Aug 25, 2007
I work in the Financial District so after I got engaged and was super-busy at work, the Glamour Closet was the easiest place for me to pop in and try on dresses for the first time. I went at lunchtime one rainy afternoon and tried on the most gorgeous Vera Wang lace gown. The assistants are very helpful and there are usually a few very high-end couture gowns on the racks. After a month, I had tried on many other gowns at salons in SF, and had even flown down to LA to try on one particular gown at the Carolina Herrera boutique, but I couldn't quit thinking about that Vera Wang at Glamour Closet. Luckily it was still there when I went back, and I tried it on and it was perfect. So I ended up getting the first dress I ever tried on! I love the atmosphere at Glamour Closet, from the Barcelona chairs in the seating area to the antique dress forms in the back. This is SUCH a great find for Bay Area brides. I got my Vera Wang for 65% off its original price. Granted, it was still very expensive, considering it was $8000 originally, but you cannot beat Glamour Closet. Great personal service and professional staff. Love it. Oh, and ladies--do bring your cameras! Picture-taking is not only allowed, but encouraged, and I found it so helpful to be able to email a photo to my Maid of Honor and my mom, neither of whom are local, to make the final decision.
Services used: Dress & Attire
Peculiar Pair Press
We met Amy from Peculiar Pair Press at a Four Seasons wedding show and she actually found us our wedding venue, and is generally just a super helpful and nice person. Needless to say, she is also a very talented designer and her website speaks for itself--their invitations are to-die-for. If money is no object, you can't get better than to meet with Peculiar Pair, as they consistently create hands-down the most creative and just plain beautiful wedding stationery I have ever seen. They are constantly being featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, if that is any indication of their talent. We met with Amy one-on-one for a custom consult and she was extremely professional and was a lot of fun to work with during our one-hour meet-up to discuss ideas and pricing. I can only take off one star for the price--we decided not to use them due to the sheer cost of their custom invites, after we had already splurged on our photographer! In the end we designed our invites ourselves, which was a LOT of work, but I can't recommend this pair highly enough--if we had had the budget, this is definitely who we would have chosen to design our invites and other stationery.
Services used: Invitations
Su Buchignani is the booking coordinator(and also violist/violinist) for the Golden Gate String Quartet as well as a few other ensembles (from duos up to a small orchestra with a lovely vocalist). We booked Su and the Golden Gate String Quartet for our wedding and they were amazing, from start to finish. They were also suprisingly affordable, and I think that having them a part of our wedding was some of the best money we spent, overall. They played for our ceremony, cocktails and dinner, and our guests all raved about them. Su is even an accomplished "strolling violinist" and led our guests Pied Piper-style from the ceremony location to cocktails, which many guests told us was a magical way to move from one segment of the celebration to the next. Our whole wedding was outdoors, and the quartet played amazingly and tirelessly despite a freezing and unexpected temperature-drop right at sunset. I couldn't believe their dedication and professionalism. They just kept playing beautifully right through dinner, as even our guests shivered, layered on jackets and warmed up by the gas heaters. Su is incredibly responsive and professional, and also just a very positive and encouraging person who clearly lives and breathes music--she has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of every genre we discussed with her. We had a few calls with her to discuss music choices along the way, and my fiance always remarked after each call that "Su is the best!"--she inspires such confidence that the event will be a success. And it was! She works with you to suggest and then help you choose the right songs for your processional/recessional in the ceremony and then the type of songs to create the mood you are aiming for in any other segments (like cocktails/dinner). I can't recommend Su and the Golden Gate String Quartet highly enough--they are incredibly talented and professional.
Services used: Ceremony Music, Band
We had an excellent experience with the Men's Wearhouse and worked with their San Francisco, Market Street location. They were very helpful and easy to deal with throughout the process, even giving us a great deal with a coupon we hadn't used when we initially signed up when we called about it a few days later. They also managed to coordinate our very complicated order pretty flawlessly. We had groomsmen all over the Bay Area, one in Manhattan as well as a brother in Las Vegas and dads in Utah and New Mexico! Everyone was able to get measured and pick up their tuxes at their local store with no problem, and then drop them off here in California after the wedding. The tuxes looked incredible (see the photos in my bio--only my husband was not wearing a Men's Wearhouse rental) and I couldn't be happier. Since my husband bought his own tuxedo they let us apply the "rent 5 get one free" deal to one of the fathers instead, which was also impressive and flexible. Five stars from us!
Services used: Dress & Attire
Jenny Yoo Collection Chicago
Pictures are worth the proverbial thousand words, so check out the photos of my bridesmaids and flower girl in their Jenny Yoo dresses in my bio. Jenny Yoo did such an amazing job on the bridesmaid dresses for my wedding--every single one of them turned out gorgeous, and the ginger dupioni silk was perfect as a fresh neutral against the vibrant greens of our outdoor wedding and reception. I was also impressed by how flattering a color it was on each of my bridesmaids, and their skin tones ran quite a range. Most of all I loved the individuality that each of my bridesmaids was able to express by choosing her own style from such an array of cuts, and yet they all looked so harmonious together. The quality of the fabrics and construction is impeccable--these are clearly dresses made to be worn again and again. I am tempted to get my own floor-length dress in ginger just to keep on hand for formal occasions--that's how much I loved those dresses and the color. The only difficulty would be choosing just one style! Also, my flower girl loved her Jenny Yoo dress, too, and it fit perfectly and has such a timeless elegance. I love how it harmonized with the bridesmaids' dresses but also let her stand out in her special role. And finally, their service was great--it made such a big difference to me knowing I was working with people who really care, and they even helped make sure the dresses got to me in time to send on to my bridesmaids who live in England. It was also great that my friend who lives in Manhattan was able to try on and pick up her dress there, and my friend who lives in L.A. got to work with the Beverly Hills store directly, too--I was very impressed by the coordination between the locations and how seamless it all was to me as a customer. I couldn't be happier with my decision to choose Jenny Yoo for our bridesmaids dresses, and of course I will be recommending them to all of my friends as they get engaged.
Services used: Dress & Attire
Anne Mendenhall Flowers
We used Anne for our flowers, and were totally blown away at how amazing each and every detail she touched turned out. She is super talented, fun, and very passionate about what she does. She really listens to your ideas and gets excited about making your vision a reality, and she has the technical expertise and experience to make it happen. We love Anne! She is also very competitively priced--you get a LOT of flowers for what you pay for with Anne. My bouquet was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, EXACTLY what I was hoping for, and it smelled completely divine; the bridesmaids' bouquets were also to die for. My friends and family are still talking about the beautiful centerpieces and the ceremony decor--she did the most beautiful arch decor with branches, flowers and greenery. The photos in my profile are just the tip of the iceberg of the beautiful creations she put together for our wedding. Anne is the best-kept secret in Bay Area wedding flowers and I cannot recommend her highly enough.
Services used: Flowers
Dawn Ranch Lodge
We are having our ceremony and reception at Dawn Ranch Lodge and so far our experience has been great. This venue changed owners not too long ago and has only been hosting weddings for a short time, so it is relatively un-known so far and we only found it through word-of-mouth. The location is absolutely gorgeous, and we love that we can rent the whole place out and our friends and family are staying on-site in the 50+ rustic cabins. We are having our ceremony in their meadow and our reception cocktails and dinner out in their amazing 100-year-old apple orchard. Then we are moving the party to the courtyard around their pool for late-night dancing. The site fees are on the high side, but the place is one-of-a-kind and we are excited about having a whole weekend with our friends and family. Their on-site coordinator, Heidi, is very professional and sweet. The only hiccup so far has been that when we booked them, their excellent restaurant was going to cater the whole weekend, but they have since changed their mind and now they have selected an outside caterer instead, without our input. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the caterer they have chosen will be excellent, but we still haven't had our tasting, so the jury is out on that. I will keep this review updated, but so far we are so happy with our choice and I would highly recommend checking this place out if you want a beautiful, unique outdoor setting that can accomdate guest lists both large and modest. UPDATE, 9/2007: We had a very mixed experience with them. I wish I had been more wary about the contract before we signed it. Make sure that they put EVERY SINGLE promise they've made to you in the contract before you sign it. Every detail, no matter how small, from the prices of drinks through to the policy of what to do with bottles of wine you pay for but that aren't consumed (ours disappeared and they never refunded us or found the hundreds of dollars worth of missing wine). I didn't do that in our contract and during the summer before our wedding, they started to say that basically nothing was included in the hefty site-fee price, when that was the whole reason we had chosen the venue. In the end we spent a LOT more money than I feel was fair, because they kept on adding and adding and adding things that we had been told were going to be included in the site fee/per-person dinner charge. They knew we couldn't just switch venues at that point, so we were stuck, and since it wasn't in writing, we had to just pay for it. I have never been so stressed or disappointed. It was a beautiful venue when we first saw it in the springtime, but they let the grass die over the summer in the apple orchard, where we hosted our dinner and cocktails, despite my having asked them over and over again to make sure they were watering the grass back there. They promised me they were watering it, but every time we came up on a surprise visit, the grass was more and more dead and there was no evidence that a single drop of water had been spent on the orchard. It looked kind of ghetto at our wedding, to be honest. So put that in your contract, too, if you want the grass to be alive and your wedding date is in the summer. Ours was in August and the weather during the day was gorgeous, but as soon as the sun set (during our cocktail hour) the wind kicked up and it was FREEZING. We had some space heaters (which we had to rent for $$$ from Classic Party Rentals at the last minute, even though we had been told that they were included in the site fee--another example of how stressful it was dealing with DRL) but they didn't even cut the cold. Our guests were literally huddled around the heaters by the end of dinner! My friends still talk about how cold they were that night. I had tried to warn folks to bring a wrap/jacket on our website, but turns out no one really read our wedding website. So if you have an outdoor dinner/cocktails after sunset I'd make it clear to your guests that it can get COLD and to bring a warm wrap/sweater. Plus you will definitely want to rent heaters--lots of them. If the wedding coordinator at DRL has told you that they'll throw in space heaters for free, make sure you put that in the contract! It is a unique venue, so I am not trying to be negative--we loved our wedding, the beauty of the redwood stand where we had our ceremony, and the general feel of how all our guests got to stay on the same property. But I feel we did get the runaround from the wedding coordinator(s) (the main one of whom either quit or was fired very suddenly only weeks before our wedding--it was a nightmare) and paid way over the going market rate for what we got, and also got lots of gray hairs in stressful calls with them at least once a week as their story changed all summer long leading up to the wedding. That said, it was their first year doing weddings, really, and I got the impression that they didn't know what they were getting into. Hopefully they've ironed out the details now and are more professional. It is stressful enough planning your wedding--it is far more stressful feeling like someone is gouging your eyes out at every opportunity. That was just our experience--our wedding was in August 2007.
Services used: Wedding Venue
Joel letterpressed our invitations, reply postcards (double-sided!) and envelopes we had designed ourselves and he did such an amazing job. He got the job done ahead of schedule, his prices were super competitive and he is a true perfectionist--plus it is great to support a local artisan. He took on the complicated over-the-flap envelope design we came up with and it turned out amazing--and Mercurio Brothers (another printer) had refused to even attempt printing it when we sent them our files for a quote! Joel exceeded all our expectations and we recommend him highly. He is also just a really calm, pleasant person and was a pleasure to work with.
Services used: Invitations
Kelly Paper Store
I had the worst experience of my wedding-planning at Kelly Paper in SF. I went in looking for a specific paper for our DIY Thank You notes to coordinate with our wedding invites and when I asked for a sample book to flip through, they informed me that they don't have one! What kind of paper store doesn't have a sample book? Even Pearl and Flax have sample books, and they aren't even paper specialists. Undeterred, I asked whether they carried a specific paper that our invites had been letterpressed on, since I thought our printer had obtained it there--then the sales associate proceeded to yell at me, tell me that the paper wouldn't work, and question me as to why I would attempt to DIY my thank you notes if I had used a printer for the invites. It was unbelievable. She clearly had some sort of issue with me or had completely gone off the deep end. I have never in my life walked out of a store due to flat out rudeness, but I turned on my heel and left Kelly Paper without another word. I will never set foot in there again. Nightmare!
Services used: Unique Services
Sweet Things Bakery
This place has hands-down the best cupcakes I've ever tried. Ever. I get them whenever I need a treat, and they are a personal obsession, of sorts. I discovered them at Ritual Roasters coffee shop on Valencia in SF, which carries them, and soon I had to find out how to get them direct from the source, as Ritual sells out of them as soon as they get them in their bakery display, usually! So when I decided to serve cupcakes as a midnight snack for our wedding, I knew they had to come from here. Their "snow-cap" cupcakes are classic yellow cupcakes with a white buttercream frosting--simple, gorgeous, and perfect to serve at your wedding. They will also work with you for a custom order if you want something different. But I don't think you can improve on the perfection of their snow-caps. They don't deliver, but did box the cupcakes up nicely for the wedding (it was a huge order of 120) and everything was prompt and ready for pick-up. They don't charge any kind of "wedding mark-up" either--the cupcakes are an incredible deal at $1.90 each, plus I got a 10% discount for placing such a large order. Our guests LOVED the cupcakes--and the staff at our venue were all asking where they could get them, too. Huge success--can't recommend this place highly enough. They also do cakes and other desserts, which I haven't tried many of (being a cupcake fanatic) but are a general working bakery and not pitched specifically toward weddings, which I love. It means you'll likely get a much better deal!
Services used: Unique Services
Golden Gate Ensembles
We booked the Golden Gate String Quartet through their booking coordinator, Su Buchignani, for our wedding and they were amazing, from start to finish. They are such a talented group of musicians, each with an amazing resume of professional engagements, which shows you that you are in good and experienced hands. They were also suprisingly affordable, and I think that having them a part of our wedding was some of the best money we spent, overall. They played for our ceremony, cocktails and dinner, and our guests all raved about them--their repertoire is so diverse and extensive, the classical they played for our prelude music was gorgeous, and then we switched things up with the 20's/30's-style caberet tunes during cocktails which were amazingly arranged and fun. Su is even an accomplished "strolling violinist" and led our guests Pied Piper-style from the ceremony location to cocktails, which many guests told us was a magical way to move from one segment of the celebration to the next. Our whole wedding was outdoors, and the quartet played amazingly and tirelessly despite a freezing and unexpected temperature-drop right at sunset. I couldn't believe their dedication and professionalism. They just kept playing beautifully right through dinner, as even our guests shivered, layered on jackets and warmed up by the gas heaters. Su is incredibly responsive and professional, and also just a very positive and encouraging person who clearly lives and breathes music--she has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of every genre we discussed with her. We had a few calls with her to discuss music choices along the way, and my fiance always remarked after each call that "Su is the best!"--she inspires such confidence that the event will be a success. And it was! She works with you to suggest and then help you choose the right songs for your processional/recessional in the ceremony and then the type of songs to create the mood you are aiming for in any other segments (like cocktails/dinner). I can't recommend Su and the Golden Gate String Quartet highly enough--they are incredibly talented and professional.
Services used: Ceremony Music
Metronome Dance Center
We attended their wedding workshop, which was very helpful in teaching the basics of the foxtrot and the swing--the two most popular first dances for weddings. It was great for my fiance, who has no dance training, to learn the basic steps in a group setting. We then had three private lessons with Rose and one with Heather (while Rose was on vacation), and we LOVED them both as teachers. The private lessons were invaluable and they helped us come up with the perfect dance for the song we chose and the space we decided to use for our first dance (a fairly narrow section of paved path next to the cocktail/dinner orchard at our venue--odd but it worked perfectly!). At the last minute, about three weeks before the wedding, we switched songs to another foxtrot song that was meaningful to us (though a big longer than our original choice) and Heather quickly came up with a perfect new ending for the dance. My new husband was never very excited about dance before we went to Metronome, but now I could see us going to swing classes in the future--that's how good and encouraging the teachers are! I would highly recommend Metronome to anyone in SF who is thinking about taking dance lessons before their wedding. I would also highly recommend taking dance lessons as wedding preparation in general, as it gave me and my fiance a chance to connect and do some "fun" wedding prep during the busy run-up to our wedding, in addition to giving us both the confidence that we'd have a great first dance. In the end, the dance was a smash hit at the wedding and we both had a blast with the lessons and practicing beforehand.
Services used: Unique Services
It's a Date
Alyssa did my hair and makeup for my wedding, as well as hair-only for my mom and my five bridesmaids. She was great during the hair and makeup trial and looked at the photos I had brought and did an amazing job creating exactly the look I was going for (you can see pics in my bio of both the trial and day-of hair and make-up). On the day of the wedding she arrived at the girls' suite right on time and was amazingly fast and efficient getting everyone done. She even got done ahead of schedule! Most important, she did a great job--I was so happy with how my makeup and hair looked, and my bridesmaids as well. She used mineral makeup that had a great, glowy look and it all stayed put throughout the day with no worry or fuss. I think I only reapplied lipstick once the whole day and it looked great in all the photos nevertheless! It's A Date is based out of The Powder Room salon in Santa Rosa, which is a really cute little salon. If you are getting married in the wine country I would highly recommend checking out the talented ladies of It's a Date--Alyssa has my eternal gratitude for making me feel like a movie star on my wedding day.
Services used: Beauty & Health