Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy Nolan and Carolyn Johnson.
Amy and Carolyn, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
We met in 2008 when we both auditioned for a local production of Grease the musical. Carolyn was cast as Marty, Amy as Rizzo, and as a theatre so often does, the show bonded us forever. After completing the show and spending a perfect Chicago summer eating sushi, sharing books, going to the beach, working as office managers and planning Amy’s wedding, the idea came to us and we started working to build our company.
An Event Less Ordinary officially incorporated in late 2009, and we started advertising for free on Craigslist, scoring 12 weddings that next year. Both of us worked on every aspect of the new company while continuing at our full-time jobs, often doing 2 events per weekend. By the summer of 2013, we’d surpassed what the two of us could handle on our own so we added several fantastic women to our staff. Lauren, Brittany and Rachel have brought us to a new level of high-quality service and integrity. Our amazing team works so well together, bringing smiles to client’s faces while handling every situation like a boss.
Fast forward nearly a decade – we’ve planned and coordinated over three hundred weddings, fundraisers, mitzvahs, and parties. We have excellent relationships with hundreds of amazing vendors in the greater Chicago area, and our team has experience in nearly every event venue in Northern Illinois.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
In many ways, it has been a fairly smooth road for a small business. AELO doubled it’s profits each year for the first 4 years, and in 2014-2016 we achieved many milestones that made us very proud. 2017 was a tough year – our first experience with a loss compared to the previous seasons – and it was difficult for the whole team (as well as the industry!). 2018 is getting us back on track.
One challenge we have always faced is the concept of an event planner or coordinator, an understanding of what we do. Having a knowledgeable, trustworthy professional managing all the moving parts of an event is invaluable, and it has been apparent to us that is not common knowledge! Every event should have a coordinator, no matter how well planned. Trust us, we’ve seen it all!
So, as you know, we’re impressed with An Event Less Ordinary – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We specialize in unique weddings and non-traditional activities. We’ve (safely!) had things set on fire in a parking lot wedding, we’ve helped many dogs walk down the aisle, used a chemical reaction instead of a unity candle, had brides wear coral and gray dresses, used homemade mead as centerpieces, a mini-sword to cut a cake, had a “crafternoon” wedding where guests painted and stamped metal… the list goes on.
With our extensive background in theatre, we know exactly what goes into putting on a production, and we’ve always maintained a love for the quirky. We love our more traditional weddings as well, but we are always so happy to dive into something weird and fun.
We’re most proud of maintaining our staff awesome of Event Consultants and keeping our hearts in the business for nearly a decade. We love working as a team with vendors to ensure a project goes smoothly. And we’re proud of never carrying around a clipboard at a wedding. Fanny packs, all the way.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We just completed work with Define American on their annual Film Festival which they held in Chicago this year, and it was a massive success. DA is a not-for-profit media and culture organization that uses the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship.
It was an incredible experience, a new challenge for AELO and a win for the movement of respect for people of color across the nation. Going forward, we’d love to continue working with not-for-profit organizations making a change in the world.
- Day of Coordination – begins at $1800
- Full Planning + Day of Coordination – begins at $6800
- Custom Planning – begins at $350
- Address: 1448 W Montrose Ave. Chicago, IL 60640
- Website: www.aneventlessordinary.com
- Phone: 815-289-3024
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @aelochicago
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aneventlessordinary
- Twitter: @aelochicago
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/an-event-less-ordinary-chicago
- Other: www.aneventlessordinary.com/blog
Ingrid Bonne Photography, Mark Campbell Photography, Erin Hoyt Photography, Elena Bazini Photography, Seth Morris Photography, Maypole Studios, R.E.M. Video and Photography, Mayden Photography, Free The Bird