Monthly Archives: April 2011

Getting Great Wedding Photographs, Tip #20: Know When To Adjust Your Expectations (Like If The Weather Goes Wild)

04 | 12 | 2011

It rained all day and all night at this wedding, without ever letting up.  We made some of our only real outdoor portraits under the canopy of this stand of redwood trees, which was somehow dry, even after two solid days of driving rain.  I love how the bride looks like she’s floating above the forest floor (and also kind of glowing!), like a wood fairy or a nymph.

The truth is that you never really can do anything about the weather.  Just be ready to go with it.  This couple had envisioned lots of portraits in the fields and forests near the reception venue. (And I had, too!)  The weather, unfortunately, made that pretty impossible, not to mention totally impractical.  Plan B was to run outside during a break in the rain.  It never happened.  So … we all adjusted our expectations and made the best portraits we could in the few spots we could reasonably get to.  Although I absolutely love all the photos that show the rainy day for what it was, the images from this series that seem to transport the bride far from her rainy wedding day seem extra special.

photo: Gia Canali

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Real Los Angeles Weddings: A & O :: at SmogShoppe and An Interview with Amy Kaneko

04 | 01 | 2011

I think we (the wedding-ready world) find it easy to mistake event design for a purely visual pursuit.  We think of the photographs. In fact, good event design goes far beyond that, into designing space and experience, which is why I think Amy’s background in architectural design (which is all about human experience in/of space) is a perfect foundation for putting together fantastic weddings and events … including her own.

And not every bride is so lucky to get to bounce ideas off haute planner Yifat Oren, but Amy, who was living in LA and working with Yifat (before her wedding and before she and Osamu moved to San Francisco)  got that rare privilege.    Here’s what Amy has to say:

“Even though I plan weddings all the time, it was tough planning my own wedding by myself.  At the time, I lived in LA and all my family and almost all of my friends were on the East Coast.  So I didn’t have my mom and a bunch of girl friends with me like an episode of “Say Yes to the Dress.” …  As much as I missed having friends and family to help, the good thing was that I was plugged into the event scene. Having worked at Yifat Oren & Associates, a top event production company, made things easier. Especially since Yifat and my former co-worker Stefanie Cove were really gracious with helping out. I don’t think Stefanie sat down at all during the wedding – she was making sure everything ran smoothly so I wouldn’t have to worry!”

{as always, click any image for a closer look!}

I asked Amy about design aesthetic (because when you’re on the inside of the wedding industry, knowing every cool detail, trend, etc., before it even hits is not necessarily an advantage) and DIY items and here is what she said:

“Most of the wedding was actually DIY, but I really didn’t want the wedding to look like it.  I think I was able to successfully pull that off because I have a strong artistic/design background (I draw, paint, love all things crafty, studied architecture, etc) and love the challenge of doing things myself. I really wanted it to look refined, but in a very natural and laid back way.

“The ceremony “ring of succulents” was DIY – I went to a nursery and picked out about 50 potted succulents, then had my brothers dig them up slice off the roots (they somehow survived afterwards though!).  The wrought-iron candleholders on the table were all borrowed from a florist (GD Designers) and I purchased all the pillar candles, so friends helped set them up on the day-of.  The bar was DIY – I used scrap fabric to cover rental tables and lit it from behind. All the paper products were DIY (the “time capsule” notes, escort cards, menus, etc), though my friend Jennifer Parsons of Tiny Pine Press was incredibly sweet and helped me letterpress.  Oh yes, and I did my own makeup in the upstairs bathroom because I always find that I look like a strange and different person when my makeup is done for me.”

And on the choice of SmogShoppe for their venue:

“‘I’m a pretty choosy person, and I really wanted to find the ideal venue for us: something non-traditional but unexpectedly beautiful, with a bit of quirkiness. I scoured places in Boston (where we went to college), Connecticut (where Osamu grew up), DC (where I grew up), and LA (where we lived). The SmogShoppe really spoke to both of us as a place we could see ourselves getting married and also having a great party. I also loved that the building is LEED certified – as someone who cares about architecture and sustainability, it seemed perfect!”

(Amy is a LEED certified professional!)

Below: a quiet first sight moment and the ceremony, which I absolutely loved for its thoughtfulness.  The “time capsule” they made along with their guests was really unique, but it was traditional to them.  They had a history of making time capsules.  Which reminds me: I always think it’s very meaningful to incorporate your history as a couple into your wedding ceremony.  Your wedding guests are your community (the group of people who uphold you when marriage is hard work!), and hearing your history vests them in your love and in your sticking-together.

I love that Amy used one of my photographs as part of the decor (see the projection!).  It’s from {this} magical backyard wedding by Yifat Oren & Associates, where she and I worked together for the first time.  I also really like the rolling work table as an escort card table, and not just because I love any furniture on wheels.  Though I do have fantasies of having my entire studio on casters …

A closer look at the table settings, with the warm glow of candles, a few scattered succulents, and breadsticks – ready for a family style dinner!

Her take on why the details are important is pretty fantastic, too.  She says that getting caught up in the small decor details is a good thing, at least in part, because “details add a layer of thoughtfulness.“  But she cautions:

“I think it’s good to realize that not all the details will stand out, so maybe concentrate your effort (and resources) into a few of them.  For example, I wanted to have 2 huge vine-plants on the bar.  The reception space was this cavernous industrial loft with some big hanging plants, so I thought it would be interesting to mimic that on the bar.  I went to the nursery a few days before the wedding, transferred these massive plants into tall containers (not before sawing them in half to make them fit), and then carefully transported the soil-filled containers in the car.  They were big, but not big enough to make a huge impact like I wanted, so I think the effort would have been better spent elsewhere.

The mood of a wedding is really the most memorable part of it – so I think all the candles, the firepit in our outdoor lounge, the mellow 90s throwback music, and the delicious blackberry cocktails had more to do with creating an alluring mood than the vine-plants.”

Gia Canali Photographyfirepit

photos: Gia Canali; sources & shout-outs:: planning & design, Amy Kaneko Events (the bride); venue: SmogShoppe; personal flowers, GD Designers; officiant: the author Vasugi Ganeshananthan (bride’s friend); bride’s dress: J Crew “Orion” dress; groom’s suit, Hugo Boss; bride’s hair, Salon DNA; caterer, Auntie Em’s Kitchen; ceremony music: Espi Music; reception music: DJ Crash via dubgypsy . With thanks to Yifat Oren, Stefanie Cove, and Jennifer Parsons (Tiny Pine Press!).

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