North Carolina-Outer Banks

Finally! My vendor reviews from our 9/21/13 wedding (grab a glass of wine, this is long)...

Grab your favorite glass of pinot, curl up under your warm furry throw and enjoy my lengthy (yet necessary) vendor review: 

Bachelorette Weekend - Koru Village

I'm in my late thirties and didn't want the typical "Final Night of Freedom bachelorette party at a skeezy bar, drinking tequila out of penis straws and running around with my 'suck for a buck' tank top so that men will pay attention to me." No thanks. Instead, I wanted to spend a girls weekend away with my two best friends - surrounded by the ocean, red wine, healthy activities and fresh air. So, we booked three nights at the Village Stars at Koru Village, packed up our bikes and headed to Avon.

The villa itself was comfortable, well maintained and well stocked. It was within a short walking distance to the beach club and a decent sushi restaurant. During our stay, we took advantage of the Standup Paddleboarding adventure - which was incredible. After learning the basics, we paddled on the sound and enjoyed watching the sting rays, fish and other wildlife. It was a beautiful and serene experience. 

In addition, we had an amazing massage at the Spa - I treated myself to the 80 minute Silver Fern Massage - which was lovely! The spa itself was very relaxing, with soft music & lighting and the massage itself was divine. Plus, they have an eclectic little gift shop where I purchased a bottle of lotion and a Koru Village t-shirt. 

While in Koru, we took advantage of the Beach Club pool. We enjoyed reading our books and relaxing on lounge chairs, while soaking in the sun. In the evenings, we made smore's on the grill outside, drank wine and chatted as great friends do. 

Koru village is 9 miles from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and only 30 minutes from the Ferry which will take you to Ocracoke. I highly recommend this destination if you're looking for a stress free and relaxing vacation - away from the throngs of tourists. It was our oasis, for sure. 

Ceremony Music

Club Violin - Leslie Erickson

Following my initial phone call to Club Violin, we scheduled a meeting with Leslie at her home in the Outer Banks. She led us to a small studio space, where she offered us a cup of coffee as we settled in. From there, we discussed which pieces of music would accompany specific moments during the ceremony (guests arriving, our wedding party, my entrance etc.). 

As we talked, Leslie played snippets on her violin, which helped us to decide which pieces to choose. "Too rennaisance-like? Okay - what about this piece? Is that too slow? Let's pick it up - how do you like this?" etc.

She was incredibly easy going and I enjoyed the entire process. Leslie really listened to our needs and was in-tune with (pun intended) our vision. We ended up with a beautiful music selection and I was insanely excited to have hired Club Violin. 

We ultimately decided on two violinists. Since our ceremony was on the beach, the ladies would be sitting on chairs, playing the chosen music. They would both wear black, so as to appear nondescript. We hired Club Violin 18 months before our wedding date and never felt neglected. Occasionally, Leslie would send a touch base email - which was always reassuring.

Fast forward to the day of our wedding: 

While standing on the pier (we were married at Jennette's), I saw the violinists but unfortunately, never heard the music as I was walking down the aisle (in or out). I don't recall discussing microphones and am uncertain if they were using them or not. However, on the flip side, I admit to being on cloud nine and don't remember hearing much of anything really - not the violinists, not the ocean, not the children playing in the sand... so perhaps, it was a case of "bridal ear".  But, I'll admit to feeling slightly disappointed afterwards. 

Bottom Line:

I would definitely recommend Club Violin - but I do suggest that you confirm their usages of mic's. Afterall, it is the day of your wedding and you deserve to hear your song. 

Cocktail/Dinner/Dance Music

Coastal DJ & Video - George Wainwright

During the planning stage, I was adamant about not hiring a DJ. I flat out refused because I had visions of an obnoxiously loud, salesman type, harassing our guests and forcing them to line dance to the Macarena.  The image in my mind was absolutely appalling and I couldn't bear to witness yet another amateur cheese ball DJ, especially one which was paid for with my hard earned money. 

However, after considering the wide variety of guests we had invited, I relented. I didn't want our reception to lack energy and I was concerned an ipod wouldn't be sufficient. So, I contacted Coastal DJ & Video. 

George answered the phone and immediately set my mind at ease, while I rambled off all of the reasons I didn't want to hire a DJ. He assured me that the DJ will play the exact music I specified (no Macarena!). He will be quiet and unassuming. He will only make the specified announcements and will not accept music requests, if that was what we desired. He will not force feed mediocre traditions down anyone's throat. He will keep an eye on the crowd and play songs which serve to amp up the energy. Essentially, our DJ will be whatever we needed him to be. In our case, it was vocally quiet, perceptive and unassuming. 

We spoke to Kenny, our DJ, prior to the wedding. He was friendly, professional and understanding. We compiled a list of very specific Cocktail/Dinner and Dance Floor songs. For the more obscure tunes, we uploaded them to a location where he could grab them to use. It was a very easy process and Kenny and George were both quick to respond to our emails. 

Fast forward to the day of our wedding: 

Kenny was everything George promised he would be. He played our music, remained quiet and kept the party going. I loved how he blended in, remained unassuming and just generally worked the crowd - in a very unobtrusive way. 

Bottom Line:

I definitely recommend Coastal DJ & Video. They were priced right, listened to my needs and they delivered as promised. Thank you, George and Kenny! 

Ceremony / Reception Space

Jennette's Pier - Michele Bunce

Originally, we considered using a large rental house as our ceremony and reception space. We had driven in for the weekend and visited almost 2 dozen houses; unfortunately none felt like a good fit. On a whim, we swung by Jennette's Pier as we were leaving town. We met with Michele who showed us the space and immediately we fell in love. 

The interior was comfortable and spacious. The kitchen / bathroom facilities provided more than enough room and there was even a bar we could utilize. The clincher was the wrap around porch with the white rocking chairs. Standing outside, overlooking the ocean and the pier felt absolutely magical; the view was breathtaking. We just knew our guests would be as awed as we were. 

The entire process, from reserving the venue, to paying for it, to chatting with Michele regarding random decorating questions -- was seamless. We visited multiple times, in the almost 2 years since we booked it, and each time Jennette's Pier greeted us with open arms. They were an absolute pleasure to work with, from day one. 

Fast forward to the day of our wedding: 

We held the ceremony outside on the sand, to the left of the pier. We had the chairs arranged in a semi circle, facing our bamboo alter. A surfing competition was wrapping up during our ceremony and strangely enough, the surfers skimming the water were a nice touch. 

The reception and cocktail hour were held in the space on the 2nd floor. We had approximately 70 guests and there was plenty of space for all the bodies, tables, chairs, dance area and bar. We dimmed the lights, lit hundreds of candles and had an amazing time. 

Bottom Line

If Michele and the Jennette's Pier employees were here, I'd hug them. They were professional from start to finish, and I'm thrilled we listened to our intuition that day. Afterwards, our guests raved about the venue - and we were beyond satisfied. 

Officiant - Dave Keller

We were searching for an Officiant who was spiritual and laid back. Our wedding planner recommended Dave Keller to us because of his relaxed approach, kind demeanor and overall, open mind. We spoke with him on the phone and eventually met with him in person. Immediately, we were drawn to him - he was sweet, engaged and listened very intently. We had a lovely lunch as he asked the appropriate questions and made suggestions on things which could be woven into our ceremony. 

Dave's website was extremely intuitive and easy to navigate. We simply filled out a form and the later, I emailed him the ceremony text. He was quick to respond to emails and was available if we needed him. 

Fast forward to the day of our wedding: 

During the ceremony, Dave walked us through each step, while quietly reassuring us.  His calm exterior was welcoming, as his lovely energy rubbed off on us. His smile endeared us all and he made our ceremony as beautiful as I had originally hoped. Dave was an absolute  pleasure to work with. 

Bottom Line: 

2 thumbs up! I wish we were in closer proximity to him so that we could revel in his positivity and beautiful outlook on life. Every bride should be so fortunate to hire him.

Wedding Coordinator

The Proper Setting - Kerri Catino-Nason

Prior to calling, I had read numerous reviews on local wedding planners and The Proper Setting came out on top. I spoke to Kerri and immediately liked her bubbly and engaging personality. She appeared genuinely excited by our wedding and I felt like I was speaking to my best girl friend. 

Throughout the next 19 months, we communicated via phone calls, meetings and emails. She was as detailed oriented as I had hoped - never omitting anything, always on top of her tasks and my to-do lists. Her dedication to our wedding was nothing less than exceptional. She didn't blink when I asked her to hang my 20 strands of folded origami cranes at the reception venue. She offered us use of her house as storage for the many candles, lanterns, ceremony accessories and other things we were compiling. The week of our wedding, she handled two nasty vendor situations with grace and patience, keeping her composure and smile in tact. 

Kerri made me feel as if I were her only client and that no other wedding took precedence over mine ... And that's what every bride wants. 

Day of the Wedding: 

The day of our wedding, Kerri spent the entire day hanging my cranes, setting up our tables, precisely laying out the miniature lanterns used for guest seating. She kept me in the loop and forwarded pictures of the reception space, via text message.  We didn't have a rehearsal, but it didn't matter - Kerri successfully guided everyone to their proper places during the ceremony. She carefully orchestrated all of our vendors, our guests, my wedding party.  She was a Godsend and I couldn't have had a more perfect day, without her. 

Bottom Line:  

Kerri was amazing to work with - just absolutely perfect. I can't boast about her enough and I wish her, and the Proper Setting, tremendous success. 


Ocean Boulevard 

We previously attended a wedding of friends who had used Ocean Boulevard for their reception, so we were quite familiar with Chef Donnie and his awesome dishes. Everything we tried was absolutely delicious so it was truly a no brainer on who to hire. 

Annette responded almost immediately to my email requesting their services. She forward  their catering menu, I sent her a list of items we were considering and we scheduled a tasting date. Needless to say, the tasting was amazing and we thoroughly enjoyed all of the assortment of food items. I appreciated Annette's no nonsense approach and professionalism.  We went back and forth a bit, narrowing down food choices until we ultimately arrived at our estimate cost / person. During the entire process, Annette always responded promptly to my emails and was organized, accommodating, and just great to work with. 

We ended up using Ocean Blvd for the following: 

- Hot appetizers, passed by servers (Deviled Eggs, Mini Crab Cakes, Thai Style Beef & Chicken Skewers)

- Food stations during dinner hour - soup/salad, veggies/mac & cheese, fish, chicken 

- Bar Service (Wine, Beer, Water, Soft Drinks)

Day of the wedding: 

The food stations were beautiful - and our guests RAVED about the food (my favorite comment was: "This is NOT your typical wedding food". - No, it really wasn't.). The deviled eggs were a major hit along with the She Crab soup and Oven Roasted Chicken. The wait/bar staff were professional and unobtrusive… In fact, one of the servers was kind enough to box up my food so that I could enjoy it later (which I did). 

All in all, I was thrilled that Ocean Boulevard catered our wedding, I wouldn't have had it any other way. They were just perfect. 


Daniel Pullen Photography - Daniel & Kate Pullen

We previously attending a wedding of friend's who had hired the Pullen's as their photographers, so we were fortunate enough to have witnessed them at work first hand. And to be absolutely honest, I never saw Daniel or Kate during our friend's wedding - only because they blended in so well, which was one of the reason we hired them. The second reason, and the more important one, is that we loved their style. They're both so talented, with a great eye - Daniel is more focused on the overall vision  - Kate zones in on the details … and together, they mesh so well. 

Let me preface this by saying that we are very particular about what we do and don't like, in photographs. We lean towards artsy type pictures that haven't been overdone on Pinterest. We like simplicity - clean lines - interesting angles. I'm sure our first meeting with Daniel & Kate was a bit overwhelming, since we basically assaulted them with all the things we didn't want. But they ran with it and assured us that they understood our desires.

Day of the wedding: 

Prior to the ceremony, Kate photographed me and the girls, Daniel stayed with my husband and the guys. I never saw them once after the "formal/posed family pictures" were over. Of course, in my state of nirvana, I had forgotten we had photographers. Until the pictures came - and while perusing through them, I caught myself gasping -- they were absolutely beautiful. Each photograph captured the emotion of the day and I was silently thanking the Gods for giving Daniel & Kate the gift of photography. Hands down, the pictures were just… exquisite. 

I hope this is helpful! PM if you have any other questions. Congrats and good luck to you!
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