I found Kim Stewart on Craigslist and she is AWESOME. It was really important to us to have not only a cake that was pretty, but which tasted great. My husband was convinced there was no such thing as a wedding cake that tasted good - until he tasted Kim's sample! We are chocoholics, so we wanted a rich chocolate wedding cake. Kim baked us a 4-tier rich chocolate wedding cake with chocolate sauce on the side, and even provided us several servings of flourless chocolate cake for our gluten-allergic guests. Everyone was going on and on about how wonderful our cake was! I strongly recommend Kim Stewart to everyone! Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I found Smith Prasirtpun on Craigslist and, what can I say - he was awesome! He was prompt, courteous and did excellent work. We had a really beautiful venue and he got lots of great shots of us with trees, nature, etc. Also his rates are VERY reasonable. I would heartily recommend Smith to everyone!!
We fell in love with this venue as soon as we saw it. It is a beautiful Spanish-style mansion situated on a grassy parklike property near a lake. Your rental fee is good for 12 hours and you get to use the entire indoors and outdoors area. The site coordinator, Joan Pankratz, is wonderful, helpful and very sweet. This venue is best for smaller weddings (120 people or less) unless you want to hold your festivities on the lawn. We had our reception in the courtyard, which has a beautiful fountain and a view of the lake. The drawbacks of this venue are that there are limited restrooms (the venue's policy is that if you have more than 120 guests you have to rent portable toilets); there is no furniture at the venue so you have to rent EVERYTHING; and they only give you 12 hours total to have everything dropped off, set up, picked up, cleaned up, etc. -- which is challenging. However, it was truly a beautiful and unique setting for our wedding and overall we were very very pleased.
I selected Andrea Steele for makeup based on the wonderful reviews on Project Wedding. She did makeup for me and my maid of honor and did a fantastic job. She also came to our venue on the day of the wedding and did our make up there at no extra cost, because our wedding was not too far from her home. She was punctual, reliable and flexible. I would highly recommend her!
NINFA'S FLOWERS & GIFTS
LOS ANGELES, CA 90023
I found Ninfa's Flowers through Project Wedding and selected them based on the many positive reviews. They did an excellent job and I would definitely recommend them. After the ceremony, my coordinator was raving about how professional and organized they were. She also commented that they helped direct guests to their seats who were confused or lost, which is not something that is necessarily within the florist's job description.
Their prices were reasonable and they made the effort to stay within my budget. Crystal (the owner) made lots of suggestions about things we could do to meet our vision but still stay in budget. She was also very knowledgeable about different types of flowers.
One service they provided at no extra charge was to transport the ceremony flowers to the reception so that they flowers would not be wasted. In our case, the ceremony and the reception were at the same place, but they still moved the arrangements around so we got maximum enjoyment out of them. Crystal also said they would have transported the flowers if our ceremony and reception were at different places.
The only criticism I have is the following. I picked glass vases for the centerpieces and wanted the flowers to go directly in the vase. Crystal suggested using a sponge in the vase because that makes the flowers look bigger. When I went to see my sample centerpiece, the sponge did make the flowers look bigger, but you could see the green sponge in the glass vase, which I didn't like. Crystal said they would tie a ribbon around the glass vase to hide the sponge. However, on the day of our wedding, they brought the centerpieces with the sponges showing through the glass vases. Afterward, when I asked about that, Crystal told me they decided that the ribbon didn't look good tied around the vase. I really felt that the glass vases with the green sponges showing through the glass looked a little tacky, so they lose a star for that. However, the rest of the arrangements - the bouquets, corsages, altar and sweetheart table arrangements, etc. were all gorgeous.
Ninfa's storefront is in a nondescript strip mall in East LA, and the shop looks a little disheveled because they are undergoing a renovation. But don't be deterred by the looks of the shop - Ninfa's did a great job, provided beautiful flowers, and was extremely organized and professional.
I found DJ Debonaire through a bridal show and booked him without interviewing other DJs due to time constraints. My advice is that if you want a DJ who does what you want and follows your instructions, he is NOT the DJ for you. He might be a better fit if you don't really care what the DJ is doing and want someone who will do his own thing with minimal instruction from you.
My husband and I had some very specific instructions for our DJ and a detailed playlist, which we wrote down and sent to DJ Debonaire in advance. For instance, we wanted 40's jazz music during the first part of our reception, we had certain songs we wanted played for certain dances, we wanted our DJ to run a game with the guests, and there were certain other special requests that we had. Turns out DJ Debonaire didn't read our special instructions because he thought they "didn't pertain" to him. DJ Debonaire does have some forms on his website that he wants you to fill out in advance and send to him, but I supplemented his forms with our own special instructions because his forms were not specific enough to include all of our special requests. However, he only read the baseline stuff I wrote on his forms and didn't read the additional detailed instructions that we wrote up for him.
When the reception began, DJ Debonaire began playing smooth jazz music, which my husband hates. My coordinator and maid of honor asked him to change to 40's jazz, which we had requested in advance, and after some initial confusion, he did eventually change the music. Later he told me it wasn't clear to him that was what we wanted, to which I responded "didn't you read our instructions?" That is when he told me he only read what was written on his forms and didn't think our additional instructions pertained to him.
Another problem was that he totally butchered the names of several members of our wedding party, even though I wrote down their names phonetically for him AND my coordinator practiced the names with him minutes before he announced them.
He did run the game we requested, but I heard from my guests that it wasn't done according to our instructions. Before the wedding, I emailed him a document with some trivia about my husband and me that we wanted shared with the guests, but he did not share the trivia. Nevertheless, the guests later told me the game was fun (although a little confusing), that DJ Debonaire had good interaction with the crowd, and that he was smooth and funny.
Since DJ Debonaire didn't read our instructions, my coordinator had to run additional interference with him to make sure he was doing what we wanted at the correct time. She also told me that he refused to set up in the place we had designated, and decided to set up somewhere else. The result was that he was blocking much of the dance floor, so most of it went unused. For our parent dances, we wanted a certain song that DJ Debonaire did not bring with him (again, because he didn't read our instructions), so he had to download it from his iPod. However, he did obtain the song, so it worked out.
Again, guests told me DJ Debonaire was funny, had a good voice, and had good interaction with the crowd. Another thing to his credit was that even though he was out of our price range, he did agree to discount his price for us. We were disappointed, however, that he insisted on doing things his own way and didn't follow our instructions.
One more thing: for our ceremony (which was outdoors and at the same place as the reception) we asked DJ Debonaire to provide microphones for the officiant, my husband, and our ceremony musicians. He did so, but I noticed that the musicians' speakers were crackling as I was walking down the aisle. Everyone else's sound was good.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
My advice about Alfred Angelo Beverly Hills is to go here only to try on dresses, and then buy the same dress for less from a reputable online retailer such as Plus Size Bridal (which sells regular sizes too). The staff at Alfred Angelo Beverly Hills are totally incompetent and you should NOT trust them with your big day. I have 2 stories to share about this store, one involving bridesmaids dresses and one involving my wedding gown.
My bridesmaids are in 4 different states. The store advised me to place a single order for all bridesmaid dresses at the same time so all dresses would be cut from the same dye lot. I instructed the store that all bridesmaids would call their measurements into the store, and that no dresses were to be ordered until everyone called in their measurements. The store swore up & down this would be NO PROBLEM.
Of course, when the first bridesmaid called in, some dummy at the store went ahead and ordered her dress IN THE WRONG SIZE without notifying us and without waiting for the other bridesmaids to call in their measurements. Meanwhile, my maid of honor went to the store to find out how many bridesmaids had called, and the store advised her nobody had called, so we assumed they had lost the measurements of the bridesmaid who had called. Months later, my MOH went to the store again to provide her measurements and those of the first bridesmaid who called; the store then advised my MOH that they had ordered the other bridesmaid's dress nearly 2 months ago and it should arrive that week. Once the dress arrived, we found out it was one size too small; I asked the store to exchange it since they were the ones who took it upon themselves to order the dress without notifying us, but they refused to exchange it and just told me to have my bridesmaid's seamstress "let it out." I was totally miffed because the entire debacle was their fault.
As for my dress, I fell in love with an Alfred Angelo dress that cost about $800. However, I saw the exact same dress being sold online by Plus Size Bridal for $510. Another website was selling the dress for around $550. I took these printouts into the store to ask if the store would be willing to give me a little break on the price. My salesperson took copies of the printouts and said, "let me go ask the manager." When she went to the manager, I could hear the manager saying "no" with a total attitude from all the way across the store. The manager's attitude totally put me off. The saleslady then came back and told me that they would not reduce their price because the online retailer is not selling a real Alfred Angelo dress, but a knock-off (which is not true).
I probably would have been happy if the store had shown a little good faith and knocked the price down by $100, but they would not even do that. So I ended up buying the dress from Plus Size Bridal and guess what -- IT IS THE SAME DRESS; even had the Alfred Angelo tags and logos attached to the dress and sewn into the seams. Just to be sure, when I went back to the store to pick up the bridesmaid dress, I looked at their floor sample of my wedding gown to compare the material, craftsmanship, etc., and it is the SAME DRESS.
The moral: use this store for trying on dresses ONLY.