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Ceremony Venue Byron Colby Barn Reception Venue Byron Colby Barn Ceremony Music (if outside the church) Just Press Play Productions Reception Music Just Press Play Productions Photographer Kara Schultz Florist Nancy Rolison Linens/Lighting/Rentals O’Tarpey Rentals Makeup Laura through Carla G. Hair Vi’s House of Beauty Dress Shops (both bride and bridesmaid) Bride- Wedding Belles of Barrington; bridesmaids- Volle’s Bridal Accessories (Veil/shoes/hair pieces, etc) etsy.com, mostly Tux/Suits Sym’s Calligraphy Ann Aldrich Bakery Molly’s Cupcakes Caterers Smoque BBQ Hotel Block Doubletree Libertyville/Mundelein Rehearsal Dinner Bill’s Pizza, Mundelein Bridal Party gifts etsy.com
I would recommend all of them!
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Ceremony Venue: Cantigny Rock Garden A
The location was beautiful. I wanted an outdoor ceremony and this location was perfect.
Reception Venue: Cantigny Le Jardin D
If I could do it all over again, I would have done our reception elsewhere. We went with Cantigny because a coworker of mine had their reception at the Red Oak Room a few months before we got engaged and had fantastic things to say. Our experience was not good at all. They were hard to get a hold of via email and telephone. We went through 3 banquet managers in the course of our signing to our wedding. The first one we signed with, Magan Asher, would respond to emails in all caps (which maybe she did not mean it to be yelling but netiquette says don’t do that). Niguel Fink (who we think was let go) was uninformative and terrible about returning emails. When we met with her, she never mentioned that there were additional charges for certain times. We were not told until 2 weeks before the wedding the Niguel was no longer there and Meghan Hull would be taking care of things (except for our wedding, which Magan Asher was in charge of). H would call Megan Hull and leave messages and emails and she would never respond. She once told him to call one morning between 9 and 10 which he did and it went to the voicemail that says they are in. She did not return his call and wasn’t in again for several days. He wound up meeting with them a few days before the wedding because they could not keep their stories straight. The day of the wedding, things they told us were not happening (we were told we could start setting up the reception at 3 and my helpers came at 3 to set up and were rudely told they couldn’t start until 5). They also sent our florist away when she was trying to deliver our chuppah arrangements. When we forgot plates for our tisch and my MOH went to ask for some napkins, they made a huge deal about giving us a stack of napkins.
The only reason I am giving them a D and not an F is because everything during the reception went off very well and our guests never knew about the problems. Magan Asher also brought us some appetizers for our yichud which I greatly appreciate.
Ceremony Music Jazmer A
Shirlee Todd and her band are fantastic. I wish I could remember what the music sounded like but I was so nervous and excited I don’t even remember! But all my guests said they were great. Shirlee also was great about emails and phone calls.
Reception Music Rex Albrecht (DJ Sounds)- B
We were originally planning an IPOD wedding and I am glad we got Rex. He did a great job of keeping the dance floor moving for most of the night. My only complaints are that he introduced us as Meredith and Edith (which is definitely NOT my husbands names). He also played 2 do not play list songs (which we had said were songs only one did not want to hear). I know he meant well but I really didn’t want to hear the Humpty Dance at my wedding.
Photograher Mike A with Studio 1 D
We had some problems when we first went with Studio one. We asked them who had a lot of experience with Jewish weddings and the owner sent us a snotty email saying it did not matter. Two coworkers had highly recommended them, so we went with them anyway. We picked Mike A because he had done 10 Jewish weddings before. We did receive our pictures within a few days, which was nice. Sadly, there are a ton of important pictures missing. When we called about why there were important missing pictures and a lot of the family photos had people blinking, we were basically told the photographer was having camera problems throughout the night. No compensation on our wedding book or free prints for the fact that there are things missing. We were told if we could find these pictures from other people, we could include those in our album. Um, no, I will make my album online instead of paying you $1000 to make it for me. I just felt really let down at the pictures.
Videographer David Kasdan A (pending final product)
David was easy to get in touch with. I noticed he was always around for the wedding parts but he was never obtrusive. He has also been easy to get in touch with since then. I am very excited to see my final video next month.
Florist Hollyhocks in Wheaton A
These ladies are amazing. I forgot my jr bridesmaid when we made our final booking and they ran back and made a new bouquet for her. The flowers were beautiful and the prices were fantastic. I loved them and would use them again in a heartbeat.
Makeup Lindsey from Zano Salons in Batavia A
I have been going to Lindsey for years for waxing and love her. My make up looked fantastic and I was so happy with it. I had a dress fitting right after my make up trial and Sue said the make up looked perfect. Furthermore, her prices were great. Sadly, she works Saturdays but if you are doing a Friday or Sunday wedding and want someone to do fantastic make up for a great price, PM me for her phone number.
Hair Katie A
Katie is a friend of Lindsey’s. She did a great job on my hair and on my bridesmaids. I was so happy with how everyone’s hair turned out. Her prices were very reasonable as well. PM me if you are interested in her phone number.
Dress Shops bride Wolsfelts Bridal in Aurora A
I got my dress at their sample sale in July and could not be happier. I had picked a ton of dresses out (including custom made ones) and I never felt like the saleslady was pushing me towards the more expensive ones. The dressing rooms are a little bizarre (since they only have heavy curtains) but I loved my experience anyway. I also got my veil and headband from there during one of their many sales.
Dress ship BMs Target B
My bridesmaids were from all over the country, so going shopping together was not really an option. The pluses were easy returns and the price ($50!) The negatives were the lack of selection (only 2 dresses in the right color) and the sizes ran out (one of my BMs got pregnant a month after we chose the dress so she had some problems figuring out what to wear). It worked out in the end though.
Alterations Sues Bridal A
I love Sue and I think she does a great job. However, both layers of my bustle broke the night of the wedding though I don’t know if that is because of her or not. But the bustle looked beautiful while it lasted.
Suits Jos. A. Bank
We had the GM wear black suits and then H bought them cream shirts and red ties from Jos. A. Bank. However, they ordered ties which they could not find the correct number on. He ordered them in June and when we returned from Costa Rica in August, they still did not have all the ties. We wound up returning them and going elsewhere. The shirts were nice though.
H’s suit case from Jos. A. Bank and it looked good. But he had bought it beforehand. But the all black suits looked great and I am really glad we went this route instead of tux.
Ties Macys A
With one week until the wedding, we had no ties for the groomsmen. We went to Fox Valley Macys and looked for ties. The poor saleslady kept going and getting more as I was starting to freak out (since it was a week to the wedding). When they did not have enough of them in store, she called the next nearest one and convinced them to put it on hold for us for H to pick up the next morning. I don’t know what we would have done with out them.
Invitations I made these myself so I am going to break it down into different pieces
Paper- Paperandmore A+
The paper was beautiful and what I ordered precut was amazing. The prices were also good.
Cutting Fedex F
Before printing, I went to my nearest Fedex with my mock up and said “Hey, I am going to get these cut here, what kind of crop marks do I need.” I was told the ones I had were fine. When I printed them off and brought them in, I was told they were too big. There are little lines on a lot of my invites. I know that no one probably noticed but it made me so sad that things did not come out perfectly.
Bakery The Baking Institute B
Cantigny includes cake and the original baker retired before our wedding so we had to use the Baking Institute. The cake was delicious but the flowers were the wrong shade of red. Not a big deal but still not perfect.
Transportation West Suburban Limo A
I decided to get the wedding party a limo the Friday before a Sunday wedding. They were able to arrange transport for us to the ceremony and the price was good. The limo was on time and clean. I wish I had remembered the champagne though.
Hotel Block Marriott Courtyard in Naperville B
For the most part, everything went very well. They gave us a room for breakfast for our guests, which was fantastic. They also added rooms to our block when it was close to full. We also hosted our rehearsal dinner here, which was awesome. The bar in the lobby worked out great for getting drinks and the lobby was great for an after party after the wedding.
First, my MOH noticed when we were getting ready that there were dead ants on the wall in the bridal suite. She went down the front desk and alerted them of the problem and they said they would come clean when we left. They did not. They did adjust our bill and take off half of the cost of the room from the previous night.
Second, we had close to 30 rooms booked in the hotel (out of about 100). When I first signed with them, I made it very clear that I wanted all my guests to be able to take the shuttle if interested (both my parents have been hit by intoxicated drivers). I was told by Dawn that they would run as many shuttles as need be. However, when I went to sign H and I up for the last shuttle back from the ceremony, I was told that we would have to be on the 10 PM since the other two were full. However, there were still a lot of guests who had not signed up for a shuttle. They wound up giving us a 4th shuttle back at 12:30 and let us be on that one, but I know several guests were not able to take the shuttle because they were full. I also felt like we should have gotten a second night free since we had so many rooms booked (of the 30 rooms, 15 were for 3 or more nights). I just feel like I brought them a ton of business.
Rehersal Dinner Naf Naf Grill C
I contacted Sahar with Naf Naf in June of 2010 about using kosher meat for our rehearsal dinner. He said it was not a problem and to talk to him closer to the date. This became H’s responsibility. Sahar was hard to get in touch with. They finally tracked him down and worked everything out. However, Sahar never told the other guy that he was to use kosher meat. So they never ordered the kosher meat and they brought us unkosher meat. Granted, H and his dad screwed up as they never got a contract stating that and we were not charged for the kosher meat. But H and MIL were furious that night because of it so it definitely made the RD start off poorly. However, the only people affected by this were H, his parents, and his brother. Everyone else said the food was fantastic and had a great time so I gave them a C since I think a part of this is H’s fault for not getting a contract from a guy who was clearly unreliable. Bridal Party gifts
I got my ladies a few gifts from different places so, here are their reviews.
Cookbooks Amazon.com A
I ordered a cookbook in each girls interest off Amazon and was very satisfied. The books arrived in a timely manner and in good shape.
Photo Frames Big Lots C
The frames were fine except one was broken when I got it and then when H tried to return it, they said it had to be in its original packing (there was no original packaging). Eventually they returned it but seriously.
Gift Cards Target from St. Joseph in Aurora
A lady at my school has a son at St. Joe’s and they sell gift cards, which gives them some money back. I got the girls Target gift cards which worked out great as everyone loves Target.
Tote Bags Vistaprint B
I don’t do wrapping paper, so I got matching totes for the girls to put their gifts in. The bags were kind of low quality but I didn’t care since I don’t expect them to use them afterwards. But they were kind of cute.
Registry Macys in Minneapolis A
Karen at the Macys in downtown Minneapolis was fantastic. She could find anything I wanted and get it on our registry. She also kept the right amount of contact with us about what was going out of stock. Returns were also super easy (except the one time we went to the one in Fox Valley).
Registry Crate and Barrel B
Easy returns and exchanges were great. However, the service was lacking compared to Macys. And they do not offer free shipping on items not available in store.
Rings Mike N at Thomas Joseph and Sons in Minneapolis A
Mike N was fantastic. We were working on a budget and using very old family diamonds and he made me a gorgeous engagement ring that did not break the bank. Our wedding bands were also amazing. If you are looking for reasonably priced custom work that is done on the premises, go to them. They are amazing! Also, every time I go in, he redips my ring for free as well as polishing it up.
Ceremony Venue: St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Lake Zurich (highly recommend Fr. Ryan who is the pastor) Reception Venue: Makray Memorial Golf Course in Barrington (highly recommend) Ceremony Music (if outside the church): Used Church music director Reception Music: Dancetrax Mobile DJ Entertainment with Todd Arcari as our DJ (highly, highly recommend) Photograher: Erica Rose Photography (highly recommend) Videographer: N/A Florist: : Buss Flower Shop in Libertyville (recommend) Linens/Lighting/Rentals: N/A Entertainment (Photobooth, etc): N/A Wedding Coordinator: N/A Makeup: Vanessa Rose Makeup (recommend) Hair: my regular hairstylist Dress Shops (both bride and bridesmaid): Shelley’s Bridal in West Dundee (recommend) Accessories (Veil/shoes/hair pieces, etc): No veil, Shoes – DSW, Jewelry – Macy’s, Hair Pieces – Etsy (VirginiaGeigerJewels – recommend), Memorial picture charm for bouquet – Etsy (KCowie – recommend) Alterations: Friend of a Friend Cleaning/Preservation: N/A Tux/Suits: Black Tie Formalwear (highly recommend) Invitations: Cards and Pockets for supplies, Designed by me, printed by Fiorelli Graphics and Printing in Libertyville Calligraphy: N/A Bakery: Central Continental Bakery (recommend) Caterers: N/A Transportation: Windy City Limos (recommend) Hotel Block: Hampton Inn & Suites Lincolnshire (recommend, but you have to stay on top of everything...do not rely on Mehmood to explain) Rehersal Dinner: Emmett’s Ale House (Palatine) (highly, highly recommend) Favors – Etsy (Sunshine Bakes – highly recommend) Bridal Party gifts - Etsy