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Your photos are beautiful! I agree, non-traditional venues like the Valley of Fire are really hard to find information on, but you've done something FANTASTIC! I love it. Congratulations!
There's only a few vendors left, can you believe it?
The Mobile MInister (Rev. Roland August)
I completely understand why Rev. Roland is a favorite on these boards. If I thought Bri from Brianna Michelle Beauty was passionate about what she does, it's nothing compared to Roland August.
Honestly, based on the reviews on this board, I didn't even bother looking at anyone else. I dropped him an email to ask what his availability was for our date, and he's just full of joy and enthusiasm for what he does. I booked, I paid, I called it a day (in February, for our October wedding).
I got an email every 6 weeks or so, just reminding me of my booking and saying how excited he was to participate in our wedding. At the end of August, there was a glitch with the web site, and all of a sudden my name was Becky and my ceremony was on Saturday. I emailed Roland, he apologized for the mix-up, and confirmed my Tuesday ceremony was still a go.
About a week before the wedding, I got an email from his assistant asking me if I could move up my wedding time by 15 minutes, because there was another one booked after me, and what day I was arriving in Vegas for my Saturday wedding. Wait, what? So I called, I spoke to her (I think her name is Emily but I can't remember; it's saved in my phone.) She was super nice, realized that the glitch had resurfaced, apologized and said not a problem. I'm a web developer, so I know how these glitches can resurface, so as long as it's all good, I'm happy.
An hour or so later, Roland called me to apologize about the mix-up and wanted to see when we were arriving, if we wanted to meet in advance, what we wanted to do, and just chat. Again, he's obviously so very, unbelievably passionate aboutn what he does and he's so full of joy when you talk to him. I let him know that I'd text him when we landed on Sunday and give him the room information, and that we were good with just chatting with him quickly before the ceremony, no need for anything fancy. He did mention that we were his only wedding that day, so there was no need to worry about timing.
Here's where I get really impressed.
When we booked, we booked the "Gold Elvis" package that was 15 minutes before the ceremony to get to know us, a 15 minute ceremony, and 15 minutes after for photos and first dance. We figured that would be enough, because we're both atheist and neither of us are from families that are "big wedding" families.
Rev. Roland came dressed as Elvis 45 minutes earlier than expected. He had a sound system with him, which he then promptly set up on the balcony at the Skyline Terrace suite and immediately began to start entertaining guests as they arrived. He did a couple of songs, took some photos, and just generally entertained everyone before the ceremony.
At 6:30, he got my husband and asked him our story and signed some paperwork, came upstairs and asked me some questions and signed some paperwork with me, and gave a rundown of the ceremony. He was prepared to sing/perform all music for the ceremony, which I said it's OK, because we did have 2 songs already prepared (Mirrors by Justin Timberlake for my husband and our Best Lady/Maid of Honor, and Summertime by My Chemical Romance for my walk down the aisle). That wasn't an issue.
He ushered everyone outside to start the ceremony, had an amazing little ceremony broken up with a couple of songs to make it fun (and jokes, too). When I started to cry during one of the songs, he stopped the song and sang a different one.
Immediately after the ceremony, he did our first dance, and then let everyone know he was going to lead us in some photos but for everyone to just mingle and eat and enjoy themselves, which was awesome. He lead the poses, which was great because both myself and my photographer had no idea what to expect.
All in all, I could not have been more thrilled with the experience we had with Rev. Roland. It's so very obvious why he's a favorite, and I cannot fathom why you would book with anyone else. If anyone wants video of the ceremony as a reference, let me know, as I do have that, too!
No wedding can go without something going wrong. Freed's Bakery was our "something wrong."
We chose two dozen cupcakes to be delivered to the MGM Grand in lieu of a cake. We did red velvet (my husband's favorite) and chocolate buttercream, because who can say no to chocolate & buttercream frosting? I ordered online to be delivered on our wedding day between 3pm and 6pm. I had chosen those times because it would mean that we would have our room number ready by that time, and it would arrive before our ceremony at 7 (guests arriving at 6:30). I clearly put the following instructions, which was listed on my receipt:
Delivery Date: 2016/10/11At about 1:30, after we had gotten our room number and were in the suite, I called Freed's to provide the room number. It was especially important because my name was listed on both the Skyline Terrace suite as well as our regular hotel room, and I didn't want the cupcakes being delivered to the empty room.
Delivery Time: 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Special Instructions - Writing on Cake:
*** PLEASE CALL FOR THE HOTEL ROOM NUMBER *** We will not have that information until the day of. Alternate phone (phone number went here)
First, they couldn't locate my order and I was put on hold, at which at some point 30 seconds in, I got disconnected. So I called back, and they tried to find my order again. I was told "oh, well they're already out for delivery, we organize that in the morning." Which, ok, fine. I get that, that makes sense, getting organized in advance. I'm sure they deliver a lot and I get planning in advance. I asked if there's any way they can get the message to the driver, so he knows how to deliver it when he gets here. They told me they didn't know who had our cupcakes, and if the message doesn't get there, they'll leave it with the bell desk who will throw it out. At this point, it's like, okay, eye roll, let's prepare a credit card chargeback and I'll just send someone downstairs to buy some cupcakes from the cupcake store in the casino. Whatever.
This is where my husband saved the day. He called down to the bell desk to let them know about the package coming. At about 5:30, when the cupcakes still hadn't been delivered and I'm putting on my dress, I'm debating getting someone organized to go buy some cupcakes. Dan called down to the bell desk, confirmed that the cupcakes were delivered there and that there was no attempt to bring them up to our hotel room according to the bell desk (the guy just dropped them there and left), and arranged for them to be delivered up to our suite. Our tip for delivery of the cupcakes went to the bell guy who delivered it to the room.
I didn't have any of the cupcakes until the following day. We ordered 2 dozen for 25 guests, knowing that some wouldn't get eaten but knowing that we have a number of guests with a sweet tooth. I think we were left with about 8 cupcakes, which we ate for breakfast and then handed out to our Best Lady to eat/distribute.
I will say this: buttercream frosting is an excellent cure for a hangover.
I feel like I'm a little late getting to my reviews, but here I am!
Bloom Destination Weddings
I went to a local wedding trade show, and was terribly disappointed with the experience. There was nothing relevant to a casual wedding experience, and nothing relevant to a US-based destination wedding (everything was Mexico or Bahamas). However, I did manage to end up with a business card (and an awesome reusable tote) from Bloom Destination Weddings.
I dropped an e-mail to Catherine, and after bouncing off a number of ideas and eventually ruling out a Disney wedding, we decided to move forward with a Las Vegas wedding. Catherine was amazing in letting me bounce ideas off her and giving her opinion. Eventually we booked our room block at the MGM Grand as well as the Skyline Terrace through her, as well as recommending many of our guests to book through her. She was amazing, super prompt, scored us some amazing deals, and calmed me down a number of times when I started to freak out about my booking, etc.
I strongly recommend anyone looking to do room blocks or the like to reach out to Catherine at Bloom, ESPECIALLY if you're Canadian. She let me price shop in both currencies and did an amazing job:
MGM Grand - the regular stay
We were greeted with a massive line when we landed on the Sunday before our Tuesday wedding. We were backed up in a crazy zig-zag line back almost towards the lion at the hotel reception area, but it only took about 20 minutes to get through. There was a bar and two tables set up with complimentary water bottles, which was a nice treat. Our check in process for our room was easy and simple, and we were put in the Grand Tower in a Tower Spa Suite (we got an email to upgrade for $14/night, so we jumped on it.
Our guests were placed all over the hotel, as many didn't book through the room block. My parents and brother were in the North Tower, which they found really sketchy to find but was a nice room. (Their check in process took about an hour.) My MOH was placed in the West Tower, which she said was nice enough, although she said the room was a little awkward. All of our other guests were in the Grand Tower, so we often used the fountain as a meeting point.
The only hiccup we had with the rooms in general is that our Best Lady had a screw-up with the charging on her hotel room. She had thought she had arranged it to be fully charged on arrival, only to find out nothing had been charged and she was stuck with an $800 charge on check in. We got involved, had the deposit waived, and a lack-luster apology from management for the glitch and that was good enough.
MGM Grand - the wedding night
We only booked the Skyline Terrace suite for a single night due to budget constraints. In hindsight, we should have done two nights, just because we were a little rushed in terms of the photos and getting ready.
We requested early check in, but knew it could not be guaranteed. While we were at dinner on Monday night, I decided to call Stay Well Lounge (fancy-pants check-in) and ask if we could find out when we would get the early check in. The woman was very nice and said to come by in the morning at 10:30 after check-out; if the suite was vacant the night before, we could have immediate access, or they could give us an estimate. Phew, one less thing to worry about!
Tuesday morning rolled around and we went down at 11 to speak with check in. They explained that at the last minute, the room that was set for us was checked out, and would need to be cleaned by housekeeping. But, they gave us the keys (and wouldn't give us the room number) and told us that we would get a text message with the room number if it was ready before 1 (and to call otherwise).
I was concerned about the view and said that we were having a family gathering and wanted the better view for photos (trying to avoid the word "wedding") and were told that our options were a south-facing (better view) with half a terrace, or a north facing with a full terrace on the top floor. We took the full terrace, and the view was still amazing, even if it wasn't full strip views.
We met up with the Best Lady and the MOH and had a bite to eat and the three girls went to the pool for an hour while Dan (groom) went up to the room to rest. Just as I got up to the room at 1 and was calling the Stay Well Lounge to get the room number, Dan got the text message and off we went to the room.
We past housekeeping as we got the suite and were warned that the carpet in the living room had just been shampooed, and to stay off it for half an hour. A piece of art was missing from one of the walls, but it was only visible from the stairs, so not a big deal. It also had a different bedroom decor than what I was expected.
Everyone loved the suite and we had an amazing time. Checkout was easy. I was far too hung over, but my mom and husband (HUSBAND!) just asked housekeeping how they wanted us to bag the garbage (we had brought trash bags). Apparently they handed them their own and asked to double-bag in those garbage bags instead. We left a tip and a tidy room and after trying to figure out how to check out through the TV, found out we were already checked out.
After looking back at our charges, we never were charged early check in. Win!
Round two, let's start this party!
After searching through hundreds of web sites and speaking to countless jewelers to find something that spoke to me, I was recommended to Oren at Ideal Stones, which is an independent jeweler in Toronto. I had a vision of what I wanted, but had a very difficult time finding a jeweler that carried something similar or would be willing to craft it in the materials I was looking for (without trying to change my vision).
Oren was very prompt to respond to all of my questions via e-mail, and I never once had to prompt for a reply to my questions. I have never felt forgotten or neglected, or as though my business was not appreciated (even in the inquiry stages). I did everything by e-mail from the other side of the country, and sent an example photo of what I was looking for (a gemstone with no prongs and not channel set). The person who made the recommendation to Oren let me know that he's very easy to work with with pricing, and was able to meet or beat the big names like Tiffany, etc., but could also beat places like Costco for pricing.
Oren and Ideal Stones have been above and beyond professional and have far exceeded my expectations. Oren took his time to explain to me the different types of metals an benefits and drawbacks of each, the different types of stones and diamonds and their cuts, as well as the settings and how they would all work together to create my final desired design.
Ultimately, Oren was able to design the perfect ring for me, and was even able to upgrade some of the materials to a higher quality. It's a perfect fit, is beautiful and contemporary, fits all of my criteria I was looking for, and was under budget.
The package was delivered in a very secure manner (literally, it was a box in a box in an other box, in an envelope, which was in another padded envelope, which was in another envelope...), and Oren was quick to follow up to confirm delivery. Best of all, the independent assessment was significantly higher than what I paid for the ring (more than double!).
Sauced Food Truck
Originally, I was looking at hiring Scott at Masterpiece to cater our in-suite ceremony and reception. Scott was awesome at replying to my e-mails, but a drop-off service for food was quoted at around $750 or $24 a person, or $27 a person with non-alcoholic beverages. At the recommendation of @adverb, I reached out to Mike at Sauced.
Mike was freaking awesome. I knew or expected from other reviews on this board to expect to wait for a reply for a day or two, so I was always thrilled to hear from him faster. In most cases, he replied to my emails in minutes, regardless of what time I sent them (most times, my emails were sent around 10pm). I think the longest wait was maybe two hours, so for those of you who were and or are nervous about that correspondence delay, I don't think you have anything to worry about.
Now, keep in mind, our goal with our wedding was to have something extremely low key, casual, and most importantly: fun. I emailed back and forth with Mike, asking about options on providing beverages, special requests like punch, etc., what happened if we changed our minds and wanted staff instead of just a drop off service, etc., and ultimately went with something pretty simple. We had no issues whatsoever.
Sauced came in way under budget compared to Masterpiece; our total price was $500 for 23 people for food, beverages, taxes and drop-off/delivery service to the MGM Grand. I didn't eat a lot, but I was definitely in love with the mac & cheese. Mike was right on time with our scheduled delivery, was super friendly, and the food was delicious.
I wish I had thought ahead and had the food delivered a little earlier, so that the wedding party could have eaten before the ceremony rather than kind of racing around afterwards.
I think you're dead on for timing. Bri was awesome at helping me pick my timing (and I tried to minimize the time in between, which I wish I hadn't, but c'est la vie!)