Hi girls! I'm finally getting around to doing this! We were married on May 28, 2011. It was a beautiful day! Here are reviews of all of the vendors we used. There are a few vendors that I cannot give nice grades to, and in those cases I will not grade them. I don't want anyone to accuse me of "vendor bashing", so I will simply list them at the end. If anyone would like to know my true experience with those people, please feel free to PM or email me at [email protected]
. Obviously, also feel free to ask me anything about the good vendors too
CEREMONY- First Baptist Church of Wallingford: A
This is the church we held our ceremony in. Neither of us are affiliated with this church at all, it was just a nice church near our reception to have the wedding. I am Baptist, my husband is Catholic. Our religion played no part in them allowing us to have the wedding there. We rented it out, and it was beautiful! The only thing is, you have to bring in your own officiant if you are not a member of the church. Liz is the wedding coordinator there, and she was great to work with. They have an organist available if needed. The church did a great job taking care of setting up the church for us and controlling the sound. The only reason I didn't give them an A+ is because originally we had wanted to have the guys get ready at the church, so we needed a room for them to change in. They were going to charge us another $50 just to use a room that wouldn't be used anyway. We ended up having the guys get ready at the hotel instead.
RECEPTION- Zandri's Stillwood Inn: A+
We were so pleased with our venue. It is a little known place on Rt. 5 in Wallingford. We stumbled upon it accidentally one day, and decided to check it out. I'm so glad we did, because they were wonderful. They give you so much for the price you pay (the main reason we chose them), and also have the largest dance floor in CT. They treated us like royalty from the tasting before hand, and especially the day of the wedding. They worked great with people's food allergies, and had everything set up the way we asked. Everything went smoothly with them. They give you a coordinator type person that day to use at the venue. Her name is Eleanor and she is the sweetest lady you could ever hope to meet. And I obviously have to mention the food, which was spectacular. Wedding food is usually "okay", but this was sooo good. Every person I talked to after the wedding gushed about the food. We were very happy with them.
HOTEL- Holiday Inn of North Haven: A
We blocked off rooms at the Holiday Inn for our out of town guests. I worked with Jillian Nurmi throughout the process, and she was always quick to answer all my questions. The hotel was recently renovated, and it looks great. I went to many rooms of our guests throughout the weekend, and all of them seemed very clean! They even put together little out of town bags for our guests (we didn't request this or pay extra for it), which was a really nice touch. It only had 2 mini bottles of champagne and some chocolates, but it's still something! They don't get an A+ because they didn't have any continental breakfast. Just complimentary coffee in the lobby. If you want breakfast you have to pay for it at the hotel restaurant. Not that big of a deal to me, but some people were complaining about that.
REHEARSAL DINNER- Gaetano's Tavern on Main: A
This is where we had our rehearsal dinner. It was within walking distance from the church, so it worked out well. They are very reasonable in cost, and have a lovely room in the back that is used for special private functions. They were easy to work with, and we made several last minute changes that were not a problem for them. They set the room up for us nicely, and even put nice centerpieces on the tables for us! I didn't give them an A+ because the food wasn't outstanding. It was good, and everyone ate their food, but it was really just okay.
HAIR/MAKE UP- Beauty Entourage: A+
I can't say enough good things about Ashley and her team. I had them come out to the hotel to do hair and make up on myself, my girls, and the moms. They were at the hotel at exactly the time they said, and moved through all of us with great efficiency. I was very impressed. We all loved our hair and make up, and it held up all day even with hours of dancing. They also did my hair and make up for my engagement pictures. They can do anything with hair. Bring a picture, tell her what you want, or just tell her to do whatever she wants and Ashley will make you look gorgeous.
NAILS- Salon Le Rae, Wallingford: A
We all got our nails done here the day before the wedding. They were very accommodating of our large party, and were very nice people. They did a great job, and had a large selection of colors to choose.
MUSICIANS- Ariana Straznicky: A+
Ariana was our violinist for the ceremony. We also had a cellist (a friend of hers). They played beautifully. I met with her before the wedding to choose songs. We met in a music room at UHART so she could play all of the songs for me. She can play anything. She has a huge repertoire of music she already has, but she can also get music for any song you want. I wanted to walk down the aisle to "So This Is Love" from Cinderella. She got the music a couple of weeks before the wedding, and played it perfectly that day.
FLORIST- Stylish Blooms: A+
Melissa is nothing short of amazing. We met with a few other florists, but when we met Melissa there was no comparison to anyone else. She truly goes above and beyond for her clients, and she is a master at her craft. I knew nothing about flowers going into all of this. She helped me so much in deciding what would look best together, and how to keep it all within our budget. I got so many compliments on my flowers. They were gorgeous!
COORDINATOR- Carisa Lockery (CR Socials): A+
I wanted a wedding coordinator from the beginning of the planning process. After interviewing several, I came to the sad conclusion that I could not afford a wedding planner. Carisa was my favorite out of the ones I met with, and we kept in contact over the months of planning. About 2 months before my wedding, she let me know of a promotion she was running that I could book her for half price. I jumped at it, and am SOOO happy I had her that day. She was a total life saver at the rehearsal. I seriously would have had a melt down without her that night. The next day she made sure everything was set up, everyone got to where they needed to be, and made everything run smooth. I don't care how organized you think you are or how many people are there to help you, no girl should be without a coordinator on her wedding day.
DJ- Jason Palermo (DJ Melee): A+
One of my most favorite vendors! We booked Jason very far in advance because of how quickly he gets taken! He was great to work with over the course of our engagement. Very easy to reach, and he always responded quickly. He's very professional and down to Earth. He knows music inside and out. He did a fantastic job on our custom song entrances (each person was introduced to a snippet of a different song). He took the time to be sure he didn't mispronounce anyone's name. He was very respectful to guests who requested songs that he knew we didn't want to hear. I gave him a list of a few songs we wanted to hear, and he did a great job playing stuff we liked. He had an awesome Michael Jackson mash up that was a huge hit with everyone. I recommend him to everyone. He seriously charges way too little for the caliber of service he provides.
VIDEO- Vividography: A+
Don and his assistant did a fabulous job. I looked at countless videographers, and they seemed to have the best value so we went with them. I can't even begin to describe how happy I am that we went with them. They did such a wonderful job. They arrived plenty early to be able to set up and start getting shots of things before people got to the church. They are extremely unobtrusive. In fact, I was worried they didn't capture a lot of important things because of how little I saw them throughout the day. They got it all. I don't know where they were hiding, but they didn't miss a second. We got our videos back within 4 weeks after the wedding as promised. The video is just amazing. I love it and can watch it over and over. If you're interested, the highlight reel is in my siggy!
CAKE- Petonito's Bakery: A+
Our venue included a cake from this bakery. It's a small family owned italian bakery in New Haven. We met with the owner, Mark (who took over the business from his own father). He was one of the most genuinely nice people I've ever met. He made our cake exactly how we envisioned, and it was delicious. I can't wait to eat it again on our 1 year anniversary!
JEWELRY- Christie's Fine Jewelry, Manchester: A
My ering was custom made because I wanted to use a family diamond as my center stone. I wanted an intricate filigree and side diamonds, so we went to Christie's to see if they could help us. They helped me design the ring of my dreams, and they did a fantastic job. They then made me a wedding band to match. Their craftsmanship is impeccable, and the service is great. You can walk in any time to get your rings serviced, and they just remember who you are. They are a little pricey, but it matches the quality of their work.
VOWS (Boston): A+
Vows is a bridal salon in Boston, MA that sells sample designer gowns. They also have their own line of gowns that they sell for new. I had my heart set on an Amsale gown that was from the 2008 collection, and thus no longer in stores. I went there in hopes of finding a miracle, but of course I had no such luck. They had many beautiful Amsale gowns, but alas, not the one I wanted. Defeated, I was about to purchase an inferior dress that I knew I wouldn't be happy with when the associate told me they could search for my dream dress (for a $50 fee). If they didn't find me a sample in good condition within 2 weeks, I could have my money back. Obviously, I went with this service. A week later, they had located my dream gown in a boutique in NYC. I was ecstatic. The dress was in near perfect condition.
Something Blue Bridal: A+
Since the store I purchased my gown at did not have a seamstress, I took my dress here to be altered. They had been my favorite store when I had been dress shopping, and I knew I could trust them with my alterations. I bought my veil from them, and my mom ordered her dress from them. They were always very pleasant and helpful. I found their prices consistent with other salons I had been to. It's also beautiful in there, and they have such a great selection of gowns to choose from.
ALTERATIONS- Bridget Kellogg (Expert Alterations):
Bridget is an independent seamstress that works out of Something Blue Bridal. She really can work miracles. My dress was a sample gown that was 2-3 sizes too big. She made it fit like it was made just for me. I also had her change the original sash on the dress to a black sash, and had her sew in antique earrings into the flowers. She did a wonderful job with everything, and my strapless gown fit like a glove. She showed my mom and MOH how to bustle the dress and put pencil marks on all of the ribbons to show them how far to tie them. She also has the "Something Old" collection that is displayed at Something Blue. She collects antique jewelry from estate sales and things like that to sell to brides as their "something old", but also it's just beautiful pieces to wear. I got a pair of 1930's earrings sewn into the flowers of my dress, and I wore necklace of 4 strings of pearls from the 1940's. Both were signed pieces. The necklace matched my dress perfectly, and it's something I'll wear throughout the years on special occasions, like our anniversaries
BM DRESSES- Bill Levkoff: Since my girls all live in different places, I told them all to pick a black satin cocktail length dress from Bill Levkoff. Not one of them (out of 6) picked the same dress, but they all looked great next to each other. Bill Levkoff is easily found in most stores, and I really liked the style and quality of fabric.
EPIC DRESS- Unique Vintage: A+
I wanted to do an "old Hollywood-esque" photo shoot for our epics. I couldn't find anything to wear for it anywhere! I was freaking out until I found the most perfect dress for a reasonable cost at uniquevintage.com. I was leery to order a gown online without any idea what my size would be from them. I followed their size chart, and low and behold, it fit perfectly. I had it altered minorly to not be so drastically low cut, but other than that it fit perfect! Be careful going on that site though, it's a slippery slope where you will want to buy everything
TUXES- Men's Wearhouse Tuxes (Manchester, in the actual mall): A
I was so so so against using MW for our tuxes. They have messed up so many suits on my husband in the past, so my jaw hit the floor when he told me he wanted to use them for the wedding. His reasoning was that it would be easiest for all of our GM (who live all over New England) to be able to get their tuxes. I tried to explain that Jos A. Bank was everywhere too, but he insisted MW was easiest. He at least went to the tux MW in Buckland Mall and not the awful excuse for a store by Target. I was super nervous about what they would look like that day (and secretly hoping they would be messed up just so I could prove to him how terrible they are). In the end, everyone's suits matched perfectly and there was no drama whatsoever. I would give them an A+ because they did everything correctly, but I just can't bring myself to give them a perfect grade.
PHOTOG- Val McCormick Photography: TBD
This one almost made it to the unmentionables, but I don't feel I can give her a failing grade because I haven't yet seen the pictures other than the sneak peek in a slideshow (although the fact that it's now 2 months after the wedding and still no pictures may be grounds for it). Val is a wonderful person, but I wasn't always happy with her service throughout this whole process. This is another one that you should just email me if you want specifics, but mainly she just takes a long time to do things. It takes weeks to get a response from her sometimes, takes forever to get pictures back, seemed to take a long time to set up shots. I was extremely happy with our epics (took 4 months to get those), and I'm sure our wedding pictures are going to be gorgeous which is what matters most. It's my own fault for not having a timeline put in the contract, I just didn't expect such long wait times.
DANCE LESSONS- Fred Astaire, Glastonbury: A
We took a few dance classes to try to decide if we wanted to choreograph our first dance. The instructors were wonderful, attentive, and great teachers. In the end, we couldn't fit enough dance classes into our busy schedules to make it work. A word of advice though, DON"T CHOREOGRAPH YOUR FIRST DANCE! For 2 reasons, 1) You'll be too nervous with everyone's eyes on you to remember your dance moves, and 2) You cannot move in your dress like you can in pants. I'm so glad we didn't waste time and money doing a first dance choreography. I could barely step side to side in my gown. I can't imagine doing fancy footwork!
Crate & Barrel: A
I love C&B so much. They actually aren't overly expensive as everyone seems to fear (or maybe that's just in my circle of people?). We also registered at BB&B and they have many of the same things that were the same price. We went to a sip & scan event. This is when they close the store to everyone but couples registering, and have lots of product demonstrations and reps in to help you choose things. It was so much fun. They gave us champagne when we walked in, and they were making panini's on a griddler and making smoothies. Def recommend going to one if you can find one. I think they only do it like 3 times a year. I loved registering here, but beware if you register for "seasonal" items. Half our registry disappeared after a few months because the season changed, and we had to add a bunch a few months before the wedding. They also won't take back any items that are out of season as a return.
Bed Bath & Beyond: A
This was our second registry. I really like their online registry site. It's really easy to manage everything. They have a great selection of everything, and it's super easy to return things there. I also liked how you can set up tablescapes with the china to decide which ones you want and what flatware matches best.
EPIC LOCATION- Palace Theater, Waterbury: B
This was an absolutely beautiful place for our epics. We wanted something different and something indoors (it was the middle of December). The reason I didn't give them an A is because I was mortified at their cost. It was $100 for 2 hrs if you just wanted to use the lobby (which is nice, but the reason you go is for the theater). To use the theater, it was $400 for 2 hrs. We opted for that, since it was cold and we didn't have much choice. As soon as our 2 hrs were up, they were pushing us out. While we were finishing up our last shots, they turned the lights off and we literally had to feel around in the dark to leave. Pretty rude.
HONEYMOON- Princess Cruises: A+
We did a 9 day Caribbean cruise out of NYC (so we wouldn't have to fly). It was our first cruise, and it def got us hooked! We had the time of our lives. The food was excellent, and the service was 5 star. They really do treat you like royalty. It does seem to be geared towards an older crowd, but that was fine with us since we were looking forward to mostly relaxing after all the wedding stress!
smilesophie: I ordered a twisted lariat necklace with 3 pearls and a silver orchid from this vendor. It's gorgeous and so unique. I wore it to my shower and on my honeymoon, and have gotten lots of compliments on it. It's very pretty and can be dressed up or worn casual. It came fast, and she even threw in a pair of matching earrings for free!
ivoryONwhite: I ordered my white flower hair fascinator from this person. It looked like a real gardenia flower in the pictures. It was such nice quality. It also came with a slightly smaller flower that matched, which I gave to my MOH to wear.
strawberriesandcream: I got my cake topper from this lady. I loved her idea of little handmade lovebirds for our cake. She makes them all to order and customizes them to your colors/fabric/style of your wedding. They are adorable. She did a great job.
MonAmourBoutique: This is where I got my sixpence for my shoe. It came nicely packaged on a little card that tells the story of the sixpence on the back. It was the most reasonably priced sixpence I could find.
The next few are the vendors that I was not entirely satisfied with. Luckily the list is rather short. I'll only give brief reasons as to why I don't recommend them, but as I said, please feel free to email me if you want to know more.
TLC Limo: Our driver was late, unprofessional, rude, and got us lost. I had to get my phone out to use the GPS on it to direct him where to go. The owner did attempt to make amends, but then kind of went back on his word.
Harvest Moon Ink: While our invitations were beautiful, they were not worth the hassle or the price. She didn't get them to us on time, and we had to send them out 2 weeks late. She also forgot to give us 21 of them the first time, because she "miscounted" and took almost another 2 weeks to get the rest. When we got them, we had to put them all together ourselves. Not just arranging the order and putting them in envelopes, no. We had to actually get scrapbooking glue to put these things together. At the price we paid, she could have done that for us. She was not very up front about costs either, but by the time she gave us an estimate, it was too late for us to go looking elsewhere.
Kohl's: We originally registered here, but I hated it so much I ended up deleting the whole thing. I found their prices to be about 15-20% higher than C&B and BB&B for the same items. The scanner was horribly glitchy, and the worst part was the online management of the registry. Most of the time it would tell me I didn't even have one there. What a royal waste of time.
Well, I guess that's everything. Thank you to all of you for helping me through the entire process. It was your recommendations that led me to many of my best vendors, and your inspiration that helped me shape the perfect day. Good luck to all of you!!