Tag Archives: gd designers

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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We’re Featured on Once Wed

03 | 31 | 2011

Love this wedding, with perfectly quirky design and myriad personal touches, including a ring of succulents (prominently featuring one of my most favorite varieties – the echeveria afterglow!).  It’s over on Once Wed today {here}.  Some of you know I’m packing and moving right now, but I have my (probably over-ambitious) fingers crossed that I can post a bunch more of my favorite images here … soon.

photo: Gia Canali

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Wedding Design & Aesthetics: Variations on a Theme

02 | 10 | 2009

I’m really so happy—aren’t we all?!—that brides everywhere are freeing themselves from the tyranny of the matchy-matchy wedding.  It’s a wedding design aesthetic that reigned uncontested for far too long.  Variations-on-a-theme isn’t just the different-bridesmaid-dresses-in-the-same-color thing, but I do think it was a small first step in the direction of freedom.  And in the last year or two, I have seen “variations on a theme” spread to all sorts of design elements, including florals and decór.

Honestly, even though I think they were just a starting place, I love seeing bridesmaid dresses that don’t match at all, or follow some broad color scheme—chocolate, saffron, and turquoise, with some patterns thrown in. Just really flattering dresses for each bridesmaid (which, naturally, makes the photographs that include the bridesmaids much better).  It also photographs very well when the families dress on a loose color scheme, with all different outfits in, say, khaki and blue, or all jewel tones.

Personal flowers are a lovely—and logical—opportunity for variation.  Below is a bride with her bridesmaids, who all wore different cream-colored dresses.  Floracopia created unique bouquets to match each bridesmaid’s dress.

variationsbridesmaids4

variationsbouquet1 variationsbouquet9

(Clearly!) I have a soft spot for flowers.  So, what’s more exciting than having more to photograph / more to look at?  Here is another example of variation of personal flowers. All the bridesmaids bouquets were white (and green), but each bouquet featured a different bloom.  The corresponding groomsman wore a boutonnière made with a small arrangement of the same flowers.  The photographs below are not matched bridesmaid-to-groomsman, but I think they give a sense of the overall feel.  Florals by GD Designers.

bride-bouquet bridesmaids-bouquets

boutonniere1 boutonniere2

Centerpieces are another high-profile, attention-grabbing opportunity to show off your creativity.  Using a few tall arrangements of unique blooms at some tables can add visual interest … and save you money over using tall arrangements at every table. Or, you could have a florist create different arrangements on every table.  The possibilities here are endless, too—different containers (e.g., vases), different flowers in the same color group, different colors of the same blooms, different everythings.  Below, a simple illustration of different containers.  This bride also alternated the patterned linens with solid black ones for more variety. Florals by Michael Holmes Designs.

black and white centerpiece black and white centerpiece 2

If you are on a shoe-string budget, get your green-thumbed friends to grow and arrange flowers that are native to your area—or just raid your local farmer’s market.  Some of my clients did this with a wedding at the Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club in Mill Valley, CA.  The centerpieces for the reception were all loose—and different—flower arrangements of local flowers in Mason jars.  The result was pleasing; it struck a happy balance between the unique and the united.

sunflower centerpiece sunflower centerpiece 2

Cohesion, or the theme itself, is what “pulls it all together” visually, and the variety what adds interest. Couples are freeing their florists (and other vendors!) to do something they’ve never been encouraged to do before … create something unique.  This generous spirit is coming from celebrity clients and Joe & Jane couples alike.  I realize that I’m probably preaching to the choir, so I’d love to hear how other brides are making their own variations.  We’ll revisit this design aesthetic point from time to time.

My new hope?  For variations in stationery.  Now that the environmentally-conscious weddings are becoming more of a social standard, I’m looking for some crafty innovations with paper goods.  I’d like to see couples get a letterpress plate, but print their invites and other paper goods on vintage/re-purposed or scrap paper. (You have got to believe those letter-pressers have some wicked scraps stashed away, right?).  Escort cards made from … vintage playing cards, maybe.  Does anybody know someone out there doing this?

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