Category Archives: D.I.Y.

A Handmade Wedding Gift

08 | 04 | 2011

One of the things we did with Jess’s bridal portraits was make a gift for TJ.  Jess chose a photograph and, in the weeks before the wedding, I printed it in one of my favorite styles.  My friend Jennifer, of Tiny Pine Press, stitched the photograph to fabric, along with a few blank pieces of paper so Jess could write TJ a note to accompany the photograph.  Jennifer also handmade a beautiful paper folder, with a tiny twig clasp.

{click any image for a closer view}

photographs: Gia Canali; handmade folder and stitchin’, Tiny Pine Press

FacebookTwitterPinterest

J + TJ’s Rustic Handmade Colorado Ranch Wedding (With Rainbows and a Rodeo Arena Reception)!

08 | 03 | 2011

Now, finally on to Jess and TJ’s actual wedding day!  By the morning of the wedding, it really did feel—as Jess and TJ had so hoped and schemed—like everyone there was one big family.   We woke before dawn to take in the “jingle” with some of TJ’s cousins.  Then, everybody else began readying themselves for the day.  I’m not sure what I could really say to do this wedding justice, so I’m keeping my notes uncharacteristically brief.

Jess and TJ saw each other for the first time in a wide open field, a couple of hours before the ceremony was scheduled to start.  We had planned to make a bunch of portraits during that time … but it started to rain just as they finished with that first quiet moment, so we retreated to stay dry.  Wedding party and immediate family portraits were made in the little sliver of shelter under the eaves of the barn.

Jess’s grandfather was quite the photographer in his day, and he even used to make carbro prints (the vintage photographic process on which I have the second biggest crush).  So when he asked me to make a portrait of him (with his bow tie!), I obliged using one of my favorite vintage cameras.

Jess and TJ’s wedding ceremony was perhaps my favorite part of the whole weekend.  It took place atop a cliff overlooking an incredible valley.  We loved how they made the ceremony so, so personal … and got everybody involved!  One friend officiated, others did readings, or sang songs.  Their dog, Midas, was the ring bearer (bearing the real rings). And Jess and TJ’s guests had sent them pieces of fabric with their reply cards to make a quilt that was incorporated into the ceremony.  Here’s what Jess says:

“I wrote the ceremony (which I would also recommend since it made it sooo personal for us) and as part of that, we did a “community blessing” where everyone in the audience held hands and connected all the way to us—as we were wrapped in the quilt with pieces of them all around us. It was one of my favorite moments of the ceremony, and maybe one of my favorite pics from the entire wedding (maybe also because this was when it started to pour rain!). We then used the quilt as a backdrop for our photo booth which was fun because people got to go up and pick out where their piece was on the quilt. TJ and I now have the quilt on our bed and it’s an awesome reminder of that amazing moment.”

I did my best to hide under an umbrella while the rain pour downed and keep my cameras (more or less) dryish while I was shooting (although I was more conspicuous than I would have wanted to be for sure).  But I love the photos from the recessional, with light reflecting through raindrops on my lens glass.  By then, I think I’d dashed out from under the umbrella!

Guests moved to the indoor rodeo arena for dinner, dancing, and bull-riding.  Despite the enormity of the space or the fact that it was really (really!) just a barn, Jess and TJ made it feel cozy, welcoming and even (kind of, but not too) fancy.  The warm happy color palette seemed especially appropriate after a day that had gone from clear and beautiful, to dark and stormy, to rainbows …

Below: Jess and TJ’s first dance and the beginnings of a long, happy night of dancing.

The photo booth was so fun!  You might recognize the quilt, re-purposed …

Maybe the best thing, though, was the mechanical bull!  I loved seeing everybody’s best wild west moves!  Jess made the operator buck her off (although she really, really didn’t want to buck the bride).  It was so funny!

The wedding is featured {here} today on 100 Layer Cake (hooray!).  Be sure to stop back tomorrow and Friday for photographs from Jess’s bridal session and Jess and TJ’s post-wedding love shoot, plus a peek at some of their paper goods …

photographs: Gia Canali

wedding planning: Stacy McCain; wedding design, Duet Events (the bride and her friend’s design company); florals, Sweet Pea Flowers, Denver; lighting & other magic tricks, Pink Monkey Solutions; dj: DJ Smiles Davis; dessert buffet, Tee and Cakes; venue and catering: C Lazy U Ranch

FacebookTwitterPinterest

J+TJ Rehearsal Dinner Party

08 | 02 | 2011

After Jess and TJ’s guests thoroughly wore themselves out in the field day tournament, everyone dressed up for a tented rehearsal dinner party.  It was the weekend’s most formal event.  Guests dined in a tent that opened up on a little pond and it was embellished with dressy-up, woodsy decor and lots of sweet, handmade touches.  We especially loved all the wooden table numbers, the tree-bark wrapped “vases,” and the escort card heart made of stones with each guest’s name.

{click any image for a closer view}

We stole Jess and TJ away for a few minutes, just before sunset for photographs along the dirt road out to the horse pasture (and spa!) at C Lazy U.   Taking a few minutes here and there out of a busy wedding weekend schedule—particularly in moments with perfect light—to make some beautiful portraits always has a huge impact on the overall coverage of your wedding. We’ll hurry you back to your guests, promise …

I think getting great wedding photographs is one part trained eyeballs (by which I mean vision) and two parts time-management, both on the part of the photographers and on the part of the couple. One little great time-management helper with multi-day weddings is to space out the group photographs across the events.  Not every family photograph needs to be on the wedding day.  We photographed Jess and TJ’s extended families separately at the rehearsal and then TJ requested this lodge-style combined family photograph, which I just love.

Jess and TJ’s friends and families also made almost all their toasts at the rehearsal dinner.  Except for a quick welcome toast from the bride’s father at the wedding reception, this freed them up on the wedding day for an uninterrupted party (!) … a fantastic bonus since it always goes by too too quickly, even when you have four days of celebrating.   This was a sweet way for everyone to get to know each other, too.

~♥~

The event is also featured {here} on 100 Layer Cake!  Come back tomorrow for more from Jess and TJ’s wedding day!

photographs: Gia Canali

event design: Duet Events (the bride’s design company); planning, Stacy McCain Events; venue and catering, C Lazy U Ranch; florals: Lisa Anderson, Sweet Pea Flowers; dessert (aka tower of awesomeness), Shamane’s Bake Shoppe, Boulder CO.

FacebookTwitterPinterest

J+TJ Hoedown!

08 | 01 | 2011

Those of you who have been reading the blog a long time know that it’s pretty rare for me to feature a whole wedding (that’s not what my blog is about!), but this wedding is going to be an exception, multiple times over to go with the myriad events that made up Jess and TJ’s celebration.  When Jess first called me about photographing her wedding at a guest ranch in Granby, Colorado, I was excited to return to the landscape of my youth.  My parents had a tiny horse ranch in the mountains nearby when I was a little girl, and I’ve always thought Colorado possesses some kind of real magic.  I thought the events of the weekend, even the ones I wasn’t slated to photograph, sounded so fun—a hoedown, a poker tournament, field day, a tented dinner party, a wedding reception in a rodeo arena—but I had no idea how exhilarating it would be to show up to an event where I would end up shooting in my mom’s old cowgirl boots and it actually made sense (really, was practically required). Nor did I realize the kind of camaraderie Jess and TJ would be cultivating amongst their friends and family before the wedding.  So often two families can’t really get to know each other before a wedding and, at least when you think of a wedding as a big send off into married life—a show of support from a couple’s community—there’s no better way to get everybody really “in” on the send off than to get folks together for days of fun together.

The hoedown was the welcome party.  And it was a real hoedown, complete with bluegrass music, bbq, lots of dancin’, a big bonfire, and cowboys “branding” guests’ boots and belts with the C Lazy U brand.   I have to think that this is one of the best weddings to be a guest at that I’ve ever been a part of.   100 Layer Cake is featuring the wedding all this week, too, and their post for the hoedown can be found {here}.

photographs: Gia Canali

event coordination / production: Stacy McCain Events, SF; event design: Duet Events (Jess’s wedding design company!); location: C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, CO; florals: Lisa Anderson, Sweet Pea Flowers, Denver; delish silverware sleeves, Miss Pickles Press.

FacebookTwitterPinterest

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!).

FacebookTwitterPinterest

Brandon & Serra’s One-of-a-Kind Los Angeles Wedding with Pretty Vintage Touches

08 | 03 | 2010

giacanali-108

I love the sweetness of Brandon & Serra’s wedding.  Everything, everything was fashioned to be personal, to be romantic, to be sweet and meaningful.  And the results were just about perfect.  Plus, this was one of the thriftiest and most resourceful wedding planning crews I’ve encountered.  Brandon and his twin brother, Brian, are the photographers behind Twin Lens Life.  And Serra is a maven of vintage fashion, and all-things-vintage, come to think of it.  Everything from fashion to decor was handmade or scored from vintage stores and thrift shops around Los Angeles.

Below: a few photographs of Serra & Brandon getting ready. I took just a moment right before the ceremony to get a couple photographs on my 4×5 camera.

{click any image for a closer look}

giacanali-065

giacanali-001 giacanali-079 giacanali-071

giacanali-069 giacanali-063

giacanali-073 giacanali-070

giacanali-067

giacanali-080

giacanali-081c

Below: some of the ceremony details. Click any image to enlarge. Brandon & Brian made the wooden signs (that fancy W and the plumage!).  I love the lace draped tree. And the just-gathered feelings of the bouquets and arrangements.   Florals by Amanda Claverie, Rosebud Floral Design.

giacanali-010 giacanali-011 giacanali-019

giacanali-007 giacanali-009 giacanali-008 giacanali-084

giacanali-006

giacanali-045

Above: one of the zillion polaroids from Brandon & Serra’s wedding. Below: This ceremony was just about perfect (and complete with a rooster strolling through, if you look closely!).

giacanali-085 giacanali-086

giacanali-087

giacanali-088 giacanali-091

giacanali-089 giacanali-090

giacanali-092

giacanali-005

After the ceremony, while we took group photos and photos of Brandon & Serra, the guests entertained themselves with games and tea. This is handy tip to steal: have something fun for your guests to do while you do your formal photographs.  This is especially important if you plan not to see each other (and therefore not do any of the group photos before your ceremony).

It was hard to get Brandon’s twin brother, Brian, to hold still for a photo during cocktail hour. Since the boys are also wedding photographers, Brian made the rounds during cocktail hour getting a Polaroid—er, Fuji instant print—of each and every guest for the escort cards / guest book. They blogged {here} and {here} over on their blog, Twin Lens Life, about this project, which I think would be fantastic at any small wedding. Not exactly diy if you’re not a pro, but definitely handmade and one of a kind.  I’m looking forward to seeing—and doing!—more of these unique one of a kind projects at weddings, which seem to be gaining in popularity.

giacanali-054 giacanali-097 giacanali-106

giacanali-098

giacanali-099

giacanali-102 giacanali-101c

giacanali-103

Everything about this wedding was so romantically-styled, down to the tiniest detail. There were piles of old books, and gatherings of baby’s breath, an old typewriter, candles, vases of a few blooms, tiny ceramic birds. The table was like a tableau. But my favorite little details, besides the “tree” with the Polaroids that Serra and Brandon had taken together over the course of their relationship (pictured below), were their love birds, Frankie and Allie.

giacanali-023

giacanali-018 giacanali-015

giacanali-024 giacanali-030 giacanali-031

giacanali-016 giacanali-026 giacanali-028

giacanali-034 giacanali-035 giacanali-037

giacanali-014

giacanali-033 giacanali-044

giacanali-040 giacanali-043

giacanali-021

A few more quiet moments before the end of the day:

giacanali-048 giacanali-055
giacanali-047
giacanali-050 giacanali-051
giacanali-041 giacanali-052

giacanali-056

giacanali-057

giacanali-059 giacanali-060

giacanali-118

giacanali-061

We had so much fun rotating through our (and Brandon & Brian’s!) collection of vintage film cameras, toy cameras, instant film cameras, et cetera.  I loved getting to share in the absolute joy of shooting along side other lovers-of-photography (their crafty guests were snapping as many photos as I was, it seemed!).  Congratulations, Brandon & Serra! Thanks for sharing! May your years ahead be happy and filled with lots of Polaroids! This wedding is also being featured {here} over on Snippet & Ink today!

the end!

photographs: Gia Canali, venue: Heritage Square Museum, LA; florals: Amanda Claverie, Rosebud Floral Design; super 8mm wedding film: Tim Neilsen, Flicker Films, shown {here}; hair, Louis Santelices; pretty much everything else: handmade, thrift store or vintage shop finds.

FacebookTwitterPinterest

Interview with Yifat Oren: Tips for Everyone from Celebrity Wedding Planning, Part II

07 | 17 | 2010

estate-party

We’ve got celebrity wedding planner, Yifat Oren, back with us today, offering one more expert wedding planning tip and it’s an especially good one to heed:

“There’s a whole art to the pacing of a party and the energy of a party.”

“If you create too many lulls, your reception will not be as great as it could be.  Waiting in between courses too long without giving guests something to do – like geting them up and dancing or listening to toasts – can really suck the life out of a party.   When creating your timeline, pay special consideration to timing.  A good rule of thumb is to serve a course and then have a couple of toasts.  After the toasts, clear the course and either get your guests up for some dancing or come out with the next course immediately.  For all this to run smoothly, your caterer/banquet captain at a hotel and band leader must work closely together with a well-thought-out timeline.  Ideally, you would also have someone there on the day of the wedding to manage this process and be the liaison.”

Thinking about the flow of your party when you create your timeline is essential, particularly in considering your guests.  But a well-thought-out timeline won’t help you if you don’t stick to it (or, at least, as much as is up to you). I’m not saying, don’t let yourselves be spontaneous. I’m saying: plan for the experience you want to have and share with your guests and then have it (don’t just think it’ll happen).  Your wedding crew will be busy doing the best job they can to realize that dream wedding day for you.  Poor planning and big deviations can impact what they can do for you and can halt the party you’ve hoped for and imagined.  Plus,  a lively party renders much better on film.  Thanks (again!), Yifat.

photo: Gia Canali

FacebookTwitterPinterest

Interview With Yifat Oren: Tips For Everyone From Celebrity Wedding Planning, Part I

07 | 16 | 2010

cocktail-hour

Yifat Oren has spent the last dozen years planning weddings and parties for some of the most discerning folks in Hollywood. When asked about her work, Yifat says, “I love what I do because I love what goes into weddings:  design and décor, food and wine, fine papers, entertainment, and even the creativity that goes into executing it all flawlessly.   I think the best weddings I do are a great collaboration between the clients and myself—that kind of collaboration breeds the most creative, trend-setting results.”

Those clients are high-powered and high-profile, everyone from Mariska Hargitay & Peter Hermann and Christine & Kevin Costner, to a host of Hollywood producers and business moguls.  And while a lot of what these folks do for their weddings seems (or is!) totally unattainable for most of us, some of the most important and impactful aspects of planning a fantastic wedding translate perfectly to diy (or do-it-with-a-little-help) wedding planning.  You don’t necessarily need more money or a bigger wedding budget; you just need a little forethought.

Consider The Guest Experience:

“Be thoughtful and cover your bases. When I’m planning a wedding, I walk through the entire event ahead of time, as if I am a guest. I imagine, for instance, “I just got off the shuttle. I left my hotel room an hour ago.  I’m probably thirsty and I need shade because it’s hot.  So we would serve cold beverages as soon as people get off the shuttle to quench their thirst and either a canopy or some market umbrellas for shade.  The grass is tricky to walk on because ladies’ heels will sink. So we put out ‘heel savers’ … and so on, throughout the rest of the party, ending with a heater near the valet station, to be sure your guests aren’t freezing as they wait for their vehicles.”

centerpiece with peaches

Here are a few specific areas you can consider:

1.    Be thoughtful about parking.

If you’re not doing a valet, it’s okay—just make sure there’s plenty of parking so your guests don’t have to walk too far or fight for spots.”

2.    Consider the weather.

If there’s sun in everybody’s eyes during the ceremony, it’s awful.  So offer some parasols or change the direction of the ceremony if possible.  It’s nice to let people know, especially the ladies, what they can expect in terms of weather and terrain for the wedding day.  If they’ll need to wear wedges, let them know.  If it’s going to be cool during the evening but hot during the day, they might not think to bring wraps, so let them know ahead of time or provide them yourself.”

3.    Consider the general appeal of the food.

You can be a total foodie, but if you want to serve something that’s wild and out there, do it as one of six appetizers, not as the main entreé that comes out for dinner.”

4.    Consider your bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Usually they have to be there hours ahead of time.  Make sure there are cold drinks for them, somewhere for them to hang their coats and stash their stuff, somewhere to sit down, and some shade, especially in the summer.”

5.    Consider the bathrooms.

Have someone checking the bathrooms throughout the night.  Make sure they are clean, well-stocked, and that the plumbing is working.  We like to set out nice hand-towels, not linen ones, but nice linen-like paper ones.  We also leave things your guests might need in the bathroom—a nail file, clear nail polish, extra deodorant, nice soap, lotion, safety pins, a mini sewing kit, and feminine hygiene products.”

I think that we (the wedding-ready universe) spend a lot of time thinking about who to invite and about hiring services, but not so much time about the experience of those services for ourselves and our invited guests. Hiring services is not the same thing as creating an experience. These tips are really helpful in taking diy wedding planning that one very important step further—having bathrooms at your venue, for instance, isn’t the same thing as having continually clean, well-stocked bathrooms for you and your guests all night long.  Small but important details can be not-thought-of at all.  Of course, in a world where we all had business-mogul-sized wedding budgets, we’d want to hire an experienced and expert wedding planner to think of all these things for us (because, believe me, Yifat thinks of everything).    Check back tomorrow for part two. Thanks, Yifat!

photo: Gia Canali

FacebookTwitterPinterest