Member since 3/06
40 total posts
9/3/2006 6:30 PM
Carltun on the Sound
My 9/3/06 Review: Carltun on the Sound, Simply Stems, Jennifer Davis Photography, Hank Lane Band, Ballroom Dancing, Zion Lion, and more!
Our wedding was Sunday evening, September 3rd of Labor Day 2006. My husband Max and I (Adina) both live in Manhattan (and have for a few years) but our family and friends are really spread across the country. This, along with having a relatively traditional Jewish wedding, definitely impacted a lot of our decision making.
Throughout our planning process (we got engaged on February 13th 2006, after 14 months of dating), Max and I had decided that we wanted our wedding to be reflective of us—elegantly simple and classy. We strove to have these values present in everything that we did, and we feel that we were successful! It was really a wonderful day in our lives, full of joy, happiness, and the people we love!
Although I did not post very much, I consulted liweddings.com throughout my planning process, and found it to be rather helpful. (I am really not familiar with LI!) It was especially helpful to read reviews, so here’s mine! (btw all of the vendors we used did a good job in the end…)
(Non-Pro pics are in my album...pro pics can be seen @ www.jenniferdavisphotograpy.com) Sorry if the review is kinda long!!! Please feel free to contact--
**Invitations-Carlson Craft (ordered in Charlotte, NC)
We ordered through a family friend, who did a great job. Max and I found the invitations at Party City by looking through the books, but were not comfortable ordering through Party City because the invitation needed a lot of ‘special attention’ because it had Hebrew writing/special spacing on it. The invitations were really beautiful!!! We got a lot of compliments on them (You cannot see all the detail on the computer screen, but in person they are a delicately textured paper with a lightly embossed/shimmery rose).
**Stationary for Thank You letters: From American Stationary—ordered online, personalized stationary with our names. Very good experience, you can proof online…they came quickly and were reasonably priced.
**Venue: Carltun on the Sound in Bayville, NY
Our ceremony and reception were at Carltun on the Sound in Bayville, NY. It is run/owned by the same people who own the Carltun on the Park. It’s a small-ish but very nice facility (it was great for our wedding of about 130 people—could def be perfect for somewhat larger parties as well). Although the facility is not perfect, it is a nice place and there are great views of the ocean/sound out of the main windows. There is also a nice gazebo on-site for pictures.
This was actually the only hall on Long Island that we physically looked at (our wedding was originally going to be at a hotel in Charlotte, NC—but this fell through as we were about the find the contract…I chose the Cartun in March/April of 2006). Most of my research was done via the internet and phone.
Some words about our selection of venue that may be of special interest to Jewish brides: We were looking for a facility that could do strict Kosher Catering, which significantly limited our options. Considering the $’s spent for the wedding, we really did not want all the food to be cooked offsite and then just ‘reheated’ on site. Many LI catering halls will accommodate outside kosher caterers, but have extra fees (e.g. outside catering fees etc) that become prohibitively expensive. Also, many synagogues have reception halls/catering facilities which I am sure are quite beautiful. However, few have any presence on the internet. Living in Manhattan (and both having very busy schedules), we did not have the time to schlep around and see a plethora of halls—and the fore did not really look at any synagogue sites. Also, as you may know, Sunday night is ‘prime time’ for Jewish ceremonies and for specifically ‘Jewish’ catering sites. It is possible that you will have better pricing at secular halls (w/kosher catering) for Sunday nights.
Overall, we had a good experience with the Carltun on the Sound (especially with Caryn). To be honest, I had some frustration the day of the wedding (e.g. ‘running’ the rehearsal, the wedding in the venue before us ran late, it seemed that they may have been stalling between courses…my mom told me the coffee and tea did not get served with dessert at all the tables), but overall it was very nice. Also, in planning, we had the option to ‘upgrade’ the wines that were served—not sure how common this is. We upgraded one or two ‘notches’ (I cannot believe that the Carltun would actually serve the hideous wines that were included—we were shocked)…it would have been helpful for them to have mentioned this when we signed/negotiated the contract.
Overall, very elegant venue, excellent food, and nice staff. The Carltun on the Sound may be a bit ‘off the beaten track’ but we thought it was very elegant and classy.
**Officiant—Elie (my friend)
My friend Elie, a rabbi, was our officiant. He did a wonderful job, both leading up to the wedding as well as at the wedding itself. We are very grateful and happy that he was able to officiate at our wedding.
**Ketubah—From West Side Judaica in Manhattan
We looked at a number of Ketubot—if you are anywhere near Manhattan, you should definitely check out West Side Judaica on Amsterdam and 88th street. They have TONS of Ketubot, and each well marked (with what text is on it—traditional, egal, interfaith, etc); they also have Ketubot that span quite a range of prices. Although we looked online for ketubot, we really liked being able to see the ketubah ‘in person’ before buying it. They have a relationship with a local artist and, if you wish, can arrange for the artist to ‘calligraphy in’ information on the Ketubah so it matches the other lettering.
I bought an acid-free pen (used for scrapbooking typically) in an art store (the big one on 57th street…I think it is called Lee’s) to fill out and sign with. Also, I bought a ‘portfolio holder’ at the art store which did a great job of protecting the Ketubah…from wrinkling, from rain, etc…
**Other Ceremonial Items:
-Glass to break—from Gracious Home in NYC, for $1.75. They are known for their customer service…I walked in there and said “I need the cheapest glass you have, which is breakable). They did not bat an eye…helped me find it. When I was checking out, another lady at the counter was like ‘oh it’s for a wedding, right?’ They guy who helped we was like—‘well I thought it was a somewhat strange request, but now it makes sense!’ We were surprised that the Carltun on the Sound would not provide a glass to break…as my Mom said “We’re paying a $750 ceremony fee and they can’t get us a glass…?”
-Talit: A Talit (prayer shawl) is a ‘traditional’ gift that a bride gives to her groom as they get married. Many times, this talit is then used to form the Chuppah for the ceremony. Max and I went shopping at West Side Judaica in Manhattan…they have a great selection!
-Wine Cups for the Ceremony—Max’s mother got us Lenox silver, engraved cups for the ceremony. They are heart shaped and look nice in pictures.
**Band-Hank Lane Music
We looked at MANY bands, and in the end went with Hank Lane (I think it was the West End Band). Overall, the music at the reception was truly excellent—the music was good and the ‘read’ the crowd very well.
Hank Lane was recommended to us by the Carltun and was able to work within our budget. Several bands we looked at had more musicians for the same money—however, we felt that the quality of Hank Lane was unparalleled. We had a 5 piece band…it was totally fine for the size group we had. The music sounded really wonderful and they really got the party rockin’! The piano player/keyboardist for the ceremony and cocktail hour was also great.
We had some challenges working with Hank Lane leading up to the wedding—including that every time we spoke to them, we spoke to someone different. The most frustrating piece was that although we explicitly spoke to them about our first dance being a ‘foxtrot’ of ‘Always,’ they played it as a waltz. We spoke to the band leader and for the cake cutting (which we had set to be a ‘reprise’ of Always), and they played the song as we had requested. The band leader’s response—‘gosh, I really wish we had known before.’ We had gone through this with the booking agent from Hank Land…and he had neglected to communicate this with the band.
My words of advice to any potential/future Hank Lane couples—the musicians are really great and they will do a great job…but if you have any questions, insist on speaking to the band leader (either pre-party or the day of).
**Photography—Jennifer Davis (www.jenniferdavisphotography.com)
I found Jennifer Davis through a recommendation of a geocities webpage. She was wonderful! She did a great job and has been our favorite vendor to work with. We felt very comfortable with her from the time we met her in Soho…she scouted the location in advance, arrived at the hall with a big smiles and hug (and an assistant), and stayed till the end. We are very happy with the photograph proofs. We also really liked the flexibility she offered—no albums were included but we have the option of purchasing them though her.
You can see our proofs at Jennifer’s Website, under proofing, Adina and Max. Although she was not working with the most photogenic people, we really felt she did a good job of getting people at their best! Also, there were specific pictures we wanted and did not want, and she listened very well to our instructions.
We saw 2 other photographers in person before selecting Jennifer. One of the ones I met with was Duet—who I know is very very popular on this board (I had called them because I was soooo impressed by many of the pics/experiences people had posted on liweddings). However, I was very put-off by them…partly because I was quoted about $1000 more for the SAME package when I went to visit them in person, as opposed when I spoke to them on the phone/email. He then would not talk about price and just said that this was what they offer…I really felt sketched-out. Based upon my experience, I would really caution prospective Duet-users to be careful about the prices when you talk to them.
**Videography-Aaron Video in Oceanside, NY email@example.com
We were really unsure about having video at our wedding. Under parental direction, we decided to have it…but we were not interested in the elaborate packages offered by many of the more popular videographers. My friend referred us to Aaron Cohen and his wife Sarah (they work as a team).
We had a very good experience working with them…we are still awaiting the final video (it is in the mail)—we got a lightly edited version. Would recommend based upon our experience thusfar. Very reasonable priced in comparison to all the videographers recommend on liweddings.com.
**Florist-Simply Stems (an liweddings vendor, based in Huntington) www.simplystems.com
I found Simply Stems on liweddings. We also looked at Flower Michelle and Pedestals. Simply Stems had competitive pricing and very friendly service…they were not afraid to offer advice/guide us when we asked (e.g. we knew we wanted red and silver, but needed guidance for what other colors would go with it)! They were able to work with our floral budget (Max and I are not ‘flower people.’) In the end, we went with Simply Stems because we really liked their very personalized approach.
The Bouquets were beautiful and the centerpieces were executed very well (again, very elegant, simple, and classy). For centerpieces, each table had several small vases with roses…based on a picture I had come across on liweddings…thanks for the inspiration They looked very nice, and were supplemented with lots of tea lights on the table.
Simply Stems supplied the Chuppah as well, and ensured that Max’s Talit was appropriately draped upon it. (We had originally considered just using a Talit w/poles as a chuppah but liked a pre-set chuppah canopy because it was more spacious and then we would not need ‘chuppah holders…no one’s arms would be tired from holding it up!).
The programs were a DIY. I used a template sent by a friend and then took them to a copy shop (on Amsterdam in the 80’s) to be printed. I was going to have them printed at Kinkos, but both Kinkos and Staples wanted more than $180 to make the programs!!! The two local copy shops I priced each wanted $50…for the SAME thing… (3 double sided sheets on grey paper, folded). I would HIGHLY recommend shopping around outside of Kinkos and Staples… I realize that, overall, a difference of $100 is somewhat negligible…but $100 is $100… and I find it RIDICULOUS to pay more for things than you have to…
**Hair—Nelza From Jason Royce Salon in Woodbury
Recommended by a liweddings bride—thanks!
Nelza did a great job. My hair looked great and stayed all day.
However, Jason Royce Salon was very challenging to work with—they told me a different price on the phone than in person (for the trial)…and then in the end raised the price again (on the day of, after I had confirmed the price when I was at my trial). It was very frustrating. I was not trying to ‘cheat’ them/cheap out—but as a customer, if you tell me a price and I agree to it, it is not cool if it keeps changing.
My mother and my sister also had my hair done at Jason Royce, and their hair turned out very nicely.
**Make-up-Marguerite from Jason Royce Salon
Although there was some frustration leading up to the make-up (not Marguerite’s fault, but rather a result of her transition to Jason Royce Salon), Marguerite did a WONDERFUL job on my mother, my sister, and I—bringing out each of our natural beauty’s in appropriate and flattering ways. Although I don’t know if I would go back to Jason Royce for hair, I would definitely return to Marguerite.
**Wedding Jewelry (rings)
My rings (engagement and wedding band) are from Zales. We have had very good experience from them, and fair pricing. (My wedding band is a plain platinum band that matches my engagement ring—I priced out plain platinum bands of the same width at several other jewelry stores near me, and Zales had IDENTICAL rings for several hundred $’s cheaper). Again, I would highly recommend shopping around.
Max looked extensively at wedding bands—in the end, he got his white gold band custom-made, from a Jeweler in the city (in the Diamond District, who is a friend of a friend). We priced out quite a number of bands (he was a tad picky, but was pretty sure he wanted a custom made band), and there was actually little difference in prices between various jewelers for a similar style—from the Diamond District, to the Jeweler Section in Jersey Gardens Outlet Mall in New Jersey, to Zales (although it is ironic in comparison to our experience with the platinum ring...although it was def worth it to price it out in different places).
We used Men’s Wearhouse because they have stores all over the country…which was very important to us! Overall, a fine experience, although when we registered for Tuxedos, we were given misinformation about how many free tuxedos we got. Also, several of the guys had to have additional alternations done on-site…which I hear is par for the course of tuxedo rentals. Everyone looked great at the wedding!
**Wedding Gown- David’s Bridal
I was looking for a dress with sleeves, which significantly limited my options. I had looked online, but found that going to stores was the best. My mother and I went shopping in Charlotte… The best thing we did, in retrospect, was going to a very nice salon to look at Wedding Dresses (we went with an open mind/potential to buy). They were very helpful there, and I found 2 dresses (a Vera Wang and a Reem Acra) that were beautiful, although neither dress had sleeves and we decided it did not makes sense to add them/it would ruin those dresses. However, the consultant we worked with told me about what kind of dresses worked best with my build…which was helpful when we went to David’s Bridal.
The customer service in David’s Bridal was clearly no-where near the service in the salon—the consultant was very pleasant but working with two other customers. However, she helped us locate the gowns with sleeves and that fit in flattering ways, and I eventually chose one of those gowns. I ordered the gown a few weeks after trying it on (gown was true to size--I wear and 8 or 10, and that's what the gown was), and it was shipped directly to New York.
**Wedding Gown Accessories:
-Slip—from RK Bridal. I went there, they were un-helpful but 45 minutes later, I emerged with a slip that fit. I know many people love RK…
-Bra—I bought a long bra (maidenform) from Filene’s Basement for $15. It was off the rack and was perfect.
-Shoes—I wore shoes I had…I knew they were comfortable, and knew that they would barely be seen!
-Veil—Borrowed from a friend. It was perfect!
-Headpiece—I stumbled upon the jewelry area in Manhattan (6th ave and like 37th street). I saw several I liked, and eventually bought a headpiece at Metropolitan Bridal. It cost $80 and looked suspiciously similar to one I saw in Macy’s for more than $300.
*Wedding Gown Alterations—Pinpoint Bridal on East 83rd Street in Manhattan
Recommended by a friend. In the end, the alterations were good and the bustle held, but they were frustrating to work with. It seemed that they were trying to do the least amount of work possible, and just tell me what I wanted to hear. (This is apparently one of the places Vera Wang recommends her gowns be altered…they had a big sign up about it)
I made an appointment several weeks in advance…and showed up to 2 other brides having appointments at the same time. At first, they told me that my dress just needed the bustle…I told them that it needed to be shorted as well (um, cuz I was tripping on it???!) and that the sleeves needed to be shortened. They argued with me that the hem and sleeves should not be shortened…but I couldn’t walk in the dress, forget dance in it! And the sleeves were waaaaay long. My dress was 2 layers (lace overlay and under-part). She made a bustle for the lace and also for the regular dress and marked the hem and sleeves. She quoted what I am convinced was a random price…(I had accidentally left the price tag on, and suspect that if I had not, the alterations price might have been even higher). The whole experience and some of the comments from the ladies working there were annoying, and I considered going elsewhere for alterations (but really did not know where in NYC).
When I went to pick up the dress (this time with 2 of my Bridesmaids), she had only bustled the under-part of the dress and hemmed the front. She had not done the sleeves or bustled the lace part. She claimed that I did not want the lace bustled or the sleeves done. I argued with her (calmly), and one of my bridesmaids (thankfully) got involved as well. It was really ridiculous, especially because the part about the sleeves was explicitly on the receipt! We had to wait another hour + for the dress to be ready…and then they had to steam it because it had become wrinkled (which they were also less than happy to do).
Although the work was good here, I would suggest caution about going to the store. If you go her for alterations, either know exactly what you want and/or bring someone very pushy and vocal with you (even if you are vocal, they listened much more to not-the-bride…we observed this with another party in there as well).
Purchased and Altered at Nordstroms. She had a great experience.
**Bridesmaids and Maid of Honor Dresses
Forever Yours, ordered from The Bridal Shop in Westchester (www.thebridalshop).
The dresses were great. In the end, everything worked out. However, the dresses and wraps almost never came in because of sheer incompetence at the Bridal Shop. The only person worth speaking to there, in my experience, is the owner. It is a looong story, but the dresses were to be ordered in April (I called to double check they had been ordered)—and I got a phone call in May saying they were not ordered. The dresses were then ordered…except two of the dresses never came in…because, in the end, they were not ordered properly! Everything worked out, but it was a bad situation.
I ordered through them because it was much cheaper than anywhere else (even then RK, by more than $50/dress, more than $70 less than macy’s…for the same dress). Because my bridesmaids lived through the country, getting alterations done on-site were of no value to them.
We had claret gowns with dove grey (silver) trim.; the gowns had trim across the front and then covered buttons down the back, with a one small bow. The dresses were great…one of my Bridesmaids and I compared Forever Yours with Watters—they were essentially the same dress…but we actually thought Forever Yours was cut much better (and it turned out to be cheaper). Quality of the gowns were good…Forever Yours has quite interesting size charts though…(everyone got the right size, but the company makes all the busts in the gowns extra extra extra roomy)!
**Bridal Party Gifts
-MOH Gift: A bracelet from Red Envelope. Found and ordered online… the quality of the item was good. They had good customer service (the initial shipment was sent but the fed ex/ups was stolen—they worked very quickly to rectify the situation).
-Other Bridal Party Gifts: From Things Remembered (ordered online). We ordered personalized pens for the men and personalized key chains for the ladies (the ladies also got goodies from the Body Shop). Perhaps it is different if you go to a store and order in person, but there were several problems with the order—including that they were out of several items we initially ordered. I spent a long time on the phone with their customer service agents…who were very pleasant but who often made mistakes (it took several tries to get the correct bill and to successfully select items they actually had in stock—they have some maaaaajor IT issues at their website, it would seem). Once the items shipped, we got them quickly and the quality was very good.
We also wrote individual thank-you letters to members of the Bridal Party on stationary from Crane and Company.
**Dance Lessons-Ballroom Dance NYC (with Kerensa) http://www.ballroomdancenyc.com/ (tell her Adina and Max recommended you)
We took private dance lessons with Kerensa…she was great!!! She teaches you how to dance, not just how to do a routine. We took 6 lessons package…we may keep taking some dance lessons because we enjoyed them so much! Due to our schedules, we had to take privately (we could not commit to the same time each week due to DH’s work schedule) and she was reasonably priced, reasonable, and fantastic to work with. Highly recommend!!!
**Yarmulkes (Kipot) and Benchers –Zion Lion Judaica www.zionlion.com
Excellent Selection, good prices. However, I would only recommend ordering with them a good amount of time in advance…and keep following up with them.
We got silver/grey kipot and engraved Wedding ‘benchers’ (mini ‘prayer books’ that have the ‘Grace After Meals’ in them).
To make a long story short, they promised that everything would be in and shipped on time…although in the end it was not and my parents had to go to Brooklyn two days before the wedding to pick everything up. The items themselves were perfect.
**Out of Town Accommodations
Residence Inn in Plainview
We had a very good experience with the hotel. They were attentive and very nice to work with. Fair prices, very good facility. Free breakfast for guests, and free internet too!
We rented a room the night before the wedding for a light dinner with out of town guests, and the staff was nice/accommodating to work with on this as well.
The Dinner was catered by Ben’s Deli—I was not involved in the planning for this, but everything was nice and the food was good!
We registered at Bed Bath and Beyond and overall had a good experience. Sales staff has always been helpful. They have good prices and are everywhere…however they did not have everything that we needed (like our plates), so we had to set up an additional registry at Target as well. They also were often out (online at least) of many items that we had on the registry (the items would be on for a few days and then disappear from availability for weeks at a time).
** Honeymood: Alaska Cruise (Princess)
We went on an Alaskan Cruise for our honeymoon (departing the day after our wedding). We'd never been on a cruise before. We had a nice time...Alaska was really beautiful. We were on the Coral Princess. Definitly amongst the youngest there, but it was nice. Because it was our honeymoon, we decided to get a balcony cabin, which was great. Everyone talks about food on cruise ships...we thought the food was ok (there was a lot of it, the recipies were inventive, but the quality was fair). We started in Whittier/Ancorage and floated down to Vancoucer (stopped in Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skawgway...as well as in Glaciar Bay). It was a very nice and relaxing honeymoon!
Message edited 10/1/2006 3:13:36 AM.