Vender Reviews

Photographer - Kate Botwinski - A++


I LOVE Kate and her beautiful pictures! She was very accomodating on what I wanted in a package, sent me a couple that were close to what I wanted, but then we added some other things, got rid of somethings that weren't important, and now I have a package that's exactly what I want!

My $3250 custom package includes: 2 photographers (her husband Sam is the second photographer), unlimited hours from hair/makeup to the last dance, unlimited hours for an engagement session (I know some photographers only allow 1 hour, which I thought was too short, I believe Kate spends around 3 hours for e-pics), cd with copyrights for both e-pics and wedding, a 10x10 coffee table book, a 16x20 canvas, 3 11x14, 6 8x10, and 8 5x7 photos.

People on TK will tell you not to go for someone that you just didn't connect with, and I agree. The first time I talked to Kate, I spent about 45 minutes talking. At the end, she knew exactly what the feel was for my wedding what was important to me, and I felt like I had a new good friend!

Engagement Pictures:

We met up with Kate and Sam for our engagement pictures on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I had some ideas on where I wanted to take our pictures, and she was game for anything that I came up with. Overall, we spent about three hours on our shoot. She is just so full of energy and ideas. Whenever she gets a good shot she squeals with joy, her energy is just so contagious. Zach and I just love them both!!

Wedding Pictures:

Kate and Sam showed up on time, had the same wonderful energy that they had in our engagement shoot. They were very efficient with their time. I've been to/in many weddings where photo sessions take forever because the photographers don't have the leadership to make sure everyone is there, so you waste time waiting for people. We didn't have this problem at all, I think for family pictures we took even less time than we set for it. We forgot the bouts for some of the guys, but Sam just made sure that the men were staggered so it would look nice in pictures. They were professional during the ceremony and reception, not getting in the way or being noticable.  I have to say that these two are wonderful, professional people, and would recommend them to anyone!

Attire - Mestad's in St. Cloud - Overall A

Bride's Dress - A

I have had a wonderful experience with Mestad's in St. Cloud. Before I had gone to Mestad's, I had gone to David's Bridal a couple of times. I was planning on kinda milking this experience for all it was worth. I wanted to go to some fancy shops and drink their champagne. I guess I should have done my shopping their first, because I just didn't make it to those shops.

My first time into Mestad's was quite a bit different than my experience at David's. I felt like they actually wanted me their instead of feeling like I was a nuisance. I met with Abby who has been absolutely wonderful through me entire experience with Mestad's, highly recommend her. I had a couple of completely different styles that I was considering. I wanted big ballroom, and also very simple, maybe with lace. I keep going back to my bad experience at David's, but when I was there they wouldn't let me try on any ballroom dresses because "nobody looks good in them, and people just have this princess mentality, and it's just not for you". REALLY? Anyway, Abby picked dresses with different styles to help narrow down what I really wanted. She also let us wander in case anything caught our eye. I found my dress sitting on a mannequin. It pretty much was everything I wanted, except it had the world's largest train on it. I haven't seen any bustles that I like, so I decided I really didn't want a dress with a train. On my particular dress, she showed me how it could be buslted in a way that it doesn't look like a bustle, problem solved, perfect dress found.  

Abby gave me recommendations for alterations from a different source than Mestad's. She had used the reference personally for her own wedding, and was much cheaper than the alterations in the bridal salon. She was never pushy, always gave straightforward and helpful information. She made her schedule around my appointments, if I made an appointment 3 weeks in advance, she made sure she was working.

If you buy your dress within the first two weeks of you first appointment, you get 15% off the dresses price!

Bridesmaid dresses - A

Abby also helped us find bridesmaid dresses as well. She was just as helpful during this shopping experience. They have a large selection, and the dresses are good quality. Because I bought my dress there, the girls got 20% off their dresses.

Tuxes - A

Overall we had a good experience with this too. They were helpful with being flexible with us. Allowed groomsmen to pick up on a couple different days, allowed others to pick up tuxes for them as well, and made sure that they tuxes were correct, or made sure that if there were any mistakes they were taken care of (one usher had to go back because the tux didn't fit). They can also deliver the tuxes the day before at the rehearsal if you so choose, but it's an all or none kind of thing, we decided that they would rather carpool than pay $10 per tux for delivery. We also got 20% off tuxes as well!

Reception Venue - Bug Bee Hive Resort


Bakery - Cold Spring Bakery -  overall B+

Customer Service - A

The individuals I worked with at the Cold Spring Bakery were really great. They gave me time whether or not I had an appointment. They allowed me to have several tastings, and made special cakes for our tastings that weren't part of their normal tasting types. They were very straight forward in their pricings, and helpful in trying to keep costs down. They are much cheaper than other bakeries, and their cake tastes delicious.
Look of Cake - C

I had a picture of what I wanted my cake to look like. It's a beautiful picture of a cake with white chocolate shavings covering the cake. I thought that it would be pretty simple to copy. I guess not, the actual cake was (mostly) covered in chunks of white chocolate, not shavings, and didn't really look anything like my picture. I was a bit disappointed in the way that it turned out.

Taste of Cake - A -

Like in my tastings the cake tasted wonderful. They messed up on my order a bit. I ordered the top layer with lemon cake and raspberry mousse, which turned out correct. The next layer was carrot with no filling because our frosting was white chocolate mousse which tasted delicous without any filling (and we wanted to save some money), that layer was also correct. The last layer was supposed to be almond with no fillings, they gave us raspberry mousse filling. I'm sure it was a mistake, but hey we got delicious filling for free, not a bad mistake, but a mistake none the less.

Caterer - CH Professional, Catering by Jason Freeman -  Overall B-

DJ - Midwest Sound - overall B+

Company - A

The company was very easy to deal with, they gave us a good deal on the package we received. They were available anytime we had a question, and made sure we were on track with what information we needed them to have.

Our DJ experience - B

When I first received a call from our DJ the week of our wedding, he wouldn't even let me get a word in edge wise. He would just talk and talk (and talk so fast too) that I could speak. There were a few times that I just started talking over him for almost 10 seconds before he would stop talking and listen to what I was saying.

At the wedding dance, he had his own agenda, and wasn't listening to requests. He felt the need to play too many slow songs before he would play dance songs. I had to go up there and talk to him because he wouldn't play a song that my friend requested, and asked him a few times to play. He told her that he had to follow his agenda first (slow it down before he could speed it up). He continued to play too many slow songs  until DH's cousin (after talking to me about it) gave him a stong talking to. He also didn't play a lot of the songs we had on our recommended list, but rather played other random songs (not requested). After he got talked to, he got better, he made sure some songs were appropriate (told one of my guests that he had to okay it with me because he hadn't gotten paid yet, not quite professional in my opinion). But like I said, after he was talked to, he began to listen and play the songs we wanted, but I feel like I shouldn't have had to put that much effort into it, after spending so much time coming up with a song list.

Alterations - Louise Kegley - A

Louise was very easy to get along with, and completed the alterations wonderfully. She really cares about her clients, asks about all the details of the wedding, and stresses as it got closer. She empathized with me when I told her about my catering worries, she actually seemed more worried about it than what I let myself get. Not much else to say, I met with her four times, and for all the time I took from her, my cost was pretty minimal (around $150 for hem, bustle, and taking in the top part of the dress.

Jewelry - Helzberg Diamonds - A

After taking a look at the Bling! page it's quite obvious that we use Helzberg a lot! I've found their staff to be very helpful, they have gone that extra mile through this whole process. Zach and I have had a long engagement, getting married September 18th 2010, we got engaged July 18th 2008, and bought the ring back in August 2007. Since we bought our e-ring, we found our wedding bands, my wedding present/christmas present - my necklace, and a pearl bracelet. I got into looking at necklaces for the bridesmaids, and found some pearl pendants, originally I think $40-$50, on sale for $25. I had other gifts I was giving to the girls, and decided I didn't want to spend that much. Later that week their staff gave me a call saying that the pearl bracelet and necklaces I looked at that last weekend were going on clearance. The bracelet was $24, and the pendants $15! So I bought 5 for my bridesmaids. I don't care if they wear them for the wedding, but I just couldn't pass up a deal like that! Overall good experience.

Hair and Makeup - Martha Kieffer - Lord's and MiLady in Litchfield, MN - overall A

Probably too far out of the TC for most of you ladies. I loved some of the salons that TC girls recommended, but I couldn't justify spending $100+ on hair and make up and then paying extra to have someone come from the cities. Martha is my cousin's sister-in-law. She did the hair of all of my cousin's bridal party (minus me because I was a poor college student...) She did a good job, and she's willing to come out to the resort where we're getting ready, which is what I wanted! I've seen some of her work first hand, so I hope I'll be happy. The cost for me and the bridesmaids is $50, a trial is included in that price for me, junior bridesmaid is $40. I didn't ask about makeup, but I do know that I want her to do that too!

Hair Trial - A

DH will tell you that I'm picky, Martha did about three or four styles before we found one that I liked. She was patient, and I worried that I was taking too much of her time, but she said I was fine.

Day of - A

She came out to our reception venue where we were getting ready. She got done ahead of schedule, and all the girls liked their styles!