Hi Ladies -
This is my one and only post, but I felt I should at least provide some wedding vendor reviews to this board, since I did get a lot of solid recommendations from here!
Wedding date: Saturday, September 22nd, 2012
Location: Pepin, Wisconsin - 1hr 15 minutes SE of Minneapolis
The venue was new as of the Summer 2012, we were the third wedding at this location. The venue itself is absolutely stunning - It is literally like Italy in Wisconsin. We did our ceremony on-site overlooking the vineyard vines, with a cocktail hour in the tower hall and our dance/dinner in the great hall. We had approximately 150 guests, which fit comfortably in all of the areas. I believe the Great Hall can accommodate roughly 250 guests. The vineyard is beautifully decorated and no expense was spared in building this structure - the light fixtures and marble fountain were my favorite! Also, the drive from MSP is on a scenic highway, so many of our guests enjoyed the drive. Some of the details were still being ironed out when we got married, however, at that time we were able to bring in our own caterer (we were given recommendations - we went with a local option - Annabelle's), florist, decorations (working with the event coordinator), cake caterer, DJ. For alcohol, we were able to buy the Wine from the Vineyard and then beer and hard alcohol could either be purchased by us or by the bar service company. At the time, all of the alcohol had to be served by a specific bar service company - Give Us A Shot out of Stillwater.
The owners and staff were very helpful in ensuring our day went smoothly. Also, I love wine, and this vineyard has already produced some pretty good bottles - several of our guests went back the next day to buy wine. My favorite red is the Cotes du Pepin. The biggest challenge is there are no big hotel options in Pepin. The largest options are either in Wabasha (15 minutes) at the AmericanInn or in Red Wing (35 minutes).
Photographer (Grade: A): Jim Woolsey Photography
Jim is not someone I found on the Knot. However, I thought I would mention him since a lot of the ones I found on here have pretty booked schedules. Jim came to us through a referral from a friend, and we were very happy to have found him. Jim's packages start at $1900, which seemed like a bargain to us after meeting with several other photographers. We were able to get over 10 hours of wedding time, engagement pictures, and a lot of edited photos for the price. Jim was easy to work with and also had fun ideas. He captured both beautiful typical wedding shots as well as awesome one of a kind shots. We will definitely go back to Jim for our photography needs in the future.
Florist (Grade: A-): Jeni - Simply Stated Elegance
I found Jeni on here. I wanted a lot of flowers to fill the big space, but I didn't want to spend a lot of $$. Jeni was awesome to work with. For our planning meeting, I had a lot of random flowers I wanted that didn't really go together well. Jeni was able to help guide me to an assortment that was beautiful and matched my color scheme (purple and green). The great thing about Jeni is she charges by the hour and charges you wholesale for flowers, so I was able to have orchids (green) and not break the bank! Also, she rents vases for a great price! Our flowers turned out gorgeous and we had many compliments. The only reason for the - is that a couple times she was a little harder to get a hold of and she was a little later than I thought she would be on the wedding day, but overall she was great to work with.
Bridesmaids Dresses (Grade: B+): Rush's Bridal
My ladies got there dresses at Rush's Bridal in downtown Minneapolis. I would say they have some very competitive prices for the area (believe me I did a lot of research). I really wanted long, satin gowns, but didn't want my bridesmaids to fork out too much money (nor did I want them to look cheap). I was able to find a dress I loved for under $150! The only reason I did not give this an A, is because it is not the easiest location to get to (Downtown) and the day me and my girls went shopping for dresses the Sales girl was a little crappy.
Cake (Grade: A): Three Chocolatiers
Three Chocolatiers is located in Eden Prairie. They don't have an actual shop, but you can only reach them by phone. The cake was absolutely delicious and the presentation was well done. They can't do fondant, but if we want to go with some good old fashioned butter cream frosting they can help you! We had a square tiered cake of carrot cake and chocolate raspberry Ganche - both were delicious. Our left over cake will not make it to our one year anniversary!
DJ (Grade: : Midwest Sound
We went with Midwest Sound based off of some of the reviews on here. We booked them at the March Wedding Fair for $795+mileage - which included unlimited music time and a couple extra add-ons. It was $195 extra to have them cover our ceremony music on-site. The day of Dj was great, the only reason for the B is that getting a hold of the Dj company outside of the week before your wedding was difficult. However, after meeting several other DJ companies at the Wedding Fair, I am very happy with the professionalism we received from Midwest Sound.
Well those are my main reviews that I have for future brides thinking about getting married in the Minneapolis area. Good luck and happy planning!