I haven't shared a ton about my plans on here in the past, but I got a ton of help from reading all the vendor reviews and comments in the past, so I want to "pay it forward." I think a lot of my vendors may be rare/new to the board, so hopefully some brides find my review useful. I'm a fairly tough grader, so know from the reviews below that really everything went perfectly on my wedding day (even the weather), and yes, they were really all this good.
Ceremony Location: First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue - A
My family's church - there was no doubt I'd get married there. It's a big church with a massive pipe organ AND a piano, and we hired the church organist to play both prior to/during the ceremony. Lots of dramatic music, exactly what I wanted! The pastor who married us was wonderful, and we got lots of compliments on how lovely and warm the ceremony was. The church's coordinator was a little flaky at times, but in the end she really helped keep everything going smoothly.
Reception Venue: Clise Mansion at Marymoor Park, Redmond - B+
We are still getting compliments on Clise Mansion. People raved about the different spaces we were able to use (dining room, cocktail room, bar room, deck/courtyard), and the grounds were absolutely gorgeous for photos for our fall wedding. The Seattle Bride/Premier Properties folks were really easy to work with, and very accommodating of last minute requests. No problem getting our security deposit back from them. I can only think of two drawbacks to the Mansion: restrictions on access time, and the crazy markup on alcohol (you have to use their bar service). My DOCs only had about 1.5 hours to set up and coordinate with caterer, and I gave them a lot of stuff to decorate the space. We added an extra hour to the end of our booking, and that ended up being perfect. The alcohol (beer and wine only) markup is so high that in the end we decided to mostly purchase our own wine (amazing wine we were getting at 1/3 cost) and just let them charge a corkage fee; the cost ended up being the same, and at least we got better wine out of the deal). But yeah, our bar cost was insane, and we found out the next day that apparently the bartenders didn't let guests know that we had a couple draft beers available, so almost all of that beer went to waste.
Caterer: Epicurean Catering, Kirkland - A
People raved about the food! My husband, who didn't initially want salmon on the buffet because he was worried it would dry out, ended up going back for seconds on salmon. All of the food was really good. I don't think I can ever recall people remarking about how tasty the veggies are at a wedding, but even our steamed veggies earned raves. Epicurean was also super nice and easy to work with; they did a private tasting with us, worked with us on the menu, handled all of the linens/china/silver/glasses, and they were the most affordable caterer of all the ones we considered. One of my favorite vendors.
Photographer: Libby Lewis - A
Libby is fantastic! She's a very gifted photographer, and she's great at getting people to loosten up in front of the camera. I love the way she takes charge and likes to try different locations, lighting, poses, etc. Her assistant takes great photos, too, because I've seen the online preview and I surely can't tell whose are whose. Everyone loved our engagement photos, and I'm sure they'll all love the wedding photos, too. We're looking forward to getting the disc with all of our edited images, playing with them some more, and making albums for family.
Ceremony Flowers and Bouquets: Metropolitan Market, Kirkland - A
Oh my God, these guys are amazing. I met with them about four months prior to the wedding to talk about what my "vision" was for my flowers. Fall can be tricky for flowers, and I was looking for some specific flowers and color combinations. I gave them some photos, then didn't meet with them again until a few weeks prior to the wedding. They absolutely nailed it! Everyone - hotel bellmen, photographers, strangers walking by, wedding coordinators, etc. - was blown away by the gorgeous bouquets, and my mom was speechless when she saw the alter piece they did for the Church, which was huge and spectacular. I'll try to include some photos in this review. They were not cheap, but I think it was worth it. The bouquets still looked great the next day (we had a brunch the day after), and my mom says the alter piece looked nice through the next week.
Reception Flowers and Flower Centerpieces: Pike Place Market - A-
We tried to arrange bouquets with a few of the vendors at PPM a few weeks prior to the wedding, but they told us that due to the time of year, they didn't know what kind of flowers they would have the weekend of my wedding - a change in weather could impact which flowers would be available. So, the day before the wedding we went to the market and just picked up a bunch of small bouquets from various stands that had flowers in the types and colors I liked. It was a great deal, since $3 or $5 bouquets make great centerpieces. I got about 20 bouquets for around $100. Can't beat that deal! And the flowers held up well all the way through the day-after brunch.
Other Centerpieces: Blooms & Branches (online), Michaels and Ikea - A-
The Manzanita branches I bought through Blooms and Branches arrived on time, intact, and were beautiful. If anything, I ordered too many! I'm going to have some extras to sell, for sure! My other centerpieces were candles (a ton of them) of different sizes. Ikea was great for buying lots of small extended-life tealights and mixed-height candles, and Michaels had cheap glass hurricanes.
Cake: Cakes by Creme de la Creme, Renton - A
The cake was exactly like the photo I sent them, and it was delicious! At least the two flavors I got to try were delicious - the others were gobbled up so quickly that I didn't get a bite. They are a bit slow with communication, but they got all the details right.
Dress: Alfred Angelo, Tukwila - A
They were great during my dress appointment, bringing me a ton of different dresses to try on and not rushing my appointment at all. When I finally decided on a dress, there were no problems with ordering and the dress came in early. On my wedding day I was flooded by people telling me how beautiful I looked, so what more could I ask for?!
Dress Alterations: Debra Hadeen, Seattle - A
Deb was fast and precise, and so nice! Her alterations were right on, and my bustle stayed put all night. She also made-over my mom's veil, which I wore for my ceremony. She managed to pull it out of the '60s and into today.
Hair: Gene Juarez, Bellevue - A
My hair was done by Jake, who normally does my hair. He did a beautiful job! He made my fine, flat hair look thick and curly, and pinned it up so well that it held all day.
Makeup: Gene Juarez, Bellevue - B+
Loved my makeup trial and day-of makeup by Sullivan. But unfortunately my eye makeup began to smudge a couple hours after it was done, which was before my ceremony had even started. I had to do more touching up than I would have liked, and by the end of the night (9 hours later) my eye liner/shadow was starting to make me look like a racoon.
Day-Of Coordinators: Happily Ever After Weddings and Events - A
Teasha and Shannon were very on-the-ball, offering to help me in the months prior to the wedding, and offering vendor recs when I asked for some. On the wedding day they were amazing - decorating the reception venue in record time (photographer said it was the prettiest she had ever seen the Mansion), working with the DJ to keep everything on schedule, locating a few items when ours didn't make it to the venue, getting food and drinks for my hubby and me all night, doing so much of the cleanup, and even preparing some food to go to the hotel with us. I seriously couldn't have done it without them, and I'm so glad I hired them.
DJ: Tiger Budbill - B
Tiger is nice, high energy (but not obnoxious), and very good at what he does. He's really easy going and not cheesy at all. He asks to run the show, working with the DOCs as needed to keep things on the schedule we put together. But he's a little too rigid when it comes to the music playlist - I gave him a list of some of the songs we like, but he made it clear that HE chooses the playlist (aside from the "big" dances like first dance, etc.). He says he likes to read the crowd, but I kinda felt like his playlist was a little canned - he had people going with "Play That Funky Music" but then he went right into "Mustang Sally," which was way too old for our group, and not a good dancing song really. But he did a great job of keeping people on the dancefloor, he didn't try to make himself the center of attention, and he gets MAJOR kudos for helping everyone load stuff into the cars at the end of the night when cleanup was happening.
Rehearsal Dinner: 3 Pigs BBQ, Bellevue - A
We ordered a bunch of "party packs" of beef and pork ribs, smoked chicken, beans, corn bread, cole slaw and more from 3 Pigs, a great hole-in-the-wall bbq place my family's been going to for 20 years. It was really tasty, and casual enough for everyone to cut loose at the rehearsal dinner.
Tux Rentals: Men's Wearhouse, Bellevue - A-
My husband says there were no problems here. The guys all looked sharp! His only complaint was that he didn't think the quality of the tuxes was that nice.
Bride & Groom Hotel: Hyatt Regency, Bellevue - A
The Hyatt was fabulous! We got a junior suite there for the wedding night, but the ladies also used it to get ready in earlier that day. From the time we drove in the Hyatt was so great - bringing all of our bags and flowers up, bringing us a bunch of wine glasses and ice as we sipped some bubbly as we got ready, and some other stuff that is slipping my mind right now. Great service, and a nice room with a view of the lake.
Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas (online) - A
The invitations really were beautiful. I work way too much to spend hours and hours on the invitations, so I never planned to do it myself. I'm glad I went with WPD. My mom seriously got phone calls from her friends just to tell her how beautiful the invitations were. They weren't the cheapest option, but I don't regret it - I have a beautiful invitation for a wedding album or frame...actually, one of our guests DID frame it and give it to us as part of her gift, which we loved.
Favors: Caramel Apples from Daffy Apple (online) - A-
Apples were tasty, and covered with lots of caramel. And the price was really pretty cheap. The minus is for the shipping cost, which was almost as much as the apples themselves.