So, I'm probably the only person in the world who has a pooper scooper on her list of wedding vendors. But our ceremony site is at the end of a trail that allows dogs and horses, and Kevin wasn't looking forward to asking one of his buddies to clean up horse poop on our wedding day. I didn't see Jory as he was gone by the time I got there, but I didn't step in any horse poo, so I'm assuming he did his job!
What can I say? Izzy is my idol, LOL. She's absolutely fantastic, the most graceful person, and extremely charismatic. She not only managed to dance in front of a bunch of stone-faced people who were staring at her wondering what the heck they'd gotten themselves into, but by the end, she had them all dancing around the room in a conga line, and circled around the dance floor for a belly dance lesson. I've even had two people vow they are going to start taking belly dance lessons, LOL!
Nikki is a real nice lady and really worked with me on my pickiness about my appearance. I hardly ever wear makeup and when I do, you can't really tell I have it on, so when she did the trial, it was way to heavy for me. I also wanted some changes to the hair. On the wedding day, she worked with me to get it exactly the way I wanted it, including brushing my eyelashes out for about 10 minutes because I was obsessing over the fact that the mascara had made them stick together, LOL. The end product was lovely.
The chocolate cake with Bavarian cream filling is To. Die. For. They did a good job with the Flyers logo, though they misunderstood me when I said I wanted the black done in fondant. They did the whole design in fondant, but it looked nice and tasted out of this world. They will give you free samples of any number of cakes and fillings, too.
I love the set of photos we got with Elya... at first I felt like she didn't give us enough direction (how to stand, where to hold our arms, what to do, etc.), but after having a session with a real wedding photographer that did give us direction, I have to say that we look more comfortable in hers because we were doing whatever came naturally. Though I would have liked more cueing on when to smile and when not to smile, because in some of the pictures, one of us is smiling and the other isn't.
The DJ was very professional and did a great job, except for the fact that he played the first dance song at the same volume as the background music, so no could hear the words because everyone was talking. The words were the most important part because the song was Crazy Woman and it was kind of funny, but alas, no one heard it. Also, I spent a lot of time filling out their forms on the website with schedules, song lists and the bio of the belly dancer that he was supposed to read, but he somehow didn't get all of the information and had to ask me for a lot of it. Then we had to go to the back room and get on the internet to look up the bio of the belly dancer again.
These poor people had such a hard time with my shoes. They had to dye my shoes over and over again to get them dark enough to match my ivory dress. Since I didn't have a swatch to give them, they were afraid to make them too dark. I finally left the dress there and they were able to get a good match.
Many of the Knotties recommended her, so I decided to go with her. I didn't do any comparison shopping with any other florist, but her prices are lower than I expected. She's a really nice ady and she made some suggestions for flower substitutions that saved me money. Interestingly, I told her my budget was between $500 and $700 and the final estimate ended up being $698 with tax, LOL. The flowers were absolutely lovely, and she also put left over buds and petals all over the shelves at the reception site.
Becky did our save-the-date cards for us. She painted a watercolor of our ceremony site from a photo we provided to her, designed and them and had them printed. They turned out absolutely gorgeous and she's so nice to work with!
I had a custom clay cake topper made of me, my groom and my too-adorable dog. Lynn did a terrific job! I did have some trouble with communication with her though.. for some reason she wasn't getting my emails and I wasn't getting hers. Never did figure out what the problem was.
Johnny is a really nice guy which was important to me... I've been to too many weddings where the photographer gets all snippy and frustrated with the wedding party. Which I never understood because if you are a professional, you should understand that bridal parties are like herding cats, and be able to control your temper. But I digress. Johnny was really laid back, which was great. His price includes an engagement session, and all day for the wedding, from the time you are getting ready in the morning to the end of the reception if you want him to stay that long, and he doesn't charge by the hour. Also, he gives you a DVD of all the original photos with the reproduction rights, so you can do whatever you want with them. (Actually 3 DVDs, one for you and one for each set of parents.) The DVDs come in a really nice leather case that has a photo on the front and another photo on the inside. I loved most of his photos, and he got some really nice "available light" photos of the flowers and candles which really set the mood of the reception. He also got some really nice close-ups of the cake and the guest book which were really neat.
There were a couple things I wasn't happy about with the quality of the photos, though. First, in the outdoor photos, my dress was washed out. Now, I understand that when you take a photo of a scene and only a small part of it is white, the white thing gets washed out. And I know he was worried about it because he commented on it when the sun came out from behind the clouds. But I also know that he pays someone to do his color-correcting, and it only takes 20 seconds in PhotoShop to fix blown out highlights, or to at least make them a little better. I am guessing they don't know how to do that. Luckily, I do. Also, some of the photos he took in my house with my mom helping me get ready had really distracting backgrounds. I had asked him where he wanted us to sit for the picture of her putting on my necklace, thinking that he would put us near some decorative object like a lamp, but he said we were fine where we were. But you can see half of the kitchen in the background, complete with papers and stuff piled everywhere and cupboard doors, etc. So, I was disappointed in those. And finally, he lost about 40 of our pictures because he either lost the card or forgot to take it out at the end of the night and then formatted it the next time he wanted to use it. Luckily, it was at the end of the wedding and most of them were just hug pictures of people saying goodbye, but he did lose the pictures of our hands with the rings and the bouquet. I was really bummed because I was dead set against fake nails and tried so hard not to break mine in the weeks leading up to the wedding. But he offered to pay the florist to create another bouquet so we could take the photos again, which was nice of him. I doubt we will do it just because it's too much of a hassle... I'd have to grow my nails out again, get another manicure (which I hate), etc. So, we'll let it go. We got plenty of other great shots.
Debbie was so patient with me during my Ebay dress saga... she had two fittings with me and her price for fixing the dress in certain areas was very reasonable. But the dress had to many flaws, so I decided to give up on it, and she was really nice about that. I did have her take up the hem on my new dress and she did a great job, though it turned out a little shorter than she had originally said it would be.
We had a violin/cello duo for the ceremony. Great price and they sounded great. She worked with me on the fact that it was outside with no cover, when most musicians would not do it because they were afraid their instruments were going to get wet. The one thing about them is that after I sent the check in, they didn't send the signed contract back to me in a timely manner. I emailed her two times over the course of several weeks with no response, until finally I sent a third (terse) email asking what the status of our contract was, and then she responded saying that she thought she had sent it. But everything was fine at the ceremony, and they sounded great.
Jerry was a really nice guy to work with. He allowed us to edit the ceremony as we saw fit and had various options of readings and things that we could choose from. He also gives you a print-out of the ceremony wording in a nice little booklet and a special (more decorative) certificate of marriage in addtion to the official one.
Okay, this is a long one. I struggled with the rating for Tre Luna.... on the one hand, they did a great job on my actual wedding day. On the other hand, everything leading up to that made me constantly worry that something was going to go wrong.
So, the good things first. Everything went off wonderfully on the actual wedding day. The staff were very helpful and friendly, the food was just as we had ordered, and very good. They gave us ALOT of food. By the end, they had thrown in an extra appetizer, an extra vegetable and upgraded our beef to the next tier up. They don't charge a cake cutting fee (we had two cakes), and they will let you use any of their decor for free. (Supposedly they have a whole closet-full of stuff left over from other weddings.) The room was set up beautifully and everything went off without a hitch. At the beginning of the buffet, they take the bride and groom through the line first, and the staff holds your plate and gets the food for you so you don't get it on your dress. They do that for the groom as well. They collected all the wine bottles for recycling just as I requested, and were really accommodating about keeping the cake in the walk-in refrigerator overnight for us. They also accommodated us by letting me take the tablecloths home the week before and iron them because I can't stand the fold-lines in the tablecloths. (All the places we looked at left the fold-lines in the tablecloths... something I can't understand, but we were looking at "budget" places, I guess.) The one bad thing I have to say about the actual wedding was that they opened bottles of wine before other bottles of the same wine were finished. At the end, every bottle of white wine was open but many of them were not empty. So, that wine was basically wasted, and I'm not sure why they did that.
Now, all the drama.
When we first visited Tre Luna, we fell in love with the unique character of this venue. The women we dealt with, Valerie, was very nice and accommodating. Then I checked the BBB rating and was horrified to discover that both venues owned by this company were rated "F" for failure to respond to the BBB concerning customer complaints. There were 3 complaints between the two venues, and all seemed to stem from some kind of refund issue. I wrote them off, and we started looking for other places, but nothing was "right".
Kevin wanted to talk to them about the issue, so I let him take it on, and he emailed Valerie and told her our concerns. She said that she had only been working for them for a few months, and that she didn't know about the BBB rating, but she would look into it. She spoke with the owner who apparently said that the complaints weren't responded to because he forgot about them (um, huh??), but she said that she was going to personally take them on and try to make them right.
A couple weeks later, as we were still searching in vain for a venue, she emailed to tell us that she had satisfied one of the complaints, and was diligently working the others. I checked the BBB and their other venue had been raised to an A- due to her efforts, so we decided to give them another chance. We met with Valerie, signed the contract and paid our deposit. There were a couple things in the contract that I had to specifically write out of the contract --one of them being the policy on liquor. Originally we were told that they were still in the process of getting a liquor license and that we could bring our own alcohol in. I asked what would happen if they got the license between the time we signed the contract and the wedding, and Valerie said that we could still bring in our own. But in the contract, when I read it, it said that if they get the liquor license before your wedding, you are agreeing to buy the alcohol through them at a discounted price, but it did not specify what the price was. I told them there was no way I was signing up for that, not knowing how much it would cost, so we wrote it out of the contract.
She still owed us some information that we asked for (a price on adding the DJ), but each time we reminded her, we would get an email back saying that she was really busy and would get back to us. This went on for several months. It was the summer season, so I understand her being busy, but this was potential extra money for them, so I'm not sure why she took so long getting back to us.
Meanwhile, I had recommended Tre Luna to my friend who was looking for a place for a company Christmas party. She set up a meeting with Valerie, but when she got to Tre Luna, no one was there. She called the number and left a message, and got a call back from the owner, Carolyn, and Carolyn said she could meet her in a half hour. My friend said that she was standing outside on the sidewalk and she wasn't waiting another half hour, and that they were making a decision on the party venue today. So Carolyn came over to meet with her.
Carolyn refused to honor the price that Valerie had given her, and also said that desserts were not available, even though they are clearly listed on the menu sheets. My friend had an issue with having to bring their own alcohol because the company wasn't allowed to buy it, so Carolyn promised to call her back with some information about a workaround, but she never followed through. She also told my friend not to tell her "friend that was getting married here" what price they gave her because they were giving her a "killer deal". Of course my friend turned right around and told me anyway, and I let her know that the "killer deal" they gave her was very much higher than what we got. I understand that Christmas is probably a prime season for parties, but if you're going to charge more, then just say you're charging more because it's a prime season. Don't lie about it.
Moving on, I had a meeting with Valerie the next week to go over some stuff, and since she had missed the meeting with my friend, I emailed her to remind her. She called me back basically saying that there had been a falling out, and she wasn't sure she was even employed by them anymore. So, Carolyn met with us instead. She was nice when we talked to her, threw in extra food for us when we talked menus and gave us an even better deal on the DJ after I asked. (We got the DJ really cheap, it was a good deal.) She promised to set us up with some website where we could go pick our songs, but she never followed through. I waited a week and then called the office and talked to a man who promised that he would set it up within the half-hour, but he never did it either.
The next week, I got an email from Valerie saying she was back on the job, and was there anything she could help us with. I told her we needed someone to set up the DJ thing, so she did that. That was pretty much the last time I heard from her. The next meeting we had was with Carolyn again, and I think at that point that Valerie was out of the picture again and I never did find out what happened.
So, throughout the entire 5 months of planning I basically worried the whole time that something untoward was going to happen with the reception site. As it turns out, my fears were not warranted, because the actual day went off perfectly.
Absolutely amazing wedding location... our friends and family are still talking about it! I can't stress enough to tell your guests to wear sturdy, low-heeled shoes. I wore 2-inch wedge heels with my dress and it was fine.
I attempted to reserve a block of rooms at this hotel. The price they were quoting me was $25 a night more than prices that could be found online. She had said that if all the rooms were not used, we would not incur a fee, but if the block was canceled completely then we would be responsible for paying for all the rooms. I asked her what would happen if all of my guests chose to book online at the cheaper price and she said that would essentially be canceling the block, and that we would have to pay for all the rooms (even though all of our guests were still staying there.) I don't think so. That was the end of that negotiation.
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