Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church: A-
I so love this little church! Chris and I visited several churches in the metro early on in our engagement to try and find the perfect fit for us. We knew we wanted to find a church to which we would feel proud contributing, and also that had some character. While the Basilica and the Cathedral are beautiful, they were just WAY too big for our taste. We were so happy to find Our Lady of Lourdes. It had all of the character of the bigger churches, but it is smaller, and just so cute. Not only that, but they were starting a renovation campaign, so we knew that any money we contributed would be going to the preservation of our beautiful church! Father Froehle was great to work with in preparation of our day, and is one of the most open minded old priests I've ever met ;-). Unfortunately, Father Froehle was ill and was unable to perform our ceremony, but we had a fantastic replacement in Father O'Donnel, who stepped in at the last minute. Despite having known us for like a day, he stepped up to the plate and did his research, even going so far as saying a greeting in Spanish for my family, and being able to talk about both Chris and I as if he had known us throughout this whole process. We also had a great experience with their organist, who is very talented. We decided to use the organ along with a good friend of ours who is a singer to perform for our ceremony. The organist was great and met with us ahead of time to help us choose our music. Being that the both of us have music backgrounds (Chris especially), it was really important to us to include music that wasn't so common in wedding repertoire, but that would still fit the both of us and our day. She helped us do just that, and did a great job on the day of! Our wedding was fantastic, and the church so lovely! We highly recommend it.
Windows on Minnesota: B+
My family has always loved the Marquette and WINDOWS. Because of this, it made a lot of sense to us to have our reception and hotel block here. Its a great location for out of towners because its near a lot of the neat stuff that downtown has to offer, its within the skyway system, AND the light rail stop is just a hop, skip, and jump outside of the main lobby entrance. The accomodations were great...so comfortable! The prices were also really reasonable for hotel blocks in the area during that time. We also were able to use the meeting room on the executive floor as an extra gathering space which turned out really nice. We had breakfast there as well as late night gatherings! As far as the reception goes, my favorite were the super sweet bartenders! These ladies were so kind and seemed so genuinely excited to be working a wedding, it was great! The food at Windows is always amazing! Cocktail hour was perfect (from what I can tell), although one of our damask martini glasses that we used for table decor went missing :-(, and another broke during take down. As for the actual reception, most everything seemed to go off without a hitch, except that they messed up on one of our meal choices. We had selected the crusted salmon for our fish selection (which is what I chose cuz it was AMAZING at the tasting), but they have us another salmon dish. It was still amazing, don't get me wrong, but essentially not what we had ordered and were paying for. They did make the adjustments to the bill in the end, so they made it right! I do still wish we would have gotten the dish we picked though.
Nye's Poloniase Room: A+
So many great memories in this landmark! Given that Nye's is located literally next door to the church, AND Chris's family is of Polish heritage...not to mention the food rules and its just a fun place, this was a no-brainer for us. The even manager was super easy to work with, and they have a variety of menu options from which to choose. They have a separate room with its own bar that we used and it was the perfect space to fit all of us who were there. Such a great rehearsal dinner spot!!
Chino Latino: A
Never a dull moment at Chino Latino! We had a great table, great food, great drinks! Perfect start to a super fun, sparkly evening!
Mestads' (Rochester): A
As for my dress, I purchased it from Mestad's. I had wonderful service each time I went in. The only problem I had was when my dress came in (we ordered early so we had time to deal with it). The dress is in two pieces, a lining, and the lace overlay. Well, the lining that was ordered was WAY too small on me, despite me being measured a couple of times before ordering. The lace overlay fit perfectly however, so it was kind of weird. Anyways, they rush ordered a new lining, at no extra cost to me, and it was in within a week. It ended up working out really well, because I was able to use the extra fabric from the too small lining to add an extra layer of fabric to the skirt of my dress so it would be less sheer. I absolutely love my dress, and would probably wear it daily if it were acceptable!
Mestad's (Rochester): A
I loved Mestads! I went in their several times to try on my dress and had a great experience each time, so I figured it would be a good place to try and find BM dresses. Most of us met up there and the girls tried on a TON of different dresses. In the end, 3 of the 5 girls found their dresses there and were able to order them without a problem, and then got alterations elsewhere.
Priscilla of Boston (Edina): D
Never again will I give this store my business. I had made an appointment a while in advance for me and most of my BMs to go and try on dresses. We wanted to do all black satin, same designer, but different styles, so we figured PoB was a great choice. Wrong. Despite having an appointment, we were NOT served by the consultant. She was busy with one other person (who didn't seem too pleased either). Instead, the greeter showed us around the store, and we were pretty much left on our own to figure things out. One of my BMs left crying because their limited sample sizes meant she couldn't try anything on. One of my BMs found the dress she wanted there, and in the end was able to purchase it without a problem, and didn't even need alterations, which was great for her.
One of my BMs is a pretty busy lady, so was unable to join us on our outings to try on dresses. We lucked out with her when I noticed that Gilt was having a bridal sale. She checked it out and found the MOST adorable dress! It worked perfectly with the other dresses. She got it really quickly, had no problems with purchasing, and did not need alterations...not to mention, she got it for a steal!
Savvi Formalwear - Southdale: A
Savvi is a pretty popular place for tuxes, and with good reason. They have a great selection of suits and tuxes, and an awesome selection of accessories in a myriad of colors. We chose to go pretty classic with ours, but every time we stopped by, they were super helpful to us. Chris had no problem finding a style he and I both loved, and knew that all of our guys would look good in!
Louise Kegley: A
I don't think I need to say much about the famous Louise! Everyone loves her, and for good reason. She knows her stuff and does great work at very reasonable prices! I had the hem taken in, waist and bust taken in, cups sewn in, back lowered, extra layer of fabric added to the skirt, and bustle made. Everything came out perfect! My BMs that went to her also had good experiences.
Chelsea's (La Crosse, WI): A
Sweet little Patricia! I had been going to Pat for alterations when I lived in La Crosse. She is so talented and sooo sweet. I always felt like I was going over to see my sweet little British grandma when I went to see her (even though I'm not British!). My BM that still lives in La Crosse went to her for alterations on her dress and was really pleased. Pat did an amazing job and the dress fit like a charm!
Groom and Groomsmen:
Savvi Formalwear (Southdale): A-
We started out going to the Ridgedale location, which is where we picked out the tuxes. Then we realized we were dumb because there is a location in Southdale which was much more convenient to everyone. That said, we were able to easily switch our order to the Southdale location. Everyone was able to get fitted on their own time without any problems, and the staff was super helpful when we were picking stuff out. The minus has to do with one of my brothers' tuxes, on which the jacket sleeves were way short, despite him getting measured. We think that its possible the switched up the tuxes, since my dad and both my brothers have the same name. It didn't really show in pics, so it ended up okay, and the guys all looked SO handsome!
The Left Bank (Chicago): A-
Oh how I love browsing in this store! So many beautiful bridal (and other special event) accessories! The ladies working here are super nice as well. When I first went in, one of them was super patient with me as I tried on earring after earring until finding the perfect ones. I got my earrings, bracelet (love!), and hair pin here. All are absolutely beautiful! My only issue was the turnaround time for the bracelet. They had to order it, and it took forever to come in. Plus, once it arrived, it was too big, despite having making a special request for a smaller one (I have freakishly small wrists...). So, I had to wait even longer for them to resize it. Once it was finished though, it was perfection!
James Ciccotti Shoes (Chicago): A
Sweet, sweet James. This man knows shoes! I happened upon this little shop when my mom was visiting Chicago one weekend. I fell in love with a little pair of peep toe lovelies, and the rest is history! James was really great in helping us find the perfect shoe and the perfect fit. He also informed us that the shoe would look better if it were made in black rather than dyed later on, which I wouldn't have thought of. So, I got a custom pair of shoes for my wedding that were super comfy. They aren't cheap, and they took a little longer to arrive than I would have liked, but they are gorgeous!
Target Boutique ;-): A
Despite my James Ciccotti shoes being super comfy, no heels are comfortable after several hours of wear on a hot summer day. Because of this, I decided on a backup plan for the reception. I got a cute pair of bejeweled (ha!), black flops from Target for a mere $12. They are pretty comfy and perfect for dancing! The best part is, I can still totally wear them (and have!).
Things Remembered, Ridgedale: A+
While there getting the groomsmen stuff figured out, I spotted a lovely pair of cufflinks that would be perfect for Chris. I decided to purchase them and have those engraved as well for him to wear on our wedding day. They were completed along with the flasks and turned out SO good! Once again, the staff was really helpful in making my decision of what to engrave and in what font. I was very pleased, and Chris loved them! Sadly, they have gone missing since the wedding day :-(. That said, if I ever decide to get him a new pair, I would not hesitate to go with Things Remembered again.
Things Remembered, Ridgedale: A+
We used Things Remembered to engrave initials on the GMs flasks that we had gotten from TheKnot (see below). They were super helpful when I had no idea about engraving or what lettering to choose, and their prices were fairly reasonable. I was able to pick all 4 flasks up the next day without any issues (I had dropped them off right before closing the day before), and they came out perfectly!
TheKnot.com Shop: A
They were having a sale on flasks, so this was one of the first wedding purchases Chris and I made. We knew we wanted to do flasks for the guys, so getting the extra deal was great. We bought his pre-engraved, and decided to leave the rest blank to be engraved later, cuz this was so early in the game that we hadn't even settled on GMs yet! Anyway, they arrived soon after ordering and looked great! We bought each of the guys a nice bottle of liquor to "match" ;-).
Spalon Montage, Edina: A+
I went with the OPI Axxium gel nails for my wedding and I REALLY liked it. My mom and I went togther and we had Mae (sp?) and her SIL who also works at Spalon. They are both super sweet and REALLY good! Our nails turned out perfectly and mine lasted for 3 weeks...even after cleaning out 2 apartments, moving all of our crap, cleaning out our new apartment, moving all of our crap in, and unpacking everything....a LOT of stress on nails...but they still looked GREAT after all of that!
Hair & Makeup
Smart & Chic Bride: Overall B-
My bridesmaids all looked fantastic! My mom, MOH, and myself were not very happy with our results (I had had a trial). I touched up my makeup quite a bit after the stylist who worked on the 3 of us (Julie Swenson) left. I couldn't really do much about my hair because there was no time to wash it and start over, so I just had to live with it. It didn't turn out too bad in pics, which is fortunate. Julie didn't charge my mom for hers and she gave me a discount on my services after finding out we were unhappy with it. She's also not doing brides anymore.
That said, I would HIGHLY recommend the rest of the ladies we had from S&C (Amber W. and Dawn)! One of them (Dawn) even stayed a bit later to help my mom with her hair after Julie had left. Its sooo convenient that they can come to you and the prices are great!
My mom and I both went and got facials at Aurora Spa in SLP. It was my first facial ever and OMG....amazing! I was sooo relaxed afterwards and my skin was amazing for weeks afterwards. The location is pretty convenient and they are super nice. The facility itself is really clean and quiet perfect for a little pampering!
I also got my toes done at Aurora and they turned out great! Really good, relaxing, quality pedicure!
The Sweet Retreat Cupcake Boutique, Edina: A
Yum! We had cupakes from here for my MN shower. They were delicous (we had chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet)! Good prices, good service, good cupcakes!
Woullet Bakery, Edina: A-
You pretty much can't go wrong with Woullet. Two words: Princess Torte. Seriously the greatest thing you will every consume. My family has been eating princess cake, as we call for many years now for several occasions. While we wanted VERY much to have a Puerto Rican wedding cake, we just couldn't find a baker in MN that could do it. We decided to go for the next best thing....Woullet! They were good to work with and were great about helping us figure out how to get the most yum for our buck. The minus is for the decoration of the cake. While Woullet makes amazing things, they lack just a bit on the decor side. Our cake DID end up beautiful, don't get me wrong, but I would have liked to have had black damask vs the monochromatic look that we ended up going with. They said that they could only do it monochromatic because of the type of cake it is (since it has to be refrigerated), but I KNOW there are other ways to decorate cake besides icing. That said, the icing work that they did was very meticulously done and looked amazing!
Queen of Cakes, Edina: B
Queen of Cakes is a really great option for most people. We were very close with booking them but my instinct told me that I needed to go with our tried and true. We had a nice tasting there, and their cakes are delicious, but just not what we were looking for.
Strawberry Hill Confections: F-
I wish this would have worked out, I really do. I had contacted SHC after reading a rave review from a knottie. Everything was going well, and she was really willing to try and make us the cake we wanted, even going so far as having multiple tastings, and then all of a sudden she fell off the face of the planet. Didn't return e-mails or phone calls. I'm not really sure what happened, but I was REALLY disappointed.
Laura Ivanova Photography: A+++++!!!!!
Laura is by FAR my favorite vendor. It was a tough call, because we had so many great ones, but I absolutely love her and her work. I came upon her rather serendipitously, as I was searching google for images of our reception site to use for my planning bio. Once I saw those pics, I knew I had to contact her. I checked on the knot boards to see if anyone had worked with her, and I got some rave reviews, so I knew she was worth checking out. I could seriously spend hours on her galleries and blogs just looking at all of the awesomeness. I actually did this once, and came across a blog of photos from a trip she took to Puerto Rico...my homeland! Once we met, I was sold. She is such a great person, and we instantly clicked! Aside from our common interest/obsession in J.Crew, she is SUPER talented. We were SO pleased with our pictures and our little gift from her (mini magnet photobooks, soooo cute!!). If you are looking for a photographer, look no further ladies!!
Ian Hanson Photography: A
Oh our Ian! Ian was probably the very first vendor we booked after getting engaged. My mom had insisted that we get engagement pictures ASAP, so I gave him a call. Another one just starting out, he had done a couple of weddings and other events, and we were impressed with his work, despite being fairly amateur at that point. We were SO please with our e-pics and used them A LOT for our wedding. We used them for our Save the Dates and created a guestbook using our favorites.
Veronique Viardin Photography: A+
Veronique is a great friend who is working on building her name in the photography biz in Minneapolis. She took some beautiful photos for us during my MN shower and at the wedding as well. She has been doing some awesome work lately! I highly recommend you check her out. She is a little ball of fun with a LOT of talent!
True2Life Productions: A+
I love Michelle!! Aside from being just a super great and fun person, our video turned out awesome! We watched it at least 3 times right after getting it. Anyone on the fence about a videographer should consider True2Life! Her prices are fantastic in comparison to some of the other companies out there, and she was great with communication and making sure we got everything we wanted out of our video.
Adagio is great! Everyone working there is SUPER professional and easy to work with. They even adjusted the final pricing of our package to be more competitive with other DJs we were considering, and since our wedding was on a holiday weekend, bumped a little extra off! They were very accomodating to our unique musical requests, and their online planner is great and really easy to use. Jay was super professional and showed an infectious passion for being a DJ which a really appreciated on our wedding day! He was careful to make sure he stuck with the plan and was the PERFECT balance of energized but not obnoxious.
Sadie's Floral Design: A++++!!!
OMG! I can't say enough good things about Sadie. I knew from the second I walked into her studio that this chick was the right florist for us. I started talking to her about her vision and I could tell that she got it right away. She was fantastic with communication and really went out of her way to work within our budget and make sure she was still capturing what we wanted. Her ideas were great, and totally enhanced the look of our day. She adjusted our contract without question probably a zillion times due to us having fewer guests and then adding in the candelabras in. People are still raving about our flowers, and I LOVE looking at pictures of them. Also, Chris and I moved a couple of days after the wedding, and my bouquet survived several days in a U-Haul, and was still gorgeous enough for us to display in our new home for a couple of days!
Linen Effects: A
Sadie works very closely with Linen Effects. When I told her about our whole vision for our reception, she got to work on finding us some pieces to fit that theme. She knew that Linen Effects had the candelabras we ended up using, so she showed them to me, and I was sold. To keep things simple for us, she took the liberty of renting our candelabras from them. These things are BEAUTIFUL and worked perfectly with our decor. They were fairly reasonably priced! Since we didn't work directly with them, I can't speak to their service specifically, but I have heard only good things.
Fab.You.Lous Events and Design: A+
Another reason why Kirsten rules. We were using damask throughout our wedding decor and I had considered getting damask runners. This ended up being something that wasn't in the budget for us. Out of the blue, Kirsten mentioned that she just so happens to have a TON of damask runners that she had purchased from another bride! YAY! She allowed us to rent them from her, and they were EXACTLY what we needed to tie everything together that day.
Day Of Coordinator
Kirsten of Fab.You.Lous Events and Design: A
We got a hold of Kirsten kind of frantically just a mere few weeks before our big day. We had come to realize that we would definitely need some extra help that day, and I was already pretty burnt out from planning and school that my brain couldn't quite handle all of the other little coordination details. For this, she was fantastic. She is SUPER organized and really made sure to get a good feel for Chris and I as a couple and the whole feel for our wedding before delving into everything. She was great on the day of, despite some issues we had with miscommunication between various people on that day (not her fault at all!). Her pricing is also really reasonable! Either way, she handled everything very professionally, and I can't thank her enough for making sure our day was a success!
Diana Reecy of Exquisite Events: B
Diana was another DOC we contacted around the same time as Kirsten. We REALLY liked her and were about to book her, but then we had issues with pricing. For many people, her pricing works out well, because she has different tiers of pricing based on your overall wedding budget. Like I said, this works well for some people, but for others, like us, who only budgeted a certain specific amount for a DOC (added to our budget later on, so not initially in our budget, fyi), this doesn't work out so well. While our overall budget was a bit higher than some, again, we only budgeted a certain amount for the DOC, and that was lower in price than what her tier was for our budget, if that makes sense. That said, I think she was wonderful and I think she would have been a great DOC for our day, but in the end, we couldn't justify the higher price.
Paper Depot: A++++++
LOVE Paper Depot! (Another one to sign up for e-mails! Little known fact, but they send out a newsletter often that contains coupons!) The designers there are GREAT to work with if you are clueless as to what to do for your DIY invites, as I was. I had seen some stuff from knotties that I really liked, so I brought pictures in with me, had a look see at their bins o' inspiration, and was ready! I picked out most of my papers here, had friends and family cut and fold with me, and we were outta there in a couple of hours! They have tons of die-cut machines that you can use for free, which is super cool. You typically need to go in a day or two ahead of actually getting your stuff if you plan on using pocketfolds, because they "order" the paper for you in parent sheets (big sheets) so you can cut them all out from those. Once your paper is in, you can go and do all of the cutting. They show you how to use the machines and how to put everything together. For you inserts, they break down exactly how each piece of paper should be cut, so it is the most cost-effective for you. They send you off with a diagram of all of the dimensions for each insert, so you can use those when designing, printing, and cutting. I highly recommend them!
Paper Source: A
I used paper source for some accent paper to go behind the invite, as a background. I love this store so much! The ladies are always very helpful, and they have super cute stuff. I also purchased embossing powders here for my invites and escort cards, and they have really good quality products for that. I also got a couple of packs of their escort cards to use. Throughout the process, I stopped into the Minneapolis store, and 3 of the Chicago stores. The Chicago stores were also super good about calling up another store if they didn't have enough of something I was looking for.
InkSpot Chicago: A++
InkSpot how I love thee! Not only were the located just steps away from my place, but they were SUPER friendly and helpful. Not only that, they got ALL of my invite printing done in less than a DAY. YEAH. I was shocked too. Everything came out perfectly, despite my stardream paper breaking their machine...twice...00ps. They were super cool about though! The pricing was also way better than some of the other places I had seen in Chicago and the Twin Cities.
PostNet (Chaska Location): A
My parents had a cookbook made for me and for all of the guests of my bridal shower. The book contained recipes from family and friends, and its so special. PostNet did the printing and binding, and they did and awesome job. We also had a seating chart poster printed here as well and it came out great and fast!
Michael's is another wedding savior! (sign up for their e-mails to get weekly discounts...they will come in handy if you are a DIY bride...cuz you WILL likely be there weekly ;-)). I got several supplies here including jewelry notions for the BM lockets, papers, glue, etc etc...
Joann Fabrics: A
Joann's is pretty much right up there with Michael's. I got my aisle runner there as well as the supplies for the DIY painting of it. I also stopped in here regularly thoughout the process for various supplies. It pretty much was based on where I happened to be on that day (closer to Joann's or Michael's?) and which coupons I happened to have with me. Also, if I couldn't find items at one store, I was likely to find it at the other.
TJ Maxx/Home Goods: A++
Yet another DIY bride haunt. I got several frames here for our table numbers as well as the box we used for the card box. That, and I just love these stores!
Hobby Lobby: A++
I could spend several unhealthy hours in this store. Most of my wedding purchases were made at the La Crosse, WI and Bowling Green, OH locations cuz that's where I was "based" at the time. I bought a lot of supplies here as well, but especially more frames and paint supplies for our table numbers. The good thing was that they very often had discounts on their frames!
Home Depot: A
Tiles anyone? We got a TON of tiles for super cheap (less than a dollar each) at the Depot for our coaster favors. Super easy, in and out, easy to find!
I found ToonDesign through another knottie and am SO glad I did. I had a difficult time trying to figure out what to get my BMs, so finding these clutches was a godsend! I got 4 small ones in the black satin, and one floral patterned one for my MOH. I got a deal since I bought 4 of the same fabric. The seller was super quick in shipping which was awesome, and they were in perfect shape upon arrival. I later added some fabric flowers from Hobby Lobby to each of the black ones to jazz it up and vintage brooch to the floral one.
I cannot say enough good things about Melissa from MStevenson Designs. I had contacted her like WAY before I needed to in order to enquire about getting a custom locket made for my MOH. She went above and beyond in order to find the locket for me in silver (she usually only makes them in bronze), even going so far as finding another etsy seller who was using them in her own work, and working with the other seller to get it for me to use for my MOH's locket. She also kept in contact with me thoughout the process, making sure that she got all of the resin colors exactly right. I seriously could browse through her store daily, cuz her stuff is so cool! My MOH loved her locket too!
As you can tell, Etsy was sort of my savior for some of the little details of our wedding! I was looking for a brooch that I could use to fasten the ribbon on the back of my dress rather than have a big bow back there, and I found it at ForeverClassique. It was filigree, silver, and had a blue stone. The price was DEFINITELY right, and the seller was fantastic and FAST with shipping.
Bachelorette Party Dress
I had a difficult time finding the perfect outfit for my sequined theme bachelorette party. I decided to check out etsy, since I know they've got some great vintage sellers on there, and boy am I glad I did! I found the PERFECT silver sequined number for the occasion from Lucky Vintage. The seller is GREAT! She's got an amazing selection of awesome vintage stuff and keeps her pricing super reasonable. She also provides tons of pictures, thorough descriptions, and a variety of measurements so that you can be sure of what you are buying, and that it will fit!