I admit, I am a bit later getting this out than I would have liked, but I think I’ve covered everything pretty well.
Vendors and Services We Used
Online Wedding Planner / Organizer: The Knot — The Knot offered a great online organizer service that allowed me to track and keep up with events associated to the wedding and the wedding planning process. They offer a ton of services, but what I found most useful was the adjustable checklist and portable guest/gift registry. I used the guest list to generate mailing labels for addressing the invitations, and the same for using the gift registry for generating mailing labels for thank you notes. I can honestly say that using The Knot’s services made my job a little easier. Wedding planning is hard work, but their website’s services helped me keep my chaos organized.
Wedding Dress: My Sister’s Closet — Someone on eBay referred me to her online store. My dress was new, never altered, and came at a very reasonable price. She shipped quickly and the dress was packaged very well.
Flower Girl Dress: Ducklings & Daffodils — Also a gem found on eBay, she shipped quickly and everything was packaged very well. Description was slightly inaccurate, but she was pretty quick to fix a mix-up, and overall I am pleased with the dress.
Wedding Location: The Birmingham Botanical Gardens — We were blessed with beautiful weather, and despite the drought all summer, the gardens were still as beautiful as ever. We paid a deposit of $100 for one hour in the Japanese Gardens. We also had the option of an hour rehearsal in the Japanese Gardens which would have had to been scheduled prior to the wedding (we ended up not needing it). The reservation also provided that we could setup as early as 30 minutes before the wedding. The gardens staff also allowed us to use their back gate so our guests would not have to walk from the visitor’s entrance at the main gate. (this has to be requested prior to the event!) All in all, we had a VERY lovely ceremony and I highly recommend the Birmingham Botanical Gardens to anyone who is looking for a wedding location.
Reception Location: Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites — Unfortunately the reception room at the gardens was already booked for our date, so we held our ceremony here. This worked out in our favor for several reasons: 1. we needed a backup location in case of rain (the gardens’ rain shelter only holds 15-20 people); 2. we were able to start setting up the day before the wedding and did not have to rush; 3. we rented a suite in the hotel that was large enough for me, my entourage, and several others to get ready and do other wedding-related things the day before and day of the wedding; 4. the reception hall we rented was plenty large enough to hold everyone and several more, and was only right down the hall from our room so we could scurry back and forth getting things packed up during and after the reception. The Marriott staff were accommodating in every way possible and were a huge help in making our reception go as smoothly as possible. They went above and beyond when it came to customer service and we will definitely be using them again!
Miscellaneous Location / Meeting Room: Gardendale Civic Center — We used rooms at the Civic Center for several small and miscellaneous things related to the wedding. We met here with our pastor to cover the ceremony program as well as our consultation. We also used it to gather with friends and family to put together the wedding favors. The civic center staff have always been helpful and very accommodating. Their rooms are reasonably priced and book VERY quickly; so if you’re interested, give Linda Harris a call as soon as you have your event date/details!
Wedding Favors: Oriental Trading Company, The Paper Works Outlet, Elizabeth’s Treasures — My wedding favors comprised of large take-out boxes from Elizabeth’s Treasures; chopsticks, candy, magnets, and filler from Oriental Trading Company; wrapping materials by Paper Works Outlet. I had pleasant experiences with all three. The Paper Works Outlet is a local business (metro-area Birmingham), and was only a short drive from work or home. Their staff was very helpful in giving advice and ideas, as well as helping me look for anything I needed. I ordered online from both Oriental Trading Co. and Elizabeth’s Treasures; both shipped quickly and were quick to answer any questions I had.
Wedding Dress Alterations: Just Alterations (205-914-3081) — Located in the strip mall located beside the Gardendale Post Office, she was easy to work with and always very accommodating to my crazy schedule. She not only did a great job and worked quickly, she offered a lot of useful advice. I’m pleased to refer anyone I can to her, as I believe that no one else could’ve done a better job than she did with my dress!
Photography: His Hands Photography — I’ve never enjoyed having my picture taken until I met Samantha. She instantly put me at ease and I was able to enjoy the sessions and just have fun. Her husband used to work with my husband, and she was also referred by several people I know. She did both my bridal photos and wedding day photos. She’s also done a few sessions for my brother-in-law and his family as well as my mother-in-law. She does excellent work and works with you to meet any and all needs you may have. I highly recommend her services to anyone looking for a photographer for special events or for any photography needs in general!
DJ Services & MC: DJ Vez — Both my husband and I have worked with him in the past. Not only did he do a great job with the musical layout, he also helped keep the festivities rolling by making announcements and prompts when needed. We have enjoyed his company as well as his friendship and would recommend him to anyone in search of DJ’ing or music services.
Wedding Cake: Wal-mart — Yep, believe it or not, Wal-mart’s prices were very reasonable AND the cake was both lovely and delicious! The only thing they didn’t do that most everyone else did was deliver. That was no problem for us because the nearest Wal-mart was only a few minutes from the reception location. Wal-mart did a lovely job on decorating the cake and provided everything we needed to set it up as we desired. The price was the well within our budget and we even had filling added to the largest layer — our guests LOVED it!
Hair & Makeup: Merle Norman, Linda’s School of Beauty — Prior to the wedding, I had a makeover done at the local Merle Norman studio. Unfortunately they were not available to do my makeup early the morning of my wedding (they would not be open early enough for me to get it done), but they were very helpful in showing me how to do my makeup and what colors/tones to use to get the effect I wanted. Pretty much the same for my hair, Linda’s would not be open early enough for me to get mine done that day. However, I’d gained a lot of advice and tips previously and their staff (students) have always done a great job on my hair. I highly recommend both of these establishments to anyone looking for hair and/or makeup services!
Local Wedding Resources
These are various wedding-related resources that I ran across in the course of my research: Alabama Bridal Directories, Brides.com, Bama Bride, Alabama Bridal, Weddings Alabama, Alabama Wedding Magazine, Brides Club
Eventective – This handy tool helped me refine my search for ceremony and reception sites. You can customize your searches based on location, need, size, etc. Not just for weddings either, you can use Eventective to look for event sites for just about any occasion. Using this site helped me narrow down my research to a select group of potential sites and provided just about all of the information I needed in order to evaluate whether or not I could use a particular company/site.