Better late than never, right? My wedding took place in South Jersey but I live in North Jersey so I have a mix of vendors from both areas.
Venue - Valenzano Winery (Shamong, NJ) - A+
We viewed 13 venues before we walked into Valenzano. We wanted something a little different, not a typical NJ ballroom wedding, and the Winemaker's Ballroom was exactly that for us. Our ceremony was outside next to the vineyard and cocktail hour was inside the barrel room which was really cool. The wine was very good and you have to buy a wine package (which is the only additional cost of booking this venue). Julie (their event coordinator) was extremely helpful. She responded to my questions almost immediately. The only thing I didn't like was that we were told we couldn't arrive at the winery until 4pm due to their tasting room being open until then. I ended up getting permission to arrive at 3pm so we could do a first-look and pictures before our ceremony and that worked out well.
Caterer - Ultimate Caterers (Marlboro, NJ) - D
If I could go back and never use this vendor, I would. There were red flags before my wedding day and we were stupid not to cancel and re-book with someone else. The food was good but the service was horrible and I definitely think we overpaid for what we got. We originally met with Jennifer who was awesome. She was easy to get a hold of, very flexible with meeting with us, and very helpful when we viewed Valenzano. We then met with Alan (the owner) to start going over the details for our wedding day. Valenzano offers a lighting package for $600. We told Alan we did not want this package as we were already paying our DJ for uplighting but he insisted we should have it and that we should think about it. This lighting package ended up on our updated invoice at least 3 more times before he removed it. Almost every time we received a new invoice, there was random stuff added on or the guest count was wrong. Fast forward to our wedding day. The bartenders Alan sent were absolutely HORRENDOUS. They were filling the glasses more than half of the way full with alcohol and providing no ice (we ended up running out of vodka because of this). The male bartender had no clue what he was doing, he didn't know basic cocktails and was extremely slow. The female bartender berated him repeatedly in front of my guests. She also made my guests wait in line while she reached in her shirt to pull out dollar bills (tips placed on the bar, I assume), straighten them out, and then put them inside her purse. At the end of the night, the maitre d' (the female bartender's husband) actually came to my husband and I demanding a tip for the bartenders. If you don't care about service at all, then go ahead and book this caterer. Otherwise, run far away.
Cake - Bovella's Pastry Shoppe (Westfield, NJ) - C
I will start by saying that the overall design of the cake was exactly what we wanted and the cake was delicious. However, it arrived in horrible condition. You could see about an inch of cardboard in between each layer and there were indents from fingers all over the entire thing. I wish I had a picture of how bad it was before my florist came to the rescue. Very disappointing.
Dress and Earrings - Maggie Sottero Presca from Hollywood Bridal (Kenilworth, NJ) - A+
I was absolutely in love with my dress and the women at Hollywood Bridal were fantastic. I called them specifically to try on this dress and they were able to squeeze me in that night. I bought the dress on the spot (after trying on dozens of dresses elsewhere). Alterations (excluding bustle) were included in the price of my dress which was very nice. The alterations were perfect and my dress fit me like a glove. The bustle they added was very easy for my MOH to handle. I also bought my earrings here and they are great quality and very beautiful.
Tuxes - Men's Wearhouse (Freehold, NJ) - A+
My husband and his GM had a very easy time booking their tux rentals here. The saleswoman was very knowledgeable and helpful and everything fit the guys great the day of the wedding. My husband opted to pay for his tux rental and receive a free suit (vs getting the tux rental for free). We didn't realize he only had 30 days to go for the suit and just went last week and they still honored it which we thought was great.
DJ - Austin from Elite Sound Entertainment (Saddle Brook, NJ) - A+
We booked Austin as our DJ and also had full-room uplighting and the photobooth. He was the only DJ we met with and he was incredible! He was so fun and definitely knew his stuff. My husband and I love to dance at weddings and ours was no exception. Austin helped keep our dance floor packed the whole night. He also brought me up to the DJ booth and gave me white headphones for a cute photo-op. Highly, highly recommend.
Photographer - Stephanie Jones Photography (Brick, NJ) -
Since we're waiting to design our album (we're taking forever to choose photos, so it's our fault, not Stephanie's), I'm going to hold off on reviewing this vendor. Overall, we are very happy with our photographer.
Officiant - Rev. Richard Cash - A+
Richard was so great! My husband and I met with him and booked him the very next day. He is very organized and extremely responsive. He made our ceremony beautiful but still fun. Definitely recommend!
Florist - Savannah's Garden (Elmer, NJ) - A+
Laura at Savannah's Garden is amazing! My mom and I met with her about a year out and she understood exactly what we were looking for. Her prices are extremely reasonable. We didn't have floral centerpieces but we had hydrangea lining the aisle and silver urns with white cherry blossoms at the top of the aisle. The bouquets were absolutely beautiful. My cake arrived pretty screwed up and Laura came to the rescue and helped make it more presentable. She went completely above and beyond and I can't thank her enough.
Makeup - Jillyan Scarpa (Little Falls, NJ) - A+
Jillyan did my makeup for my engagement photos, for my trial, and on my wedding day. She was so fun to be around and she made me look and feel beautiful. I told her I wanted to still look like myself, so nothing heavy, and she did exactly what I asked for. The day of my wedding, Jillyan arrived on time and ready to go. 3 of my aunts decided they also wanted their makeup done and Jillyan was able to squeeze them in and still have all 10 of us finished and ready to go on time. She did not charge anything for travel which was really nice because I know it was a bit of a hike for her.
Calligraphy - Dani Writes Calligraphy (Brick, NJ) - A+
I have this board to thank for me finding out about Dani. She was the most reasonable calligrapher I could find and her work is just beautiful. She answered all of my emails and I loved that I was able to drop my envelopes off and pick them back up rather than dealing with shipping.
Hotel - Wyndham Mount Laurel - B
The rooms were very nice and very clean. We also had a breakfast the morning after our wedding and that went great. The food was fresh and very good. My main complaints are: the suites are all on one floor and you need a key card in order to get to that floor and the key cards rarely worked. There were many trips down to the lobby to get a new card that would allow my BMs and I back onto my floor which was a bit annoying. Also, the elevators take FOREVER. When we originally booked we were told that they would provide mirrors, tables, and various sized chairs for us to use while getting ready (we did hair and makeup in my suite). None of these things arrived when we asked and when they did arrive, it was 1 chair and then 20 minutes later something else showed up and so on. In the end, it all worked out and the issues were more of an annoyance than anything.
Travel Agency for HM - South African Airways Vacations - A+
We based our vacation on one of the packages listed on their website but we were able to personalize it to fit what we wanted. They handle all flights, transfers, tours and accommodations. It was great to get off a flight and have someone waiting there to take you to your hotel and then to wake up and have someone waiting downstairs to take you on your tour for the day. SAAV was really fantastic and if we visit SA again, we will absolutely book with them.
Various Etsy sellers:
Veil - abusymother - Very reasonable, great quality, fast shipping
Garter - thehoneybeeshop - Beautiful and arrived very quickly
Cake topper - thepinkowlgifts - Decent quality (thinner than I expected) but reasonably-priced
Door-hanger signs - interprintations - Great quality, such a cute addition to our welcome bags
Cake forks and glass charms - jessicaNdesigns - Some of my favorite little details from our wedding day
Random other details/purchases that we loved:
Lanterns were from Ikea as our centerpieces
Votives were from Walmart
Flip flops and wine corks were from eBay
Bouquet vases and hydrangea jars were from Dollar Tree
Candles and holders were from Quick Candles
Photobooth frames (magnetic) were from photoboothframes.com
My shoes were Vera Wang Lanelle flats in antique silver, bought from Nordstrom
My husband's shoes were Vans Authentic in black, bought from ShoeBuy