did not anticipate being such a memorable aspect of the RPR was the FOOD. Sweet Alexis from Yield Bakehouse cooked up some delicious quiche and fluffy muffins for breakfast each morning, and Chef Eric Vestergaard knocked it out of the park with his delicious comfort food for lunch and dinner, working tirelessly to bring a new, intentional meal each and every day so the attendees didn’t have to worry about meal prep during the entire retreat! Chef Eric then prepared a gorgeous four-course meal for the final dinner – it was such a great way to make the attendees feel special! 

We designed a very simple, rustic tablescape for dinner, and let the natural elements of the stunning 10′ barnboard table and eucalyptus do the heavy lifting. 🙂 (Seriously though, if photos could smell you would be in heaven right now experiencing this eucalyptus.) Grey chargers, striped muslin napkins, taper candles and a fun pop of color in a green apple were all this table needed to create an organic, natural dining experience! 

Jillian from Mint for Hue created the gorgeous invitations, paper goods and welcome packages for each of the attendees, and Ren from Studio 29 drew up the classic RPR logo that will surely live on for years to come! We strongly believe that well-planned paper goods can add an element of class that nothing else can. 🙂 

What a gorgeous, meaningful weekend! Christine, thanks again for asking us to be a part of such a special event. We can’t wait to see what RPR has in store for the future!