My 2019 private workshop season started off on a sweet note with Andrea Smith of Soirée Smith. Andrea’s workshop experience was my first back from maternity leave and our time together made the ease back into this particular facet of my work feel seamless and rewarding. I’m thrilled to share more of her work and business here with you today! Please read on for all the details and some of my favorite film images of the experience.

I’d like to first share a bit about the image above, which shows my hand holding a small print out version of the inspiration board I created for Andrea’s workshop. I am a big proponent of using inspiration or vision boards for all work I do whether it’s leading a private workshop, designing a client’s wedding or even designing rooms in our home. You can read more about my thoughts here in a post that is full of valuable insight!

I share that photo so you can see how a conceptualized starting point, even in the form of a simple collage, can turn into a really beautiful, and often predicable end product. In having my students go through this process themselves, where I take their style and likes and turn them into a board then brought to life during their workshop, I hope they can find ways to apply a similar approach with the work they do for their clients.

Now please meet Andrea, the wedding planner and designer behind Soirée Smith, a Chicago-based company. Andrea grew up in Canada and moved to The Windy City for both a career in the hospitality industry and love, where she now runs her business serving clients all along the Illinois lakeshore. She has a classic style with an eye for timeless design, and a warm demeanor that feels welcoming and familiar all at once. I greatly enjoyed spending time with her and connecting over our many shared feelings on motherhood, community in the wedding industry, the differences between America and Canada, marrying American men (!), and client experiences.

Andrea’s workshop was based around a neutral design palette with pops of blue and sage interspersed throughout. This aesthetic was very on-brand for Andrea but also fresh and inspiring given the recent change of seasons here in the Midwest. We had a wonderful team of professionals who contributed to the workshop like Special Occasions West for linens, Ciarra Claire for stationery and calligraphy, The Festive Frog for placesetting goods, Hanna Wagner for beauty, and of course Kelly Sweet Photography for the stunning film images.

This photo of Andrea is my favorite. Isn’t she a beauty?

And finally, a few words from Andrea on her experience here in Grand Rapids:

“Before my time with Rhiannon, I felt less confident in my understanding of the floral components of event design. I so valued all of Rhi’s insights, tips, and tricks that she imparted from her years of experience, but most especially her approach. I felt as though I was learning from an old friend. If you’re at all interested in building or refining your floral and design skills in a way that’s not intimidating and is instead offered in a welcoming style – I cannot recommend investing in yourself through Rhi.”

You can see more from past student workshops here along with feedback from students. And to inquire about joining me this fall season, please send an email to [email protected] as I have many September, October, and November dates still open. I’m happy to share investment and inclusion details with you!