We Love Love A. Fatouros Photography

I'd love to introduce you to my friend, Anika.  She is the talent behind the camera of A. Fatouros Photography.  Anika and I have been partnering on a lot of fun projects lately, including our styled Mama Sessions in just a few days.  Thank you Anika for sharing with us! 

We Love Love A. Fatouros!

How did you get started in the wedding photography business?  

I have been shooting for a while mainly newborns and family. One day I got a phone call in regards to a wedding as the person loved my work and follows me on social media so they asked me to shoot their wedding. The responsibility of a wedding is a huge task but I met with the client and she was having a small wedding it just seemed to be the right fit to get me started in weddings.

How long have you been shooting? How long have you been shooting weddings?  

I have been shooting for 3 years now and I have been shooting weddings for a year now.

A. Fatouros Photography

How would you describe your photography or working style?  

I would describe my work as "the moment". I work hand in hand with my clients to customized their experience. From picking out colors to for their newborn session, what to wear, to printing portraits for their home. One of the biggest thing for me is that we live in a fast paced world and everyone wants things instantly. I try to educate my clients on the fact that digitals don't last forever and that it is important to print as these are tangible memories that gets passed down for generations.

A. Fatouros Photography

What's the best thing about photographing mamas and babies? 

Whether it's their first child or fifth, the birth of a new child always unites a family and it deserves to be documented. There are special connections between parents and siblings, and these moments should be captured. 

The worst? 

I would say the unpredictable pooping but it comes with the territory. When it happens we usually laugh about it. 

Any advice for aspiring photographers? 

Learn your device, practice, set up your business correctly, take classes and workshops, find a mentor. Do not undercharge you time is still valuable. Be open to constructive criticism it will make you better. Shoot how you feel, develop your own style and don't try and copy someone else's style. 

A. Fatouros Photography

What is your favorite thing to photograph?

Babies because I love capturing their innocence and I love capturing the love and connection between couples! 

In your opinion what makes a good wedding great?

The entertainment! Also I think when a wedding has elements that speak to both the bride and grooms personalities makes it great! 

Any other advice for brides planning their wedding?  

Make it your own!

Thank you so much Anika for answering our questions!!

We Love Love Betsy Wise Bridal

I'd like to introduce you to a talented woman, fellow Hudson Valley resident, and friend, Betsy Wise.  Betsy is an amazing designer and maker of custom wedding gowns for Betsy Wise Bridal.  She has mastered the timeless art of dress making and brought it into the modern world, along with the vintage and heirloom gowns she makes new again.  She works with each bride to help conceptualize and and bring to life their dream gown.  I asked Betsy to answer a few questions about her craft and the wedding industry at large.  

Betsy Wise Bridal

How long have you been running Betsy Wise Bridal and how did you get started? 

I have been sewing and designing for as long as I can remember, but I have been making wedding dresses specifically since 2011. I was working in a bridal boutique at that time, when a friend asked me to make her wedding dress. She had a really cool story. She had been backpacking through Southeast Asia with her (then) boyfriend, and they got engaged on the trip. While in India, she purchased some beautiful colorful silk that I made into her wedding dress. The light bulb in my head turned on at that moment. I realized that finding a wedding dress is not a process that fits into a box or an episode of Say Yes to the Dress. It can be an incredibly unique and personal experience. So I quit the bridal shop, and Betsy Wise Bridal was born. 

Betsy Wise Bridal

What is your speciality?  

When it comes to custom, I can really make anything a bride can possibly dream up, but my true passion and specialty lies in Vintage Reconstruction. A bride will bring me a vintage family heirloom gown, and we will use it as fabric and inspiration for a completely new, modern, one of a kind gown. Its such a fun process for me because not only is it an amazing piece of family history that deserves to be honored, but its also like a puzzle trying to figure out how to utilize the materials in a way that looks fresh. 

Before and After: Vintage Reconstruction from her mothers 1975 wedding gown

Before and After: Vintage Reconstruction from her mothers 1975 wedding gown

Did you find your niche immediately?  If not, what was the process like to get there?

It took me a couple years to find my niche. I always want to be open to anyone and any request that comes my way. That is what keeps my job interesting, I'm never doing the same thing twice. But at a certain point you do have to hone your skills. I ended up doing my first Vintage Reconstruction for my sister from the wedding dress worn by my mom and my grandmother. I fell in love with the process. Once I posted that one dress on my website, other people started seeking me out specifically for reconstructions. I realized that was the thing setting me apart from other bespoke designers out there. 

Betsy Wise Bridal

What is your day-to-day like?  and what is your favorite part of the process? 

Weekdays are generally my studio days. Those are the days I spend designing and creating. Weekends are usually dedicated to clients for fittings and consultations. 

My favorite part of the design process is seeing my ideas come to life in fabric on the dress form. That moment when a sketch becomes reality. 

Before and After: Vintage Reconstruction from her grandmother's 1955 wedding gown 

Before and After: Vintage Reconstruction from her grandmother's 1955 wedding gown 

Do you do custom requests?  

Absolutely! Everything I do is custom, and I really welcome ideas that are outside of the box. Thats what keeps it fun and exciting. 

What is your favorite thing about working in the wedding industry?

I have had the chance to work with some of the most incredible brides. It is such a pleasure and an honor to work so closely with people and get to know them, and their families. Making a woman feel happy and beautiful on the most important day of her life is so incredibly rewarding. It's what gets me up in the morning. 

Betsy Wise Bridal

Any trends you you are seeing in gowns?  Any trends you notice clients are asking for?

The latest trend that I love is the bohemian look. I love the easy feel, and the soft flowing fabrics. I have had a lot more requests for flowing fabrics and no train. With the bohemian trend I have definitely seen an increase in outdoor field or lakeside weddings, so the dress has to fit the setting. 

Do you have any advice for brides looking for a gown?  

  • You don't have to follow trends, just be true to yourself. 
  • No matter what you should look like you, not like you're dressed up in a costume. 
  • Less is always more. 
  • Imagine yourself looking at your wedding pictures in 20 years. You want to choose something timeless. 
  • If you don't have any idea what you want, the best thing to do is just go try a bunch of silhouettes on and see what works best on your body. 

And one more fun wedding question, in your opinion, what makes a good wedding great?  

The best weddings are a true reflection of the couple's unique personalities. There are no rules anymore when it comes to weddings. Your can make your day whatever you want it to be, and I love that!

Thank you so much, Betsy for taking the time.  Your work is truly amazing!!  Make sure you visit her site and follow on instagram.  

I Love Love Heather Zara & Zara Creative

While planning my wedding, I had a hard time finding an amazing videographer that I couldn't wait to hire.  Unfortunately Weddings by Zara Creative came about right around the time I got married.  Since then they have grown leaps and bounds and taken over the Detroit market, not only for wedding films (which are breathtaking), but also marking and commercial video too.  Heather Zara, founder and CEO was kind enough to answer some questions about her role and the wedding video biz.  This amazing girl boss has lots of great info to impart.  

How did you get started in the wedding videography business?  

My professional background was always in broadcasting - specifically, sports broadcasting - so, it’s kind of funny that I went from sports to weddings! I started my education in video production way back in high school; the media class that I took got me involved as a host, writer, editor and producer of the morning announcements and the football team later asked me to cut game day highlights for them. I got the itch and decided to major in Journalism with a focus on TV broadcasting as a student at Michigan State University. I had three television related internships, worked on two student television programs on campus and was a member of every production group I could find. After graduation, I immediately started reporting and anchoring for various TV stations and ended up back in Detroit where I was born and raised, and spent my time perfecting my craft as a storyteller in front of the camera. When I had the idea, to start Zara Creative and then Weddings by Zara Creative… I had just left my job as a reporter/anchor with the NBC TV station in Detroit and was reporting for the Detroit Pistons on Fox Sports Detroit. During that time, I saw a friend’s wedding film, that a company in NYC had produced - and I couldn’t believe that it was so journalistic and well shot. Before that moment, I thought wedding films were supposed to be these cheesy, long, drawn out productions that someone’s Uncle Joe could make. I couldn’t help but think, “I can do this!”. That’s kind of how it began! 

We also work with corporate and commercial clients, but weddings are a huge part of our daily lives here at Zara Creative. In just over three years, we have worked with over 100 couples and we have even been able to create more opportunities for our destination wedding cinematography services. We love, love and working with super cool couples. 

How would you describe the Weddings by Zara Creative style?  

Given my background in journalism, storytelling is very important to me. I always tell my clients that our style combines journalistic and film techniques with a hint of ninja-like moves here and there! Ninja, you ask? We like to catch the moments that you had no idea we were even capturing - and that requires a ninja’s skill set. Those shots usually end up being my favorite to incorporate into a film because they are authentic. 


What's the best thing about working in the wedding industry?

The best thing is that you are working with people that are getting ready to celebrate one of the happiest days in their life. They get to marry the love of their life in front of their closest family members and friends… and they invite you along to share their day with them. It’s really an honor. Especially for photographers or filmmakers like us - because we are the ones that are with the couple, the bridal party, the family and close friends ALL day and for most of the evening. We witness some of the most intimate and memorable moments in people’s lives - and that’s pretty cool when you think about it. 

The worst?  

The worst? I don’t know if I have an answer to that - I’ve never worked with a bride-zilla before, so that rules that one out! Maybe that my crew has to work weekends? Sure, we’ll go with that. 

Any advice for aspiring wedding videographers?  entrepreneurs? 

For wedding videographers, cinematographers and filmmakers… I would say perfect your film technique - shoot well - be artistic - capture natural sound - and learn how to effectively tell a story. All of these things will give you the polished look and feel that brides, grooms and viewers in general will appreciate. My biggest piece of advice is to become a pro at being able to capture the moments that people would really want to look back on. Don’t miss anything. The day only happens once. 

For entrepreneurs - especially those in the wedding industry - my biggest piece of advice is to remember that you can’t do it all yourself. The best entrepreneurs recognize this one fact and they surround themselves with a team that can help them serve their clients to the best of their ability AND execute their vision. The truth is, I rarely even shoot or edit myself these days. I work on my business instead of in my business. I took the time to find great people to work with and I taught them how to be a master at our craft - and sometimes - they teach me. I have a team of skilled and talented cinematographers, editors, producers, writers, marketing pros and interns - and we get things done together. If you want to start a business, do it. But don’t plan on doing everything yourself for too long or you’ll burn yourself out, spread yourself too thin and limit yourself from growing instead of maximizing your efforts to serve even more awesome clients. 

What does your day-to-day look like? 

Every day is different for me - but typically - I start every morning pretty early in the day. I review our financials, analyze what I need to do to reach my business goals, check my calendar to prepare myself for the day, make my list of things to do and I visualize how I want the day to go. (Yes, I’m one of those people) 

At Zara Creative, we work on a lot of corporate, commercial and non-profit projects as well, so I usually have at least 3-10 meetings every week with new or existing clients. I meet with bridal clients during the week as well - to limit my in-office work days on the weekends. At the office, my team already knows what projects they are working on - but I check in, make sure everything is getting done and I give guidance on video projects to each producer/editor as the project unfolds. Most of my day is spent on the business side of the business; growing it, managing it, delegating tasks, logistical coordination, scheduling shoots, talking with my accountant… the list goes on and on, of all of the stuff that has to get done, so that we can continue to make more films and videos for as many clients as possible. :)


What has been your favorite wedding or wedding moment to be part of?  

That’s a tough one - because there are so many! Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to film one of my friend’s weddings in Cancun, Mexico. It was so special for me on many fronts; I got to witness a good friend marry an amazing man, it was our first chance to film an international destination wedding and I got to spend six days hanging out with a big group of some of my closest friends. I love capturing my friends weddings and I love travel - so this would probably be my favorite wedding to be a part of if I had to choose one. 

In your opinion what makes a good wedding great?

I think that when couples add unique elements that truly reflect them and their relationship into their wedding day, they will have a great wedding. We’ve all been to a lot of weddings over the years - especially those of us in the wedding industry - so doing something that is a little different or personalized really makes it that much more special for the couple and their guests alike. 

Any other advice for brides planning their wedding?  

Advice for brides: Just make decisions based off of what you and your hubby-to-be want. It really is the biggest celebration the two of you will ever have, and it is a celebration that you are hosting to honor the lifelong commitment that you are making to each other. It should be everything that the two of you want it to be. Oh, and call Weddings by Zara Creative to film your big day, of course! ;-) Don’t worry if you aren’t based in the Detroit area... we’ll travel across the globe if we have to!

Thank you so much Heather for taking the time to answer our questions.  Check out all of Zara Creative's amazing work here.

We Love Love Wedding Gown Designer Carol Hannah

I first met Carol Hannah Whitfield in 2009 when she was on Project Runway Season 6.  She came in 3rd on the reality show, but since launched an amazing bridal career which I have been following from the beginning.  I met Carol Hannah in real life a few weeks back at the launch of her new collection at Lovely Bride in New York City.  I already loved Carol Hannah's etherial and easy to wear bridal gowns, but she was such a delight to chat with, that the woman behind the label won me over as well.  Carol Hannah answered a few questions for me to shed some light on how she comes up with the unique silhouettes and beautiful details she puts into each gown, which by the way, are hand made here in New York City.  Thank you so much Carol Hannah for taking the time to answer our questions.  

How long have you been designing wedding gowns and how did you get started?  

Gosh it feels like always. I made my first one in high school and made custom gowns all through college. The company formally formed here in NYC about 6 years ago and we just showed our 5th annual collection. 

What is your day-to-day like?  and what is your favorite part of the process?   

My day to day varies so so so much, depending a lot on the time of year and what we are currently working on. Before a new collection is released, I'm heavily in the studio draping and sewing. My process as a designer is extremely hands on. I make each new sample myself and try things on a lot as I work. It's important to me that my gowns feel and move as good as they look.  Apart from the creative side, I also oversee the business side so some days are more about accounting and marketing and such than actual design.  Other times, I'm on the road visiting our retailers across the country or teaching at styling workshops. Every day is different, which keeps me on my toes and inspired.  As any designer can tell you, everything in your life influences your work, becomes inspiration, affects your mood and therefore your point of view.

Do you have any advice for young designers looking to design wedding gowns?  

My best advice is to find the special thing that makes your aesthetic yours and stick to it.  What do you have to offer that's different, that can't be found elsewhere in the marketplace already? Design is about point of view and telling your own story.  Also, learn to sew really well. If you don't know how to construct something  beautifully, you will greatly limit your range of creativity. 

What is your favorite thing about working in the wedding industry?

I love the personal relationships we cultivate with our clients and the impact that this very dreamy garment has in their lives. It sounds cheesy, but I love it. 

Your latest collection is called "The Alchemist," where did that name come from and what is the significance? 

This was the blurb in our runway program:  "With origins in ancient Egyptian culture, our journey takes us from the mysticism of the sacred scarab to the magic and wonder of the study of alchemy.  Through gold detailing, geode inspired embellishment, and relaxed but powerful silhouettes, the 2015 Carol Hannah collection celebrates feminine strength and mystery."

Which is your favorite gown from the collection? or a favorite of all time?

This changes every day. Malachite (second photo) and Azurite below) and Lolite (above) definitely rank among the top for this collection. Past favorites are Downton, Kensington, Poplar, Les Astres, Le Soleil. 

Where do you see the bridal trends moving?  

Thankfully we've seen the bridal fashion market really blossom over the past few years. Girls are more adventurous and open in their style, whereas it used to be more limited and, to me, generically defined.  It feels like there's been a sudden realization that "bridal" doesn't mean one specific thing anymore. 

And one more fun wedding question, in your opinion, what makes a good wedding great?  

It all happens on the dance floor to me! 

photos by Matthew Ree.

We Love Love Calligrapher Laura Hooper

Last month I attended Laura Hooper's Calligraphy workshop.  You can read more about it here, but after I stayed and chatted for a few minutes with the talented sisters behind a brilliant and growing brand that stretches from the wedding industry and beyond.  Alyssa runs the business side and Laura is the calligrapher.   Laura was so gracious to answer a few questions for me.  

How did you get started in the calligraphy?

I've always been artistic, but my mom got me started on calligraphy. When I was a teenager, I had a job writing names on caricature prints and that gave me a lot of practice both with writing and centering. My best friend in college asked me to address her wedding invitation envelopes when were about 22 ~ and the rest is history!

How long have you been doing it?

I've been doing it professionally for over 10 years. 

How did you grow your business into what it is today?

After my first "client," my dad's coworker's daughter was getting married and my dad offered them my services. Then my sister's boss was getting married. Slowly word started to spread and I started booking more and more jobs. The industry wasn't what it is now, and there weren't nearly as many calligraphers as you can find today. There were no wedding blogs, no inspiration shoots ~ we would definitely consider it "old school" at this point. I got a graphic designer to help me out once I started getting requests for invitation suites and I didn't have enough time to do it all. A client wanted a custom map, so we started offering those. There was no one "leading the way" so to speak and it was just a lot of trial and error and growing with the industry as weddings became more like true "events." Last year my sister, Alyssa, came on full time and she helped me expand into the calligraphy kits and workshops. I've also been fortunate to accumulate some wonderful vendors and friends in the industry to collaborate with!

How would you describe your style?

While I can do all sorts of calligraphy styles and have over 20 listed on my website, I would say I'm most known for "classic" calligraphy.

What's the best thing about working in the wedding industry?

Every job is different, and you never know what creative thing the planners/designers are going to come up with next!

The worst?

Wedding planning can be a very emotionally charged time for brides, grooms and their families. It is often "the most important thing" happening in their lives at the time, so naturally things can get a bit tense at time. We literally have gotten emails with the subject line "CALLIGRAPHY EMERGENCY!!!" 

Any advice for aspiring calligraphers?

Never stop practicing! I look back on some of my old work, and I'm not afraid to admit that it was not good! Patience and practice are key to this beautiful art form. If they are looking to have a calligraphy business, I would say to work on building a client base…word of mouth is your best marketing, especially in the beginning. My "payment" for my first job, which probably had about 200 envelopes, was a $50 gift card. You have to start somewhere! 

I also highly recommend working on photo shoots. They are free advertising (other than your time and paper/ink/tools of course!) and you usually have the opportunity to have a bit more fun with your work and creativity.

In your opinion what makes a good wedding great?

Well first off I would say the people. But in terms of planning, I would say personal details. Making your wedding a personal reflection of you as a couple is key, in my opinion. 

Any other advice for brides planning their wedding?

Have fun! As I mentioned before, wedding planning can be a stressful and emotional time and even though it's difficult to see beyond the specifics, I would urge anyone planning their wedding to just remember what the day is truly about ~ the love they share with their significant other and the life they are committing to with one another ~ and definitely hire a planner! Day-of at the very least so you can relax and not worry about things going as planned on the day itself, and if something doesn't go as planned, resort to the aforementioned on what the day is really about :)

Thank you so much Laura and Alyssa!  

photos via Sugar and Cloth