Last week marked my one year anniversary (crazy!) for blogging on the ’Bee and I decided I really should wrap things up for you guys instead of just leaving you hanging without any closure. I have a handful of posts that have been waiting for me to hit the “Publish” button, so I will be sharing those with you all before it’s finally time for me to say goodbye!
I’ve debated a good bit about whether or not I wanted to do a vendor review post. Although we (thankfully) didn’t have anyone do a terrible job for us, the idea of rating people still makes me feel a little strange. However, when I think about just how much I appreciate a well-written review, wedding related or not, I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share my experiences with all of these wedding industry professionals.
Like I mentioned before, no one that we hired did a terrible, or even sub-par, job. If you were to hire any of the vendors we used for our wedding I would be willing to bet you would have a positive experience. What I really want to highlight is the people who did an exceptional job. The ones that I would 100%, without a doubt, hire again if I were to do the whole wedding planning thing over again. Thankfully that won’t be happening but I know many of you are in the process of making these decisions, and in my experience reviews were extremely helpful. Dallas bees, always feel free to contact me if you have any other questions about the vendors we used!
Lasting Bridal Couture, www.lastingbridalcouture.com, Highly Recommend
Shopping for my wedding gown was an awesome experience, especially the time spent at Lasting Bridal Couture. My consultant, Sarah, was just beyond fabulous. She was helpful, encouraging, and really listened to what I wanted in my dress. In addition to my dress, we also ordered the bridesmaids’ dresses from the same store, and Sarah was very knowledgeable about how the colors compare to the swatches, how the sizes run, etc. The store allows you to order the bridesmaid dresses online, which is super helpful when all of your bridesmaids are in different locations and can’t all come to the store at once, and they had the lowest prices that I found.
After spending a super busy day at the mall, Mr. S and I had crossed many things off our list. His suit is finally getting altered. He, thankfully, now has a dress shirt and snazzy shoes. We both got new bathing suits for the honeymoon and I found a perfect bra (hopefully). Whew! After a long day at the crowded mall, we were both feeling exhausted and decided to go back to my apartment to watch a Redbox. Yes, unfortunately this is also secret code for “get my craft on.” Blah, not the most exciting evening.
Anywho, I checked my mail as we pulled up and inside was such an unexpected surprise that I just had to share:
In case the text is too small, it says:
Hello. Have you ever thought to yourself—I wonder if I have any friends or family who work in the wedding industry? Or catering? Or photography? Hair and makeup? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have a friend vendor…a friendor!
Ah, the friendor.
Talk about mixing business with pleasure.
Let’s talk about the pros and cons of friendors. Why, you might ask? Because we have three. If it were up to me, we’d have even more than that, but there are some extenuating circumstances…more on that later.
Pros: Friendors are great resources to have because by and large they will give you some sort of discount/extra service/free crap etc. This obviously comes in handy when you’re working with a budget, which you know we are. They will typically be more flexible and helpful. You’re helping them help you…like Jerry Maguire.
Cons: There are some weird instances where people offer their music/design/catering services, where you don’t really share the same…let’s call it ‘vision’ to keep it PC. You don’t want to offend them, but you also want the wedding to be what you want. Obviously this can cause some lingering issues years after the wedding takes place.
I recognize that every situation is different, so of course the above statement was a generalization, and knock on wood we have not had this situation yet.
What we do have is pretty great!
1. Photography: If you recall from my engagement photos post, we decided to use Cam’s former co-worker-slash-friend— Robert Ross! He’s giving us a deep discount, which is well appreciated in the photography department since Charleston wedding photographers average somewhere around $3,500 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). We will end up paying a fraction of that, and all we need to buy is a hotel room/meal! Plus he’s going to bring his family and hang out on the beach for a few days…win-win.
At this point in the game, I’m pretty sure I email and talk to our vendors more than I do my friends and family. I kid, but I do feel like my relationship with the people I’ve hired to do our wedding is growing rapidly. The closer we get, the more questions they have, the more questions I have, and the more decisions there are that need to be made, which means we need to be in constant contact.
(All of the photos in this post are just for fun! I miss the days of browsing for inspiration and I figured pictures of other people’s weddings made sense for this post about vendors. In the photograph above, those chocolate centerpieces remind me of the my initial decor idea that was thrown out by, wait for it, EVERYONE. Pine cones. Sigh.)
Let’s talk about our wedding vendors for a minute, shall we?
You know, all of those super talented people you’ve hired to document your day, play the perfect song to get everyone on their feet, and make sure *everything* runs as smoothly as possibly. The people you researched and religiously stalked their blogs to decide whether or not you liked their work. The professionals you anxiously waited to receive an e-mail from, letting you know whether or not they had your wedding date available. The ones who are really going to make your day exactly what you’ve always wanted to be.
So, these vendors (I really kind of hate that word, but it’s the easiest way to group them together) will be “working” for you for the majority of the day. I know our videographer will be filming for about 10 hours, and our photographer will probably be there even longer. They’re going to do their best to document as much of the day as they possibly can, including the time it takes for my bridesmaids and I to get ready, aaaaall the way until we make our grand exit, and everything in between. Now, at some point during the day, my bridesmaids and I will get hungry. We’ll grab a snack, or Momma Coach will pick up some lunch for us and bring it to the hotel suite. Later on, after the ceremony, we’ll enjoy a nice cocktail hour and some yummy hors d’ouvres. Finally, that evening, we’ll get to taste the menu that Mr. C and I “worked” so hard on.
I think it’s safe to say that it is proper etiquette to feed your vendors, particularly those who are providing 6+ hours of service for you. But beyond that, there seems to be some gray area: What to feed them? When to feed them? And where should they sit?
I’ll start with our story…
Hello hive! It’s been a while. I apologize for being MIA. Mr. Eggplant and I have been really busy trying to sort out our housing situation at the moment. We are no longer purchasing the SF condo that we had planned on buying. There were some complications with the timing of the finished construction, our marriage date, and title issues. It’s a long and complicated story and I’ve been pretty bummed out about it lately. But I’m thankful that we still have a roof over our heads and two great jobs that provide more than we need for food on our table. Anyway, onto my post.
Mr. Eggplant and I were very blessed to have worked with some amazing vendors througout our wedding, including our photographers, Ray and Erwin of Apertura Photography. Both of them really went above and beyond in their service to us. We wanted to thank them with something extra special to show them how much we appreciated their friendship and professionalism.
I don’t think it’s a secret that weddings are expensive. In fact, at www.costofwedding.com, you can enter your zip and come up with the average wedding cost in your city. For mine, it’s $35,140. Ouch.
When I got engaged, I knew that my budget would be a small fraction of the average wedding cost, so I immediately started scouring the internet and bridal magazines for cost-saving tips. It’s really ridiculous how many bridal magazines I’ve bought because the cover said “50 ways to save money on your wedding!!!” – and yet, how much have I spent on the bridal magazines??
From all my scouring, I found some good, consistent tips:
Like I said – all great tips that I’ve heard again and again. But what happens when you want to get married in May, on a Saturday, with 130 guests, and a seated dinner in the evening???
Weddings have many moving pieces. With all the contracts, details, and communication, there is a high chance for something to go wrong. Mr. Eggplant and I were incredibly selective with our vendors, choosing only the ones we knew would provide superior customer service. I made a point to confirm our vendor contracts in the week before the wedding.
Even so, some things simply fell through the cracks. Perhaps my error was confirming everything via email, where communication mistakes easily occur. During the wedding, I definitely let go of all the mishaps. But once we returned from our honeymoon, we began addressing the open issues.
With one vendor, we did not receive many of the items that were paid for in our contract. The company was (and still is) extremely reputable, receiving only the highest praise from people that have worked with them in the past. I enjoyed communicating with them during the planning process because they were always responsive and professional. I believe that our case was a one-off situation and might even recommend this vendor to others, pending resolution of our open issues. Reputable service-oriented companies will usually be more than willing to address any problems that a customer has with their products or services. Hopefully this will be the case with us!
In recent weeks, I’ve received two sweet emails from wedding service providers that I’ve written about on the Bee. Both emails were from vendors thanking me for a positive review. One vendor (my makeup artist, Nam Vo) mentioned that she received many inquiries for her services after I posted my pictures. These vendors had never heard of Weddingbee, so I’m happy that they are now exposed to the wonderfulness of our little forum!
This also brings up the interesting topic of vendor referrals. As a bride-to-be exploring the unfamiliar world of wedding planning, I often feel like I’m Alice in Wonderland. Every aspect is foreign and requires tons of research. Where do I order candy for my candy buffet? How do I get things printed? What’s the proper wording for invitations? What is a reasonable price for everything? Referrals from other brides and my own wedding vendors have been priceless through this process. Most of my vendors have been discovered through recommendations:
I’ve often felt that brides have a disadvantage in a world of service providers charging sky-high prices and providing poor customer service. I’m begining to realize that we actually do have power in our voice. A bad review can draw business away from a vendor and also tarnish a reputation while good words can create more business. We actually have a big responsibility here in our forum!
So we’re winding down and heading into three weeks before the big day. And I must say, I’m ready. All of this preparation, organization, minor ocd… but it’s been totally worth it thus far. I can now enjoy the rest of the weeks without having to worry about the diy programs, gifts, outfits, readings, timeline, etc. Us ladies who aren’t procrastinators should be applauded and not looked upon and called bridezillas.
We met with our hotel (guest accommodations) coordinator yesterday to finalize all of our blocked rooms, rates, the conference room we’re reserving, and any other special requests that we made for our guests. She’s been so very helpful and accommodating thoughout this whole wedding process. She’s been superb. She’s answered my twenty million questions and changes to our blocked hotel suites via email. Quick too! I love it when vendors reply back quickly! At the end of the appointment she mentioned that it was great that we were so organized – prepared with good questions. I guess she’s worked in the hospitality industry for awhile and it’s rare to see couples who are like this.
So **pat on the back Mr. and Miss Apple**. It felt so good to hear that.
Korean DJ info
Seil Yang and his partner, Jeeyoung Kim. Mr. Yang can be reached at 201-376-7143. His email address is PGA0702@hotmail.com
My earrings were purchased at a store called Managrove & NY located at the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, NJ. They don’t have much on their website but I found tons of nice things at the store. If you are ever at the Garden State Mall in NJ, stop by and take a look and also, stop by the MAC counter at Nordstrom’s and say hi~!! I’m there most of the time.
My cake was provided by the Rockleigh Country Club. The bakery is called La Promenade and is located in Tenafly, NJ. It is called . I never had the time to go for a cake tasting before the wedding, but the cake turned out beautifully and tasted great.
My makeup artist was a close co-worker of mine, Evelyn Abanto. She did an amazing job. She has a private webpage on myspace. I’m currently trying to convert her to Xanga.
I just finished sending out an email to a bunch of important people here in Los Angeles, with the assumption that they will reply to me quite expeditiously. Billionaires, smooth talking politicians, and a whole lot of really busy people. And although I have no funds to offer them for their time, a few of them will volunteer 30 minutes of their time and we’ll chat like old pals.
Now then, if all of this craziness above can happen to little ‘ol me, why can’t a silly DJ or florist return my phone calls or emails?! The insanity of reaching these people who seem to be too busy to take my money from me is driving me up the wall of my tiny little studio… is it truly that hard to call people back? I think that’s why I’m completely in love with my photographer, simply because she calls and writes back with the greatest of ease and the sweetness of her heart. I want to chuck my phone at everyone else. Blegh.
Anyone else have a fun vendor rant they’d like to get off their chest? Come on… it’s Friday… let it all out!
I just started a management unit in graduate school on negotiations, and during the entire lecture and discussion on car prices and prom dates, I couldn’t stop thinking about flower prices! “What is my real bargaining zone on prices? What other information could I gather to make my negotiations better? What are my real alternatives if I don’t decide to go with my favorite florist?” (Have I shared the fact that I’m dodging voicemails from my florist until I answer my unsettled questions?? I can’t do this for too much longer!!!)
I suddenly realized how many people are completely unaware about the importance of negotiations prior to a wedding. For some, it’s like their first time at a flea market and they are forced to learn, accept and purchase goods according to the vendor’s terms. For others, it’s old hat, and they simply readjust their skills to fit the new market for goods and go merrily on their way. Just like buying a used car, for some the experience is pleasant and enjoyable while others dread it like the plague.
I’ll hopefully be able to draft up some basic negotiation tips (esp. those that apply to the wedding biz) in the next few weeks, but I’ll need your help bees! What scares you about negotiations and in what particular vendor areas???