Gelisa Venegas: Wedding, Elopement and Event Planner and Stylist

by | Aug 3, 2023

What do you like to be called?

My nickname is ‘Gee’, with my full name being Gelisa. But I’m happy to roll with either.

What do you do?

I am the founder of Dear Leone, which is a Wedding Planning & Styling business creating chic and modern weddings & elopements across Tasmania.

Where is Dear Leone based?

While we are based in Hobart, Tasmania, we have travel in our blood and will travel interstate and beyond to be involved in a beautiful love story.

What is Dear Leone’s ethos?

Dear Leone’s ethos has constantly curated thoughtful, seamless and otherworldly experiences. We seek to achieve this by hiring the craftmanship of our DL friendors and providing the highest quality, creativity and unique touch to all our designs and elements of the day.

Were there moments in your formative years that might have indicated an interest in your line of work?

I always thought I would be a fashion designer when I was younger. My family would often find me doing sketches of my newest ‘clothing idea’. The sketches were basic (and still are), but textiles and fashion have heavily influenced me and how they can make people feel.

Instead, I ended up pursuing a ten-year plus career in Social Work, which took me to so many wonderful places and met all kinds of people from all walks of life. In my many roles, I managed teams and coordinated programs for national organisations, which now plays heavily in my business with DL.

I feel like my creative self and ‘life as a social worker’ have merged so nicely into my Wedding Planning & Design business; and that these interpersonal and managerial skills are transferrable to how I work and engage with our couples, our industry friends and the DL team.

Why did you start Dear Leone?

I launched my business in December of 2018, which back then was called ‘Honeyfig’, where I catered for luxury picnic experiences across the state. Then one day I had an interstate couple wanting a ‘picnic style’ wedding in Tasmania. I did it and loved it. So, whilst I did a couple of weddings in 2019 and then came covid in 2020, I feel like I got my groove in 2021 with a string of incredible couples.

I then started applying all of my time to learning about the wedding industry and growing my skill set in this area, and it has been a momentous stepping stone to where I am now.

Any standout moment since starting Dear Leone?

When I think back to my stand-out moments- the re-occurring ones are my couples and the connection we get to build along the way.

One of my earlier standouts was planning a wedding in 7 weeks for a beautiful couple that spanned across Bruny Island and all the way to MONA for the reception. There were a lot of ingredients that involved a lot of meticulous details and a number of logistical plans in place, but it was beyond exceptional and very much a day that was curated for them in every single way!

Another recent standout was Planning and Designing a Met Gala-inspired wedding. A true highlight was being able to create an experience & design so exceptionally out of the box, full of colour, fashion, dogs and everything that makes my heart sing.

Worst moment?

Whilst there haven’t been any big mishaps, a big part of my role involves problem-solving, thinking on the fly and creating solutions. I have had stationery (menus and name tags) lost two days before a wedding but thankfully, for incredible vendors, in this case Hannah from Blossie, we were able to get these printed and expressed shipped the day before the wedding.

On a personal level, it can be hard to align what success means to you and how you want to create a life for yourself. Particularly as an individual, as a woman, as a mother and a wife, it can be hard to find a rhythm to balance these different sides of my life. I have had to put boundaries around this to ensure a sustainable and long-term business.

Have there been any mistakes you’ve made that you feel you have grown/learnt from?

Absolutely! I am constantly learning and finessing our process with the aim of giving a seamless client experience. Managing the event itself and the client experience and expectations is a huge part of the role, and sometimes things outside of your control happen. It’s a matter of problem-solving at times and working through whatever issue may arise- but I also live for this kind of pressure.

Where are you currently with your business and are there any plans on the horizon?

My goal over the last few years has been to ‘do the work and give couples the BEST experience possible’. There is no fast-tracking a business, and I have really applied myself in every facet to grow and work towards my goals.

As I write this, I truly feel like I have achieved this and have been able to attract INCREDIBLE couples under Dear Leone to craft bespoke and curated experiences. My couples are easygoing, here for a good time and appreciate beautiful and modern details. But also, they trust me wholeheartedly and often give me full creative freedom, which I adore. This role and this business is a gift.

Moving forward, however, there are definitely new heights on the horizon with Dear Leone. But you will have to wait and see what we have in store….

What trends are you seeing in the wedding industry?

Trends come and go- and for good reasons; they are inevitable.

As long as couples choose the ingredients of their day that are important to them at the time, this is what matters most.

Other hobbies/interests

Hobbies- reading, writing, walking & hiking.

Interests- travel, fashion, architecture & interior design are my go-to’s.

Favourite vendors

I am surrounded by so many incredibly talented vendors, truly. However, I feel strongly inspired by women-led business owners who carve their own style, create a pathway that is truly representative of them and their work, and do this with grace and integrity.

Favourite food

Pasta girl right here.

Your spirit animal and why?

A bear. I feel courageous and strong because of life’s curveballs. These skills have given me the confidence to pursue experiences whilst staying grounded in my surroundings. I also naturally tend to fall into the role of Mumma bear cub because I love loving people. It’s my love language.

What would your final meal be?

I will go so far as to rephrase the question to ‘meals’ as in a ‘three-course option’ because the finale should be a feast, am I right? It would look something like this:

A burrata starter and handmade gnocchi straight from Nonna’s Kitchen. Basically, I am a sucker for Italian food (made by Italians)!

My dessert option however is the classic Crème Brulee (not so Italian).

Favourite song

Forever changing but at the moment, anything Six60.

What would you be if you had one piece of advice to share with couples?

Knowing what you like and don’t like, know what your non-negotiables & negotiables and envision the type of team you want to be surrounded with for your day and roll with that. If you are obsessed with a vendor – then book them. If you love flowers, go wild with blooms and do less on something else that is not on your priority list.

And trust your team because they got you.

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