Maryland-Baltimore

vendor summary

I was a lurker for much of the past year, but after an beautiful wedding ceremony and reception on Saturday, July 24, in Baltimore, I thought I’d give back with a recap of our vendors.  This is my wife’s theknot.com account, but I did most of the wedding planning and perhaps have a unique perspective as a groom trying to negotiate a wedding-industrial complex that is sometimes hostile to men!

 
Smashing Successes (Five Stars) 

EVENTI PLANNING
Wedding Coordinator 


Our single best investment of the entire wedding was to hire Diana of Eventi Planning.  We hired Diana to help with wedding day coordination, but in fact she ended up helping with planning, crisis management, and general advice in the months leading up to the wedding.  Given that vendors often try to double as event planners (especially caterers, venues, and DJs), Diana had the difficult job of coordinating the coordinators.  She did so with aplomb: building positive relationships with the other vendors, soliciting input on the master schedule, maintaining flexibility, and helping cultivate a sense of joy on the big day.  She could easily charge double or triple for her services.  

 

Diana helped with the following decisions and more: creating a floor plan, hiring transportation for the wedding day (we used three vendors: a hotel shuttle, an all-purpose van, and a limo), hiring and negotiating a better rate for drapes, brainstorming ideas, communicating with other vendors, buying small items that we forgot (tea candles, a car decorating kit, and a guest book), lending us some common wedding items (a ring pillow, candle holders, and a “bird cage” for gifts), delivering ribbons for the wedding cake, and creating a master schedule.

 

ROB HOLLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

Photographer

 

Rob Holley is a master of his craft.  I study nineteenth-century photography and spent a lot of time looking through portfolios to find the right vendor.  Although we have not yet seen the photographs from the day of the event, his photos from the engagement shoot were absolutely stunning.  Instead of subscribing to a particular photographic viewpoint (portraiture, photo-journalism, art photography), Rob seemed to balance all these different approaches.  We sought out such a balance since our parents and guests all have different ideas of what they want in a wedding photo:  some wanted a traditional family portrait for the mantle, others wanted a complete documentary of the day’s events, and I wanted something that would satisfy my own idiosyncratic tastes.  The engagement shoot delivered on all counts.  We used the images as gifts at the rehearsal dinner, and our families were blown away by the quality of his work.

 

Beyond the actual product, Rob was a relaxing, discreet, and sometimes hilarious presence.  My wife and I are not used to having our pictures taken, and he did a great job of putting us at ease. His assistants Steve and Nicole were very friendly as well. 

 
Very Good (Four Stars) 


RADEBAUGH FLORIST

Flowers 

The flowers for our wedding were stunning.  Radebaugh did a great job with the bouquets, table arrangements, and church arrangements at a very reasonable cost.  They were team players and delightful to work with.  We have absolutely no complaints.

 

SUGAR BAKERS

Cake 

The cake was a highlight of the event.  It was simply and classy, with a floral design and burgundy ribbon.  The grooms cake was more of a “newlyweds cake,” since we both included components that reflected our personalities.  It consisted of two large books (we each chose one) with two tiny dogs (scale replicas of our dogs, in fondant) sitting on top.

 

1840s BALLROOM

Venue  

Absolutely gorgeous venue.  It has a sweeping view of Baltimore, and the murals, antique bar, and woodwork are all so beautiful that we didn’t need decorations.  The tables were arranged in a way that gave a sense of intimacy, even though the venue could have easily handled another 100 guests.  They were very accommodating with our plan of setting up drapes to allow for a division between the cocktails portion of the room and the seating area.  This allowed us to do a grand entrance after the guests had taken their seats.

 

PAPER FLING

Programs and Place Cards

 

We got our programs and place cards from a small stationary shop in Bothell, Washington.  We were extremely pleased with the final product.  Ruth, the proprietor, was extremely patient with all our revisions, and even sent out another batch of place cards after we eliminated one table due to cancellations, which threw off all the table numbers.  The ceremony programs were simple, classy, and elegant.  Unbelievably, the custom products that we got from Paper Fling cost LESS than the equivalent products available online from magnetstreet.com, which we used for our invitations and save-the-dates.  We are definitely using Paper Fling for our thank you cards.

 
Solid, With Some Problems (Three Stars) 


INNOVATIVE GOURMET

Caterer  

On the day of the event, they delivered excellent and very tasty food.  Unfortunately they gave us headaches getting to that point.  They seemed disorganized in our meetings with them.  Back in May, despite the broken air conditioning in their office, they stretched what could have been a 30 minute appointment into a two-hour affair.  We would settle one topic, but they would forget to take notes, and then we’d have to cover the same thing again.  They were also condescending about the fact that I am vegetarian, even after I made it clear that we were fine with serving meat.  They seemed to assume that vegetarians cannot help but impose their vegetarianism on others.  They were also quite expensive.  In retrospect, we could have found something for half the cost.

 

To be clear, Innovative delivered an excellent product on the day of the event, and we heard nothing but praise from our guests.

 

C&J ENTERTAINMENT

D.J. 


We were very impressed with Chris’s initial pitch when we were deciding on vendors.  Over the course of an hour, he sketched out an extremely helpful outline for a reception.  This outline was invaluable for putting together a sample list of songs for the cocktails/dinner and dancing, as well as a nine-song “must-play list.”  Our actual DJ was Karl, who did a very good job on the day of the event.  He was particularly successful in his role as emcee.  He did a great job of introducing the first dance (Catie Curtis’s “It’s a Wonder”), parents dance (Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely”), and generations dance (Sam Cooke’s “Nothing Can Ever Change This Love”), and coaxing people onto the dance floor.  The floor was mostly packed throughout the night, and we received compliments on the music. 

 

Our main complaint was that he didn’t play 2 out of the 9 songs on the must-play list, and they happened to be the two songs were most looking forward to dancing -- Akon’s “Don’t Matter” (which would have been our first dance except you can’t use Akon as a first dance!) and “On a Boat” by The Lonely Island.  Some people might see these omissions as a sign that Karl has good judgment, but we were still a little disappointed!

 
Not Recommended (Two Stars)


BROADWAY TRANSPORT

Limo

 

Somehow the management failed to contact the limo driver about the updated schedule.  He assumed that we were eliminating the post-ceremony photos and took us straight to the hotel, at which point we had to explain that the photographer was waiting for us at the Visionary Art Museum.  We ended up 20 minutes late, which cut into our time for photographs with just the two of us.

Re: vendor summary

  • edited December 2011
    Great info, thanks!
  • edited December 2011
    Thank you for taking the time to write all this out, I relaly appreciate thorough reviews!
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    Lilypie First Birthday tickers
  • edited December 2011
    Hey! Quick question about Dianna. I met her and LOOVE her but we are doing a backyard wedding without any vendors really so can't quite see using her "day-of" services all that much. But you're saying that she helped with much more up to the day? I just worry about paying the money on a tight budget when I'm not fully sure that it's necessary...
  • edited December 2011
    Thanks for your vendor reviews... and for reminding me I need to do this!
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Miss ... Mrs.
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