Category Archives: Interviews

Skin Deep: Getting Your Skin Wedding-Ready, An Interview with Esthetician Jillian Wah

04 | 22 | 2010


Lovely skin makes for lovely photographs.  But knowing how to go about getting our skin and our faces camera-ready can be kind of daunting.  So, in the interest of pursuing the picture-perfect wedding, my friend (and esthetician!) Jillian has graciously offered to share some skincare information and beauty tips with all of us.  Above: Jillian on her wedding day!

How To Start: (asap!)

“To get your skin wedding-ready, it’s good to start as soon as possible.  Start getting regular facials with exfoliation and extractions to purge impurities.  Working with a professional esthetician—someone who knows your skin and is sensitive to what your skin can tolerate is very helpful.  Not only will an esthetician be able to evaluate your skin and then provide you with the necessary personalized treatments, she can also direct your at-home skincare routine.”

About One Month Before The Wedding

“Go on a peel series with your esthetician. A peel series is typically once a week for 4 – 5 weeks. It’s good to ask your esthetician what kind of peels she offers.  Try to avoid glycolic acid if possible, as it is the among the most inflammatory of all the Alpha Hydroxy Acids. Stick with a good blended layer peel or lactic acid.

or if you don’t/can’t seek a professional’s help:

Start doing gentle (gentle!) at-home exfoliation.  Try three times a week for the first couple of weeks; then every other day the last week before your wedding.  The reason Pro-Activ works so well is that it gives you daily exfoliations.  The same principle applies here.  You can blend (dilute) a scrub with your cleanser or use a gentle 5% lactic acid.”

“The Key To Glowing Skin Is Hydration—Internally and Externally.”

“Hydrating and moisturizing sound like they mean the same thing, but—at least in the beauty industry—they don’t.  Moisture has to do with putting oil(s) into the skin; hydrating puts water into the skin.  Moisturizing isn’t good for all skin types or climates.

Hydration and exfoliation make for glowing, dewy skin.  So: drink lots of water and avoid dehydrating beverages like coffee and alcohol.  For external hydration, find a hydrating mask.  Your esthetician can prescribe one that’s right for your skin; she’ll also have access to the better ones.  If you are acne-prone, exfoliation and hydration are still good for you, but look for a hydrating mask that is non-comedogenic; it’ll be more jelly-like rather than creamy.

What Else Complements Your Newly-Radiant Skin

1. Well-shaped eyebrows

2. Teeth-whitening

Consider them little helpers.

If You Break Out More Than Five Days Before The Wedding …

“If it’s just one or two spots (not a big breakout): Clean your face then run a washcloth under the hottest tap water you can get, and put it on the affected spots for 5-10 minutes.  The hot compress will help bring it to the surface.  Then you can use two q-tips to extract it, or you can take tissue and wrap it around your fingers and gently try to extract it.  Follow this up with an antibacterial compress like your toner, benzoyl-peroxide, or other acne spot-treatments.

If You Break Out Less Than Five Days Before The Wedding, LEAVE IT ALONE!

“A scab looks worse under makeup than a zit does.”

Additional Tips For Men’s Skincare

“The same basic skincare information applies, but because men shave—and breakouts and rashes from shaving are especially unflattering in person and on-camera—there are some special notes just for guys.

  1. Only exfoliate at night, or as far away from shaving as possible.
  2. Use a tea tree oil hair conditioner as a shave medium or put a few drops of tea tree oil into a cup of aloe vera for an anti-bacterial (but still soothing!) aftershave.
  3. Men shouldn’t overlook their eyebrows either, just don’t overdo it!

Thanks, Jillian!!  Check back in a bit for a do-it-yourself lip scrub recipe.

photo: Gia Canali


Bride Interview: Makeup Tips from Mitra

03 | 11 | 2010

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Although I don’t wear makeup or even know how to really put it on, I do notice wedding makeup.  Or, perhaps I should say that I bemoan bad wedding makeup.  I don’t think I notice good makeup at all.  My friend and former bride, Mitra, was a certified MAC makeup artist a few years ago and did a number of weddings during that time, both through MAC and on her own.  She agreed to share some tips, and I must say, as a photographer (who knows what’s flattering) and a make-up-phobe (who groans at the thought of doing it), I think these tips are really helpful.  I’m putting in my own two-cents in italics.

  1. Hire a make-up artist, or at the very least, have a make-up artist show you how to do your make-up, take her product suggestions, and practice several times before the wedding. Hiring a make-up artist is easier. Brides have enough to worry about on the wedding day!
  2. A trial run of wedding-day make-up is absolutely necessary. Take a picture of your make-up in several lighting scenarios (natural light, dark w/flash, etc.). And wear the make-up 8-10 hours. See how well it holds. All make-up will need touch-ups (powder, lips, etc.), but the bulk of wedding day make-up should wear that long.  (Gia here: Makeup that looks good and makeup that looks good on-camera aren’t necessarily the same thing. Your little test shots will tell you a lot!!)
  3. Everyone looks better with false eye lashes. There are so many ways to do them that look natural and gorgeous, and I think they should be attempted at the trial run before a bride rules them out.
  4. If fake lashes are out of the question, Diorshow Blackout (waterproof) and Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash (waterproof) are both available at Sephora, and dramatically enhance eyes to get the benefit of fake lashes.
  5. When cultivating ideas for the wedding day look, chose a celebrity or two who you resemble in face-shape and coloring, and google red carpets looks for those celebs to get ideas. Bring these pics to your trial run with the make-up artist.
  6. If the make-up artist isn’t staying for the whole event, make sure that you have the lipstick/liner/gloss she used, and powder and a little foundation for touch-ups. Make a bridesmaid responsible for keeping track of these items for you, and put her in charge of checking on your make-up every so often.
  7. Skin is really important to wedding day beauty. A make-up artist can even out skin tone, but there’s not much they can do for texture. Start thinking about this months in advance, and adjust your skin care regimen accordingly. If you’re paranoid about a huge zit cropping up days before the wedding, make an appointment with a derm the day before the wedding, if possible. Should a monstrous zit arrive, they can give you a cortisone injection that will get rid of it by the next day.  (Gia here: we’ll have more on good skin for your wedding soon-ish).

Thanks, Mitra! Any makeup tips from anyone else?  Former brides, feel free to chime in!

photo: Gia Canali


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


Interview with Annette Garcia-Kerslake of Simply Natural Events

03 | 10 | 2009


Annette has found a niche planning lovely natural, organic, and green weddings. It makes sense that she has decided to call her company “Simply Natural Events.”  I love her happy style and good energy (Annette has lots of spirit and lots of patience).  I’ve asked her to chat with us a little bit about planning environmentally-conscious, beautiful weddings.

How did you get started in event planning?

“It kind of started more planning my own wedding. I was a wardrobe stylist, so it was a creative outlet… I had a couple of (film industry) friends who  asked me to help them plan their weddings and it took off from there. A design background is really helpful for weddings, aesthetically.”

Why plan green weddings?

“I’ve always been pretty organic as far as food and natural medicines.  For myself, I try not to do any chemicals, etc.  It’s the way I live—I’ve had that homeopathic lifestyle for maybe ten years. And now it’s huge and popular.  It’s nice to see that people are going that way.  I don’t want to impose it on anyone, but there are so many green, natural resources.  Why not add them into your wedding?”

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So, it seems like the age of irresponsible consumption / irresponsible weddings is over.  But we all want gorgeous weddings.  What are ways to go green and still be beautiful?

“I would say, I think the number one thing is to go for locally grown food. It’s not only healthy for your guests and you, it supports local farms.  I’m big on trying to support [other kinds of] local vendors, too.

“You can use organic silks … Now you have the option to buy a dress from a designer who’s using all organic fabric.

“Using vintage dresses is a great way to go green. There are tons of vintage dress shops now. And a lot of those shops have Vera Wang gowns that were $4000 a year ago, for $2000.

“Herbs and locally grown flowers are great for your centerpieces. Lavender, rosemary, and succulents, for instance, are plentiful, inexpensive, and have a low carbon footprint.

Annette says: “Renting is re-using. So you can rent.  Repurpose.  Use family heirlooms. You’ll start to become green in that way.”

“Instead of favors, try tree seedlings  … or you can donate to charity:  your guests will remember it more and it’s a cash write off.

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What are some other easy ways to go green?

There are tons of parks, vineyards, et cetera, that aren’t harsh on the earth. If you go to state parks or the LA mountain park system, at least you know the funds go to keep up the park.

Annette and I both love Temescal Gateway Park and Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve.

What trends do you see or would you like to see in weddings?

I think for me, it’d probably have to be … Exotic or not exotic, small destination weddings – less people, but tons of—I don’t want to say decadence in a time of recession … Make it a whole weekend of several intimate parties, with 20-30 of your best friends.

I would love to see picnic weddings.  You could even get beautiful blankets, and each family could get a basket and a bottle of wine. That would be my dream trend.  For everybody to start doing picnic weddings.

For colors, I love teal and charcoal grays together.


I love the thought of Frida inspired weddings, too: warm deep colors, with coppery or iron colored accents. Little vibes of Cuba and Mexico.  I would like people to use more colors and a variety of colors. I like colors that pop.  I think that’s [just] my personal preference.


Annette ♥s:

  1. Chamomile Tea:  I drink at least 2-3 cups a day, keeps me calm and it’s good for the blood sugar.
  2. Vintage Fabrics: You can make scarfs, pillows, the list goes on.  I’ll hold on to fabrics for years and one day it’s just what I need.
  3. Greenstream Gourmet. The chocolate mint cookies …
  4. Fresh flowers or herbs in my house lifts my spirits and provide inspiration.
  5. Top Stick and a sewing kit are must have on wedding days and good to have for everyday emergency.
  6. Super Greens when I’m feeling low on energy.
  7. Del Bondio Wine (Bio dynamic, organic wine)
  8. Your Day Wedding and The Bride & Bloom magazines

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To enjoy more of Annette’s work, check out her website and her new blog which is full of news and wedding (and other fun) finds.

photo credits: top images, Sharaga Studios; images of the wicked Corpse Bride cake by Amelia Lyon; others by Gia Canali … and more images to follow.


Interview: Jennifer Parsons from Tiny Pine Press Chats About Letterpress

02 | 17 | 2009


Jennifer Parsons is the creative force behind Tiny Pine Press, a boutique letterpress design studio based in Los Angeles.  She prizes handmade elements and gorgeous papers. Her exquisite craftwomanship has earned her a discerning clientele over the last four years and she routinely prints for celebrities, including Mariska Hargitay, Jerry Ryan, Kevin Costner, Charlie Sheen, Katherine Heigl, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Joely Fisher, and Will Oldham … just to name a few.  Her work appears regularly in magazines. Today, she’s taking a little time to chat with us about her letterpress practice.


How did you get started in letterpress?

“Well, really it started because a friend of mine got engaged on her birthday. On that day, I gave her a ‘sewn’ birthday card, with a painting and some stitching on paper. She called me that day and thanked me for the birthday card and said, ‘Will you do my wedding invitations?’  I said yes, but I didn’t know what it meant. So I did research. I became a real paper detective – I found all these sources, learned all I could. Her invitations were actually off-set printing because I didn’t know about letterpress then.  After that, I got a job at Soolip where I learned about designing for letterpress and type-setting. Then I got more interested in doing it on my own, so I took a secret letterpress class. It was secret because it was at nighttime. My friend Joel Larson taught me letterpress basics in Donna Columby’s garage.  When I learned enough to get started,  I bought my own Chandler & Price press and started Tiny Pine.”


Tiny Pine Press is such sweet name.  Where did that come from?

“There are two stories. The romantic part of the story and why I’m attached to pines is that I’m from Sugar Grove, V.A., and when I was in the 4H Club, they’d give you free pines to plant in your yard.  So my dad and I planted the little trees all around our yard. The second part of the story is that when I was working in the belt buckle factory, someone gave me a little circle belt buckle.  She said it was the perfect belt buckle for me.  It’s vintage, probably from the 60s, and all it has on it is a tiny pine and a sunset in the background. I decided that was me, so I named the company Tiny Pine.”

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Your Chandler & Price Press has a pretty great name, too: Verdie.  Where did that come from?

“Verdie has personality. She’s named after my great-aunt who I never met who received lots of postcards from sailors. She lived in a port city and had lots of boyfriends. She was really independent, never married, worked at GE. I like her name. It reminds me of a bird and the color green, even though Verdie [the press] is gray.  She’s my friend. She helps me get things done around here.  I don’t think of her as an employee, though. She’s a partner.”


Do all letterpressers name their presses?

“No. But I think some people name their presses because they spend so much time with them. They have arms, faces.”


What do you wish you could tell brides about their stationery?

“A lot of times I really wish I could tell everybody that what they want is something timeless. They want to have a piece of paper they could hold in their hands, that their family could look at it in a hundred years and say, “That was their wedding invitation!”   Stationery that’s elegant, simple, beautiful.  There are some people who get that, of course. I wish I could tell them they don’t want something that’s current and cutesy.  Not fashion-based. Not all the complicated stuff you get in the mail nowadays. You want something that you’re going to be proud of when you’re 80. When you get married, you’re not thinking about [just] now, you’re thinking about the future.  That’s why brides and grooms hire photographers and all that, for the present and the future. You have to think about that.”


Why do you think stationery is an important visual / design aspect of the wedding?

“I think it really sets the tone. The save-the-date and wedding invite tells everybody way ahead of time what to expect. I really believe that it should be coming from not just the bride.  There should be a masculine twist, at least a little bit.  A lot of times men get lost in weddings … and that’s sad.  The stationery can also tell us if the wedding is going to be playful or formal. It’s pretty much the only clue (unless you know the couple really well).

“The guests shouldn’t be surprised when they receive the invitation, they should think, ‘oh, that makes sense.’ I’m doing an invite for a wedding in Jackson hole, Wyoming – you think of Jackson Hole as a wintery place. This is a wedding in summer. I would never put a fall leaf on an invite.  That sets the opposite tone.

One of my goals as an invitation designer and just in life is to be a really good ’emotional translator’ — understanding people quickly and translating it to a piece of paper. So I think being sensitive to [a client] is really important. That’s why they hire people—they don’t know how to do it themselves, so they pick people who can.

Also the invite is a memory.”


How green is letterpress?

“Well, it’s pretty green. It’s not ultra green, but you can be really pretty green.”


What do you do to make it as green as possible?

“I print with soy ink, which is as green as ink can be. I saw a tv show, I think it was Ugly Betty, and they were talking about not liking soy inks because they rub off. But it’s not true. Soy ink sticks really well. It dries fastest. That’s one of the reasons people don’t like it (but I like it).  There aren’t as many VOCs (fume things).

“I mix really small amounts of ink. I can do a whole job with maybe a tablespoon or two of ink. I keep and reuse ink if possible. So I was pretty upset to see it put down on a tv show.

“I do use wood-backed magnesium plates. So there’s some wood. But I can’t really get around it right now.

“I also don’t print a lot of overage. A lot of times with offset printing, they use so much extra paper that there’s a lot of waste. I actually only print about 15% over, and most of those are samples for me. The process is slow and I hand-feed and hand-print. I see everything and I’m watching it so I don’t make lots of mistakes.  If I do make a mistake, I catch it right away. I save scraps and use them as make-ready. I use scraps for crafty projects, too.  In the end, I really don’t throw a lot away.”


What trends would you like to see happen in wedding stationery?

“I think that it’s getting more organic. I’d like to see it keep going that way. I think it already is. People want more natural stuff. That’s my style.”


Jennifer Parsons ♥s:

  1. Printing photos on paper and making it look good
  2. Photoshop skills
  3. Scotch quick-dry adhesive glue
  4. Epson printers
  5. I don’t have to say I heart my little letterpress because everybody already knows I do.
  6. Lori D (and the ability to illustrate like Lori D).
  7. Dirty Byrd Paper, which is hand made by my friend Jocelyn Todd.
  8. Fabriano paper because it’s Italian and hand-torn.
  9. Vintage stamps


For more inspiration and to see more of Jennifer’s work, visit her site, and take a read at her blog, which is full of paper-crafty goodness.


Bride Interview: Julia On Her D.I.Y. Florals

02 | 06 | 2009

We usually have one bride a year—who’s not a florist—who braves d.i.y. florals.  This year, it was Julia, and the flowers were beautiful, both soft and feminine.  Her bouquet was one of my all-time favorites, full of peonies, with this gorgeous Garden Lace peony right in the front.

Florals make a huge impact at your wedding, both in person and on camera (why we’re featuring them on this blog).  So Julia suggests—and I agree—taking on d.i.y. flowers only if it’s something you really enjoy.  She points out that, “if it’s stressful for you, you can d.i.y. something else.”

On her doing her own flowers, Julia says:

“I really did consider what kind of flowers I wanted when I picked the wedding date because I knew we weren’t working with a huge floral budget. I considered what flowers would be in-season, so we picked May instead of September.  I love peonies—I’ve always loved peonies. The first house I lived when I was little had almost nothing to recommend it, except there was this long hedge of deep red peonies.  When we moved, I asked my parents to put peonies in at our new place.  [Years later] when the wedding came around, it was a bit too early for the type of peonies growing in our yard to bloom. So our neighbor cut the ones in her yard, wrapped them, put them in warm water [and brought them to San Francisco].  Those peonies made up a substantial part of my bouquet.”

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Did you grow all your flowers?

“No, we bought some at the flower market.  You pay a lot more when you go in two months ahead of time and say you want a bunch of white tulips on a certain date.  So we went in [to look] and bought the flowers on the same day.  I never would’ve picked orchids [ordinarily].  They don’t grow where I live—they aren’t me. But I wanted to be open to what people had.  The orchids were elegant, beautiful.  And we were so happy with them.  I think if I had gone in ahead of time with an idea—I would’ve missed them.”

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So … growing, buying, arranging all your flowers is a lot of work. How did you pull that off, logistically?

“I suggest getting the flowers a couple of days beforehand.  The flowers are so tight—you want them to open a little. I got mine on Friday, and we were getting married on Sunday.  We did a rehearsal midday Saturday and a rehearsal lunch.  My married girlfriends, and my fiancé (now husband) Bob, helped with the arranging.  Four to six people worked on it for three or four hours in the suite in the hotel room.  A lot of people came by to visit us in the hotel suite while we were working and stayed to help for twenty minutes or so.  Everything was done the day before except I did my bouquet the morning of the wedding. I was still deciding what I wanted, so I had set aside a lot of the peonies I thought I might use.   All the websites tell you how to order flowers, what to do with them—but not how to move them.  You get flowers in big packing boxes, so we put the arrangements back in the boxes.  Then my uncle drove them over [to the venue] and someone put water and the arrangements into the vases.”

What did you learn through the process, or what advice would you give to would be d.i.y. wedding florists?

“Think it out beforehand and have a plan.  It really reduces a lot of the stress.  Your mom, your aunt, everybody will think that you’re totally crazy for wanting to do your own flowers. But if it’s something you enjoy, you should do it. Also, one of the things I recognized early on was that doing arrangements that required floral foam was way to advanced for me for a big event.  Hand-tied stuff is great. And I found the bouquets easiest.”

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We’ll be featuring some other d.i.y. projects Julia and Bob did later today.  Thanks for taking time to share with us, Julia!  You, Bob, and all your family and friends did a great job making your wedding personal and special.

photo credit: Gia Canali

floral source: the neighbor’s front yard & San Francisco Flower Market vases/containers: Save On Crafts