So I finally had a chance to sit down and finish my vendor reviews from our wedding a month ago! I'll do a separate post about the wedding day details (we had an amazing day!), but I wanted to at least get the reviews out there for people who are in the process of finding vendors. Some of these have pre-wedding reviews as that's how I started it on my blog - the rest just have post-wedding reviews as they were booked later in the process. This is REALLY long (I have a hard time editing myself, heh), so if you want to skip to certain vendors, they are in this order:
Ceremony: Black Bear Crossings
Reception: The Profile Event Center (Diamond Hall)
DJ: Jim Fellows via The Profile Event Center
Photographer: Elisabeth Ann Photography
Videographer: Highlights Videography
Photobooth: VP Booths
Bridesmaid Dresses: Wedding Chapel Brides
Boys Attire:Men's Warehouse
Cupcakes: Sweet Treats by Jeff Perila
Florist: Anna Stokes from Bumble Bee Floral
Band: Big Toe and the Jam
Transportation: Eclipse Transportation via The Marriott
1. The Days Inn on University
2. The Marriott City Center
Ceremony: Black Bear Crossings, St. Paul, MN-http://blackbearcrossings.com/
Pre-Wedding review: We've had one meeting with Kathy, the coordinator, and emailed back and forth of course. So far she's been great with everything! The only thing that's a little tricky is that because they have weddings there on Friday nights, we either have to have our rehearsal on Thursday or during the day on Friday. But other than that, everything's been great.
Post-Wedding review – A+: We had a final details meeting with Kathy about a month before the wedding and got all the details worked out. And because they didn't have an evening wedding booked the Friday before the wedding, we were able to have the rehearsal on Friday night, which worked out great for all our out of town guests. The day of the wedding went great – I wasn't there for set up, but everything looked great when I got there and the music was playing, so I assume that everything went well! We got a lot of compliments on the choice of venue for the ceremony, people really liked it. Also, it rained pretty much the entire wedding day, but because the promenade is covered, it didn't matter one bit!
Reception: The Profile Event Center (Diamond Hall), Minneapolis, MN-http://www.profileeventcenter.com/
Pre-Wedding review- Everyone at the PEC has been nothing short of fabulous! They've been flexible, acommodating, and I don't think more than 2 hours have passed between sending an email and getting response. My only complain is that when we went to the group tasting, we were a little underwhelmed with the food. A lot of it was under-seasoned, and I wish they had some more choices for appetizers. However, we did find dishes that were excellent, and are very happy with our menu, so it's a very small complaint.
Post-Wedding review – A+++: Seriously, everything was amazing. The Wednesday before the wedding I stopped in to drop off table squares and our DVD slide show, and Jill took me into the Diamond Hall to see the dark purple lighting they were going to use on the chiffon draping. Well, it was magenta pink, not at all what I had in mind! Jill said that's why she wanted me to come in and see it, because she thought it was pink too! The owner, Giovanni, was there and had his crew add blue to it and it turned dark purple, which was EXACTLY what I had in mind. Also the tech specialist, Ron, was able to use my lighting gobo and took the time to ask me how I wanted it used, and it was perfect the day of. The morning I walked into the hall to start decorating, the lighting was perfect, and everything looked amazing! Heather and Jill were both there all day, along with a few other assistants who's names I forget (I'm sorry!), and everyone was so great about checking in on us and making sure we were doing ok. During the actual reception, everything went flawlessly, and Heather and Jill came to check on the head table and make sure that Monkey and I had everything we needed. We got so many compliments about how great the venue was, how good the food was, and how unique it was. Our reception really was amazing, and the PEC was the main reason for that. My only small complaint was that the tip jar the bartenders put out was HUGE. I really wasn't happy with a tip jar in general, but the one they put out was way too big. But I don't blame the PEC staff for that, especially because I didn't voice my concern. Other than that, everything was amazing!
DJ: Jim Fellows via The Profile Event Center, Minneapolis, MN
Post-Wedding review – A++: We ended up coming in under the minimum for the Profile, so we decided to book their in house DJ about two weeks before the wedding, and boy am I glad we did! I had originally planned on doing play lists for between band sets, and there is no way I would have had time to get it done. Jim was great – I was so unorganized about the music, and only managed to get him a few of the songs ahead of time. He was able to do our other songs on the fly, and he NAILED the timing on announcing us during our entrance song, which doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was a big deal for me, as he did it exactly how I had pictured it in my head, and it totally set my mood for the night. I felt a little bad because he didn't get to do a whole lot of DJ-ing, as we did have a live band, but when I mentioned this in email, he said that he was happy to back up the band, and just wanted us to have a great night, which I thought was really sweet of him. He played great music between the band sets, and even though we only met him that night, he was really fun to work with. I highly recommend him!
Officiant: A mutual friend, we'll call him R. If you have the option to have a friend or family member perform your ceremony, I highly recommend it. Having R perform our ceremony made it so much more meaningful and personal that it would have been to hire a stranger. And it was super easy to have him confirmed online and file the certificate with Hennepin County. We got a lot of compliments on our ceremony content and delivery, and I'm so glad we had R perform the ceremony.
Photographer: Elisabeth Ann Photography, Twin Cities Suburbs, MN-http://www.elisabethannphotography.com/
Pre-Wedding review- I met with Elise when I was in town in July, and was instantly at ease with her. I'm very very excited to work with her on the day of! Her pictures are fantastic, and her style is exactly what we were looking for. Her communication is great, and she just checked in with me this week to start getting timelines and what not figured out.
Post-Wedding review –A+++ (pending the rest of the pictures): Elise and her two assistants, Emma and Mallory (I think it was Mallory, I'm sorry if I got that wrong!) were amazing! They showed up right on time, and didn't make a fuss over the fact that I was running about an hour behind. They were able to do pictures of all my details while I finished getting ready, and we got right back on schedule after that. Elise was a lot of fun to work with – she really put us at ease and had a lot of great ideas for pictures, especially considering that it rained all day and we couldn't do any of the outside pictures I wanted with the bridal party before the wedding. That didn't phase her at all, and because she was so calm about it, I stayed calm too. Then at the ceremony, and pretty much the rest of the time after that, I honestly don't remember seeing her! And that's a huge compliment, because one of my issues with some photographers is that they always seem to be in the way. Well I didn't see her or her assistants at all during the ceremony, and only a few times during the reception. Also, she was able to handle my crazy large family for family pictures right after the ceremony, and then got all the wedding party pics and pics of Monkey and I done quickly (which is what I had asked for) so that we could get to the reception as soon as possible. I got my sneak peeks this week, and so far I am in LOVE with the pictures, and I'm sure the rest of them will be amazing as well! Anyone on the fence about meeting with Elise – seriously, go meet with her. Right off the bat I knew she was the photographer I wanted to work with, and you will too!
Videographer: Highlights Videography, Minneapolis, MN-
Pre-Wedding review- Brady was very prompt in sending me more information when I requested it from the website, and there are enough fantastic reviews of him on The Knot that I felt completely comfortable booking him without meeting in person.
Post-Wedding review –A++ (pending the video): I didn't get a chance to meet Brady in person before the wedding, so the first time I saw him was as I entered the promenade for my walk down the aisle. He was behind his video camera but had a huge smile on his face, which I just thought was really sweet. He had put a wireless mic on Monkey, which thinking about it after the fact of course makes sense, but at the time I was really excited about it! He came and said a quick hello after the ceremony and then headed over to the reception to get footage of people entering the reception. He, like the photographers, I didn't see much during the night, once again a huge compliment! He took video of our entrance from our point of view behind us (as well as set a camera up from the front) which I thought was a really cool idea, and I can't wait to see it! I feel bad that I don't have more to say about Brady, but I didn't get a chance to talk to him too much during the night. But the small time I did talk to him, he was really great, easy to work with, had a big smile on his face, and it doesn't hurt that he's super cute to boot (hows that for Minnesooootan?).
Photobooth: VP Booths, Twin Cities Suburbs, MN-http://www.vpbooths.com
Pre-Wedding review- I found VP Booths from a deal they had posted on Craigslist. I was considering 3 different companies all around the same price, and VP was the only one that wouldn't charge extra to bring the booth up 8 steps at our venue. I also liked the look of their booth more than the others, and their booth also fits more because it's fabric walls rather than hard walls. Meghan was great with answering all of my questions, and I'm very excited to try out the booth at our wedding!
Post-Wedding review – A++: Meghan, who was the email contact before the wedding, and Jake were awesome! They had the booth set up exactly where I wanted it, had all the fun props, a really nice scrap book, and they really seemed to be having almost as much fun as the guests! I think almost all of our 160+ guests took a turn in the booth! It was def worth the money, and some of my favorite pictures so far are ones from the photo booth! They also let us extend the time and pay for it on the spot, which I really liked, because the booth was jam packed so we decided to keep it going a while longer! The quality of the pictures was great, and we had our CD and DVD just over a week after the wedding was done, not to mention access to the online gallery the next day! And the icing on the cake for me was that Meghan and Jake took a super cute picture of themselves and put it in our book. I just thought that was a really cute final touch.
Bridal Dress: eBay! I loved my dress but really didn't want to pay full price for it. I managed to find it in my size and color, pre-owned on eBay. The bride who sold it to me was so sweet, and was happy that I loved the dress as much as she did. I feel like it's good luck already!
Bridesmaid Dresses: Wedding Chapel Brides, Crystal, MN-http://weddingchapelbridals.com/
Pre-Wedding review: The Wedding Chapel was great when we went to look for dresses. 4 out of my 5 girls were able to go, and they gave us a big room in the back so we could all try stuff on together. Our consultant, Cindy, was great, and basically showed us where everything was and let us loose to try on dresses as we pleased. We had a lot of fun, and everyone found a dress they loved, and they even let me try on my dress even though I did not purchase it there, so that we could see all the dresses together. There was a small hiccup when the girls went to order dresses - one of them was being discontinued, but thankfully we were still able to order it. Then there was an issue with a color change, and I went in person to get it straightened out. Diana, the owner, was absolutely wonderful and patien with me while we figured it all out, and was able to give me color swatches on the spot. I'm very happy with our experiences thus far.
Post-Wedding review – A: The dresses all came in earlier than expected, and we had no issues picking them up. The only issue we had was there was some confusion about a refund for a color change that didn't happen, but they took care of it when I called a second time. Overall I would recommend The Wedding Chapel to anyone looking for dresses, either bridal or bridesmaid, as they have a large selection, great prices and an awesome staff.
Boys Attire:Men's Warehouse
Post-Wedding review – A-: Everything went great with all but one of the tuxes. Our ring bearer had been fitted just a few weeks prior to the wedding, as they recommended, and when the tux came in it was too short. Thankfully this was a few days before the wedding so they were able to order another one and get it in by the wedding. On the flip side, they did go above and beyond to get us enough silver pocket squares on short notice, so they really overall did a great job making us happy. Other than that we didn't have any issues, and the guys all looked great!
Cupcakes and top tier cake: Sweet Treats by Jeff Perila, Twin Cities Suburbs, MN-http://www.sweettreatsbyjeff.com/
Pre-Wedding review- I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Jeff! His cupcakes are AMAZING!! He has been extremely accommodating, allowing us to order flavors by the half dozen, and also letting me place an order at the last minute, which he didn't have to do, but did, and I was very appreciative. Besides the fact that his cupcakes are seriously awesome, he's a very sweet man, and I've really enjoyed working with him.
Post-Wedding review – A+++: There is a reason there are so many rave reviews about Jeff – he and his creations are simply awesome! Jeff was really great about some of my little decorative nuances too. My mom's friend made cupcake wrappers on her Cricut as my wedding gift, and Jeff had no problem adding those to the cupcakes, which I thought was really great of him. He also accommodated my special request for our top cake to be red velvet as a surprise to Monkey, as that's his favorite cake flavor, and since it's not a flavor he has listed, I thought this was above and beyond and I really really appreciated it. Plus it was SO GOOD. We were able to take it back to Philly with us and have been eating it for two weeks now, and it's still so good. He set up the cupcakes on the display perfectly, so everything looked AND tasted amazing. Everyone raved about how great the cupcakes were. Seriously, if you don't have a baker yet, call Jeff. You won't regret it! And for those that are curious, the flavors we picked were carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, chocolate raspberry torte, Oreo crunch, and my favorite, white chocolate Kahlua with white chocolate mousse.
Florist: Anna Stokes from Bumble Bee Floral, Twin Cities Suburbs, MN-http://bumblebeefloral.wordpress.com
Pre-Wedding review- Anna has been wonderful to work with! We started off via email, and even in email I felt very comfortable with her, and she got my vision on the first try! We met in person just to solidify things while I was in town, and she's just so nice and sweet, and my mom loved her right away too. I can't wait to see the bouquets she's designing, they're going to be amazing!
Post-Wedding review – A+++: Anna NAILED our flowers! My bouquet was GORGEOUS!! It was even better than I ever imagined it would be. She was also able to use the lace from my mom's dress as the bouquet wrap, and used the fabric I provided her for the bridesmaids bouquet wraps as well, which I thought was really great of her to do. The bridesmaid bouquets were beautiful, the mom's loved their corsages and my girl cousins loved theirs too! Anna was able to make two of the pin on corsages wrist corsages on the spot, which was really great. When she brought the flowers in, it was the first time during the wedding day that it started to feel a little real to me, and I got a little emotional. Not only was Anna's work amazing, but she is an absolute sweetheart and told me that my bouquet was one of the favorites she had ever done. I really had so much fun working with her, and highly recommend her!!
Band:Big Toe and the Jam, Twin Cities Suburbs, MN- http://bigtoeandthejam.com
Post-Wedding review – A+++: We weren't sure if we were going to have the budget for a band, but I am SO glad that we made room for one. If you are looking for an amazing band for your wedding, look no further. Big Toe and the Jam was AWESOME. They kept the dance floor packed from the time they started around 9:45AM all the way until 1:45AM! They are not your typical, trite and stale “wedding band.” We wanted more of a “bar” cover band, as I really wanted that same feeling that I would get going out and listening to awesome cover bands. Well, Big Toe did just that, and then some! Stephanie was my initial contact, and she seemed to excited to work with us that I knew she was going to be so much fun on our wedding day. Paul and Jamie, who are co-leadrs of the band, were great to work with beforehand, making sure we took care of the little details, and they even let me help make the setlist, which was pretty awesome in my book. They also had no problem letting me come up to sing with them during the night (I sing in a cover band), and some of those moments are my favorite, as my family and a lot of my friends have never heard me perform, so that was really special. All of the musicians are amazing, and because they are a 10 piece band you get a huge variety of songs to pick from. My dad LOVES horns, and he really got a kick out of some of the songs they played. They were all so friendly and outgoing, and you could plainly see they love playing together, which translated to the crowd loving them too! I could go on and on about Big Toe, they really were the perfect band for our wedding, and a month later people are still talking about how amazing they were!
Transportation: Eclipse Transportation via The Marriott
Post-Wedding review – B+: Bernie from Eclipse was great to work with, and was able to be flexible with our changing needs. We ended up booking a 14 passenger shuttle for guests to take from the hotel to the ceremony and then from the ceremony to the reception, as well as 2 limos – one for the guys and one for the girls. The only reason I'm not giving them an A is because there was a snafu with the limo that came to pick up us girls. Instead of coming to the reception venue to pick us up, it went to the Marriott along with the limo that was picking the guys up. This was partly my fault, as I hadn't checked the final invoice, which did have our limo going to the Marriott, but I also had told them via email that one of the limo's should have been coming to the reception venue. I called and they sent the limo right over, and we ended up being just a few minutes late to the ceremony. Other than that, the driver's were really nice and we had no issues with anything else. Price wise they were really reasonable, and had we had 2 more rooms booked at the Marriott we would have gotten 2 shuttle hours free. They also were one of the few companies I could find that did one way limo rentals with no minimum on hours.
Hotel/accommodations: 1. The Days Inn on University
Pre-Wedding review- Because the Days Inn is literally 2 blocks from the PEC, this was our first choice for hotels, however the online reviews were really mixed, so we went to see it in person while we were in town for our tasting. There have clearly been renovations since the reviews, and the lobby and breakfast rooms were very clean and nice looking. They also showed us a few of the rooms that our guests would be booked in, and assured us that they use the updated rooms for all wedding blocks. All the staff we've worked with thus far have been very polite and professional.
Pre-Wedding review – A+: The staff at the Days Inn kept me posted on how many rooms had been booked and reminded me that our due date was coming up, which I appreciated. They also let me move a room that was in my name to another name, as I wasn't going to be using it and a friend needed a room. We only had a few guests stay here, but everyone said that the rooms were great and service was good. Price wise this was the cheaper option, and I know the guests who stayed there appreciated that we had a budget friendly option.
2. The Marriott City Center
Pre-Wedding review - We wanted 2 hotel choices for our guests, and the Marriott is the hotel the PEC partners with. We didn't go tour it, but we did drive from the PEC to the Marriott to make sure it wasn't too far, and the staff emailed me a virtual tour. They were able to give us a very good deal, and so far I'm very happy with the service we've received.
Pre-Wedding review – A+: The staff at the Marriott also kept me posted as to how many rooms had been booked and reminded us that the due date was coming up. The guys stayed there the night before, and also got ready there, and had no issues. The staff was fine about the photographers taking pictures with the guys in the lobby and other areas of the hotel, which was great because they got some really cool pictures that they couldn't have gotten if they'd had to stay in the room. We got a free suite for the night of the wedding because we had 10 rooms booked, and while we were only there a short time, it was a really nice room, on the top floor and had a great view of the city. Everyone we encountered was professional and friendly, and we are happy with our experience there.