Oct 06, 2009
Same-sex Jewish DIY wedding. Details and instructions for DIY projects can be found at http://sites.google.com/site/2dBride.
Nina's Special Occasions Hair and Make-Up
Nena came to our reception location, and did the hair and make-up for both of us. She did a wonderful job on both, at a very reasonable price.
Services used: Beauty & Health
We ended up going there three times. The first issue was that you need an appointment to visit, even mid-day on a weekday. When we tried just stopping in, we were not permitted to try on anything until a sales consultant was available. After about 45 minutes, we still had not managed to get a sales consultant, and walked out. The second problem is that if you do make an appointment, your name will be added to the mailing/phone list of every wedding vendor for miles around. We were having a budget wedding, and the last thing we needed was to be contacted by a bunch of overpriced vendors. I could have dealt with the need to make an appointment if the sales consultant had been genuinely helpful once we made an appointment. However, we never found one that was. Instead, they would hand us a catalog, with no prices indicated, and ask which dresses or veils we wanted to try on. If I could tell from a picture in a catalog what would look good on me, I could buy a dress from the Internet--and at least that way, I would know the price first! For us, the major point of going to a brick and mortar store was to have a consultant who could give us advice on what would look good on us, and/or to be able to look at dresses in person instead of trying to pick one out from a picture. Neither of these things happened. Indeed, when we went to look at veils, the consultant could not come up with anything in the store for us to look at, and suggested that we just order one from the catalog. As for the $99 dress sale, that seems to be an excuse to get you into the store so you will buy a dress that costs much more. There is nowhere--online or in the catalog--to determine before you get there which dresses are covered by the sale. And once you get there, they will steer you away from those dresses, anyway. Ironically, we ended up buying a David's Bridal dress and a David's Bridal veil--but not from David's Bridal. We found a little consignment shop at which the consultant was genuinely interested and helpful, and pulled out dresses in our sizes that worked well with our body types. I gave them a 2-star rating only because they were not actively hostile or rude. However, as a place to find a dress or veil, it was a complete failure.
Services used: Dress & Attire
Wholesale Wedding Chair Covers
We ordered 120" round tablecloths from this vendor. They came promptly, and were of good quality.
Services used: Rentals & Photobooths
Flyboy Naturals Rose Petals
We bought their rose petals months ahead of time. However, they retained their color and scent until the wedding, when we followed the instructions to keep them in a dark place. Their prices for freeze-dried rose petals were the lowest we found, and their product really looked good in our centerpieces and on our cake table.
Services used: Unique Services
Save On Crafts
We got candle holders and mirrors for our centerpieces and a birdcage card box from Save on Crafts. Even after paying shipping, their prices were lower than any others we could find. Items arrived promptly, and were of good quality. The only reason for four stars rather than five is that the card box had slots that were too small for standard-sized cards. We therefore had to leave the top unlocked so that people could open it up to put cards in.
Services used: Lighting & Decor
We ordered tablecloths from Efavormart. They were of good quality, and delivered promptly without issues.
Services used: Favors & Gifts, Invitations
We bought chair covers, tablecloths, napkins, and napkin holders from LinenTableCloth.com. They consistently had the lowest prices available, to the point that it was often cheaper than renting, even without considering the possible resale. They had good quality linens available in a good selection of colors and sizes, and shipping was prompt.
Services used: Rentals & Photobooths
We were looking for matching arm bouquets for my wife and me. Diane of Pondview Florist made things very easy on us. She understood our concept, and said she could do it for us. She was willing to quote prices (which turned out to be quite reasonable), without trying to talk us into items we did not want. She was able to make suggestions about how this bouquet would go with the rest of our wedding colors, and how to integrate it with the maid of honor's bouquet and the boutonnierre for the "dude of honor." The actual bouquet was considerably more pink than the picture from which we ordered. However, it worked well with our color scheme anyway, so this did not bother us. A few of the flowers in our bouquets seemed like they were just a little beyond their peak, but nothing was seriously wilted.
Services used: Flowers
Temple Shir Tikvah
Rabbi Rim was originally recommended to us as a rabbi in Massachusetts who was willing to perform weddings even if one of us was not Jewish. We checked out his site, and liked what we saw. He doesn't take himself too seriously. At the same time, he seemed quite thoughtful and intelligent. When we contacted him, our initial favorable impressions were confirmed. He is very supportive of same-sex marriage, as his own stepdaughter was recently married to another woman. He is flexible on arrangements. For example, he allowed a ketubah that was personally designed for us, rather than standard (quite sexist!) wording. He proofread the ketubah to make sure it said what we wanted in Hebrew as well as English. He allowed us to have all of our guests sign the ketubah as witnesses. He permitted us to include the vows from the Church of England wedding ceremony (which is what NotFroofy thinks of as a traditional wedding, even though she is not religious), and to have an interpretation of each of the blessings that does not include references to God. And he was quite supportive on the idea of our building our own chuppah. When we were looking for a place to get ready before the ceremony, he offered his own office, and brought a full-length mirror from home. He's given us lots of good advice, while at the same time working to have the ceremony just the way we want it. At the ceremony itself, he was warm and welcoming to all our guests. Even when we had some minor glitches (the pen disappearing when we went to sign the ketubah, NotFroofy's veil falling off, our having difficulties breaking the glass), he responded with warmth and good humor.
Services used: Wedding Venue
Portrait New England
What really struck us in Bill Bray's photos (both on the site and in his albums) was what natural expressions he had gotten from the participants. Looking only at his site, we were not sure whether this was just because the particular couples were very expressive people. However, it was clear in his albums that he was able to put all the couples and other participants at ease enough to get natural expressions from them. We also liked the fact that he was clearly at ease with nontraditional couples. One of the couples featured on his site includes a bride with a large tattoo. Another is an interracial couple. The third is a couple who had actually been married for three years already, and had a toddler daughter. However, they had had to have a quickie wedding because the groom was in the military and being sent to Iraq. They therefore had a big ceremony three years later, when he returned. Bill was clearly at ease with the idea of a lesbian couple, and indeed asked us if he could use our photos on his site. Bill was very good at the ceremony, managing to get his shots in without creating disruptions in the preparations or the ceremony. When the ceremony started a half hour late, he volunteered to stay late at no charge to make sure he got all the photos we wanted. The photos he took were absolutely gorgeous! (My icon is a small version of one of his photos.) The only minor issue with him was that we probably should have given him more direction on the photos we wanted. His focus was almost completely on us and our attendants during the ceremony. Thus, he did not get pictures of our guests giving readings, blessings, etc. However, this was a minor quibble: He did take gorgeous formals of all our guests in the garden behind the synagogue after the ceremony, and we managed to fill in other pictures we wanted by having our guests upload the pictures they took.
Services used: Photography
20th Century Illumination
When my wife and I started looking at ketubot, we kept coming back to the same one: the Embrace ketubah by 20th Century Illuminations. However, the only version of the text they had available for same-sex couples was entirely in English, except for the heading which was in Hebrew. We finally decided to bite the bullet and pay for a custom text. With permission from Ketubah Tree, we used their Commitment B text. The ketubah is lovely! It was delivered promptly, and is exactly what we wanted. The artist, Amy Fagin, had excellent communication, sending us an advance copy of the text so that we could get our rabbi to review it. She also called to our attention a specific instance in which the text in Hebrew differed from the text in English, so that we were able to coordinate the two. We also got her permission to use the design for our invitations and other wedding items. The only reason that this review is not a 5 is the absence of standard wording applicable to same-sex couples.
Services used: Unique Services
Legal Sea Foods
We chose the Legal Sea Foods at Burlington Mall in Burlington, MA, which was the closest place to our wedding location. It has a private dining room that holds about 25 people, so our guests would not be rattling around in a huge space. And although it is in a mall, there is an entrance separate from the mall, so we did not have to wander through a mall in our wedding gowns. We attempted initially to use the "Request More Information" link on the site to inquire about reserving a private dining room. When we received no response, we called the location. We then got a call back from Elaine Hebert, the Sales & Event Manager. She made the reservation, and e-mailed us a contract, which we signed, scanned, and returned by e-mail. We had to supply a credit card number, but it was not actually charged, just used as a guarantee. For the dozen guests we had, the private dining room was able to be set up with one large table, so that we could all chat. Although described as "glass enclosed," the private dining room has curtains that can be drawn to make it a cozy space for a private party. The staff was happy to deal with our special requests, such as using the dinner menu for a late lunch. We selected a fixed price option with several entree choices. The Legal Sea Foods created a personalized menu, with our wedding in the heading on the top, from which our guests could order on the spot instead of having to make selections in advance. When our guests made special requests, such as having the lobster removed from its shell, the staff complied cheerfully and efficiently. We got great service from the staff at our luncheon. Service was efficient but unobtrusive. The staff members were clearly excited about the wedding, and friendly with us. Even when two of the guests (who were old enough to know better!) got involved in a whipped cream fight, they just brought wet towels for clean-up, and appeared amused by the whole thing.
Services used: Wedding Venue