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.

2020: Year in Review

Call us crazy, naïve, or eternally optimistic, but as this bear of a year comes to a close, we are hopeful that a great many of us will look back on 2020 as the one that brought us closer to our best selves. To look on the bright side: whether or not we liked it, we were all forced to reprioritize, learning which proverbial plates we needed to keep spinning, and which we could let fall for good. We let love win, no matter the circumstances, and rallied for change and positivity even in the face of so much adversity. 2020 was certainly the year we all went into survival mode, but what it also brought us was a renewed perspective and sense of purpose – something that, we can all agree, is a thing worth celebrating as we prepare to ring in the new year.

We will never forget March 16th – the day our country (and Elevate’s little universe) began to shut down. It all happened so fast, we didn’t really have the chance to wrap our heads around the consequences until a few days later. Once reality began to set in, though, so did the sheer panic. How would our business, which literally depended on folks gathering in large groups, make it out of this pandemic alive?? Would we be forced to dip into our own personal savings accounts to dole out refund upon refund, as our clients understandably also went into panic mode and cancelled all of their contracts?? What about our families, our children, and our friends in the healthcare field? How would we be able to protect them when so little was known about the Coronavirus sweeping through the world?

The questions began to haunt us, and uncertainty and dread settled in. Thankfully, as we very quickly learned, our industry is a resilient one, and roundtables and other Zoom meetings were scheduled without hesitation to discuss ways in which us event-oriented business owners could come together, support each other, and navigate these completely unchartered waters. Then, gradually, March turned into April, April to May, and May trickled into the start of our wedding season. We were surprised to find that not only were we surviving through the postponements and uncertainty – we, like so many others, went into sheer fight-or-flight mode. And fight we did. Our team positively RALLIED around our brides, going above and beyond to bring peace of mind and Plans B, C (even D and E!) to the forefront, all while collaborating with vendors like never before to ensure a positive outcome for all, albeit looking quite different than originally planned.

In hindsight, of course we were going to be okay and of course this is how it would all work out, but for a brief moment early this year, we weren’t sure Elevate Events was going to make it through the year. And for that, we have our incredible team, clients and friendors to thank. It has been a wild year, to say the least, but as we mentioned, it has also been one we may look back on, dare we say… fondly? Below, we’re recapping some of the highs, lows, and major moments the year brought us – lest we ever forget. Before we jump in, it only feels appropriate to preface this post by saying that of course, some of these images were pre-COVID and mask mandates.

New Brand, New Website

We officially launched Elevate Events on March 13th, 2015, and had plans to launch our beautiful new brand and custom-built website five years to the day from our original launch date. But alas, the world had other plans. It seemed absolutely batty to us to attempt a launch as the rest of the world spun into utter chaos, so we decided to put the brand and site on ice for a bit. Instead, we waited until May, when things in our industry began to normalize and it didn’t seem so frivolous to celebrate something that, while a huge deal to us, seemed so small when compared with a global pandemic.

We are still so immensely proud of this new brand and site – both which feel like so much more of an extension of us. (For more about the who/what/why behind our decision to rebrand, read our post from May with all of the details.) While we probably wouldn’t have planned this intense project to take place this year had we known what was about to go down, it actually seems fitting that we successfully completed this huge makeover in a year full of such pivotal change. So thanks, 2020, for giving us what we never knew we needed.

The Art of the Pivot

If we could name a global MVP of the year (besides our incredible healthcare workers), it would be, hands down, the year of THE BRIDE. Talk about a resilient, endlessly positive, supportive group of rockstar women. When the going got tough, these ladies not only got going, they opened their minds to the seemingly impossible plans, their pocketbooks to support their vendors, and their hearts to family and friends to ensure that everyone was properly informed and taken care of.

We were, to be sure, given a front row seat to the resiliency of our incredible clients, but were also flung head-first into taking on even more of a support role for all of our clients. Looking back, to state how proud we are of our team for jumping in without hesitation feels like the understatement of the century. When chaos set in, our amazing team of planners did what we all do best: we dove in without hesitation – scheduling additional phone calls and meetings, setting brand new site visits and backyard tours, and spending many late nights texting or calling our brides to discuss what would all too soon become our 2020 reality: PIVOTING.

To ensure safety and comfort for all, we very quickly began recommending that our clients move their celebrations outdoors however possible, and that meant, in some cases, completely shifting plans from an indoor ceremony or reception in the comfort of air conditioning and predictable environments to planning a full-bore tented celebration in our clients’ parents’ backyards. In short, we became pros at planning VERY intricate celebrations within the span of months (or in some cases, less than 30 days!).

As you all know, these pivots wound up bringing us some of the most unique, personalized, emotional and intentional celebrations we’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of, and looking back, our couples wound up feeling just as fulfilled with celebrations of ten than they may have had surrounded by hundreds. Details were brought to the next level, the reading of vows took on a completely new meaning, and close friends and family felt love like they never have before. It’s been an emotional and frankly exhausting year, but truly, in all the best of ways.

A Year of Growth

Unbeknownst to us, 2020, as awful as its been, has also been an enormous year of growth for us – personally, professionally, and everything in between. Where we lacked the ability to gather in large groups, we ended up collaborating in small, safe ways through microweddings and lots of creative editorials. While our team couldn’t actually gather, we found brand new ways to connect that brought us even closer, and which have helped make us more efficient and stronger than ever before.

And, of course, we grew immensely in the ways that mattered most this year: as people.

  • Mallory sold a home, moved into her dream fixer upper, found out she was pregnant, and delivered beautiful twin girls all in the span of this one year.
  • Kirstie bought a new car, and her and her partner, Jesse, grew together in ways they had never expected. (Still no ring, but we’re comfortable with where we’re at right now!)
  • Renee took on exciting new roles within our business and kept her household healthy and vibrant amidst the uncertainty of closed schools and COVID diagnoses.
  • Kelsie overcame immense heartache and truly learned the power of support through family and friends.
  • … and Meredith, Katie and the rest of our team participated in oodles of collaborations and exciting behind the scenes projects that have already brought us more opportunities and purpose and have kept the creative juices flowing!

In sum, this year has been a wild ride, to be sure, but also a year that has brought our team and business a sense of reflection and clarity that we never really knew we needed. We are looking forward to even more growth, strength and opportunity in the new year, and wish you and yours all the same and more! Cheers to staying healthy, rising above, and, as always, choosing love and light however you can! Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you for being here.