During my planning process I almost never posted on here but I always found
the reviews helpful so I though I would return the favor. I had a good
experience with all of my vendors with just a couple of hiccups along the
If you're still planning I wish you the best of luck and lots
of deep breaths. Enjoy!
Ceremony: St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Lake
While it isn’t easy to review a Church, I would highly recommend this one. I do believe you have to
be a parishioner to get married there, but I would also highly recommend being a parishioner as well. I joined
mostly because of the pastor, Fr. Ryan. He presided over our wedding and was outstanding…several people (even non
church goers) told us it was the best ceremony they had ever attended. He kept the rehearsal and ceremony upbeat, joyful, and fun. He made everyone involved feel very special.
The wedding prep was super simple – just the Archdiocese Pre-Cana and a 20 minute meeting with Fr. Ryan.
If you do choose this church I would recommend that you start EARLY with the music director…he was very hard to get a hold of and was not very detail oriented. However, the final product was awesome. Also, don’t freak out if Fr. Ryan does not contact you right away, we did not meet with him
until about 6 weeks before the wedding.
Reception Venue: Makray Memorial Golf Course in Barrington, IL
Based on the final product of our wedding reception I would give Makray an A+++++. I was so incredibly happy with every single thing at our reception. From the food to the setup, everything was exactly how I wanted it. I am so glad that we found Makray because it was our perfect reception site. In terms of the preparation, I was never 100% confident in Laurie and Krystal because at times they were a little
forgetful about details we had already discussed. Therefore, if you decide to use Makray I would suggest asking lots of
questions and keeping track of everything you discuss.
Despite my doubts, I will say that they have an incredibly detailed system and they clarify everything with you a lot.
Side note about the food: I highly recommend getting (a lot) of meatballs during cocktail hour. Our guests were in love with the meatballs and my father-in-law actually called the chef several weeks after the wedding to order a supply of meatballs that he could freeze and serve during the holidays.
Overall the food was outstanding, but the meatballs were a definite standout. Additionally, we got several compliments about the staff as well. The service was wonderful and all of the servers/bartenders were extremely friendly and efficient.
Reception Music: Dancetrax Mobile DJ Entertainment with Todd Arcari as our DJ
From start to finish Todd was amazing and I couldn’t be happier with what he added to our wedding. His process of preparation is extremely simple but it works. On the night of our wedding Todd was extremely attentive to my husband
and me as well as our parents and bridal party. He made sure we were prepared and ready for every part of the evening. Of
course he also played exactly the music we were looking for and our dance floor was never empty. The best part was
when he played the Polka version of Bear Down Chicago Bears – my husband and our fathers went nuts! Todd made the party such a fun night….definite A++++++.
Photographer: Erica Rose Photography
Erica is an extremely talented and detail oriented
photographer. The first time I met Erica, she had a very organized system to learn more about me and my event. She was extremely quick to reply to my emails and was always available to answer all my questions. Erica did our engagement pictures as well and the entire experience was
relaxed and fun. At our wedding, Erica was a quiet observer who got all of the right pictures. During the actual ceremony I didn’t even realize that she was there but the pictures turned out great. I had a long list of family pictures that I wanted (lots of divorced parents), but Erica moved through the list quickly and the resulting pictures are priceless. Every single picture Erica took was natural, fun and beautiful. An added bonus was that we received the disc with all of our pictures less than 3 weeks after our wedding. Erica was the very first vendor that we chose and I never once changed my mind or doubted my decision. Erica is talented, organized, and a very calm presence during what can be a stressful process.
Florist: Buss Flower Shop (Libertyville)
Annie and the talented folks at Buss did the flowers for our
wedding and they were outstanding. I gave them very little instruction because I totally trusted them and I was not disappointed. The centerpieces were the best and most beautiful part of our reception tables. They used the wooden boxes and mason jars that I supplied and made them into elegant and rustic all at the same time. They created what I exactly wanted even though I had no idea what I wanted the final product to look like. While I was very happy with
the final product, I was a little annoyed at a couple of things.
First, they mislabeled and mis-delivered a couple of items even though I organized everything for them and went over it with them twice. Also, I told them I did not want roses at all, but they used roses in a few places anyway. I don’t know
much about flowers so maybe they weren’t roses, but they looked like it to me. Overall I would give Buss an A.
Makeup: Vanessa Rose Makeup
I went with Vanessa without any recommendations or referrals which was a little scary. I was also a little nervous because she uses traditional makeup and not airbrushing. With that being said, I loved the final product on my wedding day. Vanessa came to my apartment where we
were getting ready and did my makeup and my mom’s makeup – she does not have a minimum number of people that she must work on. I did a trial at Vanessa’s home studio
and she was very receptive to what I had to say about what she did at that trial. On the actual day of the
wedding she remembered my feedback and nailed it on the first try. The traditional makeup did not go anywhere all day and it all looked amazing in all our pictures. I would highly recommend Vanessa although I realize that for a lot of people her prices might be a tad high. I was willing to pay a little extra because of the convenience and I was not
disappointed. I would highly recommend Vanessa Rose Makeup.
Dress Shop: Shelley’s Bridal
We used Shelley’s for my wedding gown and the bridesmaid
dresses. I would give Shelley’s Bridal an A-. They have an
enormous selection of dresses that were very affordable.
This included a large selection of plus size dresses (which was helpful for me). During my initial appointment to try on dresses my group got little to no attention. My sister in law had to come in to the dressing room with me because
there were no consultants available. This didn’t make me super happy, but it all turned out fine. During every trip back we received very good customer service. We had no issues with any of the dresses we ordered which was a miracle because we had three out of town bridesmaids (two that had to be shipped). There was some confusion with the slip that I ordered, but that was cleared up quickly. I would have
loved to use their alterations person, but she was extremely expensive so I had a friend of a friend do it instead.
I was very satisfied with my overall experience at Shelley’s
Tuxes: Black Tie Forwalwear (Schaumburg)
We compared Black Tie and Men’s Warehouse and we chose Black Tie because their prices were lower and we got a free tux with fewer rentals. Black Tie gets an A+ from me because we had several out of town people that were able to rent their tuxes with no problems. They were able to call
in, email, or fax their measurements. My brother had to contact them a couple of times, because they kept
telling me he hadn’t sent his measurements, but everything turned out just fine. My husband was very happy
that they were able to pick up their Tuxes Thursday afternoon so all the guys were able to play golf on Friday. We had a large selection to choose from and the person we worked with was very helpful in choosing the tux style and colors that best suited our party and dad’s. All in all it was a very good experience.
Transportation: Windy City Limos
My mom took care of most of the details in regards to the
transportation, but overall we were extremely satisfied.
We had a mini-coach for a few hours to transport our bridal party and their dates. We also had two coach buses which operated as shuttles for our guests to and from the hotel and
reception. The buses were clean and on time (early even) and everything worked out as planned. These buses ate up a large chunk of our budget but it was well worth it.
Hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites
We chose this hotel over others that were closer to our
reception because it has a ton of shops and restaurants that are in walking distance. The rooms are nice and those who booked suites were pleasantly surprised that they had a full kitchen in their room. Overall I would say that this hotel is great and I recommend it. However I will note that I was a little stressed out with the sales person that we worked with.
He was not the first person we worked with and when he became involved, that’s when the stress began. Certain details about complimentary items were not explained well in the beginning and when I asked about them, this sales person gave me a lot of attitude and never apologized about the confusion. That situation and several others like it completely stressed me out because we had almost 60 people staying at this hotel and I wanted to make sure my guests were well taken care of. In the end everything worked out and the staff that my guests came in contact with was outstanding. If
you choose to use this hotel for your event just make sure you stay on top of the details and ask a lot of questions!
Rehearsal Dinner: Emmett’s Ale House (Palatine)
We love Emmett’s and were absolutely thrilled with our Rehearsal Dinner. Beth, who we worked with
in the beginning, did a lot to help us make sure the dinner stayed in our budget. The room was amazing, incredibly private, and overlooked the beer tanks. All of the beer drinkers in the group loved trying all the different microbrews that they make at Emmett’s. The staff and service were outstanding and the food was out of this world. When all of our planning began I was a little stressed because I had to plan both our Rehearsal Dinner and Wedding, but using Emmett’s was completely stress-free. They took care of everything and it was exactly what we wanted.
Favors: Etsy – Sunshine Bakes
The majority of our favor was a donation to an animal rescue
group in honor of our beloved dogs, but we also wanted to include a little treat for our guests. Sunshine Bakes has
a ton of regular size cookies and bite size cookies to choose from. We chose little dog bone and dog paw shaped cookies and they were incredible. The cookies are delicious and even though they were shipped from California not a single one
(600 bite sized cookies) was broken or smashed. The owner of this shop knows what she is doing and she completely customized the colors of the icing on our cookies to
match our wedding colors. I was a very detail oriented bride and this shop owner was my perfect match. If you are looking to do any kind of cookie for a favor check out
Sunshine Bakes – she will not disappoint you.