Vendor Reviews

Band: Orchestra 33

Dave Farley, band leader
Grade: A+

Orchestra 33 was amazing.  I cannot rate them highly enough.

I’m so glad we chose this nine-piece band over a DJ.  The dance floor was packed from the beginning of the evening until the very end.  We received compliments from our guests all night about how great the band was.  The music was great.  Orchestra 33 was dead-on for each and every song they played.  They have such a large repertoire and played everything from classic rock to Motown to country to current dance hits.  They did a great job of mixing different styles of music to appeal to everyone from our older relatives to our parents’ friends to our friends and cousins.

They also did a great job of interacting with the crowd.  When deciding on a band, we saw lots of bands that played good music, but that’s it.  I think what sets Orchestra 33 apart is that they really get the crowd going.  The singers were walking onto the dance floor and interacting with the guests all night.  They really got the party going and knew how to get the guests involved. 

Bridesmaid Dress Shop: Bridal Mansion (Lisle)

Grade: A-

Two of my bridesmaids got their dresses at Bridal Mansion.  Bridal Mansion has the bridesmaids dresses sorted by color, not designer, which was less convenient since my bridesmaids were looking at lots of different Alfred Angelo dresses.  However, we called ahead and they were able to pull the Alfred Angelo dresses and put them in the dressing room for the girls’ appointments.  The service was very helpful and friendly without being pushy. The shop is fairly small and only has two dressing rooms, which can make it a tight squeeze when multiple groups are in the store.

Bridesmaid Dress Shop: Lily's Bridal (Chicago)

Grade: B

Three of my bridesmaid’s bought their dresses at Lily’s Bridal.  Lily’s was convenient because they have racks separated out by designer.  I told my bridesmaids they could wear any Alfred Angelo dress that was short and satin, and this layout made it easy for them to try on all the Alfred Angelo dresses. 

Service is a bit lacking in this store.  It was nice not to be followed around and pressured by a salesperson, but I kept on having to go and search for one of the store employees to help clip my bridesmaids into the sample sizes that were too big on them.  The store accidentally ordered one of the dresses in the long version when it was supposed to be short.  The store initially tried to blame the mistake on the bridesmaid (even though it was an employee who filled out the order form) but eventually shortened the dress free of charge.

Also, I don’t think Lily’s Bridal has their HVAC set up correctly.  All three times I was in the store it was uncomfortably warm and stuffy.

Cake: Marie Roesler (Western Springs)

Grade: A+

Marie has been making wedding cakes out of her home for the last twenty years or so and was recommended to us by a friend of my mother-in-law. I thought we had our bakery all picked out, but went to a cake tasting at Marie’s to humor the MOG. Well we were absolutely blown away. Marie made us three 6-inch cakes in the different flavors we wanted to try and packed up all the leftover to take with us.

She makes all kinds of unique and delicious flavor combinations that you won’t find at most bakeries. We ended up choosing the turtle cake, which is chocolate devil’s food cake with chocolate chunks mixed in, with roasted pecan and caramel filling. The cake turned out fantastic. I had multiple guests tell me that this was the best cake they have ever eaten. The cake looked amazing as well. We chose buttercream icing since it tastes better, and Marie was able to make the frosting so smooth that it looked like fondant.  She charges $3.50 per slice unless the cake requires extra elaborate decoration.  She will also make sheet cakes of the same flavor for a reduced price.

I couldn’t be happier with the cake and Marie was so easy to work with. I would highly recommend her to anyone in the Western suburbs. 

Church: St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church

Grade: N/A
I don’t feel comfortable rating a church like other vendors, but thought I would include some comments that may be useful.

St. Vincent Ferrer is an absolutely gorgeous church with soaring ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows.  They will marry non-parishioners (as long as one of them is Catholic) for a higher fee, although parishioners get first priority for choosing dates and times.  Saturday weddings are performed at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm.

The pastor is very friendly and the music coordinator is extremely talented and very helpful in planning ceremony music.  I would warn that the church does have a fair number of rules.  They are fairly lenient in attire and music selection.  However, I was frustrated by the requirements that we both place a long list of guidelines in our program (regarding guests taking photos, communion, appropriate applause, turning off cell phones, etc) and have someone get up and read the guidelines at the beginning of the ceremony.  I felt that this was unnecessary and kind of condescending to our guests, but the church is strict about this.

Flowers: Simply Elegant Floral & Event Co.

John Windisch, co-owner
Grade: B-

Overall, the flowers for my wedding turned out alright, but I was disappointed by a few things.  I felt that I was never exactly sure what I was going to get.

On the positive side, John is friendly to work with in person.  The flowers were all delivered on time and the arrangements for the church and the bouquets were gorgeous.

However, I was surprised by how some of the flowers looked on the wedding day.  I booked Simply Elegant after a consultation where John wrote down what I wanted for flowers, then about 6 weeks before the wedding we had a sample day where John showed me samples of the bouquets and different centerpiece designs we had agreed upon.  Unfortunately, the designs changed between the consultation, sample day, and wedding.  For example, I had initially asked for solid white bridesmaids bouquets.  At the sample day, John had some dark purple flowers in the bridesmaid bouquet he showed me.  I liked the way the white and purple looked together, so I didn’t request that he go back to all white and I approved of the samples he showed me.  Then the bridesmaids’ bouquets he delivered the day of the wedding were all white.  Similarly, I felt that the centerpieces at the wedding were a lot less full and lush looking than the samples John showed me. 

I was also bothered by the fact that John came across as very gruff in emails I exchanged with him.  Whenever I would send an email to set up a meeting, confirm table count, or arrange payments, I would get replies that were very short and written all in caps, such as “GOT IT”, “TALKED TO VENUE. ALL SET”, “GOT YOUR CHECK”.  I felt this wasn’t very professional and discouraged me from following up on details. 

Limo: Naperville Limousine

Grade: C-
We rented a stretch Excursion to transport our wedding party.  Ultimately the limo got us to our destinations, but was definitely the most stressful part of the wedding day.  I had three major problems with Naperville Limousine

  1. Incorrect pickup location – A week before the wedding we talked to the company and changed the pickup location. However, the limo ended up going to the wrong initial location to pick up the groom and groomsmen. By the time the mistake was figured out, the schedule of getting everyone to the church was thrown off.

  2. Poor driving and route selection ­ - Our driver had a knack for picking the worst routes from getting from point A to point B.  He seemed to be blindly following his GPS and had no sense of direction.  The driver kept on missing turns and had to be directed by members of the wedding party. After the ceremony, the driver insisted on taking a ridiculous route to the reception which involved adding unnecessary distance to the drive and going down a street that is always incredibly backed-up.  This probably added at least 15 minutes to our trip and cut into the time we had for pictures.  The driver did not speak English well, so it was difficult to give him directions and figure out what his plan was.

  3. Nearly injured photographer and equipment – We stopped at a scenic location to take pictures.  The photographer had gotten out of the limo and was standing at the open limo door gathering her camera equipment.  Without warning, the limo driver started driving away, scaring the photographer and almost knocking her expensive equipment onto the ground.

Photographer: Deonna Caruso

Grade: A (pending wedding pro-pics)
This is only a partial review since we haven’t received the finished wedding photos yet. 

However, so far we have been very pleased with Deonna.  We were attracted to Deonna because she does a nice combination of posed photos and the photojournalism style we wanted.  We loved the engagement photos that we took in downtown Chicago.  Deonna is very friendly, professional, and accommodating to work with.  We got married a week before Christmas.  My in-laws wanted to send out a Christmas card with a photo of the wedding on it.  Deonna took pictures of us in front of the Christmas tree and sent out multiple versions of the photo the very next day so that they could get the cards out on time.

Rehearsal Dinner: Caffe DeLucca (Forest Park)

Grade: A

We had our rehearsal dinner at this Italian restaurant.  They have a second floor that can be used as a private room for up to 40 guests.  It’s really charming and has a fireplace, which was perfect for our winter wedding.  The event coordinator was very accommodating and waived the room rental and linen fees.  The drinks were fairly affordable with reasonably priced draft beers and wine that was charged by the bottle, not the glass.  They have several party menus to choose from which can be customized.  Their entrees are good, but nothing special.  However, their appetizers are absolutely amazing.  I highly recommend their gourmet pizza and their grilled shrimp appetizer.

Reception Venue: Hinsdale Golf Club

Grade: A

Hinsdale Golf Club was the perfect location for our reception.  I didn’t want a reception at a big hotel ballroom or banquet center.  Hinsdale Golf Club had a much more personal and inviting feel to it.  The ballroom has large windows on three sides and overlooks the scenic golf course.  The multiple fireplaces were lovely for a winter wedding.  Our wedding was a week before Christmas so the venue already had a lot of decorations on the walls and entryways, which saved us a lot of money on flowers. 

The staff was very helpful and accommodating.  There was no need to hire a wedding planner since the wedding manager coordinated with the florist, linens, band, and cake.  The wedding packages are reasonably priced relative to the quality and were fairly all-inclusive so I didn’t feel like I was nickeled and dimed.  White linens and mirrors and tealights for the tables are included. 

Technically they say the ballroom can host around 240 people if tables are placed on the dance floor.  We had 180 guests and were very comfortable in the dining room.  The lounge area outside the dining room was pretty packed during cocktail area and I wouldn’t have wanted many more guests there than we had. 

To have your wedding here, it must be sponsored by a member of Hinsdale Golf Club who will be in attendance.

Wedding Dress Shop: Aisle Style (Elmhurst)

Grade: A-

I bought my wedding dress and veil from Aisle Style.  The service was excellent.  The owner was great in recommending dresses to fit my budget and style.  There was no pressure whatsoever and everyone I met was incredibly friendly.  I also ordered a custom-made veil that I thought was very reasonably priced. 

The only downside is that I found it difficult to get in touch with the shop at times.  Their hours are by appointment only and I often found it difficult to reach someone by phone.  The owner had her second child around the time I was supposed to pick up my dress and veil, and the store seemed a little slow to respond to my messages to set up an appointment.  However, everything worked out fine and I would definitely still recommend Aisle Style as a great bridal boutique.