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Favorite Special Occasion Restaurants: Garfrerick’s Cafe in Oxford, Ala.


Owner and chef David Garfrerick of Garfrerick's Cafe in Oxford, Ala. Daniel Taylor Photography

Long before Daniel and I were Daniel Taylor Photography weddings, Daniel did photography for publications, ad agencies and commercial clients. Lately, he’s been returning to his roots and updating his film portfolio. While we wait for the rolls to come back from Richard Photo Lab, here are a few digitals from one of our favorite restaurants, Garfrerick’s Cafe in Oxford, Ala., near my hometown of Eastaboga. Owner and chef David Garfrerick started out growing food for some of Birmingham’s best chefs, including famed chef Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club. A couple of years ago, he struck out on his own. Hastings is also David’s mentor, if that gives you any idea of the quality.

Garfrerick’s is an incredible restaurant for foodies who want venture out from the Birmingham offerings. It’s perfect for a great date night, or even a great place to propose or have the parents meet each other. Idea: Stay overnight at The Victoria historic inn (a favorite wedding venue of ours),  just up the road, for a great weekend getaway!


Salmon with grilled veggies and quinoa at Garfrerick's Cafe in Oxford, Ala. Daniel Taylor Photography

In a strip mall in this small town a few minutes off I-20, Garfrerick has created a fine-dining experience with plenty of organic, locally grown and vegetarian choices.  The loaves of fresh bread and Wright’s Dairy butter are worth the drive, alone. The specialities include fresh fish, salmon, Gulf shrimp, steaks, chicken, and a veggie plate (many grown in Garfrerick’s Talladega County garden)  that’s unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. I always bring home a loaf or two whenever we visit. And the wine list is the perfect complement to David’s dishes. Mom and I had pecan-encrusted grouper and Daniel had the salmon. I’ve loved everything I’ve eaten there!

The desserts deserve their own post, both gorgeous and mouth-watering. I had fresh strawberry crepes, mom had a sorbet sampler and Daniel had homemade cheesecake.


Clay, our waiter, with my fresh strawberry crepes from Garfrerick's Cafe. Daniel Taylor Photography

The service rivals any fine restaurant in Atlanta or Birmingham. Clay, our waiter, was like a tour guide through the dining experience, ensuring every choice was fantastic. Garfrerick and his entire staff have a heartfelt passion for culinary details without a trace of white-tablecloth-stuffiness. Guests wear everything from jeans to suits, and there’s always a good mix of attire so you’ll feel comfortable.

And boy, is this restaurant popular! It’s frequented by locals, as well as diners from Birmingham and Atlanta. Reservations are needed most nights, especially weekends. It’s also now open for lunch with incredible features like homemade pasta and shepherd’s pie. Oxford is about an hour from Birmingham and dinner meals range from about $15-$25. Garfrerick’s Cafe, 655 Creekside Drive, Oxford, Ala.,  is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11-2 and 5-9 Tue.-Thu. and 5-10 on Fri-Sat. Phone: 256.831.0044.

Thanks to David, Clay and the entire staff for an incredible dinner! We’ll be back soon.


Garfrerick's Cafe in Oxford, Ala. Daniel Taylor Photography


Garfrerick's Cafe in Oxford, Ala. Daniel Taylor Photography

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Wedding Bridal Photography at Aloft Hotel in Homewood, Ala.

aloft bridal

Model Keeley Patterson during an inspiration bridal photo session with Scarlett the basset hound. Florals by Hothouse Design Studio. Collar and leash from Generation Dog.

We spent last Saturday collaborating on an inspiration bridal session we created with a few of our wedding vendor friends at the super-cool Aloft hotel in Homewood, Ala., across the street SOHO Square. It was an idea I had been discussing for months with floral artist Mandy Majerik of Hothouse Design Studio.  Mandy is always up for a creative project and she showed up with three rockin’ bridal florals for us to incorporate.

aloft bridal

Inspiration wedding bridal photo session at Aloft Model Keeley sits on the bar in Homewood, Ala. Photo by Daniel Taylor Photography.

Hothouse Design Studio

Inspiration wedding bridal photo session at Aloft with a cool rustic, nature-inspried wedding bouquet. Florals by Mandy Majerik of Hothouse Design Studio

Hothouse Design Studio

Gorgeous green composite wedding bouquet by Hothouse Design Studio. Photo by Daniel Taylor Photography

Hothouse Design Studio

A rustic country wedding bouquet in hot pink, gold, green and broom. From Hothouse Design Studio. Photo by Daniel Taylor Photography

dog wedding collar

How cute is Scarlett the dog's floral wedding collar? And Keeley's bridal purse made out of flowers? Florals by HotHouse Design Studio, photographed by Daniel Taylor Photography.

We also enlisted with our new friend Keeley Patterson, who is an incredible wedding hair and make-up artist, a wonderful model, and, oh yeah — Miss Mississippi USA for this year! The wonderful Ellen Morgan of Rosewood Hall (a fantastic wedding and reception venue) made an inquiry for us at Aloft, and we were welcome to come for the morning.

Aloft is a terrific place that several of our 2010 brides chose for their wedding guests and the bridal party, or even a honeymoon night. It’s an industrial-chic,  pet-friendly hotel within walking distance of all the shops and restaurants in Homewood–perfect for something unexpected like we had in mind. How can you not love a hotel with a pool table in the lobby?

wedding dog collar

Scarlett the dog shows off a rustic wedding dog collar that matches the wedding bouquet. Florals by Hothouse Design Studio. Photo Daniel Taylor Photography at Aloft Hotel in Birmingham, Ala.

Saturday also marked the professional debut my youngest basset, Scarlett, in the bridal photo session. Scarlett LOVES having her photo made, and has frequented hotels since she was a puppy. Mandy, a fellow dog lover, outfitted Scarlett with two exquisite wedding dog collar ensembles to match Keeley’s bouquets. With Mandy, you never get what everyone else is doing. Her creations and event design are unique to the client and the occasion, and draw on her national expertise as a floral designer, speaker and award-winner.

And Catherine Bres, owner of Generation Dog, an adorable specialty pet store, dog wash and pet spa a block down from Aloft, loaned us the perfect fuschia collar, leash and rhinestone accents that topped off this crazy fun photo session.

Aloft Bridal

Model Keeley poses for a wedding bridal portrait on the metal stairs at Aloft Hotel in Birmingham. The pops of color in the rustic brown, green, hot pink and gold wedding bouquet are fantastic. Photo by Daniel Taylor Photography

Aloft Bridal

Keeley at the Aloft hotel in Homewood, Ala. Daniel Taylor Photography

Keeley was a total pro and such a delight to work with during our inspiration wedding/bridal photo session at Aloft Hotel in Birmingham. When she finally decides to settle down one day, Keeley is going to be one fabulous bride. Isn’t she just amazing in these photographs? And how laid-back is she to endure Scarlett sneezing on her leg and licking her in the face? We had an absolute blast.

Aloft Bridal

Keeley with the stunning rustic bouquet in hot pink, gold, green and brown by HotHouse Design Studio. Photo by Daniel Taylor Photography in Birmingham, Ala.

Brides often ask why they should have a bridal session. On the practical side, it’s a way to test-drive your hair, make-up, shoes, and other wedding details so you make any needed adjustments before your wedding day. Many families also like to capture formal bridal portraits at their family homes or gardens to display at the reception or in the home.

On the indulgent side, it’s an incredibly fun way to document your bridal experience without the pressure or time constraints you’ll have on your wedding day. Can you imagine having photos like this of your mom or grandmother from her wedding? And after the realities of grown-up married life set in, it’s a wonderful memory to have had your own fashion photo session as a bride-to-be.

A HUGE thank you to everyone involved in our session! We hope you love the results as much as we do!

Aloft Bridal

The metal stairs at Aloft hotel in Homewood, Ala., gave a great contrast to the wedding details during the wedding/bridal photo session. Photo by Daniel Taylor Photography

Aloft Bridal

A candid bridal photo from Keeley with the rustic bouquet from Hothouse Design Studio. Photographed at Aloft hotel in Homewood, Ala., by Daniel Taylor Photography

Aloft Bridal

A stunning wedding bridal portrait at Aloft hotel in Birmingham, Ala. Photo by Daniel Taylor Photography. Rustic bouquet by HotHouse Design Studio.

And here are a few great candids caught by  Mandy Majerik of Hothouse Design Studio during our Aloft photo session! You can also read Mandy’s post on the day here.

Daniel Taylor Photography

Kelli and Daniel Taylor of Daniel Taylor Photography with model Keeley Patterson at Aloft hotel in Homewood, Ala. Photo by Mandy Majerik.

Daniel Taylor Photography

Kelli and Scarlett wait in the wings for Scarlett's next photo. By Mandy Majerik.

Aloft hotel bridal

Daniel Taylor with model Keeley Patterson during the inspiration wedding/bridal photo session at Aloft hotel. Photo by Mandy Majerik.

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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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