Julia & Eli’s Marvelous Backyard Wedding

11 | 12 | 2009


Some weddings are so marvelously right.  Julia & Eli’s was one of them. The equation might have read: happy couple + beautiful yard + perfect day + perfect night + joyous guests + “fireflies” = magical. We’ve featured bits of their wedding all summer, partly because I think this blogging real weddings thing rushes me much too much—as I prefer to turn over my photographic fascinations slowly—but mostly because we loved their wedding.  Even the intangible things, like Eli saying his {vows}.  Above, one of several Polaroid 55s I took.

{click any image to enlarge}



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We loved the whimsical florals and decor by Krislyn.  The groom’s boutonniere was fashioned from a single (tiny) perfect echeveria ‘afterglow’.  I grow them in my garden, and in just the right light, the pinkish rims really do glow.  Below: celebrity stylists Nina and Clare Hallworth help Julia into her gown.   Sweetest up-do ever by Chris McMillan. Chris did Julia’s hair three or four times that morning before he came up with the final look, which made me realize how essential it is to allow all the vendors at a wedding time to give a top-notch performance.  (More on that later.)  I never would have guessed tulips would have been “just the thing,” but they were, and Chris’s hairdo inspired lots and lots of my photographs of Julia.

I spoke with Nina and Clare for a few moments before the reception, and asked if they had any advice for my blog readers.   They said it was so important to take time (by which they meant quiet time) to get dressed.  The way they spoke of dressing, it seemed like dressing oneself and composing oneself were the same act.

Nina and Clare Hallworth

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Some details from the ceremony.  The huppah was one of a kind, with peonies, branches, and a quilt the groom’s mother made by hand.  Yifat Oren & her gifted crew, led by Amy Cain, masterminded the design and production of the whole affair. Great job, Amy!

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Nina and Clare reused Julia’s veil as a wrap during cocktails and dinner.  It was not only a very inventive instantly “upcycled” accessory, but offered Julia a second glorious look for the evening. Bride’s gown, Carolina Herrera.  Groom’s three-piece suit (♥!), Tom Ford.

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Above: a few images from Julia and Eli’s hora.  I love getting guests out on the dance floor (and before sundown if possible).  It’s one of the few chances we ever have in a wedding day for truly energetic and totally camera unaware photographs of everyone who came out to celebrate your tying-the-knot.

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Because it was so sunny and because so much was going on in both the front yard and back yard all day, we couldn’t do any outdoor portraits.  So Julia and Eli agreed to sneak away for a quick walk after their first dances.  So worth it!

Julia felt differently about the sunshiny day.  She was thrilled to wake at six that morning and see the sun was out.  Those of you who live in Southern California will know “June Gloom,” and Julia & Eli’s wedding day was the first day after our (particularly long) June Gloom ended this year.  I laughed when she told me this: when I awoke on my own wedding day, I, too, jumped out of bed to see what the light was like, but was practically gleeful to discover a bright overcast morning!

Julia’s advice? She says to take a couple days to do relaxing things before the wedding.  On the day of the wedding, she had no stress for the first time in the planning process!

sunset kiss

nighttime walk

The End.

p.s. I left lots of stuff out. I want to have photographs to illustrate my “real” posts!

photographs: Gia Canali


Julia & Eli’s Wedding On The Way + Reimagined Florals

11 | 10 | 2009


Well, I am finally working on a blog post about Julia & Eli’s wedding.  I mean it this time!  I’m only five months behind on that (and it’s only the second wedding of the season)!  But for now, I thought some of you might like to see this lovely flower from their wedding, reimagined by {Krislyn}.  I’m not sure what it is—but it looks to me like orchid petals + pussy willow.  I wish I could grow a garden of them …

photo: Gia Canali


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.”

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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!).


Vows To Set a Home By

07 | 10 | 2009

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Every once in a while, a wedding ceremony just knocks me out.  The words stick with me for months or years and I repeat them in my head.  At a wedding I photographed in Turks & Caicos last year, the officiant closed the ceremony by saying, “And now, not only by the laws of these islands, but also by the laws of your hearts, I declare you husband and wife.”  By the laws of your hearts. With these vows, it is the word home.

Eli to Julia

“Before I start vowing Jul, i have to tell you that you are so heartbreakingly beautiful, I could cry, and I’m probably gonna…

As you know I’ve been trapped in my usual writing routine, wavering ten times over on the proper metaphor to express my love and eternal commitment to you, wracking my brain for the best possible framing device to give you, and I guess 145 of our nearest and dearest, the vows you deserve.

And I will get to my pat metaphor. But in a second, because the first thing I keep coming back to isn’t a metaphor or a quaint turn of phrase, but an overwhelming, simple gratitude. You save me every day, constantly encourage me, make me a better person just by allowing me to be in your presence. You’ve loved me without question as a friend and as a girlfriend. And now you’re even willing to marry me. And the only condition you’ve ever put on that love is that I take the trash cans out on Sunday nights.

So I guess that means I’ll be getting my first screw-up as a husband out of the way right off the bat. But I feel like we’ll get through the trial of the trash cans the same way we got here: together. Today we’re not starting to make a home, we’re continuing one. We both already know that our home is wherever we are. Home is just a synonym for the word “us”, because we already have the safety and security of absolute acceptance and optimism and faith in each other.

Now then. I promise, I VOW, to do everything I can to keep building our home up, to keep it safe and warm and inviting and fun and–of course–clean. The only way that I know how to do that is not just to feel love for you, which for me is involuntary, but also to act with love for you every day: to consider your feelings as much as I consider my own, to communicate and be patient and listen and laugh. To never shut off or shut out or forget that we are our home. To be forever thankful that I’m with someone as incredible and advanced and awe-inspiring as you. I promise I will take the cans out next week and every week thereafter.

I promise to always act with love, to return your faith and your support. No matter what successes or difficulties may come our way, I promise to remember that our home isn’t under this Huppah or even the house in Venice. Home’s in the way we treat, respect, believe in, and love each other.  And I’m so grateful that I get to build that home with you. Long story short: thank you, Julia.”

Sunday, July 14, 2009

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Thanks for sharing Julia & Eli! Check back soon for lots more photographs from their wedding.

photographs: Gia Canali