I've been married now for 20 days and it's been pure bliss. I finally have a moment today to sit down and share my reviews with you all. I used this forum so much when making decisions for our big day and I wanted to pay it all forward.
I made all our arrangements for the wedding and trip from home in Vancouver, BC and the whole trip went better than i could ever imagine it with only a few bumps in the road. Below you can find a whole review list of every vendor and business we used in the course of our time there for the wedding as well as a few post wedding things we did while we were there in Vegas. I'm maybe a bit too detailed so i apologize for how long this post will probably end up being.
Hotel Rates and Stay - Mandalay Bay
I contacted Mandalay Bay several times prior to our wedding to set up a stay in a regular deluxe room for our first 2 nights there and a switch to the Media Suite for the last two nights there, as well as a group rate for people in our party wishing to stay at Mandalay Bay. They were friendly and easy to deal with. Amazing service! Our group rates were much cheaper than what could be found online and majority of my wedding guests took advantage of it.
We arrived at Mandalay Bay on Thursday, May 19. The check in line moved quickly and service was efficient and friendly. We checked into our first room which was a deluxe room. We were so impressed with it. We learned that all of the rooms were recently renovated (sometime in April). Beautiful. Large space, nicely decorated. All my guests were raving about the rooms and the hotel grounds. Everyone was beyond happy. We stayed for two nights at the Media Suite also, but i will touch on that a bit later in the review. During our stay, we had several questions for hotel staff and everyone was so helpful.
The pool area was amazing. Our party spent quite a bit of time out there soaking up so much sun and having a blast. We looooved the lazy river. So relaxing and fun. We spent some time at all the pools and the man made beach. The entire hotel is gorgeous, but the outside pool area was a major highlight. Do keep in mind they check bags for glass and they require a room key to get into the pool.
We also paid for the "Day Pass" the night before the wedding to use their spa. You can use their cold, warm and hot whirlpools, a steamroom and sauna, as well as a quiet room. Beautiful and well worth it as you can go back through the day. We used it the day after our bachelor and bachelorette parties and it was just what we needed to keep us going and looking fresh.
Room service is too expensive I will say. We ordered two bagels with cream cheese, smoked salmon with cucumbers, tomatoes and onions and a small pot of coffee on the day of the wedding. It was $80.00. For two bagels...
Wedding Dress Steaming - Mandalay Bay
Upon arrival, I also contacted concierge for steaming of my wedding dress. They said that pricing starting at $75.00 depending on the dress. I received it back Saturday morning all steamed and ready to go. The total came to $85.00 which i thought was reasonable as I had a dress that was short with a long skirt over it and my veil so three pieces. It was convenient that they just came and picked it up and dropped it off to our room. I was already doing so much running around. It was nice that i didn't have to worry about it.
Earth Limos and Buses - Set up through Chapel of the Flowers for Chapel Tour and Marriage License
I received a text from Earth Limos while i was at the airport in Vegas confirming our ride with them. There was some confusion as I knew that Chapel of the Flowers was setting up transportation for us, but I didn't know that they were using an outside company as they have their own Limos as well. I had previously inquired with Earth Limos for the wedding months prior and supplied them with my trip dates when i initially started my research so i had some confusion thinking that maybe they accidentally booked a trip for us that i didn't arrange as the text did not mention Chapel of the Flowers. I called the driver, Zelaleum. He seemed as confused as I was and didn't give me any further information about what it was about so I told him it was okay it must be a misunderstanding and left it alone. He called me back a few moments later and asked if I was Kelly. That's not my name so we chalked it up to the company having a misunderstanding. Finally, about twenty minutes later the manager or owner called me back and asked if we were to be picked up through Chapel of the Flowers in a few hours and I realized it was for us and we sorted it all out. I think it would be helpful for them to reference Chapel of the Flowers from the getgo in the text.
Zelaleum picked us up. He was friendly although he had a very thick accent and was at times hard to understand. We were picked up in a black Caddilac Escalade. Large, comfortable and clean. He always came out and opened our doors. He was likable. He took us to get our marriage license and took a few photos for us outside and then took us to the chapel right after for our tour. Once we were done, we were hungry as we literally came off the plane, checked into our hotel and then had to go. We saw a fast food taco place across the street from the chapel and asked if he would mind if we went drive through. He took us. We asked him where on the strip we could get reasonable priced champagne as we were planning to pick some up after we were done with him and he said on his own that he knows a place that he would take us. He took us to a shop where we picked up all our champagne for the champagne toast on the day of the wedding. He picked up a drink for himself at this shop and we paid for it for him. We had pre-tipped through the chapel as we wanted to pre-pay as much as we could for budgeting purposes. The chapel had given him $12.00 from us as a personal tip. My fiance gave him an additional $5.00. Maybe things are different where we are from, but his demeanor changed obviously showing that he was not happy with that. He didn't say anything, but he didn't thank us or say goodbye as we left or opened the door for us as we were leaving. It was as if the good service was over at that point. It was something we weren't used to, but seemed to be the norm in Vegas as we got a lot of the same reactions from cab drivers, some going as far to make comments until we started tipping more.
La Bella Mafia
I love make-up and playing around with different looks. I did my research and came across La Bella Mafia. I was impressed so I booked an artist for the bachelorette and the wedding day. I asked for two different looks. For the bachelorette party I went for siren look with a Victoria Secret-esque blowout and red lips and for the wedding I wanted to do an Old Hollywood look. My dress was a two in one. Long for the ceremony and then the skirt came off for the ceremony for a shorter dress underneath. I wanted a look that was elegant, but still pretty hot for party time. I was booked with Lisa. I can't remember her last name, but this woman is a talent. She got what I was asking for right away. She transformed me into two different personas. I felt like a siren on my bachelorette party and I felt old hollywood for the wedding. You can tell this is her passion. She was loving every second. I was very happy with her work.
Chapel of the Flowers
I have some mixed feelings with Chapel of the Flowers although mostly good, there were a few not so great things about them. I will start off by saying that of all of the Vegas chapels that were not on hotel properties, this was (in my opinion) the nicest that we saw. We wanted to do a Vegas chapel not on a hotel site so I'm very happy with the one we chose.
My first wedding planner was Mercedes Acosta. I was not a fan. I would send her an email with three questions and she would email me back with answers to question 1 and 2 and skip over 3. I would wait for a few weeks thinking maybe she's still looking into it, but I wouldn't hear back. I would email again and she would just copy and paste her first response email answering just question 1 and 2 and say please see below. I would have to pinpoint again please see question 3. I'm a pretty patient person so this type of stuff along with not getting responses for days or weeks happened for a while and I let it go. Finally though, we were preparing an itinerary and I asked her for an answer to a simple question "What time do our guests need to be there by?" She didn't respond even though I explained that I was needing to know shortly as we would like to send our itineraries to the printers asap. Nothing. I followed up two more times and no response. When you send an email to her you get an email back with her schedule so i know she was in the office. Finally, frustrated, i contacted the director of operations as i felt that this planner was not the right fit for me. I was switched over to Cassey Godbey. I cannot say enough good things about her. She would get back to me within a day or two and was informative and friendly. She's the way to go.
We went for a chapel visit on the Thursday when we arrived. Cassey was away so we met with Jose. He was nice and had a lot of knowledge. It was obvious that they go through the spiel several times a day as you can tell it was maybe a repetitive part of his job. It was our wedding so we both kind of had this feeling like it was a huge deal lol, but to them its just another of the many weddings they do a day haha. We didn't mind that though, he was still friendly and super knowledgeable and gave us truthful feedback not sugar coating (I had an idea and asked him if i did it at the wedding would it be awkward for our guests to have them waiting around etc. and he said it most likely would be and I liked and appreciated his honesty.) The chapel was the nicest of the cheesy chapels in the area. Kind of what we wanted. From outside you can see it's next to the 7 eleven with several other chapels around it. When you're in the area you get that Vegas chapel feeling, but when you go in, it's so nice. Very pretty inside. I was really happy we chose them because it was (in my opinion) for sure the nicest. I felt like we were wanting very Vegas elements to our wedding, but the nicest possible versions of the elements and the Chapel really delivered in this way.
We had a gift certificate (maybe two, we still don't know for sure lol) from my mother-in-laws friends for the Chapel. We went in on the Thursday to use it at the chapel gift shop. When we walked in there was a young blonde woman there. She was a bit overly flirtatious with my now husband. It wasn't bothersome, but a bit inappropriate considering where we were. My husband who usually won't admit to things like that even left for a moment telling me i can choose whatever I wanted from the gift shop as he felt a little uncomfortable by it. To be honest, I think she was just really young and maybe didn't even realize she was being a bit too friendly so that's okay, but i thought it was weird at the chapel lol. I think she knew maybe she was being a little off though because at one point she used the sentence "I'm going to be a bit unprofessional for a second" as she went in to her bag and pull out something that matched what he was wearing. They had a bit of trouble figuring out the gift card. They had to get a few people to come in and help them, but that was fine. We made our purchases and left. After our wedding though, the curly haired woman packing up our bag with our unity candle and marriage certificate, etc told us that we got a gift certificate. We explained that we had already gotten one so she checked the system and said nope, this one is different. It has not been used in the system. When we came back to use it the day we chose our pictures, it was again a big ordeal to use the gift certificate. They called a bunch of people to come figure out how to redeem it and it wasn't working. I was getting really tired as this was post 4 days of Vegas partying and sun and was ready to crash. We said we would come back and figure it out later, but then when talking thought maybe it was the same as the first one or something. Something we still have to figure out, but we didn't go back. Seemed like too much trouble and a bit of a waste of time to purchase/redeem gift certificates. Hopefully they'll refine that.
Now the actual wedding. AMAZING! My groom was picked up in a Chapel of the Flowers town car with his friends and I was picked up in a Chapel of the Flowers limo with my three girlfriends. We did the first look so that we didn't see each other prior to the wedding. My groom was nervous, but said that they took good care of him when he got there. When i got there, the minister Diana Moran, had a quick little pow wow with me. She was my calm. She was so great. Her words were perfect. She was lovely. We chose our music All of Me by John Legend to walk down the aisle to, Halo by Beyonce for our exchange of rings and unity candle ceremony and We found Love by Rihanna for once we were wedded and announced as a married couple. I wanna give a little shout out to the sound guy because he was on point with the timing and fading of the music. Me and my husband did our own vows and there was not a dry eye in sight. The victorian chapel, music, words, all of it - just incredibly romantic. Our guests that were expecting a cheesy vegas wedding went on and on about how that was not what they expected at all and how it blew them away. I was beyond happy with the chapel for really delivering on our wedding day. We got our dvd that same day and have watched it several times since. People at home that watched the live feed loved feeling like they were right there with us. Even though there were little bumps in the road on our journey, when we finally got to our destination - boy did it deliver. I would highly recommend Chapel of the Flowers. Beautiful ceremony.
We went back to go through our photos two days after the wedding. The photographer was great, but the ceremony was a very small portion of our wedding day. We did a gardenia photography upgrade. They of course tried to upsell us, but that included more than enough photos for us. After we picked our favorites, we struggled picking more photos to get all that was included in our package. Their copyrights is insanely expensive. Like $600. We skipped it because we had another photographer for later in the day and had the copyrights for that and like i said it was just a small portion of our wedding day. The pictures were beautiful and us struggling to choose photos was more due to us being critical of ourselves in the photos more than anything.
Wedding Day Transportation for guests - NTS Limo (Big Blue)
I did all the arranging with Goldie at the office. I love her! So personable, friendly and helpful. Absolutely outstanding. I booked the "big blue" limo with them. It is marketed as the biggest street legal limo in the world and was apparently featured in a Lil Wayne music video. We told our guests in our itinerary that they were being picked up by a shuttle for it to be a sweet surprise. We had Jim as our driver. This company went above and beyond for our day and i can't say enough about them. They picked up our guests promptly and got them all to the wedding on time. After the wedding ceremony, we joined all our guests. We had a champagne toast on the way to the Vegas sign where we stopped off for photos. Jim came and met me on the morning prior to the wedding to pick up our champagne bottles, flute glasses, CDs and parasol umbrellas that we had to shield off the sun when outside. After the ceremony we came back to the limo and he had the music turned on, the drinks on ice and the umbrellas all set up in the cubbies of the limo for easy access. So great!! We loved big blue. Things i would note though: It said it would fit 40 people, but we had 27 (including a baby), but i think that was good. Comfortable. Mind you, most of the men in our group are 6 feet or taller so that may have something to do with it. I also wish the air conditioning went to the back of the limo better, as a few of the guests up there complained it was too hot. Once we put the windows down that resolved that though. Other than that, all perfect. When we got off the limo to take photos at the Vegas sign he had cold water for everyone. All in all, the limo itself was so cool and so fun. We got a call from one of our guests today saying that that was one of his favorite parts and it was soo fun.
Attraction - Las Vegas Sign
Fun! Good place to go with your guests to kill time. Pictures taken there are some of my favorite! Everyone had fun.
Photographer - Bently and Wilson
Todd is the best! This is one hard working man. We met him outside the Vegas sign. We told him we were arriving in Big Blue and he was right there when our group got off the limo. The picture taking started right then and there and did not stop for as long as we had him which was the next 6 hours and two more venues. He took charge getting me and my groom off to the side of the sign taking our pics while the rest of our party waited in line. Then when they got to the front he took the best ever group pics. We had umbrellas that i had gotten just to help us shield the sun, they were pretty and he used them in the photos and they turned out adorable! He got the pictures to me within a week and OMG were they ever amazing! He is so talented and captured everything about the night and took some beautiful posed photos. Breathtaking. He took photos of our little details as well. Looking through his pictures makes me relive that night over and over. He was reasonably priced and having the copyrights was awesome so we could share photos. I will also say that he was easy to be around. Great guy. I highly recommend hiring him for your day!
Dinner - Burger Bar
We wanted a casual delicious burger joint for our dinner. This is Hubert Keller's burger bar in Vegas and my man and I are fans and foodies. This was my first choice. I dealt with Rachel by email. She was very professional and we set up our menu with our logo on it which was nice and decided it would be cash bar at this portion of the night and I gave her our guest count.
Guests loved their food. When we sat down there were appies already on the table and they were delicious. Everyone was starving so they were so happy. Our menu was on the table with our logo. So cute. It was cool walking through the pub and having people cheer. It was just the kind of feel we wanted for our day. Fun atmosphere.
Here's the bad:
My groom and I arrived a few moments later than my party as our photographer was taking pictures of us on our walk to burger bar. The guests were aware that it was cash bar and were all willing to pay. I don't feel it is my responsibility to explain how it works with billing at the restaurant especially on my wedding day. They wanted the guests to pay for any drinks at the bar in order for it to be cash bar, but the staff took drink orders at the table. I feel I made the arrangements with them and it should have been explained to my guests how the business works when there is a cash bar. At the end of the night, the drinks were on our bill because people ordered at the table. When i asked them to just bill people for their drinks, they told us that they could not issue more than 8 bills for a table (this was on my contract with them), but they could issue one bill for the booze and one for the food and we could pass the booze bill around for our guests to figure out what they owe. We thought it was insensitive of us to ask our guests to go through one receipt (not to mention it's embarrassing) and figure out what they owe, plus we had an after party to get to. When I spoke with Rachel about it she mentioned that she didn't charge us for the people that didn't show up. We had one guest that didn't show up, an older gentlemen that had health issues and could not fly to Vegas at the last minute. I was not advised of this until the day of, but I had said to my husband that we would just need to pay for his meal which was fine because it was calculated into our wedding budget. Picking up the liquor tab for our guests did cost more than the one meal.
I also requested for a vegetarian burger to be added to my menu. We had a guest who used to eat meat, but since he got married took up his wife's vegetarian ways. This was not added to our menu. He didn't want to inconvenience anyone, so he ordered a beef burger. He hadn't eaten beef in years. He left our after party early as he wasn't feeling well.
I had talked to Rachel prior to the wedding to have bacon taken off the chicken burger as a lot of our guests that eat chicken do not eat pork (including myself). She mentioned that guests could just order it without the bacon so we left it on the menu. At the table, my food was almost brought out to me and then it was realized that there was bacon on the burger. It was taken away. All my guests were already eating. A second burger came out also with bacon on it. I explained I ordered it without bacon and so the burger was taken away, the bacon was picked off (something I could have done myself) and brought back to me. It is for religious reasons that I don't eat bacon and so this was extremely offensive to me. Finally a new burger was made, at this point my guests had pretty much finished eating and it was time to get to the next part of our day. I can't eat that fast. I had one bite of the burger and my husband scarfed down half of the rest. I believe it's normal protocol for the bride and groom to be fed first on the wedding day, or at least at the same time as the guests. I felt like an after-thought.
I will say that i emailed burger bar after the wedding and voiced my concerns. They were really apologetic and I don't want to hold the errors against them. They also asked for my mailing address so they could send me a hand written apology. I haven't received anything yet, but perhaps it's on its way. I do wish things went differently, but i won't hold it against them. It didn't ruin my day and guests seemed happy with the food all in all. Sucks that we went above our budget, but things are bound to go wrong at some point in the day i guess. Hopefully they can refine how they deal with large groups.
Reception/After Party - Media Suite Mandalay Bay
This hotel suite is INSANE! Blew everyone away. It was almost like this suite was made for everything we had planned for the night. You walk in and there's this large hallway to walk through and right away there's this wow factor. We moved some furniture to make a dance floor. There's a bar and a tiny office area in the corner where we had our caricature artist set up. We had a DIY photobooth that we set up in the bedroom. Our slideshow on loop in the theatre room. Beer pong set up in a hall way after the speeches were done. A nice long table in the theatre room where we set up our wedding favors/hang over kits for guests. We stayed in this room for two nights. There's a double steam shower, two bathrooms, such a large space. This is perfect for a wedding reception. We had the sound engineers come the night before and help us set up the slideshow and show us the best way to play music and the slideshow at the same time. The maids were great. We called the morning of the wedding for them to come and just freshen up towels and make the bed. Place looked great for the wedding and the wow factor with all the guests made us feel awesome. People were not expecting the venue to be what it was.
Microphone/Centrepieces - Las Vegas DM
I rented a cordless microphone, a large black and white ostrich feather centerpiece in a tall white vase and two short square black vases with rhinestones all around and fresh red roses. I had specific things I wanted and could not find them. Larry was fantastic. I sent him pictures of what i wanted and he found me everything. He delivered it when it was best for us. He came and showed us how to use the microphone and the centerpieces were exact replicas of what i wanted. If there's something you can't find for your event, he's your guy.
Beer Pong Table - Boulevard Supply
A couple quick emails with Joe. He was short and to the point. He met us on the Thursday when we arrived and delivered a fold-up beer pong table with balls. He picked it up the morning after the wedding. Reasonably priced and no fuss. Loved having a simple transaction when things during a wedding are normally a long thread of emails and super detailed.
Bartender - Absolute
We got the spirits package. Dealt with Lynn at the office. Easy to deal with. We got Anson as our bartender. I had emailed Lynn the night before the wedding to give her our room number and let her know my friends would be coming up at 8:30 to let him in so he could set up before everyone got upstairs. On the day of the wedding, i gave my friends my phone. Lynn emailed instead of called and stated that Anson was wanting to come earlier as he would have to make two trips due to quantity. I didn't get the message because I wasn't checking my emails a couple hours before it was time for the reception (we were at the wedding dinner). He seemed a bit annoyed when i got there which was after he was set up, but i had no idea why at the time because I still didn't see the emails until the following day. After the speeches though i went back to the bar and he had loosened up and was pretty nice. We had a signature drink and they were delicious and he was making delicious "surprise" shots for the girls. My brother in law was a fan and described Anson as "so Vegas". I'm not sure what that means, but he thought he was cool lol. We originally considered just buying booze, but I loved that we had a bartender. It was the way to go and Absolute made everything easy. I would recommend them.
Two Heads Studios
I dealt with Celestia by email and phone to set everything up. Friendly and awesome. They had added our logo to the bottom of the paper for us. We had Robert come to the wedding. He snuck past me and spoke with my friend who had him set up in the corner while we were finishing off our dances. He was with us for a couple hours. He was spitting out those caricatures within 5 minutes and they were amazing. He was a HUGE hit! People loved him. He was a party favorite. I'm so happy we had him there. Everyone loved their caricatures. Highly recommend these guys. Soo good!
We had a marble cake shaped as dice with red roses and a "Married in Vegas" sign similar to the Vegas sign we visited earlier in the day and a bunch of cupcakes in chocolate, vanilla and red velvet with chips, dice and coin. Looooved our cake. Went with our whole Vegas theme. Also so delicious! They came and delivered in the morning and showed us how to set up. Get your cake from these guys!
That's all. If there's any questions you have for me, or if you'd like to see photos of anything we had for our party to get a feel when making your decisions, feel free to hit me up. It was the best day of my life and one for the books for most of our guests. People are still talking about it which is wonderful.
This is unrelated to the wedding, but my guy and I stayed in Vegas for a few days after the wedding and did some romantic stuff out there too and if anyone else is planning to do that there's a couple things you should look into to see if it is for you because they were highlights for us - Papillion Grand Canyon Celebration Helicopter Tour, Dinner at Gordon Ramsay Steak, Zoom Zipline on Fremont Street (although the wait is long).
Thanks everyone! Sorry this was so long.