Tag Archives: peonies

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!).

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S + E: Secret Garden in Wine Country Wedding

03 | 13 | 2011

S & E’s wedding embodied all the most elegant and magical things about wine country and we were thrilled that it was featured in this year’s C Weddings. So we thought we should offer a closer look at the wedding in its intricate and well-designed detail. Below: the bride’s ceremony-ready updo; bouquet of peonies and garden roses by Sharla Flock (complete with mint and dusty miller Sharla plucked from her own garden!); ceremony set in the ruins of an old winery. During the recessional, the bride and groom were followed out by a New Orlean’s style jazz band (!).

A ceremony design note: wide aisles are wonderful, and afford excellent vantage points for photographers and guests alike.  If you have the space, make a wide aisle.

During cocktails, Stacy McCain and her crew oversaw the transformation of the ruins area into a dining area.  We love the centerpiece design by Sharla Flock.  (I also worked with her on this inventive wedding last spring).  Meanwhile, the bride was transforming her look, too.  The bride and groom had a busy schedule, but we were happy to catch them here and there, in between the various parts of the day.

Dessert, dancing, and self-portrait-taking in the barn followed dinner.  If you look closely above and below, you’ll see some of the many musical ensembles that contributed to the festive mood of the wedding from beginning to end. One thing we loved about the wedding was how very different each part of the day looked and felt.  Musical cues were as important as visual ones.  We also loved how personal the food felt.  The groom’s family contributed produce from their farm, including almonds for badam kheer, a traditional Indian dessert drink (that I am now mildly obsessed with … and have started making regularly on my own!).  The couple departed the reception in a vintage Packard. I love the grand exit as a photo op (even if I am, as I was here, the only one there to witness it).

photos: Gia Canali; planning & design: Stacy McCain Events; floral design: Sharla Flock; music (!!): Ed Ivey, Bay Area Booking; bride’s gown, Vera Wang; stationery, Hello!Lucky; lighting, Got Light; venue: Annadel Estate; catering: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering

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Real Weddings :: Eunice & Daniel: One Lucky Wedding

03 | 01 | 2010

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Welcome to Eunice & Daniel’s wedding!  Eunice and her sister Sabrina own Hello!Lucky, while Daniel designs video games at Three Rings, and frankly, I can’t think of a craftier, more inventive—or more exuberant!—crew to plan a wedding.  Eunice designed pretty much everything and she and her friends, led by sister and maid-of-honor, Sabrina, worked tirelessly to make sure those designs became a reality. Much of the inspiration for the wedding’s design is from Tim Walker’s photographs.  Walker’s work has always fascinated me, as it demonstrates, in intricate detail, how Britain was, is, and always will be a magical place, if improbably so.  See his work, if you aren’t already familiar with it.  You’ll know what I mean.  The little stage Eunice and Daniel were married on and the whimsical parade to the ceremony site, led by Daniel with his white unicorn, are lifted straight from Walker’s (or … Eunice-and-Daniel’s) imagination.

{click any image to enlarge the gallery}

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Below: a few images from the ceremony. I love the flower girls dumping the confetti on each other!!  The stage was lovingly made by the crew at Because We Can and painted by Eunice and friends.  (The stage now has a home behind Eunice & Daniel’s bed, which is the perfect sort of re-purposing of wedding decor, I think).  Eunice designed her dress and her friend and colleague, Hello!Lucky’s London office head, Iain Harris Bartlett, sewed it for her.

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The day passed by at lightning speed, as it really always does at weddings.  I was so happy to have a few moments with Eunice and Daniel along the winding dirt road and in the wide, grassy fields at {Wilbur Hot Springs}.

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The details of this wedding were myriad, intricate, and marvelous.  Nearly everything was made by hand, and much of it by Eunice, Daniel, and their friends. There was so much to look at (and photograph and share!) that I needed a dedicated post to do those details any sort of justice at all.  Here are just a few, though.  Sharla Flock designed the florals, which were rich and varied and added so much color and texture to the wedding.  The cake topper is hilariously cute (worth clicking to enlarge!).

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The guests were dressed to match the wedding perfectly, even the littlest ones.  It gave me the feeling that we were all in a movie we couldn’t see being filmed.

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As night fell, the party began in earnest.  There was square-dancing and Eunice’s sister, Sabrina, sang a song.  Their father accompanied the band on his mandolin for another song.  And, yes, Eunice and Daniel really did cut the cake with a cleaver.  I think Daniel might have a collection …

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For fewer, larger photographs, please see {this gallery} on my main site.  And satisfy your floral-detail-loving-cravings {here}.  Hello!Lucky posted a great feature on their, site, too, complete with a gallery and diy wedding project instructionals, and it’s {here}.

photographs by Gia Canali; wedding design, Hello!Lucky; paper goods, Hello!Lucky and Joel Dewberry; wedding planning, Lisa Feldman Designs; Daniel’s dapper suit, Al’s Attire; bridesmaid’s dresses, Al’s Attire and Jessica Bobillot; Eunice’s fascinator, Jennifer Behr; cake topper, Publique Living;  stage, wooden table “numbers,” and parade props, Because We Can and Hello!Lucky; lighting design, Jimmy Duhig, Creative Lighting Design; Eunice designed her dress and it was handsewn by her friend Iain Harris Bartlett. Go handmade!!

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Real Weddings :: Eunice & Daniel: Down to the Details

03 | 01 | 2010

This post is just for all you lovers-of-minutia.  Some of the details will be repeated in the main post about Eunice and Daniel’s wedding (coming later today!), but it’s fun to see them bigger and in context.  We especially like the non-numerical table numbers. Had I been a guest, I’d have hoped to be seated at the dragonfly or goldfish tables.  The tissue paper pom-poms, Eunice made by hand, are so pretty, too.  And, I imagine, were a lot of work!! Click any image to enlarge the gallery.

 

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photos: Gia Canali; floral design, Sharla Flock; cake topper; PubliQue Living; paper goods, Hello!Lucky and Joel Dewberry; table “numbers,” Because We Can with Hello!Lucky; lighting, Jimmy Duhig, Creative Lighting Design.

 

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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{click photo to enlarge}

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
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