Friday, July 30, 2010

second photographer interview: Turnquist Photography

This may sound horrible, but I liked Tiffany so much yesterday that I really wanted to hate Rebecca and Jesse of Turnquist Photography - but I couldn't do it!  (Look at their blog too - this is where they show pictures that are more like Tiffany's and more like what we want.)

They welcomed us into their beautiful home and offered us lemonade.  They had a sample DVD running on their TV the whole time, and a coffee table filled with samples for us to touch and look at.

In all honesty, their packages and pricing were almost identical to Tiffany's, so I'm not going to discuss those in this blog entry.  Although they were a little quieter and a bit more subdued in personality, we still felt that they understood our needs, cared about what we want, and would be able to produce beautiful images for us.  We would definitely recommend them to other couples looking for wedding photographers.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

first photographer interview: Tiffany Wayne

I. Love. Her.

It's overwhelming searching the web for a good wedding photographer, but when you find one that's amazing you know right away.  The shots on Tiffany Wayne's website are beyond fabulous for what I would expect from wedding photos.  I first contacted Tiffany through the contact form on her website and she got back to me within a day and was ready to set up an appointment.

She came to our home so that we could meet with her, and she was a little bit late (less than 10 minutes), but I don't hold that against her at all because I think everyone gets lost when they come to our house for the first time - that's what happens when you live at on a dead end road at the end of a corn field with a crooked street sign.  She was so concerned about being late, which is great, because who wants to hire a professional that doesn't care about punctuality!  I was actually a little nervous about having someone come to my home for a meeting, but then I realized... If I'm not comfortable having this person in my house, then how will I ever be comfortable having her take my picture while I'm getting dressed?  After that I was cool.

Tiffany is about our age, which always makes it easier to relate to someone, but she was so confident and cheery that I think pretty much anyone would like her (except for maybe my grumpy grandma Mildred).  I also loved how she was dressed very professionally even though she was just coming over to our house for a half hour - no worries about having her show up to my wedding in jeans and a wife-beater!

I loved how instead of simply showing us all of the stuff we can buy from her, she began by talking to us about how we met and what we were like, and she really only produced things for us to look at when it came up naturally in the conversation.  We were able to see a book of her photos and an example of a published wedding book.  She also gave us a folder containing pricing and packages, an example contract, business card, and glossed up shiny postcards with her website and business information on them (and truly, who can help but love something shiny?).

When we got down to actually talking about photos, Tiffany made sure that she understood the styles, posing, colors, locations, etc. that we were looking for.  Tiffany also suggested a way that we could alter one of the packages to better fit our needs, which was really helpful because we wouldn't have thought of that on our own; for example, we could substitute having a second photographer and instead have an engagement shoot (which we would call an "I love you shoot" - since we're not truly engaged).  Tiffany also brought up the idea of a photobooth which is something I really want to do.  I've seen other photographers mention that on their websites and they charge extra for it, but Tiffany included it in her package for us.

The thing I liked the most was how Tiffany's face lit up when I explained that we aren't looking for formal or traditional wedding photos - we are looking for creative and artisitc shots, something really unique.  It was like I gave a 5-year-old a whopping chunk of chocolate cake.  That moment convinced me that we wouldn't get some clich├ęd wedding portraits with people standing in a line - let's move beyond 1985, people!

My only cons (which aren't really cons) are two small things:
1. I wished that I was able to see her packages and pricing before our appointment - even though I told her my budget in the initial email and she let me know that she did have packages in that range.
2. After meeting with her, I wish that she had posted something on her website about being able to do photobooths.  If I had known that she could do that, I might not have even made the appointment with the second photographer, because that's something I was really looking for.

However, based on our interview, I would recommend Tiffany Wayne 100% to anyone who asked.  Although we haven't made our decision yet, because we have another appointment scheduled, we were very impressed with Tiffany and we think she would be an excellent fit for our needs.

Friday, July 23, 2010

the one that wasn't "the one"

In another life, with a different budget, this would have been "the dress" for me...

Also, I love these handmade garters from The Garter Girl on Etsy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ordered my dress!

Last night was my turn to play dress-up at David's Bridal.  I must say, the consultant who was helping me was fabulous - which leads me to believe that Erin's consultant last week was just bad at her job.

Tip #1: Research online before your appointment, and bring photos or magazine pages with you.
I arrived with Erin, and my parents came a few minutes later.  We started the process by having me fill out a little form with my information and the groom's information, which they need because David's is affiliated with Men's Wearhouse.  Right from the start my consultant was with us helping me pick out dresses.  She asked me what I had in mind and I explained, as well as showed her pictures I had printed out from the David's website.  I highly recommend doing this, since it seemed to make it easier for her to see what I was looking for, and she had style numbers right on the printouts to help her find exactly what I wanted.  She let me pick out so many dresses to start with that we had to put most of them in a second dressing room!  With two people in the room, only about three dresses can comfortably fit in there at once.

Tip #2: Try on dresses and accessories that you think you won't like, just to see.
Tip #3: Don't let the first dress you try on be the one that you think will be your favorite.
Tip #4: Only bring along people whose judgment you completely trust.

For a girl who doesn't like to shop, and really doesn't like to try on clothes, I have to admit that this was a lot of fun.  Erin made me try on a bunch of dresses that she had picked out before letting me try on the dress that I loved from the magazine.  I'm a good sport, so I just did whatever she told me to - of course, I trust her judgement.  This turned out to be a great idea, because it made me appreciate the dresses that I knew I would like more than I maybe would have if I had started out with those.  I also tried on a veil just for the heck of it, even though I knew I didn't want one.  I even put on a fairy tale dress just for fun, and I actually loved it and didn't want to take it off - even though it was way too long for our venue, and even though it was four times the price of what I could afford.  If I could have stolen it to play dress-up at home with, believe me I would have.

Tip #5: If you like a dress, bring it over to a window where you can see it in natural light.

It took me about an hour, I narrowed it down to three, then to two dresses, and my consultant was by my side the entire time.  When I was trying to decide between the two (both Galina), she took me out into a naturally lit area, brought me different sashes to try with them, let me try on a bunch of different shoes, and mess with my hair for what felt like forever to me, but was probably not that much time.  All of this really helped me, and the deciding factor was when I saw the dresses in the natural light.  One sparkled much more in sunlight and that sold me on it.

Once I had made up my mind, our consultant continued to stay with us and help my mom try on dresses, even though she had to help another bride at that point as well, and she was just as helpful with my mom as she was with me.  I wish that they'd had more plus size mothers' dresses for her to try on, but I am happy to say that we were able to find a nice dress relatively quickly, in a color that she likes, and they were willing to order it in her size for her (she bought it in "light mocha" and I don't know why it says "online only" on the website, because it's not).

In the end, I am totally pleased with my dress (but I will not show it on here until the ceremony, because I want it to be a surprise).  I think that, even though many people have bad-mouthed David's Bridal, if you are a bride on a budget it is worth looking at with these tips in mind: browse one day on your own and observe the consultants to try to get a feel for which ones seem attentive and helpful, try to go during a weekday when there are less brides there, and make an appointment.  Even if you don't find what you're looking for, it's an experience worth having.

Post-script: When we checked out they gave us a ton of coupons!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

a unique perspective

WUHAN, CHINA - MARCH 6:  People talk behind we...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Yesterday evening I went with a friend, Erin, to try on wedding dresses at David's Bridal - she is getting married in August 2011.  Even though my own appointment for dress shopping isn't until next week, I think it's important to share my experience as a neutral friend (I'm less biased since I am not related to the bride, nor am I a member of the wedding party), and I'm sure it will be a very different experience when I am the bride.

Her appointment was at 6:00 PM, but we all arrived around 5:30 PM.  The staff allowed Erin to begin trying on dresses early, and ultimately I feel that this may have been a poor decision - but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I don't know if it was because David's is in the midst of the famous "$99 sale" or if the store is always like this, but when I first walked in I was completely overwhelmed.  There were racks and racks of bridal gowns to my right, 20 or more mirrors straight ahead of me, and tons of racks of bridesmaid dresses to my left.  People were moving and bustling about everywhere.  I saw Erin, her mother, and her sister and when I approached them she explained that the consultant helping her told her to go through the racks and pull 3 or so dresses that she wanted to begin with.  At first we couldn't figure out where the sale racks were, we couldn't figure out where her size was, and it is extremely difficult to decide if you want to try on a dress when it is covered in a thick plastic garment bag.  After we had been aimlessly milling around for a few minutes, a different consultant finally helped us find where we needed to be looking, and after several more minutes the four of us had found 6 or so dresses to begin with.

The next step was to stand at the end of the racks holding ridiculously heavy dresses and wait to be helped again.  This time a third different consultant helped us get Erin into a changing room - where her own consultant finally began to help her.  It turns out that her consultant was in the middle of helping another girl with dresses at the same time.  I suspect that this may have been the result of allowing Erin to begin trying on her dresses before her actual appointment.  I wish that she could have had the devoted attention of her consultant right from the beginning.

As time went on and more women left the store, Erin was given more attention, which significantly improved the experience.  My favorite part was when Erin's consultant went on break and we had a different girl working with us for awhile.  I can't even describe how much better she was than the first woman.  At one point during the first consultant's break - when Erin, her mother, and her sister were all in dressing rooms and I was waiting for them to come out - the substitute consultant sat down next to me as I flipped though the catalog and discussed the dresses that I want to try on next week.  It wasn't even my appointment right then and she took the time to talk to me while I was waiting alone.  Now that is going above and beyond!

In the end, Erin found a beautiful dress in the David's Bridal collection and actually purchased it.  None of us were sure if it was the right thing to do - buying a dress during the very first shopping trip - but it was clear that Erin was in love with the dress and she looked absolutely beautiful wearing it, so I don't really see how she could go wrong buying it.  One more negative comment about Erin's consultant and that's it:  She told Erin that this particular dress was being discontinued, and also that it used to cost twice the price that was currently on the tag - which put a lot of pressure on Erin to make a decision about buying it right then versus waiting a month and trying on more dresses.  I did a little searching on the David's Bridal website afterward and found out that the consultant was full of baloney.  The dress is marked "NEW!" in big red letters on the website, and she was right about it being on sale - but it's only on sale by $50, not half the price.  I feel that was kind of a used-car-salesman action and I'm not too impressed by that move.

My final words...
While the disparity of skills between consultants at David's Bridal was glaringly obvious - almost to the point of being humorous - I can say that all of the dresses there were well made, excellent quality, and mostly affordable (if you stick with the David's Bridal collection and stay away from the major designers).  I would recommend the store to brides at least in the beginning - for the experience of a big gown retailer, if nothing else - and I am looking forward to my own appointment next week.

To the random bridezilla who asked one of her bridesmaids, "Could you not wear that color nail polish on the day of the wedding?" - chill out!

Monday, July 12, 2010

station dining vs. buffet

Copperfield offers, in addition to a variety of seated menus, something called "Station Dining."  I assumed this was the same thing as buffet, but I was wrong.  I asked on two forums what the differences are and here is what I learned:

Station Dining is basically different tables set up in corners of the room, each station with a different type of food.  Sometimes there is a chef preparing, finishing, or slicing the food right at that table.  The benefit to having stations instead of a buffet is that people don't get backed up in a long line.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

complete success

If yesterday had never happened, I do not think that I would have appreciated the ease of today as much as I did.

We had a brilliantly beautiful drive (starting at 6:45 AM) up to North Creek, where we had an appointment at The Copperfield Inn.  The space is beautiful, the staff are extremely polite and friendly, and the location - while giving us quite a bit of privacy - is only about half an hour's drive from Lake George.  We loved it.  We were shown three different suites - a regular one, one with a jacuzzi, and a townhouse one that had a spiral staircase leading to a second level.  On the wedding night we would be able to stay in a suite free of charge - and if we hold the ceremony at the inn then we won't have to pay a site fee.  We were also shown three possible event rooms that we could choose from, as well as options outside.  Since we'd like to have the ceremony outside, we would have to walk across the street where there are pavilions along a river.  We were also impressed by how huge the fitness room is (even though that has nothing to do with the event).

After poking around for a bit on our own at Copperfield, we went to our next appointment at Cresthaven Lodges in Lake George.  To be honest, we'd seen this place from a boat on the lake before, and driven past it on our way to camping, and we didn't really think it was that great - but, it is much nicer once we actually drove into the location itself.  The cabins are really cute and it has a great view of the lake.  The bottom portion of the restaurant is actually right over top of the lake, so the water sloshes around under the floor - which we thought was cool.  We met with someone from the Boathouse Restaurant and discussed what our options would be.  Since our party will only be about 40-50 people, we were told that they would only be able to close down half of the restaurant for us.  We didn't really feel that this would give us the privacy that we desire, even though the space was very nice.  We also would be restricted to having the wedding in the beginning or middle of June, or September or October - neither of which are really want we want.  Because of this information, we decided not to bother looking at the lodging.

We were so smitten with Copperfield that we also decided to cancel our last appointment of the day - which would have been at the North Woods Inn.  It was really too far of a distance for us and we didn't love the place based on the website.

We got back in the car and immediately called Copperfield to reserve our date there - July 3, 2011!

Now we have to pay the deposit, figure out how many people will be coming and want to stay at the inn so that they can block out some rooms, and sign the contracts.  I'm not really sure how to go about doing this - it seems like we wouldn't really know how many people are coming and lodging until we send out the invitations a couple of months before the actual wedding.  I am going to email our contact at the inn and find out what she suggests...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

lessons of the day

Here was today's plan:
Drive to Jimbo's Club at the Point for a 10:30 AM meeting with their wedding contact.  Pick up some lunch at Lake George Village and maybe shop or sit by the lake to kill some time between appointments.  Drive to Dunham's Bay Resort for a 3:00 PM meeting with their wedding contact.  Go home and reflect.  I had printed out all the maps and phone numbers we would need and I had even remembered to bring my wedding planning binder and my camera.

Here's what actually happened:
About two-thirds of the way to Jimbo's we got stuck behind two people from New Jersey driving pretty slow, which made us start to run late.  Up until that point we had been on perfect time and even had a chance to stop for some iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts.  We were driving on a beautiful road through glacial valleys with little streams and fantastic foliage, just enjoying the ride.  However, I think these two cars from New Jersey were sent to us straight from hell with the sole purpose of throwing a wrench into my perfectly planned day.  It was around mile 6 of following behind these people that I started to become nervous that we were going to be late.  It was around mile 7 that my husband and I both realized we had bathroom emergencies and weren't going to make it.  So, put yourself in our shoes for a moment (we've all been there at one time or another): we are running late, stuck behind really slow drivers, on a road that twists and bumps and continuously requires us to hit the brakes which puts pressure on our seatbelts - and we have to pee like it's our job.  Eventually (but not soon enough) the people from New Jersey pulled off at a lookout - and we resolved our bathroom emergency (no one wants the details*).  After taking care of business we were approximately 7 minutes late and according to the map we had about 5 more miles to go, so we booked it.  I thought we could make it without being so late as to look like idiots.

Lesson #1: Double-check your internet map before you go... and don't trust the GPS either.

The map I had printed out from Google was totally wrong and the GPS is Google-powered so it was giving us the same directions.  We drove around for another 15 minutes trying to find the place - turning around and going back and forth I can't even tell you how many times (we even stopped at a community building to ask for directions, but it was closed) before I realized the truth about our map.  And all the while I was looking for a cell signal so that I could call our contact and let her know we were running late and couldn't find the place.  The map had taken us to addresses in the 9000's on Route 8 and we needed to be in the 7000's.  In a city this isn't such a big deal - but we're talking the Adirondacks here.  Half an hour late, I thought we would get there quickly - we didn't.  We finally arrived at our true location just to realized that it is a camp for girls.  There were kids everywhere.  I may have seen this on the website a month ago, but if so I forgot.  *sigh*  We pretty much knew that we had missed our meeting and wouldn't be able to be shown around the location, but figured it was worth a try anyway.  Once we realized it was a camp we just did a quick drive through and waved goodbye.  This was not the place for us.  I never even managed to reach our contact person - so if she reads this... I'm sorry!

Back on the highway to Lake George Village.  On the way I decided to call our second appointment to see if possibly we could have it earlier, since we'd had such a joyful morning.

Lesson #2: Confirm every appointment - even if it was scheduled over the phone.

The conversation went something like this:
Hello, this is ---- at Dunham's Bay Resort.  How may I help you?
Hi, ----, my name is Kristen.  I have an appointment today - I believe it's with you actually - at 3:00 to discuss wedding options.
*silence* Hmm... really?  That's strange - I don't have any appointments today because I have a wedding at 3:00.
Um... oh... ok... *silence*
I'm not sure who you talked to when you set this up -- (*allow me to interrupt*)
I spoke to you actually.
Really?... *silence*
So, can I reschedule?
Yes, of course!  Let me see...
Well, I'm actually in the car right now and I don't have my calendar, so I'll call you tomorrow.

Cue the crying.  I had confirmed 4 out of the 5 appointments we had planned this weekend, except for that one because I scheduled it over the phone and all the others were scheduled through email.

We were so stressed at this point that we opted for McDonald's for lunch - which we never eat.  Of course this couldn't be easy, either.  The McDonald's didn't have a parking lot (have you ever heard of such a thing?) so we parked at the motel next door at the risk of getting towed, then brought our food back to the car and ate there.  Not the lunch I had in mind.  While eating we decided to drive up the east side of the lake and drive through Dunham's Bay anyway just to see it, and also see what was at the lake.  Turns out we hated the place anyway, so in a way it was good.

I didn't even get to use my camera.  Hopefully tomorrow will be more successful!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

rubber address stamp

Since I am going to make my own invitations (hopefully out of eco-friendly materials from Michael's) I thought it would be cool to have an address stamp.  I saw a beautiful one in the Summer 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Weddings and found the creator on Etsy.  Bought it today and waiting for the proof!