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Meet Sarah Rodriguez of Sarah Kathleen Events in Western Suburbs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Rodriguez.

Sarah, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I became interested in event planning as a child. I would plan events and parties for anybody that would allow it. (They were getting a surprise party if not.) It has always been my dream to create amazing experiences for guests, down to the smallest details. I love being a part of such happy celebrations and it’s so satisfying to create custom ideas for these celebrations! In college, I focused my studies in the hospitality world. I became entranced by the romantic notion of working with weddings, so I became a certified wedding planner! I took a couple of internships at event venues in the Chicagoland area before setting off for my big-kid career with the audio-visual side of the hospitality industry. During this career, I worked in many venues across the Unites States and Canada assisting with large scale events that incorporated the latest event technologies. It was also at this job that I learned how to create my custom 3D Event Visualization renderings that I would later use to change the way we plan our events! This aspect of the job fed my creative side but left me wanting to branch out on my own and create even more.

In 2015, Sarah Kathleen Events was born. I left the corporate work behind and threw myself into building a wedding and event planning company that would leave people saying “Wow!” Starting with weddings and parties for close friends helped me to build my portfolio and reputation. Before long, we were securing some of the most unique and exciting events I had ever had the chance to plan. Our team began to grow to accommodate our event flow and after about a year, we had a team of four. Now, coming up on our third year in business, we are six coordinators strong and have a yearly team of interns. We owe all of this to our clients. We bond with them and grow to be friends in the time it takes to plan events and it’s always bittersweet when the event comes to an end. Since our very beginning, our company has been winning awards each year such as the Wedding Wire Couple’s Choice Award, The Knot’s Best of Award, and Thumbtack’s Top Pro Award and this is largely in part to the fantastic client reviews we receive. These reviews mean the world to us as it shows that we actually made a difference in the day. We get to work with not only the most amazing and loving wedding couples but also groups for fundraising, corporate events. birthday parties, anniversaries, and more. We look forward to all of the new challenges and new goals each year continues to bring us.

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?
Compared to others, my journey may have appeared easy and to some, even lucky, but this wasn’t the case behind the scenes. I do feel very fortunate for the skills I acquired and the people I met along my way who have helped me to succeed, but I had to beg, grovel, and annoy a lot those people in order to get them to give me a chance. I also never realized how hard running my own company could be until I was in the thick of things. There were many days of tireless meetings, calls, site visits, website building, accounting, vendor calls, designing, planning, etc. In order to build my reputation, I had to take on exhausting events just to prove myself and oftentimes not make a profit until I learned what to change in order to be more successful. It was really hard managing all of the different aspects of this job while pretending to have everything perfectly under control on the outside. Bringing my team on board was a big stress reliever because now I had a solid group that I could rely on and help hold me up. There will always be struggles, but having my team at least allows us to struggle together and grow together. There is never an end to the weird problems that pop up on event day so now we can all get together and laugh about our struggles afterward.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Sarah Kathleen Events story. Tell us more about the business.
My company is a wedding and event planning company, though we focus most strongly on weddings. For me, planning an event isn’t simply hiring vendors, playing music, and eating, it’s about the experience of the entire day. I want guests to become involved in our events, not just attend them. We use many creative techniques to completely surround guests from the music playing, the lighting concepts used, the flow of the timeline, the food and beverage served, and everything in between. Custom events are what we strive for so that every client is left with that one-of-a-kind feeling.

I learned early on that not everybody shares the same type visual mind that I have so in order to properly convey our custom ideas, we utilize our 3D Event Visualization renderings. These renderings are a completely unique service that you won’t find anywhere else! After learning how to create these scaled computer replicas of my client’s venues, I then learned how to build custom items to exactly build out an entire event, down to the napkin ring! Our clients can now test out not only the visual aspects of the event like linen color, head table design, or menu card pattern, but also the exact layout, sight lines, and time of day (shadows coming in from a window can cause problems!) They’ve allowed our clients to step into their events before the ever happen, lessening the chances of any surprises on event day! I’m incredibly proud of this service and how helpful it has been to plan our events.

Another fun thing our team is known for is our fanny packs! We always come equipped with a fanny pack full of helpful event day tools and they are a big conversation starter! You’ll never know exactly what we’re carrying, but chances are if you need scissors or a Tide pen in a pinch, we’ll have you covered! #fannypackcrew

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
While there have definitely been lucky opportunities in my life, every one of those took a lot of work to play out the way they did. For example, I was chosen to learn the 3D software over many other people, which gives me a leg up now, but I spent about 6 years practicing and learning new techniques in order to get to the level I’m at now. I also was luckily introduced to many amazing people in this industry who saw something in me and helped me to grow, but again, that took a lot of work on the back end to prove myself. I do feel extremely lucky that somehow this little business has turned out the way it has and only hope that more people will take a chance on me!


  • Day-Of Wedding or Event Coordination- $950
  • Day-Of Coordination + Planning and Design Services- $1600
  • Full-Service Wedding or Event Planning and Coordination- $4000

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Rendering Photos- Sarah Rodriguez, Sarah Kathleen Events, Sunset Photo- Angela Renee Photography, Couple Photo- Better Together Photography, Room Decor Photo- Katherine Salvatori Photography, Fanny Pack SKE Photo- Sarah Crost Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Emily M

    May 23, 2018 at 2:26 am

    Yay Sarah! I’m so happy for you and your success! You’re so inspiring 🙂

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