It is customary on bridal websites for brides to review their vendors for others' information. Here are my reviews of my major vendors:
Venue/Battery Gardens: A+
I can’t say enough about Battery Gardens. First of all, the space is gorgeous, with spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and New York Harbor. It was also very affordable, by NYC standards, because we chose a date in February. Finally, the food is terrific, Asian-influenced and very well presented. And, they have the option of having Peking Duck, which I adore. With just these things I would have been happy, but in addition, their staff is excellent, and extremely professional. Alex, the Catering Manager, made sure he knew all of the details I wanted, and took care to arrange everything the way I requested. Eddie, our Maitre d’ for the evening, kept everything running smoothly and on schedule. The wait staff was unobtrusive and kept my water glass filled (my major criteria for table service, since I drain water glasses at a rate of about one every ten minutes). Most of all, I really felt that they wanted the wedding to be exactly as I wanted it—that it was a point of pride for them that everything ran seamlessly without causing me any grief or worry. They succeeded in this, and I appreciated it so much. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Officiant/Julie Laudicina: A+
Julie is a secular celebrant, and she proved that a wedding needn’t be religious to be meaningful. Everyone was raving about our ceremony throughout the night, something I don’t think I’ve heard at other weddings I’ve been to. She created something very personal and moving, and that captured our personalities perfectly. Many, many guests told us it made them tear up, because she really made it clear what it was that we felt for each other and how special the day was to us. Julie began writing the ceremony back in November, when she sent us a detailed questionnaire for us to fill out separately. Then we reviewed drafts of the ceremony, refining it via email and a phone conversation until it was pretty good. Then, she delivered it in such a way that it became perfect: I was struck by how much more special the ceremony sounded when she spoke it over how it had read on the page. It really was exactly what we wanted, and it set the tone for the entire evening of celebration with the people we love. I actually think, now that I’ve gone through it and heard the feedback from our guests, that nothing personalizes your wedding more than a personalized ceremony done right. No one commented on any of the details I slaved over—the Blurb guestbook, the postcard table names, the travel mug favors, etc.—the thing they all talked about was the ceremony.
Flowers/Antheia Floral Design: A
When I started calling florists for the wedding, I quickly realized that my demands were going to be challenging: I wanted red flowers three days after Valentine’s Day, and I did not want to spend more than $2,000. Only three florists did not laugh at me, and only two had proposals that did not look like they were cheap. I chose Angie at Antheia because she seemed calm and her aesthetic suited my style better. I wasn’t disappointed. Not only did she do very pretty centerpieces and a bridal bouquet I loved, she came in more than $200 under budget. Angie was hugely busy in the week before my wedding because of Valentine’s Day, but I never felt that she had forgotten about me or that I was an afterthought. Because I ended up with fewer guests than I had originally expected, we made some last minute changes to the plan and she was accommodating and helpful. Furthermore, when I was really not sure what I wanted the bridesmaids’ bouquets to look like, she offered some great suggestions and created something pretty with very little guidance from me.
Hair/Stacy Pitt: A
Stacy gets lots of raves and they are deserved. I had two trials with her, one almost a year ago when I first hired her and one just a few weeks before the wedding. She is so calm and cares so much about making her brides beautiful, not just for her own professional reputation but I think because she wants brides to be beautiful. My hair was not behaving on the day of the wedding: Stacy had to take it down and start again three times, and we got very behind schedule. I think she was more upset about stressing me out than I was stressed. In the end, because the style we had decided on in the trial just wasn’t working, Stacy created a fallback style on the spot, and it looked great and stayed perfect throughout the night. You would never have known it wasn’t what we had planned. In addition, Stacy made my mom and my bridesmaid Laura, who both have short hair and figured there was nothing to do with their hair, look elegant and flirty and terrific.
Makeup/Laura Nadeau: A+
Laura also gets lots of thoroughly deserved raves. Like Stacy, I get the impression that Laura loves brides and loves being able to make them beautiful. She’s also a lot of fun to have around when you are getting ready. She was faced with four women (me, my mom, and my two bridesmaids) who rarely if ever wear makeup (she was astonished that my mother, at 72, had never used any eye makeup. Ever), and she handled the task perfectly and made all of us look beautiful but natural. She hung around well after the makeup was done to help however she could in the last moments before the ceremony. When my MIL’s corsage broke, she sat down and tried to fix it with a safety pin. It was like having another girlfriend around to gossip and laugh and help. She was great.
DJ/Expressway Music, David Swirsky: B+/A-
This is tough review to write as I think there were a few things with the space that made the music challenging. Battery Gardens is a huge room, and we had only 100 guests, so the dance floor felt very far away. Dave had to work pretty hard to keep anything going on the floor, and mixed it up quite a bit. It was a great mix of Motown, 80s music, hip-hop, a little big band, and everyone felt included. Several of our guests commented that the music was great. Dave absolutely respected our “do not play” criteria (no line dances, no breakup songs, no “Celebration”). However, there were a couple songs we specifically requested he play that he didn’t, and we were a bit disappointed, though he explained that these were decisions he made in an attempt to keep the dancing going, and we had emphasized that dancing was our biggest priority. As far as the guests were concerned, the music was great and helped create a good party atmosphere. Alas, I think because of the space the music was more of a background, and I'm not sure how we could have fixed this, honestly. I do want to say that Dave himself was great, my husband and he really connected, and he obviously loves music and what he does.
Photographer/Agaton Strom: A
This is a provisional grade, since I haven’t yet seen any of the photos :-). But we were really, really happy with Agaton, who was there from early in the day until the end of the wedding, traveling from Battery Gardens where the groom and groomsmen were decorating, to the hotel where I was getting ready, and back to Battery Gardens for the wedding. He was very professional and unobtrusive, but whenever I turned around he seemed to be there, capturing the action. The bunch of us piled into two cabs to go from the hotel to the venue, and Agaton was in a different cab from me, yet when I got there, he was waiting to catch me emerging. He even offered, at the end of the night, to pop in to our brunch the next day for half an hour, since it was just a few blocks from his studio, to sort of capture the end of the wedding, and when we arrived he was there, shooting us coming down the street. He was generous and good humored, and we were really happy to have him. I can’t wait to see the pictures!