- 10 years ago
Here are the vendor reviews from my January 3, 2009 wedding.
Hope you find it useful.
Church: The Church of St. Francis of Assisi (A+)
Although, I do not consider the Church to be a vendor I still would like to offer my review. The Church of St. Francis of Assisi and Father Kevin Tortorelli were both extremely accommodating. My fiancé and I searched high and low for a church that would allow us to have our Catholic Wedding ceremony. Many of the churches we encountered had legitimate scheduling conflicts but many others wouldn’t conduct our wedding because we did not live in the parish district (we reside in Illinois but our families live in New York). We encountered many churches that would conduct our wedding ceremony but they charged an exurbanite fee (some were requesting as much as $4000+ and a sitting fee for the organist). We were extremely grateful and fortunate to have encountered Fr. Tortorelli at St. Francis Church.
Fr. Tortorelli helped guide us through the wedding preparation process and responded to all email correspondence promptly. Michael Delaney, the organist, was terrific and his singing was beautiful. The only songs that I actually selected were the Processional Song, Song during Communion, and Recessional Song. I gave Mr. Delaney the leeway to select the other songs to be used during the ceremony and everything he played and sung was lovely.
As far as the church itself, the upper church was recently renovated and many of our guests commented on both the beauty of the church and the ceremony itself. We plan to visit to the church whenever the next time we visit New York particularly since it now holds a fond memory for us.
Regarding parking, the church does not have its own parking facilities however parking may be available on the street (depending on the day and time of your ceremony). There is also a street-level parking lot directly across the street from the church. The parking facility is operated by XXX and is probably the best option for guests since finding parking nearby may prove to be difficult.
Reception Venue: Battery Gardens Restaurant (A+)
Battery Gardens Restaurant which is located inside Battery Park offers beautiful views of the New York harbor and the Statue of Liberty whether your reception is taking place in the day or the night; during the summer or in the winter like our wedding.
In addition to the breathtaking views, the restaurant itself is truly beautiful. The restaurant has a lower level that we used during the cocktail hour. Our guests were treated to a premium open bar and a variety of Hors d’œuvres in addition to a complimentary Mediterranean display and International Cheese and Fruit display. Dinner and dancing was in the upper level of the restaurant.
The Battery Garden staff was extremely helpful and they truly went above and beyond to ensure that everything went smoothly. Our catering manager Alex Miljkovic was wonderful to work with and he answered any and all questions that we had. I made frequent trips to New York during the wedding planning process and I had the opportunity to have lunch/dinner at Battery Gardens with my fiancé and mother and every single meal was always perfectly prepared and delicious. I was able to walk into my reception knowing that our guests were absolutely going to enjoy the food being prepared by the Chef Tommy Lee.
Lastly, it should be noted that Battery Gardens was one of the most affordable venues for our reception. We were charged $135 per person which was relatively inexpensive compared to venues in New York that charge upwards of $185+ and provide less than BG. Please note however that my wedding was in on a Saturday in January so it may be slightly higher or lower depending on the time of the year, whether you opt for valet parking, and if you decide to go into overtime.
Florist: Carmine from Flowers by Emil (A-)
I will be honest and say that I was very hesitant to use Flowers by Emil because the website just seemed so out of date and I found it hard to fathom that they could possibly be able to create the look I was envisioning. However, after seeing Carmine’s floral artistry I can wholeheartedly recommend using his services. During the planning process there was a lot of back and forth between Carmine and I regarding the centerpieces that were to be used at the reception. Eventually, I opted to use a birch branch and white dendrobuim orchids display that fit in perfectly with the modern atmosphere of Battery Gardens Restaurant. Carmine’s prices were more than reasonable and he was willing to work within our budget. All of the flowers (bouquets, bouttinaires, etc.) were very pretty and turned out as expected.
Transportation: Double Diamond Limos (A+)
The limos arrived on time and were just as they appeared on their website. The drivers were entertaining and made me laugh during some pretty tense moments. The company offers and open house on Tuesday evenings so that you can check out their fleet of limos and cars. They also offer discounts during the winter months.
Guest Transportation: Gray Line Bus Company (A)
If you are getting married at a Catholic Church and having your reception in the early evening then you already know about the infamous gap (the time that typically occurs between the end of your wedding and the start of your reception). Our wedding ceremony was scheduled to end at 3pm and our cocktail hour was scheduled to start at 5pm so we needed something for our guests to do during the 2 hours in between. This may not have been as much as an issue if the wedding was occurring in the summer but with our winter wedding this became a concern for us. We decided to use Gray Line Bus Company to pick up guests for a brief tour of the city before returning to the church to drop off guests who needed to retrieve their vehicles and then dropping off remaining guest at the reception venue. Many of our guests, including those who live in New York, decided to take advantage of the tour so we considered it to be money well spent.
Stationary: Wedding Paper Divas (A+)
We used Wedding Paper Divas for our Save The Dates and Invitations. Everything arrived in a timely manner and was packaged nicely. We opted for the letterpress for our invitations and while it was very nice I am not sure that our guests, unless they have recently been through the wedding planning process, even pay attention/notice this detail. Their customer service personnel were very helpful and you have the opportunity to review your proofs online. All in all I had a really good experience working with them and would use them for future stationary needs.
Wedding programs, Menu Cards, Escort cards, etc.: Laurie Correas of Exquisite Affairs Productions (A)
I also used Laurie Correas of EAP for design and print services. Everything arrived in a timely manner and was packaged nicely. Laurie was very patient throughout the entire process and I was given ample opportunity to request changes and make modifications during the design process. Laurie also assisted with the design of our Gobo which turned out very nice and tied into our wedding theme perfectly. Everyone remarked how the Gobo, the wedding program, menu cards, and escort cards were beautiful.
The only very minor flaw was in the design of the escort cards. The font used was extremely small and many guests were unable to locate their cards in the dim lighting. I noticed when they arrived in the mail that the font was too small but with the wedding only days away there was not an opportunity to redo them. While I acknowledge that I should have noticed the font size during the proof approval process, I would think she would have noticed that the font size would be unreadable for most of our guests. With the exception of this minor glitch I would recommend using Laurie Correas for all your design and printing needs. She’s an excellent graphic designer and full of creative ideas.
Day of Coordinator: Christine Viola of Exquisite Affairs Productions (A)
I hired Christine as my Day of Coordinator but she truly went above and beyond merely DOC services. I planned my wedding long distance from Illinois; so much of our correspondence was via email and phone. Christine was always responsive and often served as my eyes and ears when I could not meet with vendors in person. She offered valuable advice and was extremely patient throughout the planning process. Knowing that she was on top of everything truly enabled me to relax and enjoy our special day. I would recommend her services without hesitation.
Cake: City Sweets Cakes and Confections (A++++)
The Best Cake Ever. The cake was so good that we ended up eating the top tier that we planned on saving for our anniversary in our hotel suite. The cake was beautifully designed, affordable and most importantly tasted delicious. Deborah Lauren was very helpful during our two cake tastings (once with my mother and a second tasting with fiancé). At each tasting she prepared cupcakes made of the various cake flavors, fillings and frostings that we pre-selected. I’m already thinking of events in the future that I can use the services of Deborah Lauren who is just as sweet as her cakes.
Photography: Julia Skya for Lina Jang Photography
Videography: Mike Mulligan for Lina Jang Photography
Hotel Accommodations: Embassy Suites Hotels (A)
The week of our wedding we reserved a block of rooms through Sherry Madeen-Ally of Embassy Suites Hotels. Sherry was very helpful in terms of making the arrangements and assuring that our guest would be comfortable. The suites were spacious and could easily accommodate 4 adults. The hotel features a movie theater, convenience store, and restaurants, in addition to the usual hotel amenities such as a gym, pool, business center, etc. The breakfast provided was above and beyond the standard continental breakfast offered by most hotel chains. All of our guests indulged in the breakfast which included everything you would find in a breakfast restaurant chain such as IHOP. The only complaints that I have was that valet parking was costly, which is typical of New York. Also, there were some issues regarding the room charges at check-out but otherwise our experience was very positive and we would gladly stay at Embassy Suites the next time we are in New York.
Hair and Make-up Services: Bridal Lounge (A)
I utilized the services of Mia from Bridal Lounge for hair and makeup services on my wedding day. After my initial hair and makeup trial I knew I made the right decision in hiring Bridal Lounge. Mia and her assistant showed up to our hotel on time (5:00am!) and began work promptly. They worked with a variety of hair types and complexions and made everyone in the bridal party look absolutely beautiful. Our make-up lasted the entire evening and everyone’s hair stayed in place. Mia and her assistant were both very professional and friendly. I highly recommend them!
Live Music and DJ Services: Hank Lane (A)
We used Hank Lane for DJ and Live Music services for our wedding reception at Battery Garden’s Restaurant in New York. We primarily planned our wedding long distance (Illinois) so much of my correspondence with Spencer Kaufman was conducted via email and phone calls. The staff at Hank Lane was always very responsive and willing to answer any questions that I had. If anyone has been researching Hank Lane online, you will discover that it is extremely difficult to find reviews or video clips for the company. When you meet with them they only permit you to listen to audio of their performers. I’m still not sure why they do this but I can assure you that when they promise that “Hank Lane does not disappoint” they truly mean it. As I was debating whether I wanted to sign a contract without actually seeing who would perform at my reception I never once felt pressured by the Hank Lane staff. They were extremely helpful in terms of assisting with our music selections and well as helping me coordinate the sequence of events for the reception. The DJ/MC was great and kept everyone entertained. The live singer sang beautifully and the pianist was a nice touch at the cocktail hour as well as when he accompanied the live singer during the dinner hour. All in all I had a great experience working with Spencer Kaufman and the Hank Lane staff and wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone considering using their services.