I have actually never posted on here before but since the vendor reviews on here were so helpful to me when planning my wedding, I decided to post some reviews of my own. I relied a lot on these reviews since though I am from LI, I currently live in Virginia, and had to plan everything long distance. The wedding was on Sunday, November 8, 2009, and we had 180 guests. The total cost including the honeymoon, was about $34,000. I also have pictures of everything, so if anyone wants any ideas or help with DIY projects, just let me know!
Here they are!
Save the Dates: We bought our save the dates from Kodak.com. You can use any picture you want, and the prices were great ($80 for 130). We got a lot of compliments on them.
Invites: We used the do it yourself invitation kits from Michael’s. They took a little experimenting but ended up working out great. In total, for 150 invites, response cards, thankyou cards, and place cards it cost about $200.
Wedding Gown: I had some trouble finding a gown that I wanted, so when I finally found one online, but was unable to find it in any store I was pretty frustrated, because no one wants to risk buying a bridal gown, without trying it on first! So my mom found out that the Bridal Suite of Centereach is willing to order any gown for $100. If I decided to keep the gown, the $100 would go towards the price, if I decided I didn’t like it, they would keep the gown as a sample, and I would have a $100 credit at their store, which is fine since they sell veils, jewelry, etc. So I ordered through them and of course I loved the gown. They were very easy to deal with over the phone and had no problem working around my schedule. They made a mistake when quoting me the price so they gave me the lower incorrect price ($680 for a P.C. Mary’s gown), and they capped the alterations at $250, which was a bad idea for them because they had to practically take my dress apart and put it back together again! Their sales people were great, and their seamstresses were very nice, but they had a bit of a hard time with my dress. I ended up going for 4 fittings! Granted it is a very complicated dress, but I would have expected a little more from professional seamstresses. However it worked out in the end, the dress looked beautiful, and everyone thought I had an antique gown. I bought my slip online for $70 from KnottheGroom.com, and my undergarments at a store in VA called Modern Trousseau (very good!).
Veil: Bought my veil online from Occaneseydesigns.com. They were wonderful because I custom designed my veil, and even emailed them in order to get some options that weren’t listed on the website. I received a sample swatch from them in order to pick out the right color, and they mailed my veil to me very quickly. I got a cathedral length veil (~ 70inches long) in a dark ivory color, with some extra glimmer added to it, along with a case to keep it in for $112 including shipping. I LOVED this website!
Shoes: I bought my shoes online from Shoebuy.com for $15, which was great! While I would normally be nervous about buying shoes without trying them on, Shoebuy.com has a great return policy. You can return the shoes or exchange them for a different size, or style, at no additional charge, no shipping fees, nothing. And it was pretty easy to find coupon codes for them online. I simply bought dyeable shoes and had them dyed for $20 at a shoe place near me in VA, though there was a place in Selden that was willing to do it for the same price.
Jewelry: We bought our wedding rings from Helzburg Jewelers, and JB Robinson (mine was about $500, and my husband’s was about $200). As far as my bridal jewelry goes, I was having a lot of trouble finding what I wanted. So I decided to go to a beading store (which also had real pearls and Swarovski crystals), and I told them what I wanted. They showed me how to make it, and I made my own earrings, bracelet, and shoe clips (my shoes needed a little bling). I also had some crystals and pearls left over so I gave them to the florist to use when making my headpiece. It ended up costing me about $50 total for my jewelry (not including the rings of course).
Tuxes: We ended up renting tuxes from Black Tie Tux, which is located inside Fantasia Bridal in Rocky Point. They were great in person, but over the phone they were a pain in the butt. They were very disorganized, and for a while I was ready to cancel my order, but in the end they came through with beautiful tuxes, which were much more luxurious looking than the ones we had seen at places like MWTux. I would not recommend trying to deal with this store long distance, but if you are in the area they have a great selection.
Bridesmaid Dresses: I ended up ordering bridesmaid dresses from Jasmine which were very nice, the material was gorgeous. I found them at the same store that I bought my bridal gown, and then called around to find the best price. There was actually a $50 difference per dress depending on the store.
Flower Girl Dresses: I bought the cutest little dresses for my 2 flowergirls at Burlington Coat Factory. They were $30 each, and everyone loved them. Around the holidays Burlington Coat Factory has a ton of beautiful dresses for girls from infants to around 9yrs old. I would definitely recommend checking them out!
Accessories: Most of my accessories I made myself, because it was easy and cheaper to do it that way. Also this was I had unique items that were designed the way I wanted them to be. For my guest book, I bought a hardcover journal from Borders, and wrapped it in ivory silk and tulle, accented with ribbons that I purchased from Walmart (they have a pretty good cloth/sewing section). For my flowergirl baskets, I purchased 2 small baskets for $2 each from Walmart, and decorated them with the same material/ribbons as the guest book, I also did the same thing with the ringbearer pillow. I bought a small pillow from Michaels and covered it and decorated it with that material again. I also purchased a large basket with a handle and decorated it the same way. I used this to hold flower petals wrapped in tulle (provided by the florist), to be handed out and thrown at the church, and then after the ceremony, we used it as our card basket, instead of a box. I also got some cheap antique looking frames from the Christmas Tree Shops (love that store!) to put old family wedding photos in. And my mom, found some cheap Chinese slippers online. We wrapped them in tulle and placed them in large baskets near the dance floor, for people to take, so they would keep dancing. The DJ made an announcement about them and they were mostly gone by the end of the night. Everyone kept thanking us for them!
Favors: We decided to give a donation to the charity “Child’s Play” as our favor. We printed out small ivory business cards (from Office Depot, nice paper quality) with the logo and stating that in lieu of a favor we were making a donation to this charity, and placed one on every charger plate. We also printed out an explanation of what the charity was and what they did and placed it in a picture frame on the gift table. We also gave some cookies that I baked, wrapped in tulle so there would be something on the table. It was definitely a pain to bake and wrap all of those cookies, but it was worth it in the end.
Registry: We registered at Bed Bath and Beyond, and Target. Both have the usual perks and policies. The only thing that has been a bit of a pain with Target is if someone ordered you something online (from Target.com), it is very difficult to return it to a store. I have been able to do it with most things, but it required a lot of complaining and phone calls, etc.
Makeup: Danielle Minnella did my makeup and my mother’s and she made us both look amazing. I think that it was the prettiest I have ever looked in my life! She was very easy to work with and had no problem working around my schedule. I had airbrush makeup which was great, and it lasted a very long time (except the lipstick of course!). She gave me a second trial for free, gifted both me and my mother the lip liner, and was very relaxing to have around the morning of the wedding ($150 for day of). Great Makeup Artist!
Hair: I used Roseanna Amador from CosmoNY for my hair. She was a little expensive ($200 for day of), but she really did an amazing job. When I first went to her for a trial I couldn’t figure out what I wanted and she worked with me and I ended up wanting something completely different. She ended up doing my hair, my mother’s, and 2 of my bridesmaids’, one of which has very difficult hair. She was very in control and relaxing to hair around that morning. If you are worried about your hair or are willing to spend the money I would definitely recommend her.
Florist: I booked Hidden Essence as my florist. Michelle is the owner and she was wonderful. She was great to deal with long distance, I was able to email her pictures and descriptions and she would come back with something gorgeous. Her prices were great and she had no problem working with me on them. I provided the flowergirl baskets, and the hurricane lamps and candles that were used in the centerpieces in order to reduce the price (her price was $15 for each lamp/candle set, while I was able to find them online and ship them for $9 per set). She filled the flowergirl baskets with gorgeous flowers, made my bouquet, 3 bridesmaids’ bouquets, 16 centerpieces, flower petals to throw, 2 hair wreaths for the flowergirls, 8 corsages, 12 boutonnières, flower petals for the cake table and the place card table, and some greenery for the top of the cake for about $1400. Everything was beautiful, and she even set up my guest book for me! I would highly recommend Michelle to anyone, she was so sweet, and had a great sense of what I wanted it to look like. She never tried to push her own ideas, which is a problem I have heard about with other florists. She was even sweet enough to make me a floral headpiece to wear as a gift! You cannot find better than her!
Photographer: My husband and I used Rendezvous Wedding Photography. We spent a little more than originally intended ($3,000) but it was worth it, Chris and Henry were great. We booked a package with them, and included is a digital copy of all of the pictures including rights to reprint, which surprisingly is something that not everyone offers. They were easy to work with long distance and were both very nice and funny during the wedding. They were great because they were always around taking pictures but they weren’t noticed, and didn’t intrude into the day which is something I was looking for. A few people commented to me that they were like ninjas because you never realized they were there until you heard the click of the camera. They were wonderful, and their pictures turned out great!
Limo: We used Double Diamond Limousine. They had a good variety of limos to choose from and their Chrysler 300 limo for 12 people cost about $550 for 4.5 hours. They were very easy to deal with and book. The driver was a little odd, but he was polite and got the job done. He also was very helpful to the photographers with setting up shots.
Church: We got married in St Patrick’s R.C. Church in Bayshore. This church is absolutely gorgeous (though a little pricey), and Deacon Frank, who performed our ceremony was very sweet. The church looks huge and has very high ceilings to give that impression, but once everyone is seated the pews/aisle are not very long so it gave the ceremony a very intimate feel because everyone was fairly close to us. This is obviously not our parish, but they had no problem with that, and we were able to take any wedding prep stuff at the church near our house in VA. They provided any musicians, and were flexible when I wanted to change things or move them around. Their organist was very good, and the woman who ran the rehearsal had a great sense of humor. It is beautiful stone church, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a catholic ceremony.
Reception Hall: We used The Mansion at Timber Point, which is a Lessing’s property in Great River, and it was the best wedding I have ever been to, though I may be a little biased! They worked with me on the price when I booked and a month before the wedding. They made any changes I asked for from them, and gave us 2 tastings (one for our parents since we weren’t in the state, and one for us when we were able to get here). The food was phenomenal! Everybody was raving about it, and we had one dish of each. They opened the bar and put out food early when some of our guests arrived 45mins before the cocktail hour, and they packed everything up for us at the end of the night. The place is gorgeous, it is an old mansion on the water, and they have retained the feeling of the beautiful old house, while making it into an amazing reception hall. We had a personal assistant for the day, who made sure that us, our parents, and our bridal party were never without a drink in their hand, and the maitre’d was amazing, constantly checking in and changing things immediately as requested. They even had a coat check. They also had no problem dealing with various food allergies (peanut, gluten, etc) among the guests. And they constantly made sure that my siblings had everything they needed for all of their various children (there were 9 children under the age of 10 there), including kid’s meals, which were very good, I tried some! Everybody raved about the place and how beautiful it was, and how the service was so good. The amazing thing was it was one of the cheapest places I looked at! It was about $16,500 for 180 guests, open bar, cake, cocktail hour, 4 hour reception. They were perfect, I could not have asked for anything more!
DJ: We used Stan Wiest as our DJ company since he was recommended by the hall and had good prices ($1500). He is a very professional musician and was easy to deal with. We ended up with Ralph as our actual DJ, and he was very good. His motto was that since we were paying him, he would do whatever we wanted, which is something any bride would love to hear. He met with me once beforehand to go over everything, and had no problem fielding my phone calls with changes the week before the wedding. During the reception if my husband or I asked him the change anything the response was instantaneous. And he schmoozed with the guests really well, without constantly talking (which drives me crazy at some weddings!).
Cake: The cake was included in the contract with the reception hall, and they used Black Forest Bakery in Lindenhurst. They were very difficult to deal with long distance. If you are unable to go into their actual store to talk to them don’t bother. I tried to also order a cake for my husband as a surprise at the rehearsal dinner, but they couldn’t be bothered with returning my phone calls. When we designed the cake they were very nice, and the cake looked good and tasted absolutely delicious. However, they didn’t design the cake exactly how we had discussed which, I’m not sure how since I gave them a color picture of what I wanted, and it was supposed to have chocolate mousse as a filling, but instead it had plain white mousse. It still tasted very good, and the guests never knew the difference but they did screw up a little.
Hotel: We booked a block of rooms at the Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge. We dealt with Matthew Fisher and they were wonderful! The provided my guests with an outside shuttle from the hotel to the reception hall, and back again at the end of the night, even though they were about 30mins away from the hall. This way all of our guests were able to enjoy the open bar as much as they wanted and not have to worry about driving back. My husband and I took the shuttle at the end of the night as well, this way we didn’t have to pay for the limo to sit around during the reception. They also had a great Bridal suite, which they comped for us, and then gave it to us for the block rate ($129 a night) for the 2nd night. They even had a heated indoor pool which was great for a November wedding!
Honeymoon: For our honeymoon, we went to Italy. It was actually cheaper than I thought it would be since we went in November. We spent 2 nights in Venice, 2 in Florence, 2 in Siena, and 4 in Rome. We planned everything ourselves but had help booking our hotels with a travel agent. If I were to do it again, I would probably just do it myself. It was an exhausting but wonderful honeymoon! It cost about $4,000 (not including spending money).