Sep 06, 2008
Justin Fone Productions
My husband and I almost didn't hire a videographer at all for our September 2008 wedding. After searching the web for a videographer and watching one cheesy wedding video after another (think lots of slow-mo, random fade effects), I was ready to give up and just go with still photography. Then I came across Justin's videos and was completely smitten; I remember even tearing up a little watching other couples' videos. Justin's wedding videos are fresh and have heart--they capture the unique flow and feeling of each wedding day and avoid the cookie-cutter syndrome that affects many videographers' work. We were even more impressed after our first meeting with Justin - he is personable, professional, and responsive. We felt an instant connection and knew from the get-go that we were in kind and capable hands. Despite the fact that Justin was a little out of budget, we knew that no one else could measure up and so happily booked him. Not only were we immensely pleased with our own wedding video (much to my husband's chagrin, I still watch it from time to time), but we have seen Justin continue to produce beautiful videos--he also filmed my colleague's wedding a year later, and again I found myself totally engrossed by another couple's wedding video. I recommend Justin without reservation.
Services used: Videography
Nicole is incredible. I loved working with her while planning my September 6, 2008 wedding, not only because she is amazingly talented, but also because she is a genuinely sweet and caring person. Initial meetings with Nicole were a breeze. Shes great to talk to and brainstorm with, as well as a true professional. She was prompt in all of her e-mail responses and was very receptive to making revisions to our contract, which, as a lawyer, I really appreciated. Nicole is surprisingly affordable in light of her talent and popularity and is very conscientious of making sure to work within your budget, whatever it may be. Throughout the planning process, Nicole was very flexible about changing the items I wanted to include and made very thoughtful suggestions about all aspects of dcor. About one month before the wedding, Nicole made us a trial centerpiece, which I absolutely loved and was able to take home; when my husband expressed some reservations about the centerpiece because it was too modern for him (haha), Nicole was kind enough to make a NEW trial centerpiece for us to view and provide suggestions. She was so sweet about it, even though I was freaking out about changing course last minute she remembers what it was like to be a bride, and treats all her clients with the kindness and support that every bride-to-be needs leading up to her wedding. Nicole regularly works closely with Crystal Lequang of Amazae Special Events (my coordinator), so having them both on my wedding team was amazing. Like Crystal, Nicole went above and beyond to make my wedding truly special. When I had told Nicole that I had purchased votive candles to put on all the tables, she offered to decorate all 150 of them with this beautiful netting...I can't even imagine all the work that that took her!!! The event itself blew me completely away. She really brought to life the organic, natural elegance I wanted to express with the flowers at my wedding. My bouquet was lush and colorful, and I loved the custom kissing ball that she hung above our altar at the Hakone Gardens - so creative, and exactly what the venue needed. Her floral decorations at the reception were absolutely breathtaking. I loved the gorgeous garland that she had made for the escort card board, as well as the NEW and totally unique centerpieces submerged flower centerpieces. She totally outdid herself with additional kissing balls hanging from the ceiling (which she had made on her own and that werent included in the original contract), and the head table and cake table were incredibly decorated with river rocks, moss, and flowers. I could never in a million years have imagined that our venue could look that great. I love that Nicole does not just reuse old designs to create a cookie-cutter wedding - everything about the dcor seemed fresh and new. I really think that innovation is really Nicoles element. Nicole is the best!
Services used: Flowers
Sherrie is, hands down, the best. Sherrie did my hair and make-up for my wedding this past Saturday, and I know for a fact that I have NEVER looked so good! My updo and make-up were flawless and stayed that way all day and all night (starting from her finishing time at 1 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. when I finally washed off the make-up and took down my hair), despite the hours of pre-ceremony pics in the 97 degree heat, the ceremony where I bawled all the way down the aisle, three dress changes, and countless hugs and kisses. I had chosen a particularly heavy hair comb, but Sherrie expertly secured it, and I never had to think about it all day. I received many compliments during the day that I always looked fresh and calm, despite the fact that everyone in the wedding party was sweating bullets - something in that make-up is MAGICAL! I never had to retouch my hair or make-up, and felt sexy, confident, beautiful, and most importantly, like the best version of myself - exactly how I had told Sherrie I wanted to look and feel on my wedding day. The wedding day hair and make-up was even better than the trial, which proved to me that Sherrie had really studied the trial pictures and listened to my comments so that she could create the perfect look. I went with an updo, and was so glad I did - it was classic, elegant, sophisticated, and romantic, without being prom-like, as many wedding updos often are. She also did my mom's make-up and hair, and I have never seen my mom look so lovely. In addition to her talent, Sherrie is professional and very sweet. She always responded quickly to my e-mails, provided honest opinions when asked, and was willing to modify her contract to our agreed specifications. On the day of my wedding, I realized that I had forgotten to request a touch-up lip palette (which she needs to prepare in advance), but without even a thought, Sherrie just gave me the lip gloss she had used for me and wouldn't hear of me paying for it. So sweet. Booking Sherrie is one of the best decisions I made during the planning process.
Services used: Beauty & Health
Hakone Estate and Gardens
We are so glad that we decided to have our ceremony at Hakone Gardens. It is a beautiful natural setting (just what we were looking for), and the staff and wedding coordinator (Kyongmi Ader) are so kind and professional. Leading up to the wedding, Kyongmi was extremely responsive to e-mails and helpful in answering questions and providing suggestions; the Gardens also accommodated our slightly larger guest list (200, which ultimately turned out to be 170), which exceeded the normal 150 guest maximum, and the timeframe in which we needed to arrive at the Gardens to get ready and take pictures. On the day of the event, the staff was totally accommodating and helpful. We were very pleased with the bridal changing room facilities which were, blissfully, air conditioned (especially appreciated in light of the 97 degree heat). Our close relatives and family ended up crashing the room to cool down before the ceremony got started :) Our only wish was that there could have been another air conditioned room for people to hang out in so that the wedding party could have stayed separate from the rest of the guests - otherwise, we were completely satisfied and would recommend the venue without reservation. Note: We did not use the facilities for our reception, and we did need to pay the full ceremony + reception price (pretty expensive) because it was a high-season Saturday...but ultimately, it was totally worth it.
Services used: Wedding Venue
Hong Kong Flower Lounge
HKFL turned out to be a fantastic place for our Chinese wedding banquet. The managers, Albert and (especially) Eric, were extremely accommodating during the planning process and the banquet itself. Because my husband and I are both Chinese, it was very important to us to have a Chinese banquet for our reception (particularly because we both think Chinese banquet food is awesome), but we really wanted to avoid the cheesiness of the traditional wedding banquet. It was also important to our parents that we not receive typical Chinese restaurant service - which is to say, terrible service. (Chinese restaurants are notorious for bad service haha.) HKFL let us bring in our own linens, drapery, and lighting so that we could totally transform the space - the reception space actually looked fantastic for the big day (courtesy of our coordinator Crystal Lequang and florist Nicole Ha). We were absolutely breathless. The restaurant also accommodated our wish to get rid of the traditional lazy susans and actually individually served each guest, which is totally unheard of. Eric helped us with the layout of the banquet and provided many helpful suggestions that we actually followed. The night of the event, each of the courses came out on time and was served promptly - no small task for individual service of over 160 guests. Our guests raved about how delicious the banquet food was and, to our great pleasure, about how terrific the service was. HKFL also provided some unexpected, truly thoughtful services that helped make the evening run perfectly. First, right as we were about to start the traditional tea ceremony, my mother-in-law realized that she hadnt thought about the logistics of how we would pour tea for each guest - out of nowhere, three waitresses materialized to pour tea and provide the cups for us to serve to our relatives. Second, as we visited the various tables during the banquet, a waiter materialized to help us guide us to the next table to visit so that our entourage could proceed smoothly through the restaurant. As a general matter, the staff - and again, especially Eric, the manager - were very kind and helpful throughout the entire event and during the planning process. As a logistical note, we ended up having one long head table of 10 people, 17 guest tables of 10 people each, a DJ booth, and a cake table, and found that everything fit very comfortably.
Services used: Catering
Olive-Route Design & Letterpress
Olivia San Mateo of Olive-Route Press worked with us to design and print our letterpress save-the-dates and invitation suite (invitation, reply card, and directions card), and we couldnt be more pleased. I had a very specific vision in mind, and Olivia was not only able to bring that vision to life, but also to enhance and improve upon it. We were just blown away by the final product, and we received many compliments from our friends and family about our wedding stationery. In addition to her design talent, Olivia is extremely professional - she is super responsive to e-mails, very communicative throughout the design and printing process, meets deadlines, and is receptive to requests to revise her contract to reflect any specific understandings. She is also just a very kind person who is lovely to work with.
Services used: Invitations
Best..cakeever! We are so thrilled with our decision to have Stephanie Masquelier design and bake our wedding cake. At our first tasting, even my husband, who doesnt like cake, got excited about the amazing samples we tried! The flavors were intense, refreshing, and creative (from pineapple to mango, raspberry to Valhrona chocolate) and textures spot-on (from buttercream to bavarian cream to ganache) - a result of her commitment to using the best local and organic ingredients available. It was clear from our tasting that shes not just a cake designer - shes a true chef. As a foodie, I totally appreciated and identified with her Californian approach to food. For our wedding cake, we chose two custom flavors: chocolate raspberry and mango Bavarian cream. Stephanie worked with us to tweak the exact flavors and ingredients to our particular tastes, and we were so pleased with the final results - totally delicious! The design of the cake also just blew us away - we came in with a very specific design (sugar water lilies, gum paste river rocks, and a cake topper in the shape of the bridge that is a central feature at the Japanese gardens at which we were married), and Stephanies execution was beautiful. Her creativity also shone in the painstaking detail of the cake decorations and in her suggestion of a very unique cake plate - a clear plastic, one-inch high box that contained river rocks (consistent with our Japanese gardens theme). Whats more, Stephanie was super professional throughout the entire planning process. After taking meticulous notes during our initial meeting, she promptly sent a comprehensive written proposal and detailed contract, which she was happy to revise per my requests. I also appreciated how she tried to get a sense of the entire feel of the wedding, asking about my gown, how I would wear my hair, reception and ceremony decor, etc. It made me feel like she really cared about my wedding, which made me feel great about working with her. Up through our wedding day, Stephanie was also very responsive to e-mails and just a wonderful person to work with. I am so happy that we had an opportunity to work with Stephanie, and looking forward to coming home from our honeymoon to eat the top tier of our cake - that sucker has no chance of making it to the first anniversary!
Services used: Wedding Cake
Hiring Crystal turned out to be the best decision I made during the entire process. It was truly refreshing to work with someone who is so professional, organized, efficient, and thoughtful in her work. What I liked best about working with Crystal was that she is personally invested in each event she plans; she goes above and beyond to ensure that the event runs smoothly and beautifully and that everyone - including (and ESPECIALLY) the bride and groom - can enjoy the special day. I initially retained Crystal for day-of coordination services for my September 6, 2008 wedding, but she ended up being so much more than a day-of coordinator. Crystal helped me throughout the entire wedding planning process, from answering etiquette questions, to recommending vendors, to accompanying me and advising me during visits to linen rental companies, to independently meeting with lighting companies and designing the lighting for our event (which was spectacular), to providing design advice, and even creating our escort card board. She has fantastic vision and, through her creativity, was able to completely transform our reception venue from a very typical, somewhat unattractive dining room in a Chinese restaurant to an elegant, intimate space our guests, many of whom had been to the restaurant before, were blown away by how amazing the room looked. I was very impressed and appreciative of how much work and attention Crystal devoted to our event - it truly reflects her investment in creating a beautiful event, no matter what the effort. Because of Crystals help, I had no worries or concerns on my wedding day - I was able to enjoy every moment, confident that if anything came up, Crystal would take care of it. Our wedding and reception started and ended exactly on time (even our 10 course Chinese banquet came out according to schedule, which is AMAZING for a Chinese restaurant), and I was blown away by the site designs that she had helped create in coordination with our florist and lighting/linen rental companies. Her demeanor throughout the entire event was calm and professional, never frantic or stressed - it was a pleasure to have her with me throughout the day. I am admittedly a control freak, and I think it speaks volumes that I felt completely at ease in entrusting my wedding day to Crystal and that I was able to completely enjoy the day. I recommend her without reservation.
Services used: Wedding Planning
I am so happy that Kerry and her husband Mark were able to shoot my September 6, 2008 wedding. We just got the photos (hand-delivered!) this week (exactly a month after our wedding), and there are 847 of them!!!! Each of the photos, whether formal portrait or candid, are thoughtfully taken, beautifully edited, and capture the feel of the day, from start to finish - quiet and introspective, romantic and sweet, joyful, festive, epic. Kerrys style is a mix between modern and classic - which makes her photos timeless, ones that we will enjoy forever. On the day of the wedding, Kerry was wonderful to be around - even our parents commented on how well Kerry seemed to orchestrate the endless parade of obligatory family portraits. We couldnt be more pleased!
Services used: Photography
Thank God for craigslist! We first met Gloria when we ran across her ad in craigslist offering a free engagement photo session to build out her budding wedding portfolio. We already had hired a photographer for our big day, but wanted to get more practice taking portraits because we are awfully un-photogenic. Our engagement session with Gloria was fantastic - we took photos all over the Bay Area in a 3-hour marathon session, from the Allied Arts Guild, to Stanford campus, to Keplers bookstore, and to our old high school. That evening, Gloria already had teasers for us, and in a weeks time, had finished editing all the photos from our session - we couldnt be more pleased! Gloria has a gift for capturing the emotion of human interaction and details of everyday objects - her photos are modern, alive, cutting edge. Plus, Gloria is just COOL - a great person to hang out with, make jokes with, have fun with. When she offered to act a second shooter for our wedding for an incredible price, we checked it over with our primary photographer, Kerry Rodgers (FANTASTIC photographer) who was very accommodating about it. Because of Glorias great price as a second shooter, we were able to capture the early hours before the ceremony getting ready at home, the cocktail hour that we completely missed, and the late hours of the evening, dancing away to 80s tunes, which otherwise would not have fit in our budget at our experienced primary photogs rates OR our schedule of portraits. Since Glorias style is very different from Kerrys, we had the opportunity to see our event through two different sets of very sharp eyes, and loved the results. Gloria had our photos ready for us within a week, which was fantastic because I was dyyying to see them! We couldnt be more pleased with her work and recommend her highly to anyone looking for a wedding photographer, especially if you are working on a tight budget. For being such a natural talent and true professional, her prices cant be beat!
Services used: Unique Services
This past weekend, my mom and I went to Oakland's Chinatown to see about getting a custom cheongsam made for the wedding. I wasn't expecting much after having visited Dragon Seed Bridal in SF a couple of months ago - although Dragon Seed is where all the Chinese beauty pageant queens go to get their cheongsams made, I thought the salespeople were pushy (surprise surprise) and the selection slim. The shop was cramped, and I only got to try on a single gown after persistently asking. I think I may have also been suffering from shell shock, after finding out that custom cheongsams in the U.S. cost far more than they would in Hong Kong. Ling's Photography and Bridal Services was a pleasant surprise, and we actually had a lot of fun while we were there! The salon was clean and spacious, and there were tons of styles of gowns to choose from - from more traditional and elaborate to more Western and modern. Gwen encouraged me to look through the racks to see which styles appealed to me, and then helped me put on each one so that I could see how they looked and fit. After we had decided on a silhouette, Gwen and Connie helped me look through the different fabrics and choose which I wanted as the base of the cheongsam. The fact that she handled all the material so carefully so as not to get it dirty really revealed the salon's commitment to quality and cleanliness - something that I've noticed a couple of Western bridal salons lack. She also showed me a variety of optional details, including the different types and numbers of piping ($70.00 for single piping, and $70.00 for each additional level of piping) and button placement ($15.00 per pair of fancy clasps), but told me that I wouldn't even need to decide on any of these details until after my first fitting, where I could better envision the entire product. The whole time I never felt any pressure to make a commitment (unlike at Dragon Seed), and Connie even volunteered that I would be entitled to a $50 per cheongsam discount because I was planning on ordering six months in advance of my wedding date - SCORE! (Base price of a custom cheongsam is normally $350.00 before the discount.) When I called Connie the next day to place my order, she remembered who I was and helped me set a day for my first fitting - June 14! I never thought I'd be excited about getting a cheongsam made, but the whole experience at Ling's made me truly believe that the Ling's team is going to do its best to make me look amazing on my wedding day! Woohoo! I'll be sure to write an update after I get the final product.
Services used: Dress & Attire