I used the Boston.com boards to find a few of my vendors, so I wanted to review mine for future Boston-area brides. Overall we were so happy with our vendors and our wedding day could not have gone better – it was truly flawless. I can't thank them enough for all the hard work they put into making our day so unforgettable.
Venue: Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, A
I am so happy we chose the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center (CMAC) for our wedding ceremony and reception venue. We worked with Amanda and Tori (now since departed) for the planning and set-up and with Jeff who was on-site on the wedding day itself. They were complete professionals and made the rental and planning experience very easy. Jeff coordinated with our band and DJ and helped them set up for an amazing night of music and dancing. The site speaks for itself – its gorgeous. We got married outside in Centanni Way Park surrounded by historic, brick buildings. The ceiling in the theater space is breathtaking and our entrance down the stairway inside was unforgettable. We used the upstairs gallery for our cocktail hour. The variety of spaces and sites all within the CMAC was really appealing to us and made for an unforgettable event.
Photography: Simi Rabinowitz, A
Simi's photographs are wonderful. His forte is the candid shots - he captured so many wonderful moments from our wedding without us ever knowing he was there. I chose him based on the work on his website - he always finds a really creative shot - and is relatively low price given the quality of his work. Since our wedding was in a beautiful historic building, his focus on architecture and setting was one of the main reasons I wanted to have him at our wedding.
The only complaint I had was with the formal portraits - our group (the groomsmen especially!) could have used a little more direction. The family photos felt a little rushed and in the final pictures there are some obvious gaps in our line up. Minor stuff for someone who doesn't really care about the formals, but in the end I wished we had spent a little more time and had a little more direction as to our positioning.
Photos are available online soon after the wedding and you can order (expensive) photos from the website. I ordered a few as gifts but mostly waited until I got a disk with all the images about 3 months after the wedding. The waiting was hard, but now we plan to order a number of prints from Kodak or another such retailer for much less.
Simi's wife Judy acted as an assistant at our wedding and both she and Simi were utter professionals. Judy puts together the albums and we are saving up for one! Wedding books are expensive but her prices were better than others we looked at. Based on the samples we saw, we know it will be gorgeous. I highly recommend Simi.
Catering and cake: Wildflour, A+
The venue we used had 13 or so approved caterers. I researched 4 -5 of them. Wildflour Catering was the first and only tasting we had and the food and service that day was so good we didn’t even bother going anywhere else. At the wedding we had passed appetizers, a buffet dinner and a small cake and cupcakes, all from Wildflour. Our guests were amazed by all the food and I still crave the mushroom ravioli with asparagus pesto. We worked with Amy Hudon, who has since left the company (our wedding was her last!), so other than the food being excellent, I can’t say the next person will be able to duplicate Amy’s professionalism, attention to detail and overall amazing-ness.
Working with Amy was like getting a wedding planner included in the price of our catering. She helped coordinate with the rentals and liquor vendors and she and her staff set up the whole reception. She was so flexible in allowing me to change my mind on appetizers and the buffet set up numerous times and never complained. We even did a second mini-tasting of additional appetizers when we came in for our cake tasting. She did a walk-through of the site a month before the wedding going over every minute of the ceremony and reception. That weekend we left everything in a room for her with a few instructions and by the night of the reception it was perfectly set. I don’t know if that is normal for caterers, but it felt extra special to me.Hopefully Wildflour will continue with their excellent food prep and find another catering manager with her skills and professionalism. (Also, Amy’s moved on to the Estate at Moraine Farm in Beverly so I expect anyone looking there will have an excellent experience.)
Flowers: The Celebrated Flower, A
Mark and his team at the Celebrated Flower put together a gorgeous setting of fall flowers for our late fall wedding. I met with him twice and brought a number of photos that were my inspiration. He adopted my slightly unorthodox idea for multiple small vases instead of one large centerpiece and ran with it. He never criticized any of my ideas and made constructive suggestions when we came upon some items that I hadn’t thought about. He was very upfront about the availability of flowers (I wanted dahlias which are hard to get after the first frost) and as we got closer to the wedding date was in communication about substitutions that may needed to be made. It did frost before our wedding but he was able to get some gorgeous dahlias and made perfect substitutions to perfectly achieve the overall look I was going for. He was flexible and easy to work with and his two little daushounds are adorable.
The only complaint I had about Mark is that he doesn’t use email frequently. So, while I was able to email my other vendors and get a response within a day or so, he was a bit slower and once didn’t respond at all. While that was a bit frustrating early on in the process, as we got closer to the wedding date he was in good contact with us. Overall I was very pleased with his work.
Justice of the Peace: Beverly Cook, A+
I found Beverly Cook, our justice of the peace, on the Boston.com wedding boards. We were so happy with her. She is very organized and helped put together a wonderful ceremony for our wedding day. We met with her twice before the wedding weekend – once to find out if she was right for us (we knew immediately that she was!) and then again to put together our ceremony and go over the procession. She also came to the site the night before for a rehearsal (for an extra fee), which helped put us all at ease. Beverly has a whole package of materials from poems to prayers to readings that we were able to pick and choose from to put together our own ceremony. She went over seating and the order of our procession and had every minute of the ceremony mapped out. On the day of the wedding Beverly did a superb job projecting her voice at our outside, non-mic’d ceremony. All our guests were impressed and I would definitely recommend her!
Dresses: Berkachi Bridal, A
I can’t say enough good things about Donna and Berkachi Bridal. The store is small and easy to manage but she has a good selection of dresses of all styles, including some off the rack dresses. Her focus is on dresses on the lower end of the price range; mine was less than $1,000 but looked like it cost a lot more. She schedules brides for individual appointments so that all attention can be on you. She helped me pick the perfect dress and those for bridesmaids too (which we got a bit of a discount because we purchased them through her). She has a seamstress, Violette, that works with her at the shop on Sundays. Since none of my maids live in town, we had three separate fittings for them but Donna and Violette didn’t complain at all. We even went twice to Violette’s home for fittings that couldn’t be done on Sunday. My husband’s mother also had Violette alter her dress. They were so kind and really made me feel like part of their family. Donna’s customer service was excellent and I felt really taken care of.Tuxes: Men’s Wearhouse, B+We had a lackluster experience at the Brighton shop but excellent experiences at the Boylston and Cambridgeside shops. Overall we had no complaints – they made it very easy to get 6 men from all across the U.S. looking great on our wedding day. Our party rented 6 tuxes from them and as a result my husband got a voucher for a free suit (up to $400), which is an amazing deal.
Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas, A-
We got around 100 Invites on weddingpaperdivas.com for a great price. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money but wanted something nice and memorable. I chose a relatively plain one and added a cardstock border for a bit of color (my own little arts n crafts project). I bought the cardstock separately but they have some very limited colors that you can also add to your order. The design process was easy and fun and font and text is fully customizable. You can order samples for a price, which I did and which helped me make my decision. I did save the dates, escort cards and wedding programs on my own at Kinko’s but Wedding Paper Divas also has a wide selection.
Limo: Christopher Limousine, A
I chose Chris’s limo because they have a hybrid stretch Tahoe, which was the same price as their other SUV-type limos. We used the limo to take our wedding party around the city for a few hours photos prior to the wedding and then drop us off at the venue. The driver was great at navigating the streets of Boston and was flexible in where we wanted to go and found some creative parking solutions while we took out photos! The limo then went back to the hotel to get our parents and other family members. Service was on time and flexible.
Hair: Simply Blissful, A+Deborah was great. We corresponded during the summer but she was having a baby so I couldn’t have a trial with her until a month before the wedding. That seemed to be a little close, so I scheduled another trial, which turned out to be a disaster. I have a short bob and had trouble finding any short hair bride examples. The photos I could find for inspiration were of women with slightly longer hair. The disaster trial hairdresser said “those women have longer hair than you” and proceeded to insult my chosen necklace, the mirror in my house and my overall idea. So, I got back in touch with Deborah and went to her house in Rockford for the trial. I was so glad I did. She was warm and welcoming and was able to translate the photos I did have into the vision I had in my head. The day of was perfect and all of the girls were so happy with their hair. www.simplyblissful.com/" target="_blank">www.simplyblissful.com Make-up: Rachel Murphy, A+Rachel was a friend of a friend but regularly does wedding make up. She was great. She brought all of her gear in a huge suitcase to my apartment for the trial and worked with me to achieve the minimal, natural look I wanted. She did my make-up, all the bridesmaids and the two moms and everyone was so happy with the results. Months later family members were still telling me how great the mother of the bride looked! She and Deborah didn’t know each other prior to my wedding but made an excellent beauty team.
Rachel Murphy 781-718-5260, email: firstname.lastname@example.org