Venue: Bedford Village Inn - A+
We chose BVI as it was convenient to the airport, the highways, and allowed us to have the ceremony and reception on site. We booked and worked with Michelle through the planning process, and she was great at making sure every last detail was accounted for. On the day of the wedding, we were assigned a coordinator (Jillian) and an assistant (Patti). Jillian kept the events of the day moving, and Patti was assigned to cater to to the needs of the bridal party. Both of the women were kind, expedient, discreet, and wonderful through the whole day.
We had our wedding on a Sunday to keep costs down. The minimum amount required to spend is a lot less than a Friday or Saturday, AND you do not have an obligation to rent all the rooms at the inn as you would on the other two days (as long as your event ends by 8:00PM). We used the Estate Package that they offer on their website which took a lot of hassle out of the planning process.
Florist: PJ's Flowers & Antiques - A+
We booked Patrick from PJ's since he regularly decorates at BVI and is one of their preferred vendors. He allowed us to supply our own centerpiece stands that I had purchased on eBay which helped save money on rental costs, and he allowed me to come in numerous times to talk about designs. Our centerpieces were included as part of the package from Bedford Village Inn, but we also ordered our personal flowers through Patrick. I found his prices to be competitive with other local florists, and his design work to be unique. My centerpieces ended up being absolutely INCREDIBLE and quite talked about! When my mother made some additional flower arrangements the night before the wedding with a bulk order of roses I bought off of another Knottie, Patrick even gave my mom some extra greens to use and picked up the arrangements at the house to deliver to the venue the day of the wedding.
My only minor issue was that the groom's bout was not a real flower. I had wanted to use a gardenia originally, but knowing that they are extremely fragile when cut and don't last long, Patrick offered me the alternative to use a white orchid. I was sold on the idea and went with it. I went to the shop the day before the wedding to preview the flowers and didn't even notice it was fake. It didn't dawn on me until during the formal photos after the ceremony! My husband didn't know either, and had kept the flower in the fridge up until the moment of the wedding because it looked so real! Knowing that Patrick had some awesome silks available, I would have rather gone with a fake gardenia. All in all, a minor annoyance, but one I would have liked to have known about ahead of time.
Photographer: A Photographic Memory - A+
By far, our most favorite vendor. We were lucky enough to have Dave, Mandy, and Adam all shoot at our wedding. Their work speaks for itself, but their customer service went above and beyond anything we could have expected. Dave and Adam photographed our engagement shoot down in Newport, RI after a very long, and hot drive. Even though they had an appointment to keep back in NH later that evening, they didn't rush us one bit, and dealt with us personally and professionally on a day that my husband and I were having major family issues. Samples of our e-pics are posted here . We are so fortunate to know them and to have worked with them, and we are looking forward to seeing them again for the design process for our albums.
Wedding Rings: Barmakian Jewelers - A+
My husband bought my engagement ring at Barmakian, apparently after meeting with several different jewelers. They were willing to customize the band he picked to transform it into an engagement ring style he had seen elsewhere. We went back on a sale day to buy the matching wedding ring for me, and then I purchased his ring at their holiday party sale a month or two later.
When I bought my husband's ring, the price of platinum (and all metals) was in a major state of flux. Barmakian's gave us a quote on the ring, but would not have the actual price until the day the ring was cast. A month later when the ring came in, the price had gone up significantly higher than the quote, and even with the sale discount applied, it was a bit too much. Our jeweler was able to negotiate to split the difference of the cost which helped save me quite a bit of money during the holiday months. Honestly, the ring is amazing, and worth every penny.
JP: Jack McKillop (a personal friend) - A+
If you are in need of an officiant, I can only say wonderful things about Jack. He is by far one of the funniest people I know, but can also be one of the most serious. It was this quirky quality I knew and loved about him that made me ask if he would be able to perform our ceremony. He sent me loads of material since he knew I wanted to draft my own ceremony and helped quite a bit with the phrasing, wording, and timing of it. During the planning process, he was away on business but kept in touch through e-mail. Jack flew back from England just to perform our wedding, and he left literally right after the end of the ceremony. We missed having him at the reception, but business is business and we were grateful just to have him there. If you would like his contact information, please let me know.
Ceremony Music & DJ: George Parker (classical guitar/DJ) - A+
I met George at a bridal show and instantly loved his sound. My mother is a music teacher and plays classical guitar, so to hear her say that she was impressed by his technique really encouraged me to sign up with him. He has an incredible repertoire of classical and modern music. When I found out he did DJ service as well, I knew he was perfect for us. Our wedding was a mostly older crowd, and I was afraid to hire some of the other young DJs out there that would be too comical and abrasive.
I had requested, and George learned a song for me to walk down the aisle to. I can still hear it in my head; just absolutely beautiful. As for the rest of the ceremony music, I was comfortable enough to let him decide what would be right to play since I couldn't make up my mind. Halfway through the ceremony when the passing of the rings was taking a little longer than expected, he caught my eye and visually questioned me if I wanted him to play a little background music. It was the perfect save! The guests loved him during cocktail hour, and he took requests to keep the dancing going the rest of the night.
Dress/Veil: Madeleine's Daughter Sales - A+ Alterations - B+
Gown: Pronovias "Nejar" - A+
I wasn't planning on buying my gown the day I did, but I had fantastic customer service from my salesgirl, Makenzie, and the stock choices were by far, better than anywhere else I had been. Makenzie was patient, courteous, and brutally honest which I completely appreciated. When I still wasn't 100% sold on the dress I thought I wanted, mostly because I wasn't sure what else they were hiding from me, she snuck me out back to the stock room to peek at everything they had (a major no-no since they usually only "pull" gowns for you to try on based on your parameters: style, price, etc.). It was then that I was sure I had made the right choice. I bought my dress on a trunk show day, which was a crazy experience in and of itself. It was a great opportunity to meet with the Pronovias reps on hand to get some ideas about my gown and a few questions answered. I also got a 10% discount... every little bit helps!
I went back on another trunk show day to buy my veil, and met with Steve, the veil designer for Malis Henderson. I loved, loved, loved, being a part of the design process, and even though my veil looks so simple, there was so much that went into it. I don't regret it a single bit that I spent as much as I did, because I truly think I loved the idea of the veil (as well as the actual thing) more than the gown. It was really what made me feel the most "bride-like".
As for alterations, I had to travel a distance each and every time I went. For my first fitting, they booked me for an hour and a half, and then I was only seen for 5 minutes. I understand there isn't much you can do the first time, especially if the dress doesn't fit yet, but I was hoping to go over more details about the later decisions that were going to be needed (straps, bustle, hemming), but I was dismissed since she couldn't possibly spend time with me if the dress wouldn't go over my hips. At later appointments, everything else went okay (I believe I went 4-5 times in all), until the last fitting. When I showed up, I found that the gown was cut short, and being the raw edge type of gown that it is with four layers of sheer material, there wasn't anything that could be done. This was a week before my wedding. I immediately bought new shoes with a shorter heel, but couldn't bring myself to wear them since I spent so much on the other ones that I loved and that matched perfectly. I ended up wearing my original shoes and sort of modified my posture to make up for the hem difference. The alterations were a bit costly there, even for a labor intensive gown like my own.
I've always been given excellent customer service each time I've called or visited, so I still highly recommend them.
Bridesmaid's Dresses: NetBride (Wtoo #207)- A+
After an exhaustive search, we found the best gowns for the girls to wear. At all of my local bridal shops, the gown was listed for over $250. I contacted NetBride for a quote, and even with adding a rush order charge (since I was very last minute and the earthquake in China had a lot of dressmakers on a delayed schedule), the price was still significantly cheaper. For a small price, I could have the girl's dresses shipped directly to them in Colorado and Massachusetts. The only thing that concerned me is that their website didn't have a secure connection for a tranaction (or so my internet browsers kept telling me), so I ended up faxing in my order. They kept me up to date with confirmations and shipping information.
Cake: Frederick's Pastries - A+
We've always gone to Frederick's for our pastry needs, so when our venue listed them as a cake option, we signed them up. My husband is the one with the sweet tooth, and picked out a traditional white almond pound cake with a chocolate and raspberry filling and buttercream frosting. When they called to confirm the order a day or two before the wedding, the decorator told me how excited she was to do a traditional cake, since recently everyone had been ordering custom and elaborate fondant creations. It was beautiful, and tasty (so I've been told). I had my bite in front of the crowd, and then my husband later happily finished my piece for me. :)
Linens: Divine Linen Rentals - B+
Chair covers and sashes were included in our package from Bedford Village Inn, but we also separately rented table overlays from Divine Linen. When I had gone in for a consultation, the owner Jay was fantastic. He spent a lot of time with us until we were happy with our choice. A few months before the wedding, we had a change of heart in color and selected an olive green organza overlay (sight unseen). We were assured it was on order and they would send us a sample as soon as it came in. About a week before the wedding when I still hadn't heard back, I spoke to one of the staff there and she kept telling me that what they had in stock was a crushed velvet green overlay (certainly not what I wanted). I checked my contract in case I had made a mistake, but I hadn't. They invited me in to see the velvet one in case I wanted to use it. After seeing it, I was 100% sure that it wasn't what we had discussed, and ended up going back to our original plan of the gold overlays picked out months prior. We had also downgraded our table numbers, but had paid in full for our original estimate. It took two phone calls, but we finally had the difference refunded.
Men's Wear: MW Tux - B
There aren't too many options when you have a scattered bridal party, but it worked out okay. My brother's tux wasn't pressed when he picked it up, and my husband had gotten two notices that his tux was in and ready for pickup. The first time, only the hankerchief and socks were "in". The second time, it was the shoes. A little annoying, but they did come through.
Invitations: Sonja's Brides - A+
Since I didn't do DIY, I found the invite I wanted, and then started looking around the web to see who offered the best discount. I found a woman named Sonja who owns a bridal shop in California, and she offered the Checkerboard line of invitations for 40% off retail price, which was the best discount I'd seen. We did 95% of everything via e-mail/online (price quotes and design layout), and then when I was ready to purchase, we did the transaction over the phone with my credit card. It was so easy. She is extremely personal and prompt in her correspondence and calls.
Place Cards and Table Cards: White Aisle - A+
The had a great selection of designs and colors to choose from. I found exactly what I wanted for a reasonable price! We printed the names on the place cards with our home printer, and the table numbers came ready to use. I bought the easels for my table numbers on eBay .
Limousine: LA Limo - Wilton, NH - A+
I had NO details of what I was getting for a limo, as my co-workers put a package together for me as part of my bridal shower surprise. The limo was on time, clean, and had the friendliest driver I've ever met. Apparently, my co-workers had already covered the gratuity as well, and when my dad tried to tip the driver, he was up front and honest that it had already been taken care of, and wouldn't accept anything from us. Such honesty!
Rehearsal Dinner: Villa Banca - A
Villa Banca had a nice room set up for our dinner in the back of the restaurant. We were allowed to offer a choice of three appetizers, a choice of salad, and five entrees for the guests to choose the day of. All of the choices were from the regular dinner menu, and they created a small menu at each place setting for guests to refer to. The wine and beer was covered by my in-laws, but liquor and dessert were separate charges. The service was a little slow (we were only a group of 18), but they were courteous in dealing with all of our guests.
Hair/Nails: Innovations Salon & Spa - A+
I use this salon regularly for my manicure/pedicure needs, so when I found out they were open on a Sunday and I wouldn't have to hire someone to come to my house, I was ecstatic! My hair stylist was Emily, and I loved her since she allowed me to tell her exactly what I wanted, and she didn't try to sway me one way or another. My hair came out perfectly after a cut/trim a few weeks before the wedding when she repeated my hair trial for free after the first didn't come out quite right. My bridesmaids had their hair done the same day with other stylists, and they both looked incredible.
Make-up: Candice French (Knottie Candi516) - A+
I met Candice online through my local board. She is a trained make-up artist and also works at Sephora, so she has access to some of the best make-up out there. I had two trials with her, and on the day of my wedding, she drove out to my parents house with her entire kit and worked her magic! Even my father loved what she was doing and gave many compliments! I would use her again for a special event any day!
Boudoir Photos: Melissa Robotti - A+
I signed up for b-pics with some other Knotties to take advantage of a discount being offered for a marathon session. Melissa was so much fun to talk to and work with, which really made the session comfortable. We met at the Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge where she had a make-up artist available for use. If we hadn't already signed our wedding photographers, she would have been a serious contender after meeting her!
Mini-moon: Travelocity.com (Washington DC) - A+
Due to some recent personal issues during the planning process, we weren't able to take the time to go to Europe on a full honeymoon as we had planned. Instead, we took a long weekend down in DC over the Halloween/election day madness and had a great time. We crammed as much as possible into three days, and can't wait to go back to see the rest! We stayed at the amazing Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, just a few blocks from the White House, and we were upgraded to a sweet suite upon arrival. Some photos of our cool room can be seen here . Our honeymoon plans include Prague and Budapest at the very least, and if we can squeeze in Vienna as well, we'll be super happy. At least we now have something to look forward to next year!
Accessories: TJ Formal (online) - A+
I stumbled across this website which offered the best prices on the Erica Koesler earrings I wanted. Not only were they the cheapest, but they offered free shipping! My earrings arrived quickly and were in perfect condition. They also sent a coupon for 20% off my next order. I ended up using these to order my Grace "Lindsey" shoes. With the coupon and free shipping, they were cheaper than anywhere else. They have a wide range of bridal items available online.
Spirit Orb - Everyday Artifact
I didn't think I would end up using my orb, but I did for the blessing of the rings. Ours said "To Have" on one side, and "To Hold" on the other. Ideally, I would have liked the blue interior, but they stopped producing the copper ones like that awhile ago. Still, they are a neat thing to have.
Card Box - Amazon.com
We wanted something non-traditional and found a small indoor terrarium that we loved. Amazon offered it at the best price.
Toasting Flutes - Macy's.com
Ours were from the Vera Wang "Duchesse" collection, and were a gift from my father.
Bridesmaid's necklaces - Overstock.com
With a coupon code for a discount and free shipping, I was able to spend a little more on the necklaces I ordered for my girls. They were beautiful and shipped quickly.
Day of earrings - eBay
After I decided that my Erica Koesler earrings were a little more bling than I wanted, I ordered the ones I eventually wore off of eBay. They were an Eliot Danori design, from the same group as Nadri.
Any questions? Please e-mail me at yaybananas at gmail dot com or page me on the NH Knot board.