Venue: Pinstripes in Edina (A)
I really cannot say enough good things about Pinstripes. It's a newer place, and I don't think it's been firmly established as a wedding venue in the Minneapolis area, but it definitely should be. They provide a wedding package that includes their upstairs ballroom (which has a beautiful view of Centennial Lakes park, and access to the outdoor terrace with bonfire pits and bowling/bocce), food (family style Italian--one guest said it was the best food they'd had at a wedding ever), and 4 hours of hosted drinks (beer, wine, soda). Brooke, the event coordinator, was so supportive of everything we wanted to do, and was so responsive by phone and e-mail, and she met with us in person several times to go over the details. I would HIGHLY recommend this venue.
Photographer: Render Photography (A)
My husband and I know Britt from college, so this was a no brainer for us. But even so, I probably would have chosen her for our photographer anyway. First of all, she has a really beautiful photojournalistic style. I haven't seen our wedding pics yet, but based on our engagement pictures (which were BEAUTIFUL), I know I'm in good hands. Second, I have a really hard time taking good pictures and feel uncomfortable in front of the camera, but Britt is so great at making you feel like you're having a great time. I hope that shows up in the pictures
She's very easy to work with and her pictures are beautiful, so I would definitely recommend Render!
Baker: Sweet Treats by Jeff Perila (A)
I'm pretty sure the most frequently asked question of the night was "WHO MADE THESE CUPCAKES?" Seriously, they are so good. Jeff runs his business from his home in Savage, and he invited us over for a tasting and made us feel very welcome. We ended up choosing the peanut butter mousse torte (in my opinion, a must have), french vanilla raspberry, and pumpkin (which he doesn't list on his website, but I asked him and he said no problem!) He made us a 7 inch round cake to put our cake topper on as well. We also rented a cupcake stand from him and had him deliver the cupcakes and set them up. He was honestly one of the easiest vendors to work with, and the cupcakes were so good. Definitely recommend.
Band: Casablanca Orchestra (A-)
So much fun! Live music was a must for us, and one of the musicians used to teach music to my husband, so they were a clear choice. They have a drummer, bassist, guitarist, keyboarder, three vocalists, a trumpet player and a sax player. They played three great sets with excellent choices of music--something for everyone. Lots of musical eras represented. Some variety of tempo. Excellent sound quality and musicianship. They are, however, very expensive and had a very particular contract with some very particular provisions. They are kind people, but there was a little bit of a diva vibe in what they demanded. Their sound engineer was particularly hard to work with (Pinstripes had never had a live band set up before, but now we know it can be done!) But they were one of the biggest talking points of our wedding and were professionals onstage. People really enjoyed dancing (or at least listening) to them, and they were very interactive. They play regular shows around the cities, so you can definitey check them out ahead of time. If you can afford it, and your venue is willing to work with them, I would recommend CBO.
Hair/Makeup: Creative Beaute Agency, formerly Smart & Chic (A-)
My stylist was Dee, and her work was fabulous. She did my hair and makeup and my mom's makeup. I had a loose updo with a braid across my face, and it turned out beautifully. I also chose to do airbrush makeup and false eyelashes, and I would recommend both (they look great and last an insane amount of time). Best of all, Dee's presence allowed me to have a very relaxing wedding day. She knows what she's doing, is full of advice, and is so reassuring that everything will turn out fine. She came over to my mom's house to do the hair and makeup, and we were just relaxing and giggling and had a great time. She even went above and beyond to help hide a bruise on my maid of honor's arm. The company itself has a setup that's a little impersonal--everything is done by requesting services online. There are no phone calls to discuss services. It's nice because all your information is right there, but it's a little disconcerting if you want to talk things over with someone. For me, it was fine. Prices are also pretty expensive, especially if you do the trial (which I would recommend for peace of mind's sake). But considering the artists travel to you (which helps keep the stress level down), I thought it was worth it!