SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94108
Erika is wonderful. She met with me multiple times as I continued to change my mind about the flowers. She patiently took ample notes as we chatted and cared about what I wanted. I think I accidentally said I did not want orchids in my arrangements instead of saying lilies, and lilies were in the ceremony alter flowers, but I didn't care because they still turned out beautifully. Erika is also reasonably priced and does not try to add on unexpected fees. She wrote up an estimate for me, but no contract, so I just took her estimate and turned it into a contract with total, deposit amount (25%), tax, and signatures. The day-of when she delivered the personal flowers, she gave me some timely emotional encouragement in the middle of hair/makeup stress.
I highly recommend Erika and have already referred her for a friend's wedding.
San Mateo, CA 94401
Todd is definitely one of the best. My expectations were high given his reputation as a premier wedding photographer and price (discounted to ~5500 for an off-peak season wedding). We had him for the entire day and night. He was professional and experienced. Loved the engagement photos, and he was prompt responding. Todd was great during wedding party, bride-groom, and candid shots (photo-journalistic).
You could tell he didn't enjoy taking family portraits and got cranky after the reception when I asked for an extra family shot. I wish there were more candids of our parents and immediate family. I'd ask in advance if you'd like enough. For these reasons, I am giving Todd 4 stars instead of 5.
Jira is very good with hair, but she is amazing with make-up. I used her for both. I opted for airbrush foundation, and it didn't budge all day or night. Day of, I did a little periodic blotting/powder and lip gloss touch ups, and that was it. She's very talented.
I allocated an hour buffer time for hair/make-up. Jira and her two assistants used it up, but forunately, we were still on time. Unfortunately, the photographer didn't take as many groomsmen pics as planned because he had to wait for me to take the bridal portraits while my make-up was fresh.
I had a morning wedding which meant getting ready really early. Jira charged extra for the early morning hours which I ended up having to take back out of gratuity. Jira and one of her assistants were ~20 minutes late, and the other assistant was almost an hour late. The one who was an hour late was, frankly, incompetent, and the moms did not like their make-up. Jira was also visibly annoyed with her for her tardiness. The other assistant did the bridesmaids' hair and did a nice job.
I highly recommend Henry. Henry was great to work with. He provided us with ceremony mics/speakers, introduced the wedding party (with some of it in Korean at our request), lunch reception background music, and slide show. We paid $900 and didn't have to pay anything in advance to reserve him.
Henry was extremely prompt in responding to questions and paid a lot of attention to our detailed instructions and followed them to a tee. He wasn't cheesy like some DJs and has good sense. For example, he would glance at us during our lunch reception every now and then to check that we liked the volume, etc.
We picked Michelle primarily due to her low price for our day of coordinator. She gave us a nice off-season rate of $800 plus an additional $100 to coordinate the rehearsal. She was a few minutes late to our first meeting (I do not know why), then an hour late to our on-site meeting due to traffic. She was on time for the rehearsal and wedding and did a nice job day of. If I were to do it over again, I would avoid the stress of worrying about my coordinator who is supposed to be the one helping alieviate worry and use someone else.
For those who have never been in a wedding party or feel overwhelmed by all the details, I do highly recommend finding a planner/coordinator if you can afford one. A good one can really help and probably will pay for themselves in discounts with other vendors. Michelle's presence alone helped influence the catering manager to throw in some free-bees. The wedding industry is a small world and vendors want a good reputation with one another.
5 stars for custom orders work
3 stars for mediocre service
We checked out the location in the Gift Center as well as the SF Shopping Center. We ended up purchasing from the SF Shopping Center probably because it was closer to home. They specialize in custom orders and did a wonderful job on my custom wedding band. We also got my husband's palladium band there. If you don't feel like you have to have platinum, palladium is a great alternative that looks like platinum and even shares similar chemical properties including hardness. It's a lot less expensive than platinum and does not fade like white gold. In general, we found Derco to be significantly less than competitors which explains why they wouldn't negotiate much at all. Very satisfied with price.
We did have to follow up multiple times to ensure that the bands were on time because the package did not go out when it was supposed to, so I felt the service was ok. They mailed the rings to my mom who bought them for us as a gift. Because she was out of state, she did not have to pay sales tax.
Now I'm in the market for diamond stud earrings. The first Derco quote I got was very reasonable. Then they told me a different price during follow up conversations. I got fed up and bought a pair of diamonds on BlueNile and will just do the custom setting at Derco. Update: they misquoted me on the custom setting and I ended up paying over 3x what I was expecting to pay. They really have issues with quoting properly verbally. I'd get it in writing.
San Mateo, CA 94401
Kirsten is really good at what she does. She is patient, sweet, and reasonably priced. I paid $100 since I didn't need that much altered on my gown, mostly just a little hemming in front and shift of a modesty panel in back, thanks to a corset back which I highly recommend if you like the look. It'll mean less alterations and safer in case of weight fluctuation. My gown fit like a glove the day of.
The most challenging part was designing the 14-point bustle because of the asymetrical skirt. At the 2nd fitting (last in my case), we redid the bustle to a pick-up look. I decided to wait for her to do them on the spot instead of a 3rd fitting. Bringing in an example pic was very helpful. It turned out gorgeous. My train was heavy, but the combo of the numerous bustle points plus the use of hooks and ribbon kept them from budging the whole day. Once my bustle was up, I was committed, and it wasn't really an option to take it down even at the photographer's request for post-reception shots.
In addition to the alterations, Kirsten sold me a petticoat nearly at cost. I had tried it on at the bridal salon where it was overpriced (2x at cost), looked up the vendor online, then asked Kirsten to order it since the vendor only works with businesses not consumers. FYI she supports made in USA labels and was excited that this vendor happened to be.
I referred one of my bridesmaids whose dress also fit perfectly. Unfortunately the alterations were such that Kirsten had to reconstruct bodice and ended up costing more than expected. My bridesmaid didn't ask how much the alterations were when she dropped off the dress and ended up paying $170 which could've probably been done with lower quality somewhere else for less.
I highly recommend Kirsten. I took a silk chiffon and lace cocktail dress to her recently, and she did a great job. I trust her with such delicate fabrics.