Celebration to Publication: Los Angeles Times ‘All Things Vintage’

When designing a wedding I always have one goal in mind: make it unique. If everyone is pulling from the same pool of ideas and rental companies how different can you be? By infusing vintage pieces into your special day you can create a custom one-of-a-kind eclectic look that is all your own. Not to mention, add sentimental value from infusing heritage pieces such as grandma’s broach, grandpa’s pocket watch or especially vintage furnishings and decor.  Recently I was interviewed for a featured article in the Los Angeles Times about “All Things Vintage” that talks about just that.

All things Vintage

Some couples look to the past on their wedding day

Something old, something new…

Scratch that. Some couples are in love with just the old and want their wedding to reflect their appreciation of days gone by. From the engagement ring to the getaway car, many couples look to the past to create dream weddings that make for once-in-a-lifetime memories. And everything that is old is new again.

When Kimberli Partlow walks down the aisle on Saturday to marry Sheldon Samuel at Pasadena’s historic Cravens Estate, her gown will not be vintage, but nearly everything else will be. For months, she has been collecting vintage vases to hold flower arrangements and antique picture frames to display table numbers, and she will accessorize her Winnie Couture gown with period jewelry. “I love vintage,” she said. “It’s timeless and classic.”

Antique sparkle
All engagement rings are romantic, but an antique ring that has stood the test of time — and presumably the test of love — holds magic. “Those who love vintage jewelry want that energy of the past: the romance, the old-world charm — the glamour,” said Neil Lane, owner of Neil Lane Jewelry in Los Angeles, whose customers for antique and original designs include celebrities like Madonna, Reese Witherspoon, Courteney Cox-Arquette and Emily Blunt.

“When I started out in the ’80s, everyone wanted plain round diamonds,” he said. “The world has changed, and there’s a new appreciation for the handcrafted detail you see in antique jewelry.”

“Antique rings are timeless, and will last through all of the trends,” said Jennifer Ganda, who’s been managing Craig Evan Small Estate Jewelry, an L.A. antique and vintage jewelry store, for 14 years. She admitted some are more timeless than others, such as Edwardian and Art Deco pieces. A ring is considered “antique” in the United States if it is 50 years or older and “vintage” if it is 20 years or older.

You are invited …
While some couples infuse antique elements into their wedding, others want the entire event to be vintage.

When Vanessa Van Wieren and Cortnie Purdy of Lollipop Events & Designs in San Diego were asked to create a Great Gatsby-era wedding recently, they began with the invitations. “By sending Art Deco-style invitations,”Van Wieren said, “we were able to give guests a glimpse into what was in store for them at the wedding.”

A timeless gown
Not every bride is lucky enough to inherit a gown from her mother or grandmother. However, with the abundant selection of vintage wedding gowns in Southern Califor-nia, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Sue Lieberman, owner of Santa Monica’s Paris 1900 boutique, has been selling antique gowns since 1976. At the store she opened in 1981, she sells wedding gowns from the Edwardian period (1905) to the 1930s, as well as new gowns in vintage styles. “Antique gowns are incredibly fragile,”she said. “I’ve found that some brides want the look of a vintage gown, but aren’t committed to the care an antique gown requires.”

At Paper Bag Princess Vintage Couture and Contemporary Collectible Clothing in Beverly Hills, brides can choose from sleek 1940s gowns all the way up to 1970s bohemian-chic dresses. Catwalk in West Hollywood sells 1920s and ’30s slinky, slip-type gowns to brides.

Sites with history
For brides who want their wedding location to continue the vintage theme, the local choices include the Oviatt Penthouse, Greystone Mansion, Adamson House, the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, and Exchange LA, the newly renovated 1920s former stock exchange in downtown L.A.

Jeff Cooper, property agent for Hollywood Locations Inc., which represents historical properties such as the landmark Union Station, said that some couples take their vintage weddings even further, creating themes such as “A Night In Casablanca” or bringing in antique cars.

Classic cars
Speaking of wheels, any car will get you to and from the wedding, but many couples dream of making their entrance — and getaway — in style in an antique car. Partlow plans to have a vintage car pick her up from the Langham Pasadena, where she will be staying, to take her to the ceremony. “I’ve always dreamed of a vintage Silver Cloud Rolls-Royce for my wedding,” she said.

Down to the details
Van Wieren and Purdy like to incorporate vintage elements into the weddings they plan. “Vintage touches keep an event from feeling cookie-cutter,”Van Wieren said. A bouquet made from antique brooches or a cake stand crafted from a vintage plate and candlesticks are some of their suggestions.

Paradoxically, incorporating vintage elements into a wedding can be the perfect way to keep it from looking dated.

“When I look back at my wedding photos years from now, I want them to still be relevant,” Partlow said.

Best of all, infusing the past into the celebration of your future together is not just for looks. It’s also a reflection of your love: timeless.

— Jennifer Evans Gardner, 
Special Advertising Sections Writer

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Motivation to Celebration: Engage!10 at The Breakers

I recently just got my feet back on the ground after the wondrous event that is Engage! For those of you not in the industry or in the know, Engage! is a luxury wedding seminar featuring the biggest and brightest names in the industry where you have a chance to listen and learn, meet and mingle and get motivated and moved by the people whom you aspire to and appreciate. This years event was featured at the ultra posh hotel The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. As a first timer to the Breakers I must say I was floored, their website does not do it justice. Reminiscent of a bygone era featuring Italian frescoes, gilded ballrooms and elegant parlors, The Breakers would make any bride’s fairy tale wedding come true. Not only did it serve as the backdrop to this glamorous event but showed us just how drool worthy their culinary arts are as well.

The ever so charming Lara Casey of Southern Weddings Magazine helped to welcome the attendees.

Simon Bailey kicking your mind and spirit into shape with his motivational pep rally teaching you to ‘Shift’ your focus and life. I got a chance to speak to Simon one-on-one the night before and can honestly say what an amazing and inspiring person he really is. Consider him your own personal cheerleader who truly wants you to succeed.

The Palm Beach inspired cocktail lounge that served as a platform for the welcome reception. And of course… the gorgeous food that I was drawn to. Gorgeous chilled soup shots and prosciutto wrapped buffalo mozzarella served with sliced tart apricots.

Me and some of the Engage! attendees sipping frozen mojitos. What’s so great about Engage! is how friendly and helpful each person was, they truly wanted to help everyone to succeed with their own tips and advice. Competition was never present, only consideration. Here I am amidst some of the mid-westerners of the group including Amy Zaroff, Amy Rubins, Me, Lindsey Piram and more.

A gorgeous courtyard at The Breakers served as the location for the kick off breakfast after a long night of mingling. Mel Barlow and her team didn’t miss a single delicious detail such as these grilled banana parfait bites, piping hot sugared donuts, lox bagel bites and breakfast brulees.

The Breakers ballroom was transformed into our classroom where we awaited the words of talented industry leaders we came to see and hear.

Never shy on beauty or food, our first break welcomed us into a berry parfait and macaron filled parlor.

Southern charm was never short on hand, especially when we were treated to a discussion featuring the ultra talented trio of Todd Fiscus, Tara Guerard and David Beahm.

Listening and learning intently to our speakers. From right to left: Vanessa Van Wieren (me!), Harmony Walton of The Bridal Bar, Lara Casey and Emily Ayer of Southern Weddings Magazine.

The hilarious and witty Mindy Weiss who braved many a celebrity weddings and even shared her own wedding photos!! Hat’s were very en vogue in the 80’s don’t you know…

For our lunch we were brought into a gorgeous rotund ballroom featuring opulent chandeliers and more delicate Italian painted frescoes. Adorable boxes branded with my all time favorite food adjective, YUMMY!, held a Lobster Roll, Gazpacho, Deviled Eggs and Crudites. The refreshing watermelon juice was a beautiful way to add color to any table!

During lunch we were treated to a demonstration by the iconic cake designer Sylvia Weinstock.

Not only did we receive decorating tips but life and marriage advice as well. One of the most important to her longevity… VODKA! Randy Fenoli didn’t miss a beat and jumped to serve Sylvia her well deserved afternoon nip.

A panel of wonderful women including Darcy Miller of Martha Stewart Weddings, Abby Larsen of Style Me Pretty, Amy Atlas Dessert Bar Designer Extraordinaire and Donna Newman photographer.

The hilariously fashionable Randy Fenoli of Say Yes to the Dress and luxury stationer Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York.

An afternoon Citrus Break featuring a whole new look to the parlor including orange Crush sodas and orange mini cheesecakes.

Engage! veteran Marcy Blum was so refreshingly direct and honest about business tactics in the industry including her do’s and don’ts.

One of the most jaw dropping designers Bryan Rafanelli, known for his celebrity clientele such as Chelsea Clinton, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, showing us how he transforms open spaces into gorgeous city sized tents with his team.

That evening we were treated to a ‘Dine Around’ where we broken into smaller groups and went to dinner with an industry leader. I was lucky enough to get Lara Casey! After the Dine Around were were treated to another fantastic cocktail party where I mingled with the beautiful Daniella Ferdico Faget of Bella Signature Design.  Also on hand were the adorable New Yorkers Michelle Spezia of Fims by Francscso, Chelsea Clinton’s photographer, and Jacqueline Elfe of Stellar Style Events.

The following evening after a day of smaller broken up classes we were treated to an elegant and luxurious farewell fete. When you walked into the room you were awe struck by the hundreds of glittering champagne glasses hung with ribbon and the stilted bride and groom who cut down a glass for each guest as they approached.

The neo-baroque style room was transformed into a pink fantasy for our delectable dinner of individual raw bars on plated ice sculptures, seared lamb and gallon sized make-your-own-sundae martini glasses with every possible topping. During dinner were were treated to talented jazz singers, dueling violinists and a hilarious show of bucket beating waiters. After dinner we were treated to even more fantastic entertainment including break dancers, musicians and beat pumping dj’s. All entertainment was provided by Elan Artists.

A lovely end to the evening as I say farewell to the super sweet (non pun intended) and charming Amy Atlas.

What more can I say except WOW! After forging some fantastic friendships and getting so much inspiration and a newly refreshed drive, I’m ready as ever to push myself and my designs even further for my wonderful clientele.

Photography by Mel Barlow

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Registration to Celebration: Michael C. Fina

When it comes to registering for your wedding a lot of factors come into consideration. Style, quantities, practicality, will it be everyday use or special occasion? Growing up with an Italian Grandmother who kept the ‘special’ living room furniture covered in plastic and the ‘special’ china in the cupboard for only the most special of occasions, I always had this sense of distance from the ‘special’ things she kept. Years later when I look back I wish nothing more than for her to have realized that every day is special. We could have made every moment together a special occasion with the right attitude and appreciation for celebrating.

Of course, not everyone can expect to receive an entire collection of luxury china such as the collections offered by Michael C. Fina, but when registering for what you want to celebrate your new life why not select at least a few special pieces that will contribute to the moments in your life to come that you could make more special. To me, having dinner with friends, gathering the family together or even a simple birthday or anniversary dinner could, and should, become a special event and with the help of such beautiful pieces as these below.

This top set of pieces would be be own special collection request if I were to register!

Michael C. Fina offers online registration for all of his fine collections including china, glassware, home accessories and even fine jewelery!

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Inspiration to Photographic Interpretation: John Schnack

Today I wanted to share with you a bit of insight into the mind of a fantastic photographer, John Schnack of Schnack Studios. When it comes to choosing someone to be responsible for capturing the moments and memories of your wedding or special event, it should be a very personal and thoughtful decision. I’ve had the pleasure of working with John Schnack before for a Valentine’s Day inspired phoot shoot and must say, coming from an art direction background, he was one of the most artistic and skillful photographers I’ve worked with. From lighting to interaction to response and turn around time, just amazing!

Here are a few questions that I gave John to try to get some insight and background to the art behind his style:

What inspires you to create the style of photography you do?
I wish I had some cool, prose-filled way to answer this question, but I’m just not that smart.  I’m inspired by everything, from benign, inanimate things like buildings, streets and empty space, to stuff that’s more personal, like the way my 5-year-old daughter interacts with her environment.  I like patterns and love to see what happens when small things are put in big spaces.  Ultimately, I love taking pictures for the same reasons I did when I was 15 years old-because it makes me feel good.

Does fashion, nature, trends, etc.. affect the style in which you shoot?

Yes, definitely.  I’m often asked by couples about the types of photography that inspire me, and they’re often surprised to hear that very little of my inspiration comes from other wedding photographers, as I find the vast majority of wedding photography incredibly boring.  The work that inspires me mostly comes from outside the wedding industry:  commercial photographers like Nick Onken and Jim Erickson; photojournalists like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa and James Nachtwey; editorial and portrait photographers like Platon, Nadav Kander and Ryan McGinley; fashion photographers like Steven Klein and Ellen von Unwerth; and fine art photographers like Stephen Shore and Amy Stein.

Has your photographic style evolved since you first got into the business?
Absolutely, and I think it’s only natural for one’s art to evolve over time.  Early on my work was very safe-safe lighting, safe poses, etc.  But exposure to different artists, personal changes like marriage and having a child, and my constant desire to get better have all had an impact on the changes in my work.

Who/what/where has been your favorite shoot and why?
I hate to play favorites, but in terms of wedding photography, my favorite events have always been where the couple just says, “Do your thing,” and trusts me and my work implicitly.  Just a few weeks back we photographed a wedding at a 150-year-old barn in Lake Almanor, Calif.  The barn was transformed from a run-down hangout for teenage drinkers into a rustic oasis.  Everything had to be brought in:  flooring, lights (interior and exterior), bathrooms, decor, flowers.  Everyone involved-from the couple and their families to the florist, designer and coordinator-all did an other-worldly job of creating this event.  The couple loved my work and trusted me from the get-go, which is an incredibly comforting feeling when covering a wedding with so much detail.

Here is a collection of some of John’s favorite photos and why they made the list…

Pietro and Michelle | Florence, Italy
Florence’s beauty is well documented, but for Pietro and Michelle’s engagement session I wanted to explore areas of the city away from the major tourist stops, like the Baptistry, the Duomo, and the Ponte Vecchio.  After shooting on the south side of the Arno River, we headed back to the north side towards our hotel.  As the sun got lower, the light shafts through the narrow streets were very contrasty and acute.  After playing with a few different angles, I asked them to walk ahead of me slightly, right into the sun.

Rebecca and Bridesmaids | San Diego, CA
This is one of those photographs where it was better to be lucky than good.  This was taken right after Rebecca and Jason’s ceremony on the beach.  As I was moving to a different position to get a better perspective on the crowd, I noticed Rebecca making her way towards a cheering throng of family and bridesmaids.  I quickly opened up the aperture, kneeled down and fired off a quick sequence.  I capture the absolute peak moment of the situation:  Rebecca moving swiftly, arm slightly raised as she makes her way to the crowd; her bridesmaid letting out a wake-the-dead scream of joy; Rebecca’s mother’s hands clasped and giant smile, overjoyed with what just happened.

Jenni and Bridesmaids | La Jolla, CA
This is one of those “hang with it” moments, where as a photographer, it pays stick with a situation that, at the outset, may not yield the results one wants.  After hair and makeup, we headed outside to capture some fun images of Jenni and her bridesmaids.  We spent a few minutes getting some fun, playful images of the girls hanging out in a group, but I wasn’t really happy with what I had gotten to that point.  Then I had this idea that it might look cool to see what they would look like lined up walking towards me, just this big wall of hot pink.  As they were readying to walk, Jenni picked up a bottle of champagne to bring with them.  Then, as they’re walking, she starts pouring champagne for her girls, and that ultimately is what makes the photo work so well.

Bridal Party and Mayan Ruins | Caracol, Belize
A few years back I had the great fortune of shooting a destination wedding in Belize.  Aside from the opportunity to photograph a wedding in such an exotic location, the great thing about this wedding was that the bride and groom were really gung-ho about doing some shoots in locations that were uniquely Belize.  The day after the wedding the entire crew headed out to the Mayan ruins of Caracol, which dates back to 1200 BC.  The wedding party got back into their wedding-day attire and we got some fantastic group portraits in and around the ruins.  This photograph was taken from atop the largest ruin, Caana.

Scottie and Alan | La Jolla, CA
This image was taken last December during Scottie and Alan’s engagement shoot.  The weather was cold, rainy and windy-absolutely miserable.  The first location at which we shot was an overlook area off La Jolla Farms Road, above Blacks Beach.  The clouds were particularly dark this day, and I thought it would look great with Scottie and Alan perched near the edge of the cliff, overlooking Scripps Pier and La Jolla Cove.  Scottie and Alan were totally game and I was able to make a pretty cool photograph.

Michelle and Brett | San Sebastián, Spain
Another destination wedding, this time along the Basque Coast of Spain.  A small rain shower rolled through for Michelle and Brett’s ceremony, but during our portrait session the skies cleared.  As the sun set over the ocean, the city and departing storm clouds exploded in color.  I wanted to capture the sheer power the weather emanated, so I asked Brett to give Michelle a big kiss right along the railing.

Stephanie | Mazatlan, Mexico (above left)
I was a big fan of Annie Liebovitz’s campaign for Louis Vuitton a few years back.  In pure Annie-style, the subjects were lighted using big light sources, which gave everything this really broad, soft light.  In some of the images, particularly the one of Keith Richards in the hotel room, the background light was toned down a bit in order for the subject to pop.  That was my inspiration for this image of Stephanie, taken shortly before her ceremony in Mazatlan.

Murielle | Del Mar (above right)
This was taken during a self-promo video I was making with the incredibly talented Dan Boswell of dvArtistry.  Earlier in the day we photographed Murielle in a different gown at a large house up on the hill.  As the light got lower, we switched into a different (read: cheaper) gown for a shoot on the beach.  I was really comfortable with what we had gotten at the house, so at this point we were just shooting from the hip.  Murielle is an actress and is terrific in front of the camera, so it didn’t take a lot to get her dancing around.  As the light was fading, we threw out the idea of jumping in the water.  She ran in, bouquet and all.

Courtney and Chris | Lake Almanor, CA
Courtney and Chris had their recent destination wedding at a 150-year-old barn up in the mountains in a little town called Lake Almanor.  This was shot during their processional, and the expression on Courtney’s face says more about this photo than I ever could.

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