Jul 15, 2006
Like so many, we also went to Icing on the Ring during one of their 20% off/free stainless steel groom's band promotions. I went in knowing that I wanted a custom band that would be engraved to coordinate with my grandmother's engagement ring, and that was quick and easy to set up. I e-mailed Vic a close-up or two of the scrolls on my grandmother's ring and they custom-made a platinum band that fits perfectly around the e-ring and complements it really well. DH took forever to pick his ring out (he went all metro on me that day! :D ) but the salesgirl was VERY patient. It was at least an hour before she gently said, "Okay, now we have to start narrowing things down from what you've already picked." Definitely recommended.
Services used: Jewelry
We got the special wedding show deal from Men's Wearhouse (I went to the zoo at the Universal Hilton just to get it) where you put $10 down and get any tux between $59.99 and $99.99 for $59.99, including shoes, cufflinks, etc. We worked David with the Glendale location and had a problem only in retrospect -- looking at the pictures, my husband's coat sleeves are a little too short and you can see his shirt cuffs. Other than that, there were no problems, even though both the best man and my dad were in from out of town.
Services used: Dress & Attire
I bought some glassine envelopes from another online vendor that turned out to be too small for what I needed, so, in a panic, I decided to try Papermart since they're local and could get the order to me the next day. I found little muslin bags (about 4"x7") that were not only the perfect size to hold our favors, but fit our garden theme perfectly at around $1.50 per bag.
Services used: Favors & Gifts
The Rococo Room
DH and I had a small wedding (40 guests) so it was difficult to find a place in Pasadena to have a luncheon reception that was private and could take a small group. We finally settled on Cafe Santorini as giving us the most bang for our buck since their private room is actually downstairs from the main restaurant and has its own entrance from the street. I was very stressed out by the decision, though, because I didn't like their coordinator and was very worried about how the day would go. She seemed very detached and uninterested in our wedding. In fact, I was so concerned that we ended up hiring a day-of coordinator (the fabulous Heather Ryon from Martinis & Bliss). Luckily, that particular person at Rococo quit a couple of months before our wedding and we ended up working with Natalia, the new coordinator, who turned out to be very nice and enthusiastic. She was willing to answer all of our questions, worked with Heather very smoothly, and even called a few days after the reception to make sure we were happy with our experience there. The Rococo Room came with a lot of items that you have to pay extra for at other locations, like chiavari chairs. Their prices were extremely reasonable -- the luncheon was less than $25 per person, and that included salad, entree, nonalcoholic drinks, and dessert. They have a cake cutting fee of $1.25 per person, but they waive it if you choose to serve your cake as dessert instead of their dessert. The food was simple but delicious. Yes, I got to eat at my wedding!
Services used: Wedding Venue
Pre-wedding Grade: 4 stars Wedding Day Grade: 2 stars Unfortunately, I didn't have the same great experience with My Wedding Blooms that other people have had. Everything was fine leading up to the wedding -- Kerim was very responsive to e-mails and calls and had great ideas -- but the execution was lacking on the actual wedding day. The flowers arrived close to the promised time of 8:30 a.m., but there was a major problem: the mothers' corsages and the gardenias for my hair were missing. There was a box for the corsages that was filled with packing material, but the corsages themselves were missing. The employee who delivered the flowers promised to return with the missing ones in 15 minutes. Forty-five minutes later, we had to leave for the church and ran into the employee in the hallway with the missing flowers. Once we arrived at the church, we discovered that no pins had been provided for the corsages or the boutonnieres and had to ask our coordinator to bring some to us. All of the waiting made us late for our pictures, which ended up being more rushed than we wanted. The men have no flowers in at least half of the pictures. The aisle arrangements were stuck onto the chairs with double-sided tape but kept falling off -- only about half of them were still on when I walked down the aisle. The flowers that my mom had put in my hair (because they arrived after the makeup artist had left) kept falling out. Eventually, we ended up putting one of the magnolias from the back of the cake in my hair because we couldn't get the gardenias to stay! I had a very small wedding (two bouquets, four boutonnieres, six aisle arrangements, five centerpieces, an aisle runner, and a cake stand) so it was even more frustrating that things went wrong. So, unfortunately, I can only recommend Kerim if you really stay on top of him and make sure that he delivers everything he's supposed to. Everything looked nice, but it was so frustrating having to wait around for it that it really diminished my enjoyment of the flowers and added unnecessary stress to our wedding day. Also, looking at the pictures, the centerpieces we ended up with look a lot less lush than our samples were, though it's possible it was due to a miscommunication.
Services used: Flowers
Next Exit Photography
Along with our coordinator, Heather from Martinis & Bliss, Cat and Adi from Next Exit Photography were our favorite vendors. Cat was our "official" photographer and contact person, and she was very patient about answering all of my constant e-mails. She even forgave me for being 45 minutes late to our engagement picture session. :-o I told Cat a few weeks before the wedding that we really needed to get our proof album within three weeks of the wedding, because we were going back to Illinois for a second reception and we wanted to be able to show it to all of our relatives. Not only did she get our beautiful proof album to us before we left, she snuck us to the front of the line and blogged us early so our relatives who couldn't make it to California could have a preview. I would be willing to recommend them strictly on the basis of their responsiveness and professionalism, but, luckily, they're amazingly talented photographers, too!
Services used: Photography
Martinis & Bliss Events
We really only hired her for day-of coordination but, once we hired her, Heather was constantly checking in to see if we needed anything. When my makeup artist (the now-infamous Tess) flaked on me, she gave me a list of people to try, and I ended up booking with Sherry McAnelly, who was great. When our musicians panicked me a week before the wedding by suddenly saying they couldn't play my custom song, Heather dealt with it. And she was even better on the day of: everyone knew where to go and when to be there. The guests really appreciated it and said it was the best-organized wedding they'd been to. She ran the iPod, reapplied my lip gloss, and helped me get a raspberry stain out of my dress. I really, really, REALLY wanted a petal toss but couldn't figure out how we could manage it with an indoor ceremony. Heather finally said, "Why not just stage it outside? Have everyone gather around and just toss the petals for the camera." And that's what we did.
Services used: Wedding Planning
Pre-Wedding and Day-Of Grade: A Final Grade: Pending My final grade for Young Lee of Firefly Videography is pending because I don't have my video (and won't for several months) but we were very happy with him on the day of our wedding. He was very quiet and unobtrusive (as we wanted) but he seemed to be everywhere. He was either right in front of us shooting over the photographers' shoulders or he was filming the guests and the location. All of this on a 100-degree day in Pasadena. Prior to the wedding, he was very good about keeping in touch and checked in with us by e-mail several times. He prefers e-mail to phone calls, but we didn't find that a problem at all. We ended up having to hire him sight unseen -- we missed one appointment with him because of a nasty car accident on the freeway, and then I had my knee surgery to deal with. But it all worked out and there were no mix-ups at all on the day of that we know of. We told Young that he can get as cinematic and non-wedding-video-y as he likes with our video since DH and I are both film geeks/film school graduates, so we're looking forward to seeing what he comes up with!
Services used: Unique Services
On Location Beauty
I contacted Sherry less than a month before my wedding, panicked because the person I had originally booked had canceled on me (and disappeared with my money) and the person she had referred me to turned out to be already booked at my time. Luckily, Sherry was available even on such short notice. Because she was doing hair/makeup for both myself and my MOH for an 11:00 a.m. ceremony, she had to arrive at the hotel in Pasadena at 5:30 a.m. She was on time (despite saying that she'd gotten a little lost because of a freeway closure) and very perky for that hour of the morning. She did a gorgeous updo on my MOH and a great job on me as well. Definitely recommended.
Services used: Beauty & Health
I was a little worried about getting our cake from Porto's, because other people had warned me that they weren't very stylish and didn't have creative flavors like a lot of the other cake makers do. Still, G. was very insistent that we get our cake from Porto's so we could be sure it would taste good, so I agreed. We got the Cuban cake (yellow cake dipped in rum) filled with Bavarian cream and frosted with Italian meringue. I gave them a picture of a cake that had caught my eye and asked them to duplicate it as best they could. Not only did the duplicate it, they improved on it! They did a very artistic version of woodgrain and then carefully "burned" it with a blowtorch to darken it. And it was delish, too -- my husband's nephew (who normally doesn't like cake) admitted to eating two pieces at the wedding and taking seven pieces home. We were lucky to get a slice of our own cake to take back to the hotel.
Services used: Wedding Cake
La Folia Chamber Ensemble
We wanted a string trio with a different sound, so we chose La Folia, which has a violin, a flute, and a classical guitar. We had several communication problems with Jerry even though we did almost everything through e-mail and I saved all of the backup. I asked for two custom songs, but he only remembered one and told me three days before the wedding that he couldn't play the song I had requested for my walk down the aisle. Between myself and my coordinator, we finally got him to agree to do it (for an extra fee that had NOT been discussed) after she threatened to have her musician husband play it instead. They did a good job on the day of (or so I've been told), but Jerry caused a lot of stress and drama by not remembering e-mails and conversations about what we wanted.
Services used: Ceremony Music
We ran short of invitations for DH's co-workers and didn't want to have to go back to our horrible invitations vendor (reviewed below, An Occasion to Celebrate), so I DIYed six invites using items from Paper Source. They turned out quite nice, but at Paper Source prices, you're not going to save much money over having a vendor do it for you.
Services used: Invitations
Online favor vendor with good selection, decent prices, and frequent sales. I was extremely picky about the cake boxes I chose because most of them seemed to be these tiny 1/2" tall ones that would only fit a sliver of cake. Instead I opted for the giant cake boxes in kraft from WeddingThings.com. (I also got some frosted favor bags that turned out to be too small, but it wasn't the vendor's fault.) I received the items in good condition about a week after I placed the order.
Services used: Favors & Gifts, Jewelry