We had our wedding in Destin on October 25th. Through all the stress and hardships we learned a lot and I thought I would take the time to share our experience with any of you out there planning your wedding!
I learned that people will not remember the food or the cake... what they will remember is your LOCATION and how much fun they had - the band/music! The most important thing for your pictures will also be your location and your flowers.
CEREMONY: We had the wedding ceremony on the lawn at Eden Gardens State Park with the Westley House Mansion in the background. What a beautiful place and so peaceful and serene. Just perfect! The ceremony fee was affordable and they were so easy to work with! But they charge a lot if you stay after park hours and the little building they have reminds me of a boy scout camp building so we had the reception elsewhere and were able to incorporate the beach in our wedding. floridastateparks.org/edengardens/default.cfm
RECEPTION: We then had the reception at Henderson Park Inn B&B. The location on a quiet stretch of beach on a lawn with dunes around it was amazing! I have to say that our guests never knew the stress that the Inn and the manager Ryan caused us which tainted our experience there. The Inn is starting to become a little "full of themselves" and have changed many of the rules and pricing which puts them in the league with Watercolor's pricing. Ouch. They had a bridal magazine come shoot there and told them their fees were too low which prompted their price spike. Spending our wedding night there was very special since the B&B is just fantastic. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend staying here for your wedding night. The B&B is superb. In the long run I was pleased with our reception location at the Inn because it was breathtaking but would not rank them very high for being accommodating or easy to work with. Such a shame considering what a beautiful and unique place it is. http://www.hendersonparkinn.com
VENDORS WE RAVE ABOUT!
FLORIST: I wish all of our vendors worked with as much passion and cared as much about us as Suzan Lesko from Special Occasions! She loves what she does and went above and beyond to make our day special! She even stayed through our wedding ceremony and moved our decorations to the reception to stretch our flower budget! Amazing. The flower arrangement she made for me was exactly like the picture I gave her. It was beautiful! Her pricing was superb too. I gave her a budget and she didn't ask for a penny more, she made it work! Suzan Lesko – Special Occasions Florist – 850-621-4019 - email@example.com
BAND: what can I say, our band exceeded our expectations and were a great value considering the other bands we spoke to. They are a 6 person band called Legacy Rhythm and Blues Band. They even learned our favorite song "Is This Love" by Bob Marley. Their lead vocalist rocked "At Last" by Etta James. They were the life of the party and so many people asked where we found them! Everyone danced like crazy, even my grandparents! Instead of line dances they did a Soul Train line up where people jump in the middle and do a little dance of their own. It was hilarious! They were really wonderful to work with. Their music appeals to people of all ages and is not the cheesy stuff a DJ usually plays. Call Marcus Heart (334)393-6247. You will see pictures of our wedding that I sent to them on their web page. www.legacybandrhythmblues.com.
HAIR: Lenni saved the day. I had a hair trial that turned out horrible as soon as I went to the beach. I sent Lenni the pictures of my hair style before and after and she came up with a better plan and it worked out beautifully! She came to our beach house and did hair for me and 4 other members of my wedding party for a great price. She was great. Lenni Soehrkolb – hair stylist- Salon Salon – 850-543-8284.
MAKEUP: After looking around and finding the pricing to have someone come to our beach house for makeup quite expensive I finally found a girl with Bobbi Brown. Nika delivered more than I expected. The 2nd makeup artist canceled last minute and she did makeup for 8 people with no problem. She is so nice and if you don't like how dark your eye makeup is just tell her. My mom doesn't like lots of eye liner so Nika fixed it for her. Bobbi Brown Makeup – Nika - 850-855-5650 or 850-650-4091
CAKE: We tasted lots of cake and Cakes by Jan turned out with the best quality for the price. This is also the bakery recommended by my mother-in-law who has lived in the Destin area for several decades. They were very patient with me as I worked very hard to come up with a cake we could afford. We ended up having them make a chocolate gnash cake with chocolate mousse between layers of white chocolate cake. It had beautiful chocolate sea shells with flakes of gold. The cake was so delicious we didn't have a crumb of it left over! We also had them make a grooms cake in the shape of Wrigley Field - a sentimental place for my husband since his father grew up across from this stadium as a child. It was great! But I have my complaints... they spelled my name wrong on the sign on the stadium! They had a check with my name on it and my name in emails. You would think that would be a detail they double checked to be sure was right. Also, we paid for them to make white chocolate peanut butter balls to be striped like baseballs and we didn't get them. But the flavor of the cakes were fantastic and very moist, just be sure to double check the details! Cakes by Jan – Beth - 850-244-1440 www.cakesbyjanfl.com
PHOTOGRAPHY: I would love to rave about our photographer but we have not seen but 5 shots of our wedding from him yet! I can say he did a nice job with our engagement photos. I was very impressed with his business ethic and portfolio, best of all his pricing was very competitive for the quality of work. It is a husband and wife team, the wife is the main photographer. I spent a little less money to hire David and his assistant as a 2nd photographer. Looking back I wish I'd hired both him and his wife as a team. The price really wasn't that much more. My only complaint is that David seemed a little impatient and aggravated when working with our huge family on family portraits. But as long as the photos turn out great it doesn't matter. Email me later and I'll let you know how they turned out!
David with Courtney Craver Photography - 800-931-1231 http://www.thesublimewedding.com/
HARPIST: I found the harpist by recommendation of another harpist I contacted. Stefanie's pricing was lower than the other harpists and she did a great job. I asked her what non-traditional music she could play and ended up having her play Stairway to Heaven, some Beatles songs, and songs from Broadway musicals and Disney. Very cool! But she played traditional music for the ceremony. Stefanie Wind (harpist) 850-687-9237
DOVE RELEASE: Our guests tell us this was the most memorable and beautiful part of the wedding! This company was very easy to work with and very nice. The only thing was that we were told the handler would wear professional dress and she was dressed in jeans. Hum... Just be specific about what they should wear if it matters to you. It wasn't a big deal really. Florida Wedding Birds – Debbie – 850-244-7347 or 850-496-1792 or 850-226-1081
RENTALS: The rental company delivered what they promised and they actually answered the phone when I called! Can't say the same for other vendors I called. They set the chairs up exactly where I had the diagram drawn for them. However, during the rehearsal we decided to move closer to the mansion and the wedding planner was supposed to contact them and tell them. She didn't. Her fault totally. The groomsmen and our florist moved all the chairs and decor because the wedding planner stood there helpless even though I paid extra for her to arrive early and make sure everything was right and I expected for her to fix it if it wasn't right. Again, she didn't. The rental company did their job as directed and were more affordable than other companies. Elegant Tents and Events – Vickie – 1-800-328-0381
We had very horrible experiences with wedding planners and people delivering on the level of service and quality I expect when paying them that much money. I can tell you horror stories about working with RSVP wedding planners. I fired them and lost quite a bit of money just to be rid of them. I also spoke to several other brides who did the same thing and were also stuck in their ridiculous contract. I can also tell you that they are being sued by a few people. Stay away from them! They caused us so much stress and grief for many months until I decided just to cut my losses and enjoy my wedding experience! I replaced them with a company called Elegant Beginnings and though they were MUCH better to work with they sent a coordinator to direct the wedding rather than the girl I had been working with. The coordinator was a huge disappointment. She even got an attitude with my grandmother about where she was being seated when I had given her a seating chart so she wouldn't have any questions. *sigh* what can you do? The caterer at Henderson Inn promised a lot and though she was a sweet lady she screwed up big time. Majorly. How do you get the start time wrong or forget to put out food on the buffet or not check to be sure the heat lamps we asked for actually work? She caused an enormous amount of unnecessary stress on the wedding day calling my parents about every glitch all day long. She should have just taken care of it. But I can say that ours was her last wedding there, she just moved to Asheville.
In the end, no, the wedding did not go off without a problem. There were lots of little things that went wrong or were forgotten. All you can do is roll with it and don't let it ruin your experience of one of the most special days of your life! You hope that the vendors who you trust to execute your wedding day will deliver but sometimes they don't. In the end, your guests will likely never know that things didn't run smoothly. On our wedding day it didn't rain, the cake didn't get dropped on the floor, nobody fell down the stairs or in the reflecting pond, and the sunset was perfect. It was a good day! If you are getting married I hope your wedding party has the mind set ours did. Ask them to!! They made a pact to not tell us about anything that was going wrong unless necessary! I love them for that! The guys left their boutonnières at the beach house and they had to sew a button on my grooms shirt at the last minute. But tell everyone involved including your vendors to please not tell the bride and groom any of these things! don't burst their bubble! You do that and the day will be magical for all involved!
I encourage other brides to reply to my post with your experiences and other vendors you recommend! Planning a wedding is a huge task and having a recommendation for someone is worth a million bucks!
Good luck everyone and congratulations!
Kristi & Troy
firstname.lastname@example.org - I'm happy to send pictures.