- 9 years ago
Hello WeddingBee Community!
Our wedding just passed in August (2009) and I thought I’d post some thoughts and vendor reviews for those of you who might be interested in our vendors or having a similar type of wedding to ours. We had roughly a 35-40K budget (initially 30K, but that didn’t happen) and approximately 170 guests. Due to the primary location of my family and his, we decided to hold it in southern California, even though we both currently live on the East Coast. It made it difficult to plan, but in the end it worked out. For family reasons, I also wanted a Chinese-style banquet, but I hate the look of Chinese restaurants in the US, so I wanted a non-traditional setting. We planned it all ourselves.
Photographer–Brian Khang, http://www.briankhang.com/. He was THE BEST! We had an engagement session with him on the East Coast, and I highly recommend doing an engagement session to those who are wavering on doing something like that. It truly does make a difference to be comfortable with your photog before the wedding day. He is the most laid back and chill person and was the EASIEST person to work with during our entire wedding planning process. Not to mention, he made us look amazing. Helen, his fiancee and assistant, was also AMAZING. We haven’t gotten our album yet, but we’re excited to see it. We liked them so much we gave my sister (matron of honor) a family portrait session with him as a gift. http://www.briankhang.com/blog/ching-james-wedding-at-the-pacific-palms-resort/
Venue–Pacific Palms Resort (PP), http://www.pacificpalmsresort.com/weddings.html. We chose this venue after looking at the San Gabriel Hilton, various hotels that Furiwa (Chinese food caterer) caters, Nixon Library, Ebell Club in LB, Villa at Lifetime Weddings, Norris Pavilion and the Arcadia Women’s Club. I was only tempted by the Nixon Library (which is GORGEOUS, I guess you can’t go wrong with a reception space that is an exact replica of the East Room, even for someone like me who is not a political junkie). In the end, we chose the PP and its more modern and sleek furnishings. Plus, it was an all-in-one location. We wouldn’t have to worry about transportation for our guests, because the ceremony location, ballroom and hotel were on one property. For our reception dinner, we used the Colonial Ballroom which has floor to ceiling windows that overlook the valley and the San Gabriel mountains. It was a nice view for our guests to enjoy during dinner and then they were able to dance the night away with the twinkling lights of the city in the background. It was a so-so experience working with the PP. I worked well with JoAnne, the catering manager, but often had a hard time getting a hold of the wedding coordinator, Crystal, and the worst time getting a hold of the pastry chef, Ernesto. It may be that they are just not so good with out-of-town brides. We did have some SNAFUs during the day. The most major one was the cake not being exactly as ordered (no fresh fruit), but the PP did give us a credit for that. They also provided us two extra rooms, one for the Chinese tea ceremony, and another for getting ready. On the evening of the reception, things went off smoothly. I don’t know who the banquet captain was, but he did a great job Negatives: MUCH more pricey than any other Chinese food place, though comparable to getting it catered at the Nixon Library, multiple frustrations working with the hotel reservations dept (they initially didn’t offer the group rate that they said that they would offer), cannot box up leftover food to take away. Another funny thing was announcing that our wedding was located in the City of Industry. More than a few guests commented on the name, but I found it more humorous than anything. So, while it sounded a little suspect, once our guests saw the location (super-spacious and beautifully kept grounds) they felt like they had judged a book by its cover, or in this case, by name. Despite all our negatives, in the end, we would still have our wedding here.
Church–the Pacific Palms has a beautiful outdoor gazebo for wedding ceremonies and we opted for that. If that hadn’t worked out, I would have chosen the Wayfarer’s Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes. It was a bit of a walk to the gazebo (~10min), but the PP supplied golf carts to shuttle people from the parking lot to the gazebo. One complaint: according to our guests, the shuttles didn’t start in a timely manner, so many of them had to wait a significant amount of time. If you are thinking of the PP, I would make sure to have a friend/relative on top of this to make sure that the shuttles are running. We had some refreshments (fruit and cheese) after the ceremony at the gazebo location and our guests appreciated that. Our cocktail hour took place after that in the lobby of the Colonial Ballroom. The PP set up cocktail tables and chairs in the lobby.
Wedding officiant– Rev. Alfred Burnham. [email protected] My fiance and his family are Catholic, and I have no religious affiliation, but I wanted to respect theirs so went in search of a Catholic officiant for our outdoor ceremony. I found out from the Archdiocese’s office in LA that the official policy is that Catholic priests are not allowed to do weddings outside of the church. That quashed my plans so I put my fiance on this task and he located and we ultimately hired Rev. Alfred Burnham. He is very nice and accommodating. He also sent us a nice package describing the various options we had for our service (based on his prior experience) and information on obtaining a marriage license. It was a little weird hiring a wedding officiant, but with him it didn’t feel like a business transaction.
Katherine’s Concert Associates: Initially, I didn’t want ceremony musicians and thought a DJ or iPod would be sufficient for the ceremony, and help us save money. My fiance who is a music person insisted and I finally caved. In the end, I was so happy to have changed my mind–there’s something to be said about live music that moves along with you during the ceremony. We had a very smooth time working with Katherine’s Concert Associates. <span style=”font-family: arial, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>Katherine was very flexible with our music selections–we had several non-standard choices–and helped to introduce us one of our favorite pieces, Ennio Morricone’s Gabriel’s Oboe! They also were able to prepare and play a new piece arranged by a friend of ours (Ennio Morricone’s First Youth from Cinema Paradiso) and did that without a hitch. The trio was amazing; the music helped to set the perfect mood for our outdoor ceremony. http://www.katherinesconcertassoc.com/
<span style=”font-family: arial; font-size: small;”>Invitations and paper products–Kate T. Williamson. http://katetwilliamson.com/, My friend Kate is an illustrator and designed our save-the-date, invitation, menu, ceremony program, placecard, and thank you card. She worked with me to decide the type of look and we decided on focusing on the colors and flowers of the wedding day (primarily dahlias and freesia). We received so many compliments on them! I LOVED them and felt like it really personalized our wedding.
<span style=”font-family: arial; font-size: small;”>Flowers–Kim Chi Floral Design, [email protected], tel: 714-638-2084. KC did the flowers for my sister’s wedding and I thought they were beautiful, but when we initially met with her my fiance did not have a good vibe, so we didn’t go with her. Instead we went with Eddie at City of Commerce Flowers, which ended up to be a semi-disaster. He seemed accomodating to my ideas, but in the end, would continually miss deadlines for mock-ups, and was unresponsive to most of my questions/emails/telephone calls. The positive? He did give us our deposit back. If you have a lot of money and are local, he probably is nicer, but we didn’t have much in the way of a budget and were planning from out of state. He basically terminated our relationship about a month before the wedding, and then we went back to see if KC was available. She was. She was able to get the flowers that we wanted (ones we were told were not available by other vendors) and did it for 1/2 the price. She doesn’t have the fanciest shop (not a factor for us), but her flowers are beautiful and at a fabulous price. She set up on time too. One thing that was unexpected; the bouquets had a very light spray of glitter on them, so if you don’t like that make sure to let her know – but in the end, it did not show up in any of the photos, and in truth, you really had to scrutinize the flowers to see the glitter in person. KC really helped to make my floral vision come to life.
<span style=”font-family: arial; font-size: small;”>Makeup–Let’s Get Beautified.http://www.letsgetbeautified.com/, LoAnnTo was great to work with and had a super team! LoAnn (makeup) is very bubbly and talkative, and Tonya (hair) is very honest about what she thinks looks good on you. The trial went well, and they were both very honest about what looks would work and which would not likely work (which I appreciated). On the day of the wedding they showed up early, and got everything done on time. It helped to have two people working on our hair and makeup, because it speeded up the process. The hair and makeup lasted all day and night. Our wedding stuff started at noon and ended at 11pm. I felt beautiful on the day of, and it translated well to photos. My mom and Mother-In-Law (who also got their makeup and hair done with them) were happy with their makeup as well.
DJ–Pacific Events, Tim Coy, http://www.pacific-events.com/. He was also very laid back. He has a great DJ voice, and kept the night going, playing all of the music on our “must” list and not playing anything from our “do-not-play” list. You can tell he really enjoys weddings, but he’s not cheesy and doesn’t steal the spotlight. He also played guest requests which was also nice. He’s reasonably priced which was also good for our budget.
Honeymoon–Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay. http://www.fourseasons.com/manelebay/ I’m not one for luxury resorts, but this was spectacular! It’s not a place for people who want nightlife (island pop. 3,000), but it was perfect as a quiet, remote, Hawaiian getaway to recharge after wedding craziness. The food is rather expensive, but tasty. Also, besides the beach, there was 4-wheel driving, snorkeling, hiking, and skeet-shooting activities. There was also a ferry to Maui, and we did a day-trip there. <span style=”font-family: arial, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;”>