Vendor Review

While the groom and the bride are obviously the most important people on the day of the wedding, a few others play a significant part: the officiant, the parents, the wedding party, and the vendors. Our vendors helped make our day special. Our vendors transformed a very empty barn into a rustic-chic paradise. Our vendors are still being praised by our guests for their mouth-watering food. Our vendors (coordinator) held the day together and made sure everything went smooth.

So for other Charlotte brides out there, I thought I’d provide a run down of our vendors and review them on a 1-5 heart rating scale. 1 being the worst, 5 being the best. This is just my opinion, you should form your own opinion.  I do recommend meeting your vendors before booking them and “interviewing” them. It’s okay to meet with multiple vendors in the same category before making your decision.

1. The Dairy Barn 4 hearts

We chose The Dairy Barn after many internet searches for photos, talking with the staff and visiting for a tour. We loved it. However, the Dairy Barn is bare-bones. You get the structure of the barn, the grass outside and if you’re lucky the sunshine outside. You are locked into a deal with Creative Solutions to provide your tables/chairs/decorations and cannot use another vendor. It is also suggested that you use Leroy Springs Catering for your food, as other vendors do not have the ability to enter the barn before a certain time the day of the event.
DB1The barn is beautiful. The inside is spacious. The upstairs is stunning. Like I said, we loved it. We had planned for a wedding by the cabin on the hill, facing a tree and a field, but instead we got married in an old loft. A perfect tribute to my grandfather, who used to let us spend hours playing in the hay loft. During the wedding, we had a “barn monitor” who sat under the stairs. Not quite as troll like as it sounds, but that is essentially what it was. He was there to make sure things were not out of control, to problem solve and to assist us with getting in the cabin for photos.
dbinside

I give them 4 hearts for the space, the communication, and the quick return of our deposit!

2. Creative Solutions 4 hearts

Creative Solutions is contracted with the Dairy Barn to be the sole-provider of decorations. You can bring your own items in as far as chalkboards, pictures, etc. And if you wanted, you could bring your own larger items, but you have to remove them at the end of the night, so you end up paying for convenience to rent these things. I appreciated their continuous ability to work with us on our constant changing of the floorplan (pictured below) and adding and removing items. My biggest qualm was finding out 3 weeks before my wedding that they had to know by 9 A.M. the day before if it would be inside or out. At 9 A.M. the day before, I couldn’t even get a 24-hour forecast. Now, we all know that the day before I was a mess, and I was easily able to make that call since skies were grey and everything was wet. They actually worked with me on this as well and I had until 1 PM the day before to make the final decision.
floor planWe loved the decorations that were in the barn, including the linens and the white chairs. We weren’t able to rehearse with the chairs in the upstairs of the barn due to the late call of moving it inside – but that didn’t really throw anyone off.
creative solutionsI also give Creative Solutions 4 stars. You can be assured you will get what you ask for with them and they were great to work with.

3. Leroy Springs Catering 5 hearts

Leroy Springs Catering should actually be number one on the list because they were far and above the best vendor we had. Our guests are still raving about the food. I even had someone text me this weekend asking for NC BBQ recommendations and when I provided some options, they asked “How does it compare to your wedding food?”
leroyWe had a Southern spread at our wedding: Pulled pork barbeque, fried chicken, mac-n-cheese, sweet potato souffle, green beans, slaw and cornbread. Stop drooling! It WAS as delicious as it looks. We barely remember tasting it the day of the wedding, but luckily, the Maitre-d’ William packed up two big ol’ plates for us and sent them in our getaway car. If Leroy Springs opened a restaurant, we would be regulars (and probably weigh 10 lbs. more than we do today).

Leroy Springs gets a 5 in our book, and I think all of our guests would agree. If we ever plan a vow-renewal, we are going to use them again and have breakfast for dinner. I can only imagine how heavenly that would taste!

4. Ta-da’s Florist 5 hearts

We used Ta-da’s not only for our flowers, but also for our coordinator (more to come on this because Melanie deserves her own section). The flowers were combinations of garden roses and hydrangeas. They were gorgeous and just what I had envisioned. Jan was great to work with and helpful in identifying what types of flowers we could use.
flowers

flowers 2
5. Wedding Coordinator: Melanie McKelvey 5 hearts

Initially, I did not want a coordinator. I figured, I will tell people where to go, what to do, and we’ll be fine. THANK GOODNESS I DID NOT GO THROUGH WITH THAT IDEA! The first time I met Melanie, we talked for over 2 hours. The second time with my husband-to-be (at the time) was only slightly shorter. She was SO easy to talk to, so easy to walk through ideas with, and so friendly! We loved her. And we loved having her there on the day of the wedding because everything, I mean everything, went smoothly. Melanie was the best money we spent for our wedding day. I HIGHLY recommend using Melanie for your wedding, and if not Melanie, use A coordinator. It makes all the difference in the world to have someone else dealing with minute details that the bride doesn’t need to hear about on the wedding day. Melanie can be contacted through Ta-da’s florist and does wedding planning as well as coordinating.

Whew! That’s only 5 pieces of our big day, and this is getting long. Going to stop here and let you catch up on those reviews and we’ll pick back up tomorrow with videographers, beer, shuttles, etc!

Feeling Lucky

Last week, I traveled through Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama for work. I started in Knoxville, Tennessee with one heck of a tour of the city (a $35 cab ride) from my awesome cabbie. I treated myself to breakfast in bed on day 2 in Nashville – because hey, I deserve it. On Thursday, I left one of my running shoes at our hotel in Mississippi (this is a place I NEVER have to go again and I’ll be perfectly happy!) – so I bought new shoes when I got to Alabama and took a little run around the Ross Bridge area to scope it out. I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was to arrive back home in Charlotte on Friday.photo2However, as I was sitting on the tarmac in Atlanta waiting for my connection to Charlotte, my mom called and told me I needed to come home to see my Paw Paw. My Paw Paw is not just any paw paw – he has really been more like a father to me and my brother, and is undoubtedly one of the most important men in my life. My sweet fiance picked me up at the airport, coffee mugs filled and snacks on hand and we drove 3 hours to Virginia. We didn’t get there until after my sweet Paw Paw was asleep but we saw him and got all the details. We spent lots of time with him on Saturday (most of which he was feeling much better!). I kept telling him he had to get better so he can be at my wedding (I’m tearing up writing this) and he promised he would. He also apparently told everyone that the hydrangea plant that was sent to him needed to be kept alive for my wedding (seriously? I love him).

So it was an exhausting week + weekend, and we missed our food tasting on Saturday. But family comes first – so we were in Virginia instead of South Carolina. We also delayed our meeting with our vendor for tables, chairs and linens that was scheduled for today, just to make sure everything is still improving. We came across “Luck Ave” while in Roanoke, Virginia – and boy could I use some luck! We enjoyed some green beers for St. Patty’s on Sunday at our fave local restaurant – Harry’s, took our boys to Lake Wylie for a long walk and chance to put their feet in the water and the best part, we came home to find these adorable forks had arrived complete with a stamp of our wedding date! (Less than 5 months, folks!!!). You can see all the pictures from my travels last week and our adventures in Roanoke, VA this past weekend on Instagram.
photo1 Although I wasn’t expecting any major set-backs in my planning (or family emergencies), I think we handled this one pretty well and nothing has been majorly impacted at this time. We confirmed our florist and mailed off a deposit and also booked a day-of coordinator (more to come on this!). And most of all, I feel completely lucky to have had such an amazing person by my side through this entire ordeal!

How have you dealt with wedding planning set-backs?

Wedding Weekend!

High five to the hubby-to-be! We accomplished SO much this weekend (between golf/thesis writing/a 7-mile training run/shopping).

We decided to go with the hotel that offered us a $94/rate that has both king rooms and double-queen rooms but did not have breakfast or an outdoor pool (sorry kiddos!). The Homewood Suites was in the same area and offered an outdoor pool AND breakfast for $98 but only had suite-style rooms with a King bed and sofa-sleeper. I asked opinions of the folks who might end up on the sofa-sleeper and they all said they preferred the double-queen room. So there we have it… contract is being signed today.

My blood-pressure is much lower now that a florist responded positively, confirmed she is available and ALSO told me she was doing a very similar wedding this past weekend at our venue so she definitely thought my floral-wishes were doable! Whew! Happy + relieved to mark that one off the list!

The groom’s aunt & uncle have agreed to play at our ceremony (yay, family!). AND we picked our song to walk back down the aisle together to! (I can’t wait for that moment – eeek!)
DSC_0448

We realized that our timing was a bit off with the ceremony/reception – so we’ve asked to add some time to our big day (more time to celebrate with our family and friends). Fingers crossed that it isn’t too pricey of a deal to do this now.

My something blue arrived in the mail and I am DYING over it. So completely perfect. In the words of my bridesmaid, Michelle, “swoon.”

We decided that we don’t want to spend $3000 to fly to Hawaii, Tahiti or the Greek Isles, so we will be staying in the Caribbean for our honeymoon – and splurging on our stay (with maybe a couple extra days added in). With that said, our only prior location we had done any research on in the Caribbean was Curacao – which is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, I just wanted to have a few more options – also options that aren’t typical honeymoon spots like the Dominican or St. Lucia. I spent Sunday morning researching Aruba, Antigua, Anguilla, St. Maarten, Turks & Caicos and Belize and provided them neatly in a spreadsheet (duh) to LW with names of resorts, prices, amenities, and flight prices (this spreadsheet also contains budget, invite list, addresses, RSVP list, vendors/deposits, rehearsal dinner – I might be a bit of an organized control freak). I gave him full rights to book whatever he thinks is best after evaluating all of the options, or to even add to the list if he finds somewhere else dreamy.

I ordered straws for the reception. Not a big deal but it’s something – and you’ll love them. My sweet bridesmaid Michelle is constantly sending me the most adorable wedding related sites (I tend to shriek a little each time I get one of these amazing emails!). The straws came from Shop Sweet Lulu – which they offer not just stripey straws but chevron and polka dots too!

So it was a busy weekend – but it feels SO good! Hope y’all had a good weekend too. Stay tuned for the announcement of which wedding magazine I will be blogging for starting Monday, 3/11! So, so exciting!

Bake me a cake!

Not too much to update on today (still don’t have a florist, or hair stylist!) but we did email a “cake lady” about our dessert buffet (stomach growl!) and our mini-cake for cutting/photo purposes. Waiting to hear back on her availability – and fingers crossed we do not get yet another “I’m sorry” email. I do not understand how anyone can plan a wedding in less than 8 months with the way things are booking up! Kudos to you quick brides who obviously on-top of it and have eyes on vendors perhaps before the ring?

WPD

Wedding Paper Diva’s is still offering their stamp for 50% off (Code 50DEAL0207). Ours arrived yesterday in the tiniest package ever (that was the text I received from my future husband!) … and it’s perfect! We can’t wait to stamp those thank you notes after the wedding with our “Whites” stamp! Get yours today…. it’s perfect for all of those handwritten notes you send in life!

Happy hump day, y’all!

 

Pickin’ petals

So I took the first step and emailed two florists (both found on Carolina Bride‘s vendor list). The first wrote back and indicated that they are already book for that day, but were nice enough to offer their opinion on another local florist (much appreciated). The second wrote back asking when my wedding is (which was the first line of my email to them when I contacted them). You can see how this causes a little uncertainty in my mind about their attention to detail, right? I wish I could just go to the farmer’s market and buy fresh flowers that morning. I am also really starting to think that I need a planner… traveling more and more for work + grad school 3 nights a week is a doozy.

Once we lock down the florist, we can tackle the rest of these items on our immediate “to-do” list:

  • transportation for us + guests
  • hotel reservation (do we want King & Queen bed options or King only with sleeper sofa for our guests?!)
  • FIND A HAIR STYLIST
  • order BM dresses (hello 20% off sale at J. Crew Weddings today!)
  • Figure out desserts
  • Confirm catering order

And tonight… I’ll be doing hot yoga to relieve the stress of all these “to-do” items.

(Photo from www.flowersofthefieldlv.com

Catching up + The Tack’s Love Story!

So let’s catch up… this weekend we:

  1. Ordered our adorable bowties (yes, he chose bowties! eeek!)
  2. Finished sending out save-the-dates (and got lots of reports of those that have already been received)
  3. Narrowed down our honeymoon options (to specific places, but not one region!)
  4. Figured out what song I am going to walk down the aisle to (I teared up when we were talking about it!)

So things are moving along slowly but surely, still procrastinating on finding a florist, and getting my dress altered. Both of which need to happen ASAP since I had a terrible nightmare about it this weekend. Alas, it was just a dream… and our wedding is not ruined.

A while back, I asked a few friends to share their personal stories of finding happiness, their weddings and their happily-ever-after moments from their big day – so that I could share them on the blog. Today, I’d like to share one of those, Allison & Alex who got married in 2011. Allison is the younger sister of one of my bridesmaids, and also a good running buddy! I love hearing about other’s proposals, and special wedding moments, plus, what a great way to share ideas!

Allison and Alex were both students at Queens University and had the same Chemistry class. They were introduced through mutual friends where we ended up hanging out in the same group and their relationship developed from there.

(Photo Credit: Blue Sky Studios)
(Photo Credit: Blue Sky Studios)

Allison describes the proposal:
We were going to Asheville for our four year dating anniversary. He had scheduled a hot air balloon ride for that Saturday morning; however, it was cancelled the day before due to the weather. So he had to scramble for a new idea. We were staying at the Grove Park Inn and that first day after a day at the spa, we were getting ready to grab a bite to eat. We had never been there, so we walked out onto a terrace to get a glimpse of the views. Just as we were taking it all in, he mentioned he had something to ask me… I said, Yes!, while crying joyful tears, and the rest is history (as the saying goes) 🙂

(Photo Credit: Blue Sky Studios)
 

The Tack’s were married:
April 16th, 2011 @ Providence Country Club in Charlotte at 5:30pm.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same time of year and venue?
Yes and Yes. Even though that time of year is known for rain (we had an outdoor wedding), the spring flowers and weather down here was worth it.

What was the best thing about your venue?
They took care of everything. We went over stuff once, about how I wanted it to look, and they executed it perfectly. It gave me and the bridal party more time to relax and not have to stress about preparing anything.

What did you splurge on for your wedding that you just “had to have?”
I’d say the food and drinks/venue. It was overall a little more than we intended, but it’s what we wanted. We enjoy a nice dinner/evening out and that’s what we wanted to share with everyone else.

What vendor was the best to work with, and why?
Our DJ, Bill from Z Brothers. He runs the show, and he was so laid back and carefree that it helped us relax and trust that everything would go smoothly.

In 3 words or less, what was running through your head on your wedding day? This is Perfect.

(photo by Blue Sky Studios)
(photo by Blue Sky Studios)

What was the best part of your wedding day?
Walking down the huge flight of stairs while everyone looked at me, but I just stared at Alex (who couldn’t stop crying 🙂

How did you deal with stressors on/glitches in your big day?
I just made do and let them go. At that point, there wasn’t much I could do, and no one was going to know the difference either way. For instance, I had ordered 12 centerpieces from our florist, when we ended up have 14 tables. I completely forgot, but we worked it out by using the Bridesmaids bouquets for the other two.

The Dress:
It was satin, one shoulder, trumpet fit, diamond white, with lots of ruching by Sottero and Midgley.  It just felt right and made me comfortable, and feel like a bride. I had a hard time finding what I wanted, and as soon as I tried it on (I was actually by myself when I did), I just knew.

Did you do a first look?
No, and still don’t think I would’ve. His reaction was priceless at the alter.

Favorite part of the ceremony?
Seeing Alex get as emotional as he did. He could barely get the words out. It made me and my heart smile the whole time.
(Photo Credit: Blue Sky Studios)
Favorite part of the reception?
Our first dance. Alex and I took dance lessons and he was on top of it. When we started, I completely forgot the moves – he had to move me around the whole time and I’m pretty sure our routine was totally wrong, but it was so much fun!

Did you incorporate any personal details into your big day? If so, what and why? A couple – 1. our tables were labeled according to places that Alex and I had traveled together. I think if you travel well with someone, it says a lot about your relationship (because it’s not always easy) and we always have the best times together when we do. 2. we had dessert tables, and each of our grandma’s made their signature or our favorite treats to be displayed and everyone have as a favor. It was beyond meaningful to us for them to take the time and make at least 100 pieces of goodies for our guests.

Libations Situation:
Open bar, because we enjoy drinking with family and friends.

What was your first dance song?
“Everything” by Michael Buble

(Photo by Blue Sky Studios)
(Photo by Blue Sky Studios)

Do you recommend having a videographer at the wedding?
I’m not sure. I think it would be nice if you can afford it or have extra money for one, but I don’t think it’s necessary if you have a great photographer. We didn’t have one.

Do you recommend having a planner/coordinator to future brides?
If you can afford it, Yes! I didn’t have one, other than the one that came with our venue (which was extremely helpful). If you can’t afford it, everything can be done just fine – you have to be prepared with what you’re in for though. I didn’t have one and I didn’t realize how much there was to it. There were so many more little details that came up that I expected. I even forgot some things – i.e. Our marriage license until the day before bc my Dad asked me if I had it! Having a wedding planner would help to reassure that everything is done and ready to go with less stress, but at the same time, then it’s all you’re doing and you do fill a great sense of accomplishment afterwards.

Did you have children at your wedding? Why or why not?
No we didn’t, except for our Flower Girl. We did not think that it was a place for children to be there. Our wedding was far from both our families anyways, so we knew it would be harder for travel. But other than that, we wanted to share the evening with the adults in our family/friends.

Thanks for letting me share your gorgeous love story, Allison!

(Vendors: Venue// Providence Country Club, Photography //Blue Sky Studios, DJ // Z Brothers)

Sunday Funday Bridal Showcase!

On Sunday, I road-tripped it to Chapel Hill to hang out with the best MOH a girl could ask for – and to attend the Carolina Inn’s 18th Annual Bridal Showcase! A special “Thank You” to Jenna at Southern Bride & Groom magazine for the tickets to the show. To say we were underprepared for what awaited us, would be an understatement. I’m still trying to figure out how many calories I took in at all of those cake tasting booths! IMG_3956We had a day full of paper products, flowers, cake and petit fours … and champagne. How can I forget the never-ending flow of champagne? Sarah was giddy over the supply of macaroons that were on-hand – and as a bride who is loving the idea of “mini-desserts”, I loved seeing all the options available. What talented caterers the triangle area has!
bs1One of my FAVORITE cakes was from husband and wife duo Ashley & Co in Raleigh. This burlap delight made my heart skip a beat. And since I met my beau at work and we still work together, I love that they do too!

Ashley & Co burlap beauty!
Ashley & Co burlap beauty!

We hit up the hors d’ouevres pretty early on since neither of us had eaten lunch. Lots of deliciousness going on in that tent – and of course, we were smitten with the Carolina Inn ice sculpture!
IMG_3922Since my wedding is being held in South Carolina, I really just used this event to gain some ideas and not so much vendors. We did meet LOTS of vendors – and we adored the goodies that they were giving away. Check out this ADORABLE cooler bag from Erin McLean Events! I have been back and forth on whether or not to hire a planner/coordinator to make sure things go off without a hitch – and I loved the idea of just a “day-of” coordinator. Plus, I’ve only heard good things about Erin. And Martha Manning took the cake with her giveaway… Krispy Kreme? Who can say no to Krispy Kreme doughnuts? While I’ve already chosen my photographer, Martha was able to give some recommendations on videographers which was much appreciated. IMG_3952Next on my “to-do” list is to secure a florist for our big day. I want simple flowers (I really want the hydrangeas from my late-grandmother’s bush back home in VA, but that’s a little far-fetched). And since green is our accent color, I was hoping for green flowers – but the fiance insists on them being naturally green and not dyed. So, we checked out some booths at the event and got to actually hold some bouquets (it’s AMAZING how big some of them are!). I like the idea of adding something fragrant to the bouqet – like freesia or mint! IMG_3953We got to see a fashion show while we were there – and I immediately recognized the Southern style of Lula Kate in this dress – and also saw Christy, the owner of Bella Bridesmaid in Raleigh. She sold us our stylish dresses for my friend’s wedding this past August. We somehow missed the bridal part of the runway show, but we did catch the grooms and groomsmen and they sure did look dapper!
IMG_3935I had several totebags full of information and goodies as I left, including wedding magazines and honeymoon magazines. We definitely have some reading to do (and decision making on the honeymoon front!)! IMG_3954I LOVED the experience of the bridal show, especially sharing the fun with Sarah. I have to point out one vendor that I was head-over-heels for before we went to the show and I’m so glad I got to see their stuff in real life. I am even more in love now… if that’s possible. Pressed Cotton has some of the CUTEST things I’ve ever seen – and not just for gatherings but for your household. If anyone is interested in a special offer on their items, leave a comment and I’ll be sure to share the deal!

I want to say thank you to all of my readers! Almost to 1500 views (in less than 3 months!). Stay tuned for a very exciting announcement that has to do with ME, this blog, and you reading it!