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VENDOR REVIEWS!

So I'm finally getting around to writing up vendor reviews from our August 15 wedding. Most of them were absolutely amazing! Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions. Our disc of pro photos are supposed to be arriving in the mail soon, so hopefully I'll have my married bio updated with some photos soon! Reception Venue - The Sheraton Boston Hotel (Boston, MA): A+ We are SO happy with our decision to go with the Sheraton. They really went above and beyond for us, and I think they are one of the best deals in Boston, to be quite honest. Their package is so all-inclusive - we had an extensive cocktail hour, full open bar all night, upgraded linens from Rentals Unlimited, chiavari chairs of our choice, and much more all included in our package, and the price ended up being extremely reasonable for a downtown Boston venue. The catering director is phenomenal - he was so responsive to every single one of our questions, and he really acted as a day-of coordinator for us. He set up EVERYTHING for us just as we had asked him to and was extremely thorough in all of the details. When we got back to our suite (which was GORGEOUS and huge - not to mention totally comped for us for two full days, as well as my brother's adjoining room for one night), we had all of our gifts waiting for us, plus champagne, fruit, and photo albums of tons of instant photos the catering staff had taken and printed for us while we were at our after-party at the hotel bar! Both of our parents' had albums waiting for them too! The ballroom was large and tastefully decorated (although the carpet could be redone, but I really didn't notice it at all the day of), and I LOVE that it has large windows and a balcony. I really am not a fan of windowless ballrooms. The food was fantastic too (or so I am told...despite my determination not to let the no-eating-on-your wedding-day curse happen to me, I really hardly got a bite - sad!) Ceremony Venue - Saint Cecilia Parish (Boston, MA): A+ This is the church we attend as parishoners, so I may be a bit biased, but it really is a fantastic church for a wedding. First, it is gorgeous - old, ornate, gorgeous stained glass and gold leaf - just beautiful. Second, the coordinator, Mark, is fantastic. We really loved meeting with him and he made us feel very sure that everything that day would run smoothly - which it did. Mark also was the soloist for our wedding, and has a beautiful voice. He and the organist coordinated the music so well, and even coordinated a few ensemble pieces with the outside string quartet we brought in - something that impressed me so much. Father John is the regular priest at the church, and was unfortunately not able to perform our ceremony, but we absolutely ADORE him. He is young, down-to-earth, and so funny and personable. His attitude and the attitude of the church as a whole is so welcoming and the modern attitude and accepting atmosphere of the church is SO refreshing, particularly for an old Boston Catholic church. I would HIGHLY recommend Saint Cecilia to anyone looking for a Catholic wedding site, or for a new parish in general. The price tag for a ceremony there IS hefty, but such is the case of most any downtown church, I think. It was well worth it to us - the ceremony was by far our favorite part of the day. (Plus, it is barely a block away from The Sheraton, so it couldn't have been more convenient for us! And we didn't have to rent a limo!) Florist - Petalena (Jamaica Plain, MA): A+ Apryl and Julie at Petalena are so great to work with. They have a very creative and unique aesthetic, and are a bit different from any other florist I've seen in the area (and I've seen a LOT of them - we searched far and wide for our florist!) I was so impressed when I first met them - they really seemed to instantly "get" my vision of the wedding, and although I don't think it was their typical style, they were enthusiastic and had tons of great ideas to complement and add. Out of all the florists I met with or spoke to, they were the only one that I didn't give a price range to - and amazingly, their quote to me was FAR lower than any other florist! I had received quotes up to five times higher for the EXACT same thing! Anyway, after meeting with them, my choice for who to hire was easy. Throughout the rest of the planning process, they were very responsive and so accommodating - they came up with so many great ideas to make our decor really stand out, yet still within our budget. Everything was gorgeous but what really stood out to me the most were the bridesmaids bouquets - they were really breathtaking and many people said they were the most beautiful ones they had ever seen. I agree! Petalena really is a hidden gem and I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a fun, creative, and affordable florist. Photographer - Catherine Morris (New Hampshire): B- During our planning process, my husband and I went through periods of time when we felt like we could splurge on our vendors a bit, and some periods where we felt like we really had to save some money. We hired Caty Morris during a "saving money" kick. I will say that she is a GREAT value for what she charges - she is talented and charged very little for an all-inclusive package (all-day coverage, two shooters, high-res disk of images, engagement shoot, etc.). So if you really don't have a large photography budget, I think she is a good choice. For us, however, I just wish that we had decided to spend more on a photographer and go with someone who is more experienced. I think that because Caty is relatively new to the business, and because of her good prices, she has taken on more clients than she can really handle. I did not feel like we got much personalized attention from her, and she could be quite difficult to get in touch with. Simple requests had to be repeated many times before she followed through, unfortunately. As far as talent goes, the photos from our wedding and engagement shoot are nice, but did not blow me away. There was no real editing of the photos, and the engagement photos I used for our guest book had to be edited by me. I expect I will end up doing the same on our wedding photos. At the wedding, my husband and I were frustrated with how long the formal photos took, and the lack of command Caty seemed to have on controlling and directing the wedding party and family. There were hardly any photos of the cocktail hour, which I had been very much looking forward to seeing how everything looked since we were taking our formal photos during this time and I didn't get to see any of it. There were also no photos of our organist, soloist, or string quartet and the ceremony, which made me sad. Again, these perhaps are things that come with experience and practice, and like I said, Caty, as a relatively new photographer, is a good value for what she charges. But be prepared to get what you pay for - I wish we had hired a more expensive but more experienced photographer. Cinematographer - Weddings by SML (Orange County, CA): A+ We flew our cinematographers in from California because we couldn't find anyone in New England - or most of the East Coast for that matter - who we loved. So I realize that this review is not particularly helpful for most of the Boston-area brides, but I still want to give them a shout-out because they are really awesome! We haven't seen our video yet, but I know it is going to be amazing. They are SO creative and talented, and I really loved getting to know the owner, Steve, on the phone and when we finally hung out in person the day before the wedding. He's really young, fun, and just loves what he does - and he is GREAT at it. He was as excited to be in Boston as we were to have him, so it was just a really nice working relationship. I can't wait to share the trailer and highlights with all of you. String Quartet - Savoy Strings (Cambridge, MA): A+ This is another group headed by the infamous Regina Cheung. I sadly never got to meet them in person, but they sent me some MP3s of their performance and I was sold. They play beautifully. I've known since I was a little girl that I had to walk down the aisle to Canon in D played by a string quartet - and hired them pretty much for that sole reason. They really fulfilled a childhood dream for me to perfection, and were one of my favorite vendors of the day. As I mentioned in my review of the church, they even practiced and coordinated with our organist to play a few pieces with him, including Ave Maria and our recessional. They went SO above and beyond. Regina was extremely responsive the entire year leading up to the wedding, and really helped me a ton with my music selections for the ceremony. I'm not sure what their standard fee is, but I hired them when we were first starting to play together and their price was insanely reasonable - about half what most other quartets quoted me. I cannot recommend Regina and Savoy Strings enough. I'm not sure if they have a website yet, but feel free to ask me for their contact info. Hair & Makeup - Charlotte Phinney (Scituate, MA): A Charlotte is a sweetheart. I LOVED my hair and makeup on the day of. The trial was a bit shaky - but I will attribute that to me not being clear enough on what I wanted, plus the fact that I got lost on the way to her salon and was late. But although I was not in love with my hair & makeup at the trial, she listened to the changes that I requested and followed through PERFECTLY on the day of the wedding. She and her assistant came to our suite and got through with 8 or 9 of us quickly but thoroughly. She is pricier than some other hair and makeup artists, but she is a true professional and frequently works on photo shoots and for celebrities. My hair and makeup stayed perfectly put all night, and I loved the airbrush makeup and false lashes she used on me. Rehearsal Dinner - Sonsie (Boston, MA): A If I were to rate Sonsie for the preparation leading up to the wedding alone, the rating would be much lower. They are obviously a very popular and busy restaurant, and so communication leading up to the day was not the best. It was a while before we could even confirm that we definitely had the private room reserved, which was stressful. There were also some mix-ups over pricing and menu options which were frustrating. BUT, I quickly forget all that when I think of how much I - and everyone else- LOVED having the rehearsal dinner there the night before the wedding. First, it has always been my husband and my favorite restaurant - we had one of our first dates there, we went there the night after we got engaged, I had my law school graduation lunch there with my family, etc etc. Plus, it is only two blocks from our rehearsal location and the hotel where all of our guests were staying. So having it at Sonsie was really a no-brainer for us. Add in the fact that their private Wine Room is the perfect size for our group (holds about 40 people) and that their private dinner prices were SO reasonable (we paid about $2200 for 3-course meal and open beer/wine for about 35 people, although I think the prices are slightly higher now) - it was really just the perfect place for us. The food was insanely good, the location was perfect for our guests, and price was more than right, and it has so much sentimental value for us -- one of the best choices we made for the wedding! Cake - Montilio's (Brockton/Quincy, MA): A- The cake on the day-of was phenomenal. Everyone LOVED it, and I'm dying to retrieve our top layer from the hotel (and will definitely not be waiting til our one-year anniversary to eat it!) I wouldn't have used them, though, if they hadn't been included in our package with our reception venue. Their design aesthetic a little old-fashioned for my taste, and I didn't feel like I could trust them to do a very elaborate design - which was fine, since a simple cake suited our wedding well, but like I said, I'd look elsewhere if you have an intricate or specific design in mind. In the end, our cake ended up being exactly as we had discussed, but there was some miscommunication in the planning process and it could definitely be tricky to communicate with them at times - which is understandable considering they are a bit of a wedding cake factory. While I would have preferred a smaller boutique-operation, cake was not high on my list of priorities and Montilio's was perfectly fine for what it was - a tasty and simple cake. Wedding Dress - Vows (Newton, MA): A+ LOVE Vows - love it. I stayed there trying on dresses ALL.DAY.LONG. (My poor mother and mother-in-law!) They never once hurried me or rushed me (although I have heard otherwise from other brides - I'd encourage you to make an appointment for a weekday rather than a weekend if you don't want to be rushed!) I have heard some brides say that the dresses were ripped or dirty but every dress I tried on was immaculate - and the Reem Acra I ended up with was a brand new sample that they had just got in and that they said hadn't been tried on by anyone ever. So maybe it is hit or miss, but I have nothing but good things to say about Vows. My dress certainly wasn't cheap, but it was easily half of what it would have cost had it been custom-ordered rather than a sample. Alterations - Alterations by Anahit (Newton, MA): A+ She's as great as everyone says she is. This woman KNOWS dresses, and knows exactly how they should fit a woman. Not to mention that she is a little sweetheart - my mother and mother-in-law and I all love her to death. She did a very elaborate nine-point bustle on my dress and took in the bodice several sizes and did a fantastic job. She also custom-made my cathedral length veil. She is a bit pricey, but well worth it if you want a very capable and experienced seamstress. She mostly only takes Vows brides, but I've been in several times when she was with non-Vows girls too, so it's worth a shot to see if she has time to take you even if you didn't buy your dress from Vows. Tuxes - Men's Wearhouse (Boylston Street, Boston, MA): A- No real complaints here. Easy to work with and the guys looked fab. My husband's tux ended up being much too big for him and he had to do an emergency run back there on the morning of the wedding, which was kind of stressful for him, but everything worked out just fine and they fixed the problem quickly. Bridesmaid and Flower Girl Dresses - Pearl's Place (online): A+ My girls saved a good deal of money by going through Pearl's Place to order their dresses. Unlike some other online retailers, they carried our high-end designers (the bridesmaids wore Vera Wang and the flower girl and junior bridesmaid wore Melissa Sweet), and we saved at least $50 per dress by going through them. Their customer service was easy to deal with and the transactions were quick and painless. As long as you have already had your girls' try on the dresses at the designers' boutiques or other bridal stores and already know exactly what you want, this is a fantastic option.

Re: VENDOR REVIEWS!

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    edited December 2011
    Thanks for the reviews--sounded wonderful! St. Ceclia's looks so amazing; hope I get to go to a wedding there sometime. Did you post your photos yet? Would love to see--you look lovely in the siggy pic!
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    edited December 2011
    I agree with your assessment of Montilio's.  I also ordered a simple cake that was difficult for them to screw up.  If I wanted an elaborate cake, I def would've tried to get out of my venue's imposed cake-cutting fee.I also agree that couples should spend as much as they can afford on photography.  I loved all my photos, but our formals were a bit rushed and I had jitters all day, so I had a pretty tense, nervous look on face most of the afternoon.  Of course, all of this was entirely my fault, and had nothing to do with my photographers' experience or professionalism.  I just wanted to mention that you can always do a "day after shoot".  I'm planning on doing that for our first anniversary.  Also wanted to mention that you're lucky that a videographer/cinematographer was on hand to capture some of the coverage gaps.  Unfortunately, I didn't hire a videographer and I completely regret it.
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    edited December 2011
    Aww it looks like your day was great!  I wanna see pics :)
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    edited December 2011
    Very thorough reviews! :) Sorry to hear about the photos, and I know the feeling. We had not a single pro dancing photo amongst other things. I'm hoping to see it captured in the video!
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    edited December 2011
    Is it totally sad I've been waiting for these? :o)Sounds like you had a really awesome day! And I sooo can't wait to see your video teaser. Maybe just to ease my own fears that I'm not crazy for hiring a non-local videographer... lol
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    edited December 2011
    Thanks for you review - sounds like it was a fantastic day and things really went smoothly!It's helpful to read your review of Montilio's - they are one of the 2 vendor options in our reception package.  We haven't checked them out yet (our wedding is not until May '10) but I will definitely keep all that in mind before we go!
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    msgirl2010msgirl2010 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Hi eouellet!I was trying to figure out how to send you a message and I friended you - sorry if that was weird coming from someone you don't know.Anyway, I looked at your cinematographers - "weddings by sml" and they are amazing.  They are not in my budget though (esp. with travel fees). Would you mind sharing any other recs of videographers that you considered?  I'm asking since you were obviously looking for a similar type of video as I am.Thanks!
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