We’re so excited to share with you our interview with Nikki Chambers of Elevee & Co. Nikki has been a wedding planner for over a decade and is here to change the perception of weddings in Delaware. From her sources for inspiration to the one thing she would change about the wedding and special events industry, we’re chatting all about Nikki’s path to becoming a wedding pro.
What inspired you to enter the wedding industry?
Through my college years and my twenties, I always had a desire to host all of our friends with in-home dinner parties. My house was littered with all types of magazines that interested me—the Domino home décor magazine, fashion magazines, food and recipe magazines. I had a knack for organizing the workplace and finding ways to operate more efficiently. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I realized all of the items that I loved so dearly, were encompassed into weddings. It seemed like a natural fit for me. But when my current employer wasn’t able to transfer me to our group events and banquet department in 2008 (re: downgrade in pay/position), I decided to take a leap of faith. I decided to enroll in a local wedding planning course to show others that I was serious in the adventure that I was ready to embark on. The rest is history…
Why did you start Elevee & Co?
Quick backstory—I didn’t actually “start” Elevee. I had previously owned another business that took off in success in 2009. But, in the fifth year, I had a surprise pregnancy, new home, and found it hard to balance. So, I let the business take a back seat. In the interim, Nicole Bailey, owner of Elevee Events, had brought me on as an associate lead planner for weddings a few times a year. This helped keep my passion alive but allowed me to be the best mom I could be.
In 2017, after the birth of my second son, Nicole offered me an opportunity to become a full-time planner again, take over client inquiries, and the option to purchase Elevee. She wanted to retire so she could take her weekends back, relish in her new marriage, and enjoy her passions and interests. It felt like taking another leap again, but it was one I was nervous, anxious, and very EXCITED about. Less than one year later, Elevee Events became officially mine, but I knew I wanted to honor all of Nicole Bailey’s hard work and keep the Elevee brand alive.
I “reimagined” Elevee Events as Elevee & Co, in May of 2019. It was inspired by community, company, and how our success is determined by those that we surround ourselves with. Elevee has such wonderful beaches and surrounding communities and I wanted to honor that. The Elevee brand “overhaul” was made possible by vendors that have known me for three years to a decade, who really knew “me,” what my inner passion was about, and how it spoke to them.
Over a decade ago, I felt that Delaware was an estate, country club, and ballroom state for weddings. I really wanted to find a way to change that perception within the state. With a state rich in so much history, I wanted to become and advocate for more non-traditional wedding venues—art museums, theaters, and repurposed spaces. I was largely inspired by our sister states and cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia. I wanted to introduce a more urban, modern, and industrial approach to our weddings. Instead of seeking to our sister states for inspiration, we have now become a source for our own inspiration.
If you could change one thing about the weddings and special events industry, what would it be?
Larger is not always better. Even though I’m a wedding planner and designer, my husband and I chose a small intimate wedding for sixty. We held a Friday afternoon ceremony in a historic courthouse followed by a three hour cocktail reception in a nearby historic building. Our total budget was $12,000. Our wedding vision was initially a historic courthouse elopement, followed by an intimate dinner for twenty. Point being—don’t break the bank if it’s not in your budget. Enjoy this occasion how you see fit, and let it be a reflection of you as a couple.
What’s your trademark in the client or event experience?
I’m not really sure I can explain that. I want our relationships with our couples to be a comfortable one; Where we feel “familiar” to them, and that they can see us becoming their “friends.” We often spend a year or more with our couples and their families. We end up in their homes planning for hours. So, it’s important to me that I can sit in your living room chair with my legs crossed—notebooks, laptops, and binders in hand—while we get to work. This could also mean I’m wearing a baseball cap, leggings, and a pair of sneakers.
How does using Aisle Planner help you deliver the client experience you want to?
Being able to keep all information in one space for clients and teams to view and collaborate on has been highly efficient. Having a mobile sign-in for when you’re on the go has been highly important as well. We have begun using it from beginning to end with our clients.
What is your favorite Aisle Planner feature?
The comments section under each Contact. Most often times, clients will text, message on Instagram, email, etc… and their information can be spread everywhere, including multiple email threads. We’ve begun to coach them to use this feature more. But, in the instance that they do not, I will copy/paste into the comments section. This way the information can be seen in one space, and everyone has access to view it. I’m a huge advocate of using Aisle Planner and love all of the features. We have loved growing with Aisle Planner since 2017 and always look forward to the next new feature rollout.
Anything you are particularly excited about working on this year?
I have really loved being a part of the Fredericksburg, VA Refine for Wedding Planners conference group with Amber Anderson this past year. It has helped me grow in ways that I knew I needed, but didn’t know how, or have the time for. Streamlining these processes has allowed me to find time to work on branding projects with venues to help find their “ideal client” and work on projects with other creatives looking to build their portfolios. This November, we will be heading out to Dallas, TX to work behind the scenes again with Heather Benge and her Styled Shoots Across America conference. Both of these exceptional organizations have allowed me the opportunity to connect and form relationships with other planners up and down the East Coast!
If you weren’t a wedding designer + planner, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
I find that as I have gotten older, I’ve learned more about my passions, inner voice, and where I thrive as an individual. PR would be someplace I would love to explore, as well as public speaking, life coaching, and teaching. I’ve met some very wonderful people over the years. Some just needed encouragement, others needed to know the secret to “success.”
If you could plan any celebrity wedding whose would it be?
Reese Witherspoon. I have a love for the south. And, her book “Whiskey in a Teacup” speaks to me on so many levels.
Just for fun
Three things you wouldn’t board a plane without?
Toiletries, electronic chargers, and a fresh change of under garments.
If you owned a restaurant, what food would it serve?
A food hall, like Deco in Wilmington, DE—a little bit of everything!
What skill would you like to master?
Working power tools so that I can stop outsourcing design work.
What’s your go to casino game?
Does horse racing count? I’m actually not a huge gambler. But, my time working at a horse race track in college led me down a fascination with the sport.
What song do you know every word to?
“Waterfalls” by TLC.
On my days off you can find me…
Touring a historic city, catching a sunset, or sipping Palomas!