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      Rhapsody in Blooms Owner Robin Smith Talks Wedding Designs that Stimulates the Senses

      A rhapsody in music is a one-movement work with a free-flowing structure and a range of moods, colors, and tones. So it’s fitting that Robin Smith’s event design company, Rhapsody in Blooms, embraces abundant color, ambient decor, and spontaneous inspiration.


      In capturing the overall look and feel of a wedding, Robin takes a collaborative approach with her clients, getting to know their styles, tastes, and family traditions and then applying her keen creative intuition. After her first stint in floral design with her mom and best friend as a teenager, Robin moved to LA and worked in florals at a series of well-known hotels and wedding planning businesses before starting her own company. 


      Based in Atlanta, Rhapsody in Blooms combines Robin’s passion for florals as art and her flair for curating the right elements that make for a beautiful custom wedding “look.” With her best friend as lead designer and her mom as a regular assistant, Robin plans arrangements and gives artistic direction to destination weddings coast to coast. She also teaches DIY brides how through her sister company, Academy Botanica.


      In an interview with Lila Moon, Robin gave her best advice to engaged couples on choosing florals, working with designers, and current trends in the industry.


      How did you get started in the event design business?


      When I was 19, I was in that strange place between high school and college where you’re not sure what you want to do. At the time, my mom decided she wanted to get out of corporate work, and becoming a floral designer for Martha Stewart seemed like a creative way to do it. She did one wedding by herself and decided it was way too much effort to go it alone, so she drafted my friend and I to go to this floral arrangement class at Georgia Perimeter College to help her. It was us and six 70-year-old ladies in that class. 


      After that I started doing arrangements and my mom was like, “you’re really good at this.” She decided it wasn’t what she wanted to do. But when I moved to LA, I found my first job as an event florist there. I worked for the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. Eventually, I wanted to get into event planning and worked for a wedding planning company in New York City. I did destination weddings on the West Coast in Napa and Sonoma areas and the Northeast in the Berkshires and the Hamptons. When I settled in Atlanta, I combined my love of florals and event design by forming my own business.


      How would you describe your typical client at Rhapsody in Blooms?


      A lot of couples think about food or ceremony first,  but our favorite clients tend to be really design-focused. The look of the wedding is really important to them. They’re usually a little bit older than the traditional marriage age (their 30s or 40s), are self-aware and know exactly what they like and don’t like. What we love to do is make the process a collaborative one between us and our clients. They come with ideas they saw on Pinterest or elsewhere –  they might not know what that looks like but they know what feeling they want to create. We tell them what’s feasible and offer additional ideas that match their tastes. That’s our ideal process – my team gets to do cool stuff and they get a wedding that is hopefully better than they could have imagined.


      How much does the dress, jewelry, and other visual aspects of the wedding matter when deciding on flower arrangements and the overall event design?


      We want to make sure the event feels like a cohesive, whole piece. I always want to see a client’s dress, shoes, and jewelry if he or she has them already because it gives me a really good sense of their style. It gives you a lot of insight into who they are and what they value. I also want to see design elements they’ve already pulled together, because then I can get a full picture of what they’re looking for.


      In terms of color palette, a lot of couples come to us with ideas of colors in mind already.

      We play around with that to see how many other shades we can incorporate, to see how far we can push that color palette until there is the exact right amount of color. Some people want to keep it in nice pastels and white and ivories, but other clients want peacock blue linens with apricot and raspberry and dark plum colors. I love color, but I try to see where people are comfortable, because it’s a reflection of them, not a reflection of me.


      How does Rhapsody in Blooms stand out from other florist businesses?


      One of the first things that comes to mind is the amount of time I’ve been in the business. I started really young. At the same time, I try really hard to evolve my style so I don’t get stale - we all get into these rhythms with creativity and need to shake it up sometimes. My best friend still works with me as my lead designer, and my mother still works with me sometimes. It’s very much a family affair, which I really enjoy, and it makes our work a lot better. It’s all the good stuff you want from your childhood fantasies. 


      I use a lot of color and texture and my clients are drawn to that. We do all-white and all-green weddings, which is beautiful, too, but that’s not our primary client. I love color so much that I’m always trying to get people to use more of it. Everything we do is custom to the client. They get what they want within a budget that’s comfortable for them – they give me their must-haves and I get to that as close as possible while still honoring their budget. I don’t want anybody to go into massive debt for their wedding if they don’t want to. I want everyone to feel like they can have something beautiful.


      We also focus on sustainability. While it’s not feasible to use all organic flowers at this point – we don’t have a market that supports that – we use them as much as we can. We source our flowers from local growers, sustainable California growers, and anything from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms that don’t participate in deforesting or pesticide use and pay a living wage.


      Are there are any current trends or unique looks in florals that you particularly like?


      I currently am really into Australian-style florals. There are some Australian florists, like Oh Flora Studios, that are creating what looks like literal magic to me. These are incredibly cool installations with a lot of tropical blooms mixed with more traditional flowers – like orchids combined with roses and peonies. Usually in the States we use one or the other. In Australia and all along the Pacific Rim area they are really playing with texture in a way that is just mind-blowing to me. The combination of textures is like nothing I’ve ever seen - they just blow me away.


      What are some of your favorite stories from working with your clients?


      There are two clients that really stick out to me – not that I haven’t loved every wedding that I’ve ever done. We did one in the Berkshires at the bride’s family summer home – a mansion that’s been in the family for generations. It was a spring wedding. The grandmother was a sculptor and they had all her sculptures on the lawn mixed with local lily of the valley that we went out and harvested. We had small top tables topped with family heirloom linens. Everything about that wedding was very thoughtful and meaningful with a soft, romantic, and homey feel.


      The other was just this past spring in Atlanta at St. Cecilia restaurant in Buckhead.

      We made this big arbor for them that was covered in purple wisteria to embody the that place the groom took the bride when he first brought her to meet his family in Portugal.

      It was very sleek and modern with lots of color.


      The sentimentality behind both of these weddings was similar and really resonates with me. They wanted to incorporate family traditions not just for the sake of tradition but because it’s really meaningful. There’s a history and connection there, and you can tell that story through design.


      What advice do you have for couples who are planning their big day?


      First and foremost, my advice would be to come up with an overall budget that you feel comfortable with – even if you don’t know the budget specifically for florals. Whether it’s $10,000 or $100,000, you can have a beautiful wedding either way, but you have to manage your expectations. Think about what your must-have items are and then figure out how to fit that in. If you must have fresh flowers and only have $1,000 to spend, you’re not going to get a Pinterest-worthy huppa or 8-foot farm tables full of flowers top to bottom. That doesn’t mean you can’t get something pretty, but it does mean that you have to be OK with the idea of moving things around a bit. Honestly, the same thing applies if you have $100,000. Unless you have unlimited money, you have to draw the line somewhere. It’s a higher limit but it’s still a limit.


      Pinterest is the best and worst thing that has happened to the wedding industry. There are amazing ideas on there but expectations have skyrocketed and expectation versus reality is very different in the wedding industry. There are a lot of expectations not just of the couple but also the family and friends and guests. How do you manage that and not lose your sanity or go into debt? The answer to that is usually to hire professionals who can guide you through the process.

      Contact

      email: info@rhapsodyinblooms.com

      Tel: (404) 654-0598

      The Ultimate Wedding Registry Checklist (It Literally Has Everything)

      Wedding registries are one of those tasks that start out fun but can quickly become overwhelming. Your lists start to overlap when you’re looking at an endless products at dozens of places. To make sure you don’t end up with five blenders and enough coffee pots to open a café, use our ultimate wedding registry checklist as you’re building your registry. If you’re primarily using Amazon, we’ve even included links to some of the highest-rated products in each category to make it super easy to add to your list. Happy shopping!


      Kitchen & Dining

      If you’re more of a Worst Cook in America than a Top Chef contestant, skip some of the items meant for people who love to cook and instead opt for adding more to other registry categories. Masterchefs will know what they need to upgrade and add to this list.



      Bar

      Don’t forget to add the tools you need to make your favorite cocktails and specific types of glasses for your favorite beverages!




      Bedroom

      Swap the stuff you’ve been using since college for upgraded (and matching!) linens. We’ll let you be the judge of the color, size, style, and quality you need.


      • Flat and Fitted Sheet Sets
      • Pillowcases
      • Comforter or Duvet
      • Mattress Pad
      • Pillows

      Living Room

      Choose the practical and pretty items you need for your new life together!


      • Vacuum Cleaner
      • Vases
      • Picture Frames
      • Lamps
      • Throw Blankets
      • Candles
      • Wall Art
      • TV

      Bathroom

      Another great opportunity for upgrades! Bring the spa home with luxuriously soft towels and matching decor for your bathroom. You be the judge of what you love!



      Outdoors

      Everyone will want to hang out at your house after you receive these gifts! They’re great for post-wedding outdoor entertaining.


      Want to Relive Your Wedding Moments Time and Time Again? Hire a Videographer to Capture It All on Film

      Every wedding has its special moments, and each comes down to the little details, from the jokes told during a toast to the songs on the DJ’s playlist. While a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s impossible to capture all of these moments completely in photographs. 


      That’s where a videographer can make all the difference. By capturing your wedding on film in its entirety, a videographer helps keep the memories alive. Videography packages can include the raw footage as well as custom-edited highlights reels to share with family and friends. 


      We spoke with videographer Matt Shamloo of Mateo Val’e Productions in New York about some of the highlights of his career in filming weddings and how video can make the special moments of that day last a lifetime. He has filmed weddings of all kinds in locations as a far away as Oregon and Mexico as well as close to home. Matt’s style embraces building relationships with his clients and their loved ones and capturing the stories behind the bride and groom and their wedding guests. 


      How did you get started in your career filming weddings?


      I started filming weddings in late 2016. Before that I went to school for journalism and media at St. Joseph’s College. I took my first video production class there. After that first class, my professor said to me, “I would really love if you took the next level class next semester.” From there, I fell in love with video production. After I graduated, I did an internship with a wedding company. I got to go to parties, eat great food, and interact with people. I didn’t know you could have fun while earning money. I’m now the sole owner of my own company. 


      What is your approach to filming a wedding?


      From the second that the couple meets with me, I learn about them – how they met, their friends and family, all of that. I make them feel comfortable because at the wedding, I want to capture them being themselves. I don’t want them to feel awkward on camera.


      I have examples to give them an idea of what the filming will be like, though each wedding video is unique. I do my research ahead of time to see what the weather is like, what the venue is like, and to prepare as much as I possibly can. If you don’t prepare well, it will suck. The fact that I know what could possibly happen the day of the wedding gives a sense of comfort to the client. They can trust you and be vulnerable with you. By the time the wedding is over, we’re good friends. We keep in touch. I’m not just a vendor to them. 


      What is the benefit of having a videographer film your wedding?


      People should value video because it captures a lost memory. One of my friends has a photo of her dancing at her wedding. It’s a beautiful shot. The only thing is, she doesn’t remember the song she was dancing to or what kind of dance she was doing. With video you can relive that whole experience. 


      A lot of best men and maids of honor put a lot of effort into their toast. It’s nice to know you have that moment captured and how they delivered it as opposed to a photo. You can hear what’s said, their tone, and the reactions. A picture is worth a thousand words, but with a video you don’t need 1,000 words. It’s all there. 


      What are some of the most memorable weddings you’ve filmed?


      In December 2017 I shot a wedding at Lake Placid in the Adirondacks. It was one of my favorite places I’ve traveled for a wedding because of the atmosphere, but also because of the people that were there. It was a big family and there were more than 200 people there. I initially shot one brother’s wedding. I ended up filming the weddings of seven different couples I met there. It was the first of many referrals and it was a real growth spurt for my business – my work got better and my name got out there to more people. 


      How do you approach capturing the bride’s jewelry on film?


      One of the things I like to get as far as jewelry is the necklace. It’s one of those accessories that make a big difference. It gives a little bit more “oomph” to the look – it’s like going from standard to bold font. I like filming the necklaces best because it gives a tease of what the bride looks like. Bracelets are another one of those things. A beautiful bracelet can enhance everything else.


      Do you have a preferred camera or any other favorite equipment you like to use?


      As far as equipment, I’m not a huge proponent of expensive cameras. I’ve seen people with low-level cameras that have produced great work, and I’ve seen people with high-level cameras produce poor work. It’s not what you have, but how you use it. Lighting is more important that anything as it sets the mood and tone. That little crack of light might make someone look fantastic.


      Audio is one of the things I cherish most about a wedding shoot, so I’m very big on audio equipment. Good audio equipment allows you to capture the words that are spoken during toasts and other important moments clearly. 


      What drives and inspires you during a shoot? What motivates your creative process?


      I like to capture raw and unfiltered moments. I love when couples and their friends and family show their personalities. I have a lot of films where the craziest dancers happen to be my client’s boss. Everyone is going to be on their best behavior at a wedding but people will also be themselves – let loose and tell jokes – not in a cheesy way but in a way that’s genuine. I want someone to look back and say “this is who we were as people.”


      What advice do you have for couples at their wedding?


      I would always tell my couples, “Give yourself time for each other.” On a wedding day, from the second you wake up, there’s makeup to put on, a dress you have to get into, the limousine arriving, so many vendors and things you have to worry about – the details, table placements, the table cloth. Sometimes couples forget the reason this is all happening.


      At the end of the day, one person asked to marry this person and that person said yes

      The one person that matters the most is their significant other. No matter how stressful things might be or how late the DJ is, you always have to remember, at the end of the day, “This isn’t the best day of my life because of the DJ, it’s because the person I’ve been seeing asked me to spend the rest of my life with them.”


      Contact Matt:

      Matt Shamloo

      Wedding Film Maker

      Mateo Val’e Productions

      (646) 391-3303

      mateovalepro@gmail.com

      Coming Home for the First Time: A Newlywed’s Guide to House, Condo, and Apartment Hunting

      Getting married is one thing – sharing a life together is another. One of the biggest steps that a couple will make is choosing a first home where they will make memories and grow as partners. Some newlyweds will be moving in together for the first time, while others may have been cohabitating for a while but want a new place that accommodates their married life.


      When choosing a first home as newlyweds – whether it’s a house, a condo, or an apartment – you need to consider everything from the practicals, like finances and square footage to the particulars, like the brand of kitchen appliances and space for a ping pong table. It may not be the place you live forever, but when couples settle into married life, they tend to start thinking about making a home that speaks to them not only as individuals but as a couple. 


      However, one major pitfall is that newlywed couples expect to get their dream home right away, even if they’re not financially ready for it, says Jordan Abada, a real estate agent with NYC-based Compass. Jordan has been helping people find their first (and second, and third) home in the greater NYC area since 2018. His job, he says, is to help keep expectations realistic while getting couples the best place for their budget.


      We spoke with Jordan about the pros and cons of buying or renting, the challenges newlyweds face when looking for a home, and important practical and aesthetic matters every couple should consider.


      Q: How did you get into real estate and what experience do you have? 

      My entire family is in real estate, so it was somewhat of a natural transition. My grandfather, Joshua Muss, was the former principal of Muss Development, a NYC-based developer responsible for developing tens of millions of square feet of commercial and residential property. To some degree, everyone in my family has a toe in the industry. 


      My decision to transition into the world of residential brokerage was my passion for customer service and the incredible mentorship infrastructure at my disposal that facilitated my success. I’ve been working as a residential broker for about a year. My principal goal is to find my clients the right property with the least amount of stress, while also saving them as much money as possible. I come from a fine dining and luxury hotel background, so customer service is the nucleus in everything that I do.


      Q: What is your process when you’re working with a couple to find them a house or apartment, whether to rent or buy?

      My first objective is to understand their needs. I schedule a first phone call with them and unpack their criteria, working to get to the root of their desire and try to tease out what their ideal property looks like. The couple, being my clients, is the star of the show. I am simply here to help streamline the process which includes syndicating listings and available homes, coordinating showings, assisting with the applications and providing market knowledge, negotiating lease/sale/contract terms, and ultimately walking my clients to the finish line. My only loyalty is to my clients. It’s important to understand that I am in the relationship business, not the transaction business.


      Q: What are the biggest challenges for newlywed couples when looking for their first place together?

      Expectations, by far. This is also the hardest part about my job, managing expectations. I deal with a lot of clients – some who think that you can get a $6,000/mo apartment for $3,000/mo or a $1.5mm apartment for $700,000 – that have unreasonable expectations. My job is not necessarily to shove everything that you asked for in front of your face. I’m here to trim the fat and show you what is actually realistic for your budget and desired neighborhood.


      Q: What’s the ideal apartment for newlyweds? The ideal house?

      That’s up to the client to decide. Put it out on paper, write about it, talk about it. Get yourself thinking – but keep in mind, the only way to actually know what you’re looking for is putting it to the test. Once you start physically taking a look at properties, I assure you your preferences will begin to change during the discovery process.


      Q: What things should a couple consider when either buying or renting?


      The only thing that matters is what makes sense - not for the brokers, for the seller, for the landlord, attorneys, etc. - but for you, your partner, and your particular situation. My advice for newlyweds/couples is to focus on the tangibles, such as functionality of the apartment itself, square footage distribution, appliances, and finishings. Views are nice – but spending the entire budget for a 400-square-foot box with sweeping views of Central Park and Billionaires Row might not be the best lifestyle for people living together for the first time. Real estate is a constant give and take - it’s up to you to decide what your top three priorities are for your new home. An apartment might be in the exact location you were looking for at your preferred price point, but it might be missing the appliances you were hoping for.


      Q: What mistakes do you see newlyweds making when they are looking for a place together?


      The biggest roadblock I face with newlyweds making a decision is that they did not come to a consensus beforehand – or if they do, going out into the field and actually looking for an apartment starts to elucidate different priorities. They realize that one of their listed priorities isn’t actually as important as they thought it would be.


      Another mistake is couples not being honest with their finances. I often get very different pictures on preferred price points from different stakeholders in the decision - everyone must be on the same page.


      Q: What are the benefits of working with a real estate broker when looking for a rental?


      There are a lot of reasons: better access to the marketplace, access to off-market listings, ability to negotiate more effectively, evaluate options, assistance with the application and securing an apartment, walking you to the finish line, and providing recommendations for different services (painters, contractors, etc). Being able to filter out the crap the other side throws our way and present the information to you in a rational and calm way is super important. Perhaps the most important aspect is to be here as your advisor every step of the way, by sharing my wealth of market knowledge to help you reach a decision. Almost 98% of the time, if you think you’re getting a better deal by going on your own, you’re wrong. The commission is baked into the sale price, usually split in half between buyers broker and sellers broker, or the full commission straight to the sellers broker. You’re paying for the service regardless, might as well take advantage of it.


      Q: What advice do you have for a couple who is moving in together for the first time?


      Have an honest conversation with each other and decide on what’s most important. Do you host a lot? Do you want privacy? Is your home your sanctuary or a place to rest your head? It’s your first time living together and to be quite honest, it will likely be a huge learning curve for the both of you in terms of adapting to each others lifestyle and personal preferences.


      Q: Which is better for newlyweds – renting or buying?

      This question is impossible to answer without context. It depends on many of the factors I’ve talked about, like finances, goals, and future plans. Home ownership is valuable for many reasons - tax deductions and property appreciation, for starters. But renting has its benefits as well. 


      People think that renting is throwing money out the window. That’s not true. Renting gives you a place to live for a set amount of time, sure. But the real benefit of renting is that it buys you flexibility. It buys you opportunity – the ability to uproot yourself at any given point and move to that new job or relocate due to unforeseen circumstances. It’s a lot harder to do that if you own.


      In my experience, it often makes sense for a couple to rent for the first year or two after they’re married. During the first few years of marriage, some things will become more clear and others will become more complicated. During what is often a major discovery period for both people in the relationship, the value of having prior experience living together will be a tremendously helpful navigation system as the couple explores purchasing.


      Q: What motivates you in your work?


      Buying or renting a home is a major decision. Buying a home is, in many cases, the largest financial decision many people make in their lifetime. Being the advisor to that search and earning my clients’ trust in order to leverage the power of our relationship to find them a home in which they are so incredibly happy is the best feeling in the world. A delighted client by exceeding expectations, providing superior service, and adding value to a remarkably important experience is what pushes me every day.


      Should I Buy or Rent? Jordan’s Top Considerations


    • Financial Situation

    • Can you afford the 20% down payment that is often standard in New York City and closings costs that are around 3% of the purchase price? Some people think the purchase price are the only costs associated with ownership - consider the monthly carrying costs, such as monthly real estate taxes and common charges for a condo, and maintenance fees for a co-op. When you add your mortgage payment on top of that, you can be looking at a monthly payment significantly higher than what you could afford for a rental apartment. It might be helpful to use a Rent vs. Buy calculator for more perspective, which you can view, here.


      1. Timeline

      Do you expect to be living in the home for 3-5 years? If yes, it might make sense to explore buying. Property appreciation, tax benefits, ownership, and the mental satisfaction of owning your own property are all good reasons to buy. But if you’re only going to be living in that location for a year or two, there simply isn’t enough time to get as much value from it as possible. However, if life brings you elsewhere, many condo owners rent out their apartments and have a tenant pay down the mortgage and earn a few extra dollars on the side.


      1. Family Planning

      Do you plan on having children or growing your family in any capacity? Would you want to raise a child in the city or prefer to own an actual house in the suburbs? If you decide you want to raise your child in the city, could you afford to buy an apartment large enough in preparation for that child? If not, renting might be a smart option.


      1. Investment

      Buying Real Estate in New York City is not just a lifestyle decision. It is an investment. Manhattan real estate has appreciated almost 30% over the course of 10 years from 2006 to 2017. Condos give you ultimate flexibility to rent out your property and earn additional income on the side, while having someone else pay down the mortgage. If you ultimately decide to move elsewhere, that extra income can be quite valuable. New York City has been, is, and always will be a sophisticated, metropolitan hub that attracts everyone with a dream. I think it’s misguided to assume NYC will fall off its pedestal.


      1. Gut Feeling

      If you just don’t know, don’t buy. Give yourself a year to get settled, learn more about the area, and evaluate buying an apartment with your broker when the time is right.



      How to Contact Jordan:

      Jordan Abada

      Real Estate Agent

      Compass Real Estate

      929.251.3481

      jordan.abada@compass.com