Vendor Reviews

Our vendors are listed roughly in the order of how much money we spent on them, from the most money to the least. This should give you a sense of which parts of a wedding are expensive, so hunting for savings can mean real money, versus the parts of the wedding where the best deal in the world will only save you $75.
  • Catering—Pyramid Catering: Nick: A-; Ursula: B. When we were hunting for caterers, we couldn't find anyone who could match Pyramid's combination of price, selection, and quality. We could find caterers at roughly the same price that we liked, but if we wanted a second or third entree, they'd charge us more. Pyramid had three meat entrees in our package and threw a vegetarian option at no extra cost. If you go with their catering, we recommend not serving fish, since it's very hard to get right in large numbers; and that serving a starch other than rice might be a good choice. We asked for changes to some of the food at our first tasting and had assurances that changes would be made, but those changes weren't apparent on the day of. But really, the overwhelming majority of guests had good things to say about the food.

    Ben was very responsive to email during the final month before our wedding as we had more questions, but during the early stages, setting up meetings and getting responses was not super timely. This sort of thing can drive the newly engaged insane, but we found less-than-super-timely replies to be somewhat par for the course with many vendors. If this sort of thing is important to you, I would look carefully for vendors who's reviewers say things like "always responded timely", etc. But even better, my advice is to try to do things far enough in advance that slow responses aren't an issue. Your vendors are dealing with dozens of clients at once (if not more); yes, your wedding is important to them; but if they have matters that are pressing for a wedding that's much closer to happening, they're going to push your stuff to the side for a bit.
  • Rehearsal Dinner—La Vita e Bella: A. Good Italian food, tremendous selection, and reasonably priced. The final bill did end up over the quote we were given, but only because people drank more wine than their initial estimate. I think the service really pushes these guys over the top.
  • Reception Venue—Rainier D.A.R.: A. The DAR rental includes all of your staff, plates, tables, chairs, and table linens for one price. If your caterer can provide napkins, it eliminates the need for a separate equipment rental company altogether. We had one snag trying to distinguish the time for the end of the party from the time we had to be out of the reception hall, but they managed to accommodate our later end time at the last minute.
  • Rings—Greenlake Jewelry Works: A+. Nick got this recommendation from a friend for Ursula's e-ring and they've been fantastic every step of the way. Custom bands are expensive compared to picking up a plain band from a major jeweler, but if you're willing to spend the money you'll get quality work at Green Lake. When their first quote for wedding bands ended up too high, they worked with us to come up with an alternative that would cost less but still have a similar spirit.

    We worked with Adrienne, if you specifically like our rings and are looking for someone to work with there. She doesn't do CAD designs though, if you like to use those as reference points.
  • Photographer—Chris Gendron: Nick: A; Ursula: B. Our e-pics came out fantastic. And the teaser photos look great too. The downside is that Chris has a loooooong turnaround time; we got a look at the online album five weeks after the wedding, and we'll have the DVD of hi-res prints "soon". This feels like it is on the long side. Obviously, check out his gallery and make sure you like his style, but Chris was great to work with, and even helped one of our groomsmen with his bowtie in a pinch :). (Ursula: I'm not as in love with Chris's photos as Nick is. I think this is mostly due to stylistic concerns; I don't like Chris's composition, and it doesn't seem like he's got a sense for shooting from flattering angles or helping subjects to find them. If you're a bride who cares how you look in photos, I would suggest looking elsewhere for a photographer.)
  • DJ—Jeremy Hamel of Sonic Entertainment: A. Definitely gave us what we were looking for in terms of a playlist. We had a little trouble getting a hold of him, but arranging things with the DJ was one of the last things we did so I doubt it's his fault.
  • Ceremony Venue—St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral: A+ (if you're already a pledging member). The fees for for church members are quite low. Since Nick goes to church there, he was worried that having just 125 or so wedding guests there would leave the room feel very empty. But it didn't feel that way at all, which you'll be able to see in the photos soon.

    St. Mark's also worked very hard to accommodate our requests to use gender-neutral and non-heteronormative language during the ceremony. We really appreciated this.
  • Tuxedos—Formal Image, Inc.: B-. We picked Formal Image for logistical reasons; the bachelor party ended on Friday morning near Mt. St. Helens, meaning we had to pick a rental shop in the Southern part of the Seattle metro area to do the fitting in person in case something didn't fit. Of the five tuxedos, three didn't fit one way or another, some in really egregious ways. I'm told this happens when calling or faxing in measurements, but going 2-for-5 does not inspire confidence. Also, they don't have enough staff to handle all members of the wedding party showing up at once, and there were two wedding parties there that morning, adding to the madhouse atmosphere. On the plus side, they were able to find better fitting shirts & jackets and alter hem lines on the spot. Nick's tux wasn't a perfect fit, but he's a funny size, so really, it all worked out. But there were way too many close moments, and the groomsman was treated very poorly by staff members.
  • Wedding dress—Melissa Quinn at Faerie Fingers costumes: A. Mel is an old acquaintance of mine who had made clothes and alterations for me before, and she was the first person I thought of when I decided to have my dress made. She was very flexible, went through three or four fittings, and was open to my ideas. Her craftsmanship is impeccable, and the end price was ridiculously reasonable (under $900 including fabric). I would totally recommend her to anyone north of Seattle (given that she's located in Everett).
  • Bridesmaid dresses—Jiminie Hayward at mylittleblackdress: A-: I had been admiring Jiminie's work for months before the wedding planning started; Jiminie makes dresses to the exact measurements of your girls, in the color and fabric of your choice, in a range of styles or to your specifications. I would definitely recommend her dresses as a quality alternative to the standard David's Bridal bridesmaid dresses; the minus is only because (as you might expect) there were some fit problems that required alterations for two of the four bridesmaids.
  • Cake—Kelli's Creations: A+. We love Kelli! Our cake looked fabulous, and judging by the fact that only a bit of the chocolate & coffee layer left, it was delicious. Kelli is really at the sweet spot in terms of giving you great quality at a reasonable price. When we gave our per-person quote from Kelli to another cake maker, they didn't even bother negotiating. And her cake tasted better than theirs! She also did a second tasting with us to make sure we didn't get a chocolate cake that was too chocolate-y or almond cake that was too sweet, and candied the orange slices to decorate the cake herself at no extra charge.

    Posters on the Seattle discussion board on get an additional discount.
  • Van Rental—Alamo downtown: B. We rented an extra van to help ferry people between the ceremony and the reception. And thankfully, there are a couple of car rental shops downtown so that no one had to go all the way to the airport. But they lost track of our reservation, and since 25,000 Cornhusker fans were in town, they almost weren't able to find a single car! We're not sure how they ended up finding a van, but they eventually did. That caused a momentary freak out.
  • Alterations—Deb Hedeen: A+. Deb is a complete professional at what she does. She did excellent alterations on short notice for an eminently reasonable amount and was a real pleasure to deal with.
  • Transportation—BMC Limo: A+. We rented their vintage London Taxi at almost the last minute (I think we finally reserved it the Wednesday before the wedding), and it was a huge hit. They were also able to re-route the driver twice just a few hours before our even as we kept re-arranging where we needed rides. Totally worth it if you are looking for vintage transportation, something that will give you and your guests a big smiles, a fantastic prop for photos, etc.
  • Hair & Makeup--Jenny and Belinda at VAIN Hair Salon (Belltown): A-, A. I was set on doing my hair and makeup at VAIN after following their blog for a while. Both Jenny and Belinda were consummate professionals and a pleasure to deal with; although Jenny specializes in updos, I had finger waves, which might explain some minor imperfections and loose hairs the day of. Nonetheless, a great place to go, and comparatively economical; we paid under $300 for test and day-of, and that included a generous tip.
  • Flowers—Pike Place Market: A+. If you are willing to be flexible on what flowers are in your bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, etc., buying from Pike Place Market is a great way to save money. The flowers were all very high quality and held up through the entire ceremony & reception.
  • Hotel—Hotel Monaco: A+. Totally accommodated early arrivals & late departures for wedding party members and guests. Also willing to let people book an addition 3 days earlier or later than the day of the wedding (as opposed to 2 for most locations). They do have an attrition policy (i.e., you get charged if you don't fill at least 80% of the rooms you book), but beyond that they have great staff and great service.
  • Hotel—Mayflower Park Hotel: A+. A perfect location for visitors who want to play tourist in Seattle. Willing to hold up to 20 rooms without attrition guarantees. Guests said they had a good time.
  • Hotel—Ramada Inn Downtown/Seattle Center: B. If you read the reviews online you'll find a lot of roach motel complaints. But those seem to be older, and it's a perfectly fine place to have people stay, especially if you want to give people a budget option in the city. That said, at least one of our guests didn't get a gift bag that we had left for them, and others didn't get one because even when given a list of possible guests, they couldn't find everyone in our wedding block. This was a downer. If you're not doing gift bags, this is a fine choice; but if you are, find some other way to make sure your OOT guests get your gift bags.

So, You Want To Make Your Own Pocketfolds...

For reasons that aren't entirely clear, Nick ended up obsessed with the idea of having pocketfold inner envelopes, complete with a little sleeve to hold your inserts. And not just having these envelopes, but making these. In the event that a couple out there decides they want to do this themselves, here's a helpful how-to guide. These pocketfolds fit into an A7 (5.25" x 7.25") envelope. I got the most help from SoCal Knottie thecheshirekat, who has just fantastic DIY project descriptions on her webpage.

Step 0: ask yourself if you really, really, want to do this. You are going to save maybe $50-100 over buying the pocketfolds off of some place like or So unless you're going to get more use of the paper cutter after the wedding, or you already have one, this should be something you do because you enjoy this type of DIY project. The total time commitment for 80 invites is probably 10 hours, not counting shopping time.

Okay, so, you're sure you want to do this? Well, let's get rolling.

  • 12"x12" scrapbooking paper, or, 19"x25"-ish or 22"x28", etc. cardstock or charcoal paper. If you go with paper in dimensions larger than 12"x12", get it cut at the art supply store you buy it from. A good art supply store will have a guillotine cutter that you can use to cut the paper, or they may even do it for you. If you don't get it cut at the art store, you're going to spend hours and hours with an X-Acto knife and a T-square measuring and cutting. It's much faster to use an in-store guillotine.

    Good quality poster board cost us $2/sheet and produces 4 envelopes. Scrapbooking paper runs anywhere between $0.24-0.45/sheet for basic colors at Crafter's Toy Box to $4-5 for really fancy patterns.
  • 14" (or larger) paper cutter. Swingline makes a good one.
  • Double sided adhesive such as the Tombow adhesive roller.
  • A razor for scoring. You can use an X-Acto knife, but those are usually sharper and you run more risk of cutting all the way through the paper.
  • Some additional cardstock that's a different color from your pocketfolds for templating.
Step 1: Cut the paper into envelopes and sleeves. Remember, if you buy poster board, this should be done at the supply shop. Here is the template for cutting 19"x25" poster board.

I found this was the quickest order to make the cuts.
  1. Cut the along the long edge (thick line), making one 7"x25" piece and one 12"x25" piece.
  2. Cut the 7"x25" into two 7"x12" pieces. Throw the 7"x1" piece away.
  3. Cut the 12"x25" piece into to 12"x7" pieces, and one 12"x11" piece.
  4. When you get home, use your paper cutter to cut the 11"x12" piece into six 3.5"x6" pieces for the sleeves.
Note: The poster board at our local stores was really 19.5"x25.5". Rather than make lots of finesse cuts with a giant guillotine to make sure every piece is exactly 12x7, it's easier to just make these few cuts at the store and do the precise cuts at home.

For 12"x12" paper, make one 12"x7" piece, then cut the 12"x5" piece into two 6"x3.5" pieces, and then throw the remaining strip 12"x1.5" strip away.

For other dimensions, you're on your own for laying out the cuts.

Step 2: Cut templates for scoring. You'll need to cut three pieces of cardstock templates
  • One 4.75" strip for the main flap
  • One 2.25" strip for the upper flap.
  • One 4.5" x 3" for the pocket sleeve.
At this point, these are the materials you'll have left.

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Almost all the materials you'll need: 7"x12" pieces, 6"x3.5" pieces, scissors, and a razor.
Adhesive roller not shown

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Scoring the envelope
Step 3: Score the envelope. Place 4.75" the cardstock template on top of the pocketfold so that one corner of the template is flush against a corner of the envelope. Take the razor and run it along the edge of the template. This should give you a nice clean edge. Repeat this for the other side using the 2.25" template. Fold the pocketfold so that the scored edges are on the outside. This is a good time to make sure that your main invitation will fit into your envelope.
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Scoring the pocket sleeve.
Step 4: Score the pocket sleeve. Place the wide edge of the 4.5" x 3" cardstock template flush against one wide edge of the 6" x 3.5" piece of sleeve, so that there's an even amount of on either side. Run the razor along each edge of the template.
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Cutting tabs in the pocket sleeve.
Step 5: Cut tabs in the pocket sleeve. Take your scissors and cut diagonally to form tabs on the edge of the template. The thin lines here give you a rough sense of where the cuts should go.

There's no need to be super precise with your cuts here, since the tabs that you're creating won't be visible.
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Folding and attaching the pocket sleeve
Step 6: Fold and attach the pocket sleeve to the envelope. Fold the tabs so that the scored edge is on the outside. This should give you a nice little pocket sleeve. Take your adhesive roller and roll a bit onto each tab, then press the into sleeve into the large 4.75" flap on your envelope.

At this point, you're done making the pocketfold! All that's left is stuffing it with information.
Step 7: Put in all of your inserts. The main invite goes in the middle part of the envelope, and all your extras (RSVP card, directions, etc.). Some people like to attach the main invite to the envelope with adhesive. It looks a little fancier that way, but it makes it hard for people who like to put the invite on their fridge. Other attachment alternatives include brads, decorative paper clips, or just leave it as loose paper.

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The finished product.
Step 8: Close the pocketfold envelope. Fold the large flap in, then fold the small flap over the large flap. You can use whatever you'd like to hold it closed. We used a tiny wax seal, but stickers, decorative paper clips, etc., would work just as fine.

That's it, you're done! Now just put your pocketfolds into outer envelopes and drop them in the mail!