Jun 21, 2007
We initially heard about them off a web search engine, and of the five caterers this search engine sent our proposal to, Contemporary Catering was the ONLY one that responded with the information we requested and listened to what we wanted. Nathaniel gave us great suggestions for staying within our budget and initially was great about contacting me when I slacked off and forgot. Erics food at the tasting was fantastic. They gave us referrals that raved about them. The day-of went really well. The staff was professional and courteous, the food was absolutely incredible, and everyone seemed pretty happy. They get the grade for these reasons: 1) The company exploded in popularity in the 9 months between when we booked them and our wedding. Our smallish wedding became somewhat small potatoes as time got closer. I don't really fault the company at all for that, I just got the feeling they bit off more than they could chew with the growth. We started to feel unnecessary. This is our feelings, not anything anyone there said or did, so take it with a giant grain of salt. That being said, my antique cake set that was a gift from my mother disappeared at the wedding, and I worried that maybe the caterer had assumed it was theirs and accidentally taken it with them. I don't suspect anyone stole it, but I called and asked them to check on it. I was assured they'd check the kitchens and storage and get back to me. 3 weeks later, and I still haven't gotten a return phone call. I called back, and was told they probably didn't have it, but was promised another call after they check storage. I know it's not a big deal to them, but it obviously is to me. 2) The sample menu they put together for us to estimate price was not what we wanted for the final menu. We all discussed this at the time of the deposit, and Nathaniel advised we wait to finalized the menu until about a month before the wedding so we had a better idea of tastes of our guests and actual numbers. Unfortunately for us and him, their menu changed during that time along with their prices. Any old items were given to us at the old price because we had a contract, but any new items were at the new prices (which makes sense since there WAS no old price to go by). Of course, we wanted some of the new stuff. We had to go back and forth about 8 or 9 times trying to finalize the menu. There were items I specifically asked removed or added that he would leave on or off, which was incredibly frustrating. It turns out that his reasoning was simply trying to keep our price at our estimate, but he never told me, "Hey, if you add this one that's going to drive up the price. I'm leaving that one on because it's cheap." I just wish there had been better communication there. I got frustrated when he was really trying to help, he got frustrated because I started getting bridezilla-y, and we both wasted a lot of time. My advice: Be specific and help in the communication from the beginning. Instead of just saying, "No, we really don't want that, we like this better," ASK WHY you're not getting what you asked for. Dont worry about hurting feelings; this is business. 3) We paid for 69 people; 55 showed and we had almost no leftovers. We did heavy hors d'oeuvres only, so it's not like someone didn't get to eat anything, but I worry that maybe people didn't get enough food. Of course, no one's going to tell the bride, "hey, I'm hungry," but I hope no one was, and I'm glad we had so many no-shows. If you plan on doing heavy hors d'ouevres, get specifics on how many pieces you'll be getting. The caterer may be underestimating. Would I use Contemporary Catering again? Absolutely. I loved them and hope to have a reason to hire them repeatedly. But I would absolutely stay on top of everything and be very specific right from the beginning. Don't be shy!
Services used: Catering
Mission San Fernando Rey de España
The mission is beautiful and very inexpensive for a Catholic wedding in Los Angeles. You have to bring your own priest and weddings are stacked on the weekendssometimes as many as five in a row, but they give you time before and after the ceremony for pictures, etc. so it shouldnt feel too rushed. Barbara, the coordinator, is very nice, but only in on Fridays, which can be frustrating. A is for the church itselfgorgeous, inexpensive, convenient to Los Angeles without being right in the middle of the city. We really like it. The C is for Barbara. The rehearsal and ceremony both went well, but here's why she gets a C: 1) Three months before the wedding, I called to schedule the rehearsal because I hadn't heard from Barbara and needed to book the RD. She sounded genuinely surprised to hear from me, but booked us for Friday afternoon. Following that, there was NO contact until 2 weeks before the wedding. 2) Two weeks before the wedding, Barbara calls to check on my ceremony, asking me about music, readers, etc. When I told her what we'd planned, she sounded surprised and impressed that we had everything handled. The wedding was in two weeks! and we'd booked the church over a year ago. Did she honestly think we would be waiting for her to call before lining up readers and talking to the priest?? 3) During this phone call, she starts going over all sorts of things we will be doing, none of which we had ever talked about (when would we?) and most of which we didn't want to do. We put our foot down for a couple, at which she was surprised, did a few because it seems that's how it's done (and those few did turn out nice, like the petal toss at the end), and our priest gave us the eye and we all mutually ignored some of her instructions, like the weird "hand-off" from my Dad to the groom, which was against all of our principles and even the Catholic church. But she never asked what we wanted to do, just started implementing things. 4) When we arrived for our rehearsal, the lovely rose garden in front of the church where people come in was torn upthe whole area was under construction and there were Bobcats and such everywhere. It looked awful. The solution? "We'll cover it with a tarp for tomorrow." Which they did. But it still looked awfulno heads-up was given, no suggestions on making it look nicer, no money refunded or reparations offered. 5) During our one phone call, Barbara went over what we need to bring, and then tosses in "and a check for $150 to cover my services". Barbara was listed on the information pamphlet as being available for wedding coordination, but it was never stated it was mandatory. Apparently, it is. We argued briefly at the rehearsal, but in the end we just paid her to avoid the stress. She did NOTHING for our wedding whatsoever. She even forgot to cue the bagpiper for our exitluckily, he decided to poke his head in to find out how far along we were and caught us descending the altar, hand in hand. If you decide to marry at the mission, stay on top of her (call first thing Friday morning or you'll just get a busy signal) and be very firm about your choices. And know you'll have to pay her extra regardless of what she actually does for you.
Services used: Wedding Venue
Custom designed Celtic rings (other designs available) The people at Raru were incredibly nice and almost too speedywe got our rings months in advance, which is dangerous, since we lose things. The design is exactly what we asked for, and the price for custom rings was comparable and in some cases cheaper than similar ready-made ones we were looking at.
Services used: Jewelry
We only got our bridesmaid dresses through rkbridal. True to their ad, rkbridal gave us 5% off the lowest price we found (which was through netbride.com). The dress comes with a ribbon in ivory (the one we ordered) or a matching solid ribbon. We filled out the form correctly, but they called me to double-check just to be safe, which I really appreciated. The dresses came in quickly, all the right sizes, no complaints.
Services used: Dress & Attire
We tried on dresses at Pebbles, and guiltily ordered online to save money, but I can't recommend Pebbles enough! They were very nice, great selection, and no pressure whatsoever to buy. If I'd had the money, I would have paid the extra just to give them the business.
Services used: Dress & Attire
Mon Amie has a huge selection and was very nice to work with. They came down on the price a little, since the dress I fell in love with was outside my budget, though not as much as I would have liked=) They were a little pushy to get the sale, but no worse than any other bridal salon I went to. Their customer service, however, is what gets them the grade. When my mom came in from out of town 6 weeks after I bought the dress, they not only let me come down and try it on for her, they let me try on 3 others Id looked at so my mom could get the dress-shopping experience with me. It made her day! My dress came in almost a month early, was in fine condition and was the size I ordered. They get the minus for 2 reasons: 1) They have weird appointment times for trying on dressesonly 2 slots a day when all the girls come down. When a friend of mine and I went for her dress, we got lost and were late, and we had to wait 2 hours for the next appointment wave. 2) Once my dress came in, I was disappointed that I hadn't followed my gut and ordered the size I thought I needed. It's way too big. Not sure if I'm cynical enough to believe that was purposeful in hopes I'd get alterations with them, so that's not the reason for the minus. Based on the material, etc. I feel I was overcharged. It could be buyer's remorse, which is why I'm not being harsher.
Services used: Dress & Attire, Jewelry
The website is pretty crappy, but they were recommended to me by another florist who was well out of my budget. Kim and her team are really nice and really listened to my thoughts and ideas, suggesting others that were within my style without denigrating mine. You'd be surprised how rare that seems to be. The flowers that showed up on the day-of were better than I'd hoped for. Somehow she managed to take my spotty and vague description of what I was looking for and transform it into the absolute perfect bouquet. She even managed to find pale yellow roses for the bridesmaids, even though most florists will just throw in gold because it's easier to find. The odd boutonnieres we asked for came out gorgeous and unusual. The flower girls' baskets, which I had kind of assumed would be blah because I wanted to keep them cheap, were exquisite. I loved everything so much I actually used her a week after my wedding to send flowers to a client because I absolutely trust her judgment and don't think I can go back to any other florist.
Services used: Flowers
Layers Cake Design Studio
Janelle was a client of mine and her cakes are amazing. I have never tested better in my life! At the rehearsal dinner, we had an espresso-flavored Groom's Cake. DH is crazy into swords, armor, King Arthur, etc., so I asked her to do some sort of shield or sword. She created this brilliant and huge gold heraldic shield complete with lions and fleur de lis. If I can get copies of the pics from my relatives, I'll post them. Gorgeous! The wedding cake was pumpkin and cream cheese filling on two layers, and hazelnut on the other. The pics above don't really do it justice since there's only the close-up, but it was beautiful and tasted fantastic! Her prices are pretty high, but if you have the money, the result is definitely worth it.
Services used: Wedding Cake
Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel
I had never been in, but always assumed Sportsmen's Lodge was cheesy. My inlaws love it though, so we reserved a block and decided to stay there ourselves for the wedding night. Great! They've remodeled and it's really beautiful, good amenitites. They gave us a great suite with a balcony and champagne and strawberries in our roomwe had a great time! Charlotte is good friends with my MIL, so we probably got a little special treatment, but even still she was so nice and got everything squared away for us.
Services used: Unique Services