Everything turned out really well. All of our guests keep telling us how beautiful and true to my personality everything was. Looking back on that day, I don't remember all the frustrations and the vendors who didn't do exactly what I wanted. I remember how perfect everything was and how happy my husband and I were. We remember how grateful we were to be surrounded by so much family and so many friends who were just as happy for us. So don't obsess over small things. If you have a wedding in Northeast Ohio, do it in the summer. Everything is in full bloom then and the weather is probably going to be agreeable. There are some great areas in Painesville and Madison to get married, have a reception, and get some really cool and interesting pictures. As you'll see by all the places on my map, there are a lot of places in the area for your guests to go to and entertain themselves. We have beaches, a lot of parks and green areas, and we also have lots of shopping, restaurants, and entertainment.
Learn from my mistakes and know when to put your foot down, when to "fire" a vendor and go to someone else, and absolutely be patient and take some time to think about how you want your wedding so you can describe it accurately to your vendors.
I liked wedding mapper a lot better than theknot.com for creating a website. For one thing, because we could have our own domain name and it just seemed like we could include a lot more information on the site: especially the map which our guests loved and utilized.
I picked Jennifer and Company because they have a bridal package and a bridesmaid package. Other companies have bridal updos, bridal makeup, etc. but it's a la carte which makes it more expensive and it means I actually have to think about what I need that day. Jennifer and Company was affordable, they have a bridal consultant to put the day and all the appointments together for you, they have a bridal team standing by, and *BONUS* there is breakfast that day for us. Our stylists did exactly what I wanted and we all looked gorgeous that day. They made us look like ourselves only prettier :-)
VERY hard to work with. She did not do anything we wanted without a fight. On top of that, this is really just a hobby for her and she doesn't know how to do complicated things. She doesn't really like doing fondant. We didn't even trust her to put our cake topper on for us. We wish we had gone to another company when we had the chance but we kept thinking she was going to do what we wanted. Granted she didn't RUIN the cake but it's not exactly what I wanted. I had to compromise a lot of what I wanted for what she was willing to do. She doesn't really understand that she works for the bride. Not the other way around.
We worked with Kevin who was AMAZING! It seems like everyone else there is very knowledgeable too. We talked to another florist before him and she just didn't catch my vision at all. Kevin got it right away and guided us in the direction of affordable (i.e. what would fill out the bouquets with less flowers and what was actually in season). I got to see my bouquet and the bridesmaid bouquets the day before the wedding and I just couldn't believe how perfect they were! It's like he saw in my head when I was describing what I wanted. The day of the wedding, he pinned all the corsages on the grandmothers and mothers, the boutonnieres on the guys, and showed the girls and I how to carry our flowers down the aisle. He was fantastic and I would never even think of going with anyone else ever.
Bill is the owner of this place and he's awesome. He made my engagement ring and the wedding bands. I showed him what I wanted and he had a wax mold of it within a week to make sure I liked it. He was price conscious for us (since we went with gold and that's pretty expensive right now)and found us some nice, durable rings that will last a lifetime but were still lighweight and didn't cost an arm and a leg. I would go to him for anything in the future. I can't imagine just going to a retail chain jeweler after being treated so well by Bill.
Incredible to work with. He does a more journalistic approach which means he captures the most beautiful candid shots. He made my husband and I feel at ease with him immediately. That along with his beautiful work made us sign the contract with him at our very first meeting. We didn't even interview any other photographers. Tom came up to Painesville from Hudson to scope out the venues for good pictures. He was at our ceremony early and stayed late without charging us. His assistant, Kevin, was great too. They both caught some really important moments, some silly moments, and also got the usual pictures (of the cake, shoes, dress, family, etc). They both just really love their professions and it shows through in their personalities and their work.
My fiance and I went to the store in Mayfield because they have more of a selection in stock. I had already lived on my own before being engaged and made a list of everything I knew I needed plus things I wished I'd had while I was living on my own. Unfortunately, that didn't matter to the registry department. They assigned someone to us who put together a place setting I was indifferent to then got out napkins and placemats that I hated. We tried to explain to him more of what my tastes are (which is more of a farmhouse feel-so not fancy)but he basically waved us off saying "well just because it's china for every day doesn't mean you can't make it fancy sometimes." Which is true, but my definition of fancy is not his and he refused to listen. Then he proceeded to drag us through the store while he held the registry gun. I had done my homework and looked up prices and reviews on everything -in particular my pots and pans. But he didn't like the brand I chose saying that "this" brand does everything first and the rest of the companies just follow. Well, that's great but the other companies that "just follow", apparently do it right because they got better reviews and I liked them better. The registry person also led us through all the crystal and Armetale and wouldn't leave the department until we had registered for one of almost everything. I told him that we don't want this kind of stuff and that we'd rather get more practical things from our guests but he just stood there and waited for us to pick something out and told us that people like to buy this for brides and grooms (sidenote: we received NONE of that stuff. Our guests are practical people who do not have the money to spend on crystal or Armitale). I was very frustrated with the whole day and it should have been fun and exciting. I am still very angry when I think about that day. I went home and changed everything I had registered for online. When it came to registering at Macy's, I just stayed home and did it online, too. If you insist on going to the store, put your foot down with the registry "helper" or go the Mentor store where they just give you the gun and let you wander freely. If I had it to do again (and I suppose I will when we have a baby shower someday) I would do it all online.
We got a really good deal from them at the I-X center bridal show so we went with them. A friend of mine went with Tuxedo Junction and they had pretty much the same tuxedos and she never reported anything wrong happening. American Commodore did everything right for my fiance, his groomsmen, his dad, and the ushers, but they ordered all the wrong tuxes for my dad to try on. Then, once we ordered a tux for him to wear on the actual wedding day, they ordered the wrong size of pants so we had to hurry up and get the right ones in the day before the wedding. They were still professional, courteous, and fast. It was just my dad they had a hard time with for some reason. Because of the discounts and because everything still turned out really well, I'd go back to them again. Everyone looked great in their tuxedos. They had a lot of nice types to choose from for every body type.
Beautiful inside. They take care of the exterior too, planting pretty yellow flowers by the steps. We didn't get to enjoy it or take pictures by it but there is a fountain and a really cool building right next to the Music Hall that will be done and ready for pictures by this fall. Debbie Reynolds is the coordinator for all of Lake Erie's events so she was our contact for the wedding. She was there for rehearsal but she did not step on our officiant's toes. She just offered some very helpful advice at the end of our rehearsal. The day of the wedding, she made sure everyone was in their places, told the bridesmaids and flower girls when to go, helped the ushers when they needed to take the grandmothers and then the mothers down the aisle, and last but not least, she fluffed my dress for me and told my (very nervous) dad and I when to go. She did so much for us in the year it took us to plan everything and so much more on the actual day.
The ballroom of the Madison Country Club was exactly what I wanted. Floor to ceiling windows that let in a ton of light, nice grounds to look out on, even the decorations inside were what I had in mind. Kelli Norcini was our coordinator. She was very hard to reach by phone or email once she had our deposit. We were very frustrated by the end of the planning process because she did not work with us to make it exactly what we wanted. The food planning was difficult because we didn't just choose something on the menu they gave us. We thought that a chef would hear chicken marinated in rosemary, thyme, olive oil and then baked and think "No big deal. That's easy" but what we got for the tasting were dry pieces of flattened chicken with Italian herbs. We ended up picking Italian herb chicken with marsala which was very good (and juicy) the night of our reception but we walked away from our meeting with the chef feeling as though he didn't really know what he was doing at all (unless you pick exactly what's on the menu). That being said -even after the difficult time getting meetings with Kelli- we were impressed with the rest of the Country Club staff. We called them a few times to get help in reaching Kelli and they were right on top of it. The night of the reception, we had a different person, Annette, in charge and she was incredible. She made sure the bridal party was happy, the parents were happy and all the guests were happy. She and the head server, Melissa, were all over the place that night making sure everything was where it was supposed to be, when it was supposed to be there. It all turned out PERFECT. We couldn't thank those two enough. They saved the Country Club's reputation. Our night couldn't have been better because of them and the rest of the waitstaff there. They really know what they're doing. I just wish I could say the same for the chef and the wedding coordinator.
The owner of this hotel showed me all of the rooms and then gave me a discount on the block we reserved for our guests. He is very kind and very proud of his hotel. The rooms are huge - even the regular sized rooms. The deluxe rooms have a little mini-bar and a sitting area. The colors and layout of all the rooms make it feel even bigger and also a lot more modern than the typical hotels with floral bedspreads and worn out pink carpet. The breakfast area is a little small but it's Hampton standard size. There is overflow seating in the lobby and the modern decoration continues there. The pool and workout rooms are very nice, clean, and new too. This is a great place for your guests to stay if they want to stay in the Mentor/Lake county area.
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