Mrs. Filly’s guide to getting the most out of your vendors: treat them the way you would like to be treated.
This means feed them, tip them (all of them, not just the non-business owners!), and be nice to them. Easy. As. Pie.
I loved every single thing about my wedding. But I didn’t do any of it myself (and thank god for that!) Stallion and I had an excellent group of vendors who went above and beyond to make sure every single aspect of our day was perfect, and I’m thrilled to give them all a shout-out here on Weddingbee.
Attention, all South Jersey/Philadelphia area brides – if you’re looking for vendors, I can vouch for these people 100% and I would not hesitate to recommend any of them to a friend. In fact, I already have.
In the interest of full disclosure, none of my vendors were aware that I blogged for Weddingbee, so as far as they were concerned, I was just another bride. They had no incentive to treat me any differently than they would anyone else. Meaning? You’ll get the same fantastic treatment that I did.
You’ll notice I’m not including budget information in this post. That’s because, for the most part, my vendors don’t publicly disclose their prices, so I felt uncomfortable blogging about it. We took care of our guests, everyone had an awesome time, and we didn’t go into debt over it, so I’m at peace with what we spent on the wedding. If anyone has any questions regarding our budget, feel free to message me – I’d be happy to discuss the details in private.
So here we go – here are all the fabulous folks who made our wedding day so wonderful. All photos, unless specifically noted, are courtesy of Aleksey Photography.
Venue/catering/accomodations – The Grand Hotel, Cape May, NJ
I cannot say enough wonderful things about our venue. From the moment I walked in the door, Katlyn Mogavero (the incredible wedding coordinator) took such great care of us. She was super responsive with emails, she answered all my (often ridiculous) questions, and she has an amazing eye for detail. At our wedding tasting last fall, she remembered every single couples’ names, wedding dates, and wedding details without a moment’s hesitation.
Here’s the thing. Finding a beautiful venue or delicious catering or anything like that isn’t too difficult, especially in Cape May. And our venue was absolutely beautiful and the food was incredibly delicious, so that was great. But the thing that especially stood out about the Grand is how we were treated. The flexibility, the willingness to help us with anything we needed, the lack of pretention or attitude – that can be hard to find. And that’s what was so special about the Grand. I looked at pretty much every single wedding venue in Cape May, and I can assure you, it does not get any better than the Grand.
Get married at the Grand, work with Katlyn, and everything will be beyond perfect. End of story.
Photography – Aleksey Photography, Cape May, NJ
I mean, you guys have seen the quality of the photography we got, so I don’t need to go into detail about that. Suffice it to say that Stallion and I were absolutely thrilled with our photos. The hardest part was narrowing down what we wanted to put in the album, since we loved every single picture! We wanted a casual, photojournalistic style, and that’s exactly what we got. Aleks blended into the background so much that once the formal photos were done, we completely forgot he was there – he did an amazing job of capturing us naturally, in our element. He’s so nice, it’s impossible not to feel at ease working with him. And he’s incredibly efficient – we were done with our formal photos in a snap, leaving us plenty of time to let loose and have fun with our guests. We didn’t get a second shooter, and frankly, we didn’t need one – Aleks got every single shot we could have possibly wanted.
For those of you who are wondering, our package included an engagement shoot and eight hours of coverage. We received an 8×10 print of our choice, all digital and hard copy proofs (1,200 photos in all!), our album, and two parent albums. Our contract stipulated that we were to receive our photos within six to eight weeks following our wedding, but we received our photos just after the four-week mark. So I was able to get my recaps going right away, you lucky ducks!
Entertainment – The B Street Band, Belmar, NJ
Here’s my favorite thing about the B Street Band. They’ve played venues big and small, to crowds small and large, all throughout the country. They’ve played in front of the Boss himself. And they played our wedding with as much energy and enthusiasm as they would the biggest show of their lives. I know in our contract, they indicated they would take a break at some point during the evening, but they never did – they kept the party rocking all night long, from start to finish. The set list was about a quarter Springsteen songs and three-quarters everything else, I think. I don’t remember exactly; I just remember dancing my face off. They’re the best.
Ceremony music – Catherine Boyd, Cape May, NJ
Catherine came highly recommended by the Grand, and since I trusted Katlyn implicitly, I took her word for it. And right away, I knew I’d made the right call – she was incredibly affordable, she’s a total sweetheart, and she will take the time to find the sheet music and learn ANY song you ask of her. The only regret I have about booking her is that I wasn’t able to listen to her beautiful prelude since I was hidden away on the other side of the hotel! But the parts that I could hear were pretty perfect.
We booked Catherine to play a half hour prelude and the ceremony. She provided her own amplification and provided a microphone for our officiant as well. I could not have asked for more. Frankly, I would have paid two or three times her asking rate, because she’s that good.
Floral – The Manic Botanic, Corbin City, NJ
I think I’ve posted approximately ten million photos of my flowers, so you guys have a good idea of what they look like. Manic Botanic wasn’t the most affordable florist we looked at, but the splurge was well worth it (not that they were unreasonably expensive or anything, don’t get me wrong!). I don’t know anything about flowers, but their work stood head and shoulders above the other florists we looked at. I didn’t really have a vision for my flowers, so I had them go to town with whatever they thought would look good, and oh my, they knocked it out of the park. I could not have asked for more beautiful flowers. (And Tami, who I first met with when I had my consultation there, recently got engaged – congratulations!!)
Our package included one bridal bouquet, three bridesmaids’ bouquets, two corsages for our moms, five boutonnieres (groom, two groomsmen, and two dads), a ceremony arch, flower petals along the aisle, sweetheart table decor, twenty centerpieces, cake flowers, and a complementary bathroom arrangement in lieu of a toss bouquet.
Cake – Blue Dolfin Sweets, Marmora, NJ
I knew I would like Stefan when, following our cake tasting, we had to stagger back out to our car, loaded with a ton of free goodies to take home. (“You like this? It’s great! Take one!” over and over and over) His prices are beyond affordable – we got our cakes plus a Viennese table for an absolute steal – and everything is sooooo delicious. Our cake was the opposite of the stereotypical bland, dry wedding cake. We had a vanilla cake with chocolate chips, raspberry mousse filling, and buttercream frosting, and the slice I wolfed down on my way to the afterparty was absolute heaven.
My favorite thing about Stefan? He tells it like it is. He was very up front about what would and would not work and what we could achieve within our budget. It was really refreshing.
Downside? He’s casual. Very casual. So casual, in fact, that we didn’t actually have a formal contract with him. We gave him a tiny deposit and he jotted our names and wedding date down in a notebook, and that’s all there was to it. There was one small communication issue that could have been solved if we had had a formal contract, but honestly, it isn’t worth detailing here because it’s so minor. I’m still extremely happy with how everything turned out, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use him again.
Uplighting – DFX Soundvision, West Berlin, NJ
DFX was another vendor recommended by Katlyn, and it was another spot-on recommendation! Megan was familiar with my venue and was extremely respectful of our budget. I was initially on the fence about springing for uplighting, but I’m so glad I did. It really made the room pop. Our package included fifteen lights, setup, and delivery. I wish we could have done more, but since it was one of the very last wedding expenses, we didn’t have the wiggle room in our budget. I still think we achieved the impact we were going for.
Photo Booth – Boardwalk Photo Booth Rentals, Wildwood, NJ
I LOVED our photo booth, and so did the rest of our guests. Scott couldn’t have been more of a pleasure to work with. He was very up front about how much time we needed the rental for (hint: way less than we were prepared to pay for!). He had no trouble using our custom monogram for the photo booth strips. We paid for an upgrade that enabled every person that went into the photo booth to get a strip, as opposed to one for the entire group, and it was totally worth it. Our package included a three-and-a-half hour rental, an attendant (who was lovely and super professional!), two tables filled with props, a guestbook with everybody’s photo strips, and a flash drive with electronic copies of all the photos. One of my friends got married about two months after we did, and she loved our photo booth so much that she booked them right away for her own wedding – they are that great.
Invitations – Wedding Paper Divas
We ordered save the dates, our invitation suite, and place cards from Wedding Paper Divas, and they did a lovely job. They are popular for a reason – they do great work. Everything came exactly as we ordered them, and everything looked great. I have nothing to say about WPD that hasn’t been said a million times already.
My only complaint? Thermography invitations, like the ones we used, are never eligible for coupons. But they were worth the money, so I’ll put my big girl pants on and deal with it.
Miscellaneous paper – How Lovely Paper (Etsy)
Chelsie rocks. We ordered programs, menus, table numbers, and a few miscellaneous signs, and everything came out perfectly. She was super flexible in regards to customizing everything to exactly what we wanted, and we loved the end result. Particularly important when you’re dealing with Etsy sellers – she is incredibly responsive via email.
Bouquet preservation – Hana Willow Design (formerly known as Papertini), Philadelphia, PA
Hands down, Tanti and Stefanie are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my entire life. When I was looking for bouquet preservation options, I was immediately drawn to their fresh, modern take on things. They don’t just preserve a bouquet, they create a work of art. They used our invitation suite, my dress, and my professional photos for inspiration to create something that reflected the best parts of our wedding.
The day after the wedding, my sister B dropped my flowers off at Tanti’s home outside Philadelphia, and about six weeks later, the end result was at my doorstep. It’s beyond perfect. The gold, the lace, the shells, the subtle sparkle … it’s the perfect way to memorialize my wedding without making my apartment look like my wedding threw up in it.
(via Hana Willow Design)
Guestbook – Franny and Franky Designs (Etsy)
Have I mentioned before that my guestbook was created by Mrs. Ladyfingers? Is this new information? Long hair, don’t care. Christina was so great to work with – she used a custom color palette just for us and gave us about a million layout proofs to choose from. She printed it for us, but we could have received an electronic file and printed it ourselves if we had wanted to. Seeing all the sweet messages from our guests brings a smile to my face every single day.
Hair/makeup – Nine Salon & Spa, Rio Grande, NJ
As a longtime client of Nine Salon (even though I live in Boston now, I try to make it here at least once a year for Carrie to do my hair!), I knew I was in good hands for the wedding. We got manis and pedis at the salon the day before the wedding, and on our wedding day, they came to the hotel to do our hair and makeup. I think we cleaned up pretty nicely. And everything held up beautifully – the only casualty was my fake eyelashes. Considering the crazy wind we were dealing with when we were taking pictures on the beach, that’s not too shabby.
Bridal attire – Kleinfeld Bridal, New York, NY
Kleinfeld was the first and only place I shopped for my wedding dress. And yeah, it’s kind of a madhouse, but we made early morning appointments whenever possible, and it was just fine. More important than where you shop is the person who is helping you, and in that regard, I could not have asked for a better experience. I worked with Katie when I bought my dress (Alita Graham 7809, which has since been discontinued) and Alyssa when I came back for my veil and accessories, but the biggest rock stars of all were Ramona and Vera (yes, THE Vera, Say Yes to the Dress watchers!) in alterations. Katie may have helped me choose the right dress, but Ramona is the one who made it fit and flatter my figure perfectly.
Personal photo – right after deciding to plunk down the most money I’ve ever spent on an article of clothing. Little did I know what this well-worn, poorly-fitting sample was capable of!
Personal photo from one of my alterations appointments – Vera and Ramona ordered extra lace and designed these cap sleeves just for me. I love the pleated detail and the raw edges and how the sleeves meet to form a V on my back. The customization came out better than I could have ever imagined.
The end result – I have never felt so beautiful in my entire life.
If you can request to work with certain people at Kleinfeld, ask for Katie and Alyssa when you’re shopping, and for alterations, it’s Ramona all the way. Everyone at Kleinfeld was incredibly nice and professional, but as far as I’m concerned, Ramona is the MVP. I wish she could tailor every single article of clothing that I own.
Bridesmaids’ attire – J.Crew
I gave my bridesmaids three criteria: J.Crew, silk chiffon, dark eggplant. The cut of the dress was up to them. All three bridesmaids were very happy with the fit and quality of their dresses, and I thought everybody looked fabulous. Such chic. Much fabulous. Amaze.
My advice: hold out for sales (especially if you can stack sales with a student/teacher discount … shh!) or purchase used on eBay.
Mens’ attire – Men’s Wearhouse
Like Mrs. Waterfall, we rented Black by Vera Wang tuxedos for Stallion, his groomsmen, and our fathers. All the rentals arrived on time and were complete, and there were no major fit issues. The only thing that came up was when we put down our deposit, we were told that we had enough orders for Stallion to get a free suit after the wedding. After the wedding, we were told that no, we were one order short. They gave Stallion the coupon anyway, and given the restrictions on it (up to $500 off a full-price suit), there wasn’t anything he was interested in, so it didn’t matter. We’d still use them again without hesitation, but as far as the free suit coupon went, Stallion was better off holding out for a sale instead.
Jewelry – Terrone Jewelers, Toms River, NJ
My dad has been best friends with Ralph, the owner of Terrone Jewelers, since they were in junior high. I guess that qualifies as a friendor? Ralph has taken care of my family’s jewelry for years, and there was no place else we would consider going for something as important as our wedding jewelry. He resized my engagement ring, reset my wedding band in platinum (it was originally set in white gold, which I’m allergic to), and ordered and engraved Stallion’s wedding band. Everything turned out absolutely perfect, and we will treasure our rings for the rest of our lives.
So that’s that – all the people who made the Filly wedding so fabulous.
To all the people listed above: thank you for your hard work, dedication, and expertise. You all exceeded my expectations beyond my wildest dreams. My wedding would not be what it was without your contributions.
If I could redo my wedding, I would not hesitate to use every single one of these vendors again. They are all incredibly talented and professional. South Jersey and Philadelphia brides, take it from me – it doesn’t get any better than these folks! As I mentioned above, if anyone has any questions or would like to discuss these vendors in more detail, feel free to message me.
Missed one? Catch up on the fun!