Tuesday, May 31, 2011

As Seen In: The San Francisco Chronicle

I was delighted to open my newspaper this Sunday and see the Chronicle's mention of my partnership with Chef Tyler Florence in the SFiS Style section. The timing was great too ~ I just shared this recent event with Tyler on my blog.

If you missed it this weekend, you can catch the online version here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tyler Florence Coit Tower Dinner Party

This spring I had the privilege of working with my partner, Chef Tyler Florence on a very special event benefitting the San Francisco Parks Trust and San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department.

Two generous attendees of the annual Party for the Parks gala bid on a private dinner prepared by Tyler at San Francisco landmark Coit Tower. These lucky donors invited 10 guests to join them for this unique experience not available to the general public.

The evening began with cocktails at sunset, atop the tower's observation deck. Guests sipped mugs of hot apple cider as they took in 360-degree views of the bay and city. Tyler prepared a selection of southern-inspired appetizers, including his incredible fried chicken from Wayfare Tavern. Following cocktails, docents led guests down to the tower’s main floor for a tour of the fascinating murals dating back to the 1930s.

The tour ended at a candle-lit table for 12 inspired by the colors of the murals and the Golden Gate Bridge. Tyler introduced each dish of his custom four-course menu and treated guests to an impressive table-side presentation of crown roast of veal.

Tyler Florence’s Coit Tower Dinner Menu

Grilled Asparagus
lemon sabayon, speck rolled 60 degree egg

Sauteed Local Halibut
bacon butter braised cabbage and chanterelles with a wild mushroom ‘tea’

Crown Roast of Veal
stuffed with spring panzanella with a rich veal jus

Warm Beignets
strawberry chips, strawberry rhubarb puree

Photography by Meg Smith & Associates: Kristen L. Celebrity chef Tyler Florence supported by Paula LeDuc Fine Catering. Rentals by Classic Party Rentals. Florals by Kathleen Deery Design. Table menus by PS Paper.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Q + A: Meg Smith of Meg Smith Photography

I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Meg Smith for over 10 years. Her work is classic yet modern and she's great at capturing those special moments with her photojournalistic style.

Because Meg has been shooting beautiful weddings for years, she comes with a calm that can only be cumulated with experience. She knows how to anticipate the next moment before it happens. Additionally, Meg is an absolute pleasure to work with. She has the same dedication to her clients that I do and cares deeply about delivering more than they asked for. Clients can really trust her with the significant responsibility of capturing the day perfectly.

Photography by Meg Smith
What do you find most exciting about your job?
I think that my clients are amazing. They are some serious "movers and shakers" doing powerful, interesting things in their fields. I feel lucky to intersect with them and then be able to photograph them on such a personal, joyful occasion.

I also love getting to work with so many creative people on weddings. In the end it is a collaboration of many elements -- none of us in the "wedding world" work in a vacuum and we all bring our talent to the table and share it. If my photos look beautiful it's also because there were many people who had a hand in helping make it beautiful; whether it's a luscious garden to photograph in, a breathtaking dress, a bountiful bouquet, or a planner who knew I needed the couple at that time, because of that light....!

Many people might not know this but I do, so I will share - you were raised in the Napa Valley so you have seen it grow and change a lot in your lifetime. What do you think are the best reasons to get married in the Napa Valley?
I was born in Davis while my father finished his Master's degree in viticulture and eonology, but we moved to the top of Spring Mountain Road, 200 acres overlooking the valley, when I was one. It was a farming town then! What hasn't changed is the beauty of the light and the gorgeous vistas. And now there are so many culinary destinations--the best the world has to offer has influenced the hotels, restaurants, and wineries here. You can do as much as you want or as little!

What professional photographer do you most admire and why?
Historically, I love Henri Cartier-Bresson because his work was about capturing moments that were fleeting, but were happening completely naturally. So much photography (especially weddings!) feels so staged to me. The challenge for me is to capture things as they naturally unfold, to capture the moments between moments that others might not notice.
Currently, John Dolan and Victoria Pearson have been really influential. They did the photography for the first couple Martha Stewart Weddings magazines, and forever changed the idea that wedding photography had to look a certain way. John is still developing film in his sink, so he gets extra points!

What are your feelings on digital photography versus film?
I don't think I would have become a photographer if I was getting started in photography now. The beauty for me was processing film, seeing grain, an image emerging in the darkroom under a red light, chemistry, tongs, long rolls of negatives drying from a cloths line. Now? A CF card, a card reader and a computer. It doesn't look the same and it certainly doesn't feel the same. It's the same reason I surround myself with books and don't own a television -- I love the texture of paper, whether in a book or from a fiber-based museum-quality photograph.

I always suggest that my clients prepare a shot list of the must-have photos for their wedding day, but not go too crazy with group portraits; otherwise your wedding reception will turn into a photo shoot. Do you agree or have any other advice like this to share?
It's important to capture family groupings, they are historically important. But yes, keep it reasonable! I agree that the wedding is not a photo shoot, but a historically important event that should be documented. It's vital to allow time and space for things to unfold naturally. That's when I think the most playful images can occur, and it simply can't happen if I'm trying to get through a three-page list of photo requests.

Are there any current trends that you find particularly inspiring at weddings right now?
I like that there's a step back from the completely over-the-top wedding. There's more interest in making it really personal. It's a reflection of the couple -- their values and their interests -- and that makes it more special to photograph and I feel more invested.

If you weren't a wedding photographer, what career would you like to have?
I love wedding photography and I hope I'll be doing it for as long as people like my work. I'm also excited about a new direction my work is taking; I've just been contracted for my first cookbook! It's so natural since I live in Napa Valley and grew up in the wine industry, and my personal interests are all about gardening, sustainability, food and cooking -- basically the "Northern California lifestyle" we are so blessed to have here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Coming Soon: Q + A with Meg Smith

This week I'll be posting a Q + A with the delightful Meg Smith, one of my favorite wedding photographers. I've worked with Meg for over 10 years, but learned some interesting new things that I'm excited to share with you. Check back soon!

Photography by Meg Smith

Friday, May 13, 2011

Weekly Inspiration: Lilacs + Lemons

Spring brides are so lucky for the abundance of beautiful flower options this time of year. One of my absolute favorites is white lilac ~ classic and elegant with a romantic soft scent. Inspired by the season, I loved the idea of brightening up spring centerpieces with lemons. Not only do they add a pop of color, but lemons perfectly reflect the time of year when everything feels fresh and new.

Flowers by Kathleen Deery Design. Photography by Meg Smith & Associates: Kristen L.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

As Seen In: Martha Stewart Weddings

I was honored and excited when the ladies at Martha Stewart Weddings asked me to contribute to the Expert Advice feature on The Bride's Guide. Rehearsal dinners are such a fun way to kick off the wedding weekend, but planning one can raise a lot of questions. From the guest list to making it memorable, here are my tips for hosting this special night.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Weekly Inspiration: Royal Wedding Receptions

Didn't you just fall in love with William and Kate's wedding? Perfection in every way. From the bride's impeccably designed gown (and that veil!), to the adorable flower girls and pages, to the light-hearted words whispered at the alter, I was impressed that such a grand and traditional affair also felt so modern and personal.

If you’re feeling inspired by the royal wedding, I wanted to share some of my favorite venues for regal receptions.

The Breakers, Palm Beach

The legendary Breakers is a spectacular Italian-Renaissance hotel overlooking the ocean in Palm Beach. Its grand old world feel is just magnificent ~ a truly special place with so much rich history that each of their beautiful ballrooms transports you to another time and place. In addition, the service is outstanding, making each guest feel like a king or queen.

Photography by Abby Ross. See more from this event here.

City Hall, San Francisco

San Franciscans are truly lucky to have such a stunning and impressive building for our City Hall. Even a small elopement feels so significant and special when the couple steps onto the grand staircase in the Rotunda. But I love City Hall for large receptions, with dinner and dancing under the gilded dome or in the spacious North Light Court. With its marble floors and grand archways, City Hall is a wonderful venue for feeling like American royalty.

Photography by Gertrude and Mabel. See more from this wedding here.

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco

The iconic Palace Hotel is a landmark in San Francisco, reminiscent of turn-of-the-century grandeur. The Garden Court, with its spectacular stained glass dome and crystal chandeliers, is perfectly befitting a royal reception. Isn't it breathtaking in candlelight? I also recommend taking a page from Prince Harry's wedding playbook by hosting an after-party in the Ralston Room, giving guests a chance to really cut loose at the end of the night.

Photography by Suzy Clement. See more from this wedding here.

Laurie Arons Special Events is a preferred vendor at all of the venues listed above. Please feel free contact us if you'd like to plan an event.
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