Jun 15, 2008
Professional Makeup Artistry
Long review ahead! Maria Chang, the genius behind Professional Makeup Artistry (PMA), is nothing short of unbelievable. She is so skilled at accomplishing stunning bridal transformations that she could easily have her own reality TV show, and this is exactly how you'll feel if you book PMA--it is an experience like no other! If you have any room to splurge on your wedding day--and frankly, even if you don't--I can't recommend Maria's work highly enough. Maria's skill will make all the difference in the world, particularly as you reminisce over your wedding pictures for years to come. Why professional hair and makeup? First, I would like to say a few words about my decision to choose Professional Makeup Artistry. I was referred to PMA by our extremely talented videographer, Alexa Lee, who knows Maria personally and has nothing but the highest of praise for her. Although we have a bunch of "extras" planned for the wedding (letterpress, specialty lighting, etc.), it had never occurred to me to hire a makeup artist: I've been styling myself for as long as I can remember, and it seemed like an unnecessary expense. But then I got to thinking. First, Maria's expertise is doubly valuable, because she does both hair and makeup beautifully: from down-dos to complicated up-dos, she specializes in classic bridal styles that look timeless on camera but can be very difficult to achieve on one's own. As long as I was planning to get my hair done, I reasoned, why not makeup, too? It is worth reiterating here that PMA's styles are specifically bridal. Maria achieves a level of sophistication that is perfect for creating a special wedding-day allure. For example, you would never mistake one of her beautiful bridal creations for a prom hairstyle, which can often be the case with other, less gifted stylists. Second, Maria does hair and makeup for the camera, and her experience far predates her entry into the bridal industry. I started to consider how much we had invested in photography and videography, and realized that--no matter how well I could do my own makeup--it only made sense to hire somebody trained in doing hair and makeup for the camera, and who was also skilled, at the same time, in making the bride look beautiful in person. After all, at no other time of my life will I be so heavily photographed. And I quickly came to see, as I tracked down reviews online, that hiring PMA means leaving nothing to chance: on the wedding day, Maria devotes herself tirelessly to the bride and bridal party, helping to make sure that all of the photos turn out fabulously. In addition to her flawless portfolio, what better endorsement could there be? I was sold! Why PMA in particular? Although my wedding is still a few months away, I recently visited Maria for my trial consultation. Maria lives in a beautiful home where the stunning and immaculate furnishings clearly reflect her bridal aesthetic: everything is very elegant, opulent in an understated way, and thoroughly pleasing to the senses. Visiting Maria is like heading off to a luxury resort, combined with an afternoon of pampering at the spa. Although my appointment was scheduled for 10-1, a somewhat awkward time slot, I was by no means expecting the delicacies that awaited me. Yet Maria had prepared an array of goodies, from finger sandwiches and cheese and crackers to a delicious pot of jasmine tea. Set against the backdrop of her light and airy studio and its hip soundtrack, I had so much fun I could have stayed all afternoon! As if this weren't soothing enough, Maria herself exudes confidence in her work and an extremely personal, friendly reassurance. Aside from one horrible "Glamour Shots" experience when I was much younger, I've never had my hair and makeup professionally done, and I was a bit apprehensive about trusting something so personal to someone I had only just met. But as soon as Maria introduced herself, I felt at ease--I knew I would be in good hands with PMA! The appointment began with a brief consultation. I showed Maria all of the key details of my wedding, from the venue to the flowers, and we spent some time talking about hair and makeup styles and how they would work with my dress. One of Maria's strengths is that she tells it like it is: I had originally wanted a darker smoky eye, but she insisted that the look I desired was really too harsh for a wedding, but that she would be happy to work with softer, more bridal tones instead. Not being the expert, this was exactly what I needed to hear. The great thing about PMA is that Maria stands by her work and reputation: she will only do what's best for *you,* even when you're not entirely sure what's best for yourself. After the consultation, Maria rolled my hair in preparation for the up-do and then began with my makeup. As she switched from one to the other, she was always careful to check up on me: Did I need more tea? Would I like something to eat? Was it too cold in the studio? She was truly the perfect hostess and conversation partner--I hardly noticed the time slipping by, and it was 2 o'clock--an hour past the scheduled time slot--before I knew it. But Maria was happy to take as much time as we needed to achieve the final look. I never felt rushed, and even though Maria does bridal hair and makeup all the time, I could tell that she was enjoying herself, too. When my makeup was finished, Maria moved on to the up-do we had discussed, and--once everything was pinned perfectly in place--she took dozens of pictures from all different angles. This is an invaluable part of the PMA experience: it provides the first glimpse of how you'll really look both on your wedding day and in the pictures that will live on forever, as it documents the look from every vantage point. This is perfect for tweaking the design here and there, imagining how you'll appear to your guests as you walk down the aisle, and even seeing all of the possible angles that the photographer and videographer might capture. By that very evening I was able to print out the files Maria had emailed me, much to the delight of my family--and of my fianc, who couldn't be more pleased with Maria's work! This is Maria Chang's genius: I can easily and with admiration say that Maria, with her keen eye and impeccable expertise, helped me to look like my best possible self. Importantly, I was still recognizable, but she had worked her magic to enhance my best features, and to create a more formal version of myself in a palette and style that were still thoroughly natural. I was so pleased that I was sure to inquire about the eyeshadow colors Maria used, as well as the brand of false lashes--I look forward to recreating her amazing artistry (as best I can, at least!) on my own. Indeed, I would absolutely use PMA for other occasions in the future, and will recommend Maria to all of my family and friends. My parents and sisters (aka bridesmaids) were so delighted when they saw the results that their fears about hiring a stylist melted away instantly: my parents had been convinced that it was an unnecessary investment, while my sisters--accustomed to doing their own hair and makeup--seemed certain that they would be more than happy on their own. Not so anymore: My parents are thrilled with the results (my Mom is even considering getting her own hair and makeup done!), and my sisters can't wait to see their transformations this June. Final words Given the expense of weddings nowadays, I can easily understand why some brides might be reluctant to hire additional professionals, especially when their services may seem unnecessary at first. However, investing in hair and makeup design will enhance every other aspect of your wedding, from your own self-confidence as you walk down the aisle and your groom's awed reaction to your wedding-day look, to the video and photographs you will have for years to come--the only long-term reminders of your exciting day. It is not an understatement to say that Maria's classic sense of style will help to ensure that your pictures look fresh and sophisticated for generations. I would also like to stress that Maria's services come at a bargain. I have been engaged since February 2007, and at no other point in the planning process have I felt so at ease. Of course, after an excellent hair and makeup trial, I have been able to rest complete confidence in Maria. But the beauty of PMA is that Maria and her assistant(s) stay throughout the photo sessions in order to touch up hair and makeup and to lend a hand, all while helping to make sure that your day runs as smoothly as possible. Maria, in addition to having a classic sense of style and an eye for beauty, is also extremely organized and reliable--nothing will go wrong on her watch! Having PMA on scene will be well worth the peace of mind. I can't wait to update this review after our wedding--I am definitely looking forward to working with Maria again, and can easily see why so many people refer to her as their favorite vendor. She is friendly and personable, amazingly skilled, and a complete miracle worker! Hiring PMA may very well be one of the best wedding decisions you make.
Services used: Beauty & Health
Sax Fifth Ave.
I purchased my Kenneth Pool gown at Saks San Francisco, and also entrusted Saks with the alterations. It was a wonderful experience from beginning to end. Kathy Moore was a tremendous help requesting gowns from other stores, was very knowledgeable about the Kenneth Pool line, and seemed genuinely to enjoy her job. I recommend opening a Saks account for a 10% discount on your purchase. If your schedule is flexible, you can also buy during one of Saks' special promotional events for additional savings. Every once and a while, Saks offers a gift card in exchange for large expenditures. My "free" gift card covered the alterations of the dress ($450). I highly recommend Saks SF, Kathy, and Kenneth Pool!
Services used: Unique Services
Denon & Doyle Event Entertainment
I can't recommend Denon & Doyle highly enough! We were planning our wedding from out-of-town, so I relied mostly on reviews found during internet research. Based on these reviews, we requested Mark Haggerty, and he certainly didn't disappoint! After months of deliberating, it was such a pleasure to select our DJ, knowing that we were in good hands; we honestly never thought about it again until the wedding began to approach. Once the time came to meet with Mark in person, we found the Denon & Doyle headquarters to be a complete breath of fresh air. Everyone we met was so impressive and professional that it really put our minds at ease. D & D will give you one less thing to worry about as you plan your wedding! Although we requested some music selections in advance, we entrusted Mark to find the right balance for our event, and we were glad we did. Neither one of our families enjoy dancing, but Mark did an excellent job of coaxing people out onto the dance floor. Since we had requested an unobtrusive DJ style, it was merely a matter of selecting the right music, and Mark was able to read the crowd expertly, without any direction from our part. Indeed, we probably would have led him astray, with our own interests! So we were very glad that he was there to make executive decisions. We had feared a totally empty dance floor, but didn't have anything to worry about with Mark at the helm. I doubt anyone could go wrong with Denon & Doyle. Nonetheless, I wanted to note that they offer frequent showcases where interested couples can see the DJs perform. But we didn't need to meet Mark to know that he'd be extraordinary. The great part about Denon & Doyle is that you can leave everything up to their considerable expertise. Trust them to make your next event a special one!
Services used: DJ, Lighting & Decor
Flowers by Anne was a wonderful resource for us. I was a bit hesitant about not being able to see mock-ups of the flowers before the wedding, but--honestly--the floral arrangements were less important to us than other aspects of our day. There were several things I would have changed regarding the composition and setup of the flowers: the bouquets, though beautiful, were different from the ones I envisioned, and some of the flowers were set up incorrectly, without any time to move things around before the ceremony. Because everything otherwise went off without a hitch, the problems with the flowers were memorable. If you choose Flowers by Anne, I recommend that you appoint a designated "flower monitor" the day of the wedding. Nonetheless, we received numerous compliments on the bouquets and arrangements both during and after the wedding, and the problems were entirely invisible to guests, who didn't know to expect otherwise. That said, I would definitely use Flowers by Anne again--she was wonderful, and the price was certainly unbeatable.
Services used: Flowers
Stephannie Barba and Couture Maps
Stephannie's maps were so delicious that we couldn't resist adding one to our stationery suite! She was a dream to work with: the turnaround time was fast, and the end product exceeded our expectations. We were so excited with the beautiful results! Designing the map was a multi-step process. First, with the content and materials we supplied (maps and images of the area), Stephannie produced a sketch of the initial design. Then we made some suggestions on the content, and she generated a final draft (which could have been reworked, but was perfect in every way). We had already selected Hello!Lucky for the rest of our invitation suite, and they had no problem with the technical aspects of incorporating Stephannie's design. I highly recommend Couture Maps for a stylish way of introducing your big event!
Services used: Favors & Gifts, Invitations
Got Light was one of my favorite vendors, hands down. I loved working with them from start to finish: they were, without a doubt, the most professional and impressive team I contacted, and all of my other vendors were excited about working with them, too. As the wedding approached, I met with the fabulous Irja at our venue, and we mapped out the possibilities together. Although we were getting married in the Sacramento Delta, Irja happily drove all the way from San Francisco just to get the details right. When the day of the wedding finally came, I couldn't wait to see the lighting for myself. We had saved all of the lighting effects for the ballroom, downstairs from the reception, so it came as a marvelous surprise. It completely transformed the event space--even my father, who had thought the expense was unnecessary, was quite impressed and changed his mind! This is one of the wedding expenses that I took partially upon myself, and it was worth every penny. I would definitely hire Got Light all over again!
Services used: Lighting & Decor, Rentals & Photobooths
I can barely contain my passion for Hello!Lucky and its beautiful letterpress creations. When we first started the planning process, letterpress didn't even cross my mind. Then, my inner, life-long stationery geek seized me unexpectedly, and the printed elements took center-stage, eclipsing even the wedding dress in my deep and abiding love for them. I would do it all over again just to have a fresh excuse to work with Hello!Lucky! The lovely ladies at HL were so friendly, helpful, and quick in their turnaround time that designing a stationery suite couldn't have been easier. Indeed, their efficiency left me with plenty of time to dream up new elements! They were so sweet that they even allowed me to stop by (this was at their old headquarters, which wasn't really equipped for visitors) and gave me a tour of their studio and its breathtaking letterpresses. It was quite a memorable experience! In the end, Hello!Lucky designed our save-the-dates, all of the elements of our invitation suite (including the matching stamps), our favor tags, seating chart, programs, bottled water labels, dance floor gobo, and various signage for the event (guestbook inserts, specialty drink signs, etc.). Everything arrived promptly in beautiful yet sturdy Hello!Lucky packaging, so that all of the elements remained in pristine condition during transit. It was like Christmas each time a new shipment arrived! If you're on the fence about letterpress, you should absolutely go for it. Frankly, there is no substitute for the exquisite, lasting impression it makes. When, if not now, will you be able splurge on gorgeous stationery? It may be somewhat decadent, but letterpress is worth the price. It will set the tone for your event like no other element. I can't wait until I have an excuse to work with Hello!Lucky all over again!
Services used: Invitations
Tracy Joe Calligraphy
I initially wavered about hiring a calligrapher, but I couldn't imagine sending my letterpress invitations out into the world with my own lackluster hand-writing. As the old saying goes, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Tracy Joe to the rescue! Tracy is a dream to work with: very quick with email, extremely prompt with deadlines, and--of course--the calligraphy is stunning! We requested that she do approximately 100 save-the-date envelopes followed by 100 invitation labels a couple of months later. The labels were potentially a bit trickier because of the space limitations, but everything turned out perfectly. Moreover, Tracy very carefully packaged all of the materials so that they would arrive safe and sound. I couldn't be more pleased with her work, and thought the prices were excellent for the high quality of her services. I absolutely and unreservedly recommend Tracy Joe Calligraphy to other brides. You will be delighted with the results!
Services used: Unique Services