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Gorgeous Wedding Vendor Photos: Planner Anita Kanellis of AK Brides

Anita Kanellis

Wedding planner Anita Kanellis of AK Brides. Daniel Taylor Photography

Anita Kanellis of AK Brides in Birmingham, Ala., is one of the most-liked wedding vendors in town. Anita’s brides are drawn to her laid-back, California-casual personal style and her heartfelt wish to make her brides’ visions come true. She is so humble that she probably won’t tell you that she flies to New York and Los Angeles to do weddings when she’s not here in the ‘Ham. She was also the talent behind Birmingham’s biggest celebrity wedding of 2010, where most vendors, limos and entourages were flown in from the West Coast for an elaborate summer fete. Bragging is just not Anita’s style.

We found out that Anita absolutely hates having her photo taken, so we were honored that Anita would entrust us with her new head shots — especially since Anita could have her choice of Birmingham’s best photographers!

Last week, Anita was filming video at Woodrow Hall for her web site with the always-fun John and Angela Deaver of Main Street Productions, so we combined the creative sessions. Make-up artist Laura Eason added her special touch to both Anita and Angela, rounding out a full team of vendors from the professional organization Alabama Wedding and Event Professionals, or AWEP.

I have to tell you, I felt some pressure. Knowing that Anita disliked photos of herself, we really wanted her to love not only the images but the experience itself. My heart stopped for about five seconds when Anita was looking at the photos in the back of the camera. She started to tear up and I thought she hated them! But they were tears of happiness, and Anita, a tough critic, wound up picking 124 favorites out of the 141 images we gave her. Mission accomplished.

We’ve told her that she can no longer say she hates pictures of herself, she has to blame the photographer–because we have the evidence that she is a gorgeous Italian beauty.  Check out a few of her favorites, below.

And for a recap of how to love your portraits, check out my blog post of a photo session with Ellen Morgan, the events director for the wonderful wedding venue Rosewood Hall at Soho Square.

Anita Kanellis

Planner Anita Kanellis of AK Brides features several Daniel Taylor Photography portraits on her new wedding web site.

Anita Kanellis

Wedding planner Anita Kanellis of AK Brides at Woodrow Hall for her photo session. Images by Daniel Taylor Photography in Birmingham, Ala.

Anita Kanellis

A great candid photo of wedding planner Anita Kanellis of AK Brides at Woodrow Hall. Photographed by Daniel Taylor Photography.

Anita Kanellis

A favorite portrait of our friend and wedding planner Anita Kanellis of AK Brides. Photographed at Woodrow Hall by Daniel Taylor Photography.

AK Brides

A cool photo of wedding planner Anita Kanellis of AK Brides on the steps inside wedding venue Woodrow Hall. Photo Daniel Taylor Photgraphy.

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Favorite Wedding Photo Details: Fruit in Your Toasting Flutes

The difference between a pretty wedding and a wow wedding is the details. With all the huge elements to plan, the little details can easily be overlooked. Just a few dollars and a little extra thought can elevate your photographs to magazine- or blog-worthy. One of my favorites is to add a splash of color to your champagne or sparkling cider toasting flutes with a whole strawberry (with the green top),  a slice or two of nectarine or kiwi. Note: Peaches can get a little ragged around the edges if not cut very carefully.

Coordinate with your planner, venue director, or caterer. You  can also enlist a bridesmaid to ensure this special touch isn’t forgotten in the wedding day excitement. Lastly, don’t forget to tell your photographer ahead of time to capture a few close-ups of this cool detail!

A detail like a slice of nectarine adds something special to a champagne flute. Cassie & Philip's wedding. Daniel Taylor Photography


wedding details

Kiwi garnish, as shown on

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Wedding Stress? Birmingham Wedding Planners Can Save You

Stress during wedding planning is the dirty little secret very few people talk about. Yes, it’s the happiest time in your life, but it’s also the biggest event most women will ever plan and most of us aren’t trained event designers/planners/coordinators!

Who are Birmingham’s wedding planners?

There are some great wedding planners and coordinators in Alabama, and in the Birmingham metro area. Meghan Cease of  M Elizabeth Events, Anita Kanellis of AK Brides, Neillie Butler of Gather and Mariee Ami Wedding Planning Studio in Mountain Brook,  Alene Gamel of I Do, I Do, Ginny Au of Bits & Bobs, and Ann Marie Levielle of Tres Beau are a few we know personally. These are  pros in the business whose energy and creativity we can personally vouch for. They can offer ideas in short consultations (usually around $100 an hour).

 Here’s what your wedding can look like with the help of a terrific wedding planning in Birmingham, Ala.!
M Elizabeth Events
Samantha enlisted M Elizabeth Events to help when wedding stresses began to pile up. Reception at Park Lane. Daniel Taylor Photography

For around $800-$3,000, you can get “month-of” or “week-of” services that include some creative ideas, finalizing vendor details, last-minute organizing and day-of coordinating. And for a percentage of your total budget or a set fee of around several thousand dollars, you can can enlist full planning services, a wedding BFF and lifesaver. Consider trimming the alcohol budget, or economizing with chicken instead of beef to make the numbers work.

Finding the right planner can make as much of a difference in your wedding day as finding the right photographer!

Samantha and Chris could relax knowing M Elizabeth Events would handle their wedding details. Daniel Taylor Photography

M Elizabeth Events, Hothouse Design Studio. Park Lane. Daniel Taylor Photography

People must think I’m getting paid to promote planners, but  I’m not. I promise.  I simply see the results, week after week, when busy brides, their moms and their sisters and best friends, try to juggle the magnificent chaos that is a wedding. There are tears, fights and meltdowns, regardless of the budget size. I see lots of people popping nerve pills or whipping out a shot glass. I can’t tell you how many photos I delete during editing because a bride was answering questions about the centerpieces, the location of the reception schedule, the phone number of a tardy bridesmaid, etc.

Your job as my bride is to look beautiful and in love. That’s what I need from you. That’s what you should be doing. You should not be expected to know the latest trends in chic wedding favors, where to find a reputable calligrapher, or what on earth to put in an out-of-town-guest goody bag. I nearly went nuts trying to learn the wedding industry when I was engaged. And working. And buying our first home.

Mary Katherine enlisted planner Alene Gamel to help bring her reception ideas to life. Daniel Taylor Photography

I Do, Do wedding planning. The Club. Daniel Taylor Photography

The Club Wedding Reception

Mary Katherine & Paul's wedding reception, The Club. I Do, I Do wedding planning. Daniel Taylor Photography

Enter the planner, whose sole job to keep up with all things wedding–which vendors share your style, who fits your budget and what special offers might be available through her/his professional relationships. A planner’s expertise can improve your experience and help create the backdrop for more beautiful wedding photography. And those great details you see in blogs and magazines? They are often the work of a great wedding planner. Here’s our very first blog-published wedding, with the incredible talents of Ginny Au of Bits & Bobs:

Daniel Taylor Photography

Daniel Taylor Photography on today's Love and Lavender Blog with Danielle and Stephen's modern vintage book-themed engagement at Morgan Creek Winery. Styled by Bits & Bobs.


Bits & Bobs Events

Check out the vintage books and book-stuffed flowers Bits & Bobs created for the engagement session. By Daniel Taylor Photography


Yes, most venues have a coordinator, but more often than not, their job is primarily to oversee the details of that venue. Usually (although there are a few exceptions here in metro Birmingham),  they don’t help with your pre-wedding snacks, provide aspirin if you need it, or whip out a sewing kit if someone has a last-minute seam rip. A planner/coordinator is dedicated to taking care of the big picture and of  YOU. The best ones even help out if your mom/sister/cousin/mother-in-law-to-be is driving you crazy. They will clear the bridal room if you need some space. They address the over-served bridesmaid. They deal with the florist if your alter piece is wrong. They keep you on schedule at your reception so you don’t have to ask, “Is it time to cut the cake yet? How long until I toss the bouquet?”

Believe me, there’s more than enough to do on a wedding day for both the venue director and a planner/coordinator. Some planners even bring an assistant!  Hiring a planner allows the women in your life to actually enjoy your wedding day, not trouble shoot. They can share love instead of just being the clock-watchers and time-keepers. And if the women in your life aren’t so wedding savvy, it takes the pressure off them and allows you to chill. I’ve seen more than one bride heartbroken because a mom or dear friend just wasn’t wired for wedding duty.

[…] last-minute organizing and day-of coordinating. … … See the original post here: Wedding Stress? Planners Can Save You » Daniel Taylor Photography ← Wedding Reception Hall in Albany, NY Locations Venue List […]

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We were happy to learn today that our recent New York City engagement session of S. and T. is one of several included in a blog post about destination engagement sessions! It’s a new service we began offering in November.  Here’s the link to the full article, which includes some gorgeous engagement photography, or scroll down to see full post below right here. Thanks so much to the cool ladies at Chez Wedd for thinking of us! It’s an honor to be on such a terrific blog!

Here’s our photo from the original blog post.

NYC Engagement Photos

What engagement session is complete without a dip in Times Square? Daniel was lying on his stomach on the pavement, I was keeping him from getting stepped on, an NYC police officer who said he's been in a lot of weddings helped move people along!

New York City is one of the most romantic places on earth, so what better location to have your engagement session? From the tranquility of Central Park to the sweeping skylines and quaint restaurants, this city exudes glamour and romance. So if you live in the New York area or are lucky enough to go on a little vacay for your session, here is some inspiration.

Central Park Engagement Photos

Times Square Engagement Photos

Subway Engagement Photos

Brooklyn Bridge Engagement Photos

City Engagement Photos

If a flight to New York City is not in your budget, check out some amazing locations in Austin to have your pre-wedding love photographed.

NYC ENgagement Photos
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Cities on the Move

By Kelli Hewett Taylor

NewsBank NewsLibrary



Paper: Birmingham News (AL)



A ‘best-kept secret’ emerges

City’s successes getting national attention from various sectors

Date: January 8, 2006

When University of Nebraska Medical Center leaders were pursuing role models for economic and research success, it didn’t take long to settle on Birmingham.

”It has been a major inspiration to us, where a medical center can bring it to a new level economically,” said Tom Rosenquist, vice chancellor for research at the Nebraska Medical Center. ”Forty years ago, Birmingham had an irons-melting economy. Now it’s moved to a research-based economy.’

Magic City residents don’t always hear about it, but cities and organizations around the country are looking for the formulas that led to some of Birmingham’s successes.

Birmingham has drawn attention for UAB’s new Shelby Biomedical Research Center, the city’s growing technology and business start-ups, the downtown loft district and the city’s attraction for young professionals, among other things.

”I think we sell ourselves too short sometimes on the good things that are going on in this community,” said Guin Robinson, former executive director of Region 2020, the nonprofit, multicounty planning group. ”Many communities have some of the exact same problems – education, issues between suburbs and cities.”

Despite disagreements among political officials and what many call a self-image problem, the city manages to move ahead.

”I don’t think you can point to one bold step Birmingham has taken in the last 10 years to distinguish itself, but I think there have been a series of very, very solid accomplishments in the past and some encouraging trends,” said Ed LaMonte, political historian and professor at Birmingham-Southern College. ”We have not been able to figure out how to put the pieces together.”

‘We were impressed’

A number of those accomplishments attracted attention.

The new Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage researched Birmingham’s Civil Rights Institute to develop its own center, choosing the same architect and some of the same exhibit designers.

President Clest Lanier calls the Civil Rights Institute the top black history center of its kind in the United States.

”We were impressed with the exhibits, the quality and the compelling story,” as well as the location near Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park, Lanier said. ”I hope we can emulate the Civil Rights Institute.”

In November, the Birmingham metro area was named one of the Top 5 midsized cities for ”Hot Cities Entrepreneurs,” according to Entrepreneur magazine. The list was based on the percentage of young businesses with rapid growth.

”Birmingham actually ranked No. 1 for new start-up businesses, with 3,176,” said Justine Walden of the National Policy Research Institute in Washington, which calculated the data for the magazine.

Walden said the cities that did well shared traits such as busy airports, good university networks, a focus on cyber infrastructure, diverse population and a strong mix of cultural offerings.

‘We don’t have that’

Last year, leaders in Dayton, Ohio, commissioned a study of growing metro areas of similar size. The Birmingham metro area was among those singled out for its regional planning efforts through Region 2020 and the Regional Growth Alliance, a team including Region 2020, the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham.

”You have a regional group that has leadership at the table from a variety of sectors of the community: economic development, human services, government, the private and public sector,” said Ron Budzik of the Dayton Business Committee, a group of regional business executives assisting Dayton with its budget and growth challenges. ”You have a mechanism to . . . discuss important issues in the area. We don’t have that.”

Budzik said that while such groups don’t solve all regional problems, they are a place for progress to begin.

The Environmental Protection Agency co-sponsored TechBirmingham’s Ecycling Day and sent six staff members to study the model for collecting old computers, cell phones, printers and other equipment.

Delores Rodger-Smith of the EPA in Atlanta called it a huge success, and the event inspired a similar program in Florida.

Better than you think

Birmingham area leaders say the out-of-state calls and visits happen all the time.

”The only thing other cities have done better than us is they’ve sold us on the idea that the North or the Northeast is better than the South,” Jefferson County Commission President Larry Langford said. He says he often gets questions from other cities that want to model area projects or initiatives. ”We have to say to the world, ‘We are nowhere near what you think we are.”’

Other successes that have received attention are the regional cooperation to attract Honda and Mercedes assembly plants, the establishment of major bank headquarters, the development of Vulcan Park atop Red Mountain, low unemployment, relatively low cost of living and record homebuilding.

”One of the things said by people is that we are the bestkept secret in the Southeast,” said Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid.

Kincaid wants to share the story. He says he plans to do a better job of promoting the big picture because he believes many residents perceive Birmingham as a stagnant city

Expanding central city

The central city is experiencing millions of dollars in new projects, including federal, residential, commercial and publicprivate efforts.

In Southside, UAB’s $90 million Richard C. and Annette N. Shelby Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building is scheduled to open this year. It is expected to generate a $50 million payroll, of which the city gets a 1 percent tax, and at least 1,100 new jobs and new research grants.

New headquarters are under construction for the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. A new $150 million Social Security

building is also under way downtown. The new $34 million FBI headquarters opened in August.

The Alabama Symphony, McWane Science Center and a cultural arts master plan are considered strong points for the city

Local squabbles

Political disputes sometimes hinder development. Officials have been unable to resolve whether and how to expand the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex, and the community has been unable to come up with matching money to collect $85 million in federal funding to expand public transit.

BSC’s LaMonte, who was part of ex-Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington’s administration, says that’s due in part to Birmingham’s lingering civil rights era wounds. He also says the region lacks a central leadership figure such as Arrington.

Arrington was credited with establishing strong ties between city government and predominantly white business leaders downtown and with annexing areas that became The Summit and The Colonnade, which now generate a substantial portion of the sales tax revenue as the downtown core grows.

”I’m not the darling of the business community like Arrington was,” Kincaid said. ”But they understand I’m honest, and I’ll take that any day.”

Railroad Park issue

The proposed Railroad Reservation Park in the central city is one development that has run into difficulty as the City of Birmingham and the Friends of Railroad District negotiate control of the $30 million project.

Kincaid and Langford are confident the project will survive the disagreements.

”It takes us a long time – sometimes too long – but we do address our problems,” Langford said.

LaMonte said some of Birmingham’s weaknesses have also become strengths. Although many buildings downtown stood vacant for years, the result is a lot of promising, historic properties that are beginning to be redeveloped.

Robinson, the outgoing leader of Region 2020, said political bickering isn’t unique to Birmingham. Residents of cities all over the country complain that their governments don’t work well or quickly enough, he said.

”We are on a path to progress,” Robinson said. ”It’s rocky and there are setbacks. But the bottom line is, ‘Do I want to live anywhere else?’ And I think most people feel the same way or else they wouldn’t be here.”




Some indications Birmingham is a city on the move

A consultant for regional executives in Ohio praises Birmingham’s Region 2020 and the Regional Growth Alliance as models of cooperation and influence.

The city’s network of neighborhood associations fosters highlevel participation at the grass roots.

Unlike many struggling charities, United Way of Central Alabama consistently meets its fund-raising goals.

Entrepreneur magazine named Birmingham one of the top three midsized cities for entrepreneurs and first for start-up companies.

Expansion Management magazine named the metro area No. 15 among ”America’s 50 Hottest Cities” and No. 8 in company site selection.

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