Nov 02, 2009


Vendors and DW recap

I know it's hard to plan a DW going blind and not being able to meet with vendors, so here's my list of vendors, hopefully this helps someone!!

Wedding Coordinator:  Jackie Ishikawa with White Orchid Weddings based in Maui.  She is very nice and easy to work with.  Right after getting engaged, we went to Maui and met with Jackie and another coordinator - I chose Jackie based on her list of vendors that she works with and her flexibility.  I was probably a tough client since I had lost my job right after we paid our deposits.  And I know a lot of people think a DW saves money, but in my experience, that wasn't the case!  We (more like I) had my dream location already in mind which alone was more than 4k.  And in Maui, expect to pay top coordinators a 20% fee for everyting they organize.  Since I was on such a budget, we had to do a lot of revisions, a lot of cutting and prioritizing.  In the end, she got us just a little over budget.  Not a lot of frills to our wedding but it was beautiful none the less.  I diy'd all my centerpieces, favors, signage and other little details.  Only downfall was that I wanted better deals negotiated, especially with a down economy, but she said her vendors have set prices and weren't willing.  I booked my photographer, makeup and entertainment on my own - if you do this, be aware that you will need to still pay the 20% fee.  I worked a deal to go around it, but meant I assumed all responsibility for them. (vendor listing on PW)

Photographer:  Rachel Robertson Photography - Rachel is awesome, she's based in Oahu but travels to all islands.  She's patient - so if you have a difficult hubby like me (he hates taking photos), she's totally the perfect person - she would crack jokes, try to break him out of his shell and was very nice about his stubborness!  She loved my venue and always wanted to shoot there, so she even threw in an extra hour and a TTD session.  I told her what I had in mind for my TTD shoot and she scouted out the perfect locations!  I can't wait to see the photos!!  I'll update this after the photos, but I think she's great ... she was so easy to work with and is very prompt to respond to any emails or phone calls.  She has a great eye and is fun to work with! (vendor listing on PW)

Makeup:  Kat Kahulani Makeup - Kat is great, she really listens to what the bride wants and goes with it.  She never does the same thing twice on a bride and really takes pride in her work.  I think Kat is great ... I wanted a loose, low updo with flowers and that's exactly what I got!  I asked for natural makeup and it was that ... I do however, looking back at the non pro photos I just got, wish there was a little more pop to it ... looking at the non pro pix I look a little washed out but hopefully pro pix have better lighting and I don't look so washed out.  We were running late and I didn't really take the time to look myself over and everyone was telling me I looked beautiful so I went with it!  haha  I can't say it's anything bad about her work - I did ask for natural, I think I just didn't realize how it would photograph.  Her work is great and would recommend her, I just should have done a trial before!  I personally don't wear a lot of makeup so I didn't know!  I booked her outside of white orchid weddings vendor list.  She is very accomodating and even brought a fan with her since I told her my venue doesn't have A/C!  www.

Hawaiian Guitarist/DJ:  Wilmont Kahaialii Jr., I booked him outside of white orchid weddings, but turns out they work with him anyways.  Wilmont was good ... a few call outs, the timing of responding to emails was very poor ... started out ok, but after the deposit was paid, it went down hill.  I swear a month before the wedding I was emailing every week and no response - I had to ask Jackie to track him down and he finally responded.  I gave him a list of songs to play on his guitar and songs to dj and he played them all.  He played his guitar for the ceremony and cocktail hour and then dj'd the dinner and reception.  Jackie mentioned he just started offering dj services ... honestly, some of his mixing or fading from one song to another could have been better.  His guitar playing was amazing though.  He has a great voice and has a wide range of songs.

Paradise Flowers - Maui florist sells wholesale to public:  Since I diy'd my centerpieces I wanted to buy some loose orchid heads to sprinkle on the tables and use in some of the centerpieces, I picked up 400 loose orchid heads from a wholesale florist called paradise flowers - they are only $.12 ea.  you can pick up or they also deliver to some locations.  They also do lei's and centerpieces but I only ordered the loose orchids which were great.  I picked them up on Saturday (they are closed on Sundays) and kept them in the fridge - they were still fresh and beautiful come Monday (wedding day).  I even had a little bit left over which were still good the next few days!

Liliha Bakery:  They are based on Oahu and has meaning to me and my DH ... we always go there everytime we are in Hawaii so I had to have the cocoa puffs at our wedding!!  We had DH brother pick them up on his way over - he picked them up Sunday afternoon and the wedding was the next day - still delicious and to die for!  All our guests loved them - more than the wedding cake!!  We got a bit of rain and they got drenched but they were still good!  haha

Bar Service:  Stacy at Bars r Us is so much fun!  She will totally work with your budget!  She was recommended by White Orchid Weddings since they do not have a liquor license.  Stacy is awesome, our guests loved her and she makes stiff drinks that are super yummy!  She said we could pick 3 "signature drinks" from her list and we ended up doing 4 "something old something new" (see our drink menu in my paper entry) - this was a good way to save $ by reducing the amt of different types of liquor needed and could speed up service.  We also were able to buy our own liquor to save some $.  Her staff is great, they served passed drinks to guests during cocktail hour and kept the line moving during the reception!  Even though we had our 4 signature drinks, she was still able to improvise if needed - guys wanted shots for everyone and she was able to whip up something delicious!  they don't have a website but I would strongly recommend them!  here's Stacys email

Venue:  Haiku Mills - LOVE LOVE L.O.V.E my venue!  Everyone kept talking about how beautiful it is!  There is the cutest brides room to get ready in - fyi there is no a/c but I was there in November and there was a good breeze that comes through the room.  The place is AMAZING and a photographers dream to shoot (mine even gave me an extra hour of coverage to shoot here!).  **TIP** there's no grooms room to get ready in and there are mosquitos so bring bug spray for guests!!  The mills was recently bought out by new owners, they are super nice and take a lot of care and pride in the mills - they are very careful and picky when it comes to vendors they allow here and they also do their own planning if needed.

Luau in Maui:  We went to the old lahaina luau the night before the wedding (see previous post for photos), they have an open bar (drinks are pretty strong too!) and their food is yummy!!  Best luau food I've ever had!  They even have ahi poke and tako poke!!  The show is good - not your typical luau show.  This is more of the "old lahaina" so it's more traditional dances - less fast paced dances.  No fire dance or the tonga guys with the painted faces.  It is a bit pricey but everything in maui is expensive, all the top rated luaus are about the same price and this has great food and an open bar so I think it's worth it!  They offer group discounts of 10% off also but charge service fees for big parties.  We had 43 guests and they kept us all together and their staff is awesome.

Bouquet & Bouts:  I booked Teresa through Jackie at White Orchid Weddings. I believe she is their house florist, since it was a DW I didn't get to meet her in person. I was on a huge budget being that I got laid off after we paid deposits with White Orchid and the venue ... so we opted to do a lot of DIY. I only used her for the bouquets and bouts which turned out awesome.  I worked with her through email via my coordinator. She seems very flexible and easy to work with. I sent her my colors, pictures of my dress and inspiration photos and she told me what she thought would look best within my budget. I did my own centerpieces, but she seems flexible for that as well - I told her my budget and an overall feel of what I wanted and she told me what she could do ... I had gotten killer deals on a lot of vases so I opted to do the centerpieces myself to save $ but if it would have been anything like my bouquets, I'm sure it would have been awesome! 

Officiant:  We booked Tino through Jackie at White Orchid Weddings, he was great!! His words are very touching and although it's a routine for him, you'd never guess it. Jackie let us read his speech prior to booking him - we chose the non denomination ceremony with Hawaiian prayer at the end. Although, the day of, I think he forgot to do the Hawaiian prayer - but it's ok, I completely forgot until I started writing this review!! We had so many people compliment the ceremony and many guests said they never felt so connected to a wedding ceremony. We didn't hire a videographer and had a friend tape it instead (a guy) and you could hear him sniffling during the ceremony - he's been to a lot of weddings and he said this was the most touching one out of all!!  I would defintely recommend him. As Cascara (below) mentions, he has a very calming and soothing voice. I would totally recommend him, he was awesome!

Caterer:  We didn't get to have a tasting but I'm very pleased to say that the food was delish!! We booked them through Jackie at White Orchid Weddings, she gave us a list of recommended caterers and I did some research and Cafe O Lei has a restaurant that had great reviews, so I went with them. We did a buffet (few pictures in my bio) which included pasta salad, baby green salad, sauteed vegies, fish, chicken, steak, shrimp, garlic bread (and added 2 vegetarian plated dinners).  Pasta salad - great flavor (bowtie pasta, feta cheese, tomato based sauce). Baby green salad - tossed with the perfect amount of dressing (spring salad, walnuts, pears, slightly sweetened). Sauteed veggies - soooo yummy (mushrooms, maui onions, eggplant, potatoes, zuccini)! Mahi Mahi filets were moist and covered with mac nuts, chicken breast was very moist and flavorful, steak was a little over cooked for my taste but it's a buffet and they play to the majority, shrimp was awesome and the highlight of the meal for everyone!  Everything was very good and we even had a few guests tell us it was the best wedding food they've ever had!!! That was a huge compliment and big relief!!

Cake:  They were recommended by my wedding coordinator Jackie at White Orchid Weddings. I'm only giving them 3 stars ... The cake was pretty, however not what I had ordered (picture of actual and inspiration in my bio). Not sure if this was the bakery or my coordinators fault since it was a DW and we didn't do a tasting or anything. I ordered butter cream and got fondant. The inspiration picture (which was a white orchid wedding cake - so I assumed they booked my cake with the same baker) had white chocolate shavings, mine did not since it was fondant. I personally don't like fondant, they don't taste as moist to me - and from the bite my DH and I had, we didn't like it and thought it was dry. However, we only ate the 1 bite we fed to each other and didn't truely taste it. Two guests did say they thought the cake tasted good ... but we also had liliha cocoa puffs at our dessert table and those outshined the cake, tons of people complimented the cocoa puffs.

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