At first I struggled with whether or not to review my vendors because the information is only relevant to those people getting married in Minnesota. But being that there are not very many Weddingbee blogger bees from MN, I decided to go ahead and write the post.
The reason this is cathartic for me is because I had a bit of an issue with one of my main vendors. I’m not sure how to handle my frustration while still being the bigger person and avoiding pointless catty comments, other than to be as vague as possible while still letting it all out.
I am disappointed in how things went down with my photographer. Sister Big Eyes’ and I shrendored her, which makes my frustrations doubly upsetting.
Our photographer is a talented artist—no doubt—but she was not easy to work with. For example, my photos were late, multiple other promised deadlines were missed, and there was an overall lack of business savvy. Days before Sister Big Eyes’ wedding, there was an issue via email that could have been easily avoided with better communication. There were misunderstandings about expectations, excuses instead of apologies, and both of us are still waiting on a part of our package—an album we were promised.
While I do love my pictures and am incredibly thankful for them, it’s hard for me to encourage others to hire her when she caused us both so much unnecessary stress, which is why I’m not linking to her website or recommending her. (Although her information is not difficult to find if you go to any of my recaps.)
To turn this into something positive, here are a few things to remember that I wish I had known when interviewing photographers besides the usual—look at all the photos from one wedding, not just the favorites, and make sure they match your aesthetic/vision.
Picking the Right Photographer:
Booking a hotel suite to get ready at was hands down one of the best decisions we made throughout our wedding planning process. I realize it’s an added expense and not everyone has room in their budget for this…but if you can swing it, DO IT! Seriously.
Growing up, I had always envisioned getting ready at my parents’ house the day of my wedding, but that’s the funny thing about wedding visions: they almost always change. My parents’ house is way out in the suburbs, and requires crossing over at least one bridge to get to the main island of Montreal. Traffic can be really unpredictable and after we booked our venue, I just knew that I didn’t want to add the extra stress of possibly getting stuck in traffic on the big day. My family actually ended up hosting a bunch of family and friends from out of town the week of the wedding, so it was a really full house; I’m so glad I was able to get ready in a nice, quiet hotel room instead!
Our tiny one-bedroom apartment was not an option, as I could already foresee that it would be one giant mess on our wedding day. We also knew that we’d be putting up BM Green Eyes and her boyfriend on an inflatable mattress in our living room—NOT photo ready. Our venue actually offered a “bridal suite” free of charge, but it was basically a glorified conference room. While it served its purpose for bustling my dress and getting touched up after photos, it would have been much too cramped to fit me, all my girls, my parents, the photographers, videographer, hair and makeup people AND all the crap it takes to make girls look their best. We knew we needed a hotel room.
We found Le Saint Martin Hotel Particulier through Le Windsor’s preferred vendor’s list and they did not disappoint! After some comparison shopping, we decided to use them to reserve a block of rooms for our guests. We knew a large number of our list would not be local, and for those that were, we didn’t want to encourage drinking and driving after our eight hour open bar. For this reason, we absolutely loved the hotel’s proximity to our venue.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love my hometown. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. Granted, I haven’t lived anywhere else (with the exception of the three months I lived in Salamanca, Spain), but the fact remains.
I mean, look at that and tell me what is not to love? / Image via UW’s Biochemistry Website
It’s not just our insane amount of coffee, our delectable seafood, or our fantastic music scene (can you honestly tell me you’re not into Macklemore even just a little bit?)—this city really does have a lot to make one happy. I know living here isn’t for everybody—you have to be able to live with gray skies and be willing to abandon everything when the sun comes out—but even if you couldn’t see yourself living here, there is a ton to do if you’re coming for a visit.
Remember the uber-modern hotel I mentioned before, where my ladies and I would lounge around with our
room-service Starbucks the morning of the wedding? Well, about a month ago Momma Cruise Ship came to North Carolina, and on our trip to Asheville we booked one of the two remaining poolside rooms at Aloft Downtown Asheville. I cannot wait to stay here!!
Ready for a tour? Good.
Friday afternoon we will check in before rehearsal/BBQ-time.
After chowing down on our free continental breakfast at the Quality Inn (I make a mean Belgian waffle), we loaded all of our stuff back into my tiny car and hit the road for our final destination: Blairsville, Georgia.
Our first stop in Blairsville was the courthouse. The blue whales still needed a marriage license! I love the courthouse. You just never know what kinds of people you’re going to run into. In fact, you just might run into a teary-eyed blubbering fool who is crying while filling out a marriage license application. That would be me. I really don’t cry very often, but we all know that wedding bring out the sap in all of us.
Luckily, I pulled it together, and we managed the rest of the day without incident. Well, as long as you don’t count getting lost and driving up and down the same road four times to find our cabin an incident. We did finally make it to the “cabin” (more like a luxury rustic home), and we settled in for the weekend.
Mr. Whale and I were blown away by how nice the house was. We were in the lap of luxury for sure.
I know myself pretty well, and one of the things that I know is that when I have something that needs to get done (i.e., schoolwork) I will think of a million other things I could do instead. Need to write a paper? Organize your closet! Assigned to read a stack of research articles? Browse shoes/clothes online instead! Giant test coming up that you should study for? Clean/purge your kitchen and closets!
What this means is that today, when I was supposed to be working on my graduate project, I was thinking about our honeymoon instead. (Not actually a bad thing since we’ll want to make some activity reservations soon, but not my project all the same.)
As you might remember from my last post about our honeymoon, we’re going to hit up five cities in Europe: Barcelona, San Sebastian, Venice, Florence, and Rome.
Right now the only thing we have booked are our hotels and one restaurant reservation. We certainly have our eyes on more restaurant reservations and culinary/wine excursions (seriously, we love food), but the thing I’m dreaming about right now is relaxing without responsibilities, and what better place to do that than in a fancy hotel?
In order to find our hotels, I spent hours combing Trip Advisor reading reviews. I picked a handful in each city (with the exception of San Sebastian, as I had one hotel I loved) and presented the options to Sparky. He looked through them and we made our selections.
First up: Barcelona.
Villa Emilia is a cute little boutique hotel, relatively close to the stadium. Hopefully we’ll be able to pop over for an FC Barcelona game!
I’m at this weird lull in my wedding-planning process where I don’t have a ton of new stuff to talk about, but before I know it, it’s going to be just around the corner and I’ll have a million new topics, so bear with me!
One thing I was super excited about was our hotel room for the wedding. I think this came from realizing that we likely would not be able to go on a honeymoon immediately for a variety of reasons, so I wanted to make sure the hotel room I booked for the wedding would be more than your average bear.
As I mentioned before, our venue is sort of in the middle of nowhere. But it’s so worth it once you get there:
OK, this may be trivial and I could have been making a big deal out of nothing—but—I was having the hardest time deciding where to stay on our wedding night! My plan is to spend Friday night there by myself (or maybe with my sister) and then spend the wedding night there with Mr. B. I want a space big enough for all the girls to eat, drink, and get ready.
I originally thought I wanted to stay in a bed and breakfast (even though I’ve never stayed in one) since it seemed like a romantic place to spend our first night as husband and wife. No B&B has a big bridal room, though. I did find one room I like, but I don’t think it will be big enough: the Oglethorpe Penthouse at The Gastonian.
Image via The Gastonian
It has two working fireplaces and a separate living room and bedroom. It just doesn’t seem big enough for 11 people to get ready at the same time, though.
I then discovered the McMillan Inn, which appears to be a small inn of suites. They have a carriage house that could potentially be big enough:
When I last went to look at the hotel, I went in the evening. It was all a bit dark and I didn’t get to see my room bathed in glorious daylight.
But last weekend we went back! This time we went to look at pretty much all the rooms in the hotel to decide which ones we’d like to have for our families.
All photos personal
Jack had actually never been to the hotel before (good thing he trusts my judgement!) and he was very happy when he stepped inside. We had a sneak peek of the bar while we were waiting…
Yes, we’re covering two topics in one post. I’m a multi-tasker that way.
Before I get to either of these topics, however, I gotta backtrack a little bit and tell you how we got to making decisions on what Mr. A will be wearing and where we’ll be spending our wedding night…because we’re getting both for a STEAL.
At the beginning of February, Mr. A and I (along with my parents) attended our city’s annual charity ball, held every year in our reception venue. Proof of our attendance, you ask? Sure, no prob:
BM Mascara, Mama Dillo, and me all gussied up! The theme was “The Black and White Ball.”
Who would have thought, right? I’ve been so busy thinking about where to hold the wedding, where I’ll stay the night before, where I’ll get ready, where we’ll go on our honeymoon—that I completely forgot about reserving blocks of rooms for our awesome guests.
But no big deal, the wedding is still three months away, right? Plenty of time to book a few rooms, since even though it’s a nice area to visit there’s not a huge demand for tourism in early May. We’re not having a huge wedding, plus a lot of people know friends in town to stay with, so we’ll only need 10–15 rooms maximum.
Well. There are two private universities in the Greenville area, and both of them have graduations that weekend. They’re not huge schools, but it definitely causes an influx of people.
Which didn’t hit me until I clicked on the website of the hotel I planned to reserve rooms in from the beginning and saw that they had zero rooms available the weekend of the wedding. Zero rooms? In a tiny town like Traveler’s Rest? Except…it’s five minutes away from Furman University. Duh.
That would have been the best option since it’s just 15 minutes from the venue, but I immediately rebounded and told myself “That’s OK, I’ll just reserve rooms in Greenville. It will be an extra 15 minutes of travel time for my guests, but they’ll get to experience the area.” On the plus side it is a pretty neat city. I’ve grown quite attached in my five years here!
Downtown hotels are really pricey. I mean, I never would expect my guests to pay $319 a night, even if it’s for a hotel that looks like this:
Image via Uptake
Jack and I live less than 200 metres from our Church and less than two miles away from our reception venue. So, it would make sense to stay at home the night before, especially as our parents don’t live near us so we can’t crash at their houses in our old bedrooms.
But no, we’re not doing that. I like the tradition of not seeing the groom the night before and I’m all for making my wedding last longer than 12 hours, so starting the celebrations early and staying in a nice hotel the night before seemed like a good idea to me!
I started looking at hotels in my city and believe you me, the nice ones are niiiiiiiiice! Absolutely beautiful, posh, Mr & Mrs worthy hotels. I wanted to spent a maximum of £250 for the bridal suite per night and I thought that was pretty reasonable for a good room! In my job I book hotels for meetings and £200 gets a very nice room, so for £250 I could get something swish, right? Wrong.
This is Hotel du Vin.
|Image via Paul Fletcher Photography|
Our reception venue is at the top of that road! Doesn’t it look beautiful in photos? I could imagine having my picture taken outside whilst our Rolls Royce waited to take me to the church…And the suite!
Since our venue is in downtown DC, we have a ton of options for wedding weekend accommodations. With dozens of hotels within walking distance of our venue, we considered not bothering with a room block and giving our guests free rein over where to stay. Yet, there is a hotel option so convenient that I felt like we had to go ahead and secure some rooms…because it is right next door to our venue. Like, the two buildings touch each other.
Before we chose our wedding date, I checked all the event listings and calendars I could find for the Austin area, and couldn’t find anything that coincided with our date. Shortly after I booked our date, I found out that there is t only a home University of Texas football game that weekend (how could I forget to check that?!), there is also a very large Texas school administrators conference happening, which means a large number of hotel rooms are already booked up or being held for the weekend.
Back in December, I booked small room blocks at two Austin hotels for the Friday and Saturday nights of our wedding weekend—one is downtown within walking distance of bars and such, and one is about 15–20 minutes south of town, on the way to the wedding site.
I found out back in April that the block at the downtown hotel was already full, and we were told we’re not able to add more rooms to it, as the hotel was close to sold out and they couldn’t offer any additional rooms at discounted rates!!! The other one still had plenty of rooms available, but that hotel is not downtown, which I think is where a lot of our guests would probably prefer to stay.
The suite I’ve reserved for my wedding day, that is. Once Fiance proposed my mind immediately started swarming with ideas and the ever growing to-do list. The first was to pick a reception spot (one week later…check!). The second was supposed to be “find a church” or “research photographer.” However, that list quickly changed once we made the decision to have our wedding out of town. My mission then switched to booking our hotel suite so I would have a place to get ready in.
Luckily for me, I knew exactly what hotel I wanted to use for our wedding block. The Woodcliff Hotel and Spa is close to our reception venue, is set on top of a hill (which offers beautiful views), and offers complimentary shuttle service to our guests to and from our reception. Fiance and I have stayed there twice to celebrate birthdays. It was no surprise that, once we booked our reception venue, I was immediately looking at the hotel’s website.
Since I won’t be getting ready at the home I live in or the home I grew up in, I knew I wanted to get ready for the most important day of my life (thus far) in a beautiful setting that had enough room for me to feel relaxed. The Woodcliff was the perfect place to look, as they offered a few different suites to choose from. However, after quickly perusing their website, there was only one suite I envisioned getting ready in on my wedding day. The Art Deco.
What’s so special about this suite?