Our team has grown so much, we wanted to take some time to introduce you to the fine individuals who help make The Haight and your day run smoothly.
Meet The Leads
Briana Bialk, Events & Sales Manager
1. What made you get into the industry?
I found that in college, I enjoyed my after-school club of planning events around the university more than most of my classes. I wanted to pursue that and found that wedding were definitely my calling after an internship that did mostly outdoor events (not my thing). The idea of planning someone’s big day was a dream, so I became a wedding planner in Florida until I found my way back to Illinois where I am now! Here, at The Haight!
2. How do your weddings differ from one another?
Every wedding is so unique in its own way. Even if two weddings are similar in aesthetics, florals, colors, the couples make them different. From small touches to some great family members, the smallest thing can make it different and fun. This job always keeps you on your toes because no two weddings are exactly the same.
3. What is your claim to fame?
I was a child model and in beauty pageants!
Check out some of my headshots (can you tell it was the 90’s?). I was on things like toy packages and sales catalogs. I even tried out for a few commercials and the movie “Contact.” Didn’t make it that far though, I ended up retiring at the solid age of 7.
4. How do you relax after a hard day of work?
A readily available bottle of wine is crucial in this industry. Just kidding (kind of)! Really, I thrive on human interaction, so grabbing some food or a drink with a friend after a hard day is amazing. After a 12-14 hour wedding day, my bed is my best friend. No after parties for me, thanks!
5. What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you can experience for the first time again.
LOST. I kick myself that I didn’t watch it when it was on TV for the first time. They had so much interaction, so many questions (I still have some) that everyone wanted to talk about. However, even watching it on Netflix, my mind was blown. I think I’ve seen the series 5 or so times. I even have them on DVD. If you haven’t watched it, now is the time.
Lauren Schroeder, Venue & Events Manager
Photo by Being Joy Photography
1. What is your favorite part of the planning process?
I love the final meeting with the bride and groom, they are starting to get super excited about their big day and most of the hard work has been done. So, it is a great opportunity to get to know the clients a bit better!
2. What is the best/funniest/worst wedding story?
For one of my weddings the bride & groom had their children stand up as their wedding party. The oldest son/best man was hesitant to walk down the aisle but I assured him that everything would go just as it had during the rehearsal the night before, little did I know it would not. In the middle of the ceremony the sister of the groom stood up and flagged me down. I was so far away I couldn’t see that the son had just thrown up all over the groom’s back. We rushed to clean up the mess and take care of the son and groom while the officiant entertained the crowd with some impromptu stand up. It definitely livened up the ceremony but the bride & groom did not let it dampen their day!
3. What fad or trend do you hope comes back?
I love when a couple has a send off at the end of the night, a few clients have had fun “get away” cars and I just love the photos!
4. What would be your ideal way to spend a weekend?
My favorite way to spend a long weekend would be outside with friends and my dog. I love good music at an outdoor venue.
5. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
I have worked in the service industry since I was 19, I could definitely give a presentation on serving and bartending without any prep!
Nicole Patterson, Events Coordinator
1. What’s your favorite part of the job?
I love seeing how creative all of our clients are! Although everyone is using the same venue, every wedding has a different style and creative touch. It’s so fun to see all the new ideas and personality that comes with each event!
2. What tips do you have for brides and grooms planning their wedding?
My biggest tip for planning a wedding would be to sort your priorities. Planning can be overwhelming! Choose the things that are most important to you, like food and photographer, and focus on those first. Other details will follow, and that will help you stay organized and ensure you get what’s most important to you on your big day!
Another tip would be to make sure to enjoy every moment including the planning process! Food tastings, expos, venue tours, etc. can all be turned into a fun and memorable part of your experience. The day will go by quickly!So, enjoy every moment including the ones that lead up to your big day!
3. What are you most likely to become famous for?
If I could I would become famous for being an artist. I have always loved to draw/paint and I really enjoy any type of arts and crafts project!
4. Where do you usually go when you have time off?
I like to go to the movies when I have some time off. I am a big movie buff so I love to catch up on new and old movies that I have never seen before.
5. What would you rate 10/10?
I would rate The Haight and all it’s staff members a 10/10!
Ashley Radosav, Events Coordinator
Photo by Being Joy Photography
1. Why the Haight? What makes us stand out vs. working with other venues?
I enjoy working with The Haight, because it is a family-owned venue. I am a huge believer in supporting small businesses and believe that not all good things come in large, fancy packages. The Haight is a small, boutique venue that caters to a client looking outside the box for a fun, once in a lifetime wedding. There is no other venue exactly like The Haight. A lot of urban lofts in the city, but none that can transform into rustic and urban so easily, and especially in the suburbs, it is a hidden gem.
2. What was the most unique wedding you’ve ever planned?
Being a wedding planner, I have planned all sorts of events. From large to small, fancy to casual. I think a good wedding planner needs to be a chameleon of sorts to best create the vision for their clients. No two weddings are the same. The most unique wedding, would have to be my wedding! I got married four years ago and while I have planned hundreds of events, I have only been a bride once. It was such a special experience to be able to now relate to all of my clients. I understand, 100% the fear, the excitement, the giddy anticipation of seeing their spouse at the end of the aisle. I went through all of that. I also had a giant walk up ice bar dispensing cocktails.
I have only seen one of those, so I guess my wedding was pretty unique!
3. What game or movie universe would you most like to live in?
I have a dream of owning a lot of property, so I would have to say my game of choice would be Monopoly and I would always be bankrolling the Park Ave property!
4. What amazing thing did you do that no one was around to see?
I once performed CPR on a neighbor who had a heart attack in his front driveway. I also was able to call 911 and keep up CPR until the ambulance arrived. He lived three more days! I like to say that I brought him back to life. 😉
5. What’s the best way a person can spend their time?
I believe besides taking a really good nap, the best way to spend your time is with friends and family. It is not about the stuff in your life that makes it complete, it is about who you spend your time with that makes all of the difference.
Kelsey Richmond, Social Media Coordinator
1. What’s your favorite thing about writing the real weddings blog?
I really enjoy that I get to relay the story of how our couples met and fell in love. I also love that I get to give those couples a chance to relive their wedding day. I can’t tell you enough how many times I hear from couples thanking me for giving them a chance to revisit those precious memories.
2. Any specific blog or wedding really stand out for you?
A specific blog that stands out to me would be Behind The Scenes of Your Wedding Day. I loved writing about how each wedding comes together and giving the audience a visual for that with beautiful pictures from some of our photographers. I even got to share an amazing timelapse video from Newlyweds Cinema showing the transformation of our space. I just really enjoyed putting that post together!
3. What is something that is considered a luxury, but you don’t think you could live without?
Oh for sure my eyebrow pencil! I love a good eyebrow. I constantly have to remind myself that eyebrows are sisters not twins. The day I learned to shade my brows changed my life.
4. What’s your favorite genre of book or movie?
I am OBSESSED with the horror genre of anything. I absolutely love being scared. When I go to a movie or read a book, I need it to affect me…and I get the biggest affect from horror anything.
5. Where is the most relaxing place you’ve ever been?
The most relaxing place I’ve ever been would have to be my family’s summer home in Meredith, New Hampshire. The little cabin in the woods sits right on the lake with the most breathtaking views of still water and trees. It is one of my favorite places on earth.
Meet The Assistants
What is your favorite part of a wedding?
Leanne Valdes: My favorite part of the wedding is just before the bride walks down the aisle—usually we’re one of the last people with her as the photographer and videographer are further ahead ready to capture the moment. I would usually say something to her like, “breathe, smile and go whenever you’re ready!” and it’s just so fun to be a part of that super special moment!
Megan Garner: I have many favorite parts of a wedding! For mine, it was seeing everything I planned come together and being surrounded by so many loved ones! Oh and I loved our food truck! The best part about attending a wedding is seeing the bride walk down the aisle and watching the father/daughter dance! And my favorite part about working a wedding? Seeing all the different decor and personal touches that each couple brings that makes their wedding special and unique to them.
Bianca Bialk: My favorite part of a wedding is the food, definitely. But a close second would be seeing the space transform every wedding—it’s always the best!
Heidi Engebretsen: My favorite part of a wedding is when the bride is just about to walk down the aisle. As an assistant, I have the privilege of fixing her dress and her hair and telling her she looks beautiful right before she goes down the aisle. Seeing her transition from nervous to excited when she sees her groom is always so much fun and so touching!
Nicole Jones: My favorite part of a wedding is the first look between the bride and groom. The look of pure happiness and love in each of their eyes makes each and every wedding unique and memorable.
Meet The Security Team
Wayne Deitz, Head Security
Photo by Mary Rose Photography
1. What the best part of being the lead security guard?
The best part of being lead security is seeing everything—the good and the bad.
2. If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
No more wedding cake!
3. What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t gotten around to?
I really want to try camping in Alaska.
4. What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?
5. What movie title best describes you?
What is your best story from working a wedding?
Breje Whitt: The best story I have is from a very rainy day, when the deck was not going to be open. All of a sudden, the weather completely changed (go figure Chicago weather), the sun ended up coming out and we opened the deck for the guests. It made my night to see how happy our guests were to be able to enjoy some fresh air and sunlight during the reception.
Jose Ocon: My favorite experience working security was during a reception when hardly anyone was dancing and I wanted to help get the party started. I did what any normal security guard would do….I went out to the dance floor and challenged the groom to a dance off. It was an epic battle. Moves were exchanged, but in the end, I’d say it was a draw.
Peter Lentz: I don’t have a specific story that stands out to me, but I really enjoy the sparkler send-off. The couple and the guests are all so happy and it’s really fun to watch!
Meet The Owners
- John Haight, Kari Haight-Goodmay, Linda Haight (their mom), & Doree Haight-Motl
What do you like most about owning an event venue?
Kari Haight-Goodmay: Definitely the tacos. What I like most about owning an event venue is seeing that the equation to develop a perfect event is so open to interpretation. The basic formula and logistics plus customization and personality all equate to one unique and memorable event. I love knowing that so many lives are changed in our space, families are formed and celebrated, meals are shared, laughter is belly shaking good and that no matter how old you become dance moves never improve. I love knowing that our passion for family is experienced by thousands of people a year. I love that something old has become new again and that every single member of our family has had hands on involvement in the development of this business. I love that we grew up working in a family business and those skills and commitment to each other have been carried forward a generation and are now shared with thousands. But mainly the tacos.
Doree Haight-Motl: Every event is different. No client is ever the same. Ideas are constantly flowing. And getting to work with everyone across the company. We have an awesome, talented, funny dedicated staff.
John Haight: My favorite part was watching a fairly unusable and filthy warehouse space transform into a warm and inviting venue for people to share some of the happiest memories of their lives…and getting to see this week after week. And knowing that I had something to do with helping create those happy memories even if they don’t know me.