Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Norfolk/Hampton Roads Vendor Reviews

Blue Steel Pro Lighting - Recommended

Lighting seemed like one of those frou-frou unnecessary expenses to me, until Pavaune showed me pictures of the differences between unlit rooms and uplit rooms.  Pavaune found Blue Steel through recommendations from some of our other vendors and handled all of the contract negotiations.  My mom really loved the idea of a personalized gobo (seen during the father daughter dance in the picture below), so we ordered that and the amber uplighting seen in the dance picture below. 

Distinctive Designs Bridal - Recommended

Previously discussed here.

Distinctive Event Rentals - Recommended

Holy rental order, Batman!  I would never have chosen to have the reception at the Harrison Opera House if I were planning the wedding by myself.  The rental is what they call a four walls rental where you end up needing to rent every stick of furniture, dish, spoon, stage, dance floor, etc.  Pavaune took the lead on setting up the rental and the only work I did on this part was Oking the order and previewing the set up at Distinctive Event Rentals show room in Chesapeake.  We rented tables, chairs, napkins, china, glasses, barware, coffee mugs, forks, knives, spoons, salt & pepper shakers, sugar bowls, creamers, the white dance floor, and band stage.  Pavaune also oversaw all of the set-up and tear-down which was tricky over the holiday weekend as we tried to avoid paying extra fees.  Thankfully, no other events were booked at the venue and everything could be delivered on the Wednesday prior to the wedding.

East Beach Catering - Highly Recommended 

Ever since our tasting with East Beach, we were looking forward to eating Kathy's delicious cooking again.  Kathy worked with us to provide family style service which I think turned out awesome (the best of buffet and sit down service combined!).  I stuffed myself.  My bridesmaids kept handing me small plates, Kathy set up plates in a bridal party lounge area, and I served myself from the table until I thought my dress was going to bust at the seams.  I heard nothing but compliments across the board on how good the food tasted.  I don't really remember what we got for appetizers.  Those fried asian rolls in the picture below were scrumptious (along with the dipping sauce).  We had 3 passed appetizers and then a gorgeous display of crudite and cheeses with a few other apps.  Kathy's team plated salads prior to our arrival (spinach, gorganzola, spiced walnuts and cranberries with a warm dressing).  Then servers brought out platters of beef tenderloin, baked tilapia with crab, loaded baked potatoes, and roasted veggies.  One of our groomsmen who has previously insisted that he doesn't like fish, ate two pieces of tilapia and declared himself a convert!  Kathy was really great to work with and had lots of firsthand wedding experience with her two children also marrying in the past year.  She gave us the inside scoop on local vendors and was super flexible with our requests.  Oh, and she didn't charge us a cake cutting fee!  Nice! - Recommended

Previously discussed here, here and here.

Golden Limousine - Recommended 

Vintage cars, trolleys and horse drawn carriages would have all been fun, but we wanted to transport our 22 person bridal party on a scraped together budget.  Hello stretch hummer!  Golden Limousine arrived on time, the driver was very courteous, and Pavaune was able to use it during the reception to haul all the gifts back to the hotel.  Function over form, in this case, was ideal.

Greg Weaver Jazz - Highly Recommended

Previously discussed here.

Harrison Opera House - Highly Recommended

After the venue search from h-e-double hockey sticks,  I couldn't have been more pleased with how things turned out at the Opera House.  The proximity to the church and hotel was ideal.  The spaces lent themselves to the vintage feel and my oft dreamed of long tables.  After a slow communications start on the rental, we had a super positive experience.  Roberta, our contact who was also present during set-up and the event, was super helpful and professional.  She has a lot of experience with events in the space and worked well with Pavaune.  The venue has it's own parking lot which was free to our guests (amazing for a downtown space). Oh, and the bathrooms were spacious and plentiful (important when needing a space to re-install bustles, re-apply make-up and conduct other such womanly business).

{invited} Event Design & Production - Highly Recommended

Previously discussed here.

Laurie Pierce (Ceremony Musician, Violinist) - Highly Recommended
PM me for contact information

Laurie has played the violin for 12 years and gives lessons locally. She met with me over an hour discussing music options, playing sample pieces for me and planning the flow for the ceremony.  She was on time, courteous, sweet, affordable, flexible (learning a new accompaniment for our vocalists) and an overall joy.

Our other musician and vocalists were family and friends.  Mr. Palindrome's cousin lives in northern NJ and can be contacted through us.  My friends, the vocalists, live in Boston and can also be contacted through us.  Read more about it here.

Mariko Photo - Highly Recommended

Read more about my fun bridal portraits here.

Marriott Hotels - Recommended

My in-laws planned a beautiful rehearsal dinner in the piano lounge.  The space was great, perfect for the couch and chairs set up with food stations.  The food was very, very good and they let my in-laws bring their own wine to serve.  My parents rented a hospitality suite attached to their room and it was perfect for getting ready the next day (the ladies had their hair and makeup done), storing decorations/presents on the wedding night, and hosting out of town family/friends for visits.  My in-laws rented the presidential suite where they entertained friends/family and hosted an after party.  Mr. Palindrome and I spent our wedding night in a beautiful room overlooking the water and enjoyed a tasty room service breakfast the next day.  The bell men were amazing helping us get our 4 carts of stuff hauled away the day after the wedding.  The only hiccup was delivering the OOT bags as the hotel was at capacity and they had few hands on deck to perform the task.  Well, there was another hiccup, but not on the part of the hotel.  My dad saw everyone eating small plates from the stations and thought we were being really foolish by stuffing ourselves with appetizers.  He assumed dinner was still forthcoming and didn't realize his error until they had taken away everything but the desserts.  Hahahahahahahaha.  He still gets a bit jealous whenever we mention how good the food was at the rehearsal dinner.

Maya Couture (Dress Alterations) - Highly Recommended

Read more about my experience here and here.

Sam Hughes Photography - Can't Recommend Highly Enough

You've seen his handiwork across my recaps and I describe our working relationship with him here.  I can't emphasize enough how calm Sam was and how that really served to keep Mr. Palindrome and I calm as well.  Besides that, I've got beautiful photographs to boot.  Check out some of moments he captured of our guests that I like to call "Sweetheart Moments."

Save the Date - Recommended

Discussed previously here.

Sheila Rait (Cake) - Can't Recommend Highly Enough
Contact through No Frills Bar and Grill

I talk a lot about my cakes here.  My mouth is watering looking at this pic.  Next time I'm in Norfolk, I'm getting slice!

The Gentlemen and Their Lady - Highly Recommended
Booked through East Coast Entertainment
Discussed in detail here, here, and here.

Trinity Presbyterian Church - Highly Recommended

We were members of Trinity Pres in downtown Norfolk, so it was very meaningful for us to be married there.  The rental was free for members and then we paid for a staff member/wedding coordinator to open/lock the doors and oversee set up and clean up.  We also had to pay a nominal fee for the sound technician. The do rent to non-members and they have a small fellowship hall on the premise as well.  When I was on a "I hate all wedding planning" kick, I considered hosting a small reception in the fellowship hall with champagne and crepes from Baker's Crust (right around the corner from the church).  If you do this, please invite me.  Those crepes are yummy in my tummy.

Wed Safe - Recommended

I actually had nothing to do with procuring the liability insurance for our wedding.  The Harrison Opera House required that we have it.  My mom and Pavaune compared the price of putting a rider on my parent's insurance vs. buying it separate and they concluded by signing a contract with Wed Safe.  Thank goodness we didn't end up needing it! (Surprising, because a lot of people went all out on the dance floor!)

Anyreview, I'm quite happy to talk shop about weddings in Norfolk (or in general), so please feel free to ask any questions you may have!  Love to my fellow brides in the 757!

*All photos by the wonderful Sam Hughes


Maggie said...

Heh - 757 - I was confused at first as to why you were referring to Ben's boat number... :) Area code...duh...

melinda said...

Hahahahaha! I think that whenever anyone says 710 (J's old boat) - You can take the people out of the Navy, but you can't completely take the Navy out of the people!

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