May 02, 2009
Rob did a fantastic job capturing the moments of our city hall ceremony and chinese banquet reception. We really appreciated the thought he put into the pictures. They came out wonderful. And to boot, he's a great guy to hang out with.
Services used: Photography
Sea Empress Seafood Rest
I didn't work closely with this vendor..someone else in the family doing the planning did. This vendor was highly recommended/required by the hotel because of the strict requirements for outside caterers to the venue. The groom and I did was the tasting and on the day of ate up to course 4. Tasting did not go so well. The food was not offensive, it was just bland. On the day of, the first 3 courses were what we expected - bland. Then wow..the 4 course was good. Unfortunately groom and I didn't have time to eat after that so weren't not really sure what happened. We didn't get a lot of compliments about the food..so I'm thinking it was probably pretty mediocre. Our wedding planner told us they had another couple who had just done their rehearsal dinner at the restaurant itself and that were very happy with the food. It just went to confirm our suspicion that this restaurant is inconsistent. This is basically one of two Chinese restaurants/caterers in the LA/OC area that does Chinese banquets at offsite locations and that is fully licensed. So most venues including hotels will let them use their kitchens. The other, is in OC and more pricey. If we had to do it again and still had the Chinese banquet requirement, I would have just done it in a Chinese restaurant.
Services used: Unique Services
Erica Koesler Wedding Accessories
I went twice. First time they had a great selection, but I didn't purchase. My second visit was really close to the wedding and I was sick of shopping but still needed a veil and some other accessories. Unfortunately they didn't have much selection that time. I needed a cathedral length ivory veil ($150, 2 tiered, plain with some rhinestones) and they only had one in stock. I also ended up with an ivory hair flower ($30) and silver brooch ($25). Since it's a warehouse, the selection will vary. The staff there, especially Nora is very helpful and when they warn you about the changing inventory..it's not a pressure tactic..it's true. Be sure to make an appointment before you go in, and they only take cash.
Services used: Dress & Attire
Working with Nicole was a mixed bag. I booked her because I wanted a Chinese speaking artist who the mom's and other family members could more easily communication with, and one that was affordable - we paid for all the girls hair and makeup. It was nice that Nicole was flexible. We had to add extra people to the list who needed hair and makeup the week of the wedding, and she was able to accomodate. Her team did over 20 services (hair and makeup) in 3 hours. In the end all the mom's and aunt's were happy with their hair and makeup, but the wedding party gals were not happy with their makeup. The girls didn't feel like Nicole's team really listened to them. I wasn't there, so I'm not sure if it was a language issue or just a total lack of communication, but most of the girls felt their makeup was heavier than they wanted. The makeup and hair did last through the day, and it looked fine in the pictures.
Services used: Beauty & Health
(Sorry this is a long review. Broken down by service) Day of Coordination (5 plus stars) Sandy and Debbie did an AMAZING job on the day of. They very professionally and deftly dealt with all our vendors, meddling parents and all the details of the day. I made the decision to be completely removed from any planning or stress the day of, and Sandy and Debbie made that possible. They had to deal with two different venues needing to be set up in a short time and a few unknowns about the decor of the reception that were totally out of our control. In the days leading up to the day, their office did all the confirmations with the vendors and kept us informed along the way. We originally picked them mainly because they were bilingual - English and Chinese. And it was probably some of the best money we spent on the wedding. I would have been willing to pay upto 50% more for that service. Rentals - 4 stars Chair Covers) Looked fine, fit the chairs well and were affordable. For ease of cost calculations, it was nice that transportation was all included. Design and Decor (3 stars) This was an extra service we added on because we were apprehensive about our ceremony site being functional. We definately needed some help but I think we expected more from it. I didn't feel that Aquafuzion was able to adapt that well to the differences in my asetthic to theirs. In the consult they ask what your vision of the wedding is. I'll admit I gave a pretty generic one because I didn't really know when we did the consult, but I think my lack of enthusiasm for their original design should have been the tip-off that I wanted something a little different from what they envisioned. To that effect I did not feel like they were listening to my feedback. It almost felt like if I didn't like what they handed me then I was on my own. I think some of these intial issues can be chalked up to us learning how to communicate with each other. With this service the burden of communication felt completely on me. Basically if I didn't ask for it, they didn't respond. This was a bit frustrating because part of why we paid for this service is because we weren't sure what we needed. In the end, I'm okay with how the decor turned out, but I think it had the potential to be more. Invitations (4 stars for the printing and service, 2 stars for the design) This is a sore spot for me. I have to preface this by saying we were working on a really short timeline so that didn't have time to really spend talking through things, and I am very picky about graphic design and should have warned Sandy about that. Also we had certain criterea about wanting to minize paper use, recycled paper etc, that we said we were not willing to budge on. They didn't have much experience in this realm. To fit our paper saving requirement Sandy ended up giving us a seal-n-send layout that we both LOVED, but the love stopped there. The first proof we got was totally unexpected. I know that's why there are three proofs, but it was disappointing. We ended up with something that I'm happy with, but I put in a lot more work into than I wanted. We originally hired them for all the stationary because I didn't want to do it. I'm handy enough with graphic design programs that I knew I could have done it, but I didn't want to spend the time and thought a professional could do it much better. In the end we ended up working together on thigns and getting products that we liked, but as with the design service I felt like the difference in asethic made it that she wasn't able to help very much. Sevice wise I have to say Sandy and Debbie went above and beyond their call of duty. Because the printing on some of the block color did not come consistent (we were warned about this so it was okay), they gave us extras of items. Also the guest list never got settled, so she was making nametags up until the day of. We were really appreciative of her flexibility. Even with all these problems I would have still hired them to do our stationary. I will say they do a great job with the the more traditional romantic look but since we had a more comtemporary look in mind, we'd probably only hire them for printing. Their printing for all the items was good. We liked the finished look.
Services used: Wedding Planning
Cathryn played our ceremony. She was a pleasure to work with, and we were very impressed with how her playing crated a wonderful, romantic mood for the event. She does a preview session where she plays songs for you to pick from. She has a great selection to choose from and also was very open to trying different things. We did hit one snafu during the ceremony where the music didn't come in when cued, but it worked out okay.
Services used: Ceremony Music
Torrance Bakery has a great selection of cake designs to choose from. Since our cake was included as part of the contract with our hotel, it was really easy and only took one 30 min visit. The cake has a nice crumb and density. They obviously use cake flour and for wedding cakes I think that is almost a must. It isn't overly (fake) vanilla flavored as some can be and the crust is a good thickness given what they use to cover the cakes with. The standard frosting has an okay texture and fat level. It wasn't pure shortening like I expected, but it also obviously was not pure butter. The staff couldn't tell me what type of buttercream it was; they just called it Torrance buttercream. It isn't as light as a Swiss or Italian buttercream, but also not as grainy or dense as an American buttercream. It's more on the dense side but lightened up a bit with some protein probably. You can order the French buttercream for an extra charge, but we didn't think it was that much better to be worth the charge. Side Note: Since I'm a cake person, my expectations from a bakery are high, so I'm probably being more stringent on this vendor than others. I am taking off one star because on the wedding day the cake turned out to be much sweeter than we remembered from the tasting. We liked the sweetness level during the tasting but on the day of it was almost cloying and that is unacceptable from a bakery of this calibre. I am taking off another second star because we ordered a brown ribbon for the cake and they used black instead. It was really only a difference that the groom and I noticed but we felt like it took away from the cake that we had envisioned. I doubled checked the ribbon color because I knew that when ribbon gets greasy it darkens and brown can easily turn to black, but I took a look at the ribbon after it had been taken off under light and there was no way that was brown ribbon.
Services used: Wedding Cake
Jonilyn NEVER responded (going on 4 weeks) to emails requesting information about her services. I find that absolutely unacceptable for someone you are trusting to capture moments from a life altering event. Totally unprofessional and unacceptable. Though I did not book or use her, I feel the need to post being busy is no excuse. I also inquired with top wedding photographers who are very busy and either got immediate responses or responses within 5 business days were they profusely apologized for their tardiness.
Services used: Photography
Very comfortable atmosphere and nice salesgirls. This was the first wedding dress shop I went to and I'm happy I started there. They helped explain the basics about dress shopping and let me try on a lot of different shapes to see the differences. They have a good selection of designer gowns. I went on three separate occassions. On the third visit, a sale day =), I did pick up one of my gowns there. My two caveats about the store are that their dresses do run along the more standard line. They are designer but I wouldn't call them unique. I ended up wanting a more couture look for my main ceremony dress, so I went to another shop for it. Second is that I'm not a sample size and that caused the actual price of the dress with alterations to be less of a steal than I had originally thought. I'm a wedding dress size 2, but I ended up picking up a size 8 dress. So the alterations were major and ended up costing more than the dress. Even with that additional cost and bit of hassle (5 fittings because of all the alterations), I was happy with my purchase and the experience. I am picking up my other dress from jinwang. The two shops have different price points, but I would put Glamour Closet right up there with jinwang because of the great sales staff.
Services used: Dress & Attire
City of Commerce Flowers
I found Commerce Flowers on PW, and we are happy we went with them. We were about 3 months from the wedding and didn't have a florist yet. The whole wedding was a bit of a rush job, and my husband and I were 500 mi away from the wedding sites, but Eddie saw our need and worked his magic. We had only gone to one other florist and they were only giving us generic quotes with fixed prices - quite a contrary thing. I wasn't comfortable with that. I'm very visual and needed to see mock ups to sign a contract and part of what attracted me to Commerce was that they provide mock-ups free of charge. Also we wanted to keep things local, sustainable and MINIMAL with flowers. The minimal thing was partially for cost but more because as much as I love fresh flowers, I find them horrible wasteful. People were saying to get potted plants so that the flowers wouldn't be cut, but I didn't like the way that looked. So there we were..needing flowers but not really wanting them. Eddie heard me out and found a way to make it work. He gave us what we needed and way under budget. I loved the personal pieces. My bouquet was perfect and the BM ones too,though they were a bit small. I'll admit on the day of I was a bit underwhelmed with the reception centerpieces. For some, I had given him a picture of what we wanted and what turned out wasn't quite what I expected. For the others we had to do a last minute adjustment because the parents didn't like the minimalistic quality of the mock up Eddie had done. I LOVED the original but was sick of dealing with one of the parents, so we asked Eddie to help and told him what the parents wanted. He did exactly what we asked..it just wasn't my taste. But overall given the time, the budget and the circumstances, Commerce flowers did a great job. The Commerce flowers crew were also great. They got their job done in a timely matter and stayed to make sure things were okay with everything they set up.
Services used: Flowers