opalsky007's married bio
We live in Boston but got married in Tennessee...and since the interwebz make life easier, we bought a lot of supplies online. The reviews are all organized by location to make life easier.

National Vendors

Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas, A+
I think every last person invited to the wedding must have complimented our beautiful invitations (the Modern Whimsy pattern). Every interaction I had with WPD went smoothly, and they helped me make a formatting change after I wasn't happy with the first proof. Their frequent sales made for great value--if you don't like the price now, just wait a few days! You could score free shipping, along with discounted invites!

Linens: linentablecloth.com, A+
Their everyday prices are cheaper than renting, so what could make them even better? A half price sale! I was nervous about buying from them because the prices seemed too good to be true, but their service was good and shipping fast. The tablecloths were nice and heavy. The runners were only single-ply (some other sites sell 2-ply) but they didn't look cheap or anything.

Favor supplies: efavormart.com, B
They're cheap, they have tons of selection, yada, yada...but they're cheap. The favor boxes looked much better assembled than in the box, but man were they a PITA. And don't even think about ordering ribbon from these guys: it's so oddly textured, we couldn't even make bows out of it. We had to make an emergency craft store run. Other than that, the transaction, shipping and all, went smoothly.

Centerpieces: snedcowholesale.com, A-
If you plan to DIY lantern centerpieces, check this company out. They're the source for most of the lantern sellers on ebay and plenty of other sites, and they'll sell to you at wholesale prices! Only complaint: some models are not all that well constructed, and you'll get some goofy looking ones. You should probably order a few extra of whatever you're using to allow for low quality, and if you wind up with extra, just use them to decorate elsewhere.

Boston Vendors

Dress: VOWS Bridal Outlet/bridepower.com, A+
When I stopped at VOWS, I was feeling pretty stressed. I'd already bought one dress at the Running of the Brides, and it wasn't working out for me. I wasn't in the mood to buy another gown under pressure, and was feeling insecure about the whole process.

I walked in to browse, without an appointment, and was able to start browsing immediately. The organization of the store made it easy: with the exception of the "just arrived" dresses, the gowns are organized by silhouette, so that you can go straight for what you want. I started pulling gowns quickly: they had exactly what I wanted that had been so hard to find elsewhere and many dresses were within my price range. A few of the less expensive dresses were in poor condition, but it's very clear what you're getting yourself into with those gowns.

The fitting room can be a scary place, especially alone. The employees are helpful, but not there to ooh and aah over you, and the other customers are all waiting for you to dislike your dress so they can try it on. In any case, I wound up finding a gorgeous Kenneth Pool dress that suited me perfectly for over 80% off retail.

What really impressed me was their handling of the sale. If you like a gown, you put down a deposit. You then get a few days to think about it while it's sent out for dry cleaning. After dry cleaning, they let you know of any lingering defects with the dress and let you make a final decision. If you decide not to buy, your deposit becomes a credit toward another gown of your choosing.

When my gown came back from the cleaners, I got a phone call informing me that some stains couldn't be removed from the train, and that if I wanted the dress anyway I'd get a discount. I rushed into the store, freaking out, to find two teeny spots that had to be pointed out to me. And for that, they knocked off $100. I'm really glad I found VOWS; I could never picture myself in another gown.

Alterations: Adam & Eva Tailors, B-
I want to preface this by saying that my dress ended up fitting perfectly. But I'm disappointed in how it happened. I chose Eva on the recommendation of another Knottie, who had a series of 3 fittings to hem, take in the waist drastically, bustle, and have cups added, then taken back out again. She paid just $155 for all of that, and since I was on a tight budget, and didn't need as much done to my dress, I figured she was a great deal, especially in Boston.

I wound up paying $300 to have the waist taken in and a bustle added, on a dress far less complicated than the other Knottie's. She also added cups, but did not secure them properly and I had to redo them myself. I had only a single fitting, and even that was difficult to schedule because she does not like to fit on weekends and is not easily accessible by T. My dress looked great, but I wish I'd gone somewhere else with less hassle and maybe lower prices. I know business sucks lately, but yikes.

Tennessee Vendors

Reception venue and catering: Crowne Plaza Knoxville, A
Our reception at Crowne Plaza was absolutely stunning. We were able to use the beautiful Summit II Ballroom for our 45 guests, who were all very impressed with the room, the delicious food, and the professionalism of the staff.

Everyone loved the food, from appetizers to salad to main course. I could eat the apple cider sauce on the porkchops every day, it was so good. Paying the extra $1 per head to have spinach salad with warm pancetta vinaigrette was totally worth it. I also loved the flexibility here: we were able to trade out dessert for a cheese platter (since we were serving wedding cake), have both vegetarian and children's meals available at no extra charge, and they had no problem handling our last minute decrease in head count.

The staff is incredibly professional: they tend to your every need without getting in the way. If any problems arose, they were handled without me needing to know about it. I didn't have to ask for them to leave the tip jar off the bar, they'd never dream of including one. And I appreciated that they left our fruit appetizer tray out long into the evening--our guests loved nibbling on it after dinner. The setup staff also received and set up our rented sound equipment, with no issues.

My only beef (it's hard to find one) is that it can be frustrating to track down the catering manager. No, I'm not her only customer, but quicker responses to emails would have been appreciated. Nevertheless, I was happy that all of my requests were met and were put into writing, so that no mistakes would be made.

Flowers: Lisa Foster Design, B
I enjoyed working with Lisa--she's very knowledgable about her craft, and was creative in helping me find flowers that fit the season and our budget. She was also very patient when I changed my mind several times.

My bouquet and my bridesmaid's bouquets, along with the complimentary toss bouquet, were all gorgeous. I was a bit disappointed in the quality of the corsages: $30 seems a bit much for three roses and filler (I had requested the same mix of flowers as in my bouquet). My husband's boutonniere also wilted extremely quickly. I'm not sure whether it was a problem of construction or poor choice of flower (my fault, but some advice would have been nice, perhaps), but the thing barely survived the ceremony.

While I do appreciate Lisa's flexibility, I hate that she refuses to put anything in writing. She says that she doesn't want to pin brides down since they change their minds so easily, but a contract is meant to protect the bride, not just the florist. By our wedding day, I'd paid for the flowers in full, but had nothing in writing stating what, if anything, she owed me in return. That plus some communication issues the week of the wedding added a lot of stress I could have done without.

Cake: Rhyne's Cakes by Sandra, A+
Sandra Rhyne and her mother bake cakes as a hobby rather than relying on it for full time income. What's that mean? She'll make you a gorgeous, delicious, buttercream frosted cake at a price you can't beat. Our wedding cake was white with strawberry filling, and beautifully decorated for just $2.25 per serving. Sandra also let us use her gorgeous silver-tone cake stand for free!

I worked with Sandra and her mom to come up with a groom's cake perfect for my guy (carrot with cream cheese frosting, and decorated like a pair of UT jerseys)--for just $1 a serving! Our guests raved about how delicious and moist both of our cakes were. If you'd like to get in touch with Sandra, PM me for her info. I don't want to just throw her contact info out on the web since she doesn't do this full time.

Photography: Photography by Erick, B (pending arrival of pro pics)
We used Erick Thompson for both our engagement and wedding photos. He's definitely one of the most affordable photographers in the area, and does some beautiful work (don't let his outdated website fool you). But he does have some quirks. He is extremely meticulous, which occasionally translates into ploddingly slow.

We did not get most of the formal shots I wanted on the wedding day because he took dozens of takes of each shot in order to get it right. He is also kind of weirdly obsessed with photographing brides and doesn't seem to want much to do with the groom or wedding party at all. In the 2.5 hours prior to the ceremony, I think we only got three photos of my BMs and one with my parents. I had to force him to leave the hotel in order to take pictures of the guys! We spent so long in the lobby of the hotel that by the time the ceremony rolled around, the groom was the only person at the wedding who hadn't already seen me--our guests had all filed through on their way to the church.

He can also tend to overdirect shots sometimes. An example: my H dipped me while we were dancing. Instead of snapping a picture of that spontaneous moment, Erick started giving directions to my H, who was struggling to hold me up. I was pretty frustrated with him at the time. Anyway, I'm happy with the teasers, and I'm just hoping the rest of the photos turn out as good.