Trouvaille Workshop Photo Recap 3

Well, here it is!  The final round of photo recaps from Rhi's beatific Trouvaille Workshop!  All credit goes to the warm-hearted duo of Sam and Brad of Bradley James Photography.  

Alicia Rico of Bows and Arrows Flowers getting very serious about some serious and solemn flower basics.  :)

I'm pretty serious about protea, stock, and ferns.  

And I am tremendously appreciative of the pretty head shots that were taken of us.  I've never really had such photos taken of me, unless you count senior pictures from high school.  But these are much better, in my opinion.  

They might be better because they include flowers.

The above photo might be my favorite head shot.  What do you all think?

And for good measure, a silly picture of attendees and several other pros!

Love and light,


P.S. Photo recaps can be found here: 1 and 2

Floral Immersion: Basic I and II, Part 2

I mentioned in my first post about my class at Longwood Gardens, that my first instructor was Jane Godshalk.  My second instructor was Nancy Gingrich Shenk, who is also an amazingly driven world-class florist, with a seriously amazing history of floral design for high-end, high profile events.

Here they are!  Please excuse the iPhone quality images.  (iPhone 4, I might add.)

Jane Godshalk and me, with my market bouquet arrangement.
She gave me a great contact for a wholesaler in the area.

Nancy Gingrich Shenk - she pulls no punches in her teaching and advice.
She had an impressive legacy in the wedding industry.

In the class, we focused heavily on learning about the elements and principals of floral design, within the model of education that Longwood has created.  

The elements of design are physical characteristics in a design.  They can be observed with the eye.  Elements of design include texture, line, pattern, and color, among many more.  

On the other side, we studied the principals of design.  This is how the elements work together in the organization of the design itself.  Harmony, unity, scale, proportion, and contrast are examples of principals.  Want to learn more?  Enroll in a class!  The instruction is world-class and the information is invaluable.  They treat their students well.  You will want for nothing while spending time at Longwood in their courses.

Since I don't want to spill all of the secrets of the class, I'll just share some photos of my work from the class instead.  

Large arrangement in a silver bowl.  Perfect for a dining room table!

Possibly my favorite design of the four days.  
The wreath had tons of greens, asters, and variegated red roses.

Delphinium, freesia, scabiosa, geranium leaves, lilies, parthenium, and much more.

Sand based arrangement on a silver tray.  
Pompom mums, spider mums, thistle, roses, statice, and green apples!

Wire based corsage.  This was also really fun to work on. 
 I wore mine to lunch that day and strolled around the greenhouse, too.

Drop bouquet with willow branches, hydrangea, carnations, and roses.
Making this was a challenge, but I love how it turned out.

Hand tied rose bouquet with fern and lemon leaf.  
I wish I had known a bride to give it to that weekend.

I am eagerly awaiting the time that I can take another class at Longwood and continue my progress in their floral design certificate program.  I hope that this is an opportunity that happens sooner rather than later!

Love and light,


Trouvaille Workshop Photo Recap 2

I think I can just let most of these images by Bradley James Photography speak for themselves.  Again, major props to Rhi of Hey Gorgeous Events for such a spectacular experience.

Eating a delicious breakfast with one of my roomies, Xiomara of A Styled Fête...

...and the lovely Alicia Rico of Bows and Arrows!  
Her floral expertise was invaluable to hear about.

Michelle Loretta of Sage Wedding Pros was also a fantastic speaker.  She spent a lot of time with the attendees at dinners and during downtime, and I really respect her approachable and down-to-earth personality.

And how cute are Brad and Sam?!  They were seriously the kindest and loveliest couple to talk to - about the wedding industry, about photography, and other things, too.  I felt so at ease talking to them, and the way that they interact with others just shows how big their hearts truly are.

And the last recap will be coming up soon!  Check back here for the first photo recap of the Trouvaille experience!

Love and light,


Trouvaille Workshop Photo Recap 1

In my first recap of the Trouvaille Workshop, I shared a little bit about the loveliness that sweet Rhi of Hey Gorgeous Events prepared for the attendees.  There's really no true way to share how warm, thought-provoking, and just plain fun those days were - you have to actually attend to experience the greatness!  I tried my best to share a little bit, and also told you about some homework that Rhi gave all of us to think on.  I'm still thinking on it.

The Trouvaille Workshop guest speakers were not only wonderful, but also incredibly photogenic!  The hard work on that end was done by the kind and congenial Sam and Brad of Bradley James Photography.  During Trouvaille, Sam and Brad had an informative session regarding the collaborative relationships you can work to build with other vendors, especially photographers, to make events and weddings run as smoothly as possible.  They truly work as a team together, and are passionate about productive teamwork with others.

Take a look through their lens into some of the prettiness from Trouvaille!  ALL photo credit goes to Brad and Sam.  Wonderful job, you guys!

I am very serious about taking notes in the welcome session.

Pretty white chiavari chairs at the Amway Grand.

Swag for attendees at our place settings.  

And yes please to some sweets!  I had three of these and they were delicious.

Our beautifully styled welcome dinner at San Chez.

Ranunculus, stock, thistle and rose.

The signature sangria of San Chez.  Dangerously good!

I look pretty fancy here, but we all looked lovely in our black and white, 
with our pretty flower corsages made by Pixel and Hank.

And this is just the opening few hours!  Check back again for some more loveliness from Bradley James Photography very soon!

Love and light,


Floral Immersion: Basic I and II, Part 1

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania is a world-renowned horticultural oasis.  After being gifted a membership to the gardens by my sweet fiancé for my birthday, we’ve spent lots of time getting to know the gardens. 

One perk of membership is that there are often members-only events at the gardens, and extensions during certain hours for visiting.  Another wonderful perk is a discount on classes at their continuing education center.  I had known about a floral design line of coursework for some time before becoming a member, but was unfortunately unable to enroll.  Classes are kept small, and they fill up quickly due to the presence world-class instructors. 

As soon as registration opened up for the Spring 2014 season, I immediately logged in to their student portal and enrolled in their floral intensive beginner’s course.  The class was a great choice for two initial reasons: the Beginning Floral Design I and II were packaged together, so it was a four day long intensive, and I could apply the credit for the course towards a certification program.  I am a firm believer in education for adults just as much as for children.

When I arrived at the building in which the class was taking place, I was immediately greeted by volunteers, fellow attendees, and my first instructor: Jane Godshalk.  Each place at the table was set with a large bag with the Longwood Gardens logo on it, and floral tools were laid near buckets of greens for each student. 

Throughout the duration of the course, I made 17 different floral designs.  Get ready to see some pretty soon!

Here's one corsage I made on the last day of the class.  
Definitely one of my favorite creations!  

Love and light,


Love 'N Fresh Flowers Flower Child Workshop Recap

Right outside of Philadelphia, there is a sweet little flower farm off of a dirt road.  I don't live too far from this place, but I only just visited it on Saturday for a flower crown workshop.  The place?  The flower farm where Jennie Love of Love 'N Fresh Flowers makes beautiful creations.

What do you do at a flower crown workshop?  You make flower crowns!  You also get to wander the property, look at some pretty flowers that are still in the early stages of growing, and check in with some cute ducks.

Jennie has the sweetest little workshop at the flower farm!  I am totally jealous of the work space, and also that it is in such a nice, undisturbed area of northeast Philly.

My flower crown was mostly white ranunculus and grape hyacinth, but we had so many different options!  There were hellebores, tulips, anemones, lamb's ear, daffodils, and many more things to cut right out of the ground.

The cool thing was that everyone made such different creations, despite being given access to the same materials!   This is where designing can be so fun and diverse.  Nobody's crown looked just the same as anyone else's, but everyone's crown was beautiful!

Did I mention yet that there were delicious snacks to munch on throughout the workshop?  Brie and crackers and sparkling water and white wine?  Yes please!

All of the attendees were so sweet and joyful to be around for the afternoon.  We all had a great time and enjoyed learning together.  See what I mean by all of the crowns being completely different?  So awesome!

Like I said, mostly white ranunculus and grape hyacinth were in my crown.  I couldn't decide between the natural linen ribbon or the blue silk ribbon, so I used both!  I love how they look together.  I also used two large pink ranunculus as a focal point on one side of my crown, and I love how they turned out.

The master herself, Jennie!  She was so sweet, encouraging, and hospitable the entire time we were there, and I think that shows a lot about how much she seems to love teaching others.  I think it's a big deal to make students feel supported and validated while they're learning, and even though there are bigger risks than flower crown making (or are there?), we were all laughing and complimenting each other the entire time.  Great learning environment for sure!  I came away with a pretty crown and lots of valuable hands on experience.  I also have several notes that will be beneficial to my work in the future.

Interested in taking a workshop with Jennie?  Check out her schedule on her website!

What flowers would you want to wear in your crown?

Love and light,


Trouvaille: Education, Glamour, and Surprises Along the Way

On our first day at the Trouvaille Workshop, we found our seats in an elegantly designed room at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan after we were hugged by Rhi of Hey Gorgeous Events, welcomed, and told to take a sparkling strawberry drink on our way.  We found beautifully styled gifts at our place settings, and we oficially began the two-and-a-half day educational storm of a workshop.

I stole this Juliet from a centerpiece from our welcome dinner.  I couldn't resist!

I am proudly a person who loves to learn.  I love to hear why people think the things that they think, especially if those things are innovative and applicable to my own life.  I was definitely in the right place to hear lots of things that I needed to hear.  Knowledgeable speakers were booked for all three days, educating us about legal issues for creatives, cohesive branding, wholesale floral purchasing, how to form strong relationships with other vendors, and so much more.

Throughout the entire workshop, Rhi was extremely attentive to the needs of the attendees.  She had lots of little surprises along the way for us, and made sure we were well fed and comfortable all the time.  I mean, we had a coffee station available at all times - I definitely appreciated that!  (I also had a major caffeine withdrawal after the workshop, but that's the risk that I took and it was totally worth it.)

King protea, astilbe, veronica, and jasmine vine together in harmony.

I don't want to ruin any of the details for people who are thinking of attending, and I also want to be respectful of the boundaries that lie within workshops and conferences.  Meaning, it wouldn't be fair for me to blab about everything we learned.  That was one of the best things about Trouvaille - since many attendees and speakers were not from the same region, it's a little bit safer to share insider information, because I'm not really competition to someone from San Francisco or Ann Arbor.  I felt privileged and so lucky to learn from some really successful and passionate people throughout the workshop, attendees and speakers alike.

Something new for me was tablescape design and the consideration of 
rental items, such as linens, flatware, glass, and china. 
This was a beneficial part of the workshop - I hadn't had the chance to do this before!

As an attendee, I feel that I was encouraged and forced (in a loving and supportive way) to seriously consider the direction and purpose of Demure Birch Design.  I was given helpful insight and answers when I was confused or curious, and I felt encouraged the entire time.  Like any other workshop, you'll get out of it what you put into it.  I feel like I had so much wonderful, uninterrupted time to seriously consider each topic that was presented to me, which is invaluable to someone who is finding a challenge in "free" time to work on my business, while having a full time job.

The orphan flowers made a beautiful bouquet all together!

I am truly grateful for being able to attend, and I'm so excited for the next one to happen!  Perhaps I'll be visiting Michigan again sooner than I had ever thought.  Will you be attending the next Trouvaille?

Love and light,


MTH Recap Part 3: I am here to ____________.

Core.  Core values.  Core of an apple?  The middle.  Definition below.

core /kôr/ 
     noun: core; plural noun: cores
     1. the tough central part of various fruits, containing the seeds.
     2. the central or most important part of something, in particular.
         the part of something that is central to its existence or character

See?  It fits.  Your core is intrinsic to you, and while it may change depending on the stage of life you are in, it is solidly in place as a foundation in your life.  At Making Things Happen, we were encouraged to define this for ourselves and to solidify the meaning.

So, Alyssa.  What exactly is your core?

I believe that awareness, education, and preparation can defeat disorder.

I believe that devotion and dedication are fundamental to a fruitful marriage.

I am here to clarify any process that you find to be an obstacle.

I am someone who strives to focus on meaningful essentials.

...and I am revising this as needed.  But I am happy with the current statements, and satisfied by the many revisions it took me to get to this point.

What is your core?

(Sneak peek from the Trouvaille Workshop that I just returned from!)

MTH Recap Part 2: Authenticity Is Key

In creating a business, in creating a brand, making something tangible and easy to explain, it is so hard to not look to others and straight up copy them.  Seeing success, or at least what looks like success, and wanting it so badly stifles the creativity that I had when I began dreaming up Demure Birch Design.  Not only would it be poor form to copy anyone's anything, but it would be a lie to myself and to prospective clients.  It would be a disservice to those who are pushing me and cheering me on to be anything but myself.

Authenticity is key - one of the many things that was discussed at Making Things Happen.  Once again, Lara Casey said it succinctly and well:

"Consider the opportunities that you are losing by not being authentic to the world."

This one hit me in the gut.  Showing my true self, being authentic and sharing what matters most to me with my clients and with my loved ones is a scary and dangerous move.  The thoughts immediately play out in my head.  What if they don't like me?  What if they change their minds?  What if they disagree with my thoughts?  What if they are not accepting?

And that is where the real human connection is made - in the vulnerability of authentic interaction.  Getting a true glimpse of who a person is, sharing what drives you, communicating your core to others.  This is the heart of true interaction that is authentic.  But it takes a leap of faith and some real courage.

As a person who truly detests small talk, the point of being authentic really rang true to my core.  As an introverted person, I thrive on deep conversations about ideas and things that people think about.  Small talk bores me.  It gives me nothing to latch on to, and it does nothing to spark my thoughts about how I relate to others in this wide world.  But deep conversations, about life and love and the things that you hate and adore, and what changes you think should be made to the world?  Those are just the best.  Those talks tell me who you are.  Those talks develop me as a person.

This is what being authentic is all about.  Sure, small talk is never going to disappear.  But I can't help but think that sometimes the small talk is really just nervousness about judgement from others coming out in word form.  If we stick to the insignificant, we don't necessarily open ourselves up to the criticism or scrutiny of others.  We stay safe.  And the vulnerability of authenticity is so scary!  Why would we venture there?

I need to venture there, and stay there because it feeds my heart and soul and lights my mind on fire.  Authenticity and the deepness of people is amazing territory and I want to explore it all.  

For my business, my authenticity is crucial to offering clients a person who cares deeply about their experience, and not just a person making a buck.  Authenticity is where the love story comes out, the details spill forth, and the day is reflected back to you as, well, you.  Not the perfect painting, but the imperfectly perfect reflection of love.

Love and Light,


MTH Recap Part 1: Filter the Noise

After attending the Making Things Happen Workshop in lovely Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I took several days to process what I had learned and what I heard others say.  Making Things Happen was an emotionally intense goal setting seminar, and attendees were encouraged to stay in focused head space throughout the daily talks from various creatives and also throughout meal times.  The primary focus of this workshop was really diving in and getting to the core of what matters, and harnessing your core to put changes and plans into action.

The quote from the gracious and open founder of the workshop, Lara Casey, particularly resonated with me.  The quote states;

"Don't fall into the trap of seeking approval.  
Do the thing things that you want to do, and then tell people."

This quote hit me because I feel like it relates strongly to my personal life.  I proposed to Chris because I wanted to, and we celebrated with family via webcam on Thanksgiving way back in 2010.  We continued our engagement despite the hard and downright cruel things that came our way and we came through happy and together on the other side, despite the hurtful advice that people gave.  Me, learning to say "I'm not happy about _______" to others, and subsequently trying to change my circumstances, even though it may be considered a foolish decision to those with their eye on the compensation rather than the quality of life.

Living life unapologetically is something I will be doing more of.  I will resist the impulse to apologize for decisions that I make for my benefit and the benefit of those I love.  It is simply nobody's concern whether I make the "right" choices.  Who is anyone else to know what is right for another person?  

We were charged by Lara with the task of filtering the "noise" of distractions and negative influences in our lives.  Many people started by committing to clearing out their social media feeds of those who spread negativity.  Personally, I was amongst this group regarding Facebook and Instagram.  I also proceeded to unsubscribe from an embarrassing amount of listservs and store newsletters.  

In terms of business, acknowledging that seeking approval of others often comes from comparison.  Comparison can kill your heart, and make you squander your creative talents on the already-done.  If I spend hours on social media and I see that the internet has collectively deemed something as interesting and successful in that moment, it's harder to be willing to take the leap into crazy-awesome creative.  Being innovative is harder when little voices in your mind say to just give it up, that's not what the people want.  But we should give the previously un-done a try.  

This is what brings light to the world.

Want to hear more?  Just wait for Part 2: Authenticity to come later this week.

Love and Light,


P.S. Already feel inspired to attend?  Check our the fall registration for this intensive and get the earlybird pricing!  It is worth it, I promise you.

Making Things Happen - Prelude

As I write this post, I am on my layover in the airport in Atlanta, Georgia, waiting for my connecting flight to Raleigh-Durham.  If you had told me a year ago that I would be sitting here, waiting to arrive in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for the Making Things Happen Intensive, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.  I say “probably” because it’s really hard to think back to where I was a year ago, and what I was doing, how I was feeling, and what I wanted to do.

I bought my ticket for Making Things Happen on December 12, 2013, which wasn’t really all that long ago.  I’ve known and been prepared to attend for about 3.5 months, but I still don’t actually know what to expect.  I’ve read some wonderful recap blog posts from various attendees from last year and years before, but nobody has the exact same experience in anything in life, so it’s pointless to compare.  The only constant that has appeared across the anecdotes and reflections that I’ve read, is that transformational change occurs in some way.

In terms of goals and outcomes from MTH, I have no idea what I am wanting.  I also don’t know about making friends at thing conference – large groups of adults are generally discomforting to me, for whatever reason.

Things that I do know: our hotel, The Carolina Inn, is going to be absolutely homey and comfortable, my roommate is sweet and kind already, and that this will be an event like I’ve never experienced before. 

I’m looking ahead and looking to grow, and I’m looking forward to telling you all how the conference went.  Stay tuned later this week for a recap about the entire MTH experience!  Wish me luck.

Love and Light,


Making Things Happen in 2014

Ever since signing up for the Trouvaille Workshop and speaking with the kind and personable Rhiannon Banda of Hey Gorgeous Events, a seed was planted in my heart.  I had emailed Rhiannon with questions regarding Trouvaille, and while answering those questions, she pointed me toward the Making Things Happen intensive in March.  I had heard about MTH before, but had not seriously looked into it, because I was still unsure about how and in what way to find the focus for my goals.

Making Things Happen is all about finding the core of what makes you move.  By combining some serious goal setting and soul searching with branding and business essentials, MTH seems to be a huge turning point for the attendants.  I am ready to be one of those people!

I bought the ticket after learning via Lara Casey's Instagram feed that there were only 19 tickets left for the intensive.  Despite the huge popularity of the intensive, the event is capped at 70 tickets to ensure that the gathering is still intimate enough for major interaction and change among attendees.  I realized that if I did not make that leap to attend this conference, I would be left wondering.  I would wonder what pushed the other attendees to purchase their tickets.  What changes are they hoping to make?  I would have wondered what topics and planning would have been covered during the conference.  And I would have been wondering how the lives of the attendees would be changed after the conference.

Things became really clear after that.  I had to attend.  Pure and simple.

I bought my ticket, and I booked my hotel.  I am rooming with another sweet attendee at the event, and I am so happy to have already spoken with her and several other people involved.  We are all so excited!

Chapel Hill, I am coming for you!  I am ready to learn and be challenged, and I am ready to make positive changes in my life.

Love and Light,


Workshopping in the Spring

In the quest to become more ready to break into the wedding industry, I have been researching on the internet and scouring across all corners of the web to find more educational resources.  I am a longtime follower (and scarce commenter!) to many blogs of passionate professional women in the industry, and I am so excited that an opportunity of education has sprouted up.

The lovely Rhiannon Banda of Hey Gorgeous Events has carefully planned a wonderful upcoming event in April.  From April 13 to 15, I will be an attendee to Trouvaille.  What is Trouvaille?  I think it is best quoted from the event website:

Trouvaille is for creative, entrepreneurial and driven women who operate or want to own multi-faceted wedding planning businesses.  The more services your creative business encompasses, the better!  The more you want to learn, grow and extend your design and back-end business knowledge, the better.  Trouvaille is a truly hands on and comprehensive experience designed to inspire and encourage growth across all realms of any planning and design business.

Sounds great, right?  There are SO MANY perks to attending this event, that I seriously do not know where to begin.  In Grand Rapids, Michigan, I will be attending workshops on floral design, tabletop design, branding, marketing, networking, and so many other realms of wedding business owning.  I will be amongst 25 other attendees in a small setting, which I am also so thankful for.  I might not be the most social person, but I am excited for the intimacy that this event has to offer.

At first, I must admit that I was unsure if this could be an event for me.  I have lots of ideas, but no business to really speak of just yet.  I emailed Rhiannon, and she gave me lots of sweet encouragement from the heart.  With support from her, my ever-wonderful fiancé, and my dear friends, I was able to confidently register.  Grand Rapids, here I come!

Love and Light,


Summer Floral Immersion: Basic I and II

Florals are a design element for which I have had a long time love.  I have always thought that fresh flowers are an instant way to brighten a room and make a living space feel more welcoming.  The best grocery store flowers I've ever found have consistently been from Trader Joe's.  They always have a vast selection of seasonal blooms as well as locally grown New Jersey flowers during the summer months.  Their flowers are also extremely affordable - a large beautiful mixed bouquet costs less than $10.  Can't be beat!

The local florist in my area of Philadelphia also has a large array of flowers that customers are allowed to hand select when purchasing from the shop.  I've frequented this shop many times and am always welcomed to choose any bloom I desire.

In order to better hone my existing floral arranging skills and learn more about such methods, I will be attending a floral design class at Longwood Gardens in May of 2014.  I will be enrolling in the Summer Floral Immerson: Basic I and II class.  It is a four day class, with 10 hours of instruction in each day.  According to the course selection guide for Longwood's continuing education programs, many areas of floral design will be covered, including materials and instruments, blooms and usage, and sustainable design strategies.

The four day course will definitely be a thorough and fulfilling learning experience, one that I have long awaited.  I attempted to enroll in floral design classes over the summer this year, but Longwood's courses fill up very quickly, given the clout of their continuing education certifications and the prestige of the Gardens themselves.  Registration begins November 11, and you'd better believe that my alarm will be on to remind me to register for such a great opportunity.

Take a peek at their course selection guide, and see if anything peaks your interest!

Love and Light,