May 31, 2008
I went to Bridal Galleria in the middle of September, more than eight months before my wedding. I was helped by Haily, who, as soon as she found out my budget (around $3000), expressed surprise that I was considering ordering my gown with them. Haily continued to treat me in a condescending way, as if my gown budget placed me immediately in a position below hers. I was interested in a particular dress by Alvina Valenta, which miraculously fit exactly within my budget, but Haily kept insisting I try on dresses that cost double my budget. I must admit though, she listened well to what I described to her as my style and brought dresses that I really liked. However, my overall experience was unpleasant - I was made to feel unworthy of the Bridal Galleria's lofty and wealthy clientele. Haily tried to convince me that I am running really late in ordering my gown. This was one of the first places I had visited, so I asked how ordering and alterations work, and all she said was, "ordering a gown is like buying a car, or a house - you sign a contract." In short, I was very disappointed by the service and attitude. Although the Alvina Valenta dress was the one I wanted to get, I refused to order it through the Bridal Galleria. I ordered it at the Unique Bride in Burlingame, where Mary's service made all the difference!
Services used: Dress & Attire
I went to Gesinee's Bridal to look specifically at Watters dresses. I was ten minutes late for my appointment because of traffic. When I arrived I had to wait for fifteen more minutes until the consultant who was supposed to be helping me, finished with another client. So thirty minutes after my appointment time I got to talk to a very young woman, who could not have been more than eighteen (in fact she looked younger than that) and with a very very bad cold. She was sniffling and sneezing. I told her what I was looking for, but she said she could not show me only Watters styles, I had to choose a price range. I chose the mid-range ($1000-$2000) since I believed that's where most of the Watters style fell into. Then I explained what kind of style I was looking for - a V-neck sheath or a V-neck A-line dress, no strapless gowns. I brought photos of the dresses I liked, together with their Watters id numbers (I was thorougly prepared after weeks of online research). The yound lady did not listen to me, neither did she look at the photos, then went off to look for dresses and told me I could look through all the dresses I could see. I rifled aimlessly through many dresses and found several that I liked. I pulled them off the rack and took them to my dressing room. After a while the consultant brought a number of strapless gowns, several halter necks, and no V-necks. Yes, they were mainly by Watters, but not any of the styles whose pictures I had tried to show her. She helped me try on a few of the dresses, while sneezing and sniffling all over them, all over the clips with which she clipped me, and over some of the accessories for the dresses. While I was trying on dresses, my sister who had come with me, went off looking for more dresses that fit my requirements. My sister was more helpful and found better dresses than the supposedly trained and qualified bridal consultant! The consultant was very pushy and after each dress, she asked me if it was a Yes or a No. So I had to decide on the spot whether I really liked the dress and she should leave it for me to look at, or she should take it back. My sister brought a number of dresses that I liked and found some of the styles that I had come to Gesinee's to try on! After what seemed to me no time at all, the consultant informed me that the appointment was over. I was so surprised and asked why. She said that each appointment was an hour and a half, and I had arrived half an hour later, so my appointment was only an hour. I protested saying that she had kept me waiting more than fifteen minutes after I had arrived only ten minutes late. She said that that's all the time I had and I could make another appointment and pay the appointment fee ($45) if I wanted to come back and keep trying dresses on. Needless to say, not only did I not find what I was looking for, but I never considered going back to Gesinee's Bridal!
Services used: Dress & Attire
Great service, beautiful jewelry, and very knowledgeable staff! My fiance and I bought our wedding bands there and we were very impressed with one of the salespeople, Tracy, who was very helpful and very well informed, with a sharp eye and excellent knowledge. My engagement ring is a family heirloom, so its style is old-fashioned and difficult to match with modern clean-cut wedding bands. Tracy immediately noticed that the ring was old and even zeroed in on its time period, pointing out some of the features of the design and the way it was made. She suggested some antique-looking engraved wedding bands for me that actually fit beautifully the style of the ring! My fiance is very happy with his hammered gold band. UPDATE: After we picked up our wedding bands, mine had someone else's initials and wedding date engraved on it!!!!!!!!!!!Unbelievable. We saw it only when we got back home and were at Pave first thing next morning. It turns out they sold us the ring they had made for another bride without telling us. They were extremely apologetic about it and let me choose another wedding band. I didn't want the first one, because it was basically someone else's even if she had never worn it (Pave explained that they had made this band for another bride, but she didn't end up having it because it was too small). I am happy with my new band, and relieved that they handled the situation very professionally, but why on earth did they put a band already engraved with someone's initials and wedding date on their display rack???? And why didn't they tell us they were selling us an engraved band??? I can't help wondering. SECOND UPDATE: It turns out the wedding band they sold us WAS someone else's but this woman never wore it because it didn't fit. Why they sold it to us without telling us and why it was on the rack, I don't know. But PAVE was very professional about it. They offered to make me a new ring honoring the sale price for my first wedding band, so I agreed. I picked a similar design - an engraved platinum band - and a month later, I have it. I went in for sizing, and then when it was ready FI and I ordered our bands to be engraved. And we are very happy with our bands.
Services used: Unique Services
The Berkeley Faculty Club
We are having our wedding there at the end of May. I will write a more detailed review after the wedding, but all I want to say right now is that our wedding day and site was double-booked. It turns out one can reserve the Faculty Glade (the place the Faculty Club uses for the wedding ceremony) through the University. The University MUST check with the Faculty Club to make sure the site has not been booked through the Club already. The Club must check with the University too. However, in our case, someone in both places did not do his or her job, and our date and ceremony site was double-booked. We would not have found out about it until the wedding day UNLESS my FI had called the university to check something, and they told him, "funny you are asking, because we have ANOTHER WEDDING at that site that day." If FI had not called the University, NOBODY WOULD HAVE KNOWN THE SITE WAS DOUBLE-BOOKED. The Berkeley Faculty Club claimed it was not their fault and refused to deal with it. My FI had to settle everything on his own, calling the other party, negotiating with them, and arranging for a mutually agreeable plan. In any case, since we had put down the deposit for the Faculty Club, we have the right to use the spot, since the other party was using it for free through the University. What I am really unhappy about is that the Faculty Club refused to settle this down and we had to deal with it on our own. We put down the deposit and our contract says we have the date and site so it's their responsibility to make sure the site is available, right???? If you are having a wedding at the Faculty Club, insist that their event manager CHECKS WITH THE UNIVERSITY to make sure the Faculty Glade has not been reserved separately. It's probably even better if you call the University and make sure they know you have reserved the site. JUNE 4, 2008 - UPDATE The Faculty Club event manager was difficult to reach, but the site looked beautiful the day of. We were really worried when at 2:30 pm (the wedding was at 4 pm) not much was set up. But the staff did a great job setting up in an hour and a half. Nevertheless, we were a bit anxious how it would look with such little time to set up. The banquet manager (the manager on duty the evening of the wedding) was not very helpful and gave my bridesmaids an attitude. If we hadn't had a wedding coordinator, I am not sure the Faculty Club would have lived up to our expectations since someone had to oversee their work. The wedding coordinator made everything happen - so if you are planning a wedding there, consider getting a Day of Coordinator. In any case, the wedding ran smoothly and everything was beautiful! The staff was friendly and efficient!
Services used: Wedding Venue
La Farine French Bakery
This is my favorite pastry shop, but it turns out it is the best place for wedding cakes too! The prices are reasonable (between $5.25 and $6.00 per slice) and their wedding cake chef is very friendly, thoughtful, and careful to hear you out and understand your ideas!I enjoyed meeting with Mary Anne and discussing my ideas for a wedding cake. My fiance and I made an appointment to talk about wedding cakes. A couple of days before the appointment, Mary Anne asked us to pick three cakes from their wedding cake list to taste at our consultation. We really liked four of their cakes, so she said she would gladly add the fourth cake to our tasting for free. During the consultation she was friendly, very helpful, knowledgeable, and willing to work with our requirements. We wanted a marzipan finish instead of buttercream or fondant, and we wanted something simple, elegant, and minimalist. She listened carefully and responded in a thoughtful and engaged way. First we looked at their wedding albums and picked out looks we liked. Then we tasted the four cakes. They were all great! We tried the Raspberry Royale, the Gateau au Citron, the Jezebel, and the Chamonix. We did not want a chocolate-heavy cake, but rather something light that would match the marzipan finish we both wanted. The Raspberry Royale was exactly what we were looking for - white chocolate raspberry mousse in genoise cake soaked in amaretto. The amaretto gave the cake a subtle almondy taste, which we thought would work well with the marzipan (almond paste). The other three cakes were amazing too (they were all full slices!). Once we were done with the tasting, Mary Anne asked us about the designs we liked and for a while we discussed different decoration techniques and options. She then walked us through the different options - one presentation cake and cake sheets, a bigger cake to accommodate all guests (120), shapes, decorations, and so forth. She gave us detailed and patient explanations and really listened to us. Then, she gave us quotes based on our preferences. We decided to get a three-tier round stacked presentation cake for 115 people and a side cake for 15. The quote for this combination, with marzipan finish, was $746, including delivery ($40). We thought the price was very reasonable and we were very happy with the cake quality and with the service! June 3, 2008 - UPDATE The cake looked stunning and it was delectable! Mary Anne did an amazing job creating the wedding cake. We met with her a week before the wedding and discussed the decoration. She listened patiently, asked questions, and was flexible and understanding. She created a marzipan finish for us although they don't usually do that for wedding cake. And she colored the marzipan in a color that complemented the ribbon that went around each tier. She decorated the cake with flowers provided by our florist. The end result was an elegant and delicious cake that we loved!
Services used: Wedding Cake
Lisa Zomer - Makeup Artist
Lisa was amazing! She did my hair and makeup, and that of my three bridesmaids along with that of the two moms. She was so professional, flexible with scheduling, and produced beautiful results. I had a trial with Lisa in early March for my May 31 wedding. I loved the makeup she did - very natural and discreet. She applied false eyelashes that blended with mine and nobody could tell I had them on. The airbrushed makeup felt natural, lightweight, and soon I forgot I had any makeup (let alone lashes) on! I was not absolutely sure about the hair, but talking to Lisa, and taking some time to think about how I want my hair gave me a better idea and Lisa and I managed to find the best looking style for me. I loved my hair on the wedding day! My bridesmaids looked stunning and she did an incredible job! Our makeup and hair stayed on throughout the day and well into the night (at least until midnight!!!). Lisa was punctual and managed to do hair and makeup for six people in five hours! We were very disciplined and our concentration and discipline helped Lisa get her job done. Thank you, Lisa! Bride was $300, hair and makeup for bridesmaids and moms, $145 each. $50 fee for airbrush makeup.
Services used: Beauty & Health
Patricia Gibbons, Floral Designs
Pat was great to work with and her flowers looked beautiful! We turned to her with two months left before the wedding because we had "fired" our previous florist. Pat agreed to work with us and we met a couple of times to discuss the wedding flowers. Pat created stunning arrangements - a bouquet for the copper pot one of the bridesmaids carried, aisle decorations, small floral arrangements for the cocktail area, gorgeous garden-y lush arrangements for the guest tables, and stunning flowers for my hair and for the hair of my three bridesmaids and for my mom. The flowers for the cake were also beautiful! Past also created the centerpieces for the rehearsal dinner at the Claremont Country Club. Those were truly amazing! We spent more on flowers than we had planned to, but it was worth it. While Pat is not one of the less expensive florists, we found that her professionalism, punctuality, talent, and creativity were the more money we spent on flowers. And our wedding looked more beautiful for it! We spent about $2500 on flowers. Floral centerpieces for guest tables - lush garden-y arrangements that included hydrangea and lilac were $100 a piece.
Services used: Flowers