Welcome to our wedding website. We'll be posting information here as we get it, so check back often. Use the Quick Links on the right to search for posts that address specific topics. We look forward to celebrating with everyone on August 23!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wedding Photos

You can check out some of our professional wedding photos on our awesome photographers, "Something in Blue" 's website... Check them out at www.sibblog.com.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dress Reviews

BRIDAL DRESS: Plumed Serpent in Westport, CT
Grade: B
They were nice, a little overbearing but nothing awful, and I got my dress after two trips since I didn't have much time. When I returned for my second visit, the dress that I originally wanted (and went back to the store to try on one last time and most likely buy) was no longer there, which was annoying. But I found another dress from their trunk show that I ended up with. I had a lot of the problems with the dress - which I believe everyone at the wedding heard of - but those are not the fault of the salon. At that time, I asked them for recommendations for a person to alter my dress in the New Haven area WAAAAYYYY before the dress arrived (the salon is 45-min away), and they said they knew some great people in my area - which was just lip service. Months later when my dress did not seem to be arriving at all, and I called them and they were like, oops, the dress should have been here already, let's find out why it's not here. So they weren't on top of things, the dress came late, and after repeatedly asking for a tailor in my area, and their assuring me they new people, and my waiting for their recommendation, they never gave me any suggestion, I took it to a random tailor since I had limited options b/c everything was late, and the tailor was not good. So while the salon did not ruin the dress, they contributed to my ending up at the tailor that did. If I had known that they wouldn't have had any recommendations, I would have just gotten the alterations at their salon and endured the 45-min one-way trips. But by the time I realized they were never going to give me a name of a New Haven tailor, it was too late.

TAILOR: Vittoria's Shop in Branford, CT
Grade: C-
They may be good with regular alterations, but they were not with my wedding dress. They were also not very organized and I needed them to be, since I didn't have much time to complete the alterations. On more than one occasion, they were not expecting me when I had scheduled an appointment the week prior. The most egregious error on their part was that they waited until my final visit (three days before my wedding) to tell me they could not bustle the dress. They had not mentioned this ONCE in the three weeks leading up to this point - I feel like they should have told me far earlier than this.

PRESSING: Gold Thimble in Rumson, NJ
Grade: A
I dropped off my dress two days before the wedding and they had it ready for me to pick up the next day. The pressing made my dress look like a completely different dress - believe me, this is a good thing. I have no complaints here.

Officiant Review

OFFICIANT: our friend Alex Chung
Grade: A+++
He became an official officiant (for the state of NJ, at least) through gaining online membership to the Universal Life Church. This method was recommended to us by the state of New Jersey, who we called to get the details. It was one of the best decisions we made. Even though it meant we had to work a little harder on the ceremony, and we put pressure on our friend Alex rather than let him enjoy the cocktail hour, it is WAAAAAY nicer, more emotional, more personal, more money-saving to have someone who knows you and loves you officiate your ceremony. It helps to have someone as good at it as Alex was. Who knows, maybe he will make this a regular shtick.

Accommodation Reviews

Grand Lady By the Sea
Grade: A+
Jamie, the proprietor, is so relaxed and helpful. He loves his home and really wants other people to have the chance to enjoy it as much as he does. WE LOVED our stay there. We split the groomsmen into another B&B, and this was the bridesmaids' B&B (although somehow Ryan snuck his way into this B&B, reportedly b/c the other one didn't have any room for him). We took the whole place for the weekend, and Jamie left town letting us do whatever we wanted with it. He even cleared out his fridge and let us use all his kitchen utensils for a Sunday brunch we threw there. Beyond that, he even went around asking his neighbors whether our guests could park in their driveways if we had parking issues. We cannot describe to you what an amazing backyard this place has, with a gazebo, a view of the entire Sandy Hook and Manhattan in the background. It is a perfect place run by a perfect owner.

Blue Bay Inn
Grade: A-
A modern, new, clean boutique hotel in Atlantic Highlands, so a little bit inland from the beaches. It is NOT easy to find nice places on the Jersey shore that would satisfy our Manhattan crowd, but this place was one of them. The staff was helpful. All of our guests received their welcome bags without a hitch. They do have a 2-night minimum like many other places in the summer, which discouraged people who wanted to come down on Saturday only. And managing our reserve block was a little bit difficult at times depending on who answered the phone, but in the end, our guests who did stay there had nothing but nice things to say. They were also very helpful with logistics throughout the course of our wedding weekend and even declined to charge a guest who did not show up for the reservation - clearly losing money in the process. The Blue Bay Inn is also walking distance from the SeaStreak ferry from Manhattan.

Seascape Manor
Grade: B+
We didn't stay here, but most of the groomsmen did. The rooms are nice and the view is fantastic (when they're NOT doing construction on the Highlands Bridge), but the owners are a little odd and surprisingly awkward, considering that they own a B&B. There are also cats and dogs running around the house, so beware if you are allergic to them.

Fairbanks Resort
Grade: B
We weren't expecting much more from this place (see our previous 'Accomodations' entry). The price is right considering it is directly across from the beach. They rooms are okay in decor, but everyone knew that going into the weekend. They did mess up on one of the reservations, but that was quickly rectified. They also had no desire to distribute the welcome bags that we had provided, so we had to hand-deliver them to the guests. Over our wedding weekend, there was a large group of people from Hedonism who were in the area to visit Gunnison Beach (the infamous nude beach). Apparently, Hedonism = middle-aged men milling about the Fairbanks. Just so you know the crowd that hangs there.

AA Getaway Coaches Review

Grade: C
We felt it was important to provide people with a shuttle so that there would be no designated driver issues. We spread ourselves a little thin in terms of the number of hotel stops along the way (5), but we compensated by having A LOT OF communication with the company prior to the wedding, printing EXTENSIVE directions and maps after spending hours determining the shuttle route, and even having one of our friends (thank you, Katie Lamb) go through the entire shuttle route in case the shuttle driver needed help. The guests reported that the shuttle driver often did not know the directions and needed a lot of help. Since neither Ryan nor I took the shuttle, we will never know what really happened on that shuttle, but to our guests, all we can say is we are sorry and had good intentions.

Hair & Makeup Review

Grade: A
She works at the Christian Dior counter at Neiman Marcus at Garden State Plaza. She was amazing and the makeup stayed strong despite my efforts to dance (see separate DJ review). I tried a couple of the more-advertised makeup artists, and I came out of those trials looking like a clown. The makeup was DRAMATIC but NATURAL considering I rarely wear makeup myself. And she is the nicest, coolest cat even when we had a contact lens catastrophe, which helped calm me down significantly. Because of her sweet demeanor, my grandmother agreed to have her makeup done, and she looked fabulous.

HAIR: Edith at Arlette's French Hair Salon in Fair Haven
Grade: B
Again, I wanted a really natural look and had several hair trials with the companies that come on-site, but they left me feeling like I had very fake hair, so I really appreciated that Edith understood my style from the beginning. We had a great hair trial, so I said screw the on-site people, we will all just go to a salon. I liked my wedding day hair, but it was not perfect. I guess my biggest problem is that she continued to try a couple of different things when we had really had the trial, and I just wanted her to re-create that. Instead, all the trying this and that just made my hair frizzier. Still, it is hard to pull off a down-do for a beach wedding, so for the most part, the hair held very well. My overall recommendation for brides is to just put your hair up so that you don't have to worry about it, it's much more manageable. My bridesmaids/mom did not love what she did with their hair, and I think that may be because she is probably not as good spontaneously and tends to play with the hair a lot, and also, her style, like mine, is a bit more natural. She is MUCH less expensive than a lot of other people in that area.

Something in Blue Review

PHOTOGRAPHERS: Something in Blue
Grade: no grade yet
We have seen some of the pics on their blogsite, http://www.sibblog.com/, which are phenomenal. We can't wait to see the rest. They have a great photojournalistic style, and have TWO great photographers rather than a photographer and an assistant. You have to know what you are getting yourselves into- you cannot make recommendations about what pics to take, they are not re-directable, if you will. But I totally trusted that they were going to take the best pics, and who am I to know photography better? They told me that we should take more 'getting-ready' pics rather than pics at the reception of the cake-cutting and bouquet-tossing, so that is what we did. So far it seems the decision has paid off. The only mini-mini gripe we have is that everything was running late that day, so we started the photo session one hour late (through no fault of theirs). But that meant that we had to crunch in our bride-groom pics, wedding party pics, and family pics with one less hour. Furthermore, my family arrived even later, so we didn't get to do a formal session with my family before the ceremony. We had so much going on that day, esp dealing with our DJ issues, that we wish that the photographers had been a little bit more proactive about forcing us to reassemble after the ceremony to get a "Sara's family" pic. However, as we mentioned, it was ultimately our own faults b/c of the lateness upon lateness, and if we had asked them to do it, we are sure they would have.

Food Reviews

MENU: Merrimakers
Grade: A-
They are the exclusive caterers at this site. We actually kind of had some doubts based on some of the reviews that we had read and the food at the tasting, but they really came through. The food was way better than it had been at the tasting. Most importantly, they were TREMENDOUSLY accomodating to our unique, quirky tastes:
  • We wanted a veggie meal that wasn't just pasta - they came up with a great polenta napoleon that was actually the best-rated entree even amongst all the meat-eaters.
  • We totally re-arranged their set menus, and they were like, "sure."
  • We asked for a higher-end beer option, and they gave it to us at no extra charge.
  • We wanted the cocktail hour before the ceremony, they said, "no problem."

It is these little unique and personalized elements that people complimented us for (we had no idea starting with the cocktail hour would be so popular, and at least it meant that I did not have to walk down the aisle alone since my father was 30min late). There were a couple of places for improvement (having two buffet stations so that people didn't have to wait so long and the food got a bit cold; also, we purposely got vanilla and chocolate cake so people would have a choice and explained that to them, but they served the vanilla first, then the chocolate) but when you are doing as much work as them, it is hard to be perfect.

Sandy Hook Review

SITE: Sandy Hook
Grade: A
The caterer Merri-Makers has gotten exclusive rights to manage the site which used to be an oceanside chapel at the tip of Sandy Hook but is now a beautiful, rustic hall with a large outdoor space next to it. They are calling it "The Chapel at Sandy Hook" and it used to be run by the US Park Service. The site has been holding weddings for about a year, and there have only been a handful, so they are learning with each wedding. The site definitely defined my wedding. I wanted to show the people not from NJ how beautiful it can be, and the site is right on the ocean in a National Park with a view of the Manhattan skyline in the background-- how beautiful. We had our ceremony right next to the water and the cocktail hour under a tent. The weather was PERFECT- not too humid, not too windy. We then proceeded inside the newly-renovated hall for the reception. We had 120 people, which really is the max I would recommend if you want to still retain a dance floor. Davina Feingold, the representative from the Fort Hancock organization, was also very involved and sweet.

Something Nice Floral Review

OUR BEST VENDOR: Something Nice Floral
Grade: A+
Carol went out of her way to make us feel comfortable through the process and give us exactly what we (let's face it: me, since Ryan didn't care) wanted. When she felt like I was just going along and not really into a certain concept, she would stop and force me to think about it rather than just go along. Other highlights:
  • The flowers were exactly in the style we had wanted.
  • Carol went out of her way multiple times during the planning process to meet us at the site.
  • All of the other vendors rave about how much they enjoy working with her.
  • Surprisingly inexpensive, considering the high level of work.
  • Carol solved a wedding-day mini-disaster by replacing the flowers on the cake that had wilted (the flowers had originally been provided by the bakery) without charging us at all.

She even gave us a box of chocolates as a wedding gift- could you be more thoughtful?!? In fact, it is weird to call her a vendor, b/c her personal touch made her feel more like a friend. We highly recommend using Something Nice Floral if you can.

DJ Jeffrey Heart Review

Grade: F

He did a good job for the cocktail hour and ceremony - Jeffrey himself was there and everything was fine - but then left some other DJ to do the the reception. The other guy had no idea what was going on. We don't know if this is Jeffrey's fault or the fault of the replacement DJ under him. We had made it clear during the planning process that we wanted OUR playlist of songs to be played at the wedding and even considered doing it ourselves with an iPod but instead ended up hiring DJ Jeffrey Heart, whose website promises "customized/personalized" service. Please find below a list of grievances and feel free to leave a comment (good or bad) here if you have had any experience with this DJ.

  • Only HALF the songs played at the wedding were from the playlist we provided even though he had assured us several times that he would have them all; we even offered to obtain them for him, but he insisted he was capable of pulling everything from iTunes. He claims that he provided all of the music to the replacement DJ; we don't know why it was not used in its entirety since there were more than enough songs.
  • We sent him the schedule for the reception via email - which he acknowledged that he received - but then the replacement had no idea what was going on. Sara ultimately had to re-write the entire schedule for him - in the middle of our own wedding reception!
  • The replacement DJ announced to the crowd 30 min too early that the wedding was ending, so people left the dance floor and started leaving. When I questioned the Jeffrey afterwards, all he could say was that he is not responsible for when people decide to leave.
  • The DJ omitted my dedication song to my bridesmaids; the response was that they were NOT contracted to play ANY specific songs even though Jeffrey's own "wedding day form" asks for requests, including a bridal party thank you dance.
  • They messed up our 'first dance' song - the music started/ stopped for probably 20 seconds/started again, and the moment was ruined.
  • The DJ played the SAME song TWICE during a 3-hr period.

Jeffrey Heart did a fine job when he was at the site during the cocktail hour and ceremony. But information did not get handed off properly to his replacement DJ - we don't know if that was Jeffrey's fault in the communication or the hiring of the replacement. In the contract, it does state that they are allowed to provide a replacement DJ under extenuating circumstances, but ours did not perform adequately. We feel that Jeffrey only partially provided the "customized and personalized" service that he advertises - whether that was his fault or the replacement DJ's fault we do not know.

Remember, leave a comment if you have had interaction with this vendor.