Category Archives: Elizabeth Etienne Photography

Choosing a Caterer

By | Catering, Elizabeth Etienne Photography, Event Planner | No Comments

I’m not going to traumatize you with horror stories of caterers gone rogue, but let’s just say that you need to thoroughly vet your caterer beyond the type and quality of food they offer.  Our key tips below will help you find and book the ideal caterer for your event.

1.  Does the caterer come equipped with an ample staff? Do you need them to provide a bartender as well?

2.  Does the caterer provide excellent referrals?  Be sure to ask for references that have worked similar spaces to where you are having your event.  Some venues are notoriously tricky logistically, so if the caterer hasn’t worked a similar space before, his/her staff may not be experienced enough to handle the venue.  This is more true for a new caterer that has just opened their doors. An experienced caterer can handle a new venue without an issue and should volunteer to come to the venue to review the space thoroughly if they are not familiar with it.

3.  What other fees are involved beyond the food?  Staffing, equipment, and service charges generally round out the total cost.


Delicious entree at Cicada in Downtown L.A. Photo by Elizabeth Etienne /

Be sure the caterer stays throughout the event to ensure total cleanup as well.  A good caterer can also weigh on quantities regarding glassware and plates and silverware, too.

We had a situation with a caterer booked by a family member, and we were unfamiliar with this company.  When the owner priced out staffing on the quote, I added another line item to the clients’ budget because I felt he needed more staffers, but he insisted he had plenty.  Sure enough, the week of the wedding, he added additional staff, and the clients already had the line item in their budget and the expense was covered.  Having a professional wedding consultant or planner reviewing your catering bids and double checking information can remove quite a bit of worry about your final decision.

Happy hunting and bon appetit!

Elizabeth Etienne: Capturing the City of Love and Light

By | Elizabeth Etienne Photography, Paris, Paris Destination Weddings, Paris Wedding Planner | No Comments
I recently had the pleasure of working with Elizabeth Etienne on a wedding at historic Cicada Restaurant downtown.  We got to chatting about working abroad, and I fell in love with the beautiful photos she has shot in Paris, elsewhere in France, and around the world.  But you know my heart belongs in le Paris…and I thought my fellow Franco-philes would enjoy hearing about her experiences working in the City of Light, and how to choose the right photographer for you (if she’s already booked, of course!).

1.  Describe what makes a destination wedding in Paris so special.
Experiencing Paris is like stepping back in time. It’s is like a page in an old romance novel from the grand stately buildings to the tiny shops on narrow cobblestone streets. You can be in the center of a bustling metropolis and turn a corner and feel as though you’re in a small medieval village miles away. It’s charming, romantic, and elegant all wrapped up in one location, so it’s the ideal location for a wedding photographer like myself. I am a hopeless romantic, a lover of everything vintage and I’m of French decent. Having lived many years in Paris back in the 90’s, and the fact that I speak French almost fluently, enables me to know all the key locations and how to get around the city quickly and easily.
2. What advice would you give to brides and grooms searching for the right photographer?
You only do this once so there is no time to practice or shoot it over again. A wedding photographer should be a part of the joy of the day, and a not a stress contributor. Contrary to popular belief shooting a “wedding” requires a VERY special skill set, apart from any other kind of photography. Having expensive gear and a creative eye for composition simply isn’t enough. A great wedding photographer must wear many hats. He or she must know how to do numerous things at once, under the pressures of an emotion-charged day and a tight “photography” timeline. He or she must be a producer , therapist, director, technician, and artist all wrapped up in one! First and foremost the photographer must plan in advance how and where he will be shooting, and to be a “people person”. This means he or she must be demonstrative enough to coordinate groups or direct an intimate portrait quickly while maintaining a professional and entertaining attitude. When things don’t go exactly as planned (and we all know they never do), the photographer must know just the right thing to say and do to calm the nerves of a frantic bride, and always have a plan B.
The photographer must also be technically proficient with the photographic equipment. Despite the advancements in digital photography technology, professional cameras, lenses and flash are still very complex devices. When something malfunctions the photographer must know how to fix it rapidly or have a back up device readily available. A great wedding photographer must also be a great artist – know how and where to find or create magnificent lighting, the right angles, expressions and poses in and around a given location and create dynamic images on the fly. Yes, it can be daunting and stressful, but a “skilled and experienced wedding” photographer can handle it all.
3.  What are your thoughts on the current state of wedding photography?  What  innovations you have developed to stay ahead of the curve?
Great images deserve a great presentation. After the shoot, I truly enjoy the end process of combining images into cool, innovative coffee table books or a creative slideshow presentation you can watch on the internet or even your Ipad! Adding dissolves and music is like an artsy movie that allows the viewer to create their own dialogue. Gone are the days of the traditional, formal bulky wedding albums. The trend now is to create lightweight art books one might buy in a bookstore. These unique a la carte products and services are just one of many I offer my clients.  (See all Elizabeth as to offer at her website,

Elizabeth Etienne is an award-winning photographer/author/photo coach. She is proudly endorsed by Nikon and Kodak and many other industry leaders. When she’s not shooting she teaches other photographers through her photography workshops (in France and Italy) private consulting sessions and her numerous books.  For more information on her photography services please go to:  For more information on her educational products and services go to

Old Hollywood Glamour at Cicada Los Angeles

By | Cakes, Callas, Cicada, Day of Coordinator, Elizabeth Etienne Photography, Wedding Coordinator | No Comments

I’m in love with Cicada. I adore old-Hollywood elegance.  The space, a former men’s department store from the 1920s, is not only a landmark, the staff have a service ethic from a different era as well.   Adelmo and Richard manage the space brilliantly – their staff can turn over a ceremony space to a banquet setup for over 100 in no time flat.

Recently we had the pleasure of coordinating another wedding at Cicada, and the couple imbued the evening with their Hollywood savvy (she’s in casting – and beautiful as a movie star – and he’s a writer, and handsome as a leading man – the perfect couple!). A script for a guestbook, a dress straight out of a 1930s classic movie, a candy bar that delighted the Shirley Temple in all of us – it was definitely a night rich in character and love. Elizabeth Etienne Photography is responsible for the beautiful photos.

A romantic first dance under the stunning chandelier

Flower Duet used callas to reflect the Deco feel of the space

The clever guest book, styled beautifully by the couple.

Nickel Diner made the scrumptuous red velvet cake.

A send off with sparklers

What I also loved about this event is that took advantage of local, Downtown-LA businesses.  Guests and bridal party stayed around the corner at Hilton Checkers, and the bride and groom ordered their wedding cake from the Nickel Diner, a local favorite.  In fact, I headed to the city extra early that morning to join a friend for breakfast at the diner – and enjoyed their cake many hours later!  Downtown L.A. has truly become a vibrant community.  Cicada has been in the center of it all for years, and will be for many more to come.

Venue + Dining: Cicada

Photographer:  Elizabeth Etienne Photography

Flowers:  Flower Duet

Cake:  Nickel Diner

Show-off Sign-ins

By | Elizabeth Etienne Photography, Guest Books, Jeromy Robert Photography, Wedding Planner | No Comments

The guest book has been elevated to a whole new level: Not just a book anymore, they can encompass antique typewriters, photobooths, and even live actors! Here’s a few great ones from some of our past events:

“Live” Guest Book

At our recent Union Station wedding, the clients wanted an actor, dressed in a fedora and suit to fit the 1940s feel of the space, to register guests. My actor friend Rod took each person’s name, typed it onto a card, then glued in the card and an instant photo of each guest. The table was hoppin’ all day and night, and in the end the bride and groom had a book full of memories. Freya Photography caught all the action.

Photo by Freya Photography

Photo by Freya Photography


The typewriter made another appearance at an Old-Hollywood-glam wedding at Cicada. The clients wrote a ‘script’ with each guests’ name, and spaces underneath. Guests found their name and wrote their message underneath. The set up, with an unlit Lucky Strike, old books, and a brainy pair of glasses, says “screenwriter” all over it. Photos by the talented Elizabeth Etienne.

Photo by Elizabeth Etienne /

Tree Guest Book
For a whimsical guest book that works beautifully as framed art later, ‘trees’ (each guest signs on a leaf) are perfect. This one by Fancy Prints was used at our August wedding of 75 guests. The design is ideal for smaller guest counts. I gently mounted the paper on foam core and used a tabletop easel for display. Photo by Jeromy Robert.

Photo by Jeromy Robert /

Sometimes the crowd gets so into the party, many of them forget to sign the guest book. Part of our job as wedding planners and coordinators is to ensure guests see the book – whether by re-positioning it near the door, having the DJ announce its presence, or discreetly hand out advice cards (another fabulous idea clients have used) to guests after dinner. There is only one night to get their well wishes on paper, and we do our very best to make sure it happens.