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Tyson and Mara
10.12.08
 
Welcome!
We had such an amazing day, with 80 degree temperatures (in mid-October, go figure!) and lots of sunshine.  Just about everything went as planned, and we feel very lucky to have shared this day with our closest family and friends!
Credit for all photos on this page goes to Marcin Harla Photography.
 
 
The Anticipation.....
 
Yes, I was a 3-shoe bride.  I didn't plan it this way, but I ended up with one pair for the ceremony, one pair of ballroom dance shoes for the reception, and one pair of flats for when my feet got tired!
 
  
 
 One of my favorite pictures.....
 Normally I would never buy Tyson cufflinks, but these were just too perfect.....
 
 
 
The Meeting.....
 
We decided to meet before the ceremony to get some of our pictures out of the way.....
 
 These are my favorites from the whole day.....
 
 I am completely in love with this man!
 
Our DIY flowers.....
 
 
I love that my 3-yr-old niece has already mastered the "skinny arm pose".....
  
 
 
  
The Exchange of Vows.....
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 Ahhhh, bliss!
 Making it official.....
 
Such a great shot of Ty's Dad.....
 
 
 
The Newlyweds.....
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
The Details.....
 
Everything here is DIY.....
     
  
 I love the shots taken later in the evening.....
 
 
 
 I love Cobblestone.....

 
 
The Celebration.....
 
One of my favorite moments throughout the day was our grand entrance.  Not only were people standing all around the main floor, but they lined the balcony of the loft as well.  We were surrounded by cheering people, it was amazing! 
  
Mmmmmmm, red velvet.....
 
  
 
  
 The only two kids at the wedding managed to stay out on the dance floor ALL NIGHT.....
 
 Instead of doing the bridal dance first, we borrowed an idea from our caterer and played two fast songs first to get everyone out on the dance floor and kick off the party.  And it just isn't a party without the Soul Train dance line.....
 
 
 We took private ballroom dance lessons and our instructor choreographed our first dance to "Kissing You" by Desiree.....
 
 

Apparently we did a great job!
We combined the father/daughter and mother/son dances to "Ode to My Family" by The Cranberries.
I danced with my Dad and Step-Dad.....


Tyson danced with his Mom, and then spur-of-the-moment, took my Step-Mom and Mom for a twirl too!


Just a sampling of the fun that ensued that night.....
 And the last frame of the evening - my crazy family (and this isn't even half of them!).....


 
 
 
 
Vendor Reviews
 
Overall, our vendors were fantastic.  Not only did they do an amazing job,
but we actually like them all as individual people, too!
For vendor contact information, please page me (mardoll10) on the Detroit Nest board.
 
 
Ceremony and Reception Location:  Cobblestone Farm   A-
                Cobblestone is a gorgeous location, and overall everything was great.  They can be a little tough to get a hold of at times since they have irregular hours, but were usually good about follow-up.  We did have a couple minor problems with them.  First, we arrived the day before our wedding, during their open tour hours for our rehearsal (as discussed with them).  My officiant was informed that there was a children's halloween event the same day as our wedding, and that they would be parading the children in costume through our ceremony site at 3:30pm (ceremony was scheduled at 4:00pm).  I asked the Barn attendant what was going on, and she was utterly clueless.  We found out then that Cobblestone BARN and Cobblestone FARMHOUSE are apparently two separate venues run by two separate organizations, and they don't communicate with each other.  The man in charge of the farmhouse assured my officiant that their event would be finished by 3:30 or 4:00pm, but I didn't appreciate finding this out the day before the wedding.  Luckily the kids didn't get in the way of our pre-ceremony set-up, and were gone by the time guests arrived, but that would have been interesting to witness a costume parade while we said our vows!  The second problem that came up was that they set up the wrong number of chairs at each table in the reception area.  I specified on my diagram how many chairs per table (most had 8), and they put 10 chairs at every table anyway.  My caterer didn't know how many chairs were supposed to be at each table, so they left them, and we had 2+ empty seats at every table during the reception.  Annoying, but it could have been worse.  Other than that, we LOVED the location, and saved a ton of money by bringing in our own food, alcohol, and decorations.
Officiant:  Kirk Haas, Secular Ceremony   A+
            Kirk was nothing but helpful throughout the planning process.  He gave us the option of using a pre-made ceremony, writing our own, or any combination of the two; and he helped us work out the kinks when we couldn't find the right wording for things.  He was always on time, well prepared, and efficient.  Definitely would recommend!
 
  
Caterer/Event Planner:  Effortless Entertaining   A-
            From our very first meeting, I knew Donnie (the owner) would be perfect for us.  He's eccentric, fun, and full of great ideas......and he wasn't afraid of our tight budget.  He was also familiar with the intricacies of Cobblestone which helped a TON.  He was extremely helpful throughout the entire planning process!  He took care of all our food and rentals (linens, china, glassware, etc), provided a bartender, and did most of the setup/cleanup.  The day of our wedding, everyone RAVED about how delicious the food was!  The only reason I gave him an A- is because he was rude to a few of the people who came to help set up for the reception the day of the wedding.  I'm not sure if he was just stressed or what, but they told me he was snippy and controlling (I was not there during the setup).  However I personally didn't notice anything like that the day of (thank goodness!), and he's always been great to me.
 
 
Cake:  Kay's Cakes   A
            Kay makes cakes out of her home and did a fabulous job!  Her prices are incredible for what you get, and she's SO creative!  I gave her an inspiration picture to work from, and the final product completely surpassed my expectations in terms of beauty....and it was delicious too!  I would definitely recommend her!
 
  
Photographer:  Marcin Harla Photography   B
            When Tyson and I walked out of Marcin's house after meeting with him for the first time, we were both smiling.  We looked at each other, and Tyson said, "well, I'm set."  And I completely agreed.  His work is flawless, and he's a master of lighting.  We fell in love with his photojournalistic style. 
            The day of the wedding Marcin and his wife, Marzena, were right on time and got straight to work.  They did such a great job, and other than the formal shots, they were so unobtrusive, we barely noticed them all night (which is exactly what we wanted).  They even stayed past their alloted time to get a huge family portrait on the dance floor.  We're so excited to see our pictures!!
            UPDATE, 11/20/08:  Marcin uploaded all our photos to an online gallery about 5 weeks after the wedding (exactly as promised).  I admit that even though I LOVED the photos he posted on his blog, I was disappointed with the final result.  Our package was for 7 hours of photography, and we only ended up with 400 photos.  100 of those were dancing pics (taken during the last hour of the 7), and about 50 of them were detail shots.......you do the math.  We didn't get nearly as many photos as I thought we would.  My other main issue with the shots was the angle from which most were taken.  Almost ALL the candid shots of Tyson and I show the back of one of our heads.  There is not a single picture of the two of us either facing each other or facing the camera and smiling.  I feel like the joy of the day got lost.
            Don't get me wrong, Marcin takes amazingly beautiful photos, and I absolutely LOVE the pictures that we do have.  But I honestly feel like something is missing.  We didn't get anything resembling a wedding portrait, no pics of our rings, etc, and I can't help but feel sad about it.  I also found out that Marcin deletes photos on the spot, and I really wish he would have just given them ALL to us and let us decide which ones were "keepers".  I can't blame Marcin entirely, though.  I didn't give him a list of "must-take" photos, I just assumed that he would capture those "traditional" wedding images.  We met with Marcin and explained our feelings, and he offered to do another session with us free of charge.  We'll do it, but it won't be the same as our wedding day.  I'll post another update after that session.
            At the end of the day, I can't deny the fact that Marcin is an exceptionally talented photographer.  Everyone who sees our photos raves about how wonderful they are.  I would still recommend him to any bride, but with a note of caution-----just make sure you understand exactly what you get with your package (number of photos, etc), and be VERY specific about what pictures you want taken.
            UPDATE, 12/3/09:  Marcin did follow through with our extra session, and we ended up scheduling it right after our first anniversary.  I met with him to go over ideas, to make sure we got it right this time.  I had about 10 pages full of dozens of inspiration photos to show him.  We talked about location ideas, and ended up deciding to go to Mill Race Park in Northville.  The short version of the story is that we scheduled a session for a Monday afternoon, and Tyson and I both took the day off work.  The Saturday before I emailed him to confirm, and didn't hear back.  Sunday I left a message for him to confirm.  He called back Sunday evening at 7:30pm and left a voicemail saying he needed to reschedule for Tuesday because he didn't have anyone to watch his daughter.  Errrr.....you're telling me this NOW??  After several emails exchanged, I expressed that I already had hair and makeup appointments, my nails were done, my bouquet was sitting in the kitchen, we had taken the day off work....we couldn't afford to reschedule.  He ended up making it work, but we met an hour later than we had originally planned, and I could have gone without the added stress. 
            I ended up forgetting to bring my sheets of inspiration photos with me, but we still got a ton of good shots.  All-in-all, after all the drama of it, I was honestly just happy to have it over and done with.  Here is my take on Marcin:  he takes amazing photos.  Seriously gorgeous.  However he is of the mindset that it is better to have very few amazing shots, than to have hundreds of mediochre ones.  While I agree to an extent, I think a wedding photographer needs to be able to balance the two.  I would rather have 10 mediochre shots of something than zero, because the ONE photo he took didn't turn out right.  I had to be very specific about what I wanted for our extra session, and he did abide by my wishes.  We ended up with 375 photos from our ~2 hour session (whereas our 7 hour wedding day only got us ~400).  
            Marcin is NOT into traditional, posed photography.....which is fine, but it also means that if you want any shots like that, you're on your own.  He will shoot them, but wasn't able to give us any direction about how to stand, whether we looked stupid or not, etc.  We're not exactly models, so it was awkward for us to try and figure it out on our own.  I also noticed that he never once stopped to make sure that my dress/veil was straight and looked nice.  Not a huge deal, but it made it clear that his focus was 100% on lighting, and not on us.
            If you are considering Marcin, I would recommend asking to see an entire wedding that he has done, so you can get an idea of what you are likely to get.  If you're ok with that, cool.  If not, then you have to be VERY detailed about what you want from him and what you expect.  You're guaranteed to have some amazing photos, but if you have any ideas in your mind of what you're looking for, make sure you speak up.
  
                        Wedding:         One Year Later:

Videographer:  Two Penny Productions   A+
            Originally we had decided to skip the video.....every one I've ever seen was corny, and I just couldn't imagine myself wanting to watch it 5 years from now.  However about a month before the wedding I had second thoughts.....we'd spent a lot of time and money on dance lessons, and would have nothing to remember it by (pictures never do it justice).  Plus I kept hearing from other brides who didn't have video that they regretted it because the day flies by.  So I started searching.  I checked out Two Penny on a recommendation from another Knottie (Jen&Bert), and absolutely LOVED the samples on their site.  Not your typical wedding video, they were artistic and edgy.  They worked with our last-minute budget, and I booked them right away.
            The guys there are amazing.  They're young, fun, and full of ideas!  They were incredibly inconspicuous on the wedding day which was awesome.  We can't wait to see our video!
            UPDATE, 3/27/09:  We received our video, and are incredibly happy with the results!  I can't believe we almost didn't book a videographer!  After being a tad disappointed with our wedding photos, waiting for our video made me nervous.  But Two Penny lived up to every expectation I had, even surpassing them.  I have emailed back and forth with Adam several times as he kept me posted on their progress and sent me snippets of video.  There were a few changes I wanted to make, and he was gracious and wonderful about everything.  He never made me feel like I was nit-picking, he actually expressed thanks for being honest with them and giving feedback.  Because we booked so last minute, we were able to negotiate a little on their package/price.  I've also recently learned that their prices have gone up.  Despite that, I would gladly have payed full price in retrospect - I'd even pay their new higher price!  These three guys are really enthusiastic about what they do, and they work hard to make sure you're happy.  I would recommend them in a heartbeat!
 
 
DJ:  Brendan Pfaff, Best DJ   A+
            I booked Brendan on the spot because I was so impressed with his knowledge of music, and the price was a steal!  He was easy to work with in the planning stages, and did a perfect job the day of.  He played our ceremony music as well as reception music, and did a great job of working off my playlist, handling requests, and keeping the party going.  If I made a request, he responded immediately and with ease.  He and his assistant even got out on the floor a few times!  Several guests raved about him.  I'd highly recommend him!  (Brendan is on the left in the pics.)
 
 
Bridal Gown:  Julie's Bridal Imports, Birmingham   C-
            I had a bad experience getting my dress here.  I showed up one afternoon without an appointment (because their website says you don't need one), and they huffed and puffed about helping me.  I was content to look around on my own, but eventually a sales lady came to help me out.  Her name was Sarah, and it was painstakingly obvious that she wasn't happy about having to help me.  She kept rolling her eyes, huffing, and disagreeing with me.  I had to ask at least 5 times to try on a dress that was in a window display before she reluctantly took it down for me (then she tried to play it off like she was excited for me to try it on).  She was rude and unaccommodating.  Fortunately (and unfortunately), I found THE ONE while I was there, and it was a sample off the rack.  The only reason I bought it from her was because it was discontinued and I'd never see it again elsewhere.
            That said, I gave them a C- and not an F because after Sarah was out of the picture, things were great.  The owner, Amy, was super nice.  I took my dress to their Plymouth location to be pressed (for free), and the ladies there were also super nice.
 
  
Tuxedos:  President Tuxedo   A
            We really wanted brown tuxes, and President was the only place that had them, so that's where we went.  We decided to do a "groom trial", where they order the whole tux ensemble for the groom to test out before the wedding.....I HIGHLY recommend doing this if you can (it sounded like they may be discontinuing this practice).  We ended up having to do 2 trials because the first guy measured Tyson all wrong.  But in the end, it went smoothly.  We had a couple out-of-town men who called in their measurements to our local shop and it worked out well.  The tuxes were ready with no problems, and the guys looked fabulous!
 

Bridesmaid Dresses:  HouseofBrides.com   A+
            I let my girls choose their own dresses and order from wherever they wanted.  Both of them ended up ordering from the House of Brides website.  They saved a ton of cash, the dresses arrived in less than the estimated time, and they fit great!
 

Hair:  Dawn Archer   A+
            Dawn has been our "family" hairdresser since I was a kid.  She came out to our B&B to do hair for me and my 2 bridesmaids.  Everyone loved their hair, and it held up all night long! 
 
  
Make-up:  Jackie Milot   A+
            Jackie is my caterer's aunt, and was recommended by Donnie when I was in a pinch to find a make-up artist for less than $50 per person.  Jackie also came out to us on the wedding day and did an amazing job on our make-up!
 
 
 Photobooth:  Rock the Booth   A
            We had a photobooth at the wedding and used it as part of the guestbook.  Everyone raved at how awesome it was, and had so much fun using it.  It was definitely one of the most memorable parts of the wedding!
 
 
Honeymoon:  Carnival Cruise, Western Caribbean   A-
            The cruise was amazing.  We loved that we could unpack ONCE, and still visit 4 amazing locations!  The only reason I gave it an A- was because the weather was overcast most of the time, and two of our shore excursions got cancelled because of it (although we just scheduled different ones instead).  I'd definitely recommend cruising as a way to see several places without having to plan any of it yourself!
  
 
Dance Lessons:  Natasha Vail   A+
            We worked with Natasha to choreograph our first dance together.  She made Tyson -- who is not at all graceful -- look like a wonderful dancer!  Enough said!  Everyone loved our first dance.
 
 
Candy:  MetroCandy.com  A
            Candy for a buffet can be SO expensive.  I ordered online from Metro Candy because even with shipping, they were STILL cheaper than any store I'd been in.  They shipped the candy super fast, and it arrived well-packaged.  The box with chocolate items even had an ice pack to prevent melting.  I highly recommend for candy buffets!
 
 
Gown Preservation:  Affordable Preservation Co.  A-           
               I decided to use an online company to have my dress cleaned and preserved because I hadn't heard great things about local drycleaners, and honestly, they were so much cheaper online.  There are two major players - Affordable Preservation Co and WedClean.  I went with Affordable Preservation because I couldn't find a bad review about them, and I found one or two negative experiences with WedClean.....I also liked the upgraded package they offer, plus they include several accessories for free (shoes, veil, etc).
            I bought the package online, and they sent me everything I needed to ship the dress to them, including the box and packing tape.  I took a bunch of "before" photos because my dress was really dirty after wearing it twice and had several stains on it (wine, dirt, and toothpaste).  I mailed it to them, and received confirmation via email that they received it.  I think it was about 10 weeks before they shipped it back.  One of my only complaints is that you don't hear anything from them in the interim time, nor do you ever get feedback about what happened with your dress.  They simply notify you that it is ready and ship it back.
              It arrived in a nice box, folded up perfectly.  Technically you're not allowed to take the dress out of the box after preservation or it voids their warranty (you can open the box, but not take the dress out), but I wanted to inspect it because of all the stains, so I opened the box and took it partially out.  I was honestly amazed!  They got almost every stain out.....the hemline was spotless, the wine stain was gone, it was beautiful!  The only thing that was still there was the toothpaste (it was a slight splattering of it on the front of the dress).  You could only see it if you moved the dress so that the light reflected off of the stains. 
             Because of the lack of communication about cleaning the dress, I wasn't sure if they couldn't get the stains out, or if they just didn't see them there (they aren't very noticeable unless you're looking for it).  So I called up the company and explained the situation.  They were so nice about it!  They had me box up the dress again, and had UPS come back to get it.  So it went back to Affordable Preservation for another round.  Once again, I didn't receive any communication about it, but several weeks later I was notified that it was being shipped back to me.  It arrived once again, and I inspected it through the window on the box (the stains were right on the front, so I didn't need to open the box to see them).  Unfortunately they were still there, and unfortunately (once again) there was no communication about the stains. 
            A few weeks later, I got a survey from them via email asking for feedback.  I gave them high ratings, but commented that I was disappointed in their communication.  I still didn't know what happened with the toothpaste stains.  The next day I received an email stating that they were sorry about the lack of communication, and someone would be in touch to follow up.  A week or two later, I received a letter in the mail from the president of the company, apologizing again.  He said that they typically send a letter along with a dress with stains, explaining that they weren't removable without damaging the dress, but somehow it was forgotten on my order.  I felt a lot better that it was finally addressed!
            Overall, despite the lack of communication, I think they did an awesome job of cleaning the dress.  It sounds like my case was the exception (and not the rule) in terms of communication.  I'd definitely recommend them to others, and would use them again myself (not that I'll ever need to).  :)