Venue- Vintage Villas- Our wedding was in the Arbor Courtyard and Travis Room since we had a relatively small wedding (around 70 people). Vintage Villas was the first vendor we booked (back in December 2008). They were renovating the Travis Room during our tour, so we had to use our imaginations a little bit to envision the final product. We decided it was perfect and surprisingly within our price range because they offered us the 2008 rental rate. We booked Vintage Villas immediately. They were wonderful with correspondence and replied to emails and phone calls very promptly, which made planning a wedding from New York incredibly easy. Both Samanthas were outstanding on the day of the wedding. Everything went really smoothly. The food was delicious, the view was amazing... everything was perfect. Samantha was constantly asking if we needed anything, whether it was something to drink or help find my lip gloss. Honestly, Vintage Villas knew what they were doing and the entire night went by flawlessly. I also loved the fact that they wrapped up food and cake and put it in our suite so we could eat it after the wedding. They were honestly one of the best values of the entire wedding. A+
Flowers- The Glass Fountain- After hearing a few negative reviews about Rebekah recently, I was a little bit nervous. Her initial quote was really good and it fit within our budget perfectly. She rolled with the punches and was great with last minute changes. She arrived on time at Vintage Villas with countless extra flowers- so many that we didn't necessarily have a place for all of them, but she made it work! She even helped my mom set up the reception venue and provided some much needed support to me when I was having a mini meltdown when I thought I left my jewelry at home. She was so sweet and all of the flower arrangements were beautiful. We decided to go with all red gerbera daisies and they were gorgeous. She also provided leftover red orchids to go on the cake. She definitely went above and beyond. She was the rock star vendor of the night. I cannot say enough good things about her. A+
Cake- Matty Cakes- We met with three different cake bakers and Matty was by far our favorite because his cakes were delicious and he really got our vision. We changed a few things the month before the wedding and he made it really easy. He always responded to emails really quickly and was such a great person to work with. When I saw the cake at the reception, it blew me away. It was stunning and looked way better than I could have ever imagined. His prices are amazing and I would highly recommend him. We also had a lot of cake leftover, which I was really excited about due to the fact that we didn't get to enjoy it during the wedding. The only reason he didn't get an A+ is because he came later than we originally planned, but he still made it before the ceremony began. He was trying to avoid the cake from melting because of the temperature; however, he made me a little nervous in the process. A
Photographer- Lisa Pittman Photography- We were really nervous about finding a photographer within our price range until we won a 50% off any package prize with Lisa Pittman at the Austin Wedding Day Show. I only have one somewhat negative thing to say about Lisa, and let me preface this by saying that I am addicted to my email and I probably should be more patient because not everyone checks their email as much as I do. Anyway, she wasn't always on top of replying to emails, which wasn't a big deal at the end of the day because everything turned out perfectly. Lisa and her daughter showed up on time and made us feel really comfortable with them. They were on top of things and I think they did a great job. On the other hand, she still hasn't provided the DVD of the digital images or posted our wedding pictures on her proofing site, and it has been about a month. I'm a little disappointed about that because DH and I are really eager to look at the pictures. Overall, I would give her an A- because of the long (and continuous) wait to see the final pictures.
DJ- Sean with Greenbelt DJ- Originally we had booked Joel with Greenbelt DJ, but we had to change our date and Joel was already booked for that date, so Sean filled in for him. Sean was AWESOME. He responded to emails really promptly, played all of our hard-to-find specialty music, dealt with last minute changes really well and everybody had a wonderful time and he was able to adjust music play to crowd response while still getting to all of our must-play list. He also had a lot of good suggestions and pointed out things that we didn't necessarily plan for or think about. He was awesome! A+
Dress- Alfred Angelo- Rochester, NY- First off, when it was time to buy my dress, DH and I didn't know we were moving back to Texas (due to the nature of graduate school admissions, I wasn't sure I would get into UT). Thus, I thought I needed to buy a dress in NY and possibly get alterations done there. I found a dress in NYC by Pronovias that I loved, but it was $400 out of my price range, so I settled for a dress at Alfred Angelo that was in my price range. The service at Alfred Angelo was awful. The associate I worked with was generally apathetic and it was just an awkward experience. It wasn't until I moved back to Texas and helped my brother's FI go dress shopping that I realized there are much better options available outside of Alfred Angelo. Yes, you can get a reasonably priced dress at Alfred Angelo, but you can also get a much higher quality dress at dress shops like Balina Bridal or Alexia Gavela for the same price! As a matter of fact, Alexia Gavela had the dress I wanted to get in NYC for $600 less than the price the flagship store was going to charge... it was cheaper than my Alfred Angelo dress... I'm not going to lie, I was a little heartbroken when I found out. Furthermore, Alfred Angelo measured me incorrectly and the dress was so large that it fell to the ground when it arrived. Overall, my experience with Alfred Angelo was awful. D
Bridesmaid Dresses- The Bridesmaid Store- I let my bridesmaids have a voice when it came to the dresses and I was 100% okay with them picking different dresses. Our first stop during our dress shopping trip was to The Bridesmaid Store. They had a huge variety of dresses and the sales associates made the process really easy. I kept my opinions to myself because I wanted the girls to pick dresses that they felt comfortable in, and they all ended up falling in love with the same dress! Ordering the dresses was really easy even though all of the bridesmaids lived out of town. The dresses were $50 less at The Bridesmaid Store than other Mori Lee retailers in Austin. A+
Tuxes- Men's Wearhouse- I was not super impressed by Men's Wearhouse. First off, they filed our wedding under DH's last name twice and omitted my last name (DHLASTNAME/DHLASTNAME wedding), so every store had trouble looking up the wedding group when the guys went in for deposits and measurements. They mismeasured the Best Man and his pants were too small, so he had to wear them below his belly, which meant he couldn't tuck in his shirt. His shirt was literally untucked the whole night. In addition, the day of the wedding they forgot someone's suspenders. In the grand scheme of things, I couldn't care less because the only thing that matters is that DH and I are married, but I honestly think that it was more than a minor mistake. They also gave my dad the wrong size shoes and he sucked it up all night long despite the discomfort. D-
Paper- Cards & Pockets- I designed the invitations and had them printed through Cards & Pockets and also ordered the pocketfolds, envelopes and matting from them, as well. Everything was beautiful and we got compliments from everyone. No one realized they were DIY. The price was amazing, much cheaper than local options. My only small complaint was that they shorted us a few pocketfolds and envelopes; however, when I brought it to their attention, they promptly sent replacements for the missing items. A
Make Up- Rhea McCarter- Pearl Salon- Rhea was AMAZING. Her prices are really reasonable. She is so sweet and talented. She made me look and feel beautiful, but I still looked like myself. She even threw in some lip gloss so I could touch up my lips throughout the night. The airbrushing made my skin look flawless as well! A+
Hair- Renee Rezaie- Simply Irresistable Salon, Round Rock- Renee is WONDERFUL. She did an amazing job with my hair, which is ridiculously difficult to work with. I loved the updo she came up with and it really brought together the whole look. She is an outstanding hair stylist and she definitely went above and beyond. A+
Favors- Mi Victoria Bakery- DH and I decided to do Mexican Wedding Cookies for favors. We contacted Mi Victoria to order 12 dozen cookies and they offered us the price of $2.00/dozen. I told them that I would talk to DH and get back to them. I called them the next day, confirmed the price and placed the order. The day before the wedding, DH went to pick up the cookies and they told him that they were $3/dozen. He called me because he was confused and I told him that they told me that they were $2/dozen and that he should walk away if they refused to honor that price. He talked to the manager who insisted that I was wrong and since I did not write down the name of the person I talked to, they couldn't do anything about it, so he left without the cookies. My mother, grandmother and I went to Mi Victoria after the Bridesmaid Luncheon to talk to the manager. She told me I was wrong, even though I confirmed the price of the cookies TWICE and she refused to budge. Then she said that she talked to the owner's wife and she said that I must have misunderstood the wife because she said $3/dozen on the phone. I laughed and told her that this was how the conversation went "So they are going to be $2 a dozen?" "Yes." "So, 12 dozen times $2 a dozen equals $24. That's how much it is going to cost, right?" "Yes." "So we need to bring $24, right" "Yes." ON TWO SEPARATE OCCASIONS! They refused to budge. I know that it was only a $12 difference, which isn't a big deal, but they were incredibly rude and unprofessional, and it's just the principle of the matter. It was the day before the wedding, too! We left the bakery without our 144 cookies and frantically searched for cookies elsewhere (See review below). F
Favors- Pablito's Bakery- We ran around all over town looking for Mexican Wedding Cookies, calling bakeries like crazy. My mom immediately went to Pablito's Bakery on Braker Lane. My mom told Pablito's what happened and their cookies were originally going to come up to $54 total, but they offered my mom the price of $35 (slightly under $3/dozen, which is fine... I would have paid $3/dozen at Mi Victoria had they not been so unprofessional). They did a rush order of the cookies and had them ready by 7 AM the day of the wedding. They were larger than the cookies at Mi Victoria and had a better overall flavor, so I think everything worked out really well. A+
Alterations- Alexia Gavela- I am going back and forth about Alexia Gavela. I brought my dress to them more than a month before the wedding. They said alterations would not be a problem (the dress was more than two sizes too big). The tailor pinned the dress fairly quickly and I was done. I thought it felt a little loose, but I figured that she knew what she was doing. As I was leaving, they told me not to lose any weight or they would charge me extra. I stopped exercising and started eating more Weight Watchers points so I could maintain my current weight and I actually ended up gaining two pounds before I went in for my next fitting. I tried on my dress and I was shocked... it was STILL too big. I left the dressing room and the tailor and one of the other employees immediately began accusing me of losing weight. I told them that I had not lost any weight, and I had actually GAINED two pounds. They started speaking in Spanish, calling me a liar and that I had lost weight. My mom intervened and told them that I hadn't lost weight. I was really taken off guard by this. They pinned it again and told me to come in the next week for another fitting. It fit better by next fitting, but the whole situation felt really awkward. In fact, when I was removing the dress, the female employee assisting me brought it up again and said that she still knows I lost weight that last time. I told her she could look at my Weight Watchers book, and she said that it didn't matter because the scale was obviously wrong. It really rubbed me the wrong way, especially because I know that I was not in the wrong. At the same time, I really liked Geri. On my final fitting, he noticed that I was unhappy with my dress (the actual dress, not the alterations) and suggested that we add a sash and a brooch. It really brought the whole look together and I loved it. I must say that the dress ended up looking great on the day of the wedding and fit really well, so for technical ability I would give them an A. However, in regards to their utterly unprofessional behavior that went alongside the alterations (with the exception of Geri), I would give Alexia Gavela a C-.
Officiant- Judge Jon Wisser- He accidentally called my mom "Tim" during the ceremony (her name is "Tina"). Otherwise, he did a great job. He reacted well to last minute changes and had a good sense of humor. He also responded to emails really quickly, which I thoroughly appreciated. Both he and his wife attended the reception and had pleasant conversations with many of our guests. A