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Planning from afar! Need help w/ my vendor short list!

I'm recently engaged and am trying to get a head start on planning my wedding (2 years from now) as I have some free time on my hand!  I live in New York City and very few of my friends from home are married so I don't have many recommendations to go on.  It would be SUPER helpful if you could let me know about any good or bad experiences you've had with:
-Venues (I'm mostly looking at lofts or more modern hotels)
-Caterers
-Bands

I know there are a ton of other items I'll need help with, but since these are the big ticket items they will have the biggest impact on my budget!

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!

Re: Planning from afar! Need help w/ my vendor short list!

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    edited December 2011
    here is a helpful website for you to start with:

    http://sites.google.com/site/chitownweddingvendors/

    After you find a couple venues from that site that you like, try using the "search" function and search the board to see what many knotties have to say.  Thats where I usually start! 

    Good luck!  I bet planning a wedding from afar is challenging!  But we are def here to help :)
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    edited December 2011
    I have my vendor reviews in my Married Bio, which you can check out
    Steph & Brandon 4.17.10
    Planning Bio
    Married Bio - Updated 7.2
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    princessczprincesscz member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    For bands, we loved Fantasia at our wedding!
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    edited December 2011
    We are using Momentum, if you want a big band, they are great!
    nikiplanning.weebly.com
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    edited December 2011
    I think you have some time to play with but first and foremost get your venue and if you are having a church or temple wedding, some of the popular dates at the bigger, most beautiful spaces can book up quickly. Florists are the next big thing, then photographers.
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    ljorjorianljorjorian member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Thank you all sooo much!  I'll check these out.  Anyone have experiences with hotels... I'm looking at the W hotel, the Wit, the James and the Sofitel.
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    edited December 2011
    I went to a wedding at the Sofitel and it was fantastic! Very modern, great food. I haven't been to the other places...

    As for bands, Chris Sarlas Orchestra played for our wedding and they were absolutely incredible. I can't recommend them highly enough!
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    edited December 2011
    How many guests are you planning for?

    For loft venues:
    West Loop Studio
    Loft on Lake
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    edited December 2011
    Not sure if you're still looking or not, but we're having our reception at the Wit hotel next month.  So far they have been very easy to work with and seem somewhat flexible with our requests.  The positives are the Roof cocktail party, the chef (Todd Stein - a James Beard nominee), an awesome location, and awesome hotel.  The negatives so far have been our room blocks.  We have primarily out of town guests, so we have over 35 rooms reserved for our wedding.  But, by the time our invitations went out, the hotel was already booked for their double beds and have limited King size rooms left.  So, my suggestion would be to tell you guests to book early (and well before your invitations go out).  Also, don't be shy about negotiating with them on prices and asking for extras (like a lower guest room rate, etc).  The one thing they would not discuss was lowering the parking rate, which is $45/night.

    Also, the reason we choose the Wit over other hotels was because the reception room had large floor to ceiling windows.  We found that a lot of the hotels downtown had no windows or were in basements.  If we were paying for a downtown wedding, we at least wanted to the view.  The room itself is very distinct too, just to keep that in mind.  It has chocolate brown carpeting, with a hint of icy blue and orange circles.  It is a very large rectangle, vice a square room, if that matters to you at all.  

    Good luck with your planning and let me know if you need more info on the Wit.
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