Our wedding was PERFECT! Everything was awesome, and it was all due to the great vendors we had. We didn't have a wedding coordinator per se but we had great communication amongst everyone, and if there's one or two or three vendors I can highly, highly, highly recommend, they are Amanda Donaho for photography, Marilyn Hartman for wedding cake, and Becca Weisman at The Madison. Dan Blevins for a DJ was highly organized and recommended as well!
It's a chain that is available nationwide making it VERY easy for us to coordinate our groomsmen! The selection is good, but I wish I had more option in the shirt color. The Ivory Shirts looked WAY more yellow in person than it did online. Seeing to that our ties were platinum/silver in color, I'm glad I looked at the shirts first before deciding.
They will say that if the shirt is white and the wedding dress is "off white" that it will make your dress look dirty. This is NOT the case and only true in bright, bright store fluoroscent lighting. Believe me when I say that I went through a lot of heartache over this, and we finalized on white shirts for everyone while my dress was off-white/ivory in color. Our pictures turned out GREAT and without any question of whether or not the shirts or dress looked "dirty."
This will say it all: Cash back for any returned item registered on your Wedding Registry. It is the most convenient thing EVER. We also registered at Macy's which had more of the higher end stuff we wanted, but from what I understand, BBB also had the same things, they were just not in stores on display, such as certain fine china. I'd go with Macy's if you want a certain brand name, but if you return their items, you'll only get a gift card.
First off, I believe the customer service at FiftyFlowers.com go above and beyond the call of duty. After I made my purchase (8-10 bunches of red hypericum berries), I received a call from FiftyFlowers.com within the hour to let me know that they had received my order. They confirmed that the flowers I ordered were ordered for the correct delivery date and so on and so forth. It was much appreciated.
I also believe FiftyFlowers.com is a bit high in cost compared to other venues. I went this particular online florist because it was the best cost for the kind (color) of hypericum berries I wanted. I would have gone with FlowersandFreshness.com (where I received my roses), but they mentioned that their red hypericum berries consisted of "red and dark red." I wanted RED-red.
I was a little disappointed with the hypericum berries from FiftyFlowers.com because they were not RED-red as I would have liked. The description made it seem like they would be the Christmas/classic red color I wanted. Also, they were a bit smaller than I would have liked. I'm used to hypericum berries being about the size of a marble, but these ranged from size of a kernel of corn to a blueberry.
I would recommend this site for anyone who has a larger budget for fresh flowers. Their variety and availability is best compared to other sites, such as The Flower Exchange, Grower's Box, Blooms by the Box, etc. Sam's Club and Costco were nice in price, but their availability was limited. But, if you have a limited budget for fresh flowers like I did, then I would go with less variety stores, such as Sam's Club and Costco. Roses were best at FlowersandFreshness.com.
The best value for roses even when compared to Costco and/or Sam's Club. I had ordered 600 roses per variety in bulk of 200's, and for the most part, 95% of them were in great condition. The other 5% were used for cake decor and other miscellaneous non-focused items. I ordered 200 white roses (4 different varieties, Mt. Everest, Polo, Amelia, and Vendela) and 400 Freedom red roses. I also ordered Israeli Ruscus (the BEST price by far compared to anywhere else!)
The customer service of this place isn't the best, however, hence the low score in Quality of Service, Responsiveness, and Professionalism. They have online chatting, but it's slow and often disconnects. The phone number is busy most of the time. I was so frustrated at one point because I was disconnected so often in one session on their online chatting that they compensated me by giving me a 5% discount. I don't believe it was their fault, per se. I think it's a lack of investing in a better computing/IT system.
Despite the little bumps in the road, I would DEFINITELY order from them again. The price is too good to pass up! They delivered on time and without any missing parts (free FedEx delivery). I ordered the roses in early December and 4 days before my wedding, thought they said to order 2-3 days before the event. I doubted them, but now I know they are right. Some species of roses opened too early (especially Mt. Everest and Amelia).
I should have ordered the hypericum berries here despite their description mentioning red and dark red berries. FiftyFlowers.com mentioned only red berries and I thought that that was what I was going to receive, but I ended up receiving both red and dark red berries from FiftyFlowers.com.
Value for Cost is HIGHLY recommended for the budget bride! By the way, our centerpieces consisted of roses, Israeli Ruscus, and hypericum berries only.
Marilyn Hartman is the sweetest woman in the business!! I went to several tastings (Sweet Water Bakehouse, A Spoon Fulla Sugar, The BonBonerie, Mariebelle, Cotillion Events, Patricia's Weddings and Custom, Dessert Works, etc.), and Marilyn's Cakes was the last stop.
I was a little skeptical at first because she works from home, her prices are lower than the per usual, but but BUT, her cake TASTED the best and was just absolutely beautiful!
We had many, many compliments about the taste and look of our cake. I am just so thrilled to have met Marilyn and I wish her the best!! You can either choose from her past creations, or you can go with your ideas and own pictures. I went with one of her past creations and used red roses and hypericum berries as our cake topper and decor. See donahophotography.blogspot.com for our wedding (Yeyin and Steve on December 5, 2009) for a shot of our picture!
For us, Marilyn's Cakes was one of those kinds of finds that we were ECSTATIC about! We had a simpler sort of cake, but without the overhead cost of other places, Marilyn gives you exactly what you want in a grand wedding cake! We rented a cake stand from her ($25) and had a little touch of pearlized dust ($10) and our total cost for 200 guests was $406. Please contact her!! She's amazing!
Marilyn doesn't seem to check her email as frequently as other venues, but she will respond to you. I believe she is a bit old-fashioned in this sense. :) When you call, leave a message, and she'll get back to you. I noticed other reviews as not giving her a 5 out of 5 due to responsiveness and I know what the other reviewers are talking about. I just don't that to be a barrier for some of you! She is GREAT!
Our DJ was Daniel Blevins, and he is the most professional and kind DJ! He offers online management of the Play and Do No Play lists, and he is just an overall nice man. We met with Hey Mr. DJ, Party Pleasers, River City Entertainment, Quality Sound DJs, Cincy DJ, and my mother and I liked Daniel the best. He wanted what you wanted. All the other DJs just wanted your money and make you feel like you need all that lighting and all that jazz, when really, all you need is NICE music that your guests will enjoy listening to!
Daniel Blevins was just great and exactly what we were looking for. Unpretentious, professional, excellent/quality equipment, and just there when you needed him! Plus, he gave us a "recession discount" which I was VERY, very appreciative for!! I would highly recommend him to anybody!!
We used their website to purchase little favor gift boxes that we filled with little Russian candies bought from a local International grocery store. The boxes were very nice, but can also be bought elsewhere for a much lesser price. Papyrus is a bit expensive.
We got the cheapest invitations and only ordered the invitations and RSVP cards and inner envelopes. We made all the other enclosures ourselves. If you are not using bright white paper as your invitations, I HIGHLY recommend using watercolor paper (they can be found at any art store or Michaels) and using that to make your enclosures. The paper is nice and thick and feels very high quality. The weight of the paper is 9-11 lbs, so it will definitely have a nice feel to them.
I would also invest in a color ink-jet printer (we bought a $50 Lexmark from Target) and a paper cutter that does not use a rotary blade (we bought a $60 X-Acto Paper Trimmer).
We ordered the white gold 5mm men's band (low dome) and the platinum 2mm women's band. It was exactly what we were looking for, and the price was unbeatable! We had used a coupon, too. The customer service is EXCEPTIONALLY good, too! We needed to go down a size for my husband's ring, and they replaced it easily but returning it via registered mail was a bit of a headache and costly ($26 from Chicago).
I would recommend using their complimentary sizer prior to ordering. Despite the little hiccup, I would highly recommend purchasing your wedding bands from BlueNile.com! (My engagement ring was designed and purchased locally).
What can I say about Amanda Donaho? How about TALENTED, wonderful, PROFESSIONAL, CARING, considerate, kind, SKILLED, comfortable, FRIENDLY, thoughtful, etc. etc., and I could go on and on... I cannot say enough about how I feel for Amanda as a person and as a photographer.
Amanda made us feel comfortable when we felt awkward and unknowing of what to do. She was always available to "talk" through email and open to talk about anything that you have concerns with. She was always willing to go up and beyond for you and your loved ones.
Above all, Amanda is just a NICE person. I think it's important to like your photographer as a person. She has incredible integrity, too, which makes me love her even more. Not only is she extraordinary at what she does, she has wonderful, easy to understand wedding packages and a la carte items. Her pricing is AMAZING, and given to the the economic woes this past year, Amanda was EXACTLY what I was looking for in photography, in a photographer, and in investment.
Significant to note, when the topic of how many weddings she does in a weekend came up, she said to me (and this is paraphrasing but pretty close) that she only did one wedding per weekend b/c she wanted to have her "creative mind" full and undistracted for her bride and groom for that one day. I thought her saying that is and was a testimony to how dedicated Amanda is to her art, craft, and passion. Her creativity is by far one that any photographer should aspire to... check her blog out when you have a chance! http://donahophotography.blogspot.com. Our wedding was on December 5, 2009.
This church was the church that I grew up in, and I knew when I was young that I would get married there. It is a gorgeous church and many of its furnishings are the originals from its creation in the 1800's. There are parts to it that need a little repair, but the overall ambiance of the church is grand and the little eye sores in the corners are nothing that a photographer couldn't omit from pictures. I'm not sure if the church is available for weddings to the public, but if you inquire about it and it is available, the church is absolutely stunning!
The best decision of my whole wedding planning experience! I visited The Phoenix, Cincinnati Hilton Netherland Plaza, The Grand, and various other "fancy" hotels and venues in Cincinnati and Covington Downtowns, and these just do not compare to The Madison Event Center.
First of all, I grew up in Cincinnati but reside in Chicago now, and at the time when I visited reception venues, I thought the "a la carte" options found in many venues (like catering services separate from the venue itself, linen rentals, etc.) were things I could deal with from long distance. BUT, what I quickly found out was, the "all-inclusive" kind of service The Madison gave was my God send a thousand times over. Whether or not long-distance, The Madison's approach to reception planning was AWESOME.
Secondly, though an "all-inclusive" tag to any place could give it a sort of lack-of-luxury feel, this venue, on the other hand, is nothing short of classy and beautiful. Our room was the Grande Ballroom, and it was just stunning! This place FEELS rich without a hefty price tag. My friends gave me MANY compliments and said when they entered the room, it was very impressive.
Thirdly, our Wedding Specialist, Becca Weisman is the sweetest, most professional, and wonderful person!! She made my hectic wedding life smooth, enjoyable, and relaxed. When you're down to the wire or in the midst of crazy stress, she manages to keep you calm and keep you focused on the important stuff. Though she juggled multiple brides (and I mean MULTIPLE brides and events), she still made me feel like I was the only bride she was helping. I was so appreciative of that. For me, email was the best way to communicate with all my wedding vendors, and I can attest to that Becca responded to each and every one in a very timely, almost immediate, manner. She knew what was urgent and what wasn't. I am just so grateful for her.
I would recommend The Madison Event Center to ANY bride!! If your budget is tight, let them know and they will work with you. Maybe they will give you an extra hour or something that is worthwhile to you. Compared to any other place I'm not sure what their prices are like now, but whatever they may be, try to work it out with them because it is WELL WORTH IT!
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