Photographer: Perez Photography 

Rating: A+

Cesar and Tanya are simply an amazing team. From engagements to bridals to wedding weekend coverage, all of our photos are simply stunning. More than just technically excellent photographers, the Perez team was able to capture the emotion of the events in their product so beautifully. It was hard finding photographers that had both the photojournalism style and could do gorgeous portrait photography, the Perez team delivers both. Both Cesar and Tanya are easy going individuals who are very professional and responsive. It's amazing how they stayed out of the way (and didn't make their presence felt much) during the wedding weekend yet captured photos from the perfect places.

Here's a slideshow of photo highlights from the wedding by Perez Photography.

Note: all photos on this page are by Perez Photography

Ceremony & Reception Venue:The Filter Building on White Rock Lake

Rating: A

I wasn't looking for a traditional ballroom or country club wedding, The Filter Building fulfilled my needs for a beautiful, historical space that had both an outdoor ceremony space and an indoor reception space. The lakeview backdrop during the ceremony was just absolutely breath-taking. It has a great serene feel in the middle of a bustling city.

The Filter Building is a great value for DIY brides because it allows you to bring in everything. The downside is that since you have to bring everything yourself/through a vendor, it can be a lot of work. The site coordinator, Carla, is friendly and easy to reach via email. But unlike the site coordinators at most other venues, she's mostly there to ensure that the building is locked/unlocked at the right times. You will definitely need your own wedding coordinator (or someone acting as a coordinator) if you're using The Filter Building. 

Day of Coordinator: Altar Ego Weddings (Elicia)

Rating: A+

I cannot say enough about Elicia with Altar Ego Weddings. She was much more than just my "day of wedding coordinator," also the keeper of sanity. Elicia was on top of everything from vendor timelines to wedding party timelines. My wedding was at a very DIY venue and there were so many vendors and moving pieces, having Elicia there helped me have peace of mind and if anything went awry, I certainly wasn't aware of it on the night of the wedding! We also rented our linens through Altar Ego because their prices were better than most rental companies in the area. She also did most of the non floral set up such as the gift table, the outside tables with the lanterns, etc.

Hiring Altar Ego Weddings for day-of-coordination was definitely the best value for the money that I spent on the entire wedding.

Officiant: Bishop Todd Bell (St. Matthias Catholic Parish) 

Rating: A+

I wasn't raised Catholic, so I got extremely nervous when DH brought up the idea of a Catholic officiant due to the stereotype of strict priests who are out of touch with the real world.  Father Todd is anything but the stereotype.  He's married with children, and seems to understand that without some modern adaptation, religion can alienate people rather than comfort them.  His easygoing personality (and sense of humor) made our counseling sessions enjoyable rather than dreadful.  During the wedding weekend, his sense of humor helped lighten the mood at the rehearsal, and our parents loved chatting with him during the reception!  If I lived closer to Rockwall I would definitely attend his church service on a regular basis.

Ceremony Musicians: Serenata Strings 

Rating: A

Serenata Strings did a beautiful job at my wedding. I requested Beatles themed music for the ceremony that isn't part of Serenata's regular repertoire, and all they asked for was sheet music and they would be able to do it. I'm glad to say that the music sounded beautiful the evening of the wedding, like the string quartet had played it a thousand times before.

Reception DJ: Melody with Melodies and Memories

Rating: A+

In addition to being an awesome DJ, Melody is so experienced at working weddings that she acts in part like an event coordinator. It's important to realize that your DJ's job is not only to keep the dance floor alive, but also emcee through the entire night and keep the flow of events going. Melody's fun outgoing personality helped keep our dance floor packed no matter if it was a top 40 hit or classic rock. She was extremely professional at all the pre-wedding meetings and had the event planning down to an art. We did an anniversary dance, the Aggie war hymn, and a private last dance and all went off without a hitch. She also helped coordinate our grand exit which worked out beautifully.  

Melody also provided sound amplification for the readers and the officiant during the ceremony as well as select uplighting for the reception.

Caterer: Wendy Krispin Caterer 

Rating: A

I was a foodie bride looking for a caterer for a DIY venue, and was starting to give up on the search for a quality caterer with lots of event experience until I ran across Wendy Krispin. Wendy's tasting blew us away, and when she mentioned that her business also does full event planning, we knew she was the right caterer for us.

For our wedding, we had 3 action station/bars (Asian wok/noodle bar, beef tenderloin/mashed potatoes/green beans, and Avocado bar). The guests raved about all of the food, particularly the uniqueness (and tastiness) of the avocado bar. The presentation of all the food was beautiful as well. They also provided the bartenders to serve our signature cocktails, which they garnished creatively and put in different types of glasses to distinguish one from the other.

With Wendy's team in place, we knew that everything would be taken care of from table setup, to site clean up. The entire team was very responsive, with Wendy herself available at the initial tasting, the planning meeting, and at our wedding reception.

I had a slight billing issue when I received my final invoice. But with one email, the issue was resolved quickly.

For a short video that has detailed coverage of the food at our wedding, please see 

Cake: Panini Cakes

Rating: A

Panini makes delicious cakes, what else do you need to know? Our chococolate wedding cake with cappuccino mousse buttercream cake was such a hit at the wedding that guests are still mentioning it to me. Panini is an excellent value for the product they provide, they were mid range on cake pricing during our research, but had the tastiest samples of all our tastings.

Note: the flowers on the cake were arranged by my florist Debby at Branching Out Events.

Gelato Cart: Paciugo of Lakewood

Rating: A+

This worked out for us as a great alternative to a groom's cake since we only had 90 guests.  For about $350 we were able to offer our guests 4 flavors of gelato as a late night snack which they all enjoyed.  April the manager was super easy to work with, we just sent a few emails back and forth and everything was easy breezy. 

Floral/Event Designer: Branching Out Events 

Rating: A+

Debby Jewesson is an artist whose medium just happens to be flowers. I am so lucky to have found a florist with such vision during my search. She has impeccable taste for that imperfectly perfect style, something that doesn't look intentionally too put together but yet is elegant and harmonious. With other florists I met with, I felt like I had to describe in extreme detail what I was looking for, but upon looking at Debby's portfolio, I knew I could just give her some key words and she would be able to deliver something beautiful and tasteful.

I wanted to incorporate my own collection of vintage milk glass vases for the centerpieces for my wedding, and Debby took that idea and ran with it and produced the most amazing reception space. When we ran across roadblocks on our ideas (some things that the venue would not allow), Debby was quick to come up with alternate ideas (that turned out even better than the original!)

She wasn't the cheapest florist I met with, but for the quality of the product, I think Branching Out Events' services are a great value.

Guest/Wedding Weekend Hotel: Hotel Palomar

Rating: A+

Every single employee I interacted with along the process was helpful and friendly. The meeting coordinator Kristen Sudela answered my multiple emails about wedding guest blocks and helped me coordinate the logistics for out of town guest bags (and even out of town doggie gift bags). The Palomar even stepped up to ask about the itinerary for my guests so the concierge would be in the loop about the wedding shuttle bus, etc. I felt that The Palomar went above and beyond their duties as a hotel to make me feel completely at ease about my guests staying there. There were 4 other wedding blocks staying at The Palomar that weekend but you certainly couldn't tell any signs of chaos!

We stayed in the Presidential Suite for the weekend, which is a great treat with the huge living/dining area and 3 separate bathrooms. We even received a bottle of champagne and fresh strawberries upon returning to the hotel room after our wedding reception, great ;)

We heard nothing but positive comments about The Palomar from our guests, who took advantage of everything from the evening wine reception, to the complimentary Lexus SUV transportation, to the pet friendly policies (we had several guests bring their dogs).

Transportation: Blue Diamond Limos

Rating: D

We rented a mini bus to transport the guests to and from the hotel to the wedding, and also a one way transfer in a towncar to take us from the wedding back to the hotel at the end of the reception (after grand exit).  The photo above obviously isn't the transportation we rented from Blue Diamond, but it represents how Blue Diamond left us feeling.  First of all, the bus driver didn't follow the schedule I attached to the rental contract, and brought guests to the wedding venue early (while we were taking photos with the wedding party), so the guests on the first shift bus actually saw all of us before the ceremony (we were taking photos outside the building).  That really shook me up right before the wedding, as I had to literally hike up my dress and run for cover to go into hiding.  Then later in the night, the bus got into a minor accident after the first shuttle run back to the hotel, which messed up the whole schedule and he wasn't able to make another run until the end of the reception (the scheduled number of runs back to the hotel was 4, the bus actually ran to the hotel only 1 time before the accident, and then had to take 2 runs at the end of the reception because there were so many guests left).

I wouldn't be that upset about the accident and I had pretty much gotten over the whole "guests saw me in my wedding dress before the ceremony" thing until I got back from the honeymoon and saw that Blue Diamond had charged my credit card (which I had given for the deposit) without my authorization.  Not only was the charge not authorized, they overcharged me (they forgot about the deposit and charged me for that $150 again) and charged for an additional hour of rental for the mini bus for the 2 runs it did at the end of the night (which is a result of the bus getting into an accident, not a result of my schedule).  Blue Diamond is really hard to get a hold of, and when I finally got a hold of them, they denied any knowledge of the bus accident and we are now going through the police department to get a police report to prove our case.  I still have not received the $150 refund for the double charge on the deposit and the bus overrage issue is still being settled.

The only good thing I can say about them is that they actually showed up.


Alterations: Becky Fowler

Rating: A+

Becky Fowler is a wonderwoman when it comes to alterations and custom work on formal gowns and wedding dresses. I had bought a sample dress that was two sizes too big and extremely concerned about sizing down the fully beaded bodice. Becky did an amazing job on the alterations and bustle work. She altered three dresses for me for my wedding weekend (wedding dress, shorter reception/departure dress, and red Chinese qipao dress for tea ceremony), a and I think the total cost is about the same as altering one dress at a bridal salon.

Hair and Makeup: Kristie Luv

Rating: A-

I used Kristie for hair and makeup for my bridals, boudoir shoot, and wedding weekend for myself and my bridal party.  The first time I used Kristie was actually for a formal ball and I wasn't sure about her work, but then I realized she works much better if you bring in photographs.  When I brought in photographs for the bridals and boudoir shoots, she was able to replicate the looks almost exactly.

On the wedding day, Kristie was about 15 minutes late to the hotel for the start of our appointment, but we had a lot of time since she was doing hair and makeup for myself and four bridesmaids so it worked out fine.  Everyone in the bridal party was happy with their hair and makeup with the exception of one bridesmaid who verbally described a Marilyn Monroe hairstyle to Kristie, and Kristie apparently couldn't give her what she wanted.  They ended up settling on a different updo which I thought looked fine.  Again, it's hard to describe hair and makeup looks with words, bringing in a picture seemed the best approach with Kristie.

Kristie is one of the more affordable airbrush makeup artists around and she didn't charge a travel fee to come to The Hotel Palomar since her salon is nearby.  Her approach to her business is very casual and some people might interpret that as unprofessional.  She worked out great for me.

Nails: Nailicious

Rating: A-

We used Nailicious to get manis and pedis for myself and all the bridesmaids the day before the wedding because they are located fairly close to Hotel Palomar.  I made an appointment for all five of us, but they were only able to sit 4 of us together (with 1 lonesome bridesmaid all the way at the other end of the pedicure row) during the mani/pedis.  But it was Friday afternoon and that's peak time for nail salons so totally understandable.  Our manis and pedis lasted well, however I was surprised that they didn't have a nail drying station like at other nail salons.  I messed up one of my finger nails twice while at the salon because they weren't completely dry yet (but Nailicious kindly re-did it each time).  They also had very affordable prices, always a plus!


Mini Spa Party Masseuse: Jason Starnes (

Rating: A

Jason is a personal acquantaince who just happens to be a licensed massage therapist.  For the night before the wedding (after the rehearsal dinner), I brought Jason in for about an hour to do chair massages for a mini spa party for myself, the bridesmaids, and any female wedding guests staying at the hotel.  He did a great job, and didn't mock us too much when we got a little tipsy on champagne and gossiped about nonsense. :)

Rehearsal Dinner: Kirin Court Restaurant

Rating: A

We were looking for a traditional Chinese banquet styled restaurant to do a rehearsal dinner in conjunction with a tea ceremony.  Kirin Court accommodated us by giving us a semi-private space and did a lovely setup for the tea ceremony.  The food was delicious, too.  Manager was hard to get a hold of sometimes, but everything worked out beautifully the evening of the rehearsal dinner.


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