Even though the discussion has died down, I figured I’d share a bit of info with you. I got married in August and had a tough time finding good, reasonably priced vendors, but in the end everything worked out and we stayed on budget! Hope the info below helps…sorry if I’m posting this in the wrong place…it’s my first time! Good luck to all those planning out there! 😀 It gets better, I promise. 🙂
So, I wanted to share vendor reviews because I was really pleased with the service I received and I remember how hard it was to find reliable information when I was planning! I got engaged in March 2011 and married at the end of August 2011. Hope this helps! We’re still waiting for our professional pictures so unfortunately I can’t attach any. Sorry!
Wedding Coordinators – JoDi Weddings
Joanne and Divine are two wedding coordinators with a ton of passion and enthusiasm. We met them when they were students at Algonquin. They worked with us to organize our wedding and were absolutely *amazing* on the day of! Since they’re a team, we had one at the ceremony site and another at the reception venue, both focused on making our day a success. They kept everything on track, all the setup and timing was done beautifully and I didn’t have a single thing to worry about all day or all night! So, so grateful that we were able to work with them!
Dress – Moscatel Boutique
I bought an allure bridals L301 dress from Moscatel. It was originally $950 but I bought the floor model and received a $200 discount! They did all the alterations for $250 as well – an amazing deal and the owner Maria was so patient…my weight kept fluctuating and I must have done at least 4 fittings, but she was really sweet and the dress fit perfectly!
Photographer – Slava Petrenko
We visited a ton of websites for Ottawa-based photographers and we liked Slava’s photojournalistic style and her reasonable prices. When we met her in person, we were so glad because she was so down to earth, really sweet and professional but easygoing and kept things on schedule! We bought the package that includes the engagement shoot and it was so worth it. She even gave us a discount since our wedding was on a Sunday! And she was really good about positioning us when we were getting too stiff and awkward! hehe
DJ – Pisarius DJ Services – Curtis Raymond
We booked Curtis because of the reviews we saw on other websites like Wedding Bells. We met with him only once before our wedding and weren’t sure what to expect because we didn’t give him that much input, but everything worked out great! He really does know how to read the crowd and the dancefloor was full right away and stayed going all night! He’s just getting his business started and doesn’t have a website yet I don’t think, but he was 100% professional, arrived on time, had everything setup, and was well-dressed as well. When we accidentally overpaid him, he promptly refunded the overpayment, too.
Wedding venue – Billings Estate Museum
A gorgeous historic home in central Ottawa. We were supposed to have our wedding outside under the big tree on the back lawn, but Hurricane Irene had other plans for us! Instead, we had our wedding in the large tent, but with our guests facing the lawn and the trees. It still looked lovely even if it wasn’t what I pictured. The price is really reasonable – $150 per hour, so if you’re doing a short ceremony and then your reception elsewhere, you can’t beat the price! The only downside is that if you want to hold your reception there in the evening, you can’t play your music past 11 p.m.
Reception venue – East India Company Restaurant
We went a little outside the box for this one! We used to live just a block away from this restaurant and my husband loves Indian food. We really wanted to keep a limited budget but we didn’t want to compromise on taste! We were quoted a super good rate for an Indian buffet dinner and we already knew the food was great. We were allowed to bring our own wine so that helped save a bit, but there is a corking fee. We gave guests champagne, and then wine with dinner, and then switched to a cash bar afterward. The way they served the wine with dinner was really classy but not wasteful which was amazing! The service was impeccable and the night went so well. Our guests loved the food and kept giving us compliments! Yeah, there’s the decor – orange walls, traditional statues, low ceilings (if you’re in the back room), but the food, price and service were amazing and when we changed the lighting and decor it made a big difference! Oh, and they also do on-location catering!!
Flowers – Loblaws at Blair & Ogilvie
Really great prices and beautiful flowers! We were on a budget and looking to keep costs down (I guess that was our theme, hehe). Seeing flower budgets of $1500 and up had me so frustrated, so I got some low square vases from dollarama and square votive holders. Loblaws did our centrepieces for $15 each (we brought our own vases and ribbon) and our boutonnieres for $6 and corsages for $10. I only needed two bouquets (one for me and one for my maid of honour), so we bought the raw flowers and made the bouquets ourselves. Big savings and they looked great.
Makeup – Sarah Walsh
I don’t wear a lot of makeup so this was really tough, but Sarah was really sweet. We did two trials since I didn’t end up loving the first one, but she did the second one free of charge. I was worried about how it would look the day of, but it ended up lasting all day and looking really nice, light and fresh. I was a little bit shiny later in the day though, so I should have reapplied some powder! The most important thing is to be very specific about what you want, bring a few pictures, and provide feedback if you don’t like something so you can tweak it. I think a lot of artists have their basic “face” that they do and if you don’t like their style of applying the makeup you just have to ask them to customize it a bit for you. (For instance, I like my blush on the apples of my cheeks, not the sides). Sarah came to my hotel and did makeup for me, the moms, and my friends. She was really quick, punctual and professional!
Hair – Linda Hahn – Salon Toujours
Linda was great – she also came to my hotel and did hair for me, my maid of honour, and my mother-in-law. My hair lasted *all* day, even though it was windy. I went for a trial and we went through the pics I had brought, and I thought we had decided on a look. A week before the wedding I was having second thoughts, and then said I’d go back to the original look. Well, the day of the wedding, I gave a few ideas I’d been bouncing around and she came up with something on the spot that looked amazing!! I have thick, shoulder-length hair, but the updo she gave me made it look way longer. It was beautiful. Linda was very laid back, professional and punctual. I think she normally does hair at the salon, but since my wedding was on a Sunday, she was able to do my hair on site. When looking for a hairstylist for my wedding I found mobile hair businesses that charge double what she does, so I felt so lucky to find Linda!
Cake – Ursula Burgess
We contacted Ursula after seeing a cake she had done for someone else on another board. Her prices are…you guessed it…reasonable, and her work is really pretty! We asked for a 3-tier, 3-flavour cake with white fondant and green vines, leaves and flowers. Ursula delivered a beautiful finished product at a great price. I think she might be taking fewer clients now and not actively looking for business, but you never know.
Well, hope this information is useful to someone out there! And if you’re in planning hell, don’t worry, you’ll get through it soon, and then you’ll *never* have to do it again!!! Good luck!!!