Posts Tagged ‘Vendor Interviews’

Wish Upon a Wedding Las Vegas is Making Love Happen

Wish Upon a Wedding has a rather powerful vision. They are the world’s first nonprofit organization dedicated to providing weddings and vow renewals to couples facing terminal illness and serious life altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation. Think “Make A Wish“, but for adults who have found their mate for life, and may not be in a position to dedicate the time or finances to planning a wedding of any kind, let alone the one they’ve dreamt about.

In 2009, California-based event planner Liz Guthrie was producing a luxury wedding giveaway contest in San Francisco. This national giveaway was designed to give one deserving couple who had faced illness or a hardship during their relationship a dream wedding as a prize.

Over 350 couples applied for the $100,000 wedding (as valued through vendor donations of time and materials), and as she read through the heart wrenching entries, Liz found herself wondering how she could donate dream weddings to deserving couples all across America, instead of just the one winning couple.

Although many compelling and amazing couples applied, eventually public voting determined the couple to be wed, and the bride turned out to be Vanessa Muza Teskey – a woman who had been struggling with a serious form of cancer.

Inspired by this couple’s story, Liz combined her giving nature and desire to provide dream weddings to so many others, to create Wish Upon a Wedding (WUW) in 2010. Liz decided to give back to the community and celebrate love through WUW by providing wedding services for the seriously and terminally ill by pairing up couples with those working in the wedding industry who were looking for a way to give back.

Now three years after its launch, WUW has fourteen chapters, including a Las Vegas one, which granted its first completely free wedding to Robin and Nick in 2011

When I first heard about WUW, I’ll admit I got a little teary-eyed. I have the great fortune to look at beautiful, love-filled weddings everyday and reading about Wish Upon a Wedding was a stark reminder that sometimes some people do not get the opportunity to marry their loved one due to a sudden and/or serious illness.

I immediately had to know more, so I interviewed the extraordinarily busy Ms. Guthrie about her organization and learned a little more about the Las Vegas chapter, which offers weddings and vow renewals, and has granted three ceremonies and receptions to couples in Las Vegas so far. (Read about them here: Tammy & CameronHeidi & Billy and Robin & Nick)


Tammy and Cameron’s Wedding by Lighten Films

Liz said that Las Vegas became home to a chapter on account of it being one of the United States’ premier wedding destinations. The area is home to many amazing venues and vendors who are eager to participate and grant wishes for WUW couples, she elaborated.

So far WUW Las Vegas has granted three weddings, and only two of them were for Las Vegas locals. Couples applying for a wedding may request their day be in any chapter in the United States, and as long as they are healthy enough to travel there, and WUW makes every effort to make their desire come true.

Probing Liz on the budgets for the weddings, she said there is no minimum or maximum set for a wedding budget – although the guest count must not exceed 50, even if someone wants to pay for the extra guests. The reasons for this are twofold; one,  to prevent the volunteer vendors from being overworked and two, to ensure the event is as intimate and meaningful as possible.

Speaking more on vendors, Liz explained that while the couple cannot request a specific local vendor, WUW does guarantee certain items at every wedding, including the venue an officiant, a wedding planner, catering, photography and videography, florist, cake, beauty and transportation. They never provide alcohol, that must be provided by the bride and groom if desired.

While WUW’s first mandate is to help those couples who are facing terminal illness, there are special circumstance weddings that can be used for couples as well, such as extreme physical disability or those facing life-altering situations such as when a military veteran is injured. Losing your job or economic hardship alone does not qualify you for a WUW event. That being said, there is no discrimination based on sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disabilities, or age – as long as you’re over 18 and a US citizen.

The bride and groom must apply themselves, and it takes a minimum of six weeks to get approval, longer if you are applying for a special circumstance wedding. Wish Upon a Wedding’s national President (and famed celebrity event planner) Sasha Souza has been on board with WUW since the start, and she personally reviews every application, which is then passed onto the local board members. There are two levels of wish wedding, “boutique” wishes which are for weddings up to 25 guests and “romantic” wishes which provide wedding amenities for up to 50 guests.

I cannot thank Liz Guthrie enough for taking time out of her incredibly busy schedule to share a little about Wish Upon a Wedding and the magic that it makes happen. What WUW provides is important work and is a true celebration of life and love as well as a reminder to do today what you may not be able to to tomorrow. I’m so happy they exist!

How You Can Get Involved:

If you are a bride or groom, you could ask guests to contribute to Wish Upon a Wedding in lieu of gifts at your wedding or shower, or you could donate instead of giving favors. They have a variety of items for sale as favors for which proceeds go directly to the charity, if you prefer to still give a little something. 

You could also volunteer your time, as a fundraiser or donate to the annual auction. Brides can even donate their wedding gown and donate the proceeds to WUW. For a full list of ways you can help, please click here.

If you are a wedding industry professional in the Las Vegas area, you could become a part of the local chapter and provide your services, materials or time and become a wish granter

If you know someone who is deserving of a dream wedding, please encourage them to apply!

And in case you are wondering, some of the Las Vegas Wish Upon a Wedding Wish Granting All Stars are: 

Alligator SoupAltf PhotographyAmelia C Makeup Artistry, Annie’s Gourmet CateringAracelli Zea Cake Studio, Bella BridesmaidsBobbie Pin Beauty ArtistryCanyon Gate Country ClubCravin’ Cake BakeryDJs to You, Enchanted FloristGood Vibrations DJ, Green Orchid EventsJ and J PhotographyLayers of LovelyLighten FilmsLori WhiteMemory Lane VideoPaper and HomePeridot SweetsThe Platinum HotelPlush Weddings and Event PlanningReverend Jerry WithersReverend Linda VenniroSemper Fi Event PlanningShutterboothSight and Sound EventsSomething New VideographyTuxedo Junction and Vegas chapter President/local photographer Adam Frazier

These are just some of the vendors that work to grant wishes in the Vegas area! Thank you to you all for your hard work, time and generosity. 

 

Better Know a Vendor: Wedding Officiant Angie Kelly

Angie Kelly is a name that is synonymous with intimate, personal wedding ceremonies in the Las Vegas area. She has a unique angle and reason for making wedding ceremonies as memorable as possible. Her passion comes based on a reason that may surprise you!

She performs wedding ceremonies all over the Las Vegas area – from the tops of hotels in the most extravagant of suites to exotic gardens to the desert landscape. And she prides herself on providing intimate, personal wedding ceremonies to couples she may not have even met face to face!

In this interview the wonderfully warm “Doctor of Matrimony” explains why she loves learning about new wedding customs and culture, why she uses Pinterest to “stalk” her clients and what makes HER heart beat a little faster…


For those readers out there who may not know who you are, please introduce yourself and Peachy Keen Unions!

Hi there, I’m wedding officiant Angie Kelly, owner of Peachy Keen Unions in Las Vegas! I specialize in performing contemporary marriage ceremonies. I am the wedding minister for modern-day couples!

Are you originally from Las Vegas?

Uniquely I am; which has given me an advantage within the industry. I’ve watched the evolution of Vegas weddings since I was a child and am thrilled to embrace my home town as the wedding capital of the world!

How many years have you been in business and how did you initially get into officiating?

Peachy Keen Unions was established two years ago after gritting my teeth during my own marriage ceremony. My husband and I experienced the regret of not having a ceremony that best represented our viewpoints on love and marriage. I am a very passionate, cultured and open-minded individual…who left the altar underwhelmed and a bit embarrassed. Not only did I vow to my hubby that day, but I also made the promise that no bride would feel this way under my watch…here I am, a couple hundred weddings later, with several awards under my belt!

What were you doing before you got into performing wedding ceremonies?

For several years I worked as a private flight attendant traveling internationally, which is where my interest for (wedding) customs and traditions spawned from. Prior to becoming an ordained minister, I work in social services. The day I started Peachy Keen Unions was the day I stopped consulting for various mental health practices in the valley.

Is there any time of year that is particularly busy for you?

In Vegas, weddings are performed seven days a week! I try to stay under 30 hours a week, but March-July are off the charts!

What is your preferred way to work with clients – email, in person, telephone?

I keep odd hours, so routine communication is done via email. However, for custom wedding ceremonies, I need to see the engaged couple’s chemistry to really get a sense of who they are together. So my consultations are done in person or through Skype (for international or out-of-state clients).

angie kelly wedding officiant

Ms. Kelly tweaks the wording of a ceremony. Photo: Taylored Photo Memories

I know you pride yourself on providing as personal a ceremony as you can. What is the process like for fine tuning a script with the couple, especially if you’ve never met them before?

You’re correct; the key to my job is representing personal love stories! That task usually means reducing a 3, 5, or 10 year history down to an 8 minute narrative nestled amongst the legal verse and traditions we all come to expect. During the consultation, I look for relationship themes and brainstorm creative elements – always conscious of getting emotional “buy in” from guests to prevent monotony. To achieve this, I also exchange questionnaires with the couple post consultation…plus, I stalk their Pinterest boards to see what I might have missed!

I am most proud of my early business decision to provide clients with a draft copy of their ceremony in advance. I encourage couples to make edits, ensuring I’m conveying the perfect tone for them. It is not my marriage, so my beliefs are immaterial; I think having this stance is what sets me apart.

Do you have a favorite Vegas venue to officiate at? Do you perform ceremonies all over Las Vegas?

My heart throbs to have a barefoot groom on a boulder at Red Rock, watching as his gowned bride walks towards him while an acoustic guitar plays in the background. Equally, I love walking through an unexpected venue (museum, school yard, dirt lot) as it prepares to transform and hold 200 guests whose energy will feed me for days!

It’s always exciting to encounter high-quality production elements coupled with an intimate ceremony setting. I feel the Mandarin Oriental encapsulates that best and has stellar service. I perform ceremonies of all sorts in all spaces; everything from houseboats to penthouses (love the one at the Trump International Hotel)!

In addition to performing wedding ceremonies, what other services do you offer?

I perform commitment ceremonies and vow renewals too – they are handled in the same process as a typical wedding. So, though they are slightly different, I view them as an almost identical service.

Different states have different legalities for ceremonies. Should a couple be unable to find an officiant back home that fits their style, or maybe they desire a friend to officiate, I help them by offering my writing services. We go through the consultation process all the same but, instead of me performing the ceremony, we use my time to “coach” their designee. My words, their delegate. It is a wonderful option for couples who are DIY but have no clue where to start or how the formalities occur.

 As a hidden value, I provide ceremony “design” advice if my clients desire assistance. I am not a wedding coordinator or planner, but it is nice to collaborate on chair positioning, ceremony lighting, processional, microphone selection, music timing, etc. All those choices influence the ceremony’s ambiance.

Do you have a favorite style of wedding to officiate at?

I have been immersed in “cultural fusion” ceremonies lately and I hope they keep coming my way. Fusion ceremonies are when my bride and groom have different cultural or religious upbringings and we represent them both at the altar. Having the families acceptance and seeing all the components adapt is a challenge which gives me great reward.

What is the one thing you wish couples wedding in Vegas knew?

If you’re having a minister come into your hotel room for an quick elopement, TIDY YOUR ROOM!

And of course, a few fun questions:

On a typical Sunday you are usually….canning food and couponing. Or reading work email in the car while my hubby wants me to rock-out to his iPod playlists. What exciting past times!

If you weren’t an officiant, you’d probably be…a venue owner. It will happen one day, just need a few acres on the outskirts of town. Investors welcomed!


Wow, thank you Angie! Her approach to weddings and her dedication to the actual wedding ceremony are incredibly inspiring. I love how she is so conscious of weaving various wedding cultures and traditions together with others to make a truly memorable and important ceremony.

It is worth mentioning that Angie’s Twitter feed is highly entertaining and interesting to read as she prepares her couples and herself for wedding ceremonies, and great for insight into the Vegas wedding industry. Love it!

Better Know a Vendor: Scheme Events

I’m super excited to present today’s Better Know a (Vegas) Vendor interview because you are getting three for the price of one! The three powerhouse ladies at Scheme Events: Traci, Rissa and Tara, were kind enough to answer a few questions about themselves and their abilities and services, which really run the gamut and are not just limited to weddings. From planning birthday parties to intimate engagements or full ballroom wedding events, they specialize in personalized event planning, in Nevada and elsewhere.

But without further delay, I’ll let Team Scheme take it away!

team_scheme

Rissa, Tara and Traci of Scheme Events / photo: chelsea nicole

LVW: For those readers out there who may not know who you are, please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Scheme Events.

Scheme Events is a trio of talented Las Vegas wedding and event planners. We bring a contemporary sense of style and design to weddings and events. We find inspiration in everything from rustic hanging bistro lights to an avant-garde ballroom; a succulent desert experience to a glamorous Gatsby soirée; custom crafted backdrops to a lace antique gown. We listen to your wants and needs to design a personalized event. The three of us want to create a lasting friendship with you that extends beyond the planning process.

 Are you originally from Las Vegas?

Traci: No, I am actually originally from Kansas. “There is no place like home.” I have been a Las Vegas local for almost four years now and loving every second of it!

Rissa: No, I was born in Vancouver, Canada and age seven I moved to the Salt Lake City area. I have been in Las Vegas for seven lucky years.

Tara: Originally from Orange County California and moved to Las Vegas with my family 16 years ago! I still dream about the sand and the sun.

 How many years have you been in business and how did you get into event planning?

Scheme Events has been in business for three years. Each of us came from a different background, and graduated from different universities across the country. We all attended an extensive certification course in Wedding Coordination and Design. Following the class we decided to join forces and brain power to start Scheme Events together.

What were you doing before you got into planning, and how did the three of you come to work together?

Traci: I graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelors in Strategic Communication and a Bachelors in American Studies. I moved to Las Vegas in July of 2009 and realized I wanted to work in weddings and events and began the certification course where I met these two amazing ladies!

Tara: I went to UNLV and studied Meetings and Events Management while working at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. I learned the ins and outs of concerts and large conventions and then became the Sales Manager at Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Bar where I gained experience in food service and banquets. I met the girls through the certification course we took together.

Rissa: Before owning Scheme, I graduated from UNLV in Meetings and Events Management while working at Fountainebleau. I previously worked in events for a local non-profit organization and managed a small business. I used these various experiences to collaborate with Tara and Traci.

What is your preferred way to work with clients – email, in person, telephone? 

We communicate with clients however it is easiest for them. Many clients find it easiest to email as they are in different time zones, overseas and in different countries so the time difference is hard to reach us by phone. However, if the client likes to call us, they have our office and cell phone numbers so they are able to call us or text us when they have questions or need something.

scheme_events004

photo: studio n

What is it that makes a Scheme Event a Scheme Event?

A Scheme Event is really up to the couple. We love to “scheme” with them and make their wedding a reflection of who they are as a couple.

Do you have a favorite Vegas venue?

We love unique venues and are always on the search for the next new place, but we search for a venue that is a perfect fit for the couple and love working at where they choose to have their wedding.

Where do you find your daily inspiration?

Traci: I am inspired by my closet. I shop often and very likely have a shopping addiction, but when I open my eyes in the morning. My inspiration is immediately drawn through what I wear, whether it be more rocker chic, bold patterns or colors or just jeans and a band tshirt. I am inspired.

Tara: Home décor stores! I window shop quite often, it really is just an excuse to shop.

Rissa: I am inspired by unique food and beverage presentation. Coming up with new ways to present food and beverage is something I always look for.

We’ve seen a lot of changes in the overall trends people are choosing for their wedding events in the past few years, from “offbeat” to rustic and so on. Do you see any big trends popping up for 2013?

We think that Art Deco will be a huge. With the style of the cakes and colors, it is looking to be a great 2013 trend. Honeycomb patterns and graphics will also be a huge trend in the near future… keep an eye out for it.

Are there any themes you find particularly timeless?

A traditional all white wedding is always going to be beautiful and timeless no matter what the year.

What is the most challenging task you were asked to produce for a wedding?

We were asked to plan a wedding in the middle of a dry lakebed! Such a cool idea and we planned the entire thing around the weather being flawless and perfect.When April rolled around and their wedding day came, it was W-I-N-D-Y, ok let’s be real…70 miles per hour winds! We drove out to the dry lake bed to meet the rental companies and begin setting up; we were then told that they were unable to unload the trucks due to the high wind speeds, nothing would stay in place. We had to completely recreate the feel of the wedding in a warehouse. The couple still said ‘I Do’ out at the dry lakebed with several of their guests in attendance and came to the warehouse for their reception and partied all night long… where there was no wind.

 What is the one thing you wish couples wedding in Vegas knew?

It is hot in the summer! If you are looking at tying the knot in June through August, make sure the ceremony and reception are inside, or reconsider. Your guests will be miserable if they are sitting outside sweating.

Looking back, I really wish I had incorporated some form of planner for my event – and it was just 40 guests! Why do you think brides and grooms who have not considered using your services should reconsider? 

There are always going to be questions the day of your wedding. Do you want everyone asking these questions calling your phone and asking them while you are trying to get ready, take pictures, etc? We take care of that for you. We let the vendors know to contact us if they have any questions… not the bride and groom.

Favorite part of the wedding day?

Traci: The toasts! I love watching guests enjoy stories about both the bride and groom.

Tara: Watching the groom when the bride walks down the aisle.

Rissa: Seeing the first look. I always try to sneak-a-peek when this is happening.

Where can we see more of your work? 

You can view more work at http://www.schemeevents.com or http://www.schemeevents.com/blog. Stop by and see us!

 And some fun questions…

On a typical Sunday I am usually…. but I’d rather be …

Traci: If it is after a wedding, I am hopefully getting a manicure and pedicure!

If you weren’t an event planner, you’d probably be:

Tara: Probably something really boring; I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing!

Favorite place for breakfast:

Rissa: My kitchen—when my husband makes breakfast crepes!!

Tara: The Grand Lux café at the Venetian.

Last book you read:

Rissa: Does this mean the last book I completed?? I currently have 4 books on my nighstand that I’m in the process of reading…but that process has lasted months and months. Usually I’m a speed reader but I haven’t had much spare time to catch up on leisure reading!

Coffee or tea?

Traci: It depends! I switch back and forth so often. I drink coffee religiously for a couple months and then drink tea for a couple of months. Overall, I think iced tea is my favorite of all time though!


Thank you so much ladies!  It bears mentioning that the Scheme Events portfolio and blog are amazing. The portfolio (organized by color!) offers a snapshots of the event that paint a picture of what they are able to do.

Their blog, which is not just limited to photos of their events, is absolutely inspiring, even if you are not thinking about planning a wedding. These women have their fingers on the pulse of trends – not just in event planning and weddings, but fashion, decor and more, and this comes out in their very personal blog posts, and are excellent resources to use.

Better Know a Vendor: Gaby of gaby j photography

polaroid photography vegas desert

That incredibly dreamy, fantasy based forest photo above? It was taken by Gaby J, a contributor to Little Vegas Wedding from the early days.

I remember seeing her photos and just thinking “these are so great – there’s something different about them…” but not being able to describe what that was. Turns out, it was partly because many of the photos I was looking at were not the usual digital pictures I’m used to staring at, they were actually taken with a film camera! It’s such a rarity these days, I think the photos really stand out.

In her work featured on LVW, I think one of my favorites has to be this downtown Vegas retro wedding, where the bridesmaids wore dresses from ModCloth and the prints – both photo and fashion – looked fabulous. You can see a few more weddings by her as well, including a modern mansion ceremony and a sea-inspired lakeside wedding. And get this – every one was shot with film.

Today in an interview, Gaby talks a little bit about what it’s like to love the desert, specialize in film cameras, if she she’s a coffee or tea lady and what it was like on Polaroid lover’s Black Friday – the day they stopped making instant film!


gaby j

Gaby J (self portrait)

For those readers out there who may not know who you are, please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your photography business.

I’m Gaby J, a wedding photographer out here in Las Vegas, NV. I started my business late 2010 in a city where people fly into Las Vegas to just get married by Elvis at a fun but cheesy chapel. That being said, it’s hard to establish yourself here in the wedding business when people are constantly traveling in and out of your city forgetting there’s life with gorgeous sceneries outside of the Vegas strip.

One thing that sets me apart from wedding photographers out here is shooting my sessions with film cameras and not digital. When people ask me why film and not digital I usually say there’s a beauty to film that digital cannot emulate no matter how much time you spend on Photoshop. there’s just no comparison in my opinion. I also like to throw in that I was born in the wrong era haha!

Are you originally from Las Vegas?

I’m not originally from Las Vegas. Growing up I was a navy brat and was able to live in absolutely exquisite islands with nothing but perfect weather all year round and somehow ended up in the desert. I’ve been here about 16 years now. I’ve grown to fall in love with the desert and it’s wonderful vast sceneries. I feel like people who live here don’t realize there’s so much beauty in nature that surrounds them and just get caught up in the city life.

How many years have you been in business and did you get into photography?

I got into photography as soon as my mom gave me a 35mm point and shoot camera when I was around 10 years old. I loved that camera and I still have it till this day. I took several photo classes in high school but didn’t become serious about until college when I realized, HEY I can make a career out of something I adore doing!

In five or less words, how would you best describe your shooting style?

In four words I can describe my shooting style as natural, airy, timeless, and dreamy. However, there are times where I just want to shoot everything dark, moody, and haunting. I blame it on my indecisiveness.

What were you doing before you got into photography?

Before I became serious about photography, I was a stay at home mom. I loved it and wanted to do it forever but of course, you cannot survive on kisses and cuddles unfortunately.

What is your preferred way to work with clients – email, in person, telephone?

My preferred way to work with my clients is through email and phone on account of many of my clients being from out of town and overseas!

polaroid photography vegas desert

Do you have a favorite part of the wedding day to photograph?

My favorite part of the wedding day is when I’m able to be with the bride and groom for an hour or less just taking intimate photos away from their party. When it’s just the two of them, (besides me and my assistant) they’re more relaxed and oh-so-cute with each other.

What do you find inspiring these days?

These days my inspiration comes from Tumblr, Flickr, wedding blogs and of course Pinterest {Gaby’s Pinterest}. I spend quite some time just daydreaming of planning my own wedding ;)

polaroid photography vegas desert

polaroid photography vegas desert

You like to work a lot with film – which I LOVE! Can you tell us a little about the challenges and surprises you have from working with that? 

Mostly, film is so scarce… I cannot find it anywhere in Las Vegas, not even in the two professional camera shops we have here. It kind of scares me that film might be obsolete in a few years. You should have seen me back in 2006 when polaroid discontinued… I was SO DEVASTATED! {editor’s note: me too!}

When I let my clients know I shoot the majority of weddings with film, they sort of shun away from the idea of even hiring me. But I know they personally contacted me to photograph their wedding because they liked the photos they saw on my website. When I let them know every single photo on my page was shot with film and not digital and absolutely zero editing involved they’re surprised and are way more understanding…

succulent wedding bouquet vegasgabyj_interview008

You don’t have to divulge any trade secrets, but do you have any favorite outdoor location for portraits?

Some of my favorite outdoor locations for photos are Red Rock, Floyd Lamb Park, any desert filled with joshua trees (you’ll see them a lot in my photos) and abandoned houses which is completely unsafe but beautiful at the same time. In all honesty, anywhere away from city life is my favorite place to shoot at.

polaroid photography vegas desert

What is the one thing you wish couples wedding in Vegas knew?

One of the things I wish all the soon to be married couples in Las Vegas knew is to turn up the creativity when planning a wedding. I know it’s time consuming and sometimes not even necessary to some couples but as a creative person myself, it’s totally worth it – especially if you hire a killer photographer. The more you put into your wedding thats “you” and your hubby the more it feels like you’re not at some everyday venue. It lets your personalities shine through and of course it makes for beautiful memorable photographs.

Fill in the blank fun! 

On a typical Sunday I’m usually at work but I’d rather be with my baby and family eating a delicious hearty breakfast prepared by my mother (who’s an amazing cook by the way) and enjoying their company.

If I wasn’t a photographer, I’d probably be … if I really didn’t need money to pay bills, I’d probably be working at Anthropologie. I once told my sister I wouldn’t mind working as a toll booth person working graveyard. I was actually joking but being serious at the same time. Can you imagine how many books I’d be able to read omg!

Coffee or tea?

If I had to choose between coffee or tea, I’d definitely have to say tea BUT if we were to go out on a lunch date, I’d say lets get boba tea at Chinatown!

Favorite song at the moment:

detlef schrempf by Band of Horses… It’s so pretty and calming but I get emotional when I hear it so I don’t play it too often haha!


Thank you so much, Gaby! I can’t wait to talk (and take!) Polaroids with you sometime!

If you are eager to see more of Gaby’s Polaroid and film work, head over to her website and blog. She also posts many photos that don’t make it to her site on her Flickr account.

{all photos by Gaby J Photography}

Better Know a Vendor: McKenzi Taylor of Taylored Photo Memories

I still remember the first submission I got from photographer McKenzi Taylor for LVW- the elopement of a bride in a blazing blue dress and her husband out in the desert of Red Red Canyon. I think it stuck with me because of the colors and the intimacy captured in the photos.

Since then she’s contributed a few of what I think are the more memorable weddings I’ve had on the site, including one at The Gun Store, a wedding on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and the warm walk in the woods wedding on Mt Charleston.

You always hear writers say “write what you know,” and if that’s the case, McKenzi shoots what she knows – adventure! She’s a runner, rock climber and all around outdoorsy woman, so I think she has a real handle on how to best photograph adventurous and outdoorsy weddings. And yet, that’s not all she does. But, I’ll let her talk about what she does best in today’s Better Know a Vendor interview!


Are you originally from Las Vegas?
Nope! I’m originally from a very small town (last time I checked population was 437) called Presho, South Dakota. Moved to Orange County, California for about 4 years before moving to Vegas.

How many years have you been in business and how did you originally get into photography?

I have owned Taylored Photo Memories since 2008. I have always been into photography. My first work in California was for a small newspaper, then for a photography agency (Zuma Press) then I moved to full time staff photographer at Chapman University. I was also running my business on the side through all this :)
McKenzi working hard editing on location

McKenzi working hard editing on location

In five or less words, how would you best describe your shooting style? 
Vivid, sharp, adventurous, clean, fresh.
What were you doing before you got into photography?
Photography! :) But I also love to run, cycle, rock climb and do other active outdoor hobbies!

What is your preferred way to work with clients – e-mail, in person, telephone?

I prefer e-mail correspondence, but know that is not always the preferred communication for my clients! I’m starting to love Skype too!

Do you have a favorite part of the wedding day to photograph?
The romantics or the first looks!
What do you find inspiring these days?
Nature, people, life… it’s all so awesome! In particular though, I do find those with active lifestyles and those that tend to be vagabonds, and live an adventurous life to be super inspiring! They often have amazing photographs and stories of all their travels as well :)

Have you noticed a change in what couples are wanting in terms of photos for their weddings? Do you see any big trends popping up for 2013?

Honestly, I don’t pay much attention to trends. I do what each of my couples wants and desires… They normally come to me with their own style, ideas and inspirations. I just go with that. I have noticed an industry emphasis on capturing the details of their days (their cupcakes, their guest labels etc). I also like to  focus on how much fun the guests are having. Couples really like the idea that they are having a fun party for all their friends and family and they love the fun details and emotions they get to see in the images from that event!
Do you like to work with “shooting” lists – when a couple comes to you with a long list of poses, people, places they want? 
I like a list to some degree. I will say I like a short list of “must haves”. If a list gets too long it becomes very stressful for the photographer (in my opinion). It limits our creativity, we stress about marking ticks off our list and we may miss an important “moment”! I do like a general list though listing who they want for their posed family photos. I would really hate to leave Uncle Bobby out of all the posed family photos :)
Where has been the most challenging place you’ve had to shoot at so far? 
I think photographing in hotel rooms and suites can be a challenge. Not a bad challenge by any means, just a new challenge each and every time. I also think they are pretty rad when you get it all figured out and can make a creative scene in them. Something to also keep in mind if you are planning to do an in-suite wedding is to clean it up! :) I have done a few weddings and the rooms can be flattering in many ways, but I have to spend my time cleaning up the corners and removing any distractions from the scene!
Some of McKenzi's range of work, from the Wynn to Red Rock to Mt Charleston

Some of McKenzi’s range of work, from the Wynn to Red Rock to Mt Charleston

You’re really into working with adventurous couples, and seem to find yourself in all sorts of crazy locations in and around Las Vegas. You don’t have to divulge any trade secrets, but do you have any favorite outdoor location for portraits?

I love walking into a scene and finding a spot that “from the naked eye” seems ugly and transforming it into something awesome. I love meeting people in a strip mall or coffee shop and making a portrait of them right there! They get the image and think “that doesn’t look like where we were at all!” That’s one of my favorite things to do. I try to avoid stressing so much about the location and just enjoy the entire process of making a photo.  I do really love shooting at Lake Las Vegas and Nelson, NV. Beautiful scenery and props. I’m looking for someone that wants to get in a wedding dress and harness for some rock climbing photos in Red Rock Canyon though – any takers?
Are there any vendors in the Vegas area you particularly like to work with, or would like to work with? 
I love working with Rev. Angie Kelly of Peachy Keen Unions and All About Catering Las Vegas. I am looking to get a solid makeup/hairstylist and also someone that I can recommend for flowers though!
What is the one thing you wish couples wedding in Vegas knew? 
Technically we can’t prance around the Strip using the casinos as backdrops, they are private property and while many photographers do it, we could get kicked off the property at any time. And if you are willing to be adventurous and want this sort of thing, don’t wear your stilettos cause I walk fast and far and you’ll be uncomfortable!
As a photo nerd, I have to ask: Canon or Nikon?
psh! Canon – fo sho! ;)
And of course, the fun questions I always ask…
On a typical Sunday I am photographing awesome people, couples, families or rock climbing in Red Rock Canyon or traveling
If I wasn’t a photographer, I’d probably be: using my masters degree in organizational leadership by working with organizations, probably non profits, to increase their productivity & employee morale!

Thank you so much, McKenzi! You can see more of her work on her brand spankin’ new blog and website just launched last week. She is also always posting crazy awesome photos of her climbing exploits on Instagram, too: @mckenzitaylor

 

I sure hope she finds a bride willing to do a rock climbing bridal shoot. How amazing would that be?

 


 

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