First of all, my first review goes to my mom and dad...an A++++ infinity. They were so generous and helpful over the last year I can't even believe how blessed we are.
And now to the vendors...this is so long...sorry. ;-)
David's Bridal, Danvers, MA: A+
I know there are mixed opinions on David's, but this particular store has an incredible staff. Specifically Cindy W. who was my rep throughout the process. My mom and I saw the dress on a mannequin when we walked in and we knew it was going to be the one and what a great price. I could have got the veils elsewhere but the ones she put on me that day (I had 3) just looked so perfect we got the whole thing. To top it off, I bought this dress April 2008 for our June 2009 wedding. In January 2009, I realized the dress was WAY too big (I think they may have ordered a size larger by mistake). Cindy and Monica at David's Bridal let me exchange it for 2 sizes smaller almost a year later - way against policy, but they seriously saved the day. The dress fit beautifully and the only alteration needed was the hem since I had to order it with extra length. The Bridesmaid dresses were Pool blue which looked beautiful on all the girls, they were all comfortable and the flower girl dresses were adorable.
MW Tux - Danvers, MA: A
Everything came out great, they all fit, came in on time, etc. The only issue with them was that for some reason they had our wedding date as June 25 and our pick up date as June 26. Figure that one out. We cleared it up, but not until they actually told my sister that she might want to double check the wedding date (when she was fitting my nephew for his tux). She was like...I'm pretty sure I know when my sister is getting married. That was the MW Tux in Ohio - the one in Danvers was top notch.
Brenner's Discount Shoe Barn, Saugus: A
These shoes were $25 and I wore them most of the night. They aren't "pristine" when you buy them, but I am sure not one person saw them and they were just the perfect heel for me b/c I'm 5'10" and DH is 6'1 so I dont have a lot of room to grow in shoes. ;-)
Invitations/Thank-You Cards/Place Cards
My mom got the invitations online, the quality was great and we got a lot of compliments on them. They were simple, yet elegant and classy (except for our totally classless address labels...haha). I think she spent a TOTAL of $150 on 150 invitations, placecards and thank you notes. That's a deal.
I'm telling you, DIY is fantastic (or DDI - "Dad Did It"). Once we got our engagement photos on CD, my dad formatted them into a label sheet, printed them onto a big sticky paper and stuck them to magnet paper. He cut them and they were perfect! No one knew they were homemade and they probably cost $35.
Ricchezza Mia by Lauren Marsh: A+
Lauren is a close friend of mine, and was one of my bridesmaids. Aside from that she is a brilliant jewelry designer and she handmade my necklace, earrings and bracelet along with all the bridesmaids, flower girls, my mother and gifts for MIL, StepMIL, and SIL. We got so many compliments and they matched the dresses and the entire wedding day beautifully.
Bloomings Florist - Taryn Grassia, Beverly, MA: A
Tarryn really worked with me on my small budget to get the flowers that I hoped for - yellow and white calla lilies for the girls, and yellow callas w/ white roses for
me. She went above and beyond by making me a toss bouquet (even though it somehow was lost and I had to throw the junior bridesmaid's bouquet), and extra bouttenniers for the guys in case the heat ruined the yellow freesia. That worked out nicely b/c we had extras for the readers. I was a little disappointed with the quality of the white roses in my bouquet...they were browning a bit, but I don't know a thing about flowers so I'm not going to complain. It still looked beautiful.
Shuttle Bus for out of town guests
First Student - A+
I took a recommendation from this board, and used First Student school bus company to transport our out of town guests from the hotel to the church, to the reception. Alice was my rep there, and she was AWESOME. Again, all communication over email (I am not a phone person) but she was very patient and kind and really organized. I was a little nervous b/c there is no contract but the bus driver Jean showed up early, and called my brother and got everyone where they needed to be. The guests loved that they didnt have to drive (half of them have never seen a rotary...it would have been a nightmare) and at such a good price it was WELL worth it.
Oceanview of Nahant: A+
I can't say enough good things about this place. From the start they are accomodating, courteous, responsive, and best of all they are SUCH a good deal. In the wedding package includes the dinner, the cake, toasting flutes, cake server, centerpieces, a white wine toast...and a beautiful view of the harbor. They only do one wedding at a time, so you have the whole place to yourself including the outdoor deck which everyone loved (thank GOD we had great weather that night, a miracle to say the least!). Al, Paula, Ralph and everyone at Oceanview are top notch and really make you feel like your wedding is just as important to them as it is to you. They don't do a food tasting, but the food was INCREDIBLY tasty and I made a point to sit down and eat it!
DaMici's Bakery, Lynn, MA: A+
We didnt have a choice but didnt need it...Damici's bakery in Lynn is the resident baker for Oceanview and man was that cake good. The only bite we got was during the cake cutting, sadly, but I couldn't believe how good it was and I can't wait to eat the top of t he cake in one year!
AdMagic, Inc: A+
The only way we wanted to do favors was if they were playing cards, and if we could use our own design (we are both poker players, he more than I, and we work for an online poker company). I priced it out through so many vendors and they would have cost us over $1,000. I randomly found AdMagic (located in NJ) and they quoted me something like $350 for 100 decks of cards. They are professional quality, our color artwork came out beautifully and they were done in just under 2 weeks. Shari was a huge help, as I emailed her probably 20 times per day for a few weeks while we figured out the logistics. I appreciated her patience and the quality of the cards at such an amazing price.
Matt Loughran, www.mlclassics.com : A+
Can't say enough good things about Matt!! We LOVE him. We met with him and instantly clicked. He is totally laid back, knowledgeable about music, but aside from that he's a family man and it really makes a difference I think. He played everything we asked, our dance floor was RARELY, if EVER, empty. I know I was dancing the whole night. The best part was when Matt played Debbie Gibson's "Only in my Dreams" and walked over to hand me the microphone - that is a man who listens! It was one of the highlights, and I am so thankful that he did that it was a blast! I love to sing and I love Debbie Gibson and I think it wouldn't have been my wedding if I wasnt singing something. Seriously, and his prices are so good I almost feel guilty about it. He really did a great job as MC, I mean he was great. I'm going to send him a video, his narration while DH through the garter WAAAYYY tooo early was hilarious. He really was just ON the whole time. Thank you Matt!!!!!
Peter Wasylak, www.wasylakphoto.com A+
Again, another GREAT find. I can't even remember how I found Peter...maybe craigslist. Anyway, we met with him and clicked instantly. He's very laidback, and easy to work with. We did an engagement shoot with him June 2008 and I knew then we had hit the jackpot. His photos are beautiful. On the wedding day, he was there at 10AM to get shots of us all getting ready. He sent an assistant to DH's house to get pictures of the guys getting ready, another assistant met us at the hotel later in the afternoon. We were lucky that he had 2 students with him but I know that even if he was on his own he would not have missed a single thing. He really is just there in the background you don't even realize it...actually at one point during the reception I said, "where's Peter?" and of course he was literally right in front of me snapping pictures - he's just so good at what he does I hardly realized it. The pictures are amazing, and he had them up within a week! He really spends a lot of time on making the pictures perfect and I'm so grateful that we found him. Prices, of course, were awesome. Another one I feel guilty about how good of a deal we got!
Grace Mahoney, ShearGrace (partner of Special day by Carolina): A+
Let me just say, Grace rocks. She is Carolina's Team Lead/Partner and not only did she do a fantastic job but we became fast friends - she is THAT good. lol. I had my first trial run w/ Grace in January; I had pictures, etc and she did exactly what I described. It was really beautiful but after awhile I realized it was not what I wanted. No fault of hers, of course b/c I really thought that was what I wanted. She came back in April and I had new pictures and a new idea and she replicated that perfectly. I felt like myself and it was exactly the way I envisioned everything. She is highly competent and really pays attention to what you're saying. On the wedding day, she and her assistant Megan were right on time and they got to work with the 5 bridesmaids, myself and my mom. We all ended up getting the airbrush makeup, and fake eyelashes. Everyone was thrilled with their hair/makeup and while I got a little stressed towards the end, Grace is very good at keeping you calm and collected. :-) I did like the airbrush makeup, wasn't sure if I would, but it did last all night. I was hoping it would do a better job covering up my red cheeks but I think to do that it would have to be laid on pretty thick and that wasn't what I wanted. It still stayed on and looked great all day...and best of all I felt natural.
Bridal Party Gifts
Savannah Jacks: A+
Another Google find! I was on a wedding favor site looking for ideas and I came across these monogrammed umbrellas for $67. I liked the idea but thought they were a little pricey and later found the exact umbrellas on Savannah Jack's for literally half the price! In addition, Kristen the owner helped me find great gifts for the flower girls also - the Doodle Bags! They were a HUGE hit with our two flower girls. They just loved them and carried them around all day at the rehearsal dinner and later at the wedding. The bridesmaids loved the umbrellas too; and they each had their own pattern/color to match their personalities. I got organza wine bags to wrap the umbrellas in and it was a nice presentation along with the jewelry.
Sheraton FourPoints, Revere, MA: A-
So far this is my worst review, and its not that bad! For the most part, everything was great with Sheraton. Danielle, the event planner, was available with all of my questions and emails back and forth. The room block was fine and all the guests said things were great. The quality of the hotel itself is so-so...the beds are awesome but it is definitely an old (renovated) hotel. Just a few issues I had were that once it came down to the last 2 weeks, we had to finalize the complimentary hotel shuttle which would pick up everyone from Oceanview at midnight. I was told that if we had more than 20 people (we had 40) they would order a larger hotel at no cost to us. Well, when I gave her the final # she said she would send 2 shuttles at 11PM and 2 shuttles at 12AM - not what we agreed on. Basically forcing some guests to leave early which I didnt like. When my mom showed her the email saying she would order a larger shuttle, she "tried" to accomodate but wasn't able to. Whatever. It worked out well having
2 shuttles come at 11:15 and 2 more coming at Midnight. Except that, when the first round of shuttles showed up, the bus driver said he wasn't planning to come back. My brother came to ask me and I got to have a minor bridezilla moment. :-) I kept my cool but I was very firm with the guy and I said I have 30 people inside who are counting on you to be here at Midnight and I threatened to go get my Blackberry to show him the emails back and forth about this whole arrangement. He called me princess and said he'd work it out. They did show up, and everyone got back to the hotel (including me and DH).
Travel, Inc/Adventure Travel, Beverly, MA: C
Ugh. I can't even tell you the issues I have with this couple who runs a tiny travel agency out of Beverly on Cabot Street. The good things: our honeymoon was awesome, we did get a great deal, but the nightmare of having to deal with these lunatics was not worth the savings. In a nutshell, I can say, they are disorganized, unapologetic, and really terrible at customer service. I can get into greater detail if anyone wants to know. The final straw was when we got to our hotel in NYC, which they booked with my money without asking me (just one of the issues I had, I obviously didnt need them to book a hotel for me), they put it on their credit card and it was pre-paid. When we got there their credit card was DECLINED. Great business!! So the hotel thankfully was very nice about it, and contacted our TA themselves, and even let us check into our room with the understanding that if they couldn't get their card approved we would have to swipe ours...that was fine, and I made sure they put this all in
writing so that I could take our TA to court if I needed to. Thankfully, after several phone calls they finally got through to our TA and got another card to swipe.
The other major thing was once onboard our cruise ship, our TA told us we would have $100 onboard credit. We had $50. Again, the cruiseline had to contact them and we did finally get the other $50. But the fact that we had to contact them twice on our honeymoon was more than annoying. My learning experience, going forward I will be booking my own trips and if I do choose to use a travel agent I'm going to pay the fee and use a larger company with a good rep. I don't even know the real name of this agency b/c they have like 3 different names they use.
Princess Caribbean Cruise: A+
We had such a wonderful time, due to rough seas we missed out on Bermuda but we got to San Juan, Saint Thomas and Grand Turk. The ship was incredible, food was amazing, we loved each of the ports. I would only wish for MORE time on the islands. It was a great taste for us, and now we know we love to cruise and that we definitely want to vacation on these islands in the future.
hopefully I didnt miss anything....I will let you know if I did. And just for fun b/c I am NOT a very private person...you are all welcome to view the video my oldest brother put together for us as a gift to us. :-)