Nov 15, 2009

AAA DJ Service
( 4.2 / 5.0 )
Our wedding was a joyous event, and Allen played a key part in making it a success. My husband left a glowing review (which is still posted) after we returned from our honeymoon. I really liked Allen, too, but needed some extra time to process all the details of what was a wonderful, but overwhelming day.

First of all, Allen responded to our emails and calls immediately, which we quickly discovered was a rarity in the wedding industry. We were impressed by our initial meeting with him and the two hours he spent with us. He was polite, professional, well organized and showed great attention to detail.

Allen generously offered to hold our wedding date longer than initially promised so we could meet another D.J. and compare styles before making our decision. We really appreciated his flexibility and willingness to work with us.

Allen patiently responded to dozens of emails from me regarding renting mics and a speaker system to support our friends who sang during the ceremony. He was the only DJ we spoke to who made a site visit to our venue and coordinated with our other vendors. We enjoyed his sense of humor and how he kept us calm during the planning.

On the day of the event, everyone thought he was a wonderful emcee. Allen has a deep, resonant voice and kept the festivities running smoothly. It was a relief to be able to depend on his excellent organizational skills.

There were a few small glitches, however, when it came to the music. My husband and I gave Allen a detailed list in which we starred the "must-play" numbers and included a list of secondary songs to play if he had time. While he aired several of our secondary songs, we realized later that many of our starred requests were never played.

This included one song recorded by my brother-in-law -- though we'd mailed a CD containing the track to Allen in advance. In fairness, we hadn’t made a point of asking him to call attention to the song – we’d just hoped to surprise my brother-in-law over the course of the evening.

We were also surprised to hear Vincent Price cackling about "grizzly ghouls" during Michael Jackson's "Thriller" early in the reception. Perhaps it was a mistake, because Allen followed it with another Michael Jackson song we had chosen, which was too much MJ in a row.

I waited to post this review until after we received our video several months after the wedding. I was surprised to hear "Going to the Chapel" played as guests were seated before dinner. (My husband and I were awaiting our grand entrance and were not in the room.) It was not an appropriate song for a traditional Jewish wedding -- particularly since our rabbi and his wife had stayed for dinner.

Finally, Allen encouraged us to spend $50 extra for a more powerful speaker. While the cost wasn't unreasonable, we didn’t notice a dramatic difference in the acoustics.

Overall, we thought Allen did a great job, and would encourage you to consider him for your event. We mention these other details out of fairness to other couples.
Services used: DJ
AAA DJ Service
I sincerely appreciate and respect the thoughts and feelings of all the reviews posted here, even the ones that talk about things I could improve upon. That is how I continue to provide better and better service.

Overall this couple was great to work with, their event was wonderful and I was honored to be a part of it. They had the longest and most energetic Hora I have ever seen, it was awesome to watch!

I have always thought of the Dixie’s Cups song Chapel of Love as a cute little nostalgic song about people getting married. It never occurred to me it might be disrespectful to the Jewish faith. I did not mean any disrespect and certainly will be more conscious of it in the future.

When it comes to playing music, I put together a prioritized list of my couple’s requests that I pick songs from as the event progresses. I have found that playing the right song at the right moment makes for a much better party then simply playing one song after another from a pre-programmed list. That would be no different that using a I-pod. However it does mean the possibility of having songs left over at the end of the evening exists.

At this particular event, as the evening progressed, I felt everything would time out correctly. However, with a little more than an hour left, the venue served chocolate strawberries as a desert outside on the terrace. Most of the guests, along with the bride and groom went outside to enjoy dessert and for the most part, never really returned inside.

Knowing I still had a number of their requests left to play, but faced with the choice of not playing their requests or playing their requests and them possibly not being heard, I chose the latter.

In all honesty, I cannot say for sure if I played every song. My recollection is that I went through the list thoroughly, but I could have missed one or even more.

I earnestly strive to exceed the expectations of every client, but I also recognize there will always be ways I can improve what I do.

Aleece Of Beverly Hills
( 4.2 / 5.0 )
I had my heart set on wearing a fitted V-neck lace gown, but was unable to find one in white or free of scratchy beads. My sister had her wedding gown custom-made by Aleece, so after two months of increasingly desperate searching, I decided to have my dress made, too.

I emailed Aleece a photo of the ivory Pronovias gown I liked, and she made suggestions for how she could make it in white within my budget. When I met with her, the fabric samples she showed me were of much higher quality than what I'd seen in the dress salons: beautifully made French lace, silky charmeuse and filmy chiffon. I paid half of the cost up front, and the second half upon delivery of the gown six months later.

The experience was not completely stress free. Aleece had strong opinions of how the dress should look, which did not always agree with my original vision. For example, she insisted on applying the lace to the bodice asymmetrically over one hip instead of both, because it looked "more couture." She also beseeched me not to make her cover the charmeuse with an outer layer of chiffon as we'd originally agreed, because it would look "like every other chiffon wedding gown." In the end, I think she was right.

We had a miscommunication about the skirt -- she thought it was supposed to be an A-line, when I thought I'd been clear that I wanted a mermaid. To her credit, she was very nice when I asked her to adjust the shape midway. She also added a dramatic inverted V-pleat to the small train. This wasn't in the original design, but I loved it.

In hindsight, I'm very glad that I had my dress custom made. I did not have to pay for alterations or order special undergarments. Aleece sewed the boning and cups right into my gown. The dress was sexy, but didn't over-expose me like the low-cut dresses I'd tried in the salons. Best of all, I had a one-of-a-kind gown that gave me the glamorous 1940s look I wanted.

One recommendation: schedule your final fitting two weeks before your wedding. Mine was four weeks before, and I inadvertently lost a couple more pounds in that last month. As a result, my gown was a bit loose in the bust and waist. I still got a ton of compliments.
Services used: Dress & Attire

Creative Cakes
( 4.8 / 5.0 )
Our wedding cake was included in our package with our venue, the Turnip Rose, which I thought was a generous perk.

I found the staff at Rockwell's to be organized and patient during our tasting. Figuring out the flavor options took less than 10 minutes, but the creative process of designing the cake was more challenging. Do some online and magazine research and bring examples of cake colors, shapes and designs you like with you. Rockwell's also has photo albums to inspire you.

I chose a four-tier circle/square stacked design with whimsical geometric shapes and stripes in colors that matched our fuschia-apple green theme. Each tier was a different flavor cake and filling.

The day of our wedding, I was thrilled by how perfectly our cake turned out. It looked even more stylish than I'd hoped. My only critique is that I'd requested buttercream frosting and Rockwell's used fondant without notifying me ahead of time. Fondant holds its shape better but looks and tastes like paste.
Services used: Wedding Cake

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Pebbles Bridal
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The Turnip Rose
( 4.6 / 5.0 )
I never experienced the “you’ll know it when you see it” moment with a wedding gown, but I had it with the Grand Newport Plaza. I loved the swaying palm trees, red-tile roofs, dramatic double staircase and beautiful Spanish fountain.

Ernesto gave my mom and me the grand tour, and we connected with him immediately. He was incredibly warm and shared his personal experience of joining the staff after enjoying his own wedding at the site.

A number of things convinced me that we’d found our venue. First of all, it’s one-stop shopping. This place had everything we could possibly need for a stylish wedding, including an onsite catering kitchen and stunning outdoor courtyard full of greenery that didn’t require us to spend a penny on décor. You couldn’t pick a more photogenic site – our wedding photos turned out great!

There was a Tommy Bahama lounge with bar and plasma TV for my groom and his guys; a lovely bridal suite where I immediately envisioned myself getting dressed and relaxing with my bridesmaids, plus easy freeway access and complimentary parking. Our guests were able to enjoy cocktails under the stars after the ceremony instead of getting back into their cars to drive to another location for the reception.

The dining room is open and spacious, not a windowless hotel room, and outfitted with a large dance floor and twinkling stars that appeared on the ceiling for our first dance. (It sounds cheesy, but trust me, it’s romantic.) Best of all, the site belonged solely to us – we didn’t have to share it with another party on our wedding day.

The venue offers a Sweetheart Deal, which provides a discount for non-summer weddings taking place on a Friday or Sunday. We’d picked a Sunday in November, so it worked out perfectly for us. The package included our choice of butler-passed appetizers, one-hour open bar, a champagne and cider toast, a custom wedding cake (a huge deal!) served with tuxedo strawberries and a gourmet coffee bar.

We chose from a variety of graceful white candle centerpieces surrounded by complimentary rose petals. Not only did the flickering candles make the room look warm and inviting, but they saved us hundreds of dollars in floral centerpieces. The staff also did a splendid job of arranging rose petals on the foyer table displaying our guest book, framed photo and place cards.

There was a wide assortment of formal dishware, tablecloths and cloth napkins of various styles and colors to choose from. I selected a gold and pewter-trimmed ivory plate and a rich russet-brown overlay with a matching tablecloth accented by deep fuchsia napkins. Even my fiancé commented on how incredible the room looked.

On our wedding day, the venue employees treated us like rock stars. I’ve never seen such a well-organized staff – they wear headsets to communicate and keep everything running like clockwork. Heather, my wedding-day coordinator, was especially good at keeping me calm and informed; anticipating my needs and serving as a liaison between the rabbi and kitchen staff.

Everyone raved about the beautiful setting, great food and exceptional service. The Plaza also gave us our choice of a complimentary service. We selected the whimsical candy station, which our guests loved. The staff also sent us off with a basket of sandwiches and goodies, which we devoured that night in our hotel room.

I only have one critique. Our consultant, Lori, was well-organized and responsive, and I was grateful for her help during the nine months of planning. My family and I, however, didn’t feel that she treated us with the same warmth as the other staff who went out of their way to make us feel special. Perhaps that’s simply her personality or the pitfall of having to juggle dozens of people’s weddings at once. She was friendly and focused on us on our wedding day, though, which we greatly appreciated.
Services used: Wedding Venue

( 4.8 / 5.0 )
I was very pleased with my experience with Wedding Paper Divas. For the wide selection and good quality, I found their prices so much cheaper than anywhere else I looked.

Equally important, their customer service reps were responsive to my emails, proofing was a breeze and the ordering process was straightforward. I paid extra for rush shipping, but my order was delivered within a few days.

I chose the apple-green Country Club place cards and was delighted to see that they nearly matched the color of my program and bridesmaids' dresses. A friend wrote in the guests' names with a fine fuschia marker to match our color theme. The cards looked great surrounded by the deep pink rose petals provided by our venue.
Services used: Invitations

3 Day Suit Broker (Los Angeles)
( 4.0 / 5.0 )
This store was a breath of fresh air after the rental places. They don't have a giant selection, but what they carry is well-made, contemporary and reasonably priced. Ask for Joe -- he'll get your guy into an elegant tux pronto. He told us the latest red-carpet trend in tuxes was a black suit-style tux with a straight black tie and white dress shirt. So much more sophisticated and less fussy than the vest and bow-tie ensemble, which made my poor fiance look like a musician in an oompa band. Their tailor was quick and excellent, and their alterations were fairly priced. We paired the tux with a skinny black tie, which we also gave to all the groomsmen. They were delighted to spend $99 on a new tux they'd keep rather than double on a pre-worn rental they'd have to return. My only caution would be to avoid getting fitted by anyone by Joe. The woman at the counter measured my fiance for a dress shirt and when we brought it home, it was huge on him. When I returned it, she still insisted it was the right size. We ordered him a slim-fit shirt from Paul Frederick and he looked sharp and classy on our wedding day.
Services used: Unique Services

LA Dance Experience
( 3.0 / 5.0 )
I wish my fiance and I had followed the other couples' examples on this vendor and taken a private lesson. We thought we might learn more over a six-lesson series for east coast swing. Unfortunately, we didn't count on being required to rotate partners with the other students in the class. We hardly ever got to dance together. Russell, the instructor, was energetic and a good teacher. But he taught at an excruciatingly slow pace -- it took us two sessions to cover a single 10-count combo -- and we rarely danced to music. Worse, the other men in the class were soooo creepy. I hated going. We stuck it out for three classes and then never returned. It was money down the drain.
Services used: Unique Services

Studio West Video
( 4.0 / 5.0 )
My husband and I debated for months over whether to stretch our budget for a videographer. We weren't interested in a crew following us as we got dressed. We just wanted a recording of our ceremony and highlights of our reception. In the end, I narrowed the choice down to four vendors and screened their sample reels online for my film-buff hubby. He immediately chose Dirk for his great eye, and we hired him about 10 days before the wedding. I'm so glad that we did. Dirk charged us $800 in advance for three hours of edited footage, which he shot personally. A second stationary camera captured close-ups and all the details we would have forgotten from the ceremony if we'd relied on photos alone -- my husbands sniffles, the rabbi's gentle jokes and our friends' musical blessings. Equally important, Dirk was the only person who got a good shot of my entrance where I wasn't looking down or licking my lips! I was thrilled to see the screen cap on our DVD cover. We were moved at how Dirk incorporated the Jewish date and quotes from our program into the introduction. We thought that was a very a thoughtful touch. He also recorded personal greetings from many of our guests, including my four bridesmaids. It was wonderful to relive everyone's toasts and the hilarious energy of the horah at the reception. He also stayed longer to shoot our cake-cutting, which we really appreciated. Dirks quote included three mics to capture ceremony audio, and two completed DVDs/1 Blu-Ray. In the end, he sent us two extra DVDs (one copy to each set of parents) and an extra Blue-Ray. The DVDs included a personalized color photo cover, menu, chapters and sound editing. Dirk did not charge us for mileage, although he drove down the night before from his home near Bakersfield. Dirk was very responsive before the wedding and he was kind enough to post our four-minute highlights video online within a couple days of our wedding. Beautifully shot and edited, it was a thrill to watch at the hotel on our honeymoon. It was also easy to send a link to the clip to our family and friends, including those who were unable to attend. A couple caveats: when we hired him, Dirk told me we could expect the final DVD in six weeks. His contract states roughly the same terms. When six weeks came and went, I emailed Dirk and received a vague reply that he'd start on our DVD after wrapping up a couple of earlier projects. Naturally, that made me nervous. After that, future emails did not receive a response, which increased my sense of panic. When I queried other brides on this site who'd used him, however, I was told that they received their videos in three to four months. As it turned out, we received our DVD exactly 12 weeks after our wedding. I'd encourage you to use Dirk, just know that it will likely take 12 to 16 weeks before you receive the final package. Finally, you may wish to consider hiring a two-person video crew to capture reaction shots to reception speeches or presentations during the ceremony. When my husband toasted me, for example, it would have been nice to see my teary response or watch us laughing during the best mans and maid of honors speeches. Most of Dirks camerawork during toasts and other action was shot either head-on or from the side only. A second camera would allow for cut-in shots and other editing. This will add to the price, of course, so it depends on your budget and priorities. Given our constraints, I thought that Dirk did a fine job.
Services used: Unique Services

Bella Blooms
( 5.0 / 5.0 )
Melanie must be a mind reader, because she captured exactly what I'd envisioned for my chuppah. The dark wood frame covered in curly willow and hot pink bougainvilla was simple yet dramatic. It fit the small landing of my venue perfectly and looked like it had grown naturally in that spot. A number of people told me that they'd never seen a chuppah like it before. I was honored that Bella Blooms ordered the frame for me. The vivid bouquets also took my breath away. They looked stunning against the girls' green dresses. And mine was fit for a queen -- it popped in all my photos. To top it off, Melanie and Leanna were sweet, friendly and professional. They were willing to work within my budget. I couldn't have been happier with the exquisite job they did preparing my flowers. I highly recommend them.
Services used: Flowers

Mens Wearhouse
( 2.0 / 5.0 )
This place was a joke. The employees were friendly enough and tried to help, but their inventory was unimpressive and scandalously overpriced. The tuxes looked worn and the vests had weird ways to customize them to fit various sizes. We finally put a decent ensemble together only to be told it would cost $180 per person. That's more than my bridesmaids spent on their dresses! We left and found gorgeous new tuxes for $99 at 3-Day Suit Brokers in West L.A. (See my review there.)
Services used: Dress & Attire

Davids Bridal
( 3.0 / 5.0 )
Whenever I was a bridesmaid, I always hated being forced to wear the same dress, shoes and jewelry as the other girls. I want to be able to express my own style. So when I was planning my wedding, I refused to impose the cookie-cutter approach on my friends. I went to David's Bridal with my mom, picked out six different styles in apple green, had them posted online and let my four 'maids each choose the style they liked best. They each wore silver sandals, jewelry and hairstyles in the styles of their choice. The effect was sophisticated yet relaxed, and their fuschia bouquets stood out beautifully against their dresses. The customer service in Costa Mesa was non-existent -- I hunted for sizes and struggled in and out of each dress on my own. But it seemed the easiest option for choosing dresses of various styles in the same color. The prices ranged from $135 - $155. While totally overpriced for the dresses themselves, they were at the low end for the wedding world. I was happy to have my friends show off their unique personalities on my wedding day.
Services used: Dress & Attire