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Married 11/6/2010 -- Vendor Reviews (long)

I learned quite a bit reading these boards as I planned my wedding.  I am grateful to all of the lovely ladies who posted their vendor reviews here.  Now it's my turn to return the favor!  You'll see that I'm giving quite a few A+ grades –– that's because there is very little that I would change about my wedding.  It was unbelievably beautiful and fun and my key vendors were the ones who made it that way.

VENUE:  The Hummingbird House A+
When my fiance and I chose this venue it was new to the Austin wedding scene.  We couldn't find a single review.  However, I was intrigued by the website so I scheduled an appointment anyway.  My fiance and I fell in love with the house, the grounds, and the owner/manager Danny Hatt.  The house is a regular house with lots of space for getting ready for the wedding.  The groom and groomsmen have their own room and bathroom.  The bride and bridesmaids have two rooms and a large bathroom to use.  The beautiful grounds and permanent tent (like the kind you see on Platinum Weddings) make this place special.  They have tables and chairs for you to use.  They let you bring in whichever caterer you want and allow you to buy your alcohol from whoever you want. Danny will act as your day-of coordinator.  He is tasteful, kind, organized, calm, and joyful.  He made our wedding dreams come true!

CATERER: Royal Fig A+
I'm a bit of a foodie, and so are many of our friends.  So, the food was VERY important to us.  Royal Fig is a farm-to-table outfit.  I chose them because they make foodie-style food that isn't alienating to people who prefer casual eateries.  They are also vegetarian friendly.  It's been over two weeks since the wedding and our guests still feel the need to mention how much they loved the food when they call us.  Kristen will be your contact person (her husband is the chef); she will also act as a day-of coordinator.  She and Danny made a fabulous team!  Kristen not only made sure that we had delicious food and fabulous cocktails at our wedding, but she also handled linens, place settings, table arrangements, and all kinds of little things on the day-of that it would take me too long to detail here.  She is VERY nice, VERY thoughtful, and VERY, VERY organized.  From the moment I met her I knew our wedding would be in good hands.  She lived up to my expectations and then some!

 DJ and MC: Airwave Dave A+
I'm a bit of a type-A kind of person, so I very much value vendors who are organized.  Dave is extremely organized.  If you hire him to DJ your wedding he will send you a 15-page sheet to fill out.  He uses your answers to create the perfect mood for your wedding.  We wanted a sophisticated, quiet vibe for the dinner portion of our reception and a fun-but-not-cheesy vibe for the dancing portion.  Dave delivered!  Everyone was dancing and almost all of our guests stayed until the very end of the wedding!  Dave is wonderful!

FLOWERS:  Debra McAdoo at Ben White Florist A+
I told Debra that our wedding had an English garden theme and that I wanted to flowers the look as though someone who was ridiculously talented and had a perfect garden pulled a bunch of flowers from it and made a bunch of bouquets and centerpieces.  Debra realized my vision perfectly.  The flowers were unblemished and fresh.  The centerpieces were gorgeous but unfussy.  They looked pretty for days and days after the wedding!  She was quick to return e-mails and very very easy to work with.  And, I must say that my bridal bouquet was one of the prettiest that I've ever seen!!!

HAIR AND MAKEUP: Tara Cooper A+
I chose Tara because she is one of the few make up artists who had a portfolio that demonstrated her talent for putting the right makeup on women of color.  She won't make your skin look grey!!  I wanted to look glamorous but natural.  Tara was able to pull that off.  I've never felt so beautiful in my  life!  My husband couldn't take his eyes off me and still talks about how beautiful my eyes looked on our wedding day.  Tara will come to you at your wedding location.  She did my hair and makeup.  She also did my mom's makeup and my bridesmaids' makeup.  We looked great all night –– no smudges or fading!  My hair even looked good the next day!  Tara is extremely talented and very personable.  She will make you look like your best self!

PHOTOGRAPHER:  Brian Hurdle A+
We haven't gotten back to pictures from our wedding.  However, we do have the engagement photos Brian shot.  They are fabulous –– a mixture of posed and candid shots.  Brian suggested that we do our engagement shoot on South Congress Avenue.  What a wonderful idea!  He's really good at capturing emotions, even in posed shots.  I can't wait to see our wedding photos!!  Brian is very responsive (e-mail and phone) and easy to work with.  Usually, I despise having my photograph taken.  I do not consider myself photogenic.  However, Brian made me feel comfortable and happy!  I hope I look as good in real life as I look in his photos!!

CAKE:  Ann's Kitchen A+
If what you care about most when it comes to cakes is flavor, schedule a tasting at Ann's Kitchen and your search for a wedding cake will be over.  We had a white cake with an Italian cream filling.  My mom and I brought in a picture from Real Simple Weddings and Ann's Kitchen was able to replicated it perfectly.  Their website doesn't do the beauty of their cakes justice!   Ann's Kitchen doesn't do fondant, so the cake was totally fresh.  She frosted it at the Hummingbird House!  The cake was so delicious that we didn't have any leftovers, even though we ordered a larger cake than necessary.  Quite of a few of our guests have since confessed that they had as many as FIVE pieces of cake!  Their prices are great too!

DRESS: David's Bridal (the one near Brodie) C+
Okay, some people might say that you get what you pay for at David's Bridal.  I get that concept.  But in this little blurb I just want to be clear about what you'll get from David's Bridal.  I think David's Bridal has a good selection of dresses at reasonable prices.  I did not want to pay thousands of dollars for a dress that I would only wear one time.  I was lucky and found a dress that I loved for an excellent price.  However, if you buy a dress from David's Bridal you should watch them like a hawk.  Make sure they actually give you the dress that you paid for.  Watch out for their outrageous alterations prices.  Make sure that if you decide to let them steam and spot clean your dress that you do it way way in advance –– otherwise you'll have to pay a ridiculous "rush" fee.  In the end, I loved my dress and got tons of compliments on it.  However, dealing with David's Bridal stressed me out and made me and my mother very unhappy.  I'll spare y'all the details.

RECEPTION STATIONARY: Etsy -- JosieJean Designs  A+
I had this idea that I would make these cute DYI programs that I saw on the Martha Stewart website.  And I was sure it would be no problem to print off menus, place cards, and a few signs.  As the wedding date approached, however, I realized that there was no way I could complete those DYI projects without losing my mind.  Enter JosieJean Designs.  Josie was so easy to work with –– and she's very fast!  She saved my sanity and made adorable reception stationary for us.  The best part:  it cost me just a tad more $ to have these items made by a professional than it would have cost for me to DYI.

SHUTTLE BUS:  Star Shuttle and Charter A+
Another very responsive vendor.  The bus they used was new and clean and the driver was super nice and knew exactly where he was going.  We wanted a shuttle to pick up our guests downtown and drive them to the Hummingbird House.  The shuttle made two return trips: one right after the cake cutting and another at the end of the night.  Our guests loved that they didn't have to worry about renting a car or getting pulled over for DWI.  The price was nice too!

HOTEL BLOCK:  Sheraton at the Capitol A
The Sheraton is newly renovated and the staff are just fantastic to work with.  You have to put a credit card down in order to reserve the block –– and if the block doesn't fill you're stuck paying a bill.  That made me uncomfortable.  However, it all worked out in the end.  I made a small block and when that filled I just extended it.  The block rate was good and if you're a part of the Starwood Rewards program you get points.  They gave me and my husband a gorgeous and large room.

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