Hair Color and Cut
Blonde Ambition Salon
110 Enterprise Drive
Verona, WI 53593
I have been seeing Nicole for almost 5 years now. She used to work at JC Penny, then branched out and FINALLY opened her own salon. Nicole is fabulous and it is no secret that obtaining amazing color and highlights is her specialty. Throughout the years I have been blonde, brunette and every variation of color in between. No matter what shade I am, it is complimentary to my complexion. I consistently get compliments on my hair and hair color.
With that being said, for my wedding, I wanted subtle highlights with a lighter brown base. I specifically didn’t want “chunky” highlights or anything that would horrendously “date” me in our wedding pictures years down the road! I went in the last weekend before the big weekend and, as usual, achieved amazing results.
Wedding Day Hair
(bride, bridesmaids, flower girl and mother of the bride)
412 Water Street
Eau Claire, WI
I really struck gold with Starr’s Sister Salon. JP and I got married on Labor Day weekend. All in all, I never had an issue with any vendors in scheduling things for the holiday weekend. UNTIL… I attempted to book a salon. I knew that I wanted to book with a salon that was it’s own business, as opposed to someplace in the mall or a department store salon like JC Penny. I liked the intimacy along with the privacy of an independent hair salon.
What I didn’t realize before I started my quest was that most independent salons are closed on Sundays. Many are closed the whole weekend. This information paired with the holiday weekend was a recipe for what could have been, a disaster.
I called Starr’s Sister on the referral from a friend who went to college in the area. I called them and spoke with Patty who immediately attempted to fit me in on the Sunday in question. I was informed that they were open, briefly, for another wedding party. Long story short, Starr’s Sister managed to squeeze me, my six bridesmaids, flower girl and my mother in for the morning of my wedding. I was thrilled.
When I met with my stylist (Greta) for my hair trial, I immediately fell in love with the salon itself, which was a contemporary art gallery of sort. It was an eclectic modge-podge of art pieces, paintings, wall hangings and furniture. A church pew graced the middle of the front entryway. I loved everything about it!
Aside from the fabulous décor, the stylists were amazing. Everyone had a blast and more importantly, everyone liked their hair. Everyone’s hair style cost approximately $50, mine included (which was half up/half down with a veil and hair flower).
The owner allowed us to bring in breakfast (donuts, bagels, coffee, juice, etc.) while we were getting ready. Although the makeup artist was on vacation, we were free to bring in our own makeup and use the mirrors and the lighting for our primping. I loved being about to relax with my best girl friends in such an awesome environment just before the wedding!
(Manicures and Pedicures)
4050 Commonwealth Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54701
Again, I struck it rich with another great vendor. I made the appointments for 8 girls about a month before the wedding. Most of us got a manicure and a pedicure. A handful of us got acrylics put on. To cycle through all 8 of us for both our hands and feet took about 2 hours. Our appointments couldn’t have been spaced out any better – no one was waiting a long time before or after the rest of the group.
The techs were great, very friendly and personable. The salon itself was very clean. Many nail salons that I have been to are covered with nail dust and stink of acrylic chemicals. USA Nails did neither.
The prices could not be beat either. I paid right around $50 for a full set of acrylics and a pedicure with two acrylic nails placed on my two big toes. The group of girls I was with come from all over the tri-state area and all of them agreed that the prices were great! Most importantly, our nails looked awesome
The Green Mill Restaurant and Bar
2703 Craig Road
Eau Claire, WI 54701
We chose The Green Mill because it was close to the rehearsal at the Church and most importantly, offered a pizza buffet. When I called The Green Mill, I was transferred through to the event coordinator. She emailed me a full menu with several drink options shortly after we spoke on the phone. I was impressed by the extensive menu and that we could have a private room.
Although we went with the “pizza buffet,” the room was set up to accommodate a nice sit down meal. The tables held linen table covers, goblets of ice water and cloth napkins. The pizza buffet was buffet style and was “all you can eat.” There was a salad course, breadsticks and several different kinds of pizza. Coffee and tea were provided with the meal charge. Soda was offered in a big ice container and we were charged for only what we consumed. A full bar was located just down the stairs for anyone who wished to purchase alcohol.
I should note that if we were to have purchased alcohol for our guests, the servers would have taken our drink order.
The staff was great and the food was wonderful. We did not hear one complaint from the 30 people that were there. The staff also provided us with a long table so that we could set our wedding party gifts on.
(Centerpieces and Bridal Bouquet)
1500 South Hastings Way
Eau Claire, WI 54701
I was first introduced to Adalar Floral at a wedding expo in Eau Claire about 6 months before our wedding. What immediately caught my eye was a centerpiece that she had on display that consisted of a tall cylinder jar with very tall curly willow. Small votive tea lights hung down from the branches. It was beautiful and I had to have it.
Adalar Floral is an eco-friendly florist which I love. We were informed that we would be able to rent the centerpieces. I took their card and later called to book an appointment. At our first appointment I met with the owner and immediately fell in love with her work and her shop. She certainly has a gift for creating amazing pieces of work! At this private meeting and when I initially met her, I was quoted $15-$20 per centerpiece to rent. This is what I was told and what I had written in my notes. When we had met privately, I gave her my budget with $200 leeway. It was understood that I would need (insert list of bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, centerpieces, etc.) She never said “that won’t work,” etc.
Several months later as the wedding got closer, we began to email back and forth. This is when I discovered that there was no way my initial budget could cover what we had initially discussed. Most specifically, the centerpieces were now $25 to rent. It may not seem like that big of a discrepancy, but it is a HUGE deal when working with 15-20 centerpieces.
In the end, I never said anything (I know… I know!). I decided to go with Adalar for my bridal bouquet and half of the centerpieces, which came out to ten total centerpieces. This was just under what my initial budget allowed me to purchase.
The actual work was amazing. The centerpieces received rave reviews and were absolutely stunning. My bouquet was beyond gorgeous and in turn received tons of compliments on it. I should note that my bouquet consisted of feathers, two large wooden flowers and curly willow. It was unique and stunning.
1235 A Menomonie Street
Eau Claire, WI 54703
Words cannot express how thrilled I am with Beyond Photography. I was first introduced to them at the Eau Claire Bridal Show and was extremely impressed with their work. They also offered a Sunday and Military discount (both in which we qualified for).
Beyond Photography consists of two photographers, JoLynn and her mother Betty. Both are extremely personable and fun to work with. They are creative and are will accommodate any shot / photos you want. In fact, several guest have mentioned to me specifically how “cool” our photographers were! I agree. They are two classy great women to work with and I was thrilled that they were able to spend the day with us J.
Our package included an engagement session which we took full advantage of. The shoot took a couple of hours and included two outfit changes. We went to several areas around their studio and got TONS of really great shots. It was really hard not to go overboard and order hundreds of dollars in engagement pictures! In the end, we went with 2 different poses and got enough for family and close friends. We received the prints before the wedding and we displayed the prints by the guestbook table. Again, we received a lot of compliments.
Pricewise, Beyond Photography cannot be beat. Being the money saving gal that I am, I have thoroughly done my research. With that being said, all of their packages and prices are clearly stated on their website. In my research, it was extremely frustrating when other photographers did not list their prices on their websites.
Although I have not received my wedding photos back yet, I am confident that I will not be disappointed! I’m excited and anxious to see the phenomenal art that Beyond Photography will produce J
1717 Birney Street
Eau Claire, WI 54701
One of my most memorable moments of the entire wedding was the time spent in the limo on our way to the park to take our group pictures.
The first time I met with Cody Limousines was at the Eau Claire Bridal Show. I didn’t plan on spending the money on a limo. I really didn’t. Then I met Tom. Tom was the contact for Cody Limousines at the show. Although I spoke with him briefly, something he said really hit home. He stated that we (more than likely) will never be able to have all of our closest friends together in the same vehicle ever again. Ever. Someone will always be gone, have a kid that’s sick, miss a plane or have to work. Never again will you have the opportunity.
I kept thinking about what Tom said. I thought about it a lot. Then we finally agreed that a limo was definitely something that we wanted to spend the money on. We moved some things around in our budget, crunched and pulled some numbers and then BAM. We made it happen.
When I called Cody to set up our date, I was more than thrilled that they offered a Sunday AND a military discount. Everything went flawlessly. They sent us the contract, we sent in our money and that was that. Tom called the day before the wedding to verify everything.
With that being said, Cody Limousines was amazing. The service we received was nothing short of outstanding. When JP and I exited the church, the Hummer was waiting at the curb with the red carpet rolled out. It defiantly gave the “WOW” factor when guests exited the church. It was also really neat for our guests too. Many guests took pictures in front of or by the limo after they exited the receiving line at the Church. Our photographer as well got some great shots of JP and me along with the wedding party in and around the limo.
If you don’t know by know, if I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing! It was a GREAT decision and worth every penny!
(Ballroom and Catering)
Ramada Convention Center
205 South Barstow Street
Eau Claire, WI 54701
When JP and I started looking for a place to have our reception, our choices were fairly limited as it was non-negotiable that the hotel be connected. Before long, we found ourselves at the Ramada in downtown Eau Claire. As soon as we booked and paid our deposit, we were given a coordinator. She was my main contact throughout the planning process. Our coordinator was outstanding. She answered my calls and emails immediately and was very knowledgeable. It was very apparent that she knew what she was doing, which eased my worries and fears that something disastrous might go wrong!
Something definitely worth nothing is that the Ramada offered a Sunday discount on our room rental. A huge discount. A $500 discount. The Sunday discount specifically consisted of ½ off the room rental and they also threw in a free ¼ barrel. We were thrilled.
Also included in our plan was the “food sampling” or “tasting”. I didn’t think that was a big deal at first until I found out that many establishments charged for this, some as high as $70 per plate! I went to the tasting with two other people and all of us were given a huge plate of food with 4 mini-meals on it. It was great.
We had to go in a couple of days before the wedding to take care of our final bill. When we got there, our coordinator informed us that she was going on vacation and that another coordinator was going to be there the day of our wedding. It was not a big deal, although it did throw me for a loop.
Another GREAT thing was that our coordinator emailed me a final bill before we came in. It was strait forward with NO hidden fees. It was really easy to understand.
There was a slight communication issue that is worth mentioning. The room could not be set up the night before like I had wanted. I was informed that the room would be done very late that night. I was then informed that we could decorate / tweak the decorations very early the next morning. The day of the wedding, I got up at 5:30 a.m. and went to look at the ballroom. The tables were set up and that was it. I inquired at the front desk of the hotel and they informed me that the wedding party usually sets the room up. *insert a small panic attack*
Everything was clarified within a couple hours. I was extremely bummed out that I was not able to see the room set up before hand. It was eventually completely set up a couple hours before the guests arrived for the cocktail hour. Although the staff set up EVERYTHING (decorations, guest book table, candy buffet, etc.), it was not how I would have had it set up. It still looked GREAT though. No one took any pictures of the room completely set up without hundreds of people in it. Most importantly, there were no pictures taken of the candy buffet I was so excited about.
Aside from that, the food and staff were amazing. Everyone loved how the room looked. No one had a problem with parking and several guests made it a point to inform me how beautiful the room looked. The location was great as it was a short drive from the church and there was a LOT of things to do in the immediate vicinity. I would still recommend the Ramada to other people as our overall experience was great.
4619 Keystone Xing
Eau Claire, WI 54701
I decided to go with Men’s Wearhouse because I purchased my dress and bridesmaid’s dressing through David’s Bridal. I liked the fact that they were national and that our groomsmen could go into any location to get fitted with their tuxes. Our groomsmen, ushers, dads and readers are spread throughout the country so this was fairly important.
With that being said, everything about our experience with this company was a disaster. When my now husband and I went into the Madison, Wisconsin store and picked out the tuxes, we specifically stated several times that all the tuxes should be delivered to Eau Claire, WI (where the wedding was). We had 12 people ordering tuxes.
The thing that went wrong was that 4 of our groomsmen were told that they were to pick up their tuxes at the location they were fitted. The groomsmen didn’t think anything about this and thought that JP and I had changed our minds and that there was a change of plans. THERE WASN’T. A groomsman told JP this about a week before the wedding. This in turn caused me to make several frantic calls to all of the groomsmen, ushers, dads, etc. to find out who was to pick up their tuxes in Eau Claire and who was to pick them up at their fitting location. Then I had to call Men’s Wearhouse and state again that all tuxes were to be delivered to Madison. Then I had to call all of the groomsmen, ushers, dads, etc. and relay the information to them.
As the tuxes came in, Men’s Wearhouse called the groomsmen and told them that they could “pick them up” at the original location! Two were, in fact, delivered to the location of the fitting. This resulted in more phone calls. The tuxes were shipped to the Eau Claire location in the end.
When JP and I went to pick up the tuxes, we were informed that the jackets would be “big” on most of the groomsmen because their shoulders were wider than their waists. Now I know that all of them were/are in the military and have that “military build” but they are not freaks of nature! I was absolutely floored that this was even an issue for Men’s Wearhouse. I was and still am disgusted that almost $200 for a 24 hour tux rental could not deliver a tux that fit properly.
When JP and I initially went in and “booked” Men’s Wearhouse, we were not informed that the tuxes would not fit if the man had shoulders wider than their waste. We later found out that the groomsmen and ushers were informed that they would not fit right when they got fitted (and what could THEY do about it at that point?).
In order to make them fit, the groomsmen and ushers did get creative with handfuls of safety pins.
There was a huge discrepancy over when the tuxes were due back in to the store. We got married the Sunday before Labor Day. My mom was told they were to be in on Monday (Labor Day) and JP and I were told they were due back on Tuesday. On Monday, we called Men’s Wearhouse 3-4 different times and there was no answer. Another groomsman informed us that he too tried calling and there was no answer and no answering machine. Finally, my mom loaded up all the tuxes and drove across town to the store. They were open and she got there just in time. The clerk informed us that if we turned them in on Tuesday, we would have a $20 late fee for each tux ($240.00).
I would never recommend Men’s Wearhouse to anyone wanting to rent a tux for a wedding or large group event.
Wedding Dress and Bridesmaid Dresses
8118 Mineral Point Road
Madison, WI 53719
Despite the numerous complaints and horror stories I have heard about David’s Bridal, I couldn’t have had a better experience! We initially went in and tried dresses on a Saturday afternoon. Being a weekend day, it was a little busy. We were informed of that when we booked our appointment. I found my dress that day and also picked out the bridesmaid dresses. This was a feat in itself because I chose 6 different styles for 6 different girls.
The dresses all came in on time and in pristine condition. Everyone looked GREAT in them. Most of the girls didn’t even need any altercations, myself included! Throughout the day of our wedding, several people complimented our dresses.
The prices were great too. It was cheaper for the girls to buy their dresses in comparison to renting a tux J
Mother of the Bride Dress
Marry – Go – Round
103 5th Avenue North
Strum, WI 54770
My mother put off getting her dress for months. Yes, months. In fact, she waited until the last 3 weeks to pick out a dress.
On the referral of a friend, mom went to Marry – Go – Round in Strum, Wisconsin. Her experience was so phenomenal that I had to include a short review. She is still raving about her experience.
She informed me that the personal service she received was great. The woman who helped her was honest and helpful and FUNNY.
Last, but not least, my mother looked amazing. Her dress was gorgeous and I could tell that she felt comfortable in it all night, as there may or may not have been an incident that involved table dancing!
205 South Barstow Street
Eau Claire, WI 54701
Our hotel and our reception site were both in the same building. As previously stated, this was non-negotiable for us.
JP and I made up “out of town boxes” for our guests. We left 50 of them at the front desk and they gave them out as our guests checked in. The staff was great. I later found out that many hotels charge a fee for giving out boxes or bags to guests. The Ramada did this for free.
I also liked that they were able to block off rooms for our guests. I was able to call whenever I pleased and the front desk was able to tell me how many people reserved rooms.
The room was a basic run of the mill room. We did get a complimentary suite on our wedding night, which was great. The hotel suite that we were put in was a basic hotel room with a huge Jacuzzi bath tub. The hot tub felt AMAZING after the wedding from being on out feet the entire day.
It also had a full sized couch and TV. The TV was really bad. It was so dark that you couldn’t see it from the other side of the room.
The other great part about the room was it’s location. The car ramp goes up the entire length of the hotel, which made loading and unloading our things to and from the room really convenient. After the reception, the wedding party took all of our gifts to our hotel room. It was big enough and it worked out great as we quickly loaded them up in the car to take to my mom’s house the next day for the gift opening.
The only bad part about the hotel that I can think of off the top of my head is that my dad’s room had a clogged bath tub. My dad also stated that some other people had some issues with the “cleanliness” of the rooms. I take this with a grain of salt though because he may have been upset about his room.
Either way, it was a basic hotel room. Not the Ritz, but certainly not a dive either. The location was great (downtown Eau Claire) and you just can’t beat the hotel-reception 2-in-1. The pros far outweigh the small cons and I would definitely recommend the Ramada.
Rock-a-Fellas Mobile DJ Service
Again, another AWESOME vendor.
I met with Alan for the first time at a bridal show in Madison. When I went to the bridal show, I wasn’t looking to hire any vendors because my wedding wasn’t in Madison. With that being said, these guys really stood out at the show. There were two DJs, both in a classic black tux. They were classy. I like classy.
After speaking with them, I discovered that they did travel as far as Eau Claire and there was no hidden “trip charge.” After I heard that, I was REALLY interested. Most impressive about Rock-a-Fellas is the fact that one price covers the ENTIRE day. If you need church music, cocktail hour music, anything music, they are there. They are prepared to take care of any situation that can arise. For example, if your pianist suddenly breaks her wrist, Rock-a-Fellas can hook up their equipment and take care of it.
Another great thing is that they will do is a slide show. All we had to do was send our pictures to them (digital or actual photos) and they did the rest. They will set up the slideshow wherever you want it (the Church, lobby, reception, first dances, etc.)
There price is listed on the website. Having that information is great, especially when doing vendor research.
So what did Rock-a-Fellas do for us at our wedding? EVERYTHING. I did not need their services for the Church as I already had a pianist. They did provide cocktail hour music along with music for the dance after the dinner. JP and I had a slide show set up for our “first dances.” For JP and my first dance, there were pictures on a slideshow behind us of us and our friends. For the father-daughter dance, there were pictures rolling of my childhood. For the mother-son dance, the same thing. It was a great way to keep people interested in the “first dances” and not make it boring for others!
It goes without say that these guys really know how to read the crowd. The dance floor was packed the entire night. I also liked the fact that Alan had a “do not play” list that JP and I had the option of completing
I also really liked how they made it a point to know who the mothers/fathers of the bride and groom were along with who the other vendors were (such as the coordinator and the photographers). Several times throughout the night when I needed to find my mom, Alan knew right where she was. When our photographers were trying to hunt down grandma, Alan took care of that too.
Alan really helped us with our timeline of the reception. One of the things that I got the most frustrated with was “the flow of events.” I had no idea when the cake was supposed to be cut, who danced with who first, etc. Rock-a-Fellas has a great tool on their website that helps you with everything. The first time we met with Alan after we booked him, he went over the potential timeline. Once I had a rough idea on how things were supposed to run, it was easy to run with it.
I would recommend Alan and Rock-a-Fellas in a heartbeat to anyone anywhere they travel too!
2615 North Clairemont Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54701
Do I like cake? Of course. Did I want to spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a sliver of fancy deliciousness? Hell no!
One of the best decisions we made for the wedding (the budget) was to not go fancy on the cake. It made me sick to see the prices for a cake that would feed 200 people. Seriously. $500 was on the cheap side…
Insert Mega Food and their fabulous cupcakes. I did get over 200 cupcakes for well under $150.00. I went simple and bold, chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and vanilla cupcakes with blue frosting (our colors were chocolate brown and light blue). The $150 included the set up fee. They set up a beautiful 8 tiered cupcake tower that looked like a cake. It was gorgeous.
One thing worth mentioning is that Mega Food did get the frosting wrong on the blue cupcakes. I wanted vanilla frosting with blue sprinkles. What they actually made was blue frosting and it stained people’s mouths blue! At first I was a little mortified, but no one else cared and they did taste amazing.
One of JP’s friends came up to us, mouth and teeth completely blue, and stated, “I don’t even care that my mouth is blue! These cupcakes are delicious and I’ve already had six!”
I would do this again with no regrets! If you do decide to do this, just be sure to clarify that you don’t want dyed frosting on the cupcakes!
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands
341 Junction Road
Nothing but kudos for this exceptional company. JP purchased the engagement ring from Kessler’s. The experience was so great we went back for both of our wedding bands.
The quality of the rings is phenomenal. At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, it really does sparkle like it’s plugged into the wall (uhhhuh uh huh!)! JP and I wanted something very unique and Kessler’s certainly delivered.
The warranty cannot be beat. No monthly inspections, dragging paperwork in, etc. It’s really strait forward. They stand by their product. If it’s broke, they fix it. No matter if you bought it yesterday or twenty years ago.
I have to mention the customer service we received. When JP and I went in to look at rings months before he actually proposed to me, a salesperson took the time and explained everything about diamonds, cuts, color, etc. He also went through the warranty. He was in no way pushy. We never once felt pressured to buy anything because he spent the past 45 minutes with us.
I plan on purchasing many new pieces of jewelry at Kessler’s (JP doesn’t know about this yet)!
ONLINE VENDOR REVIEWS
Brenda’s Bridal Veils
Um… amazing! Lightning fast shipping, excellent customer service… she pretty much rocked. I stopped counting the number of compliments I got on my flower clip. It held up and I even wore it the next day at the gift opening!
(invitations, envelopes, cardstock, pocket-folds)
Paper and More
What you see is what you get here. I ordered samples for a reasonable price because I was really nervous! The colors I received as samples were pretty much identical to what was on the computer screen. The shipping was extremely fast and packaged really well. Perfect, perfect, perfect!
Bridesmaids Bouquets and Boutonnieres
Another amazing experience on Etsy. This vendor rocked. I gave her my budget, my vision, my money… then BAM! I was blown away. This woman is a true artist. I loved the finished product. It was unique, different and gorgeous. I loved my non-traditional wedding “flowers!” Excellent communication, emails and customer service.
Out of Town Gable Boxes
The gable boxes we received were great. No problems or issues.
The Craft bags were a different story. They can in a set of 250. Of that 250, I would say that 50 of them were damaged, only had one handle or the bottom was ripped out. Luckily I only needed 200. I still plan on calling them to complain and possibly get a partial refund (I kept all of the broken bags). I did plan on selling the rest on EBAY.
Also, the shipping was insanely expensive. It was close to $40. That seemed a little high to me.