Bride's Review - 05/28/2005 Wedding at RAPHAEL WINERY - Honeymoon Review FRENCH POLYNESIA on Page 3 WITH PICS!
UPDATED BELOW WITH SOME PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE DETAILS
Honeymoon Review on page 3 with Pics!
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Hi, everyone! Here's my review of our May 28, 2005 wedding at Raphael Winery. It definitely went by so fast, but we had a wonderful time, and we were able to enjoy every single detail. We were so calm all day as well. I don't post that much on the message boards, but I always find the reviews helpful, so here is it. (edited to make the ratings in bold)
A big thanks to the LIWeddings community. All of you girls (and guys) have helped me a lot during the planning process. I got so many good ideas from all of you.
My rating is out of a scale of 10, with 10 being the best. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. I don't go on LIW as often anymore, so e-mail would be better than FM.
Ceremony and Reception: Raphael Winery, Peconic, NY
Raphael Winery is such a wonderful place to have a wedding. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants something a little bit different. Julie, who's in charge of the special events, is wonderful to work with. She is so nice and she is always willing to listen to ideas and to work with you. We had our ceremony outside in the vineyard and then the reception was held inside. It was great having everything at one place. The food is AMAZING. We've loved the food ever since we tasted it, and our guests have continuously raved about it. They have a kitchen right on the premises so all the food comes straight from the kitchen and no reheating is necessary. We had 6 different hors d'ouvres, and they were all excellent. We had a buffet-style dinner where there were five different stations set up: three carving stations with steak, duck, and tuna, and two made-to-order pasta stations, one with seafood in a white wine and butter sauce and one with sausage and beans and red sauce. All of them were excellent. The steak, duck, and tuna came with sides of starch and vegetable, so each plate of food is a full entree. Everyone is still raving about the food. We also got a wedding cake through a bakery that works with Raphael, and it was FANTASTIC. We got a vanilla cake with white chocolate mousse and fresh strawberries filling, and white chocolate buttercream frosting. It also looked so beautiful. Our bridal attendant, Becky, was so attentive. The bartenders did a great job with the drinks, and the entire staff was so pleasant and nice.
The place is also so beautiful that we didn't need to add much decorations. They also allowed us to come in earlier while the winery was still open to the public to take pictures, to do a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, and to have our DJ set up. Plus they gave us a huge doggie bag at the end of the night with all of our food, and we were so grateful to be able to taste them again at home.
Photographer: Michael Cody, Greenport, NY
Mike Cody is fantastic!!! He is so wonderful to work with and he takes such beautiful pictures. His style is photojournalistic and he manages to capture every moment. Our package also included an engagement session, and after the engagement session we knew that we made the right choice. During the day of the wedding he came very early to our hotel to take pictures of us getting ready, then he set up a first meeting between my DH and me in the gazebo at the back garden of the hotel. We went around the North Fork taking couple pictures before heading to Raphael for family, wedding party, and more couple pictures. He was totally unobstrusive, and he brought two assistants with him who are super nice. The best part was that at the end of the night, he surprised us with 10 matted pictures from the day. He and his assistant apparently set up a print station at the winery in the office and printed 10 gorgeous prints and put them in mats to present to us. The 10 pictures also came in a beautiful presentation box. We were so surprised and so touched. He is that wonderful, and worth every penny. He also travels everywhere to take pictures.
Videographer: Bliss Productions NY
We just got our DVDs and we absolutely love our video. Bliss did a great job. We didn't want a cheesy video, and we definitely didn't get a cheesy video. The final product ended up very professional-looking, simple, and elegant. We got 3 DVDs with the package that we got, plus all day coverage. We also got them to throw in the raw footage for free. Our main videographer was Jerry, and he brought along Mark to help out. Jerry also came early to the hotel to take videos of us getting ready, and he stayed all the way until midnight. Mark showed up a little bit later. Both of them were very unobstrusive and most of the time we even forgot that they were there. We really love the final product.
Flowers: Jens Flowers, Mattituck, NY
Becky, the owner of Jens Flowers, is really nice and was very willing to work with us and our budget. The flowers turned out even better than I imagined. We use red roses, berries, and eucalyptus leaves for my bouquet, and my bridesmaids had red and champagne roses and berries for their bouquets. My DH had a single red rose as the boutonierre, and the groomsmen had two small red tea roses. The dads had champagne roses. Our moms got rose corsages that match their outfits. We also wanted Chinese lucky bamboos as our centerpieces, and Becky did a great job in setting them up. We wanted something pretty simple, so she put them in clear containers with different colored marbles and rocks, and put a red and gold ribbon around the container. She also spread rose petals around the tables. With the candles, the whole effect is beautiful. For our ceremony, she suggested renting trees instead of an arch, and we love that idea. It also turned out really well, because it was very simple, but beautiful.
Tarale is amazing and so nice. I had problems finding someone who can do a good job on Asian hair, and Tarale was amazing. She did such a wonderful job. I did a half-up, half-down hair do, with the down part curled, and my hair stay curled all night. Normally it's really difficult for my hair to curl and to stay curly. She and Lauren Maire, her assistant, also did a wonderful job on my bridesmaids, my mother, and my grandmother. Everyone looks great and the hair stay all night long. She and Lauren were also great to have around in the morning, because they were very relaxed and funny. Unfortunately Tarale isn't doing weddings starting next year, but Lauren is. For other Tarale brides, don't worry if she doesn't reply or call you back right away. She is very dependable and she will eventually call you or e-mail you back.
Makeup: Maureen Pedala, New York, NY
I also had a hard time finding someone who can do makeup on an Asian person. I was so glad I hired Maureen because she did a great job. My makeup stayed on all night, except for the occassional lipstick touchups. She does airbrush makeup, which I love because it was so light and it doesn't feel like I had any makeup on at all. She is a bit pricey for the day of the wedding, but she didn't charge me travel even though she was coming all the way from Manhattan to the eastern end of Long Island, she doesn't have a minimum, and her trial is free if you go to her place in Manhattan. She also did my mom's makeup, and my mom also looked great.
Ceremony musicians and DJ: Ron James
Ron James is normally a bandleader for the Ron James Orchestra. We had checked out their website and liked the samples, but unfortunately a band was way out of our price range. Ron then mentioned that he also DJs, and he worked out a package with us where he and another musician would play live music during our ceremony and cocktail hour, and then he would be our DJ/MC for the reception. This worked out great and his prices were much more reasonable than the other DJs we were considering. We are giving them a 7 out of 10 for the ceremony because several of our guests commented that the keyboardist messed up during the prelude and processional (Ron played the flute during the ceremony). We pick very popular classical music for our ceremony (like Ode to Joy and Vivaldi's Spring), so we feel like the keyboardist should know how to play this music already since they do a lot of weddings. But it's really not a big deal in the scheme of things. The keyboardist did a wonderful job during the reception playing the grand piano that was already at Raphael. Ron James played the sax during the reception, and from what we heard he sounded great.
Ron James was also a great DJ. He played everything on our must-play list, followed our instructions regarding the introduction, didn't play anything that we told him not to play, and he also checked with us before playing a couple of the songs that were requested (like 50 Cent) just in case that type of song will offend our parents. He was also a great MC - he spoke enough to get people to dance, but he wasn't in people's faces. All in all, we highly recommend him.
Minister: Reverend Joseph DeVincenzo
Reverend Joe and his wife, Judy, are very nice, and they really do try to work with you to make your ceremony personalized. Neither one of us is very religious, but we wanted a spiritual ceremony, and that's what we got. Our complaints with them stem from a couple of things: 1) Reverend Joe changed the order of our ceremony slightly and forgot the second reading; 2) We did a thank you ceremony for our parents, and we asked them to bring an extra silk rose for my grandmother, but they forgot; 3) Reverend Joe was pretty funny during the ceremony and was cracking jokes, but after we did the wine ceremony (where each of us took a sip from the glass of wine), he chugged the rest of it down! It was kinda amusing and our guests seem to like it, but at the same time we were shocked that he would do that in the middle of a solemn ceremony. But he and his wife did work well with Julie to get the guests organized and the ceremony started on time, plus they were very responsive over e-mail and they showed up early. The most important thing was that he married us. :)
Limo: Studio 1, Brooklyn, NY
We went with Studio 1 because we mainly needed a pickup/dropoff service and they were willing to work with us. Their prices were also reasonable. We ordered two limos: a stretch limo for 3 hours (so we can take pictures before heading over to the winery) and pickup at the end of the night, and a Navigator limo for our bridal party (pickup and dropoff only). The day of the wedding the stretch limo didn't come when it was supposed to. When we called them the owner thought that both limos were for pickups and dropoffs only, even though the contract said otherwise. By then it was too late because they had to come from Brooklyn. We ended up riding in our photographer's SUV to take pictures. Thankfully it was only the two of us. The limos arrived 20 minutes late to pick everyone up to take them to the winery, and then on the way to the winery the Navigator (which was driven by the owner) got lost. We noticed right away and finally we had to give our driver directions. We can't understand how he could've gotten lost since we gave him detailed directions, and there's only two main roads in the North Fork. The AC wasn't working in the Navigator as well. On the plus side, they came on time to pick us back up at the end of the night, the limos were new, clean, and fully stocked with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Plus the owner did apologize profusely. We didn't tip the owner or gave him extra money for gas, although we did tip the other drivers and we paid the full contract price.
Tuxes: Chaps Corner, Mattituck, NY
We got our groomsmen tuxes from this store (DH had bought his own tux), and they had always been very nice and helpful. We chose a style when we were out there one weekend, got the measurement forms, gave them to our groomsmen, and they fax or call in the measurements plus $20 deposit for each tux. They also called us about two months before the wedding to let us know that a couple of our groomsmen hadn't turned in their measurements. The day before the wedding the guys went to try on the tux and everything was perfect. They were also very flexible about when we can return the tuxes. We had rented it on a Friday, and they said we can have until Tuesday to return them if we want to spend the whole Memorial Day weekend out there. We ended up returning them on Sunday since we had to head back, but it was nice of them to offer the flexible return time.
Hotel: Best Western East End, Riverhead, NY
Our family, our wedding party, and the two of us stayed at the Best Western East End when we were out there. Some of our guests stayed there as well. It's the only major hotel in the area. The hotel itself is very nice, and the rooms were comfortable. The bridal suite had a canopy bed and a jacuzzi, plus they gave us a bottle of champagne and chocolate the night of our wedding. Our only problem was dealing with the group sales manager, Kim. She was very hard to get in touch with, and she didn't always remember what she was supposed to do for us. We were supposed to get free shuttles for our guests, but it was very confusing as to whether there was a limit or not, and whether we can pay for any extra shuttles. In the end we ended up getting 2 free shuttles (2 14-person vans) and we paid for one extra 14-person van for our guests. The shuttles were on time and worked out well so our guests didn't have to drive. Near the end we also ended up working with her assistant, Christine, who was much better to deal with and who actually returned phone calls promptly. Plus the desk manager that weekend, April, was so sweet and was willing to work with us.
Hotel: Hampton Inn Brookhaven, Farmingville, NY
We also blocked some rooms for our guests at the Hampton Inn, and they were great. The group sales manager, Jennifer, was very helpful and always on the ball. She arranged a free shuttle for us because our guests took more than 10 rooms, and the shuttle bus was very comfortable and worked out well. Plus the rooms are clean and nice.
Wedding Dress Alteration: Ann Hamilton, New York, NY
I got my dress at a bridal boutique in the Los Angeles area, so I won't mention them here. I got it altered with Ann Hamilton after getting recommendations from people on theknot.com NYC board (I live in Manhattan). Ann is very, very sweet and her prices are so reasonable. I got a French bustle, and she also shortened the straps, took in the waist, and shortened the hem. She is also wonderful to work with. My only complaint is that after my dress got altered and I brought it to the cleaners to get it pressed, the cleaners found a lot of dust on the bottom of the dress. The dust must have come from her studio because it was clean when I brought it there. No big deal, just a minor thing.
Wedding Dress Press: Chris French, New York, NY
I needed to get my dress pressed after alterations because it had gotten so wrinkly since I brought it on the plane from Los Angeles, and then got it altered. Chris French pressed my dress, cleaned the dust, re-hung it properly, and it looks so wonderful when it came back. I didn't even need to steam it or iron it again when I took it out at the Best Western, and I had a long train. I will probably go back to them to get my dress preserved, too. They also had free pickup and delivery.
Favors: Online. Fortune cookies from www.specialfortunecookies.com and takeout boxes from www.fancyfortunecookies.com
We had put fortune cookies with 2 custom messages into red and yellow Chinese takeout boxes. No complaints here - both vendors delivered exactly what we wanted and on time. The fortune cookies also taste pretty good.
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, and Thank You Cards: iCatching Cards
We wanted our invitations to be in Chinese and in English, and we found this vendor online. We got the Embossed Happiness invitations. It was very easy for us - we told them what we want to say in English, they translated it into Chinese, and sent us Chinese and English proofs through e-mail using PDFs. Our parents made some corrections on the Chinese one and we faxed them back. Everything turned out beautifully and we highly recommend them.
Engagement ring and wedding rings: Sylvester's, New York, NY
DH got my engagement ring from Sylvester's on the recommendation of a good friend of ours, whose father is really good friends with the owner of the store. They are super nice and very helpful. They also gave us a great price on the rings. We custom-designed our wedding rings and they did it exactly the way we want them done. If anyone is interested, they are located in Chinatown on Bowery Street. I can get you their exact address.
Rehearsal Dinner: Lotus East II, Mount Sinai, NY
We did our rehearsal dinner at Lotus East II because my ILs wanted Chinese food and this restaurant was one of the few places in the area that served more traditional Chinese food (not to offend anyone, but because both of us are Chinese and our families are Chinese, we wanted something more traditional rather than Americanized). The manager is a bit weird and doesn't seem to do anything. Every time my MIL ask about reservations or dishes, he keeps saying that she has to talk to the owner. The owner was also hard to get in touch with and doesn't always return phone calls. But that night the food was good and everyone had a good time. One minor problem is that they don't have Lazy Susans, and since we were sharing dishes, it was a bit difficult passing the heavy dishes around.
Manicure/Pedicure: Kerrie Ann at Styles Salon, Mattituck, NY
Kerrie Ann (I believe that's the spelling of her name) was so nice and she did a great job. I went to the salon the day before the wedding, and she did a french manicure on my nails and I chose red on my toes to match my Chinese dress (I changed into a red Chinese dress for part of the reception). She also fixed one of my nails when I accidentally hit it against the dryer before it was fully dry. I highly recommend her. My manicure and pedicure lasted way beyond the wedding.
We also did a bunch of minor stuff ourselves, like buying blank programs and placecards at Michael's and then printing them ourselves, and we also bought a couple of things off E-Bay. We also did a sand ceremony (similar to a unity candle, but with two different color sand that we pour into one big bottle), and we bought the stuff at Michael's, too.
Hope this helps! Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com if you have any questions. I will also check FM sporadically.
Message edited 5/9/2006 1:19:05 PM.