December 29, 2007                       

 

Planning Bio

 

I can't believe I am finally married to the man of my dreams!  Our entire wedding weekend was absolutely perfect!!  The only thing I would have changed would be to make time stand still!  If you have any questions, please feel free to page me on the Chicago board...

Our Album

 

The Day Before

Our girly day consisted of manis & pedis and lunch with the bridesmaids and moms.  We went to Heavenly Massage in Schaumburg and had the room all to ourselves.  We then headed to Bahama Breeze for a nice leisurely lunch.  One of the BMs made us go around the table and share the thing we were most looking forward to at the wedding.  It was such a nice and relaxing day!

The Rehearsal

 

 The rehearsal was held at the StoneGate and then we headed to Jersey's Pizza & Grill for the Rehearsal Dinner.  It was the second best night of our lives (after the wedding of course!).  It was a night full of eating, drinking, laughing, crying, and toasting.  My BMs gave us the best gift ever.  They made a video for us that cannot even be put into words.  They had interviews from our family members, friends, bosses, my old cheerleading coach, etc.  They mixed them in with childhood pics and music.  It was amazing and we were both completely surprised!! 

Getting Ready

   

                       

   The girls, moms, and my family got ready at the Hyatt Place in Hoffman Estates.  It was actually a very relaxing morning!  My brother (Man of Honor) went and picked up sandwich platters from Dominick's.  With Theodora on hair and Sonia on makeup, I knew we'd all look hot!  After that we headed to The StoneGate for pictures!

Picture Time

   

 

  

                                            

 Eric and I saw each other before hand, so that we could get all of our pictures out of the way.  I know a lot of couples debate whether or not they should break this tradition.  I have to say, it was one of the best decisions we could have ever made!  It was still a special moment for the two of us and it relieved a lot of pressure.  Also, it allowed us to enjoy our cocktail hour and reception, because we weren't pulled for any pictures.

The Ceremony

 

  

     

     

  

Our ceremony was definitely full of emotions.  I was either laughing or crying the entire time!  I lost it when Eric started crying during the vows and my brother had to hand us tissue.  Other than that, I had a huge smile on my face.  We were both so happy...

The Reception

 

   

 

 

 

The reception was the time of our lives, but like people say, it really went by much too quickly!

 

Vendor Reviews

Venue: The StoneGate.....A

We fell in love with the StoneGate the second we stepped inside.  It is definitely on the higher end for suburban banquet halls, but it is money well spent.  Everyone there takes their job seriously and takes pride in what they do.  The tasting was absolutely fabulous; the food was delicious and the chef was very willing to work with you.  They bring you into the kitchen and show you how the food is prepared, while you enjoy 8 different bottles of wine.  The food on the night of the wedding was not quite as good, but I guess that's what happens when you are serving hundreds of people. 

The people at the StoneGate were very accomodating the entire night and kept checking up on us.  We had both our ceremony and reception there with an hour of cocktails in between.  The setup of both were beautiful and the night ran flawlessly.  We got many compliments and my one of my aunts told my uncle she wants to get married again, so she could have her wedding there!! = )

DJ: Sounds Abound (Danny Diebold).....A+

Danny was FANTASTIC!  He kept the dance floor packed the entire night and really read the crowd.  He started off with older music and then it got younger as the night went on (which is what we wanted).  He played every single song we asked for and was non-cheesy, which again is what we asked for.  We left a majority of the music choices up to him so he could just do his thing.  We didn't even notice him much of the night, which in my opinion, is one sign of a good DJ.  Danny was very professional and was like having a second wedding coordinator, as he was willing to help with anything!  He even came and personally checked up on us a couple times to see if we needed anything...food, drink, etc.  

The company of Sounds Abound was also great to work with.  They were extremely professional from the first consultation to the last.  There location in Naperville is in a wedding shop, which is kind of fun.  They have some cute shirts, favors, etc.  They also have about 15 books of invitations that you get at a discounted price if you use their services.  I already had my heart set on custom-made invites or we would have definitely ordered from them.  The online planning tool was wonderful as well!

Florist: Artistic Floral Design.....A-

Valerie from Artistic Floral takes her job very seriously.  She is definitely a perfectionist and has creative ideas.  If you check out her website, she has tons of pictures!  When I met with her, I didn't really know what we wanted.  I brought some pictures and looked through tons of hers.  She was full of great ideas!  She also has everything available to rent...vases, aisle runners, pedastals, huppahs...  She is definitely on the high end, but she is a full service florist.  She helped set everything up at the ceremony and then stayed to move it all for the reception.  Both looked breathtaking.  I pictured the centerpieces to be a little fuller, but other than that, everything was great!  I got a ton of compliments on the flowers.

DOC: Amy Vaught.....A+

Amy was a lifesaver!!  We were not sure about hiring a day of coordinator at all, but Amy was definitely worth the money.   I had a lot of little details that I wanted to pull off on the day of the wedding (just like most of you Knotties), and they would not have been possible without her.  I am very much a perfectionist so I was a little hesitant to turn everything over to someone else, but everything was definitely in good hands.  Amy is ultra organized and she made me feel at ease every time I talked with her.  The day of the wedding, she worked her butt off to set up, clean up, etc.  For example, I had a candy buffet instead of favors and she set it all up during dinner beautifully and packed it all up at midnight when the guests had left.  She then brought all the stuff (jars, table numbers, gifts, etc.) to our hotel room so we didn't have to worry about a thing.  If she wasn't there, we would have been cleaning everything up ourselves with the help of our families.

Amy was not over-bearing at all as I've heard many coordinators can be, but was always around when I needed her.  The bridal party and our parents felt very comfortable with her and all turned to her with questions throughout the weekend.  Everyone was able to meet her at the rehearsal the night before, which was very nice.  All my vendors loved working with Amy, which is also very important (especially if you are going to be using her for full coordination)!  Many times vendors do not like when someone has a coordinator (a few of mine hinted that to me), but they all had positive things to say about Amy.  She has a lot of positive relationships with vendors, which is very helpful.
 
Now that I've rambled a ton, I will just say that I truly feel that a great deal of my wedding's success can be attributed to Amy's hard work.  I know that sounds corny, but she really pulled everything together!  I could not imagine worrying about everything that night or turning to my parents or bridal party...I wanted them to enjoy the evening too!  Also, she was very reasonable compared to other coordinators I met with. 

Officiant: Reverend Rehnberg (Rent-a-Rev).....A

Reverend Jim was wonderful!  We met with him once for about two hours and then I kept in touch with him up until the wedding.  He definitely worked hard to customize our ceremony for us.  Since Eric is Jewish and I am Catholic, he allowed us to incorporate some elements of both our religions.  He made us laugh throughout the ceremony, but also made us cry.  We received numerous compliments about him throughout the night, which was especially significant coming from our Catholic and Jewish relatives!

Photographer: Fred Fox (Rich).....C+

I definitely regretted booking Fred Fox after becoming more active on the Knot.  They are not as photo journalistic as many independent photographers, but the pictures still turned out pretty good.  Rich was really nice all night and listened to what I wanted.  He tried to get more in-action shots, but it was not his forte.  Also, he did not get a lot of pictures I would've liked. I guess I should have been more specific with an exact list, but many of them I thought were just common sense.  He did not take a single pic during cocktail hour.  Where the heck was he?  Not with us, because we did all our pics before hand and were there talking with our guests.  All the pictures from later in the night were kind of pointless.  They were all dancing pics with over 10 people in each picture, so you can't really see any faces or anything.  I had plenty of pictures to choose for the album and was not completely disappointed.  I like the way the digital album turned out and the editors were willing to work with me to make changes.

Videographer: Fred Fox (Joe).....B+

 Joe was great!  I never really noticed him, yet he was always there.  We love the video!  It was pretty pricey, but we both feel it was worth it.  The editing was not over the top but truly captured the essence of our day.  It will be so much fun to show the highlights of our wedding to our children some day!

Hair Stylist: Theodora (bridalhairstylist.com).....B+

Theodora did hair for me, my 4 bridesmaids, and our moms.  All of our hair looked great and stayed all evening.  I was a little disappointed that my hair didn't look exactly like my trial, but I ended up liking it a lot.  She is very blunt, which turned off a couple of my BMs.

Makeup Artist: Sonia Roselli.....A

Sonia rocked!  She worked quickly and made us all look like supermodels.  She is very good at what she does, and I definitely recommend the air brush.  It feels so light, yet it stays on the entire night.  I do not wear a lot of makeup, so I would be the first to say if it felt caked on or heavy.  It didn't; it felt wonderful!   She also put fake lashes on me and the BMs, which made us all feel very glamorous.  She said would last up to a week, but a couple of mine came off the next morning so I yanked them all off.  Also, she didn't bring me the custom lipgloss...she said she forgot it on her table and would send it but I never received it...oh well = (

Hotel Block: Hyatt Place, Hoffman Estates.....B+

This hotel is gorgeous.  It was recently fully remodeled and the rooms are awesome...very spacious and modern with a large sectional couch and a plasma TV.  They included shuttles for the BP earlier in the day and then for the guests to and from the wedding.  They also included a private room for breakfast, nothing special but it was nice to see everyone one last time.  I was a little annoyed that the rates started dropping lower than my wedding rate, but they lowered it once I called.  Lynda, their sales manager, was kind of hard to get a hold of and not the most pleasant, but she was fine.

Dress/Alterations: Brides by Demetrios.....B

I absolutely loved my dress, but the people there are a little flakey.  They "lost" my paperwork, called me that my dress was in when I had already had my second fitting, and never seemed to know what was going on.  I dreaded going there, because everything took so long.  The good news is my dress was beautiful and the alterations were perfect.  That's the important part!!

Tuxedos: Afterhours.....C

This place has great prices, a nice selection, but the people are not so intelligent.  We had lots of problems.  They were telling our GMs that our account had been deleted and 2 guys tuxes didn't fit.  I was on the phone a lot with them.  Everything got settled and the tuxes looked great!

Bridesmaid dresses: NetBride.....A

I ordered our Bill Levkoff dresses from NetBride.  I was definitely hesitant, but it saved my girls $80 each!  The dresses came a month early in perfect condition!

Invitations: Invitations by Gina.....B

Our invitations were beautiful and we received tons of compliments on them!  I think GIna however has spread herself too thin.  If you are considering working with her, allow more time than you would expect.  She is very hard to get a hold of and she is always running behind. 

Rehearsal Dinner: Jersey's Pizza and Grill.....A-

I loved this place for our rehearsal dinner!  Jersey's is an upscale sports bar in Hoffman Estates with great food.  It is only a mile from the StoneGate.  They have a private room that comfortably fits 50-75.  The owner was very flexible and the staff was great!  I definitely recommend having a casual rehearsal dinner, especially if you are having a really formal wedding.  It was such fun!

Travel Agent: Beach Bum Vacations (Robert).....A

It was wonderful working with Robert!  He booked our week long stay in Mexico.  He highly recommended the place and was full of useful information.  It was nice to have everything (flight, shuttles, resort) done for us.

Honeymoon: El Dorado Royale, Riviera Maya.....A

This place is paradise on earth!  Everything was beautiful and the food was delicious...the best we have ever eaten!  It is considered a gourmet all-inclusive, and since we both love food, it was perfect for us!  The people there are super friendly and the place is sparkling clean.  There are 12 pools, 10 bars, and 10 restaurants, but the place doesn't feel huge.  We would love to go back for an anniversary!!  See pics below...

Others....

  • Cake topper....EBay seller JBrazzi
  • Headband....Bridal Crowns and Treasures
  • Garter.....EBay seller Kristi's Charmed Life
  • Customized stickers.....EBay seller Dollfacecharms
  • Photo stamps.....zazzle.com
  • Embroidered robes.....Ebay seller Smartypantscustoms
  • Candy for candy buffet.....Sam's Club and bulkfoods.com

Honeymoon

We didn't want to go home and return to reality...