- Heather "at work" with Kelly and Jimmy on their wedding day. Hannah Kate Fotographie
Get to know Heather, Central Coast Wedding Photographer.
I first met Heather of Heather Nguyen Photography at a local wedding professionals gathering in northern San Luis Obispo county. Taylor Street Favors was supplying some wedding favors for the event and Heather was shooting the event. Meet and greets are not my thing, but I am so glad I went that night! Not only do I love Heather’s wedding photography and her warm, easy going vibe, but she continues to be a big supporter of everything Taylor Street. Here is our interview with Heather.
TSF: What is your favorite part of a wedding to shoot?
Wedding Photography is so much fun! If I had to choose one part it would be when I am photographing the couple alone. To me, that is the most exciting part. Some see each other before with a first look and others have waited until their “I DOs”. That is the chance to really see how in love they are. That is the first chance they get to have a candid conversation and complement each other’s outfits.
TSF: Most important question you rarely get asked by couples considering you for wedding photography?
The most important part of the day, photography wise is sunset time. I have a long list of questions to ask but for couples that is usually the last thing they are thinking about. When you think of your wedding, the most important part would be the couple photos when the light is soft and flattering. I usually suggest sunset photos depending on their schedule.
TSF: Tell us about yourself
I have been a photographer for 9 years now. I am a wife of 9 years and a mother to a 6 year old and a 3 year old. They keep me busy during the week, which is why I love my job as a photographer. I am able to enjoy time with them during the week and work on the weekends.
TSF: What is one favorite part of your photography business?
Delivering the images to clients. I always send out the email and wait for their response. Hearing how much they love their images and how well their day was captured is such a pleasure to hear as their photographer.
TSF: Best piece of advice you could give couples planning their wedding
To take moments for themselves and keep dating. When I work with couples, sometimes stress gets the best of them and they forget the wedding is all about their love. After their big day, they will be left with the memories of the guests, their ceremony, and how much fun they had.
TSF: What is your photography specialty?
My specialty is wedding photography. Though I also photograph families, newborns, kids & couples, I spend most of my year on weddings. I love having clients stay with me from their engagement to their family photos years down the road. I really do have an amazing job!
TSF: What inspires you professionally?
I was inspired after my own wedding. I had such a amazing time planning our wedding. So when I meet a couple, I love discussing all of the fun plans they have started and the vision they have.
TSF: 3 questions every couple should ask their wedding photographer
- Do you shoot in RAW? RAW images hold more information than JPEGS which help with post editing. All professionals shoot in RAW.
- How many weddings have you photographed? I shoot about 15-20 weddings a year on average, so 8 years and 15 weddings a year I would say I am around 120 weddings. It’s very important for your photographer to have lots of wedding experience.
- Do you edit the images? As for editing, I edit the lighting, bring up colors(especially your wedding colors), edit out anything that takes away from the image. Every image a client receives from me has been touched. I never send unedited images.
TSF: Biggest pet peeve with modern technology in weddings today
Cell phone and tablets. I have been a wedding guest many times and I personally have no problem with people taking photos during the day. When it comes to the ceremony, it makes my job very hard to have to ask guests to move (when they should be seated) or change my position because someone is holding their phone out in the isle. When a couple spends so much on their wedding photography, they don’t want cell phones in the way of their vows or first kiss.
TSF: Weddings are stressful. How do you keep yourself relaxed and energized?
I spend time with my kids during the week and usually get massages after a long wedding. I carry a backpack with all my lenses and gear so once the wedding is over, my back is usually sore.
TSF: What one superpower would you want for your wedding photography work?
That my legs would never get tired. After being on my feet for 12+ hours, I am usually exhausted. Legs that would keep going even into the late night hours would be marvelous!
Wedding planners are amazing. They are on the front line and I love the absolute creativity and style that the best planners bring to each wedding. I’ve been following Maria at By Your Side Events on Instagram for a while. I love her work. I think you will too. Based in Napa, California, she also travels to wherever her couples are planning their destination weddings. Here’s our interview with Maria at By Your Side Events:
TSF: Tell us a little about you.
Hey everyone! So, this is my first blog post…EVER, I’m excited and a little nervous, but that’s usually the way all great adventures begin, right? I’m so excited that I get to share my thoughts and ideas with you and to hear what you think! I already have so much I want to talk to you about, but let’s start from the beginning.
I am so lucky that I started my journey with a feeling. I didn’t set out to be a wedding planner in the beginning, in fact I thought I wanted to be a teacher. In 2006 I moved from my hometown of Ann Arbor Michigan to Santa Rosa California, I needed a break from the snow, and I guess I was looking for a new adventure. That “break” turned into a permanent residency, and 13 years later, here we are! My passion for events came from a seemingly unlikely source…lesson planning. IT turns out that teaching really wasn’t my thing but planning for my lessons and activities and scheduling out the day made my heart race. I didn’t know what do to with that feeling but I wanted to feel it more, so I kept finding things to do that made my heart happy, (or did they find me?). Lesson planning turned into BEO’s for winery events, which turned into Day Of Timelines which is where we are now. That feeling that I got from planning has now taken on a life of its own, when I get to work with someone on their most special event, and to see their faces on that day it fuels me. It fills my tank and gets me excited to do more.
TSF: What’s Been Your Favorite part of being a Wedding Planner?
I have been asked a few times over the years what my favorite part of the job is, and I can’t say that I do have a favorite part exactly, in fact, I have two. There is something so magical about watching a bride float down the aisle. After I give her dress one last fluff and whisper, “go ahead” she is off; all of the months of planning, phone calls, emails, texts, facetimes, schematics, laughs, sometimes tears and hugs is all happening, it is so cool to see it all come to life!
Also, you know how they say to brides and grooms all the time that your wedding day will go by so quickly, don’t forget to enjoy it? I always tell them don’t forget to EAT and enjoy it, but it is true, and it’s also true for me and my team, just before the ceremony begins it is show time and it all fly’s by in a blink, thankfully we have photographers to help us remember how it all looked and the way we felt on that special day. When I get the pictures back from my couples’ events it’s almost like I get to experience the same feeling that I had with them on their wedding day all over again! I love being able to revisit everything – the getting ready shots, photos during cocktail hour, the first dance and all of the amazing faces that people make during toasts (those are some of my favorites 😊).
TSF: Best piece of advice to give couples planning their wedding.
Ok, well this is going to sound a bit bias and I really don’t mean it to be but hire a planner! I don’t necessarily mean your best friend’s sister or your co-workers friend’s daughter (unless they really are planners) but an actual licensed, educated, professional planner. Here’s why: chances are you have never done this before; planning a wedding is different than planning a birthday party or dinner party. This is the biggest dinner party you are ever going to throw; all of your family and friends are going to be there to celebrate with you and the last thing that you need or want is for something unknowingly preventable to go wrong. We didn’t order enough glasses – your planner would have warned you that you will need extra glasses if your venue doesn’t provide them. Our guests were running to their cars for jackets they were so cold – your planner would have reminded you that your cocktail hour would be outside after the sun set in March and would have added heaters to your rental order for you (and probably saved you 10% – 25% with your rental company because they are a preferred vendor). Our DJ was horrible and just talked the whole time and didn’t play any of the songs on our “play” list – your planner would have made sure that you were matched with the right DJ for your style they would have made sure that your DJ was playing what you wanted to listen to, not what they want to play.
TSF: What is By Your Side Events specialty?
We specialize in planning, coordinating and executing successful, magical events, while having fun along the way! I mean it when I say we will be by your side, we are going to be your wedding planning bestie, not just for the brides but the grooms too.
TSF: Weddings can be stressful. How do you keep yourself relaxed & energized?
My calendar reminders are my lifeline in staying organized, the second I schedule an appointment with someone – boom – it goes on the calendar. If I need a reminder to reach out to someone at a specific time – boom – it goes on the calendar, and most importantly, when I book an event! Boom – It goes on the calendar. I am super blessed that I get to live in such a beautiful area of California and I realize that I take it for granted sometimes, but driving up and down the Silverado Trail or HWY 29 through the vineyards and the hot air balloon parade in the mornings is one of the most relaxing things I never knew I needed! Then when I’m really feeling adventurous, I get to see the Golden Gate Bridge or the cliffs on the 1 after an hour in the car, or even snow after a few hours. Also, wine and just some good old fashion wine and girl talk do the trick too.
TSF: What inspires you professionally?
My couples do, every one of them is different and I have a special bond and unique experience with all of them to where no two events are the same. That means that I get to create or discover something new all the time! Making new discoveries, creating and learning is so inspiring and motivating and fun! It’s really cool to be a part of my couple’s ideas, and it is super interesting to see what is important to people and what their interest are.
TSF: Biggest pet peeve with modern technology in wedding planning?
Just when I feel like I am getting the hang of something, a different something will come up that is the newest, latest and greatest and I have to start all over again. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for evolving, just give me a minute to catch up please!
TSF: What one superpower would you want for your work?
Cloning. I want to be everywhere all the time, there are never enough hours in the day right? On a personal note though, I’ve always been jealous of Snow White, I would love to have conversations with animals!
I do have some other favorite things that fill my tank. When I am not planning weddings or events you will find me in my other happy place, Disneyland (I’m a complete Disney Dork and I don’t care who knows it!) with my daughter, singing wherever I can, going on adventures or being crafty on the couch. Of course, living in Napa, I never pass up a chance to go wine tasting, R and D right?
I can’t wait to share more of my thoughts about all things weddings, events, parties, life, and more with you and to hear some of your adventures too! Talk soon,
There is no single route to finding the best planner for your wedding. Both WeddingWire and The Knot have great lists of suggested questions. If you have a question you’d like to ask Maria about her wedding planning business, or her opinion on anything wedding related, please ask it in the comments below or send us an email.
This month’s spotlight is shining brightly on the husband and wife team Cheetah & Cheetah. The Cheetah’s, Nadine and Brian, were introduced in spring of 2000 by a mutual friend who recognized their mutual love of Cheetahs.
Nadine, a fashion design graduate obsessed with all things cheetah print, and Brian, the loud and very friendly DJ Cheetah, discovered that besides Cheetah’s they also had a mutual love of music.
Nadine: “We bonded over our love of music. Going to Melrose in LA was one of our favorite spots. We could spend hours digging through records trying to find that record we just couldn’t live without. After finding records we would go shopping on Melrose looking for that unique outfit no one else has.”
After dating for two years Brian proposed on a hill called “the top of the world” in Laguna Beach and on September 8th, 2002 we got married at the Hotel Laguna.
In 2009 when their son was 4 years old and expecting their daughter, they decided to make the move to San Luis Obispo, the happiest city in America! SLO, to all the locals, really is the best place to raise a family.
Starting over in a new location was a challenge, but after years of hard work they were back on top and booking most of their weddings together as a husband and wife team.
Brian: “Watching our business grow each year is such a rewarding experience. Especially knowing that we did this all on our own.”
Working together is their preference, always looking for ways to help each other out. As an example Brian will get on the mic and make an announcement to help me get the perfect shot. And Nadine, being out among the guests, will help pass around the wireless mic during toasts. Being a team the collaboration makes things run smoothly. Brides and grooms can be at ease knowing …
Nadine’s love for photography started when she was a teenager.
“I had a pink film camera that I used to take photos of my friends and pets. I would drop off rolls of film to get developed. It was so exciting to get the photos back and see how good my shots were. I also loved to buy fashion magazines, tear out all the fashion photos that inspired me and put the images up all over my walls. The walls in my room were completely covered with beautiful Supermodels like Nadja Auermann, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Shalom Harlow, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. In high school the book LaChapelle Land by David LaChapelle inspired me take photography classes. Which lead me to photographing the fashion section of my high school year book. Being a wedding photographer is the perfect fit for me. I get to photograph brides in beautiful dresses. Giving me that perfect mix of fashion and photography”.
Brian’s DJ career started by seeing a ‘DJ wanted’ flyer while in college.
“I answered the ad, got the job and immediately knew this was my passion. Bad Boy Bill and Richard Humpty Vision inspired me with the way they mix music. I love to feel the music and bring energy to the dance floor by beat mixing, scratching and adding sound effects. I enjoy weddings because every client has different music requests for me to mix. It’s fun to find new songs that work well together inspiring me to create new mixes.I have so much fun at every wedding I DJ. It is so rewarding to keep the dance floor packed and watch my clients having a good time.”
In 2017 The family, together, made the decision to legally change their last names to cheetah. It is because of their mutual love of cheetahs Brian and Nadine met, married, started a business and a family.
“We all feel very proud to have the last name cheetah.”
Follow the Cheetah’s on Instagram: @DJCheetah.CheetahPhotography
LIKE the Cheetah’s on Facebook: @DJCheetah.CheetahPhotography
David and I do not believe that you need to have any particular thing / ritual / color or song for your wedding. We do believe that whatever you do decide to include and however you decide to express yourselves through your wedding and reception, you ought to be able to do it with class, with style, with confidence and within budget! Your wedding day ought to be FUN! Everyone you hire should be focused on making your wedding day uniquely yours & the best day it can be.
I get upset when I come across wedding industry pros who willingly take advantage of a newly engaged couple’s lack of experience in planning a wedding to push their own agenda. A recent article written for a well-known publication provided wedding style comments from various wedding professionals, dismissing some wedding trends and elevating others. It pushed me to think about how we each can identify & hire passionate, competent, and trustworthy wedding pros. And in the spirit of the article that drove my motivation to write this, I’ve used their same “what’s out” and “what’s in” approach.
What’s OUT: Wedding professionals who sermonize about “tired” trends — to be swept away with last year’s brides and grooms — in order to make way for a fresh crop of this year’s recruits who arrive flush with cash. These pros take advantage of a couple’s inexperience and some insecurity, and sell “the latest trends” because “on-trend” drives compliments and new business – for them.
What’s IN: Wedding professionals who listen to their clients, provide guidance and advice without preaching, and believe that earning their client’s trust by putting the couple’s interest & vision first is their priority. These pros are both confident and modest.
What does “a trending wedding professional” look like in practice? Here’s my list of the top 10 characteristics in trending wedding pros you absolutely will love working with…
TOP 10 Wedding Pro Characteristics
10. Pros are careful to not take more clients than they can serve confidently, providing their highest level of service to every couple;
9. Pros NEVER assume they know “what is best” for a particular couple – they listen more than they talk;
8. Pros treat all couples, gay and straight, with equal respect — and back up “their talk” with gender neutral sales materials and contracts;
7. Pros do not gossip;
6. Pros are happy to share their success;
5. Pros never allow anyone to feel as though they just asked a stupid question;
4. Pros have no fear of having you shop around;
3. Pros sometimes say no, knowing that they are not the best fit for every couple;
2. Pros admit that sometimes they don’t have all the answers, but will always go find the answer if they don’t know. Eagerness to continue learning is key;
1. Pros still have A BLAST doing what they are doing – and it shows.
That’s how you’ll spot a real wedding professional.