Choosing Your Wedding Planner: An Interview with Heidi Kolby, Owner of 44th & Luxe Events
Looking for a Cincinnati wedding planner for your big day? Heidi Kolby is the woman for the job. Heidi is the owner and lead event planner of 44th & Luxe Events. As a planner, her mission is to create a unique and memorable experience for each client. Born and raised in Chicago, Heidi attended Butler University and earned a degree in marketing and finance. In this spotlight, we’re sharing what makes 44th & Luxe one of a kind, Heidi’s favorite Cincy spots, and more!
Tell me about 44th & Luxe, and what inspired you to start it?
In college, I had the opportunity to intern with some of the best event planners in Indianapolis. As an intern, I was the lead event planner’s right-hand woman. I managed vendors and event logistics even though I wasn’t able to legally drink. :) After graduating from Butler, I continued to work as a day-of coordinator for the same event planner. At the same time, I also was a full-time events manager for a corporation in Indianapolis. I’m happy that I got that experience in the corporate world, but it made me realize what I love - weddings and social events. When my husband and I moved to Cincinnati, I decided to launch my own wedding and event planning company. I love the relationship and bond you create when planning a wedding for someone. Through all the hard work, you know that your client will love it, and remember it being the best day of their lives.
Images by Studio Bash Photography
How did you come up with the name 44th & Luxe Events?
I knew I wanted the word “luxe” to be in the name. It’s a word I often use and it represents my style and vision for events. Unfortunately, everything I could think of already existed. A friend suggested thinking of the street names of the places I’ve lived, and it just so happened that I was living on 44th street when I starting interning in the events industry. Being from Chicago, I think of myself as a city girl with a love for all things luxe. The name just resonated with me. It sounds so NYC and I felt Cincinnati was missing that spice of life in the wedding industry.
Where do you draw inspiration and motivation for your work?
A lot of inspiration behind my work comes from client’s initial ideas. I love to listen to their wedding vision, then tie in my thoughts and suggestions. After the initial design meeting, I create a Luxe Board that pulls in all of the creative elements for their wedding. It serves as a great visual for the couple and other vendors.
Images by: The Married Photogs
What sets 44th and Luxe apart from others?
I’ve lived and worked in the events industry in several different markets including, Chicago, Indianapolis and now Cincinnati. I have knowledge from those markets that I can offer to clients in Cincinnati. I offer completely customizable packages based on services potential clients are interested in, so they don’t feel like they are paying for options they don’t need. And most importantly, I put a big emphasis on really getting to know my clients, their vision and removing the stress from the wedding planning process. At the end of the day, I want clients to know that I’m on their team and that I’m their best advocate.
What is one emerging trend for events this year?
People no longer want to have “cookie cutter” weddings. They want something different, that’s new, unique and local. Couples are now allocating a larger portion of their budget on food and beverage options at the reception. They want to have interactive food and drink experiences, such as paired hors d'oeuvres - think mini margaritas with mini tacos or small beer tastings with pretzel bites, craft beer options, and local flavors. Couples no longer want the standard smothered chicken. I am also loving the use of potted plants and greenery as centerpieces. If done correctly, it is so luxe!
Images by: Photography by Caroline Grace
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of event planning as it factors into the overall success of an event?
Plan your event with your guests in mind. I hear from couples all the time that they want to have a unique and memorable wedding. I totally get that, but it starts will creating an outstanding experience for your guests. You want your guests talking about your wedding for good reasons, not for bad ones. It’s all about the little details, so go the extra mile and consider things like transportation for your guests, complimentary valet parking or fun interactive food & beverage options.
What has been your biggest challenge running your own business, and how did you overcome it?
It can be tough dealing with self-doubt, comparison and the constant need to prove yourself. As an entrepreneur, there is no set path. You have to blaze your own trail and believe you are making the correct steps to grow your business. You’re always thinking about what’s next and what the future looks like. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the things you do everyday matter and add up. When you’re discouraged, you have to keep working hard and push through it, because it will all come into place. It’s risky being an entrepreneur but the payoff is incredible.
Where do you see your company in the coming years?
I’m excited for all of my client’s weddings this year. All of their weddings are so different and I love seeing their vision come to fruition. Down the road, my husband and I would like to move back to Indianapolis. I plan to continue to have someone run the Cincinnati office and open a second location in Indianapolis.
Images by: Creatively Captured Photography
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs, just starting out?
First, whatever you want to start, make sure you are incredibly passionate about it. You have to believe in what you’re doing. Life is full of discouraging moments, but you have to persevere. If you are passionate about what you are doing, people will feel that and believe in you.
Also, you have to take that leap. Yes, have a plan of some sort and experience, but also have the courage to take that leap. Once you have a starting place, find local resources and a mentor. You also have to get out and be involved in the local community.
More about Heidi...
- Favorite wedding dress designer
Hayley Paige. Hands down.
- Favorite local spots in Cincinnati.
Harth Lounge, on 4th street downtown. It’s a lovely jazz bar that makes great drinks.
Abigail Street, is a great place to wine and dine.
- If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?
- What is your life mantra?
If you’re going to do anything, do it will all your heart and take the time to do it well. People notice when you go the extra mile.
Headshots by Ben Elsass