Jul 19, 2008
AllMadeUpTeam.com | Orange County & Los Angeles County Make-up Artist and Hair Stylist
This review is for Vivian's make-up workshop (May 2009). Vivian's all-day class was very fun and informative! Highly recommended. She covered how best to contour according to face shapes. She is such a great make-up artist, amazing to watch the transformations! Her eye make-up techniques are awesome too! Most of her team was there too, so that we got about one MUA for every two workshop attendees. I use my brush set daily now and spend more time on contouring and eyes. Vivian completely spoiled us as far as catering too. The workshop is great for those who have no clue as to how to apply make-up (me!), and semi-pros who just want to refine their skills. :) Pros may find the class more on the basic side.
Services used: Beauty & Health
The Young Brothers Band
Grade: C- It is unfortunate that I had such a poor experience with the Young Brothers Band (local Vietnamese OC band), because I had high hopes for them. The band members are very nice and cordial, especially my main contact John. On the plus side: 1. the band arrived on time to set up 2. the band provided extra sound for our ceremony and DJ for a fair cost 3. played all of our requested Grand Entrance songs 4. music and singing were relatively good, more so to the younger crowds 5. John kept up regular communication with me via e-mails and responded to e-mails courteously and in a timely manner On the negative side: 1. What ruined our experience most is that the band played the incorrect first dance song. Not only that, they played our least favorite artist and a song we absolutely hate. The song we chose had a lot of meaning for us, and had the band expressed any difficulty obtaining the song, we would have easily provided the music. My husband had fun on our wedding day, but he is most upset about the band not providing the songs we had requested. What we would have preferred them to do is pause and check with us on alternate songs or choose one of the songs we had provided on our playlist. There was nothing on our list that resembled Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me," so I truly do not understand how they could just play the first available song on their playlist. 2. We were disappointed that the band did not invite up our guests who I had wished to come up on stage. I had met with John to discuss this prior to our wedding, and it seemed that he understood. My mom had practiced her song over and over and even spoke to the band herself, and yet, the band would not have called her up had I not asked the emcee to have her sing before the cake cutting (signaling the end of the night). I would have rather the band sing a bit less and a few of our main guests have a chance to sing the songs they practiced. They could have definitely asked any one of us whether we still wanted to invite people up to sing. Though I did not want the wedding to turn into "karaoke," I did want to include some of families and friends who traveled far to be with us. 3. My mom was upset that one of the singers was wearing jeans and a tshirt. I didn't see this, but she felt it was disrespectful so she was not happy to see this. I do believe that a band is more professional when they don appropriate attire, something more suitable for a stage than casual wear. 4. The emcee interrupted my sister/MOH's speech which unfortunately disrupted her flow. She was pretty annoyed by this. The emcees did not seem to know our program very well and did not provide much direction. My mom was most unhappy with the band and felt they did not pump up the crowd enough. I think they tried, but many of guests did feel the female emcee was not effective. 5. They did not follow my centerpiece game instructions, and I did not like their game at all. I should have discussed this in more detail, more so with the emcee had one of them been available to meet. When I met with the band, I was very impressed with their instrumental music. However, their emcee pulled them down. I believe that is why the band chose to bring a different emcee to our wedding, which I do appreciate, however, we feel the emcees were not very familiar with our program. My mom and sister were supposed to be called up early in the night, and they never made an effort to fit them in. They also have higher rates than many of the local bands, which is why I expected more out of them. What would have improved our experience with the band: 1. the right music (messing up on the first dance is huge!) - let us know if you don't have our song (apparently, they had an itunes technical difficulty, but this would have been prevented had they checked all songs prior to the reception) 2. better knowledge of the program 3. emcees with more direction (goes hand in hand with #2) - or better communication with us if they were not sure 4. mix of upbeat songs and slow ballads (because we asked for a 75% English, 25% Vietnamese song program, they concentrated on slow ballads) 5. allowing the special guests to sing when already informed about this during our meetings 6. professional attire (not a huge deal breaker with me, but with parents) I deeply wish that we had smooth sailing with our band, but hope that this feedback helps prevent future issues with this band or a band who is very similar (especially when you have parents like ours who insist on having Asian entertainment for their guests). I gave them 2 stars/C- because although we had those issues, I do feel they are more Americanized than many of the Asian/Vietnamese bands available and their music and singing are good (the younger crowds did compliment them). I am sure they have had many successful weddings; however, I do feel there a lot of room for improvement for our wedding in particular and this review is specific only to our wedding. I e-mailed the band with some feedback but have yet to receive a response.
Services used: Unique Services
Tick Tock Watches
Grade: A- I purchased the groom's Tag Heuer watch at Tick Tock. He loved it! They have nice high end watches and the store is very clean and elegant, even being in the midst of Little Saigon. Research prices and come prepared.
Services used: Unique Services
Sweet Paper Studio
10.31.08 update Grade: Sadly, not so good My second experience with Sweet Paper Studio was very different from the first, and I am deeply saddened to have to write this. Although Phyllis was very helpful for our first set of paper items, she has been unprofessional and non-responsive since then. After our wedding, Phyllis agreed to design our thank-you cards as well as another set of wedding invitations for our 2nd reception in the bay area. Her e-mail responses were very sparse and quotes would come in weeks later, but I was not too worried since I knew she was very busy with autumn weddings as well as planning her own nuptials next year. She kept pushing back the dates on when she'd provide the design for our thank-you cards, but as I trusted Phyllis, I was not too concerned as she had always pulled through for me. What turned the situation sour was when we chose the date for our 2nd reception. She originally said she'd provide the design in September or October, especially because I was using the same template as our first invitation. Just wording changes and no complicated motifs. I wanted to keep things very simple. Unfortunately, instead of taking a moment to let me know she was unable to design the invitations, she ignored e-mails and calls. Weeks and weeks of no responses. At first, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. She could have easily been out-of-town, sick or just completely swamped. I just hoped everything was OK. However, the kicker was that she had time to respond to a photographer blog that we both read. I had sent Phyllis several e-mails and left a few phone messages letting her know that it is OK if she isn't able to complete our invitations, but that if she could just let me know so that I know to move forward and find another avenue since our date was approaching. I would have totally understood, as I know she has been very busy. I was already so grateful with all that she done prior. I was met with silence. If she has time to respond to blogs, I would think she can spare a minute to respond quickly to her clients, even just to say "Hey, I'm sorry, but I won't be able to get your invitations done this time around - so yes, please check with your local printers." Instead, I had to rush order through a different printer and our invitations are now just being sent out for our December reception (7 weeks prior). When other brides expressed the exact same concerns with Phyllis on various wedding forums (her unresponsiveness, being late with invitations), I was very quick to defend her. But I finally understand how these brides feel. Weddings are so time-sensitive, and it is understandable when projects are overwhelming or life gets in the way, but a simple e-mail or call would have sufficed so that the bride can search for alternatives (especially when you have time to read blogs and comment). My sister also wanted to order business cards through Phyllis. Phyllis gave us a quote (after a lengthy amount of time), but that was the last we heard from her as well. I wish Phyllis would have just sent me a quick e-mail or call. It would have been so understandable. I invited Phyllis and her fiance to our wedding, because she was so great throughout our first wedding. But I'm sad to say that I can no longer recommend her to families and friends, because I cannot stand behind her 100%. I don't think I've worked with any other vendor who has disappointed me like this. As far as her work, her designs are wonderful. She designs beautiful invitations; however, I think she simply needs more time to work out the roadblocks of starting up a business. I wanted to shower her with accolades and recommendations, but now, sadly, I can't because of this experience. Hopefully, when she works out the kinks in her business, no one else will have to go through this. I'm keeping up the original review, because I truly think she deserved the first one. I'm just sad to have to follow up with a second review that may cancel out the first. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: A+ I am truly grateful for Sweet Paper Studio. Phyllis went above and beyond and created beautiful paper items for our wedding day. She listens well to her clients, created gorgeous designs and printed up anything and everything! Our save-the-date design was the first glimpse of the wedding, and she chose a great thermography printer to execute the final product. She incorporated our motifs into the main invitations and assembled everything wonderfully. Even when I disliked a gatefold invitation that she had ordered (more so because that was the only choice available), she was quick to fix it and processed the return to the company. I ended up ordering the pocketfold that I wanted, but Phyllis took over all of the assembly. All I had to do was affix the gem, tie the ribbon, and send off the invitation. She also printed up our rehearsal dinner invitations, programs, table cards, signs, favor tags...you name it, she does it or will find the best outside source for you. Her printed materials are high quality and her prices are very reasonable. She will work within your budget and customize a design to your liking. Phyllis even printed up a Vietnamese version of our invitations, working super hard to make sure the Vietnamese language with all of its accents and symbols showed up correctly. Plus, she made sure to look for fonts that I liked as the fonts that were initially available with the Vietnamese typeset were very drab. And what stands out most in my memory is Phyllis searching high and low for a corner punch style that I wanted to incorporate the week prio to the wedding. She brought along pictures that I had shown her and then let me know right away that she found what I was looking for...just amazing! Phyllis is so sweet-natured, always so professional in her e-mails, always replying with a smile. She is a perfectionist with great attention to detail. She listens to feedback well, changes the proofs in a timely manner, and is so generous with all of her advice, time and energy. Although I'm sure she is quite sick of seeing Stardream paper, I am so thankful for Phyllis! 5 stars all the way. I will definitely be sending everyone over her way! More and more clients are finding her, so though she used to send me e-mail updates daily, now I will get them every other day or so. ;) I can't be happier for her success. So if you are lucky, you will snatch up Phyllis before she is booked solid!! Phyllis is a dream to work with and I am so fortunate to have had her as part of our wedding team! I am not sure what I would have done without her!!!
Services used: Unique Services
Final Touch Bakery
Grade: A- We loved our cake and received great feedback about the design and taste! Our guests loved the fresh berries. The cake was delicious! I was nervous about whether Final Touch would be able to execute the design I had described, but the end product was beautiful! Exactly as I had envisioned. We ordered the white cake with bavarian cream and fresh berries (strawberries, blackberries and blueberries). We loved the buttercream frosting they used - the cake was smooth yet so tasty! If you prefer a very rich and sweet taste, this particular cake is probably not the best choice. They do not have formal tastings, but they will ask that you come out sometime during the weekend to taste their cakes. They speak Vietnamese primarily, so if you are an English-only speaker, it may be difficult to communicate. I also did not love the mocha that I tried. I did not like the tasting because the cake was dry, so I ended up ordering the fresh berries cake for Mother's Day. It did not blow me away, but it was tasty. Final Touch cakes have a lighter, fresher and just the perfect sweetness for me. But I know that some people will prefer a richer, more decadent taste. Wonderful job and for such an awesome price per slice! It truly can't be beat! Just a warning: Final Touch is not the most professional vendor in terms of communication and service, because they are a relatively small bakery shop (though they are kept busy with the numerous weddings). I didn't have any problems with them whatsoever, but then again, I communicated with them very easily, being Vietnamese. We did try Great Dane Bakery as well, and I loved their whipped cream + lemon and berries cake, but in the end, we chose Final Touch because Great Dane was not so tasty to be twice and three times the cost. Great Dane would have been my second choice though, but we were truly happy to have had Final Touch as part of our vendor team. They came on time and the cake was set up just as I had wanted. We gave them photographs and careful descriptions of the cake we wanted, and this worked out beautifully. My husband and I were whisked away after we had our first bite and champagne, and we actually wanted to stop in the midst of our tracks to head back to the cake table to finish it all up. Yum!
Services used: Wedding Cake
Red 5 Studios
Grade: A+ Of our vendors, Red 5 Studios was among our favorites. We are so thrilled to have had them as part of our wedding day. They were actually a last minute addition to our team of vendors. My cousin's equipment was damaged on a recent trip to Vietnam, so we had to scramble to find a videographer for the same-day edit. Loyd and his wife, Hazel, truly went above and beyond. I have heard nothing but compliments on how nice and professional they were throughout the day. Our groomsmen were also impressed by Loyd's state-of-the-art equipment -- he had cameras "just like those in the movies." Loyd was akin to a ninja, incognito and discreet but still able to capture key moments. He included many meaningful and touching parts in our SDE. I had given him a list of 5 songs from which to choose, and he e-mailed back that the SDE would be a song from the list but that he would keep it a surprise! It was too close to the wedding to finagle it out of him. I am so glad he chose Muse' "Starlight!" Despite a minor technical difficulty in playing the SDE during the reception, we still give him props, especially as he stayed past his time and waited for us to finish all of our table greetings. ;P We are happy to refer Loyd and Hazel to any and all of our friends. They are a talented couple, and we look forward to working with them again in the future. Here is a link to the video: http://vimeo.com/1383309
Services used: Videography
Red Cheese Photo Booth Rentals
Grade: A Red Cheese was my very first vendor! I've always loved their booth and pictures. Our guests had a blast, and I only wish that the groom and I had a chance to take a booth picture together before they ended the night. I wish Jay had come in quickly to find us before he shut down. The booth was also placed too far down the foyer, so not as many of our older guests used the booth. But our younger guests had a riot! We loved having them at the wedding and hope we have another big event to throw to use them again. :) We loved the pictures and scrapbook! I heard that Jay was super helpful in getting our guests to come use the booth, so for that, I'm very thankful. I'll always be a fan of Red Cheese!
Services used: Rentals & Photobooths, Unique Services
Grade: A+ We hired CrepeMaker for our wedding (tea ceremony), and I was hoping there would be a chance to have them come out again. The opportunity came when I was planning my hubs' surprise going-away party. Jim and Coco are the sweetest and most generous team ever. It was so great to have them at our party again. Again, our guests raved about the crepes! I love that we can see the making of the crepes. Interactive and fun. And sooo delcious! I love that guests can select either entree crepes and dessert or both! Guests who were at our wedding remembered the crepes and got in line first. And those who saw the live cart for the first time loved the idea! We had about 40 adults and 10 kids. We ordered the 70 crepes package and they went quickly after about 2 hours (you can also order a 50 crepes package, but if you have more than 40 people, I would order the 70 since a lot of guests come back for seconds). CrepeMaker can set up inside or out, so this makes things easy. My family had missed out on the crepes the previous event, so this time, I was happy to see that they were able to taste the yummy crepes. My mom even saved two for herself, but they disappeared from the fridge, lol. She was so sad to see that someone swiped them, haha. Their party crepes are actually smaller now, but the smaller size allows for guests to eat other foods as well. I love the Raspberry Chicken, Opulence, Pesto Steak/Chicken and for dessert, the Triple Threat and the cheesecake one. Big thanks to Jim and Coco for making our events more fun! If I could use them for every event, I totally would. I can't wait to host another party just to bring them out again. A+ 5 stars for their customer service, the excellent food, their prompt set-up and their kindness. They have been there for some milestones already, so here's to the next one! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Grade: A+ CrepeMaker was one of the biggest hits of our day! We hired CrepeMaker as a caterer for our tea ceremony and brunch, and I have heard nothing but compliments on the crepes! Everyone loved the idea, and our guests couldn't get enough of the delicious crepes! They had a fantastic menu (so many entree and dessert choices)! My only regret is that our immediate family did not have a chance to taste any of the crepes! I am sad I didn't even have one bite! Jim and Coco set up on time, brought some French music as ambience, was cordial to all of our guests and everyone loved them!! The crepes were a perfect addition to the brunch/lunch hour! I am so glad we booked them as one of our vendors. Fabulous! I hope we can throw another party where we'll be able to hire them again and taste those crepes that we missed out on on our wedding day! 5 stars all the way!
Services used: Catering
Grade: B I ordered my Lazaro dress through Mon Amie, and the dress came a month before the promised date. I received a 10% discount through a trunk show special, and that was one reason why I chose to purchase from Mon Amie. My consultant Bella was neither pushy nor sincere - she just did her job. She showed me dresses in different ranges, but all within my budget and style requests. They did have a pretty good selection of dresses. All but 2 of the dresses I wanted to try on were there (Lazaro, Ines di Santo). They did not carry the exact Pronovias I wanted to see and no Melissa Sweet wedding gowns at the time. I'm mostly neutral about Mon Amie. They did quote me two different prices on the veil I ordered ($450 difference in price), but they honored the original price. I ordered the size I wanted, even though they wanted me to order one size up so I signed a waiver. I did get hollow-to-hem included since it was ordered during the trunk show. Alterations were very expensive (~$560), but I did ask for a lot of changes. For example, I changed my dress to a sweetheart neckline. This also included bustling, alterations on the side of the dress, alterations in the bust area and alterations in the waist. Nancy is a sweetheart, though. I did like working with her. I was going to give them a 3, but the reason why they deserve a 4 is because I did receive a free dress through their military event. As my husband is active military, Mon Amie has a special community event honoring those in the military. They were extremely generous during this event, and their staff were doting on each and every one of us who walked in. They also gave other freebies such as a veil, shoes, bridal kit, and prizes. As a result, I was actually glad to purchase my dress from them. I ended up not wearing the dress and ordering another one, but I still believe Mon Amie is very kind to think of our military men and women.
Services used: Dress & Attire, Jewelry
Grade: B+ We ordered our family boutonnierres from Hollywood Bridal (the main boutonnierres were ordered from Flower Allie). They definitely have the best prices, but the styles are very basic. We ordered simple orchid boutonnierres for family members. We also ordered all of our tea ceremony decor through them: red table and wall cloths, columns/flowers, candles, signs, etc. We also ordered our flower girl head wreaths through them. They turned out much cuter than I thought they would be. We also ordered flower petals through them. For basic floral needs, Hollywood Bridal is a good resource. However, all my other floral decor (centerpieces, altar arrangements, etc) were all ordered through another vendor. I feel that Hollywood Bridal has a slightly dated style, great for those who just like the basics. But for those who want truly customized and beautiful arrangements, I would shop around. Finally, we went through Hollywood Bridal for our limousine, but you save a bit going through the limousine company directly. Overall, I would use Hollywood Bridal again for all the above. For main floral decor, I would recommend my other florist, Flower Allie!
Services used: Flowers
Executive 1 Limo, Inc
Grade: A- We booked Executive 1 Limo via Hollywood Bridal, but I later discovered that had I booked directly with them, the rate would have been slightly less per hour. It wasn't much of a difference, so not a huge deal. The limousine arrived on time and took us to our sites as requested. The bar was stocked with cold beverages and alcohol. The chauffeur was cordial and helpful. We booked a white 14 passenger Ford limousine, and it was the best price I could find in this area. They have various vehicles available, and a special rate for those who just need a point-to-point rental. Overall, I would use them again if needed.
Services used: Unique Services
Rainbow Sound and Lights
Grade: A- We ordered uplights, gobo, pinspot lighting for the head and cake tables, H20 effects for our reception banquet room. The pink and amber lighting was very pretty; however, I did feel the lighting was a bit dark. Had I seen the banquet room prior to guests arriving, I would have asked that they bring up the lights a bit. It probably has less to do with Rainbow Sound than it does with our reception hall chandeliers. I probably would have asked for more lighting for the band as well. Out of the lighting companies, Rainbow Sound is very competitive in pricing. Great deal on the gobo and special lighting effects! I also ordered a 12X12 screen through Rainbow Sound and Lighting, and comparatively, they gave me the best deal. Jonathan kept in contact, had great communication, and set up on time. He also arrived to pack up promptly. I would definitely use them again!
Services used: Unique Services
Lifetime Weddings & Events
Grade: A- Lifetime does excellent work and offers quality products; however, their prices are on the higher end. I ordered table linens, a wall-to-wall backdrop, a photo backdrop and head table draping through them. The prices for these were reasonable, though I did find the same floor-length linens for $10 less per table elsewhere. However, as Lifetime is Furiwa's sister company, I felt it would be easier for them to work together and set up the tables correctly. Lifetime executed the draping beautifully. The backdrops were perfect, just as discussed. However, Lifetime usually sticks to their basic designs, so all of their weddings look similar. I met with Lifetime for floral design work as well, but I ended up going with another florist because she was more willing to work with me on custom designing my bouquets and centerpieces. Lifetime offered cookie cutter bouquets for higher prices - I could only have roses and orchids in my bouquets and my bridesmaids could only have roses. If I wanted anything else, the cost was much too exorbitant. Also, for the tall centerpiece that I wanted with similar flowers, Lifetime quoted me at least 2x as much. I was also quoted much higher for gobo lighting and pinlighting than my vendor, and slightly higher for uplighting. Lifetime is a very solid group and they do great work. I would trust them to execute beautifully; however, I do feel their prices are a bit high for their "cookie-cutter" look. They sometimes offer an overall deal if you book their larger packages. My good friend ordered her Pronovias dress through them, and everything went smoothly. She also did the works with them (lighting, draping, chair covers, upgraded white dancefloor, etc), and she was very happy with them. So for the brides that want an all-in-one place, Lifetime is a good stop; however, if you are looking for good prices, it won't be the best place. They do quality work, though, and are very experienced with weddings, so sometimes, it's more of a hassle to look for the best deals. Lifetime also had a gorgeous, Spanish-style banquet hall called The Villa which is a great, reasonably priced venue for weddings and/or events. If my guestlist was under 300, I might have chosen the venue. The biggest selling point of this venue? It comes set up with chiavari chairs! A+ for that!
Services used: Wedding Venue
Mimi Nguyen Photography
Grade: A+ Mimi is super talented and has an amazing eye. We are incredibly lucky to have had her for a photographer. We had so much fun at our engagement session - she made us feel very comfortable and guided us when needed (which way to look, what smiles look great, look in a certain way, told us when to fix our hair or clothes...). But for the most part, she let us just have fun together naturally. Mimi is very active when she works - always in and out, up and down to make sure she gets all the shots and different perspectives as well. She takes great action shots! Mimi truly loves photography, and she is well known among her friends to always have a camera on hand. What stands out most is that she cares immensely about her work and style; thus, every single photograph is an art piece. She has awesome post-editing skills, which I think a lot of photographers lack or don't spend enough time mastering. Mimi will make sure you look your best and that the photograph is perfect (color, framing, retouching...). She has a very spunky personality and makes sure that each of her sessions are unique. Mimi has great attention-to-detail and is very passionate about her work. A+ and 5 stars all the way!
Services used: Photography
Tiffany & Co.
Grade: A We purchased our bridesmaids' gifts through Tiffany and Company. Most girls love receiving blue boxes, and my bridesmaids were no exception. They were very appreciative of their gifts, and two of them expressed that these were their first blue boxes! Considering I purchased these gifts so far in advance, I only wish Tiffany's had a better return/exchange policy just in case I needed to exchange them for different styles closer to the wedding. The representative in San Diego was cordial; however, it did take some time for us to receive assistance. As with all Tiffany items, the necklaces were all simple and beautiful but definitely overpriced for sterling silver. But what we pay for the brand and that coveted blue box...
Services used: Jewelry