Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming

Do you ever feel life is like a river and if you can let go and just float, you'll drift to where you should be? Yesterday Chuck and I had that sort of experience. We visited a dear friend who is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. He never shows an ounce of self-pity. He is grateful just to hear the birds sing. After we'd spent some time chatting and laughing, we got up to leave.

Our friend asked us to stay and see some of his friends come over and sing. We demurred. He insisted. He won. We went away and came back a few hours later. We were in for an unexpected treat.

A good friend of his brought 6 of her friends, all clad in traditional Russian garb. They are part of the group called Kedry. They started singing folk songs that were from 200 to 2000 years old. Each singer came from a different part of Russian. The two Olgas, Irina, Tatiana, Natalya were from Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Ukraine, the Upper Volga, and Siberia. I never thought about it before, but Russia's people are as diverse and Americans.

The ladies sang a cappella. The songs had a similar harmony and rhythm to African folk songs. And the acoustics in the living room had an odd way of absorbing some frequencies and projecting others. So, 100% of the sound was coming at you from the front, but only 70% of the sound was coming at you from behind. Very surrealistic.

Then, a strange thing happened. I looked at Irina, a petite blonde blue-eyed pixie and saw my grandmother! They could have been sisters. But of course, Irina was younger than I ever knew my grandmother to be. I was transfixed. She looked like her, she talked like her, she had the same mannerisms. It was uncanny. I was overcome with emotion. I hadn't seen my dear, dear Grandma in many, many, many years.

I used to ride my bike over to see her on Saturday mornings when we lived in New York City. I'd knock at her door, she'd answer and always say, "Oh what a surprise! Come on in darling, and have some cookies that just came out of the oven." It was our little joke. She pretended that she wasn't expecting me, and I'd pretend right along with her. Then, we'd sit down and she'd ask how my week went. Sometimes I brought a friend with me. I vividly remember her house smelled like mothballs and she had lace doilies on the armrests and headrests of all the chairs in the living room.

I've only recently come to realize just how precious those Saturday mornings were. I really wish I could have just one more Saturday morning with Grandma or at least I wish I had a little movie of just one of our Saturday mornings together. Sigh.

Then, I'd jump on my bike and pedal home. Eventually my parents put a stop to my visits because I was taking the Long Island Expressway to get to Grandma's place. There was no way I could get there by surface roads. But it was so sweet while it lasted.

If we hadn't been visiting our friend, we never would have seen the singers and I wouldn't have taken a little trip down memory lane. Being 3rd generation, Russian was certainly never spoken in my parents' house. But I felt a deep connection to the songs the singers sang, and the melodies, and the beat. Several times, we all got up to dance, while the singers sang lively songs.

Following the dancing, our friend had arranged to have a feast of homemade strudel, fruits, nuts, candies, cheeses and assorted meats spread out before us like a banquet. What a gracious host. What a thoughtful man. Even though he is confined to bed or a wheelchair and breathes through a tube, he still thinks of others' comfort. What a guy!

What makes a person who they are? Is it their physical beauty? Or is it the personality inside? Our friend has been ravaged by a savage disease and yet he is still who he always was. He is still loyal, responsible, caring, funny, poetic, compassionate, loving, honest, and many more things.

Our friend is so brave, so honorable, so inspiring. He considers himself to be lucky - yes lucky! - to have lived the life he has and to love and be loved by three wonderful sons. Rather than a somber memorial, he's planning a wild and crazy celebration very soon, while he's still here to enjoy it.

He has a picture on the wall of himself, after he ascended Mount Damavand, one of the world's tallest mountains. He did it before the illness appeared. Maybe he had a premonition. I dunno. But I'm glad he did it. Here's a man with no regrets. Our only regret is that we didn't spend more time with him.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Word For Word

I took my Mom to see a bit of theater on Sunday. What was unusual was that every word from the book was spoken. It's called word for word or W4W. This is great for anyone who loves to read because you can hear the way the author uses language and hear the interior thoughts of each character. Mom's sometimes hard to please, but she loved it!

The play, The Magic Barrel, was about a fellow who is desperate to find a wife, but is terrified of women. He calls for the matchmaker who shamelessly exaggerates the attributes of all the ladies he introduces to the poor fellow. The play ends ambiguously with another "match". If you're an optimist, as I am, you hope it works out.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Videography vs Photography

We ran across a refreshing conversation among brides about wedding videography in the Boston Globe's message board. We concur with most of the posts. But we feel that still images captured from video, even from HD which is what we exclusively use, are not suitable for enlargement beyond 4" x 6". Maybe one day, but not quite yet.

Video More Than Photography
Message #11283.1

Hi All,

I just got back from a visit to my friend in Calif. We watched her wedding video which was amazing! She went with a high-end videographer, which cost them $5,000! Here's the thing, she only spent $1000 on her photographer. she said it's not uncommon there for couples to put more money into their videos than their photos.

My FI and I are much more into video than photos. I know most couples spend more on their photos, but is there any reason not to spend more on the video? We can't afford the high end on both.

Message #11283.2 in response to #11283.1

Why not. It's your money. We may do the same. My family has always been more into video. As I watch videographer demos, I think there's a big difference in quality between the $1000 videos and the more expensive ones.

Message #11283.3 in response to #11283.2

Also, her videographer was able to give her some photo stills from the video. They looked pretty good!

Message #11283.4 in response to #11283.3

We're looking to see if we can get a photographer for just 3 hours to cover the ceremony, cocktails, formals, intros, and first dance.

i've seen stills from videos. The good thing is that you can capture the exact moment, but I don't think the resolution is a good as a professional still camera.

Message #11283.5 in response to #11283.4

Were the stills you saw from an HD video?

Message #11283.6 in response to #11283.5

I don't think so. It was 3 years ago. But, if stills from HD video are of photo quality, that would be huge!
Then your videographer could supply both your video and your photos! :)

Message #11283.7 in response to #11283.6

My Aunt and Uncle had a video of their wedding in 1988. I was the flower girl. it's the most precious thing our family has. My Dad's dad died 2 months after the wedding. In the video he's talking about how much he loves his family. You really can't put a price on that

Message #11283.8 in response to #11283.7

Wow! How lucky you are to have that. And how great it was that the videographer used the sound of voices. Those are the videos I like best!

Message #11283.9 in response to #11283.8

Also, I think that some people look better on video than in photos. My friend hates her wedding pictures. it's because she has this weird expression every time she poses. But she looks great on her video. she can't blame the photographer, because the pictures are technically fine.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wedding Webcast

Every now and again we like to tell the world what we've been up to. This week we put out a press release about a wedding we filmed recently. We love talking about our passion - making movies - but we are always a bit uncomfortable talking about ourselves. In this case, we overcame our discomfort to write a news piece in the hope that a bride somewhere will read about the possibility of webcasting and solve the problem of how to take the sting out of dear relatives who cannot make it to the wedding.


Savadelis Films may have made history by successfully webcasting a bride's outdoor wedding ceremony to her mother's hospital room 2500 miles away using full-motion video. But best of all, they made a Mother and daughter very happy.

Just days before Pam and Phil's wedding, Pam's Mother Sue shattered not just her leg, but also her dream of watching her daughter walk down the aisle. Pam and Sue were heartbroken. Pam frantically searched for a way to get her Mother to the wedding. But given the nature of the break, there was no way her Mother could travel. Sometimes, though, a miracle can happen in a way you never expected.

When the couple's wedding videographers, Chuck and Jewel Savadelis of Savadelis Films learned of Pam and Phil's predicament just 48 hours before the wedding, they vowed to do whatever it took to broadcast Pam and Phil's wedding ceremony live over the internet. Magically, the pieces started to fall into place.

On Friday, as Pam and her bridesmaids drove to the spa for a day of relaxation, Savadelis Films contacted the head of technology at the hospital in Ohio where Pam's Mother was receiving care. The hospital was able to provide a computer from which Sue could view the live webcast of the wedding. Then Savadelis Films called on Event by Wire to provide the streaming technology to webcast the ceremony live from a California winery to an Ohio hospital. Although slated to play in an annual golf tournament, Dan Grumley, owner of Event by Wire, committed to forego the tournament to personally oversee that the broadcast went flawlessly.

Ten minutes before the wedding, just as Pam and her bridesmaids were ready to walk down the aisle, the internet broadcast went live. Sue, dressed in the pale pink chiffon dress she had chosen, and adorned with a corsage, saw guests gathering under a stand of stately redwood trees on a brilliantly sunny day at a private winery near San Francisco. Then she saw a sight she'd been praying to see: her daughter floating down the aisle on her father's arm. Sue saw her husband gently kiss Pam's cheek as he presented her hand to Phil.

As the couple approached the minister Phil whispered to Pam, "You are so beautiful. You take my breath away." As Pam spoke her vows to love Phil in joy and in sorrow, he wiped her tear away. Then they exchanged rings and kissed. Sue saw and heard it all. At the moment that it was happening. From 2500 miles away.

Afterwards, Pam said, "I truly felt like my Mom was there in the crowd of family and friends who surrounded us. Knowing that she was watching freed me from worrying about her, and allowed me to fully experience all the joy of our wedding day." Pam's Mother put it more simply: "It felt like I was there. I really was there, sharing every moment with my children."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

First-Class Wedding Professionals

99.99% of the people we meet in the wedding industry are talented, caring, diligent, principled folks. Here are a few we met in or who we have recently worked with who stood out:

Event Designers

Jubilee Lau
Jubilee Lau Events

Maxine Andrew
Instead of You

Kristi Amoroso
Kristi Amoroso Special Events

Stephanie Beer
Covenant Coordinating

Jean Marks
Jean Marks Weddings

Duncan Reyes
Duncan Reyes Event By Design

Marie Rios
Creative Occasions


Rolando Mafnas
Alex's Catering

Elaine Bell
Elaine Bell Catering

Audrey Hardy
Paula Le Duc Catering

Tom Henderson
Thomas John Events

Floral Designers

Arianna Nichol
Robert Fountain Design

Nicole Sillapere

Edward Bellingeri
Edward B Design

Anthony Levy
Julie's Flowers


Jon Retsky
Got Light?

Youngsong Martin
Wildflower Linens


Melissa Bagley

Darcy Padilla

Lisa Crawford

Wendy Maclaurin Richardson


Pavan Kochar
Alia Designs

Sabrina Moyel
Hello Lucky!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Missing In Action

Time flies. I can't believe the last time I posted anything was in January, 7 months ago. During the winter we were editing weddings from last year. Then, the wedding season zoomed into high gear. I popped my head out of the gopher hole, and now it's August. I'll try to catch up over the next several weeks by telling you the places I've seen and the people I've met.

I've seen a few new venues worthy of your consideration. The first grouping are all on the contemporary, modern, maybe even on the edgy side in a few cases. I'll start with edgy first.

Dog Patch Studios
A hip, modern open and light space in San Francisco which you can transform into anything you please. Got-Light did a fantastic job of lighting each space on several different floors in a different way.

Hotel Vitale
Candace Palec, a very charming lady, oversees weddings at the chic, contemporary venue which has several levels of rooftop terraces which overlook the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, with a spectacular view of the Bay Bridge. A creative idea that Candace has pioneered is offering substantial hors d'ouevres rather than a sit-down dinner so that guests can continuously mingle.

Carneros Inn
Brooke Baglietto is simply one of the nicest people in the wedding industry. A recent bride herself, she completely understands a bride's mindset, and her desires. The Carneros Inn in Napa has a relaxing, elegant simplicity. Imagine sheer white curtains fluttering in the breeze under the portico which looks out onto a large grassy lawn. The infinity pool reflects the beautiful mountins and vineyards which form a perfect backdrop. And the apple orchard is a charming place for the ceremony.

Natural, Wine Country Feeling

The next two venues each have a unique feeling. Sometimes these things are hard to articulate, but you "know it when you see it".

Bear Flag Farm
Tina is such a nice person and this working farm is quite unique. Your caterer can harvest fruits from the trees and vegetables from the earth on the 25-acre farm in the morning, and prepare and serve a tasty meal by evening. Two of our favorite caterers work closely with Tina: Rolando Mafnas at Alex's Catering and Jennifer Bowman at Elaine Bell Catering. If you are looking for an organic, earthy feeling to the wedding (though there's nothing to stop you from hanging chandeliers in the trees), then Bear Flag Farm may be for you. They only do about 12 weddings a year, so check it out sooner rather than later.

Nicholson Ranch
Sarah Roach does an outstanding job of making you feel right at home. This working winery has a distinctly Tuscan feeling to it. Everyone at the Ranch is relaxed, and makes you feel warmly welcomed. This winery also only hosts 12 weddings per year and books up quickly.

Old World Charming Wine Country

Right in the middle of wine country, there are several large stone buildings that make for grand weddings. You can rent three, but the fourth I must tell you about anyway.

Ledson Winery
Gina Batti the Director of Hospitality (such an appropriate title) has the charm and grace befitting such a splendid venue. Ledson Castle is an imposing structure in Kenwood, just north of Sonoma. And yet, since it was a family's home for a time, it has a warm feeling.

Jacuzzi Vineyards
Yes, there really is a Mr. Jacuzzi. He invented water well pumps and eventually the Jacuzzi Whirlpool Bath. The Jacuzzi family just finished building a lovely Italianate villa with a large fountain in the central courtyard. Chris Merino and Jennifer Alvarez who also run events at Cline Cellars across the street, are simply delightful ladies to work with.

Sebastiani Vineyards
Sebastiani, another family whose roots run deep in the wine country, have a very beautiful stone building and a small casa for weddings right in the center of the town of Sonoma. Piper Andersen is the very sweet and soothing person who assists you with your wedding.

Next time, I'll post some notes on some lovely people I've met in the wedding industry.