In February, I shot an amazing styled shoot at Pear Tree Estate with some amazing vendors, but could not have pulled off any of it without the help of sisters Bethany and Ainsley Laven who have owned and operated Southern Magnolias Events since September 2016! As they were decorating the space for our shoot, we decided to step out, take a break, and update their headshots! I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with them, and would recommend their skills to everyone, whatever their event may be! I’ve learned a lot about them lately and am excited to share a little bit about them with you in my very first vendor feature!
We are Ainsley and Bethany Laven, owners of Southern Magnolias, a wedding and event planning company. We’re a sister team serving Central Illinois and all of its gorgeous surrounding areas. Together, the two of us create the perfect pair. Our mix of creativity and organization make us the ultimate planning dream team! Ainsley is queen of logistics, details, and creating personalized touches; Bethany is a master of design, artistic flair, and has a knack for checking things off the to-do list. We complement each other like peanut butter and jelly!
Family is very important to us, so when we started brainstorming our company name, we knew we wanted to incorporate our familial ties. The “S” in Southern comes from our paternal grandmother’s maiden name, Stowe, and the “M” in Magnolias comes from our mother’s maiden name and maternal grandmother’s last name, McDermott.
What is your favorite part about your job?
During our planning process, we always have an idea of what our final product should look like. After hours of finalizing details and perfecting sketches, it is so satisfying to see our designs come to life! Being happy with the final product makes the hard work worth it every time.
During meetings, Ainsley is usually the secretary and Bethany is the presenter. Ainsley’s notes are always organized and streamlined, while Bethany is a pro at articulating designs and concepts to clients.
What's your favorite work "tool"?
We love Canva! We use it for all of our project proposals, as we can include images, text, and color swatches.
What kind of advice would you give your future clients?
Our biggest piece of advice is to not sell yourself short – don’t be afraid to share your ideas just because you don’t think it’s possible. If there’s a will, there is always a way! Trust in the professionals you’ve hired to make your day exactly as you’ve dreamt it.
We host most of our meetings at Aroma Cafe in downtown Champaign. Ainsley always gets a vanilla latte, while Bethany gets a cafe au lait the size of your head!
What kind of advice would you give other professionals in your field?
Embrace collaboration with fellow creatives, because there is always something you can learn from them. We have found that building meaningful relationships has benefited us more than trying to go at it alone. Entrepreneurship is hard work, so supporting one another is vital.
Our logo was designed by one of Bethany’s best friends, Annalisa Lopez, who watercolored every flower by hand.
What is something not everyone knows about you?
We have fun! As dedicated and serious as we are about our work, we love to keep the energy light. On days that we’re styling, you will always find good music, laughter, and never ending conversation. We’re sisters and best friends and it’s always easy to see! Our main goal is always to work with clients that push us outside our comfort zones, even if it means traveling to new places. If our styles mesh with a client, it’s always worth the extra mileage to create something incredible.
Our parents sparked the travel bug in us early, so we’re always itching to explore new places. That passion for travel has carried over into our business.
A big thank you to Bethany + Ainsley for everything! You can reach Bethany + Ainsley at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the “Contact” tab on their website!