Kelley Kohler is the owner and head event planner at Haviland Events, an event planning company based in Chicago. I’ve gotten to know Kelley over the past couple months and have had the pleasure of working with her. She is the sweetest! Her southern charm helps mold her wedding planning technique. She loves incorporating personal elements like family traditions and heirlooms into the events she plans. It’s no wonder that the name Haviland Events was derived from Kelley and her mother’s favorite china, Haviland. I love Kelley’s business as she has a unique approach to planning that really speaks to me! Read on for Kelley’s business insights and to learn what she loves about wedding planning!
If you are new to CoChic Cool Chicks, every Monday I feature a woman entrepreneur who inspires me, who I am lucky enough to have in my girl boss network. These women are doing great things and whether you aspire to be an entrepreneur or not, I hope that they inspire you to do great things, too. I encourage you to check out their businesses, websites, and social media. And reach out to them, ask them questions, say hello. They’d love to hear from you!
Tell us about your business.
Haviland Events is a boutique wedding and event planning company based in Chicago that specializes in bringing heart, hospitality and heritage back to the core of events. I believe that heart (meaning and purpose) should drive each event; that hospitality should be at the center and guests should feel like family; and that your family heritage shapes each of us and should be celebrated during our most special moments. The cake at my wedding was an exact replica of the cake my grandparents had 60 years before. When I stood behind that cake with my new husband, I felt as though my grandparents were standing there too. I felt hope that I was starting a marriage as strong and amazing as theirs was. Whether you’re celebrating your marriage, 50th anniversary, or any other special event, I believe everyone should have that moment when they’re transported back to their roots and feel connected and proud of what they’re carrying on. To learn more about Haviland, visit havilandevents.com 🙂
What made you decide to start your own business?
I started Haviland because of my passion to cultivate change. I want to see weddings and events get back to focusing on the core of what they are celebrating, not on what Pinterest says is “in”.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
I work with my clients to put heart, hospitality and heritage into their event. I think about the flow of the event; how guests will interact with each other and their surroundings each step of the day; how the guest(s) of honor will feel; and how to make sure what is being celebrated is clear and the main priority.
What drew you to the wedding industry?
I have wanted to be a wedding planner since I was very young. I remember playing “wedding” with my sister and friends and telling them how to line up and walk down the aisle for a ceremony. It wasn’t until college, though, that I learned that dream was actually possible. After living in Italy and learning about the way they do weddings, I realized how passionate I was about bringing heart, hospitality, and heritage back to the core — which led me to create Haviland.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
Feeling like I can make a difference in someone’s life (or at least their wedding or event!). If my clients and their guests felt the love, support, and hospitality of a Haviland event, then I am doing my job right.
What is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?
Time! There is never ever enough time in the day. I think it’s really hard as an entrepreneur to balance and schedule time for family, networking, clients, actual work! and the many other directions we are pulled in. It is something I am still working very hard on balancing.
What is your best piece of business advice?
Don’t be a follower. I am in this business because I want to make a difference and I have to believe that I have gifts that I bring to the table that no one else has. If you get caught up in what everyone else is doing, you will lose sight of what you’re supposed to be doing and what makes you unique. Stay focused, and don’t worry about what other people are doing.
Do you have any tricks of the trade you could share with us?
When planning a wedding or event, people tend to get caught up in the million pieces of inspiration that is available to them and feel like they have to have all of that to be successful. My advice to my brides and hostesses is to determine their top 3 most important things for the event, and then stick to it! (For my husband and me at our wedding, this was: food, the band and intimacy.) If floral wasn’t on the list, then don’t feel like you need to go overboard on flowers because you saw it on Pinterest.
How would you describe your personal style?
Random and ever changing. Some days it’s very classic and timeless (my fashion inspiration for my wedding was Grace Kelly), but the next I want to dress laid-back and bohemian. My personal style varies as much as my taste in music does!
What does being CoChic (Comfortably Chic) mean to you?
To me, CoChic means being content with who you are and what you do, and dressing to reflect that confidence and individuality. I think it is also ever changing and that’s ok; you don’t have to pick one “style” to be.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Can I share here that my closet is a mess and I should have it cleaned out? 😉 Other than that, I guess I’d share my obsession with china plates. My grandmother’s hutch is full to the brim with pieces I’ve found, and despite my husband’s warnings that it’s about to collapse, I always find room for a plate or two whenever we go on vacation.
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