Rings- Hers: Custom designed from Pagel and Sons Jeweler in Killeen- A in craftsmanship, but a BIG F in customer service

My ring is gorgeous, but our experience with Pagal's was awful. We used our own center diamond (from Colby's mother) and designed a ring around it. We went in to the store twice in three days and spent at least an hour there and they did not recognize us when we returned the next week. They were very rude when dealing with us in general, but I wrote it to off thinking that the two people we were dealing with must just be a little cold and not mean any harm. Our real problems came when they quoted us a price when we designed the ring and then later on charged a different (higher) price when we went to pick it up. They also did not remember that we provided the center stone and tried to charge us for that, which MULTIPLIED the cost of the ring. We had to convince them that the diamond was ours. Quite ridiculous.

His: Overstock.com- A

Wonderful price and quality. We got the ring that Colby wanted for $250 less than local in store price. Delivery was very fast, too. He loves it.

Officiant- Colby's Grandfather- A+
What can I say? We love him. Unfortunately he no longer performs ceremonies for the public, though.

Venue- Star Hill Ranch- B

The venue itself is beyond an A+ in my book. It is gorgeous and provided the inspiration for my entire wedding. All of my guests raved about how wonderful the venue was. I couldn't have found a place with more character than Star Hill Ranch. That being said, I do have criticism. The owner, Adam, was very friendly and throughout the planning process he always responded to emails and phone calls with full information and was helpful in suggesting ideas. However, on our wedding day we encountered a few minor-ish problems:

-The contract says that a certain number of chairs will be available. We rented a few more in addition to this to fit our guest count. The morning of our wedding we discovered that we were short about 12 of Adam's chairs. Our coordinator asked Adam where they were and spent a while looking for them herself but they never turned up. Thankfully our coordinator was also part of our rental facility and she went and got more chairs for us no problem. I can understand that quantities might fluctuate a tiny bit from the contract we signed a year ago due to normal wear and tear, but I emailed Adam a few weeks before the wedding to confirm that the numbers were still the same because we were placing our rental order. He said they were.

-During our wedding- our actual ceremony and reception, not just the morning of while we set up- Adam conducted tours of the place. As I was walking to the ceremony I noticed a group of people walking around with Adam but thought it must be some guests that were late that he was leading down to the ceremony site. After the ceremony while Colby and I were taking pictures, a car of people drove THROUGH our reception site with their windows down pointing and staring. The next day my dad said that while he was walking to the ceremony site, a group of people was peering through the trees at our ceremony set up and shouted "Good Luck" to him. This is unacceptable to me. We paid a lot of money for that space and it should be ours for that time period. I did not mind at all the 3 groups of people that came through during the morning/early afternoon while we set up. But to have people poking around during my actual wedding ceremony and reception really upset me.

I didn't grade it too hard because I really did love the venue. If it wouldn't have been for those two things (which to some aren't that huge of a deal) it would've been one of my favorite vendors.

Florist- Rebekah, The Glass Fountain- C

I have a hard time giving Rebekah this grade because I really enjoyed my experience with her up until the wedding day. She was super helpful and offered a ton of suggestions. Customer service wise she was great; she responded super quickly to emails and always strived to answer my questions until I was comfortable. I read a ton of great reviews for her.

However, when she brought me my bouquet at the wedding it was already wilted and turning brown (I had an all ivory bouquet). I didn't let it get to me because I was about to head to the ceremony and didn't want to think about anything going wrong.

This photo was taken at the beginning of the reception, literally right after we walked in. (We are in the background of the photo giving our welcome speech.) I placed my bouquet so the good side faced the rest of the room, but you can see the browning from the side: http://i48.tinypic.com/2s91zlf.jpg

When I walked in to the reception I noticed that in many of the centerpieces the flowers were wilted and brown too. Not happy. They were groups of hydrangea stems and some of the stems had completely shriveled up... just one hour after set up.

This photo was taken by a friend right when she got to her reception table:

Also half of our centerpieces were bowls with floating flowers and candles, but the floating candles would not light despite numerous attempts.

I understand flowers looking a little rough later in the night, especially with an outdoor wedding, but in the first hour... not happy. I am also upset that I didn't get to get many photos with my bouquet. I was planning on lots of portraits with it, but opted not to because of the condition it was in. It's a bummer that we paid a good amount of money for our flowers and they were really only at their full potential for an hour.

She emailed me after the wedding after hearing that I had a few issues with the flowers. I explained my issues and sent photo proof but never heard back from her. I initially thought she was being very professional and trying to remedy the situation because she asked for a reply back and photos. But, when I provided it, I got no response from her.

Photographer- Benjamin Gustafsson- A+

Ben went above and beyond our expectations. We took a bit of a chance using Ben because at the time we booked him he had never shot a wedding before (but had lots of other photography experience). We fell in love with his portfolio and got along with him so well; we just had to choose him. We are SO glad that we did. He ended up being my absolute FAVORITE vendor from the whole wedding. He was so easy to work with during the planning process and always responded to emails promptly. He attended our rehearsal so that he would know exactly how the ceremony would run, helping him getting better shots. He showed up early on the day of and brought two assistant shooters (one was a female so that we could get dressing room/getting ready shots more comfortably). Throughout the wedding, he was so on top of his game and was every where getting every great shot for 8 straight hours, but never "in the way". He even drove Colby and I around the property (in a BMW no less, haha) to get shots at various locations. Two weeks after the wedding we got our photos and could not be more in LOVE with them. He has a great creative eye and a real talent. We are SO, SO happy!

Ben is currently living in New York City but tells me that he is open to do wedding work in both NYC and Austin. If you're at either place, definitely contact him to see if he's available because you won't regret it. :-)

DJ- Fred Bishop, Encore Entertainment- B

Fred is super easy to get in contact with and is very flexible. I do think he genuinely befriends couples and works to make them happy. He arrived early on the day of which I was really happy about. However I was originally told that I would have a speaker outside on the deck and in the saloon and I didn't get that. When we gave our welcome "speech" and thanked our guests, I thought the guests sitting on the patio could hear us over the speaker, but later discovered there wasn't actually one. I was a little bummed but when the sun went down we opened the windows so you could hear everything outside on the patio anyway. I also hoped that he would be a bit more upbeat and interactive with our guests during the reception. People didn't dance much for long periods of time, then he would say something on the mic and switch the music up and people would start dancing. I just hoped for more of that during the whole reception. I did not communicate that with him though so I can't fault him on that too much.

Caterer (food)- Quinn, Hot Iron BBQ- F
I am so, so disappointed with Hot Iron BBQ. We were very excited about them because their food was great when we met with them and Quinn was very easy to work with during planning. However, we had MAJOR PROBLEMS at the wedding. The biggest problem, WE RAN OUT OF FOOD!

We gave them a head count before the wedding and paid for that many plates. At our wedding, 12 people did not show up that were included in the head count. Yet somehow, we ran out of one side well before everyone through the line and after most guests went through, my parents got up to eat and discovered WE WERE COMPLETELY OUT OF ALL FOOD.

How could we run out if we had so many no-shows, though? People were not serving themselves so it wasn't due to people getting themselves large portions.  In fact, people were given VERY SMALL PORTIONS. A close friend of mine reported getting barely a tablespoon sized serving of the two sides and one piece of meat, when we were paying for guests to receive a FULL PLATE of food.

The week after the wedding my mom called the guy we had been dealing with to ask about the food shortage issue. The only explanation they had for us was, "You just had too many people." My mom told him that wasn't true, that is was actually the opposite, that we had less than expected. She pointed out the fact that one table of 10 chairs was COMPLETELY EMPTY during the reception.  No apology was offered whatsoever. Seriously, not a single "I'm sorry" but a whole lot of "not my fault".

I am very upset that we chose them for our wedding. Quite honestly, a little customer service would've gone a long way. I would not be writing this review had they made an effort to fix the problem.

Other problems we had:

-When we started dinner service, the groom and I came up to get our plates first and they were not ready to serve... despite that we were running 10 minutes behind schedule on starting dinner.

-The food was room temperature at best and did not taste nearly as good as during our tasting.

-They were supposed to set up in a certain area, but when they got there they told the coordinator they wanted to set up on tables in a different area. They asked her for tables, and she said "What do you mean you need tables?" They replied, "Last time we did a wedding here they gave us tables." Well, this was never communicated to anyone but they were lucky that we just so happened to have some leftover tables. They set up and crammed all the food on those tables. It did not look good in my opinion to have everything crammed together. Also, they put the plates and drinks in a different spot so the set up was confusing.

-Finally, one of my guests told me later in the night that he walked up on them arguing loudly amongst themselves outside during the reception. This didn't make me happy to hear.

Bottom line: They are definitely lacking in customer service in a HUGE way. It blows my mind that a caterer working in weddings could care so little about the bride and groom.

Caterer (beverages and alcohol)- Wildwood Catering- A+

Wildwood is AWESOME! We used them for beer, margaritas and sodas/water. They were very easy to work with during the planning process. On the day of they showed up early. When I discovered the bar I was hoping they could work off of was moved to a different area at the venue due to an event the day prior but it was too heavy to move that quickly, the owner Josh quickly offered another suggestion to make me happy. Their set up was great, so I was pleased. The bartenders they sent were so GREAT. All of our guests raved about them. PLUS, they were walking around cleaning up tables. I was SO surprised how above and beyond they were. This was not at all in their "job description" but they were so great. AMAZING customer service. Not to mention the margaritas were mmmm, mmm good!

Cake- Colby's Aunt- A+

We were lucky to have such a talent in the family. Mary Ellen's cakes are gorgeous and seriously the best cake I've ever had. Unfortunately she lives 5 hours away and doesn't do much public work anymore.

Invitation and Program Printing- Spectrum Printing, Killeen- A+

Very easy to work with and very accomodating. When I discovered a typo on my program, they re-printed them free of charge... even though I signed off on the program (agreeing to its condition). If you are in the Killeen area, I highly recommend them for printing. 

Dress- Pearl's Place- A

I ordered my dress from Pearl's Place after finding it in a store in Austin. Pearl's Place was almost $1000 cheaper, making the dress in my budget. It arrived two MONTHS early and was perfect. I absolutely love my dress and received so, so many compliments on it.

Hair and Makeup Artist- Sara Domi- A+

Sara is INCREDIBLE. I have never felt more beautiful. I could not get over how I looked. She transformed my very uneven, promblematic skin in to porcelain. LOVE HER! She and her husband just opened an incredible salon on 5th Street (in Austin) called Propaganda. She and her husband have previously worked fashion week, multiple print/TV campaigns all over the world, for Toni and Guy, Bedhead, Tigi, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and Sports Ilustrated.  For purposes of full disclosure, she is a family friend.

Wedding Night Hotel- The Driskill- A

The hotel is good at what they do. It's beautiful and the room was great. It was a nice splurge for us for our wedding night. The front desk staff was very nice. My only complaint was that I could hear the music from a wedding a few floors down until at least 1am. That didn't bother us too much though, but if you're a light sleeper this might be a problem for you haha.

Rentals- Hill Country Event Planning- A

Great prices and product was in good condition. Things were set up very early. I would definitely recommend them.

Invitation Design- Etsy seller PixelPug- A

If you're looking for something original and unique, I recommend using an Etsy designer for GREAT prices and unlimited choices. I chose PixelPug because I was impressed with her portfolio. She was super fast and made our vision come to life. Everyone loved our invites.

Day of Coordinator- Heather, Hill Country Event Planning- B
Heather was a big help, but we did have a few problems. There were a few things she let slip and her big fault was assertiveness. She didn't take charge and run the rehearsal and I really needed her help during family pictures after the ceremony. I also wish she would've been more assertive with the caterers and had them set up where they should've. As I was about to head to the ceremony I realized she forgot to get all the parents/groom/etc their bouts/corsages. However, she did save the day with the chairs and was a big help in getting everything set up/packed up. She was also very easy to get in touch with while planning and very organized. I would recommend her, but I would urge you to encourage her to take charge. I do think it will come in time for her because from my understanding she is fairly new to the DOC gig. 

Car Service- Austin Black Car Service- A+

I was initially a little weary because I had trouble getting in touch with ABCS, but when I did get a call back the owner explained they were extremely busy with prom season and apologized. I booked because they had good prices and no hidden fees. We were pleasantly surprised when a Mercedes showed up to our wedding, because we were expecting a basic Lincoln Town Car. The driver said the owner upgraded us after talking to us on the phone, he said it's something he often does for wedding couples if he gets a good "vibe" from them on the phone. The driver was awesome. He offered to stop anywhere we wanted so we could have a drink alone before going to the hotel (which we declined because we were so tired!), and he drove us by the capitol building and took our picture out front. He was great. WONDERFUL customer service.

Other vendors: 
Address Stamp- SweetPapery.com
Save the Dates- DreamIt!Design
Hair fascinator- Etsy seller Papersilkmade
Guest Hotel Block- La Quinta Inn and Suites Southwest Parkway 
Sparklers- SayAnythingCeramics.com 
Linens- LinenTableCloth.com 
Wedding website- MyWedding.com
Registries- Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond
Candy for candy buffet- Metro Candy (http://www.metrocandy.com/home.asp)