Venue: El Fenix Mexican Restaurant (Downtown Dallas location)- A+++
La Terraza at El Fenix was incredible. There was a lot of planning and logistics since they do not have a coordinator designated to Events, but we got it all figured out and their day-of staff pulled everything off seamlessly. It took a lot to transform a rehearsal dinner venue into a space fit for a dream wedding, but Antonio and Stephan went above and beyond the day of. They even let us store everything there until the next day. Tristan, our bartender, was so memorable that my family was still raving about him the next day. The venue was one of the least expensive I could find and our guests said it was one of the most fun weddings they have ever been to. I had a few issues during the planning part, but that can be attributed to miscommunication and misunderstanding. Some of the issues the day-of was that they didn’t put back the chairs we used from the ceremony at the tables inside so we ended up with less seating than we originally planned for. This worked out fine though since we had a lot of people (around 15) RSVP “yes” but then not show. Also, they forgot to put out forks for the pies (our version of a groom’s cake) but this was my coordinator’s fault as well. Either way, it didn’t get done and guests ended up eating pies with their hands until they could bring out enough forks. At the end of the day, if you have a wedding for under 130 guests, I HIGHLY recommend El Fenix. Sounds weird, I know, but we saved a TON of money (especially on alcohol) and everyone loved the enchiladas and the rooftop.
Photography: Lindsay Jones, MediaLins- A
I am not sure if Lindsay will be doing very many weddings in the future as she is now very involved with film and other types of event photography, but she is great at what she does. I loved my bridals and our engagements. We do know her on a personal level, which made it very easy to communicate my vision. The day-of we ended up running 45 minutes behind for pictures so we didn’t get all the shots we wanted, but she did her absolute best to be accommodating. I will update this whenever I get some pictures back so that I can grade the quality of work.
Coordinator: Kathleen Arellano, Celestial Events- B+
I love Kathy and her demeanor. I honestly feel like I can call her my friend, even after the wedding day. On that, I wish I could give a higher review, but there were a few things that stood out. First with the Pro’s: Kathy went above and beyond before the wedding. She met with me (many times for multiple hours) for many consults, sent me ideas, and even gave me (at no charge) items to borrow to help bring my design to life. Her knowledge and expertise made me feel absolutely secure and confident. She also designed my veil for me (how awesome!) at no extra charge, even for the materials. Lastly, she came to my bridals to help whenever my matron of honor couldn’t make it, proving to be absolutely invaluable.
Cons: The day before and the day-of. Rehearsal: For the rehearsal, everyone was looking to Kathleen for direction. I am not sure if this was a miscommunication or if usually the officiant should coordinate who walks down the aisle, when, etc., but I was expecting Kathleen to do this. While she did do her best (my family is a rambunctious group), many people felt lost and out of touch. I found myself and my matron of honor stepping up to guide people and tell them what to do. Again, maybe this was a miscommunication. Our rehearsal ended about a half hour early. At this point, I asked Kathleen to head over to the Reherasal dinner venue and start setting up. I allowed my guests to mingle a bit before sending them to the dinner venue (I sent my coordinator at 6:05 to setup, I sent my guests at 6:30, our space wasn’t supposed to be ready until 7pm). The venue had no issue with my guests coming early, I just wanted to give Kathleen a chance to set up (a book, vases with floating candles, and menus were about all we had to setup). Well Kathleen didn’t arrive at the venue until 6:50 (after even DH and I arrived). I am not sure how this happened when the venue is 10 minutes from the rehearsal space. Myself, my family, and my MOH ended up grabbing a lot of the materials from her and setting up. I think it was parking that was the issue, but either way, nothing was done (and my family saw that and commented on it). The rest of the night however, she was awesome and made sure the wait staff were on top of everything.
Day-of: Setting up (again) is where everything fell short of what I expected. DH, his family, and my MOH ended up doing a lot of things while Kathleen took care of the logistics. Again, maybe this was a miscommunication, but I felt terrible for DH’s family and that they had to do a lot of things. When we were running behind after the ceremony (due to pictures), it was my DJ who stepped up and rearranged the times to make sure everyone had a good time and things got done. Also, there were no forks set out for our guests and the pies. Also, the tear-down at the end of the night wasn’t complete as things were left hanging on the ceiling and our ceremony backdrop (our personal photographer’s backdrop stand) was left outside all night (thank goodness it didn’t blow away!). My expectations were a lot more and I was left a little short-changed. However, she did keep DH’s and mine’s drinks filled and made sure we had the essentials.
DJ/Entertainment: Ed Petty, LeForce Entertainment: A++++++++++
Ed deserves every single plus he can get. Seriously, Ed went ABOVE AND BEYOND on every single aspect (as LeForce often does). He played the right kind of music for our crowd (even though it wasn’t DH’s and mine’s personal favorite) and he kept the crowd going all night. He coordinated and made sure people were where they needed to be. His commentary makes me laugh and he made everything so effortless and awesome. When we were running behind, Ed rearranged our schedule to make sure we got the most out of our time. Again, worth every good word and more. Oh, and the lighting really transformed the space beyond our dreams. Ed was truly everything we expected and more.
Flowers: Central Market Preston/Royal: A+
Rachel at the Preston/Royal Central Market is amazing. I went in there with all my pinterest pictures a month before our day and she helped me create an order incorporating my ideas and even giving us low cost alternatives. My flower cost ended up at half of what our budget was (budget was 500$ and we spent 250$) and I even had lots left over. To be fair, our centerpieces weren’t flower-focused (5 stems and 3 babies breath/queen anne’s lace each) but what was there was perfect. Our bouquets were incredible. I would do my own flowers again in a heartbeat.
Airbrush Makeup: Rayven Williams, Beauty and the Blush: A+++
Rayven did an incredible job. I loved my makeup the day of, and she made my first airbrush experience a breeze. Everything stayed put the entire day and she got it right on the first try. She is so attentive to detail and was right on time. Rayven’s flawless application and her demeanor made everything so easy.
Hair: Nicole Lindley, Salon 413- A+++
Again, Nicole did an awesome job on my hair the first time. She also did MIL, my MOH, and my Aunt’s hair. Even though I was 45 minutes behind, Nicole did her best to hurry. When she was finished with my hair, which I did not need touchups on, she went right on to everyone else’s hair. MIL’s hair stayed the entire night and looked beautiful. Nicole was so fun I wish I could have that experience again!
Officiant: Tina Long, Weddings by Tina- A+++
Tina did an incredible job in making DH and I feel comfortable. She is so personable and she made me feel like it was only DH and I there. She was also very responsive to email and very professional. The next day, she even sent a thank you letter to DH and I thanking us for including her. I loved it!
Transportation: Bowtie Vintage Classics- A+++
I (and everyone else) LOVED our car! We drove away in a 1951 Chevy. They are a relatively new company and just added a Chevelle to their lineup (wish that was available for us!). The service was topnotch and the way our driver was dressed was super cute (newsboy hat, suspenders, bowtie). I loved every second of it and wish I had a reason to have another car like that again. We drove through downtown and everyone took pictures!
Hotel for wedding/getting ready: Hyatt Regency- A+
The service at the Hyatt was incredible. You honestly would think you were staying at the Waldorf. The service was truly beyond anything I thought it would be and far surpassed my expectations. The rooms were outdated, but they are in the process of renovating. The group sales coordinator there, Elizabeth, was so accommodating and even left me a bottle of wine in my room. I would honestly stay here again just for the service. My family loved it and I think this was the best place for all of us.
Hotel for “mini-moon”: Hotel Zaza- A-
I loved our suite and Zaza is great as a hotel. The service was good, but not as good as the Hyatt Regency. Also, it was memorial day weekend and they had a pool party going on so DH and I couldn’t enjoy the pool without being surrounded by super buff d-bags and girls who look like models. DH and I are pretty low key so we ended up enjoying our room and ordering room service on our terrace. We did get surprised with complimentary champagne and strawberries in our room and the bar also gave us a complimentary bottle of champagne. Unexpected and super sweet. Would stay again, just not on a party day.
Dress: Oncewed (Pronovias gown)- A+
My gown was pristine but I paid only a fraction of the cost. Shipping was easy and once my once-loved dress arrived, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone how much I really spent on my designer gown. I would buy another used gown in a heartbeat.
Wedding dress cleaner: Pinstripes- A+++
Bill did a top-notch job on cleaning my dress and keeping me informed. After my somewhat-dirty bridal shoot, Bill delivered a flawless dress to my house. Worth every penny.
Alterations: Maybe Sew- A+
Leighanna did an incredible job on altering my dress to fit perfectly and even got it done in two days! I couldn’t believe all she did in such a short time period. Accommodating doesn’t even begin to describe it. Her prices were more than fair, even a rush order with her was less than what most alterations people were quoting me.
Suits: Grooms- Zara, GMs- Perry Ellis online: A+
I thought DH looked awesome. He loves the way his suit fits and the quality is top notch. We got the GMs suits from Perry Ellis online for less than 60$ each. They looked great and I couldn’t have been more happy.
Rehearsal Dinner: The Londoner Uptown: A
We love the Londoner and thus thought it was the perfect place. Our guests loved it and the price was unbeatable. There was no room rental fee and we had the entire upstairs (including patio overlooking downtown) to ourselves. Our bartender, Josh, was beyond words awesome. He went above and beyond and remembered everyone’s name. His coworker though had a poor attitude and even cussed in front of my family. She was wearing a black tank top with her stomach hanging out and was just really unpleasant. Everyone raved about the food though, even though it was bar food, and of course, their beer selection rocks.
Videographer: Memories Films: B-
For the positives, Paul and Charles are great videographers- very kind and very on top of things. I didn’t really notice them the whole day. They were very kind to my family, which was appreciated. Some shots they did get were really great and artistic. There are some great shots during the ceremony and our picture session that I love and give me chill bumps! Exactly what I wanted! They were easy to work with and quick to respond to communication. Very professional. We also got a REALLY great deal and are very thankful for them working with our budget.
I really wish I could give a higher score, but I just don’t feel like it is fair for a few reasons: 1. They completely missed DH’s reaction to me walking down the aisle. Completely. 2. They used camera lights rather than utilizing their equipment and the lighting that was present (that our DJ did an awesome job in setting up) whenever we asked for no onboard camera lights. 3. They missed our reactions to the speeches 4. We are missing a lot of the reception footage because it was all over the place. They focused on dancing for like 2 seconds then moved onto someone else. They also missed our last group song, “Don’t Stop Believing” because they tried to focus too much on “cool shots” of random people and I never got footage of me and my dad during the last song (kind of special, wish I had it and I know it would mean a lot to him as I am his only child). 5. There are no wide scenes of our reception, especially of the dancing, and there are VERY few shots of the details that DH and I spent a long time on making. I would attribute it to miscommunication, but this is one area where I felt like we did a great job in communicating and were let down.
Josh, the head guy from Memories films, is REALLY great, and while we didn’t get what we wanted exactly (we aren’t your average clients in this area), I would absolutely recommend Memories Films again without hesitation. We asked for something a little different than what they usually do which is why I think it was a little outside their norm and why it didn’t live up to our expectations.