Women of the Wedding Industry of the Week with Rhiannon Bosse
My oh my May, where did you go?
It has been nearly three weeks since a Women of the Wedding Industry of the Week blog has been posted which means only one thing: my wedding season has kicked into full gear and with that, a shifting of priorities is necessary.
While I'd love to say that this blog, and the women I get to connect with are a top priority of mine, I know that creatively, my mind is just not geared towards reflection and writing in the summer as much as it was this past (very long winter) and spring in Northern Michigan.
The beauty of the ebb and flow in this seasonal industry I think is in how present it makes you when summer finally arrives. How alert, and attentive, and observant it forces you to be, even if those aren't your natural strengths and even if you start to feel exhaustion set in by July. There's an immediacy to planning events that requires you to be focused and "on" for such long and intense periods of time. And I'll admit, I like it. I like making quick decisions, and providing efficient answers. I like living in the minute by minute moments of executing a timeline and checking off tasks one by one. While I find it hard sometimes to be the one people come to when things go wrong, or be in the middle of a conflict that needs resolving, it is also stimulating in a way I can't quite explain.
People ask all the time if this industry stresses me out, and I say no more than anything else I've done for a career. I think back to if this year is different than last, when I was serving my first clients and while not necessarily faking it, hoping I looked and acted reliable, capable, and professional enough to not give away the fact that this was a new business for me entirely.
I won't say confidence happens overnight, or in 365 days necessarily, but there is something really nice about sitting here at the end of May, with our first wedding of the season only three days away and knowing that the role of a wedding planner isn't built on perfection, but a knack for celebration. It's not about blog worthy design and details, but genuine hospitality that can be felt by every guest who attends. It isn't about me proving myself, it's about being a part of a capable team and working to communicate well and sometimes be in a leadership role - two gifts I know I am endowed with even if I don't feel like I am.
Our wedding season isn't about perfection at all. It's about hard fought committed relationships that want to see marriage through. It's about messy and complicated families that add a bit of flavor, flair, and ultimately love to a weekend not to be had again sometimes until the next wedding. It's about holding an umbrella over a bride as she makes her way to the ceremony in an unexpected summer rainstorm. It's about being so caught up in the festivities that they fly by, but something reeling you in and causing you to stop and enjoy the moment; maybe the way your favorite wine tastes, or sneaking off alone to kiss behind a tree, or dancing with your grandma to her favorite song. I've seen this happen to so many couples, this moment of pure relaxing into a wedding scene and it's my favorite one that we get to be a part of.
While I've been hesitant to do interviews with women in the wedding industry I don't know very well because I was worried I might not be able to connect with them, I found that my curiosity and fangirldom couldn't be kept down for this last interview before I take a break for the season.
I may not know her very well, but Rhiannon Bosse is someone who I, and so many others in our Midwest creative industry hold on a pedestal of wedding planner perfection. And she's earned it. With nearly ten years in the wedding industry as a wedding planner and floral designer based in Grand Rapids, she has been at the helm of much of what we recognize as a modern, successful creative businesses. She maintains a versatile lifestyle and business blog, plans destination weddings abroad, is an award winning floral designer, founded a workshop, hosts private mentoring sessions, keeps a super limited client schedule, has a gorgeous home office, and did I mention she makes her own herbal soap? And raises two young boys full time?
If there's anything that small window into Rhi's world via her blog and writing and photos has shown me, it's that she doesn't take that pedestal lightly. She doesn't obsess over it. She doesn't polish it like a trophy kept on a shelf. Her pedestal is something softer, and more honest, and more vulnerable than most people with her level of success care to sometimes share with others.
Woven into her beautiful words and stories and photos are tales of someone who seemed to think perfect was necessary in this industry, and who realized quickly that perfect would always let you down. In it's place, Rhi seems to have found a lot of space for intention, and growth, and creativity, and balance in the business she manages. When I find myself reading her blog, whether it's something like her monthly goals, how she stays on top of laundry, the process behind how she created an editorial, or how she updated her yard, I feel drawn into a really comforting, and completely relatable perspective of someone who made business choices that would ultimately lead to a life well lived. The very old adage, work to live, rather than live to work.
I had the pleasure of meeting Rhi once this past spring, at a wedding show in Grand Rapids. I mentioned how much I liked her homemade soap, and she thoughtfully brought me a bar the next day, in my favorite scent of mint. I love that my interaction with her didn't involve getting into the nitty gritty of wedding planning. I love that it didn't involve a sense of inferiority or competition - for her there is none and I think that's beautiful. I love that it involved soap. A passion hobby that Rhi has delved into this past year alongside her business. When I looked at that soap and took it home, it reminded me that we are so much more than our job title. So much more than our brand. More than our website and our credentials and our accomplishments. We are soap makers, moms, friends, lovers of long walks in the forests, tea drinkers, early risers, good kissers, hearty laughers, travelers, women, girls, friends, humans. Living out imperfect moments or phases of life perfectly, if we give ourselves the freedom to do so.
Rhiannon Bosse of Rhiannon Bosse Celebrations
In her yard with garden peonies! Photo by Samantha James Photography.
I first learned of you through my friend Nicole of Compose Events, who had participated in one of your one-on-one mentorships. How does making space for mentoring fit into your overall vision for yourself and for your business, and who was one of YOUR early mentors? I had such a pleasant experience with Nicole! And the world is never as big as we think! Mentoring, or rather, educating others on the experiences I've had and the lessons I've learned in business, centers so closely on the core of my business - serving others and serving others heartfully and intentionally. When I think about mentoring other women I always imagine the ripple effect that sharing can cause and how this is beneficial for not only me (a revenue to my business / personal fulfillment), or the client like Nicole (not only for her to gain more practical business knowledge but for her confidence and a sense of camaraderie too) but how the wedding industry as a whole benefits too. Our industry becomes stronger and more well-versed allowing clients to experience better service and receive stronger product. What a cool domino effect this can have, right? In the early days of my business I was very inspired by people like Joy Thigpen and other design-centric artists who were creating things that were pretty uncommon. A lot of my current approach with wedding design is inspired by these artists. As for some of my favorite professionals that have inspired and loved me well through business in recent years: Erin from Floret, Amber Housley, my life coach Diana Kerr, and while we don't know one another on a personal level, Lynn of Easton Events, who to me, is the epitome of wedding production perfection and always so inspiring.
Your weddings and couples have taken you all over the world and you truly have a globally inspired style. Does West Michigan provide you with an equal sense of inspiration, or has travel been a way to get out of your comfort zone, try new things, and truly cultivate your creative style?
Thank you for the kind words! I tend to view my approach to wedding design as one that's highly influenced by my own personal style. And this makes me laugh just a little because I'm in a season of rocking oversized Target clothes that best compliment my two-babies-in-three-years body and the rainbow-colored-toys-everywhere battle is one I try to fight (and lose) daily in our normally tidy home. But on a serious note, my professional style and version of what looks loveliest is so parallel to the style of my work. Meaning, if you were to say, hold up the portfolio page on my website, to the aesthetic of our living room, or me dressed up to enjoy an evening out, there's a specific type of consistency that feels (at least I hope) very natural and so effortless. I also have a style that is on the feminine, romantic, and soft side so those are themes noticeable in my work as far back to when I started. Obviously when it comes to weddings I have client desires and styles to honor and infuse into the details but part of my mission so far in business, has been to attract people that ultimately have the same style as I do; which as a result has made the design process especially, much more fluid for me.
Soft, organic, and feminine style details, photographed by Samantha James Photography.
You are a champion of balance in the wedding industry it seems. A small dedicated client list, a strong and dedicated taste, and a work from home office. Has balance been a saving grace, or are there daily/weekly moments where you feel like you miss out on something because you chose to make balance a business priority?
Again, you're so kind! I promise you what looks like balance is simply me being really great at saying 'no' a lot. And being realistic about the big picture. Like the home office situation. It's not as frequent of a thought these days because two kids has firmly planted me at home but up until Ev was born I would remark to Andrew at least twice a week that it was time to find an outside-the-home studio. I would whine to my husband and tell him a move would make me much more credible and professional, allow for more of the opportunities I want like hosting bigger workshops and pop up shops, and I could sell my soaps there too! And on and on and on I went. But, while we're on the topic of seasons, I'm in a season right now where simplicity trumps opportunity and an outside studio means more of the things I can't spare right now (time, transit back and forth, pressure to make more for expenses, and so on). I love my home studio but like anything sometimes the seemingly greener grass on the other side can be really enticing right?