Happy #WeddingWednesday! I wanted to spend today talking about the process of choosing our wedding vendors while sharing some more of our pre-ceremony photos. I’ll warn you now that this post got much longer than anticipated.
To start, we got married at the Watermark at Shully’s in Thiensville, WI – right in the heart of our hometown. We looked at quite a few venues throughout the Milwaukee area, and I even sent some one-off emails to venues in Lake Geneva and Kohler. I also forgot until I started typing this post that my mom and I even drove to a winery in Rockford (I think?) one day that was just starting to host weddings. Clearly, we were a bit all over the place. It was one of those we need to see every single possible option before making a decision (and by we I mean me) and knowing that we had weighed all of the options. Since Bill and I both grew up in Mequon and have large families that still live in the area (my mom is one of eight), it made the most sense to find a venue in our hometown, and the Watermark could not have been more perfect for us.
It had a beautiful outdoor space for the ceremony, a tented area for cocktails with flooring (this was also our rain backup plan which made me feel a lot more sane knowing we wouldn’t need to scramble due to the weather day of, if needed) and then a gorgeous banquet room for dinner and dancing. Another added bonus of the banquet room that we didn’t anticipate was that guests could access an air conditioned space really quickly. It was h-o-t the day of the wedding.
We also went with Shully’s because their food is incredible. The tasting was one of my favorite parts of the planning process, and I even used our wedding meal as part of my anniversary gift for Bill. More on that later.
I could spend an entire post raving about our photographer. We feel so lucky to have gotten to work with Quyen and even luckier to now call her a friend before photographer. During one of my late night vendor searches, or as I like to call it a black hole of online searching, I stumbled upon Molly’s blog and absolutely loved her wedding photos. I sent her an email, and she couldn’t say enough amazing things about Quyen.
I quickly sent Quyen a note, and she asked if I had time to talk over the phone. This really stood out to me during the search process. At first, I was all I don’t really think I have time for a call, but the second we started talking, I knew I wanted to work with her. I had already stalked her work and could see how talented she was and as we kept talking, she felt like an old friend. She’s one of those people that you feel great just being around. Quyen was a complete rock star the day of the wedding – she made the group photos as painless as possible for the guys and had us laughing along the way, all while capturing really genuine moments. We will treasure these photos forever.
After solidifying our photographer, I started the search for a videographer in the area that wouldn’t completely break the bank. I love wedding videos, but wow can they get pricey. A friend at work told me about Character D Films. The owner is also from our hometown so we met over margaritas and chips and queso so you could say I pretty much knew on the spot that we would get along just fine. The team was incredibly nice and talented, and I cry every.single.time I watch our video.
Here’s the link to the video – I have more stories to share about the day, but I watched it last night as I was writing this post and got too excited and am sharing it early. Patience isn’t my strong suit.
We worked with Impressions by Esther Fleming on the flowers. We had heard really good things about her through the grapevine. More specifically, we heard that she could do a really great job for a really great price. As we looked at the budget, we knew this couldn’t be something we went crazy on even though I would have liked to put flowers everywhere. Esther was patient with us as we figured what we wanted and determined our price point. She offered creative solutions at each meeting and ultimately did a great job for a great price point. The other benefit to working with Esther is that I swear she had at least one of everything you could possibly need. In addition to the flowers, she provided the oversized frames for our place cards, picture frames that went around the guest book, vases, candles and more.
One tip if you work with Esther: She is hard to get in touch with. Once you schedule an appointment with her and meet in person, do not leave without scheduling your next meeting. Otherwise, it might be awhile. Don’t say I didn’t warn you 😉
We got our hair and makeup done at Erik of Norway. I was really impressed with them throughout the entire process. They were extremely accommodating for our larger wedding party and super easy to work with, not to mention the fact that I wanted to be best friends with my hairdresser and makeup artist. That reminds me that I need to go back and pay them a visit. I would love to get another makeup tutorial from their team.
I mentioned this in my last post, but our wedding planner was a total life saver. As I’m reminded as we continue to search for a house, I was not and am still not great at making big decisions. Everything took longer than it needed to, and I was having a hard time picturing all of the different elements and how they would work together. Amanda would help me narrow down choices, keep me on schedule and offer inspiration and solutions whenever needed. The day of the wedding, she kept things moving and went above and beyond throughout the night.
I’ll share more about the really important things like our cake and the band next week, but for now, I included a full list of our vendors below. My overall recommendation for choosing wedding vendors (especially your photographer, videographer and planner) is to find people you genuinely want to spend time with throughout the planning process and the day of the wedding. If you’ve been emailing back and forth and still aren’t quite sure, take the time to meet with them in person, if you’re able, or talk to them on the phone.
With all of that being said, one of the best pieces of advice a family friend shared with us (thanks, Doc Seymour) was to remember that this is about the marriage not the wedding. At the end of the day, the ceremony was the most important part for us and a really, really special moment with our family and friends. So, we can talk all about the pretty little things, but I think this is a very valuable reminder.
FULL VENDOR LIST
Dress: Bliss Bridal | Seamstress: Tina Cotton (message me for contact info) | Hair and Makeup: Erik of Norway | Flowers: Impressions by Esther Fleming | Logo: Ink Jelly | Invitations: Lexi Swain (Bill’s cousin and one of my amazing bridesmaids) | Band: Northcoast Orchestra | Location: Watermark at Shully’s | Rentals: Canopies | Cake: Simmas Bakery | Linens: BBJ Linen | Videography: Character D Films | Photography: June & Jae | Wedding Planner: The Bride Consultant