Talk about a turn of events! Â This week’s featured expert was on his way to a career in journalism, when he decided it wasn’t for him. Â During a short stint as a merchandiser at Pottery Barn, Shawn Rabideau found he had a knack for table decor and room design. Â Soon, his talents were recognized and he jumped at an offer to do just that, full-time, in an event planning role. Â It developed into such a passion that in 2004, Shawn decided to strike out on his own, founding New York-based Shawn Rabideau Events & Design, a full-service event production, floral design and lifestyle company. Â With a long list of celebrity, corporate and charitable clients, Shawn’s had such success that he is considered one of today’s leaders in the event planning industry. Â We couldn’t wait to wrangle a few precious minutes to sit down and chat about his experiences!
How has the industry changed since you started?
The internet, reality television and the economy have changed the industry.Â There is more competition than there was before, brides believe what they see on TV and they are spending less and planning more on their futures than they are on the occasion.Â I think we have to work a bit harder than we did a few years ago.Â But I think it’s also super-rewarding!
After the date is chosen, whereâ€™s your starting point on an event?
Venueâ€¦always find the venue.Â Everything else will fall into place.
When you walk a venue, what are the top three things you look for?
I always look for flow: what is the best way for the room to flow? Â I then consider lighting: how can I light the room to make it even more fabulous or in some cases hide its flaws? Â And then I look how can I utilize the space effectively, yet differently.Â Venue [managers] hate this at the beginning, but always thank me for showing them a new way to use their space.Â It sometimes takes an outsider to show someone a different way of doing things.
Summer’s coming! Name 3 favorite NYC outdoor venues.
Highline, 620 Fifth Avenue, Giraffe Hotel
Whatâ€™s your creative process? / Who inspires you?
I like to toss ideas around out loud.Â I like to think it through. Â My clients inspire me. It’s their event and I want the party and dĂ©cor to be about them! It’s the accents I add that tell you “Shawn planned or designed the party.” Â I check my ego at the door.
What are your â€śmust-havesâ€ť when youâ€™re working an event?
A good team of people that are willing to jump in when you need them.Â And that includes the vendors. Surrounding yourself with people who want the wedding to succeed and be fabulous is my “must have!”
Describe a â€śsuccessfulâ€ť event in five words.
Client refers you to friends!
What event that you either attended or planned has had the greatest influence on your career?
I would say planning Bethenny Frankle’s wedding has changed my life and career.
If you could recommend one DIY project to a customer to stay on budget, what would it be?
Gift bags for [the guests'] hotel rooms.Â Leave the rest to the experts.Â I’m not just saying this, but the experts are just that.Â They know what works, what doesn’t work, and sometimes DYI is far more stressful than not.Â Why try to be everyone and do everything for your own wedding? That’s what we’re here for!
How do you incorporate the latest trends into your event?
I try to be a trendsetter as much as possible, but if a client really wants something that’s “trendy” then I try to make it about them.Â I think the subtle touches go further than in-your-face touches.
What are the top trends in dĂ©cor and floral design for 2012?
Color blocking and orange are huge this year!Â And brides want to get back to basics — simple, clean and elegant.
Whatâ€™s the most rewarding part of your job?
The thank you at the end of the night, knowing you truly put your heart and soul into the event.
Shawn Rabideau has planned custom weddings and events for over 12 years. Â His firm, Shawn Rabideau Events & Design boasts an impressive client list including Bethenny Frankel, Jennifer Lopez, Star Jones, Buick and Touchstone Pictures. Â Shawn regularly appears on Bravo TV’s “Bethenny Ever After,” and he has also been featured in segments on Good Morning America and Whose Wedding is it Anyway? on the STYLE network. Â A frequent expert contributor to Celebrations.com, Shawn’s advice and opinions have also been sought by sites and publications such as DailyCandy.com, The New York Times and Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine.