2017

WEDDING VIDEOGRAPHY

It has been nearly three years since I shifted my career being an accountant to being a wedding videographer/photographer, making videos for couples wanting to show their kids how they fell in love, what happened at their wedding, and how young and beautiful their love was. I am grateful to be there on such an amazing day when two people devote themselves to each other, committing to be a family together, and carry on the another branch in a family tree just as their ancestors did. I understand the magnitude of the situation as I film that day. I understand who is going to be watching this video, and how important the story of how their family is created is going to be. I know all of us struggle to envision our future selves and how important watching these videos will be with our children. Imagine watching your wedding videos with your daughter when you are helping her plan her wedding. Everyone at weddings seems to be at their best. Everyone there is happy to celebrate two families coming together to start a new one. Which is why wedding videos are so beautiful, they capture friends and family while they are glowing with that joy. Which is why I decided to share some of the videos I have helped couples make this year today with you.

One of my favorite things to do is record live music during a wedding and use it in one of the highlight videos I create for the couple. During the wedding reception, the Bride’s niece stepped onto the dance floor alone with a microphone, and expressed her desire to give the bride and groom a meaningful gift from the heart, something more than just a thing. After dedicating her gift to her aunt, she opened her heart in front of everyone. She sang from a place that gave everyone listening goose bumps, as the DJ played an instrumental version of the song “At Last”. Now this was a great experience for everyone there, but as a videographer, I can tell you right at that moment when she began this amazing gift, I thought “Thank God, Sight and Sound” is the DJ. I knew I was recording their audio and it would sound amazing for their video.  

One of the downsides of planning an outdoor wedding is that you never know exactly what to expect weather-wise. That is a risk, but there is a high reward that comes as well. Can you really beat the atmosphere that the outdoors provides? And from a photographer’s perspective, visually, you can’t beat it. This couple had their ceremony outdoors behind the Farm and Ranch Museum. Full view of the Organ Mountains and all. They spent months in advance preparing their own separate vows, to surprise each other on their wedding day, with their own personal commitment thoroughly outlined composing their promises in exchange for their lives of solitude. You could tell they did not take this marriage lightly, as they spared no expense in detail of their willingness to commit. The time had come, the rings nearby in a trusted pocket, the microphone was passed from the reverend to the bride, and she began to read her carefully written and scrutinized thoughts she had worked so hard on to show her soon to be husband how important he was to her, and what she was willing to sacrifice for him if only to spend the rest of time together. The wind had picked up slightly and the microphone cut out every now and then. Words heard by the groom that weren’t heard by the guests. It was fine, we could fill in the blanks. Their love was still felt. And so it went during his vows to her. The risk of the outdoor wedding found one small way to manifest itself, in the form of a slight technical distraction. That’s alright I had a back-up mic on the groom, “No big deal” I thought. Only they were so close to a running fountain of water, the noise overwhelmed that audio. When I was working on their videos and found that out, I contacted the couple. I visited them at their new home, and we recorded their vows again. This time, there weren’t any blanks to fill in. Their vows became the voice over of one of their highlight videos. Now they can hold each other to their vows at their convenience, making it difficult not to think twice before getting in an argument. But even better, they can inspire their children to find the person that comes along in their lives that holds the same passion towards them.

After a year of planning and working with talented and experienced vendors to ensure that your wedding lines up with your vision of what your wedding day should be, you are set and ready to relax on the day itself, and just enjoy each other in wedding bliss. And that is exactly what this couple did. This was the most elaborately decorated wedding we photographed this year, but you would never know it from looking at the photographs. The day started as any wedding day would have, family and friends getting ready, expressing their love and pride of the bride and groom, everyone smiling so much you knew their faces were hurting before even getting to the Church. The ceremony is beautiful and everything is going great, and then the Priest says out of nowhere “Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans”. And then as if inspired, he repeats it again. Not quite what a newly married couple who just spent the last year planning this marriage wants to hear. But in fact, he was right, especially for that day. At the reception venue, lights were hung, decorations were set, and live musicians where gracing the cocktail hour as a strong wind blew in. One look at the mountains, and you could see half of the sky covered in darkness. Elise and I were about to photograph the wedding cake when the wind nearly blew it over, if not for Elise and the Bride’s uncle literally catching it. In came a nasty windstorm, down went all of the wedding décor. A few decorations smashed by the wind, a few guests wet by rain, and several wedding plans destroyed, changed without notice or aspiration. But it didn’t stop the celebration or the lovebirds’ commitment. The expressions on the faces of attendees was only bleak for a moment, compared to the evening of laughter, reminiscence, and excitement for these two and their journey through life together, through both the good times and the bad. They proved that day, they will uplift each other come what may.

We are so grateful for these couples including us in their wedding, inviting us to be there and witness one of the longest and simultaneously the shortest days of their lives. It is with great gratitude that we continue our photography business thanks to great clients like these. We cherish the time we spend together, and the creativity they inspire. No two wedding stories are alike, and so we tell none of them the same through our photography and videography. That is the true essence of storytelling isn’t it? It isn’t the individual moments, staged for the camera, posed for that particular flash in time. It is the combination of several moments, a beginning, a middle, and an end. We always end stories with a happily ever after, not because that is the end of their story, but that is the beginning of another that they start together.  

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA SUITS YOUR FANCY?

Oh social media…why do you feel like a necessary evil to our business? As photographers, we just want to take pictures. Social media sometimes falls into the business bucket instead of the fun bucket. I said sometimes, but if you only knew how uncomfortable recording myself behind the scenes feels for me. Our clients know, and anyone who watches our Instagram stories knows how awkward I can get captured in action “behind the scenes”. I prefer to be on the other side of the camera. But I get it, it is fun for people to see other people in action doing something different from what they are doing. It makes sense, and so we are making the resolution to be more active on our social media platforms.

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I realize social media can be repetitive, and that really is the easiest way for all businesses to post, or should I say repost the same content on all of their platforms. We are guilty at times of this I know. Posting the same wedding photo across all of our social media platforms. But we have big plans to keep it real, and real separate on our social media platforms. So here is the break down for you, the viewer, the client, the bride, the competitor, the fellow creative. Now you can pick and choose which platform you prefer based on the content we are putting there, rather than only subscribing on one platform and ignoring the others because you expect it all to link to the same content.

So without any further ado, here is a list of our social media platforms and the type of content we publish on them.   

Blog

Our Blog is going to have a minor facelift. Back in 2009, Elise just blogged about whatever she wanted that had to do with anything photography related. When we rebranded our business a few years ago, we turned our blog into a monthly newsletter showcasing the different projects we worked on the previous month. Now yet again, we decided to completely change the purpose of our blog.

We noticed that Las Cruces is really underserved when it comes to local guides to help locals plan big life events such as weddings. Don’t get me wrong, we have some great local resources; the Bulletin puts out a Wedding magazine every year, there are two bridal shows, one put on locally at the convention center every year, the other put on by a group from Albuquerque at Hotel Encanto, but all three come out in the beginning half of each year. Leaving anyone who gets engaged after that time in the dark. And those resources are available only to those who have the time to get out and into the world. Which is fun, but really annoying at times for those who rely on the internet for researching and making decisions (people like me). If you go to big wedding websites like The Knot, or Wedding Wire, these are big “pay to play” websites, where the vendors shown first are paying to be shown. Kind of like the first listings on a Google search that shows the “Ad” symbol next to them, except on these sites they don’t disclose that. Which is fine, except for wedding vendors who are trying to keep their costs low so they don’t have to increase their prices.

OK, TMI, I know, but this is just a small part of the ugly side of having a photography business. And the not so pretty side of planning a wedding in a smaller city that has vendors moving in and out as fast as their spouse’s military posting changes. So what about the locals, the people that are born and raised in Las Cruces, the people you know are going to be here in twenty years and their kids are learning the same skills as their parents so they can take over the family business? How do you find these guys if they aren’t paying to play on planning websites such as The Knot?

This is the problem we want to address on our Blog (and on our other social media platforms on occasion). We want to create a resource for our local Las Cruces Brides to find talented and reputable Las Cruces wedding vendors. Vendors that represent the #shoplocal movement in our area. Businesses that say loudly “We love Las Cruces, it’s our home, and we are doing our best to lift where we stand in our local community”. Money spent here stays here kind of thing.

It is with this mindset that we are altering our blog and renaming it to the “Las Cruces Wedding Blog”. Our Blog posts will fall into one of six categories so that visitors can easily click on a category and find corresponding useful info. Here they are:

Announcements

These will be posts about upcoming local events, sales, requests, etc. 

Boast Post

Don’t toot your own horn! Unless it’s a Boast Post. Yeah we are totally going to do that since we are proud of our work

Our Products

When it comes to photographers in Las Cruces, we offer the best quality archival photographic products. That is our business model. These posts will focus on them.

Real Weddings

Checking out real weddings is probably the most helpful way to get ideas and inspiration for your own wedding. We have tons of those photos, so we are going to post some of our favorites to help with wedding ideas and inspiration.

Vendor Love

We are going to show some love to other local Las Cruces wedding vendors. People who work hard and represent the #shoplocal movement in Las Cruces.

Word to the Wise

This is all the advice you want to hear. From tips on planning from married couples to how to archive your digital files so you don’t lose them all.

Facebook

Is there anything better than scrolling through your Facebook wall and not seeing one political post? If only that would happen once this month… On our Facebook feed, you won’t see any of that, but we do go post crazy on all things related to sentiment, local vendors, our photos and products, and our clients. Not to mention, Facebook is our melting pot for our social media. And yes that is vague, so with more specificity, we mainly use Facebook for the following:

Facebook Live

We do Facebook Live videos with clients to show our prospective clients a glimpse of what it is like to work with us, and to give our brides some helpful tips and inspiration for planning their own wedding. Some of these videos we have even taken clips from to turn into useful “Word to the Wise” blog posts.

We also plan on making several Facebook Live videos showcasing other vendors and our products. We are even open to Live Q&A so if you have any questions yourself that you think would be great for Q&A, let us know.

Links to Outside Content

We do like to link to helpful or just fun articles or videos that we deem relevant to our clients. For instance, Canon published a video showing how different seven separate photographers photographed the same model. The results were dramatic. We posted that video on our feed. A charity that we support called Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that performs sting operations to capture traffickers and rescue enslaved children, had a blog post on how a couple asked for donations to this charity in lieu of wedding gifts. A pretty cool story, and a unique idea. We reposted their link to that. Articles on psychological studies of the correlation between family photos on the wall and a child’s self-confidence? You bet.

Links to Our Own Content

Yes, we link to our Sneak peek videos, our blog posts, our Instagram photos, etc. Guilty. But in our defense, Facebook posts are the easiest way for our clients to share the art we make with them. So is Facebook is the exception to what I said earlier about keeping it real separate? Sort of. But we will try to add value, like something that wasn't mentioned before, when we do such posts, rather than just repost our links. 

Vendor Spotlights and Reposts

Of course we are going to support our local vendors. The ones we work with, the ones we love, and feel should be given their moment of glory in the sun. And if they post something on their social media that we feel would be useful to our clients, we are definitely going to repost that. If they have a sale, are moving locations, had a great interview, or are advertising an event they are participating in, all such posts we consider reposting. We don’t get all spammy with these posts, but we do like to show some love with our #shoplocal fam.

Boast Posts

We are proud of our hard work and dedication, and most of the time, few people are watching. So sometimes we like to let people know what we are doing. Examples of this would be styled photoshoots, exhibiting our photographs at a museum or gallery, showing light on interviews we have had, or just saying something nice about each other, or the wonderful clients we have that support our business and family life.

Sneak Peeks

Whether we photograph or film a wedding, we post sneak peeks. Usually about 30 or so photos and only a 2 minute video, short and sweet. What is great about these is not only do you get to see a sample of our work, and the details of someone else’s wedding for inspiration, but we also tag vendors. This way you can see who made that ridiculously intricate wedding cake, or where the bride got that A-line wedding dress. The easiest way to find the right wedding vendor for you, is to find the wedding piece that is most similar to what you envision and knowing the vendor behind it. Our Sneak peeks are a great way to assist you in that process.

Google+

Google+ is kind of like the LinkedIn of Google. We upload some of our favorite photos to Google+ and links to our YouTube Videos. It isn’t our favorite, but if you are one of our local competitors, join the Las Cruces Wedding Photographers community on Google+. This is an appropriate way to connect with us if you yourself are a local wedding photographer.

Instagram

I once had a favorite app, and that app was Instagram. It used to be so great…I digress. If you enjoy watching behind the scenes videos and photos, we post lots of those as Instagram Stories. From wedding days to frame assembling, you can see what some of our workdays look like. We aren’t the best at these, and we can get a little awkward being on that side of the camera at times, but we are trying to get better at these. And by better, I mean remember to do more of them.

Our regular Instagram posts consists of a random bunch of photos from weddings to infant portraits. We like to congratulate our clients on their big life events; getting married, having offspring, 1st anniversary, graduating from high school, etc. And we generally post a photo to show them how happy we are for them. It ends up being a portfolio feed that consists of pictures that are relevant for the moment.

YouTube

I still love YouTube. I used to watch Casey Neistat when he had less than 100k followers. Not anymore, sorry Casey. He doesn’t need my views anyway. I have not really put our YouTube channel out there, so to speak. I have a video on my personal YouTube channel that is approaching 100k views. But our business YouTube channel is mainly just shared and viewed locally. With that said, I hope you check it out and subscribe after reading this blog. The videos we share on our channel not only are a great way for prospective clients to determine if they like our video style, but are uplifting short stories that anyone can enjoy.

Our YouTube channel, like our Blog is broken up into categories, only these categories are called playlists. The cool thing is that you don’t have to subscribe to the entire channel, you could just subscribe to your favorite playlist. At any rate, the playlists are as follows.

Storytelling Films: Love Photography

These videos showcase what our business does: we help people tell their stories visually. They include video clips of our clients and us, and they tell short stories that hit home with our prospective clients.

Wedding Sneak Peeks

All of the videos in this playlist are Sneak Peek previews of our clients' wedding days. This is the trailer to their wedding highlight video. Every videography package we offer includes sneak peek previews which we like to post within a week of the bride and groom's wedding day to show some of our favorite footage that we made at their Wedding. These videos tell a short story of what happened on their wedding day.

Love Stories

These are our favorite videos to make. Love Story videos are videos of the couple telling the story of how they met, fell in love, and decided to start a family together (get married). These are short, sweet, and are one of the greatest heirlooms a couple could give their children. I would love to see my twenty year old parents tell their love story. Unfortunately, I never will. That is why these are so important to us. Life moves faster the older we get, so making these videos while we are young and our feelings and excitement are fresh provide a unique once in a lifetime experience for the viewer that wasn’t even around when it was made. If you like watching people’s unique love stories, then this is the playlist for you.

Vendor Love #ShopLocal

We know planning a wedding can be shaving years off your life stressful. This playlist consists of other local businesses that may be able to fill that need you have in your wedding planning. These are vendors we have worked with, which in our experience with them are reliable, dependable, and we would recommend.

Our Products

This playlist is still in the works. While we do have a video of one of our products, we are in the process of making more. We offer our clients archival quality photographic products. We hunt for these products, and are excited to offer them and have them in our own home. Videos and photos don’t do any of our products any justice. You just have to see them for yourselves in person to truly appreciate them. However, we still want to showcase them and their features that make them so different from what the general public is offered. These videos do just that.

Behind the Scenes

This is another playlist that is getting worked on. We have been told by several people that they enjoy seeing behind the scenes. We aren’t going to make videos of us sitting at our computer all day which we tend to have to do (to edit, to post, to email, to write this very post), but we understand the fun in participating in the projects we work on in our business. So we are working on sharing more of that time with you.

This may have broken a record of the longest blog post I have ever written! I hope it was fun to read if you read it all. Check out our different social media links, subscribe to the ones you enjoy, and if you have time, share your thoughts after reading this blog post in the comments below.

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

Benny and Melanie - Sonoma Ranch Golf Club Elegant Summer Wedding

One late night out dancing, Benny and Melanie were introduced to each other by mutual friends. As they were dancing together, for the first time, Benny playfully told Melanie he was going to marry her. Fast forward from many years of friendship, flirting and lots of nights spent dancing and here we are!

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On a Saturday in late summer, Benny lived up to that promise of many years ago and married that girl he met dancing. 

Melanie and Benny planned their wedding ceremony to take place on the driving range of the Sonoma Ranch Golf Course insuring a beautiful view of the majestic Organ mountains. Their wedding day was warm and sunny with the occasional cloud teasing the guests with a small patch of soothing shade. I know a lot of people get excited about fall and autumn, but I am completely fine with the idea of a year long summer. Summer stay forever. 

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You can't beat that just married smile. Capturing the overjoyed and ecstatic faces of brides and grooms as they exit the ceremony may be one of my favorite moments of the wedding day (shhh, don't worry, I still love you bride and groom styled portraits!). As Benny and Melanie walked away, I stepped behind them and let them pass me which allowed me to document this sweet, quiet, just the two of them, moment. 

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The bridesmaids wore long flowing gowns from Azazie in a muted, dusty rose shade. The groomsmen wore navy suits. I love how navy seems to instantly elevate any color palette without drowning in formality. Melanie and Benny's wedding style could be described as easy summertime glamour. 

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I love this photograph Nate created from an unexpected angle as I was busy photographing the bridesmaids as a group. Melanie's bouquet was designed by the talented team at Barb's Flowerland and featured white calla lilies, soft pink roses, bold merlot roses with blue thistles. The blue thistles add just the right amount of drama to this bouquet to keep things interesting. 

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Melanie's sleek and sophisticated updo was done by tHAIRapy Salon. Doesn't she look stunning?! Such a classic beauty. 

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Obviously I big perk of getting married on a golf course is the sweet ride you'll drive around all day.

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After we jetted around the Sonoma Ranch golf course for bride and groom portraits, dinner was served al fresco in the covered pavilion patio of the clubhouse. Simon and the whole team at Sunset Grill did a wonderful job serving and catering a yummy meal. 

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A family friend made a classic white fondant wedding cake and garnished the tiers with more soft pink roses. 

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Benny told me the only bite he got of the whole cake was the bite Melanie fed him as they cut their wedding cake. He was too busy dancing with his beautiful bride. 

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Thank you New Mexico sunsets! 

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At their wedding rehearsal, the day before I asked Benny and Melanie how they were feeling. They told me they were just ready to be married and enjoy their day with family and friends. I am so glad that is exactly how the day unfolded. They danced and danced and I cannot think of a more poetic way to celebrate how their love story began. 

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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.