Monday, December 4, 2017

Sparkle & Glow - Fundraiser for Puerto Rico Solar Relief Effort - Sat., Dec. 9

The holidays are a time of giving. Your new Rodan & Fields Representative, Tara Nason, and your Stella & Dot Stylist, Bernadette Manzano, are partnering up to bring out that Sparkle, Glow and Energy to Puerto Rico. This shopping event will be a fundraiser for our friend's local non-profit, Puerto Rico Solar Relief Effort. Not only will you shop for gifts for those close to you, you can help those far away on an island that are still without power just by attending our event. Bernadette will be donating $5 for every guest in attendance (maximum of $500). Though small in consideration as to what is truly needed, this can help one family out. See their Facebook page to make a donation directly if you cannot attend. Latest news: Whitefish Energy has halted work due to a payment dispute. = Further delays.

Come by! Sign in at the door and you've helped make a difference in Puerto Rico. Grab a glass of wine, snack on light appetizers, meet other folks that care about the same things you do and shop!

Saturday, December 9th
1:00 PM - 5:00 pm

22012 Sevilla Road
Hayward, California

Stella & Dot
S&D is a line of jewelry, accessories, handbags and tops adored by celebrities and with half the line under $50. Try on and shop items like our engravable collections including lockets and cuff links, our newest addition of the Rebecca Minkoff pieces ready to be worn on New Year's Eve or shop our sale items.

SPECIALS - 1) For ever $50 you spend, you will earn $25 Dot Dollars to redeem towards a $50 purchase starting December 28th. There is no limit to how many Dot Dollars you can earn.
2) When you spend $50, you have access to the Trunk Show Exclusive Offers. December items will be posted soon.

Can't attend? Shop this link:

Rodan & Fields
R&F is an incredible line of skincare products created by the doctors who started Proactiv. Learn about the line, schedule on-site mini facials, take advantage of sign up incentives and enter a drawing to wine free R&F product. Give yourself and easily gift holiday bundles. These are the gifts that get results.

Can't attend? Shop Tara's site at

This comes from Puerto Rico Solar Relief Effort with your help.

Looking forward to meeting you! Please share and invite this event with friends.

Guest parking is available and labeled around the complex. Parking on Castille Lane will prevent you from climbing three flights of stairs.

Friday, November 24, 2017

32 Days Til Mexico

Though I stayed in bed sick on Thanksgiving Day, most of America is probably in a food coma today or spending a ton of money on Black Friday. I did not get to partake in the catering order I had placed for my sister and my grandmother. Nonetheless, I have not been eating well at all and sadly not on my fitness game as much as I used to. Being sick did not help. With Wag!, I walk an average at least 5 miles per day. It's just not enough.

So, I am saying goodbye to fast food, donuts, crepes, etc as seen below and working towards my cruise on Holland America from San Diego to Mexico with my friend, Catherine. We will be going to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallerta. Vamanos!

Smashburger in Emeryville, California

Dunkin' Donuts in Tracy, California

Crepes at Ooh La La in Walnut Creek, California

Nutella at C'era Una Volta in Alameda California

Daily goals will be cardio, weightlifting and eating right. I ordered my Shredz BCAAs today and have a new shipment every month. I prefer the Fruit Flavor over the eFlow Nutrition that I got at the San Jose Fit Expo during the summer. So wish me luck! Find me on and see progress here. Game on!

'bappletree' on SnapChat and my Court Court

Post work out on Maui

Book your vacation with me HERE!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Monster Pho 2 - Emeryville, California

No, Monster Pho 2 is not part of Emeryville neighbor, Pixar's Monsters Inc.. That would be cute with a 'Kitty' and 'Mike' restaurant in town, wouldn't it? Monster Pho has been around for a minute. And by that, I mean in 2014 and in Oakland, California when I still worked in at a law firm in town. I would send out our Legal Assistants to get lunch for the office and we would often go to Monster Pho. Not big on soup for lunch, I opted in for the rice plate. With the new opening of Monster Pho 2 in Emeryville, three years later, my order hasn't changed. Neither has their menu and I am phucking OK with that.

When visiting a good friend and my nephew, she was excited that I agreed to go back to Monster Pho. She was wanting pho. I usually like to try the hot and new restaurants in town when dining out with friends but it's been a long time since I've been to a Monster Pho. We packed up the baby, opted out of the dog-friendly patio seating and got a table in the middle the restaurant. There was counter seating, two-tops, televisions, beer taps and wine. With the baby locked into his seat, we browsed the menu but immediately ordered the Vietnamese Crepe ($10) starter and a green tea to keep me warm. The crepe was large and filled with shrimp, pork, onions and bean sprouts. Alexander loved the crepe and sprouts. My friend's pho arrived as well as my Monster Rice Plate ($15) with grilled chicken, beef and shrimp with rice and a fried egg. Yup, it was exactly as I remembered it. Tasty.

If you're on a diet, please skip to my next blog posting because you're going to want to try their Pandan Leaf Coconut Waffle with Ice Cream. Besides pho, my friend said we had to have it and that her husband was going to be so jealous. That plate could have been licked clean but we were in public. Yes, it's that good. Just look at Alexander's face. "Forget this soup, Auntie. Gimme some of that!"

Service was friendly and I loved that it is dog and child-friendly. Well done, Monster Pho.

Follow WereHungryToo on Instagram.

7-Day Black & White Challenge

For fun, I used to participate in the Pic of the Day Instagram posts. My sister challenged me in the 7-day black and white photo challenge of  'Seven photos. Seven B&W photos of my life. No people, no pets, no explanation. Challenge someone new every day. I invite..." Here are my results.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3


Among the four weddings on my plate, working on call at the Hyatt for their banquets department, I am also a Wag! walker. I initially wanted to be a Veterinarian when I was researching potential careers when I was a Freshman at Clayton Valley High School in Concord, California. I obviously did not go in that direction but have always had a love for animals. In between jobs, I found a job walking a dog named Tahoe three days a week via Craigslist. While working at the law firm in Emeryville, I walked four dogs several times during the week that lived in the same building. I was always One Busy Bee.

Now, I am in my first month as a Dog Walker for Wag!, which is basically an Uber app for dog owners needing dog walkers. While working very long days for my restaurant in San Francisco, there would be some nights I'd have to call my roommate to take Bevo, my Boston Terrier, out. Once or twice, I've used Wag! Now, I am a Walker and have made decent money for 30 or 60 minutes with adorable animals like these guys.

I have walked parts of neighborhoods I would never have done otherwise. See the below list of places I have walked dogs. It's also great for what I do in terms of traveling. I would also like to share this information with local real estate agents. I see what kind of people live in the neighborhoods, how well they keep their yards, where the nearby schools and parks are located and sadly, even where the homeless hang out, where dogs are kept in cars on the street and for the local police, which stop signs get ran the most.

San Leandro
San Ramon

Wag! also provides sitters and boarders. I have only been a sitter for dogs and have always requested their Wi-Fi so I can work on my weddings or market myself as a Travel Agent. I unfortunately cannot board dogs as I have a dog of my own and we cannot have them co-habitate as it may not be safe to do so. However, sitting is great. I would hang out with the dog, make money as I am working on my own business. It's really easy money.

Please use my code and sign up your dog for walk, sitting or boarding - BERNADETTE9307. The Hayward area doesn't have too many users. Please share this information with any of your dog owner friends! Wag! does a background check on all Walkers, is insured and I have a 5-star rating with 30 walks logged so far and lovely comments from my clients.  It has already paid off my cruise to Mexico at the end of the year. Book yours HERE with me!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Stella & Dot's Black Friday Sale

Now thru Sunday, November 26th, take advantage of Stella & Dot jewelry, tops and handbags for sale! There are charms for $2.99! Create a customized gift for your friends and family. Get these items before they are sold out!

DOT DOLLARS - For every $50 you spend, you will receive $25 in Dot Dollars to spend beginning December 28th towards every $50 purchase. There is no maximum Dot Dollars you may earn.

Shop this special LINK for my Hostess' trunk show and take advantage of November's Trunk Show Exclusive Offers. When you spend $50, you may add one of each of the below items to your card for 50% off. While supplies last.

If you're interested in hosting an in-home or online trunk show, please contact me! The average hostess earns $250 in free jewelry plus 4 pieces at half off. Willing to travel with jewels!

Happy Holidays!

Please LIKE my Facebook page for updates on sales, promotions and how I wear our gorgeous pieces.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Limon Rotisserie - Walnut Creek, California

"This chicken is so good."

"I've never had Peruvian food before."

"I have to come back to try their other items."

I love exposing my friends to new restaurants. I like that my friends come to me for recommendations on where to eat. Those friends even passed on my recommendations to those from Hawaii who will be visiting the San Francisco Bay Area in the near future. The power of word of mouth is so important. In this day of age where information can travel in a split second, business owners need to value every inquiry and customer in hopes of new business and to create repeat customers.

My friend Tara is one of my oldest friends. It was her birthday this past week and we decided to meet half way and have lunch. I opened my OpenTable app and found Limon has opened a location in Walnut Creek. I have been to the location on Valencia Street in San Francisco and had a delicious meal and excellent service there. I couldn't go wrong with Limon.

I grew up nearby and have partied at local clubs and bars on and near Locust Street in Walnut Creek. Now more closer to 40 than 21, it was odd to see the different storefronts and how they have changed over the years. Limon was a great addition. I also see that Sauced has moved it. I have been to the Livermore location and who can resist BBQ?

Parking may be found on the street. Watch out for the meter maids. Make sure you obey the posted signage or pay for parking in the parking garage across the street. Unfortunately, Limon does not validate parking.

You'll pass their outdoor seating area and enter to meet the Hostess on your left. I see that she was busy on the phone and to go orders were waiting to be picked up. I was sat at a table for two and away from the draft of the door I just walked through. The bar with about ten bar stools was in front of me with two televisions playing college football. An open kitchen was also in view and there was seating upstairs as well. The bathrooms are located passed the kitchen and gender neutral.

I started with green tea by Mighty Leaf and the empanadas because why not?! I just had a jamon y queso empanada from El Porteno as the Ferry Building recently. El Porteno's has denser shell and accompanied with a spicy green sauce. Limon's was more like a fried won ton shell, with shredded rotisserie chicken, carrots and parsley in a cream aji amarillo sauce (an essential chili pepper used in Peruvian recipes). The cream had a mild bit and I enjoyed the crispiness. This is a great starter to enjoy and share with your companions.

Limon also offered ceviche, whole, half and quarter chicken entrees with two sides such as fried yucca and arroz (rice), a grilled octopus plate, Peruvian paella and fried chicken. If you have read my other posts, I love all those dishes. Tara and I both had the Quinoa Salad. We asked our server if we could have their delicious chicken added to it. I'm surprised it wasn't an option. For an additional $7 more, the kitchen allowed it, especially since we both were ordering the same thing, therefore less labor. It is always easier to double the quantity of one dish than to make two separate dishes, don't you agree?  The salad came with frisee, spinach, cancha (crunky skillet-toasted chulpe corn), queso fresco and mint with a lime-based vinaigrette. The chicken was just as I remembered it being, moist and flavorful. The salad was lacking in dressing so I requested a tad more. The cancha was basically like Corn Nuts and large kernels.

Unfortunately we weren't offered dessert but it was OK. Avoiding the temptation was kind of appreciated.

Congratulations Limon on expansion. They have locations in San Francisco, Burlingame, Oahu and soon to be at Terminal 3 of the San Francisco International Airport. I look forward to visiting it on my travels. I know a lot of restaurants can struggle. You are clearly doing something right with such growth.

Redbridge Boutique - Tracy, Ca - December 19th

It's time to shop for the holidays! Come to Tracy, California on Sunday, December 19th from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM and shop the below brands, including me with Stella & Dot. I am offering $10 off for every order over $50 ONLY at this event. At $50, you may also take advantage of our Trunk Shoe Exclusive offers seen below. Shipping starts at $5.95. I hope to see you there!

If you cannot stop by, please shop this LINK.

Also shop my Poshmark closet for items sold out and retired. Get $5 to spend when you join as a new user with my code ONEBUSYBEEBLOG.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

HFWF17 - Jennifer Ackrill of SKY Waikiki & Top of Waikiki

On Media Day on Maui for the Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival, I was hoping to meet some women chefs. I believe Chef Niki Nakayama of n/naka in Los Angeles was scheduled to be in attendance but I didn't get to interview her. With "Michelin 'Can't Do Anything' to Change Lack of Female Representation, Says Director" (Eater NY Oct. 31, 2017), I really wish I had. Representing Oahu, I was lucky to meet the Director of Mixology of SKY Waikiki and Top of Waikiki, Jennifer Ackrill. You San Francisco Bay Area readers may recognize her from her time at Rye. After being convinced by her husband, Jennifer is now on Oahu living it up.

The Pennsylvania native knew a few of my colleagues. During a trip to check out the opening operations of a brewery in Waikiki that I was invited to while in Maui, my business partner suggested we go to the Top of Waikiki and see his friend, Jennifer. We enjoyed an amazing view and tasty cocktails on the deck of SKY Waikiki, then headed up for a more formal setting at the rotating bar at the Top of Waikiki. And then in Maui, the creator of these cocktails was sitting next to me.

When you first meet Jennifer, you'll immediately feel at ease and smile because of her bubbly personality. The woman has a lot of energy, is passionate when she speaks and has a fabulous sense of humor: a quality that is a must for any bartender IMO.

In my experience, some Bar Managers just want to go back to bartending. There is a lot more responsibility with the title and the best part of the job is having fun with your fellow bartenders, slinging drinks and interacting with the customers. After several years at Rye and making the move to Hawaii, Jennifer solely bartended, needing a break from the heavy responsibility of running a bar. As a bartender, she saw inconsistencies with the bar program. The ingredients were supposed to be 'fresh and local, and they weren't.' Without being ask, Jennifer created a drink menu with costing to BE fresh and local. And the rest is history.

Jennifer was providing two cocktails for the Street Food portion of the HFWF. I made my way to her table a couple of times and it was always busy. I made it, she saw me, came from around the table and gave me a great, big hug. Though less known, her other talent: good hugger. With all the craziness of the event, that was a treat. I also got to meet her husband, the reason they get to live in paradise.

Be sure to stop by and support females in the industry! Visit Top of Waikiki and SKY Waikiki. Get your parking validated too.

2727 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawai'i

Related articles: 2016 - Oahu's Best New Restaurants
Tatsy Island Hawaii 2017 - SKY Waikiki Introduces New Spring Surf Cocktail Collecti
Extra TV, August 25, 2015 - Brody Jenner and Stars Galore Attend Opening of SKY Waikiki

Saturday, November 4, 2017

HFWF17 - Chef Floyd Cardoz of Paowalla

I have read a couple of Danny Meyer's books. Chef Floyd Cardoz worked with him at Tabla, which has closed. Now Chef has multiple restaurants, including The Bombay Canteen in Mumbai, India and "Paowalla, the Portugues word for breadmaker" (First We Feast) in New York City. The Top Chef Masters winner in 2011 sat across from me at the Media Day for the Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival and describes his food as 'modern Indian, lighter, not heavy.' Chef continues to say that India has several states (29, Wikipedia), dialects and religions. Why would Indian cuisine be any different?

Chef says popular dishes include a chili chicken and bacon cheese biryani. He likes to showcase local seafood such as crab and calamari. If you can, sit at the designated bread bar with a view of the wood burning oven and enjoy a lot of carbs.

This biochemist Chef is also an author. With his winnings from the Top Chef Masters competition, he donated the $110,000 to the Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund and 'helped fund the Young Scientist Foundation, which enables high school and college students to work alongside accomplished researchers to develop new treatments for diseases.' ( A multi-talented Chef with a giving heart.

At the Lucky VII dinner on Maui for the Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival, we were presented as our second course a 'Hawaiian kanpachi ceviche with Big Island coconut-kokum broth, Big Island heart of palm and black rice.' The fish was delicate, the broth had a hint of curry and the crisp greens added some texture. The 2015 Weingut Gunderlock Gewurtztraminer of Rheinhessen, Germany was a delicious pairing, dry and lite and not 'desserty' as described by the Sommelier. I look forward to dining at Paowalla during my next visit to New York City.

Paowalla will have special seatings on Thanksgiving Day. Make your reservation now. Please let me know if you attend! I would love to know how it was.

195 Spring Street
New York, New York 10012

Related Articles:, April 19, 2017 - Cookbook Confidential: What's a 'Flavoralla'? Ask Chef Cardoz
GrubStreet, December 26, 2016 - Where to Eat 2017
First We Feast - NYC's Best New Restaurants of 2016

Friday, November 3, 2017


I do love that commission check when I was the Events Director for a local restaurant but I am now currently working for myself until another full time opportunity presents itself that I cannot refuse. I have three weddings to plan from May to September, my family reunion in August in Tahoe and have just completed a Travel Agent course awaiting to become certified.

In the mean time, I am going after the latest incentive from Stella & Dot to earn pieces from the 2018 collection for free. Besides my 25% commission for everything I sell, free product credit and business supply credits plus fun I have with fashionable ladies, I am happy to put in as much or as little into my flexible business with Stella & Dot.

Wearing the Poppy Necklace ($49) and retired & for sale Pippa Earrings ($20), a top from Express and a skirt by Harumi K Designs out of Oakland, California.
Want to help? Want to join? Want to earn $100s in free Stella & Dot jewelry by popping open a bottle of wine & shopping with your friends at home? It's easy to host a Style Session. Do it at home, your office or over happy hour or solely online so friends fr all over the country can shop. We pick a 2-hour period on a date of your choice, I do a quick spleel on the company, demonstrate how versatile our jewelry and how they can earn jewelry for free or be a Stylist like me. You will also be given a site temporarily where folks that cannot make it to place orders so you can get credit up to two weeks after your Style Session date. It's easy!

I will be in Tracey, California from 12:30pm - 3:30pm on November 19th for a community shopping event. More details to come! Or shop now at Willing to #travel with jewels! Referrals are appreciated. Any opportunities to participate in your community would be great.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, October 30, 2017

HWFW17 - Hank's Haute Dogs & Chef Henry Adaniya

Americans grew up eating hot dogs and predicting MLB fans would eat 19 million hot dogs in 2017. (Go Astros! Beat LA!) This Giants fan knows it's common to have at BBQs and tailgating before sporting events. Don't forget the carts of sizzling onions and bacon wrapped hot dogs that are available after events at venues. I've had one for sure.

I had the pleasure of meeting the very friendly Chef Henry Adaniya at the Media Day event at the Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival in Lahaina on Saturday morning, October 21st. Hank's Haute Dogs is his establishment now with two locations, one on Maui, one on Oahu. When asked "Who's Hank?" Chef enthusiastically replied "That's me!" He said Hank's Haute Dogs would sound a lot better than Henry's Haute Dogs. What do you think? Regardless of what it's called, I think the products will continue to sell themselves.

Photo from Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival

Yes, you have the Junior hot dog for the kids that can eat hot dogs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then you have their number one seller, the Chicago dog with a genuine Vienna all-beef dog with seven toppings including mustard, onions, tomatoes and pickles. Chef also mentions he has a boar, buffalo and a foie gras hot dog. As recently have traveled to Paris and Santorini, I would love to try the Francois bratwurst with truffle mustard-mayo, sauteed herb mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese and the Greek with grilled lamb sausage, tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion...with a side of truffle cheese fries. And don't forget the condiments! View their whole menu online at their website.

Via Instagram

If you are following Chef Henry on Instagram, you'll see that he was recently in my parts of the world, the San Francisco Bay Area. Though from Chicago and now in Hawaii, Chef was inspired for these haute dogs during a visit to Top Dog in Berkeley, California. He closed his restaurant at the time and moved forward with the dogs. As I am unsure when I will move forward with booking another trip to Maui, I will have to visit this Berkeley inspirational institution. Would anyone like to join me?

Keep it up, Chef! Consumption of hot dogs won't be going anywhere.

Related posts:
HWFW17 - Chef Chris Kajioka of Senia

What Is the Most Popular Video-Streaming Service? - Barron's

Amazon Prime Video?

There are quite a few options available to stream videos, sports or news reports. I was stopped while visiting Times Square in New York City by Sonia Talati, a Journalist and Anchor for Barron's. She asked a few questions. Check out the video below.

Great to meet you, Sonia!

Related Posts:
Catastrophe - Season 3

Saturday, October 28, 2017

HFWF17 - Chef Chris Kajioka of Senia

Though I will be remedying my lack of golfing skills, my Hawaii Food and Wine Festival experience did not kick off on the golf course with Roy Yamaguchi. (I have plans to dust off the clubs for practice starting this coming Thursday. FORE!!!) My experience began by attending the Media Day on Saturday, October 21st at Whaler's Village in Lahaina, Hawaii with Chef Chris Kojioka sitting across from me at a narrow folding table underneath a white tent as an adolescent talent show was taking place next door at The Hula Grill.

Chef Chris, nomination recipient and semifinalist for James Beard Rising Star of the Year, is a Co-Owner and one of two Executive Chefs of Senia on King Street in Honolulu's Chinatown. Opening ten months ago, Eater recently named it Hawai'i's Most Thrilling New Restaurant (Oct. 25, 2017). Dine for lunch or dinner, in the dining room, at the Chef's Counter or upstairs for a private dining experience for 8-12 people or 20 guests for a standing room reception. As an Event Planner, a separate dining area with special attention and menu is always appealing. Expect to choose from an a la carte menu, shared plates or a tasting menu. Options are always good and you should come back at least five other times to try the different menus at two different times of the day. For wine lovers, a Sommelier is on-site to recommend the perfect wine to go with your selected dishes. Cocktails are beautifully crafted and presented with such elegance.

What should you order? Chef Chris says the cabbage starter is the most popular dish and Eater's description in the article above should come with a warning that drooling may occur before reading. The cabbage is from the Big Island and Chef Chris spoke about its ingredients with such pride.

As a California girl, I was pleased to hear that he was the Chef de Cuisine of San Francisco's Mourad, winner of a Michelin Star. Chef Chris says he just spoke to Mourad the day before and hinted at a possibility of Mourad venturing West. Stay tuned for a possible official announcement in the future by following Chef Chris and Mourad on social media. Would you be in support of it, Hawai'i? I would!

That evening, the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival had a Street Food event on the lawn of the Sheraton Resort, also in Lahaina, Hawai'i. Chef Chris provided guests with a grilled chicken tsukune, egg yolk gel and black truffle tare on a skewer. The chicken was moist, a nice-sized portion and the gel held the components together. And who doesn't love truffles?

Thank you to the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival for the opportunity and Chef Kajioka for his time and delicious contribution to the festival. I look forward to dining at Senia in the future.

745 King Street
Honolulu, Hawai'i

The festival is taking place thru November 5th. Get your tickets today! Also, thank you, HWFW, for raising funds for the Napa fire victims.

Related articles:
Gourmet Fest 2016 - Biography
Food and Wine Magazine, January 2016 - Grilled Cabbage with Two Sauces 
SF Gate, January 26, 2015 - Mourad opens in San Francisco, take a look at the menu

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Destination Wedding Photographer, Vanja Melnik

I absolutely fell in love with Santorini. We came across several brides and groups and wedding ceremonies as we explored every corner of the island. I would love to be your Event Planner and Coordinator for your destination wedding, especially in Santorini! Scrolling through photos on Instagram of this gorgeous land, it took me back. In hopes of learning more through other wedding professionals who have done weddings in Santorini, I reached out to Wedding Photographer, Vanja Melnik. Her photos are beautiful and she was open to being interview for my blog. I picked her brain to share with you some information should you need a destination wedding photographer. As an Event Planner and Coordinator, I am always in search of talented and reliable vendors to work with. You will see by this interview that Vanja is incredibly experienced, takes pride in her work, is fun and we have some similarities! Perhaps that was also why I was drawn to her. I hope to be able to call on Vanja someday for a wedding here in the San Francisco Bay Area, in Santorini, Greece or wherever your heart desires.

Introduction: Hi, I am Vanja Melnik, destination wedding photographer based in Novi Sad, Serbia. I lived 10 years in London, then I moved back to start my wedding photography business with the aim to shoot worldwide. I shoot mainly in Santorini, but I was fortunate to travel to France, Montengro, Croatia for weddings.

My website is, I am also very active on Instagram and Facebook.

BM: I came across across your photography in Santorini via Instagram. What are your top three destination wedding locations have you shot and why?

VM: The place where I discovered wedding photography, I like to call it 'shooting love around the globe' is Santorini, Greece. But, I have had the opportunity to shoot in St. Stefan, Aman Resort in Montenegro and at a secluded villa near Nantes, France. These three are my top destinations so far. And why? Because, Santorini has so many amazing spots wherever you look. St. Stefan is a very old and historical place with stunning spots with the sea in the background and Nantes gave me the opportunity  to change my usual summer light conditions and blue sky and sea, with something more green.

BM: What travel tip do you have to aspiring photographers interested in shooting destination weddings?

VM: I like to arrive two days prior ot the wedding date to the location. I have one day to meet the couple in person, even tough we get to know each other via Skype and have many spontaneous and informal chats via social media from the day we meet until the wedding date. Those days are used to check the location where the wedding wil be, the hotel where the couple is getting ready, church location and make the logistic to be best used time we have on the day. Then, the second step is to make a plan for the photo session, check the light at the time of the shooting and take some test shots. This is important for me to make myself feel at home at the new location. What I do prior this, is really to find on Google as many location ideas as i can for that particular place. But, nothing can compare that with being on the location and having a feel for the place.

BM: What inspired you to be a wedding photographer?

VM: I came from the hospitality industry where I spent 10 years working for some of the most prestigious hotels in London, UK. I learnt there what great customer service is and how much we should love what we do in order to give 100% and be happy. When I needed a break, I took a year off and starting asking myself what else I could do. Then, I concluded that I could use my hobby as a photographer's assistant. After four months I fell in love with it. I realized that I am not that bad in technical aspect of photography, but there are so many things I should learn. But, the most important I noticed that my passion for coordinating events from my previous career complement my passion for photography. Knowing that photographer plays such an important role on one of the most memorable days of the couple, inspires me to do my best, to be their best friend on the day and someone who will ensure that all those emotions are captured in the best possible way, without being too noticed. Even though, I get noticed as soon as the party starts, as I love to dance so I can't stay still :)

BM: What is the most challenging or unique request a bride and groom have requested of you?

VM: The most challenging was when the bride decided on the wedding day to bring all her bridal party to the photo session that was dedicated to just two of them. Despite all conversations we had prior where I highlighted pros and cons of it. Cinematographer and myself remain behind for half an hour because she put her friends in the car instead of us and we couldn't get the taxi in the busy city. I put lots of effort to tell myself that it has nothing to do with me, and it's their choice to prioritize.

BM: What location have you dreamt of traveling to to shoot a destination wedding?

VM: In Europe that is definitely Italy (Tuscany and Venice) and worldwide Iceland and New York.

BM: What would be the appeal in shooting in the San Francisco Bay Area?

VM: Wedding photography as an art started in America, way before it was on the same level in Europe. All of us in Europe are learning from American photographers. In general, opinion is that American weddings are more glamourous, more perfectly planned, with much high budgets for decoration and ensuring the whole day looks like a dream. For any European photographer is a dream to shoot there, especially in San Francisco area. Having the city in the background, stunning streets, beach or national parks is an ultimate goal.

BM: How do you improve your skills as photographer?

VM: By shooting almost every day. Following works of other photographers and playing with editing whenever I can.

Please consider booking Vanja and I for your next event! We are both willing to travel. Please be sure to mention you found her via this blog. Thank you and happy wedding planning!

Vanja Melnik