Expensive, but worth it. If you really really need to cut costs, she is not necessary, but boy, am I glad I had her! As soon as you book her, you’re guaranteed to love the way you look on your wedding day … and love looking at all of your wedding photos! I was going through a flare-up of acne, probably due to stress, 2 weeks before the wedding … thanks to Nancy, it disappeared on my wedding day.
I had a makeup trial done by another makeup artist who was also great, but the thing about Nancy is that she really lets your complexion shine through but hides all of your flaws at the same time. For instance, my pimples went away but my freckles stayed! My makeup stayed on from 9:30am until I took it off that night around 12:30am. My favorite part had to be the lashes … I wanted to keep them forever! They looked so natural. My mom also had her makeup done by Nancy and loved it … she looked stunning. If you can, have Nancy do a trial the day you get your engagement pics done … I did that & it was a great way to see how the makeup looks on film … and Nancy will give you the “full deal” to see how it looks! Here is her blog post for me.
Paragon handles several weddings a weekend and they were very ready to handle my slew of appointments. They put me with Nicole, who seems to be one of the head girls there … she did mention that she leads updo classes for the other girls. I brought several inspiration photos for my trial and she worked her magic. It was gorgeous. On the day of, she did the same thing, except she skewed it a bit so the chignon was asymmetrical a bit. I loved it! I loved how she took the inspiration photos and then went to work on her own version. I was absolutely amazed … so so so happy with my hair. I couldn’t have dreamed of anything that would have been more suited to my dress & personality. And, of course, it stayed put until I wanted it out.
Peggy’s been doing this for a while and everything went smoothly. We fell in love with her spice cake with apple pie filling. We had a mixture of that, white cake & cheesecake (no extra charge!). Her cake is especially moist … Try the spice cake, especially if you’re planning a fall wedding! She allowed us to have sheet cakes in the back, so that made it very affordable (I want to say the sheet cake pieces were $.50/piece!). We had a 4-tier cake on display, no decoration except flowers (handled by the florist). Total for 250 people: $400. She let us rent the cake stand (silver or gold) free of charge, we just had to return it the following day. Best part? We get a free 1-tier cake styled after our wedding cake on our 1-year anniversary!
Margaret was amazing. My dress was off-the-rack and had to be hemmed, taken in up top (a lot), and have a bustle added (1-point). She also made my veil (I think she charged $75, it was between chapel & cathedral length, 1 layer, no trim). Margaret did an amazing job on my dress. I was worried at first because the top had to be taken in so much and it was pretty stiff, but she did a perfect job. When she was done, it fit me like a glove … like it had been made for me. She is just a great woman, as well. We really hit it off and I looked forward to our fittings. I’m not sure if she’s still in business, but if you need alterations done, please email her. You won’t be disappointed.
Joy was extremely helpful throughout the entire planning process. From the very beginning, she was quick to respond to my emails and provide the information I needed. Ault Park Pavilion allows several caterers but I it narrowed down to Village Pantry and Jeff Thomas, after talking with my contact at Ault Park and hearing that 90% of the events there are done by one or the other. I know that may not seem like the best way to choose a vendor, but I wanted a caterer who knew the (slightly unusual) venue of Ault Park Pavilion. Jeff Thomas had great reviews but was WAY out of our budget. I didn't even set up a tasting with them. Village Pantry was well within our budget. Joy worked to bring the quote down, and was honest about aspects that were not necessary. Whenever I requested to omit something because I didn't think we needed it, she never pressured me to keep it (and thus keep the bill high). Joy even came with me to the walk-through at Ault Park and asked questions I wouldn't have though of. She was always very reserved and calm and very efficient. The food is very good. We had our guests choose between chicken mornay, NY strip steak, or cheese ravioli with marinara. I had the chicken and it was absolutely delcious. I head the steak was slightly dry but still very good ... and huge. As far as I could tell, the servers did a great job. Joy was actually the superviser at the wedding and was always making sure that Michael and I had drinks. I actually got a thank you note from her in the mail yesterday .... this was a wonderful vendor.
We ordered the alcohol through Cork n Bottle. Michael handled this and everything went very well. We didn't even need to talk to Richard until 2 weeks before the wedding. We had gotten a quote when we had a year to go, but that was about it. 2 weeks before, we gave him our final number and Richard put together a quote. We tweaked it a bit (my parents wanted specific wines) and they had no problem. All unopened bottles with no damage to the label can be returned to them for the full price, minus a 10% restocking fee. I'm only giving them a B because I reserved A's for vendors that went WAY above and beyond.
BEST vendor we booked. Hands down. We had Jack + string bass, sax, piano, full drum set. He came recommended from another Cincinnati knottie (Kels18t). I called him about 10 mos before the wedding. At our initial meeting, I was extremely impressed with both his experience and organization. When we decided to book him and we were negotiating, he actually came in lower than what we asked for. We had three meetings prior to the wedding to review the plan for the night and select particular songs. Two weeks prior to the wedding, we submitted our play & do-not-play lists. He wanted us to be very specific. After each meeting, Michael and I came away feeling extremely confident that Jack would make the night run smoothly. He's done this many many times and just knows how the reception flows.
At the reception, he was amazing. Extremely professional, entertaining, everything you would want in a person helping to keep the party going. He knew what songs to play when & when it was time for all of the events. If you go with him, you are guaranteed to have the best party ever. I have received innumerable compliments on Jack & his band… Michael’s uncle is even trying to book him for his resort in Wisconsin.
Reece did our engagement photos as well. I really like his style, but not as much as some of the other photographers in the area. However, Reece was much less expensive than the other photographers I liked. I haven't seen our pro pics from the wedding yet (due sometime in Nov 08), but judging from our engagement photos, he does a beautiful job. Since I booked him, I have become pickier on photography style and I do not like the way Reece excessively angles the photos, but that is only my opinion. The planning process with Reece went smoothly. I had an initial meeting where I booked him, and then a final (phone) meeting with him about two weeks prior to the wedding. We went over the shot list, the timeline, and everyone's names at the final meeting.
On the day of the wedding, he showed up at the salon around 9:30. I was extremely impressed with the fact that he does unlimited time for your wedding day ... he didn't leave until 11:45 that night!! That was a HUGE plus for me, to know that everything was recorded. Two negative comments that brought down his day-of score: When he showed up in the morning, he was in a bad mood because he had to pay for parking. We all had to pay for parking. He didn't need to go on complaining about it, when it should be expected that anywhere you park in downtown Cincinnati, you're going to have to pay. One other negative: he didn't really offer up any specific ideas on shots for the bridal party. I had to rely on my memory of some BP shots I've seen on the Knot to feed him ideas. Other than that, he was a great vendor. I'm happy I picked him at the time ... If I had to hire someone now, I'd probably choose someone else, but only because my style opinion has changed.
I booked these guys 4 days before the wedding! As it got closer to the day, I realized how much I wanted to record it, especially the ceremony. Lifetime came highly recommended on the Cincinnati board, and so I called Matt. Dan Shallenberger was available for my day. I went to Matt's house before I booked them and watched some of their videos, including one at my church. He actually let me keep that video, which was nice. When I went home I probably watched it at least twice because it was a beautiful wedding at my church & I had never seen a wedding there before. It was like a preview for my day! I chose Lifetime because they have a very classic, natural way of shooting. Some of the other videographers I researched had an excessively dramatic style that felt fake to me. In the end, I hired Dan to shoot the ceremony for me. We spoke on the phone once before the day & that was it.
On the day of, they (Dan + his assistant) did a great job. They were like bugs on the wall, exactly what I had asked for. I did not want to notice them at all. The only contact I actually had with them was prior to the ceremony in the rectory, when they were recording our down-time, and then after the ceremony, receiving line, and church photos, we did a few shots leaving the church.
I received the video 10 weeks after the wedding, even though they told me it would take 6-8 weeks. The final product was beautiful. I loved the music that they chose for the montage segments. We chose to have just the ceremony recorded, and the recording was extremely pure. There was a montage at the beginning (in the few moments of prep before the ceremony) and during the Eucharistic prayer. Absolutely gorgeous, as I expected. In the contract, we got 3 copies of the DVD and he ended up giving us 6, which was a nice surprise. I wanted to have the video asap after it was finished and Matt actually went out of his way to meet near me and give it to me – very conscientious of the customer. The only reason I give them a B is because it took longer than I had been told.
Julie has a tiny little shop just west of downtown and has been there for long time (I want to say at least 20 years). She was very upbeat & helpful during our planning meetings. I was especially impressed with the way she was able to reduce my quote when I asked. I believe the total was $1200 which included: bridal bouquet, 6 BM bouquets, 2 FG bouquets, 2 FG wreaths, 13 bouts, 7 corsages, 22 centerpieces (potted greenery), 10 pew bows, flowers for every tier of the cake & delivery. The prices were great.
On the day of, I was extremely impressed with the ease with which Julie and her sister got everything to several different areas … the church, the reception, the boys’ hotel and the salon.
However, at first, I wasn’t pleased with the appearance of the bouquets. There had been a lapse in communication I think & Julie thought I wanted burgundy-colored flowers in the girls’ bouquets. I was pretty disappointed but didn’t want to show it. In the end, my mom and Julie’s sister convinced me to have them re-do them. Julie’s sister actually took them back to the shop, redid them, and met us at the park where we were taking pictures! So, even though we didn’t really communicate well on style, I was very impressed with their flexibility. One other thing – I didn’t like the pew bows. I asked for simple satin bows & showed her a picture of sating ribbon tied on pews for the inspiration. The bows she used were that rough material used to tie bouquets, not satin. And they were done up in huge bows … not as simple as I had wanted. Again, however, I think it was a result of my lack of specificness. I’m not very pushy & even though I had a clear idea in my head of what I wanted, I didn’t communicate it clear enough. So … if you use Julie, you’ll be happy with the price and happy with her work, as long as you are specific. Don’t worry about being too specific; she is very easy-going!
The wedding contact switched from Patricia Bender to Bill Frantz during the planning of our wedding. I was pretty grateful for this actually; Patricia was pretty scatterbrained. When Bill took over, he said he was glad that I established contact because we were actually in the books for the wrong time of day! In the beginning Patricia gave us all of the paperwork with requirements (engagement retreat, baptismal certificates, marriage license). Then it was left up to us to be on task and fulfill these requirements. I touched base with Bill, gave him our readings and intentions. He said he would be there for the rehearsal and he wasn’t; he sent another woman in his place. She was nice, but fairly clueless. Our priest (who came in from Notre Dame) took charge & Sara also helped a great deal. Bill was there the day of the wedding and everything went smoothly.
The only worry about HCI was the parking. We debated a LOT about whether or not to rent buses for the guests, but that just turned out to be way too expensive. In the end, I was just very specific in my directions and told them to park in the 2-level garage near the monastery. I reserved the parking at the church for immediately family and people with a handicap permit. I also made custom directions for the guests, depending on which hotel they stayed in, complete with detailed instructions and pictures. I put the maps in the welcome bags. I made specific ones for the bridal party and handed them out at the rehearsal. Mount Adams is a tricky area and most people were from out-of-town – as far as I know, most everyone handled it okay.
One thing I didn’t like – we only took pictures inside the church for 10 min after the ceremony because people started to arrive for a wedding rehearsal for the next day. No one had told me about this, and unfortunately, we were rush in taking pictures because of it. I wish we had had more time because we definitely missed some shots!
We had a room block at the Hilton, and my parents also held a day-after brunch at their restaurant. Kelly was extremely responsive via phone and email with any random questions I had throughout the year of planning! I picked the Hilton because of the location and the fact that it’s such an interesting and beautiful place. The brunch guests turned in vouchers & that went smoothly. The rooms also went smoothly, as far as I know. They actually gave my parents a really good deal on their room in the end, and waived a couple nights of their valet parking, because of all the business we gave them. The room that Michael and I stayed in the night of the wedding was amazing. It was much bigger than the “King Mini Suite” that they showed me on the tour. Our room was on the top floor, HUGE, on a corner so it had several windows. When we got there, there was a bottle of champagne, an assortment of chocolates, strawberries, and a note from Kelly. It was a great touch. Oh – they also arranged to have my bags moved from my parents room to my room during the wedding day … that saved us the headache of having to stop at my parents’ hotel room before going to ours!
Everything went smoothly here, as well. I picked the Garfield Suites because of the location and the value. For $99/night, guests got a 1-br suite with a full kitchen and living room. 2-br suites were $129/night. Laura was very responsive throughout the planning process. Because we booked enough rooms, we got 3 nights free --- in a penthouse suite! So Michael’s parents used that for their stay & the groomsmen came over and got ready. There was a balcony and everything. It worked out really well, especially for people who wanted kitchens.
Our reception venue was Ault Park Pavilion. I saw it for the first time during a run on Sept 1, 2007, and knew it was the place! It was very difficult to communicate with Historic Management Properties (HPM), which is the company that manages Ault Park, as well as other parks in Cincinnati. I would call and would get different people each time, and none of them talked to each other; it seemed like they didn’t keep a general file for each wedding. Finally, I realized what was going on and latched onto one person and stuck with her: Raven. I was fairly proactive in planning with her, since the reception venue is pretty important. Therefore, I was usually the one contacting her, asking her when the floorplan would be made, when the rental pricing list would be published, etc. I will say, that if you consider having your wedding and/or reception at a HPM location, you need to stay on top of things. Besides communication, there was also the issue of the rental prices.
Renting the venue is one flat cost, but along with that, you need to rent awnings if needed (tents on one or both sides of the pavilion), tables, chairs, and lighting. You are responsible for having a police officer on the premises (for alcohol) and that costs $/hour. You also need to rent linens, flatware & glassware if you’re not going through you’re caterer. This all adds up quickly, so it’s imperative that you’re aware of what you will be charged for each of these items. The rental prices increase at the first of each year, so if you book in Sept 08 for a Sept 09 wedding after seeing the rental costs for 08, you have no idea what the rental costs will be for 09. It’s pretty risky! After the first of the year, be sure to ask what their rental prices will be for that year.
We also had an issue with the cost of the awnings. We needed two awnings, one for each side of the pavilion. Each of the awnings were $1000. Since we were a Friday wedding and there was a Saturday wedding that weekend as well, I asked Raven in the beginning if we could split the cost of the awnings, since they were the same rentals (one setup/breakdown for two events). She said yes, but when she quoted us for all of the rentals 3 months before the wedding, she charged us full price. She said that they had changed their policy & there would be no tent sharing. That’s where my day-of coordinator was a HUGE help … she was coordinating another wedding at Ault Park and they were having the same issue. She got HPM to stick to their previous word for us, saving us $1000! I was so grateful. So, one more thing to be aware of with HPM: make sure communicate through email (or follow-up a call with an email) so that everything is in writing … it makes things a lot easier if they change their policies in the middle of the year and try to make them retroactive.
The last month of planning was a complete turnaround from the previous months. Raven was easily reachable, very helpful & cooperative. She met with me, Joy (Village Pantry Catering) and Sara (day-of coordinator) a few weeks before the wedding at the pavilion to go over everything and that was great. The huge windstorm actually happened 5 days before our wedding day, and apparently there were trees & branches down everywhere around the park, and the fountain wasn’t working. Raven was great about making sure everything was cleaned up for Friday … including a working fountain! (I was adamant about that!)
The night of the reception was amazing. As far as I know, everything went smoothly. Everything was set up perfectly. Raven was not there that night, but Mark was, whom I had never met, but after talking with Sara after the wedding, was very very nice & helpful. My florist (Julie with Petals n Glass) actually didn’t have vases for the bridesmaids’ bouquets & Mark just happened to have some stored at the Pavilion – he let us use them!
If you book here, make sure you have family and friends lined up to take things home at the end of the night. Part of the reason why I had potted greenery for centerpieces was so guests could take them home and we wouldn’t have to worry about returning rentals. Michael’s parents were instrumental in coordinating this effort … getting all of the leftover alcohol, gifts, leftover centerpieces, candles, etc. Sara also helped coordinate this. For me, this was one of the main concerns with having this venue … I didn’t want to burden family and friends after we had left the party. They were happy to help out, thankfully!
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