GLT: We love that you donate 3% of your proceeds to charity. What are some of the unique ways that a conscientious couple planning a wedding can give back as part of their big day?
Michelle: Couples should be very discerning when choosing their vendors and should see it as a unique opportunity to give back to very specific communities. Choosing small businesses is a great first step. Think of it like shopping on Amazon versus supporting a small local business. Couples should consider their own moral agendas and seek out vendors who align with that. It makes the hunt for vendors more exciting and fulfilling!
Seek out vendors who are passionate about employing, giving back to and uplifting underrepresented communities. Weddings can be expensive but it's important for couples to realize that their dollars can actually make a huge impact!
GLT: Your portfolio really demonstrates your keen sense of storytelling. Do you have a personal philosophy about the ideal ratio of “fly-on-the-wall” vs. “semi-posed” photos at a wedding, or is it more of a “to each his own” type of decision?
Michelle: Thank you! In a magical world, I'd do 100% of the photos as a fly on the wall. I think of wedding photographers as "moment hunters," but the reality is that natural moments don't always happen at the best angle in the perfect light. I do a fair amount of gently guided posing to capture all those moments and make them look sparkly and lovely, but I try to be as hands-off as possible.
As a weekday vegan myself, I can't NOT ask: Have you found a holy grail bean burger recipe you can share with us? You know, because we all need fuel when we're busy planning events :)
Michelle: That's awesome that you're a weekday vegan! *high five* Bean burgers can be kind of heart-breaking; I've made my fair share of crumbly messes over the years but these are two that will not disappoint! I love that you can make a big batch and just freeze them for later.
GLT: It sounds like you're quite the world traveler. Any fun trips on the horizon, or places queued up next on your bucket list?
Michelle: Most recently I've been planning a bunch of quick little trips around the U.S. as I'm starting to grow my business outside of Chicago. For leisure travel however, I'm pretty eager to check out southern Chile. I love hiking and there's an incredible national park there, Torres del Paine.
Want to work with Michelle at Spark & Glow Photo? You know you do! Read more HERE!
If you're looking to add a little personality to your wedding décor, Relics Vintage Rentals is the answer to all of your Pinterest-black-hole-prayers. Based out of Milwaukee (and happy to travel to the Chicago area), the team over at RVR will work with you to design the perfect collection to give your big day the look it deserves. Whether you need a stunning farm table, some heirloom china, a stack of vintage trunks, or a rustic sheepskin throw, the Relics Vintage team will be happy to offer hands-on guidance to achieve your perfect look. Check out our Q&A with their in-house design specialist Jess below!
RVR: Here at Relics, every event is a story! We want our clients to utilize our rentals to tell that story visually! Our team strives to deliver every one of our couple’s with a curated aesthetic that not only tells their love story but reflects their personal style. The simplest way to do this? Utilize one of our pre-assembled yet visually unique lounge packages. What is a lounge package you might ask? It is a furniture bundle that includes couches, chairs, rugs, tables and accessories all for a fixed rate. We now offer over 30 lounge packages each with its own flair and flavor. These stylized collections not only make an event shine but serve as a “one stop shops” for couples who do not have time in their day to hand pick each piece of decor for their big day. Weddings can often be overwhelming and a lounge package is an excellent way to easily add some frill and function (perfect for use during cocktail hour or as a photo booth!) to your event without totally overexerting yourself. It is the little details that make an event feel whole. We find that those details are most commonly overlooked when planning. For first-time planners, we recommend browsing both the “Grand Details” and “Petite Details” sections of our website. Accessorizing is key when making an event intimate, inviting, and all your own.
GLT: Judging by the look of your amazingly curated vintage collection, this seems to be a labor of love. Who is the mastermind of sourcing, or is it a team effort?
RVR: I love that you call it a “labor of love” because our collection is truly curated via the love of all things vintage. Each employee has equal opportunity to source items for our collection because we find that each team member has his or her own specialized taste that adds to Relics’ versatile (and somewhat quirky) aesthetic. It is the melting pot of different personalities and preferences that makes Relics the vintage sanctuary it is.
GLT: Pinterest Fatigue is a real condition that many couples find themselves facing as they plan the visual elements of their wedding. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep organized, or edit down many ideas to a cohesive aesthetic?
RVR: One thing I always recommend is printing off a few ideas from online or cutting out magazine editorials instead of just using Pinterest. This way, you are making yourself a tangible Pinterest board to look at that is physically present during day to day life. I find this helps keep me on track in terms of personal design aesthetic and know it would work wonders for any fatigued couples out there. If you aren’t wedded to any look in particular, having a tangible Pinterest board also allows you the ability to mix and match styles or create more than one style to eventually choose between.
GLT: What are a couple of the wackiest items you have in your inventory? Any piece de resistance that deserves a special shout-out?
RVR: The most eclectic area of the Relics Penthouse is definitely the treasure trove where we store our entire loot of children’s goodies. We have a whole room dedicated to fun, funky items that might be impractical for daily use but are perfect for birthday parties, photoshoots, and more. This collection includes but is not limited to: a rainbow of vintage bicycles, ceramic animal heads, a vintage parasol made of hot pink fringe, a plastic dinosaur parade, a fleet of baby carriages, a hand sewn ballet tutu, a pair of mint-green waterskis, and a crown made entirely of glittery mushroom caps. Talk about wacky and whimsical!
GLT: As a private event DJ, I always ask my clients for "Insider Info" about songs and artists that hold a special place in their history. What's an example of a song that you personally tie to a "warm and fuzzy" memory that might be a good option to mix into a dinner playlist for instance?
Martin: The song that makes me feel nostalgic is a song called “Suena” by Intocable, my sister would have this song on almost every time I would walk into her room, and so I think of her every time I hear it.
GLT: Now, let's get down to brass tacks - Do you have any general tips for someone planning a multi-cultural wedding?
Martin: The number one thing I always tell clients is that planning your wedding is a great excuse to research and learn more about your culture! Every culture has a plethora of traditions, some of which can be lost with generations, so I always say don’t be afraid to do some digging and find out more. Ask your grandma or even do some Google searching to weave new meaning into your event. Not only will this pay off by making your family feel included, but it will weave a new personal story into your memory book.
The unique combination of different cultures we experience in the US can yield endless unique combinations, and a mesh is never a bad thing, so long as you stay true to your own personality and roots. Take for instance, the Dollar Dance at a Mexican wedding. While it is a common Mexican tradition, I’ve had couples request American music for the dancing. This way, they put their own personal twist on it!
GLT - On that, note what's your philosophy on MCing a bilingual wedding? Any tips or suggestions to make all guests feel included?
Martin - Whenever I MC a bilingual wedding I ask the bride and groom how much English/ Spanish they want me to use through the evenings. Most couples prefer me to MC everything in English and to mention the important items (cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc.) in both English and Spanish. I like to make jokes in both English and Spanish to make everyone feel welcome and to lighten the mood in the room. I have had couples that prefer the majority of the Wedding be in Spanish with only some things being announced in English. When speaking to the parents, I normally introduce myself in English and then based on their responses, will speak to them in either English or Spanish. Ultimately, it’s up to the Bride and Groom and what they feel comfortable with (based on their guests).
DJ Zach had an amazing time rocking the dance floor at Jess & Steve's wedding, hosted at Artifact Events this past June. We can't lie, the Do-Rite donut table is our new favorite dance party fuel!
Big ups to Five Grain Events for keeping the show running smoothly, and for posting this amazing collection of photos on their blog here.
(Photos by: Artisan Events)
We were lucky enough to be neighbors with the lovely and witty Mary Simmons of Persephone Floral at this past winter's Indie Wed, and we instantly fell in love with her style. It's clear upon first glance that Mary goes far beyond sticking flowers in a vase, and utilizes her background in visual arts to build creative and singular arrangements for each event. She is easygoing and flexible - happy to travel, or create a package that suits your aesthetic and budget. Read on to learn about the latest industry trends, and why you definitely want your florist to be an artist at heart.
1) Can you tell us a little bit about your background as a painter, and how this led you to the world of floral design? Would you say knack for composition began with the paintbrush?
My journey from painting to flower arranging involved both practical considerations and transferred passion. Oil painting was second nature to me. I can't describe the feeling of putting paint onto canvas. I used to paint for hours and it would feel like no time had passed. I knew that I wanted to be a painter, so of course I studied it in college. But I never knew what I wanted to paint! It felt important for the painting to be meaningful but really I was most interested in how color, line, texture, and value could come together in truly striking ways. I struggled to find a purpose and subject matter for my work.
After I graduated, I moved to Chicago and tried to pursue art. I worked and kept up a studio practice on the side. Eventually friends started getting married. Being wildly confident in my ability to successfully pick up creative pursuits, I began volunteering to be their florist. The experience of arranging flowers into beautiful designs reminded me of what painting felt like. Except better, because I knew what made flower arranging meaningful---it transformed a room into an intimate space. Suddenly I saw that flower arranging was an obvious path I just hadn't been seeing. I loved nature and gardened as a child so I already had knowledge of flowers. I could use all of the skills I had learned as a painter to compose breathtaking arrangements, be creatively fulfilled, and have the thing I felt I lacked with painting: purpose.
I didn't go for it right away though. I was nervous about owning my own business and I wasn't ready to trade in my paint brushes for pruning shears yet. The final push happened after I had my daughter Sibyl. I soon realized that all that free time I thought I would have to paint while on maternity leave didn't exist. I couldn't paint around her because of the oil fumes. So I started arranging flowers for fun because it was something I could do with her. Then one day it occurred to me that the only thing holding me back was fear. That wasn't the example I wanted to set for my daughter. I quit my job, filed for a business license and haven't looked back.
3) We understand that you often do floral design for destination weddings and events. As a florist who is committed to sourcing local products, this must really change the materials you're working with! What are some of the places you've traveled for a booking, and is there a destination on your bucket list that you've always wanted to try out?
Travel is a huge passion of mine, getting to experience a new environment through the lens of a florist enriches the experience so much. My favorite part is getting to meet the farmers and learn about what is local and seasonal to their region. I get to experience flowers that I wouldn't usually get to work with or experience a familiar flower in a new context. It's definitely a challenge to manage all the logistics and familiarize myself with a new place, but the more I do it, the more my network of farmer friends grows. Two years ago I arranged flowers in England; last year I went to Brooklyn, Dallas, and Atlanta. The wedding in Atlanta was in February. When I called up the local farmers they said they had nothing for me because it was winter, but their winter and a Chicago winter are two different things. I found flowers beginning to bloom there that Chicagoans wouldn't see for months. I'm hoping for an excuse to travel to Iceland, Japan, or Mexico. Anyone want to take me?
2) As someone who has a finger on the pulse of floral design, what are some of the trends you've noticed lately? What's in and what's when it comes to designing a modern floral package? And is there a look or element that you'd say will always be timeless and en vogue?
The floral world is a funny place when it comes to trends, because its very slow to move forward. You have florists still designing the way they did in the 70's, 80's and 90's which is very formal. Others have embraced a more natural style, which reminds me of old Dutch still lifes; this came into vogue in the 2010s. Now I'm seeing a shift toward simple, yet dramatic, Ikebana style arrangements. Personally, I've developed a style that is grounded in a deep appreciation for flowers in their natural state. I want to preserve their original beauty. What is more timeless than nature itself?
I'm definitely influenced by other florists, but I have tried to develop my own distinct style. I want my customers to come to me because they love my style in particular. That is probably the biggest trend overall: florists are beginning to see themselves as artists and feeling more free to experiment and develop unique arrangements. At the same time, the florist who follows the standard formula remains a part of the industry. I think that speaks to the fact that people buying flowers all have their own preferences. As a florist who mainly does weddings, most of my clients have never worked with a florist before. There is a lot of client education involved. I love working with people who want beauty at their event, but need my expertise to guide their designs. At the same time, a lot of couples just want what they saw on Pinterest or at their friend's wedding. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is why trends stick around forever in this industry.
Want to work with Mary at Persephone Floral Atelier? You know you do! Read more HERE!
We are excited to feature the unique and brilliant Nikki Segarra of Thistle + Twine Atelier in our latest Vendor Spotlight! If you're looking for a Fine Art approach to your special event photography, Nikki is the girl for you. While adhering to eco-friendly guidelines, Nikki draws upon her background in integrated media to add a special twist to her documentary-style photography approach. Her large format film portraits, and handmade keepsake boxes offer a memorable one-of-a-kind presentation to your special memories. (Yes, she even offers a wooden USB stick tucked inside a faux linen-bound book to deliver your photos!) Read on to learn more about Nikki's special knack for encapsulating the moments that you won't want to forget.
We have to start out by saying that you have one of the most standout approaches we've seen in the world of wedding photography, particularly with regard to your packaging and presentation. Can you tell us a bit about how you developed this technique? Was this something that you developed naturally as a results of your fine art background?
Well, my graduate studies were very much focused on experimental photography and mixed media. I'd say that it was my time as a student where I developed a love for the object - something tangible that can be touched and experienced on a more intimate level. I found myself printing on dresses and handkerchiefs, making giant scrolls with wood and silk, and then I discovered the art of bookmaking. I really fell in love with that process, as well.
The idea for integrating USB and keepsake boxes into my wedding work was a lovely accident. As an exhibiting artist, one that often shows objects rather than just prints, I needed something to transport my work to show curators, etc. I decided to make a portfolio box for my fine art work (my first keepsake box prototype!). I didn't realize how great of an idea it was until I had people asking me to make boxes for them, as well. Thus became the inspiration for the wedding boxes. The USB box is my favorite. I just love that it looks like a book - and that it contains this one wooden object that keeps safe your very own story.
One of our favorite Heirloom Boxes offered by Thistle + Twine.
You seem to infuse a very “analog” feel to your products, without printing off books and books of paper photos. What are some of the ways we can ensure an eco-friendly photography package, without sacrificing style?
I think it's a balancing act, for sure. It's primarily it's a lifestyle choice. My personal habits are integrated into my business. I recycle persistently, I avoid purchasing plastics, and I'm rarely seen without my giant metal water bottle. Many of my eco-friendly business practices include paperless contracts, quotes, invoices, etc. I use rechargeable batteries, I recycle equipment properly, I use a digital gallery for proofs, rather than a book, and my marketing materials are eco-friendly, too. The boxes that I make are from 100% recycled book board, and I package them with recycled packing paper, nicely wrapped and tied with natural twine and dried flowers that I have somehow inherited over the years (eco friendly, yes! But, with a touch of pretty). I often deliver my products to my clients if they are local, but I also re-use boxes when I have to ship.
Out of my two album options, my classic album is sourced from an eco-conscious company, using 100% post-consumer fiber, and is even produced using wind-power electricity. They make solid products - the best I've seen that can claim to be eco-friendly. My prints and my heirloom albums, and of course my film portraits, are of the finest quality, and are not 100% recycled, and film does require use of chemicals to process, but these are offered responsibly, and are produced in very small quantity, as objects and images that will surely be kept and treasured - not thrown away. With what I am unable to sacrifice in quality, I do my best to make up in all other aspects of my business, which is where the balancing act comes in.
Above: Somehow, Thistle + Twine seems to lend that coveted mystical mermaid look to all bridal photos.
Can you tell us a bit about your handmade brass/large format camera work? Has your experience with this technique informed your digital photography work in any way?
Very much so. Photographing large format film portraits is quite different - think 19th Century portraiture, with the photographer hiding under the curtain. There are movements in the camera that allow you to shift the focus. Every tilt and shift becomes a creative choice for what the image will be. The focus is delicate, as well. Only one sheet of film is placed in the back of the camera at a time, and this sheet film is quite expensive. So it means, that every frame that is shot is 100% crafted with intention. It is slower and more expensive, but the quality - it is ever so luscious.
What this technique has taught me is to take ownership of the frame. To trust my eye and my instinct. This is very much translated in my digital photography - I tend to shoot rather formally - clean lines and thoughtful composition. I prefer to choose the perfect shot or two, rather than relying on shooting a dozen frames of the same image. In the same vein as my eco-conscious self, I choose quality over quantity.
A few samples of Nikki capturing honest moments with clean lines.
As a former radio DJ and avid listener of records, we have a hunch we might have a proper music buff on our hands! How do you prefer to discover new music these days? Are you thrifting through the dusty crates, or are you a fan of the new streaming and playlisting culture as well? Any new and amazing discoveries lately?
Discovering new music was so easy when I had an entire (analog only!) radio station's music collection at my fingertips. Back then, I hosted a show that only played 7-inch vinyl. You can imagine how obscure my set list was! I still listen to V89.7 FM in Tallahassee for inspiration, and I enjoy Chirp Radio, as well, which is Chicago-based. There's also the occasional record searching adventure, or a work day spent at Cafe Mustache, where they play all vinyl. My favorite vinyl discoveries tend to be something folky, some jazziness, maybe some rockabilly, or 60's french pop - basically anything that you can imagine playing in a Tarantino film.
Spotify is such a great tool for discovery, as well, with their custom discovery channels. For instance, I am just about the biggest Future Islands fan, and I just discovered a side project called The Snails via my discovery channel. They are really good! Another recent favorite is Shannon and the Clams. Can't get enough of them!
The ocean seems to play a big part in your personal aesthetic. How do you manage to infuse a healthy dose of driftwood and salt into your life as a midwesterner? Does your schedule allow for the occasional pilgrimage to the sea?
Oh, I miss the sea every day!
When I first moved to Chicago, I had every intention of moving back to New England - but then I discovered how incredible this city really is. One of the perks of being a wedding photographer (other than how awesome it already is), is that my schedule can be relatively flexible. I've put all of my focus into Chicago within the past few years, but I hope to set myself up with an annual visit to Cape Cod, where I can make work and get reconnected with my art and my ancestry. I've also considered an artist residency which entails spending a month on a ship and traveling from the West Coast to China, working on my next personal project. If that doesn't pan out, I am speaking with someone about gaining access on a boat in Lake Michigan, for starters! Time will tell.
Well, there you have it, guys! If you'd like to work with Nikki, you can find her out steering a ship somewhere out there on Lake Michigan, or otherwise at her website: Thistle + Twine Atelier.
It was a treat to talk shop this past week with Chicago-area photographer, Emma Mullins of Emma Mullins Photography. Originally from Wisconsin (she is still active in the Milwaukee-area), Emma has traveled the world to develop her unique approach to docu-style event photography.
Not only does Emma have a cool and capable energy (ideal for that potentially frantic wedding day photoshoot!), but she is one of the most responsive and positive vendors you'll find. (Yes, we are suckers for anyone who responds to our emails within 5 minutes!) Read on to learn more about Emma's influences, knack for capturing an urban landscape, and how to make the most of your relationship with your photographer, even if you're a bit camera-shy.
1) After perusing your portfolio, it seems like you have an affinity for a fair amount of hip, edgy, fun clientele. Would you say this is something you've sought out, or have these clients just magnetically gravitated toward your work?
Oh wow! I suppose a lot of my clients do fall into the hip and edgy category – and yes, the point (to me) of being photographed is to have fun! That’s definitely something I encourage with my couples at all times.
The work shown in my portfolio is based on a number of factors, including what I love to shoot the most. As much as I enjoy nature and outdoor weddings, I’m definitely a city girl. Urban landscapes can be just as breathtaking as natural ones – and provide so many options when it comes to photography! I think it’s fair to say I seek out couples who possess a similar style and vibe.
2) It sounds like you are a pretty experienced world traveler. When you're on a personal adventure, do you always bring your eye for composition to document the experience, or do you prefer to put the camera down? Do you have a favorite photo from your travels?
This is a great question. Traveling has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember – it’s actually how I got started with photography. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t visit new places. I still always bring (at least one!) camera with me whenever I travel, but in recent years have made it a point to enjoy my travels from a non-photography standpoint as well. Of course, I still end up with tons of travel photos! I believe every trip is worth documenting if you have the chance.
3) As a self-described “documentarian,” can you cite any specific photographers or filmmakers who've inspired your aesthetic and approach?
Two documentarians that come to mind are Sophie Calle and Errol Morris. I really admire the way each of them approach storytelling and have incorporated their personal lives into their work. I know it’s cliché, but another photographer whose work I will never tire of is Ansel Adams. I even spent a summer out west visiting a lot of the same locations and monuments he has made so famous in his life’s work.
4) Is there a perennial tip that you share with all of your clients when it comes to planning the approach to their photography package? Or is it more of a case by case scenario?
Every wedding day is different, just like every couple is different. It’s pretty case-by-case. If there’s one thing I always recommend it’s adding an engagement session, so the three of us have a chance to hang out together before the wedding day. The more used to each other we are before their wedding, the better their photos will turn out! It’s the very best thing couples can do to prepare - especially for particularly camera-shy individuals.
5) It seems like photography involves a healthy amount of being out in the world, but also editing behind the scenes. Do you prefer one part to the other, or do they each have their own pros and cons?
This is very true! I definitely spend more time behind the scenes than actually shooting. Something that not everyone realizes is how many hours go into creating a finished wedding gallery. I will admit that I much prefer being out in the world capturing moments that editing in the studio, however there’s nothing like getting into a good editing flow! Editing season = podcast season, basically :)
Want to work with Emma for your special event? Read more HERE!
REAL ADVICE FROM A REAL INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL
We had the pleasure of working with Molly from m three Studio Photography this past February at the Historic Pabst Brewery. It was immediately apparent that she has an eye for capturing those rare fleeting magical moments while still making sure to take the time to compose beautiful shots that speak to the rich history of her clients' surroundings. Read on to learn some hot tips about wedding day scheduling, the most charming venues in Milwaukee, and how to make the most of a rainy day photoshoot!
So a little bird told us that you have a background in animation. That is fascinating! Do you feel like this has at all informed your eye or approach as a photographer? I imagine that you must have the patience and commitment to get that perfect frame!
Animation was an incredible training ground for photography. Just as you describe, it was a perfect environment for learning patience and persistence. When you’ve spent hours and days drawing thousands of pictures that make up a few seconds of screen time - you learn to have that faith. But it also taught me so much about story and how to craft one, how to tell one, how to mold one, how to present one - that was the invaluable part. I tell my clients that I storyboard in my head as their day unfolds - and it is true. I’m always thinking about that final story presentation and what it needs, now to tell it.
We understand that you have a keen eye for historic landscapes and architecture. After studying and traveling far and wide, would you say that any particular location or time period most inspires your personal aesthetic?
I’m most drawn to European influences. I studied in Italy in college, but you’ll find me equally entranced by french or english styles. It’s always the details that draw me in - the capitol of a column, the wrought iron railing on some steps, even the framing of a window. I think it may be the craftsmanship involved that is so intoxicating. They had no modern machinery or tools, and they created beauty that we are still in awe of. I also grew up partially in Virginia, where there’s more of a history in the surroundings than here in the midwest. One of my favorite places as a child was colonial Williamsburg, because that history just was alive for the watching. That magic is part of what I’m always seeking when I stumble upon a historic setting - I’m always searching for it’s story, or making one up.
Now, getting down to the part where we tease out some expert advice: Do you have any photography-related tips for a couple planning an outdoor wedding on a day when the weather isn't cooperating? I've heard some photographers say that they love the look of shooting in the rain, but it can't be easy! Any advice to make the most of a blustery day?
Embrace it. So many couples get caught up in how something “should be” and fail to appreciate what is, and ride the awesome ride that being present in the moment can be. So, if it rains - break out the umbrellas and roll with it. If it’s too stormy to salvage, then embrace the idea of a cozy indoor option. None of that has to do with photographs per se - but it does speak to attitude. And attitude changes everything. Truly. We had a lot of “rained out” weddings in 2016, and the ones that were most successful were the ones where the couple (and those around them) didn’t let it get in the way.
From a more practical standpoint, having umbrellas on hand, a clear umbrella for couple’s portraits (because it doesn’t block light), some cute wellies to keep you dry, and a photographer who knows of covered but but outdoor options is how we handle it. Natural light is king, so you will often find me standing out in the rain with my assistant holding an umbrella over the two of us, as my couple is positioned in a covered area with good light. Rain light is gorgeous, and the light right after it is even better. Colors pop, and there’s a wonderful mystical quality, so don’t despair, it can be beautiful!
I know a lot of my clients ask me for tips on the perfect timeline, and I'm sure you must have some suggestions of your own relating to photography. Are there any key tweaks a couple can make to their timeline to ensure that their photos are fresh and relaxed?
2 things. First, consider how you want to experience your day. Do you want to have a break after ceremony to do pictures and then rejoin your guests? Do you want to see each other first so you can set the tone for the day together? Do you want to flow straight from ceremony into cocktails and stay with your guests? Do you want to hang out with your wedding party at a bar for awhile? Whatever it is - build around that. There are certainly ways to make photography smoother, to make dancing and reception activities smoother - but they should only be used when they also serve the overall experience you want to have that day. Because you experiencing it - that is the whole point. I’d rather photograph a couple who is having the best day (even if its inconvenient for me), than one who feels pushed and pulled around by a schedule that is keeping them from enjoying the day.
My second suggestion is very simple: add time. Everything takes more time on a wedding day. Moving more than two people anywhere is like herding cats. Truly. I add 15 minutes to everything. If it’s a 10 minute drive to the church - I guarantee you that drive will take 20-25 minutes on your wedding day. Because there are more people, a larger vehicle, more stuff, clothes you aren’t used to, people you aren’t always with, etc.
Can you tell us about a favorite photo or shoot of yours that was a result of a happy accident?
I always enjoy when necessity puts up roadblocks that I have to work with. Such instances make me think outside the box and push in a new direction. Like this shot from Stephanie & Brian’s wedding a few years ago [see below]…We had a whole outdoor plan for photos, but it rained. Thankfully the Overture Center is basically a glass box, so we had plenty of light. But we had to shoot around where the guests where cocktailing, and two other weddings also happening at the same time. So, I had a staircase. And I found this shot. Realizing I had more at my disposal than it seemed changed my whole perspective.
Want to work with Molly and the m three team? Read more HERE!
We are huge fans of Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery, and even bigger fans of newly betrothed music buffs Ben & Ali! DJ Kyle had a blast working the dance floor for this fun crowd and soaking in all of that seemingly "effortless cool" that this couple worked hard to curate.
A very special thanks to Molly at m three studio photography for capturing some of the dance floor action below. You'll be hearing more from her on our blog soon!
REAL ADVICE FROM A REAL INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL
It's safe to say that Joan Cinquegrani is a bonafide Woman About Town in the Chicago wedding scene. If you are a fellow vendor, chances are that she or one of her colleagues has helped make your day a lot easier at a booked event, or that you've bumped into her at her monthly Therapy Thursday industry meetup. And not only does she know the scene like the back of her hand, but she is one of those uncanny minds that will recall that she met you 3 years ago and actually remember your name. It's no surprise that brides and grooms from far and wide entrust Joan and her Rolodex to help curate their wedding day dream team. Read on to learn a little more about Joan's story, how to balance planning and fun, and what it's like to be possessed by a passion for color coding.
As someone who has cultivated a team of six expert and on-the-ball planners, you must have an eye for the qualities a great coordinator should have. Can you tell us some of the traits that a first-time bride or groom should look for when shopping for their spirit-planner? In your opinion, is there an over-arching list of characteristics to look for, or is it more of a “to-each-his-own” type of process?
I think the most important thing is finding a planner YOU PERSONALLY jive with. That's going to be different for each person. If you feel you have a good connection with your planner, then you've found a right fit! It may go without saying, that your planner should be organized!
It seems like you knew you were genetically-inclined to be a planner from a very young age. What would you say the biggest personal evolution has been for you since you officially dove into this line of work as a professional? Was there anything in particular that offered an especially interesting learning curve?
I definitely lean toward the linear :). I think the biggest thing for me was learning that sometimes the best choice is relax the rules sometimes. Flexibility is something I have had to teach myself: there's a little coach in my head telling me when to be hard-lined and when to just let it go.
I had to laugh at the story I read about you planning your family vacations since age 13, as my sister Erica (the other half of GLT) and I are always receiving eye rolls from our family for our overzealous vacation itineraries. (Note to self: 6AM surf lesson followed by 8AM ziplining is not recommended!) I must ask, do you think the planning gene tends to skip a generation? And how does a Type-A Italian relegate herself to a packed Google calendar, yet still make time for La Dolce Vita?
Well, little known fact, I am NOT Italian! Cinquegrani is my married name. Regardless, now that organization is essentially my career, my homelife tends to be much quieter (or as quiet as it can be with two little kids!). I try to make sure I'm not out more than two evenings per week, and as often as possible reserve my non-wedding weekends for family, rather than client meetings.
I know that as a DJ, technology is always tweaking the process of the music-planning process. Tools like Spotify playlists and hotspot music downloading have really enhanced our process. Have you been employing any new tools to help the modern bride/groom stay organized and stress-free throughout the planning process?
Google drive! The ease of sharing information and ensuring there are no "old versions" of documents floating around has been so helpful.
With the rising popularity of things like the Konmari Method and blogs like Apartment Therapy, it seems that the cult of organization is suddenly en vogue! Do you have any other lesser-known blogs or pieces of literature on the topic that you might recommend for extra curricular reading?
I LOVE Konmari--and have been employing her de-cluttering technique in my home and it has been a life-changer. I am in the midst of a Whole30 which is kind of like an internal declutter right now, and would highly recommend that!
Non-planning question: What albums/artists have you discovered over the past year? Anything we should add to our playlists?
Ok, please don't laugh, I do not listen to music. I love it, AND I HAVE A BACHELORS OF MUSIC IN VOCAL PERFORMANCE, but I just never find my own. It's terrible. Most of my listening is to podcasts. Big on Reply All right now :).
No sweat, Joan! We've got you covered on the music front here at GLT. :)
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