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Vendor Love: An Interview with Letters and Such

We first met Adriana from Letters and Such when she collaborated on our Los Portales Wedding photo shoot. Adriana is full of energy for life and is on a journey to fill the world (and blank Starbucks cups) with custom hand drawn calligraphy. She described her style of lettering as modern as compared to the traditional, more formal script you may be thinking of when you hear the word calligraphy. Her art is fresh and feminine and compliments a myriad of wedding themes. Nate and I sat down with her to discuss all the details of wedding calligraphy.

Here’s an introduction video to Adriana and how she became a calligrapher.

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What are some ways brides can incorporate calligraphy into their wedding details?

"I think the most common thing is signs, which is a huge trend right now. Welcome signs, menu boards, seating charts, dessert table signs. I also can do envelope addressing. Addressing envelopes with hand lettering and calligraphy is a really fun detail you can put on the outside of the envelope to reflect how beautiful it is on the inside. If you are writing your own vows you can have them calligraphed and lettered on special paper with colors and ink to match your wedding theme. Then your vows can be a keepsake forever and you can keep them in a scrapbook or photo album. You can customize anything!"

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What are the advantages of working with a local calligrapher instead of finding something online from a site like Etsy?

"Of course you can find anything online. The advantage of going local is you can sit down and talk with me and I can show you actual examples of my work and what I do. You can show me examples of what you like. I am right here so I can also deliver and come on site to your venue if necessary. There’s also the benefit of supporting local business which I think is a good thing. You could go online and search to have a sign or envelopes made but there is the complication factor of waiting for your envelopes or sign to arrive and then having to ship them to your calligrapher and again wait for them to come back to you when the project is finished. Some people rent signs and cannot ship them to a calligrapher."

"The thing about calligraphy and lettering for weddings is that it is custom. It is for you. You can’t go to Hobby Lobby or Wal Mart and find a sign with your names on it or your favorite saying or quote. It won’t be exactly what you want and you should have exactly what you want for your wedding."

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What advice can you give Las Cruces brides?

"If you want a sign or something personalized, don’t do it yourself, go to a professional. A wedding is special and once in a lifetime. You are going to cherish these memories and your wedding photos forever so you want it to look really nice. It is worth it to have it done by a pro. Weddings and wedding planning can get really stressful but it doesn’t have to be."

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Thank you Adriana for chatting with Nate and I about all you do! You can see more of Adriana's beautiful work on Facebook and Instagram

Vendor Love: An Interview with Let Them Eat Cake

Nate and I caught up with Stephanie from Let Them Eat Cake to talk about something delicious: wedding cakes (and cupcakes)! Stephanie is not only a professional, she is an artisan. Her devotion to her craft and clients shines through every cake she makes. Throughout our interview it was clear to me she knows what she is doing, she loves what she is doing, and she is a great asset to any bride and groom because she cares about their happiness. 

Here's an introduction video on how Let Them Eat Cake came to be.

Now on to the interview! 

What trends are you excited about this year for wedding cakes?

"I get this question every year and I dread this question because what I think weddings are about are the combining of two different people, their personalities, their likes, and what they deem they want to experience at their event. So to pigeon hole that into what’s trending right now; I dislike that. I think the cake should represent the couple getting married. I guide people towards defining what is unique for them. I commit myself completely to creating a vision that somebody has and I help people find that vision."

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When should a bride and groom book your services?

"As soon as they know they are interested in possibly working with me, give me a call. Let’s set up a time to sit down. The sooner they start the process, the less stress on them. My goal for my clients is for them to be happy. For them to be happy that means they are happy with look, taste, and price. I am very willing to work with them to figure out how we can get all three of these components to make them happy. If I cannot make them happy I would rather help them find someone who does. As much as I would love to be a part of their event, my goal is for their happiness."

What is a cake consultation like at Let Them Eat Cake?

"This is my life. I have been doing this professionally for about 16 years now. I know a whole bunch of things that I would love to tell the couple. A sit-down consultation is more of information exchange, it’s a no more pressure kind of thing. Consultations are complimentary. I know I do this a lot more than they do. I am very willing, able and happy to help guide them through different things. There’s so many possibilities in the realm of cake decorating that it can get a little bit overwhelming but I am happy to be that Sherpa, to be that guide."

 "I love it when brides come in with pictures. What I ask brides and grooms at a consultation is what is your overall theme, what is the overall feeling you want to invoke in your guests? With the pictures they have brought, I look and ask, “What did you like about this?” By looking at so many different things we can pick out what stands out to them and then create what is unique for them and their event. People come in with different concerns and different focuses and we always try to address the individual and that’s why consultations are so great. I do also offer tastings where we can try different cake flavors."

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What advice can you give to Las Cruces brides and grooms?

"We have over 450 flavor combinations, but that doesn't mean that you should have a cream cheese cake outside in July in the desert. Don't be afraid to ask questions, I am here as a resource."

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"Be true to yourself and what you want. A lot of times I see people forget, push down, or suppress their desires to please another. Be true with yourself and be true with your partner with what you want. I know it sounds so big and grandiose for something like cake but it’s a small reflection of everything."

"A lot of times people ask me, “How can you have people destroy it (the cake), you spent hours of intensive hours working on it?” and my response is part of the consumption of the cake is the visual: you need to see it, but then you also need to follow it up with eating it. It’s edible artistry. In that way, it’s kind of a temporary art installation. Your wedding cake has a different kind of importance because it is temporary and it’s not going to hang on your wall. You’re enjoying it for that moment and it’s kind of Zen really. You need to try to be in the moment."

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A big "Thanks!" to Stephanie for taking a moment to chat with us about wedding cakes! If your sweet tooth is needing some attention stop in to Let Them Eat Cake (located at 1001 E University Avenue) and try a cupcake, or two. 

Los Portales Styled Wedding Inspiration

Sometimes it is fun to play. To just create. Even though I know that, and have seen how beneficial it is to devote time to make photographs simply for the thrill of creating, it is still a struggle to actually make that happen in real life. You know what I am talking about. When you have your head down and are slogging through #adulting, whatever that looks like for you. Emails, deadlines, the dishes in the sink, yada yada. Whenever I can break free of that, even for a moment, and step out of the routine and make some magic happen, it is a wonderful experience. An experience I want to tell everyone about and sing from the roof tops. Here it is, some magic!

Our wedding photography business has allowed me to meet some other creative entrepreneurs and professionals. Hanging out with these people and their imaginative spirits is an exhilarating experience. After a few phone calls, texts, emails, and many Facebook messages an amazing team of vendors assembled and started the heavy lifting of brainstorming and planning this styled photo shoot. I have said it before and I will continue to say it, when you can find creative, capable people to work with, the best thing you can do is get out of their way and let them do their thing. I think this photo shoot is that mantra come to life. We decided to design the style of the photo shoot based on the enchanting landscape of southern New Mexico. New Mexico is after all the “Land of Enchantment.” A color palette of turquoise, sand, terra cotta, burgundy naturally emerged from this focus. Metallic accents of silver, wrought iron, and antique gold accompanied the desert inspired colors.  

I knew I wanted to photograph at a authentic southwest location, something true to the area. Location plays a large role in my planning and how I envision photographs in my mind. I first heard about Los Portales at the Las Cruces Bridal Showcase and then stumbled across the wedding venue's Instagram account and was captivated by the grand doors that accent the space. I am so glad the team at Los Portales was excited to participate in this wedding inspiration photo shoot. This space is absolutely beautiful; white walls, hardwood floors, unique string lights, red accent pendant lights, an adobe exterior, and of course those big architectural doors. Los Portales was first built in the 1930’s and for many years served the local community as a church. If you are looking for a wedding venue in southern New Mexico, you need to see this place with your own eyes.

The floral concepts and arrangements were designed by Susannah Calhoun of Calhoun Flower Farms. She created a show stopping table piece with air plants, succulents, and cacti. Individual stems also decorated the length of the rectangle table in turquoise and brown glassware. I love how the asymmetrical heights and colors of these individual pieces work together to form depth and create an eclectic feel. For the design pieces of the table setting to shine, they needed a strong foundation. Deanna Greene of Enchanted Occasions Event Rentals used sand, terra cotta, and turquoise colored linens to fuse the colors from our color palette. These bold colors stand out against the calmness of the white walls and hardwood floors of the room.

What would a wedding be without the details? Ariana Salcido of Letters and Such, provided gorgeous calligraphy with a menu card, invitation stationery, and a welcome chalkboard sign. She chose papers specifically thinking of the color palette, wood elements of the venue, and charcoal grey suit of the groom. Nate and I are both jealous of her mad lettering skills. She created the chalkboard lettering on the spot the day of the photo shoot!

Roxanne of Renee’s Bridal selected an Allure Bridals wedding gown that completed the vision of the shoot seamlessly. See what I did there? :) The bridal gown featured lace details over a blush undertone lining. The blush undertone hints to the sand color used throughout the wedding design. The bodice of the dress is adorned with silver and crystal beading. Our model, Elizabeth, looked stunning, as if that dress was made for her! Even though silver is the main metallic color of the details of this dress, who says you can’t mix metals?  I love how the antique gold bracelet and earrings provided by Heather Richman’s Chloe and Isabel boutique mesh together with the silver to accentuate the metallic element of this bridal look. Plus, the subtle burgundy and turquoise hues in the jewelry pair perfectly with the photo shoot color concept.

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Brenda Tarango of Make Up by Brenda gave the bride a natural and cool toned make up look. The soft light shade she selected for the eye shadow balances against the bold colors used in the tablescape and bouquet while the berry lip color brings just a touch of drama to the look.  Brenda spent nearly an hour braiding Elizabeth’s long hair into the most intricate and romantic braid I have ever seen! The soft loops and delicate weave of the braid is highlighted in contrast to the tight and intricate detail work of the living hair piece Susannah created using florals and cacti.

Let’s talk about the bouquet for a moment. Susannah is such an artist. And she is a visionary floral farmer. The florals and greenery featured in this southwest wedding design were locally grown. Bright pops of color and textures grab the eye's attention in this beautifully overflowing bouquet. 

And now for our dapper groom, Dustin. Everyone agreed the charcoal grey Michael Kors suit Roxanne suggested was the perfect choice to give the groom’s style an air of sophistication without sticking to a standard black suit. Continuing with the nontraditional sophistication vibe is the intricate live pocket square Susannah created. Tiny succulents and cacti sit proudly atop the suit’s breast pocket in place of a traditional boutonniere. Look at the detail complexities held in such a small space! Pure magic, I say. The brown shoe in this look helps to break up the grey and pairs nicely with the wood aspects of the venue.

During the photo shoot planning process, a few members took a field trip to visit Los Portales. As soon as we saw the hand carved wooden bar area we knew exactly where the cake should be photographed. Stephanie of Let Them Eat Cake approached the southwest wedding theme with the conviction to portray the desert and New Mexican landscape in a way that was true to her perspective and avoided any trite or kitsch representations. Using the southwest theme’s color palette, she created a collection of elegantly decorated cakes. By using the sand and turquoise hues, the cake’s design hints toward the relationship between expansive earth and big sky that New Mexico is so well know for. The showcase cake also has an attention grabbing metallic pattern that mimics the rising and setting sun with it’s accompanying rays of shine. The varying heights and styles of the cakes create a cohesive style with the eclectic shapes and sizes of the glassware used on the tablescape.

What began as a styled wedding reception look with the grand tablescape blossomed into a full wedding inspiration shoot with the addition of a lounge area and ceremony site. Three Sisters Wedding Services provided the vintage rentals and unique styling of each of these areas. In the lounge area, wood pedestals and distinctive furniture pieces mingle with burgundy candles on antique gold candlesticks. 

The lush turquoise settee cannot be overemphasized in the luxuriousness it brings to this wedding lounge set up. But it takes a close second to my favorite item Three Sisters included in the photo shoot. Using the outdoor lawn area that faces the impressive doors of the exterior of Los Portales, church pews were used for ceremony seating. These 10 feet long pews were salvaged from the historic Fort Boulevard United Methodist church in El Paso as it was being remodeled. I think this ceremony set up is so spot on for this venue. The church pews match the grand details of Los Portales’ exterior doors with their sturdiness and bring a sense of reverent tradition. Rugs were placed at the aisle’s end to root the ceremony look with southwestern texture and patterns. The rugs also add an element of softness to contrast the strong rustic features of the wood pews and doors.

I am so pleased with how wonderfully everything (and everyone!) came together for this styled wedding photo shoot. I realize how much time and effort every one of these wedding vendors put into this project: from the many planning sessions, the set up and clean up, and simply being away from their everyday business owner tasks. For that my heart is FULL of gratitude. What a superb community of creative professionals we have here blessing New Mexico brides and grooms!

Wedding Vendor credits:

Venue: Los Portales

Photography and Videography: Taylor'd Photography

Floral: Calhoun Flower Farms

Wedding Dress and Suit: Renee's Bridal

Cakes: Let Them Eat Cake

Calligraphy: Letters and Such

Hair and Make Up: Make Up by Brenda

Vintage rentals and styling: Three Sisters Wedding Services

Linens, chairs, flatware: Enchanted Occasions Event Rental

Jewelry: Chloe and Isabel

Models: Dustin Llanez and Elizabeth Reyes