An Interview with Nicole Hensley
This week on the G1028 blog we are talking with event planner Nicole Hensley. Nicole is the owner of Storybook Weddings and Events, and just debuted a beautiful rebrand of her company. She’s fresh off receiving the Rising Star award from the National Association for Catering and Events. She also has done events at Gallery 1028 in the past, and we love her work here! On to the interview:
G1028: First off, we would like to congratulate you on winning the NACE Rising Star Award. How do you feel about winning the award?
Nicole Hensley: Having seen so many influential people receive the NACE Rising Star Award in years past and to be able to say that I am now amongst those recipients is very exciting. Being recognized in front of such an inspiring and incredibly talented group of industry leaders was humbling and made me feel even more honored to have won the award.
G1028: How did you get started in the wedding planning industry?
NH: Although I had managed and planned the logistics of large events while working at Walt Disney World, I wasn’t introduced to the wedding industry until 2013. I entered the wedding world as a Special Events Manager for one of Chicago’s top catering companies and realized that I loved the couple’s wedding journey.
As a catering manager, I was heavily involved with menu creation and the food service on their wedding day. But I found myself answering more than just catering questions and began helping out on their day more than expected. My passion for organization and planning in my personal life found its new place in the planning of couples’ wedding days. Along with my drive for taking on more and more came the excitement of owning my own business!
G1028: Tell us the story of Storybook Weddings and Events.
NH: Do we have an hour to tell this story?! Haha. Storybook Weddings and Events came about from a little dream of mine. Knowing that I wanted to be more involved with couples’ wedding journey and to have the ability to do what I love and raise a family at the same time was the biggest motivation behind opening up Storybook. Although it began as a solo venture, within three months, two amazing ladies became planners alongside me at the perfect time. Knowing that we had an identical work ethic, passion for design and a love and excitement for weddings, we all knew that were meant for each other! Having Lisa Jaroscak and Lindsay Gaeta complete the trio was honestly the best thing that could have ever happened.
The story didn’t stop there. Over the course of our first year we discovered who we were as a team, our goals, our mission and how we became a brand as a trio. Along with the discovery came a whole new vision for our future and encouraged the decision to re-brand! After many months of hard work we launched our new site on May 1st 2016. We feel like our brand new story has just begun and we cannot wait to see what lies ahead!
G1028: What has been your most rewarding event that you have planned so far?
NH: It’s hard to choose one event that has been the most rewarding because each one has its own story. But we definitely have rewarding “moments.”
We have had the pleasure of working with very thoughtful and loving couples. To be able to see our couples enjoy their engagement journey and to celebrate all their hard work and wedding visions come together is very fulfilling to our role as a wedding planner.
But to be the person who sends the bride or groom down the aisle to their future is such a sweet and unexplainable feeling. Not too many people get to be part of such an important moment in someone else’s life.
G1028: Would you ever plan your own wedding? Or would you even be able to? I know personally that I wouldn't want to plan my own wedding, but I wouldn't be able to not plan my own wedding.
NH: Oh Gosh! I did last year! I absolutely HAD to plan my own wedding being a “type A” person. I couldn’t imagine not having planned it but to be honest, being able to take a break from wedding planning at the end of my workday would have been so nice!
Although it was a lot of work to try and plan my own wedding while focusing on so many others, the day was an absolute reflection of my husband and I and we had so much fun with our family and friends. It was more than I could have imagined. Looking back, I wouldn’t have had it any other way!
G1028: What is the most challenging thing you have ever faced, and how did you solve it?
NH: I better not dare answer this question because I know the answer has yet to come!
G1028: What is the strangest thing someone has requested of you?
NH: In 2014, I had a bride send back a catering allergy form requesting that we make special adjustments for a guest whom was allergic to cats.
Needless to say, we were able to fulfill that request.
G1028: Do you still have moments from events that you laugh about to this day?
NH: HAHA Oh yes. But Lindsay definitely has a story that takes the cake!
“Sometimes I feel like I am an adult babysitter at weddings. During the end of the wedding reception while the guests were all up and dancing, I literally stepped out of the main reception room for two minutes... and when I came back, the best man was shirtless with his tie tied around his head, perched on top of one of the other groomsmen shoulders. He had sparklers blazing from each hand, with the rest of the guests circling around him cheering on the dance floor. Surprisingly, the venue manager let him enjoy the moment. It definitely made me chuckle” – Lindsay Gaeta
G1028: Can you describe some of the current trends going on in the Chicago area?
NH: Between the three of us, we get the chance to see a lot of trends. The current ones that are common between us all are:
· Mismatching Bridesmaid Dresses
· Delayed Honeymoons
· Couples paying for their own weddings
· Food Trucks!!
· Neutral and Soft Color Palettes
Thanks to Nicole for taking the time for this interview. Head over to the new www.storybookchicago.com and check them out today!
Next week on the G1028 blog we’ll be talking about the James Beard Foundation Awards. We were fortunate to be involved and the company had all hands on deck to help execute the world-renowned event. How did it go? Tune in next week to find out!
(Cover Photo Credit: Artistre Co.)