Jun 23, 2006
This seems to be the site to go to for wedding liability insurance when your own insurance company won't cover you. It was fast and easy to sign up. Once you sign up, they will send you a copy and a copy directly to your venue. My facility required liability coverage of a million. I paid $195 in early 2006 for this coverage.
Services used: Unique Services
Thomas Fogarty Winery
The winery is a beautiful place to have the ceremony and reception together. It overlooks the vineyards and the Bay Area. The place doesn't require much decoration so you can save on that. There is plenty of room for guests to move around. There are no surrounding buildings so it's intimate. The rental fee includes tables, chairs for both ceremony and reception, and large market umbrellas. The event coordinators there are very attentive. I've asked so many questions throughout the planning process and they answered everything promptly. The winery coordinator for our wedding was Becky Thatcher and she did a very good job in keeping things in line and facilitating the vendors. She was also available at the rehearsals to give us pointers. With Becky and Henry(the DJ), we didn't need a DOC! Despite the gorgeous facility, there are a few negatives. They have a lot of rules. You must select from their list of caterers and DJs, but we selected the two vendors that were great anyways. So this isn't a negative at all. You cannot bring in other alcoholic drinks and must buy their wine. If you choose beer, you must purchase a set amount of wine, depending on total number of guests. This was the most annoying rule of all and made us have second thoughts but in the end, we sacrificed the beer. However, we chose the wine only option and whatever unopened wine was left after the wedding, they would buy back. You can only have a single ceremony musician if you choose to have ceremony in the lawn area. There is no A/C in the Hill House except for the dancing area but the doors were left open all day so we really didn't feel any A/C. The groom's changing area didn't have A/C but the bride's changing room did. On a hot day, this makes a big difference! We had our reception at the covered pavillion. The winery is not a budget facility, but you get what you pay for. In addition to the fee, they require insurance and a $500 refundable deposit. They do have discounts for off season and weekday weddings. Originally we were planning a Saturday wedding. Because we loved this facility so much, we changed it to a Friday to be able to afford it. We thought people might not come for a Friday afternoon wedding but they did, and they thought it was a beautiful place for a wedding. Paid $4500 when we booked in 2005
Services used: Wedding Venue
Si Arima Alterations
Si did alterations for my wedding dress. I can also add to her list of compliments. She truly enjoys what she does and it shows in her work. I had to let out the bodice which had lace beading, shorten the hem which had lace beading, adjust the crinoline to be less poofy, and add a two-point bustle. She pressed the dress after it was done. She was originally going to do a french bustle on my dress. I thought about it and changed my mind because I felt the standard bustle (don't know what it's called) worked better for the dress I had. The front had straight lines and the standard bustle added a nice drape to complement it. Also my train had design on them that showed it off better with a standard bustle. I told her this and she agreed and was no problem for her to make the adjustment. She used to own a tailoring shop. She continues to do alterations because she enjoys it so much. She works out of her home in Santa Clara so she charges very reasonable prices. I had estimates at other places and they quoted from $310 to $350. I highly recommend her. Paid $240 in early 2006
Services used: Dress & Attire
Trying to decide what hairstyle I wanted had been so difficult probably because I was so picky about the front of my hair. I did not like the flat, pulled back look and wanted something with texture and movement. I had two trials with Monina. The first was hair and makeup. The hair was an updo with a "messy" looking back, which was the look I was going for. The back hairstyle was the one I had for my wedding but the front style was still iffy. The second trial was just hair, and I wanted to try out a long hairstyle. I liked the waves and found out they lasted very long. I didn't decide until the week of the wedding when weather dictated my hairstyle. My wedding day temperature was in the high 80s, low 90s and it was an outdoor wedding. So updo it was. Throughout this indecision process, Monina was very patient and always reassured me that she would make it happen. In the end, I loved how my hair turned out. It was the messy curly, textured hairstyle that I was looking for. Also, the day of the wedding, I asked for a slightly different makeup look and she nailed it. I wanted the semi-smoky eyes and more brownish based light lipstick. She put a makeup sealer that worked miracles. The makeup stayed the whole day even in the heat. She gave me a full lipstick and pressed powder for touch up. But I really didn't have a need to touch up at all. She gave me a discount because it was a Friday wedding. Paid $325 in early 2006
Services used: Beauty & Health
San Mateo County
We had my husband's step father be our officiant. He got a one day deputized commissioner license to perform our wedding. We wrote the entire ceremony words and our vows ourselves. The San Mateo County issues this type of license for free while other counties charge. The person being deputized does not have to be a California or County resident. Some other counties have that restriction. At the time we got the deputizing, they told us they can perform the wedding anywhere in California. However, their website indicates it's only good in San Mateo County. You might want to verify that.
Services used: Unique Services
We went to the original Derco in the SF Gift Center and got the e-ring, wedding bands, and my wedding saphire diamond necklace from there. Our sales person was very helpful and not pushy. We were recommended this place by my cousin who heard it from her friends. It's definitely word of mouth that has gotten people to this jeweler. Because of that, we were confident in buying from a reputable jeweler. I've never been to the Santana Row store but heard that the prices are equivalent to the SF Gift Center one, which is surprising to me since SF Gift Center is for wholesalers and the one in Santana Row is in an upscale shopping mall. Once you buy a ring from them, you can exchange in the future for the full value of the ring if you should decide to upgrade. They offer lifetime complimentary cleaning and ring checking at any Derco stores.
Services used: Jewelry
Wedding Gown Superstore
I basically bought the wedding dress the first place I looked, 10 months before the wedding. Finding "the dress" was not a big deal to me. I bought a no name brand dress that I felt looked good on me and I got that out of the way early. This dress was probably the most traditional thing in my wedding. The Wedding Gown Superstore is a discount shop that supposedly doesn't carry mass produced dresses. They let you try on 6 dresses but you're not allowed to take pictures. The sales lady that helped me didn't pressure me and gave me her honest opinion about the dresses I tried on.
Services used: Dress & Attire
Good selection, good prices including shipping, and fast shipping since they are based out of Fremont. They can cut the paper to a different size for an extra charge. They also let you buy sheet samples for as many as you like with only $1 shipping. I bought samples first to test it on my printer and to test the paper quality. I bought cardstock and vellum which I used to make my wedding programs.
Services used: Invitations
They have the lowest prices for almost everything they have on their website. I bought 1/2 pint chinese take-out boxes and ribbons from them. They have quick shipping too and I had no problems with my order.
Services used: Favors & Gifts
Todd Rafalovich Photography
Todd's photos speak for themselves. When I first started wedding planning, I came across his website and found his portfolio breathtaking but I said to myself "with photos like that, it'll cost me a fortune." So I didn't seriously consider him. Then when it came time to actually select a photographer, I looked at many photographer sites that have a lower price range, but none of them gave me the wow factor. Then I remembered Todd's site and looked at it again. I was captivated and the photos gave me emotional chills (in a good way). So FI and I met with him. During the meeting, he answered every question we were about to ask. His professionalism and eye for composition was exactly what we were looking for in a photographer. Photography was one of the most important aspect to us so we decided not to skimp on this. Some people have mentioned that he isn't very chatty but a photographer should be discreet. A lot of people at our wedding was impressed how quickly he took pictures, how he organized the groups together, and how unintrusive he was. If you leave a voice message, he always gets back to you right away. Our photos were ready in two weeks. He takes film photography in black and white and color. He takes a few pictures in digital. His services are not cheap but I honestly can say you get what you pay for. His pricing depends on day of the week, and time of the year. His pricing includes his all-day service, film, processing, contact sheets, and negatives. Prints and album are optional and at cost; he doesn't profit from it. One more thing to add is that we chose Todd before we even knew of this message board. We chose him strictly based on his work and not what other people have said. Of course reading reviews about Todd only confirms what we already knew. Paid $4950 at the time we booked in 2005
Services used: Photography
We weren't planning on having a cake, so it was a last month decision. This bakery was highly recommended by a friend so we gave it a taste test. We liked what we tried but it wasn't the best thing ever. They are not the lowest priced cakes. The price included delivery and varies depending on location from San Francisco. We got a 3 tier cake with levels of 6",10", and 14". Each layer was different--white cake with rum custard and mango filling, white cake with vanilla custard and strawberry filling, and chocolate cake with mocca and rasberry filling. The outside was marzipan. The cake topper was a brushed silver double happiness symbol. On my wedding day, I only had one bite of the cake. I was just not in a cake mood. There were a lot of leftovers as I expected and wanted to avoid this by not having a cake at all. The flower decoration was taken from the flower girl's basket and was done by my husband's aunt. We actually got to taste 3 samples in the tasting. It was a decent slice for each and they make it right there for you. Go for the tasting; you're not obligated! Paid $425 in spring of 2006
Services used: Wedding Cake