Looking for good wedding services in DC
October 2, 2006 11:02 AM   Subscribe

You helped us pick a place to get married in DC, now can you help us with some of the accompanying services? Looking for flowers, music, and pictures. Like a nicely wrapped wedding present, there is

It seems that you only learn about getting married by doing it. MeFi pointed us to where to get married, but we still have a few loose ends before the looming date.

First, can anyone recommend a reasonable florist that does wedding stuff around DC? The future Mrs. Procrastination has been looking around, and it seems that wedding flowers are crazy expensive compared to going to a store and buying flowers. She has been looking at online florists, as an option, and was wondering if anyone had experiences using those? Particularly, she was wondering if there was some way to combine the cheaper Internet flowers with delivery and setup services? We only get into the venue a couple of hours ahead of time.

Second, we don't have music arranged. We are considering either a DJ or iPod combined with sound system rental. Can anyone recommend one over the other? How about how to find a good, reasonably priced, non-cheesy DJ? I would recruit a friend to run the iPod if we went that way. Where would we find the sound system?

Finally, we also need a photographer. All we really want is someone who will take lots of nice pictures and then give us high-res digital copies. Again, reasonable price is desirable.

posted by procrastination to Human Relations (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
As someone who works in the wedding industry in DC, I just want to offer a little caution against overextending yourselves by taking on too much. I know the wedding market here can seem completely overblown as far as pricing goes, but just keep in mind that this is your day and you don't want to work yourselves to death.

That said, I'm sure you're going to get some good recommendations here, but I thought I'd also throw out there that TheKnot.com's local wedding boards can be a good resource for finding suggestions on decent, reasonably-priced vendors. You can also turn to the Washingtonian's annual wedding guide for the professionals that have been selected as the best in DC (pricing is all over the place, but it's a place to start). The last issue came out in January.

Finally, feel free to email me if you could use any more assistance -- I'm glad to offer specific suggestions where I can.
posted by justonegirl at 11:33 AM on October 2, 2006

We originally planned to just use my ibook and a PA for our reception - we wanted to both be cheap and bypass the "cheesy DJ" problem. In the end, though, we chose a band, and I'm glad we did. You'll probably be able to find plenty of bands that provide their own PA, and I found that a band added a certain class that isn't attainable with a DJ or an iPod. Despite the fact that there was minimal dancing at my wedding, it was well worth it - they sounded great, they were super-nice, and it was money well-spent.

If you're hell-bent on using an iPod, and need a sound system, I'd call RCI Sound Systems. As an audio guy, I've worked with them on numerous occasions, and they know their stuff. They're also pretty nice and easy to deal with. It looks like they've got basic-systems on the website, I'm not sure if they deliver that kind of stuff or not. You might have to drive out to Beltsville, if that's an issue.

As for flowers, we managed to save a ton of money by doing two things. First, we kept it simple. A nice arrangement for the bouquet, daisies (in mason jars) for the centerpieces. Second, we had a great hookup at a floral wholesaler. Scour your list of friends for someone who can try and get a deal. I'm not sure if DC even has anywhere like that, but it's worth a shot.

Re: Photos, well. We avoided all that entirely. We just had a photojournalist friend shoot for us. She gave us copies of all the files, we got the kind of shots we wanted (none of that posed wedding crap), and we already knew that she was good. I can't recommend any photographers in the DC area, but I can say this - if you want some fantastic pictures of your family in poses that you'll never get at any other time, rent a photobooth. We ended up with 120+ photobooth pictures (of 60 or so guests), and everybody took some home, as well. It's a great reminder of the event for you and them, and it's freaking cool.

And of course, for the most painfully detailed wedding info around, I'd second The Knot, and add Indiebride. IB was all kinds of useful while we planned our wedding.
posted by god hates math at 12:28 PM on October 2, 2006

We used Heaven on Earth for flowers, and Linda was great and made magic within our limited budget. I know that Petal's Edge offers classes in how to arrange wedding flowers if you wanted to go that route -- you can also check with them to see if they would arrange flowers that you bought wholesale. I seem to remember that Growing Wild in Alexandria was also fairly reasonable on price.

On photography, we used Hans Erickson and were extremely happy with his digital photos, though I suspect his prices have gone up since we contracted with him. Everyone liked him, he was extremely unobtrusive during the events and did well in pacifying the wedding nazi woman at the church. He can be a little scattered organizationally afterwards, but certainly at the time his prices reflected this in comparison to other DC wedding photographers who were no more talented with a camera than Hans.

We came by these vendors mostly by using the DC boards of the Knot, which was indeed a very helpful resource.

Also just in case you are looking for a cake, Rocio Diaz at A Piece of Cake was great to work with and made an amazing cake. We just ate the top tier for our 1st anniversary, and it made me want to get married again so we could have more cake.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:18 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yes on indiebride.com forums as a good source for info on doing things cheaply.

If you want a real florist who does fantastic work, Karin's Florist did great for us. Talk to Pat Vogel, she will figure it all out for you.

I don't have recommendations about specific DJs or photographers, but some general advice: I've seen the ipod-as-dj work very well, provided you can delegate the technical end to someone. Do NOT count on it going totally smoothly, and do NOT put yourself in a position where one of you is the only one who understands how the system works. On photography, insist in writing that you get all the high-quality digital images, or the negatives. Make a list of people you want the photographer to be absolutely sure to get pics of (esp older relatives).

For the day of, others are right: don't put yourself in a position where you are running around madly at the last minute. Delegate tasks, or just let it go by the wayside, but recognize that you personally will not be able to do these things the day of. You will be busy with hosting out-of-towners, etc. Think ahead about who will take on tasks like directing traffic (giving people directions at the hotel etc), setting out the flowers and placecards and guest book at the reception, picking up the gifts to take home afterward, etc, and assign those jobs without regret. There are ten thousand little jobs, many of which crop up at the last minute and seem to demand your personal attention, even once you've already delegated a lot of things, so don't worry that you won't have enough to do.

Two more random wedding thoughts:
Be aware that some people may give you envelopes with checks in them -- they may hand these to you, and then you'll have to find a safe place to put them. (Eg, groom's tux pocket, bride's mom's purse)

If it's an afternoon or evening ceremony, priority 1 for both of you is to ensure that you have a peaceful lunch (ie, only with people you truly like, not with people who stress you out) during which you will actually eat a good lunch. You probably won't have much of a chance to eat during the actual event.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:38 PM on October 2, 2006

Also if you can find a photographer who will give you film negatives, you can get them scanned to hi-res digital copies at many photo developing places.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:44 PM on October 2, 2006

I got my very gorgeous and very inexpensive wedding flowers from the Giant in McLean. I got the idea at another wedding; the flowers were beautiful, and when I asked the bride who she'd used, she told me as if it were a secret. I worked at a florist when I was in high school and there was no way I was going to pay the crazy mark-up on wedding flowers.

Giant's floral department has a full-service designer, and she was able to work with me and my budget. Since Giant buys its flowers wholesale for the entire chain, they get volume discounts that no independent florist could. The only hitch is that they don't deliver and set-up... but you can always delegate that to someone else.
posted by candyland at 2:44 PM on October 2, 2006

Most photographers will charge you an arm and a leg for a small number of photos that they pick out and wrap with more DRM than a Sony CD.

I've probably made the recommendation to not use a professional photographer about 5 times this year. The reason is that I feel like it's a racket because no one offered a simple "I shoot for 3 hours and give you TIFFs afterwards" plan. The pictures and video that were taken by a friend of the family turned out wonderful, too.

The florist I found to be worth it, because she came and set everything up and coordinated her arrangements with the caterers. She also made things look way nicer than we would have been able to on our own. If you're pressed for time, you probably want to have someone do this for your, whether it's a family member or a florist, because setting that stuff up and making it look nice is very time-consuming.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:20 PM on October 2, 2006

Although we were considering more DIY, we ended up finding great people for flowers, photography, and music for our wedding at Woodend. We loved Lynne Biondi of the Kabloom flower shop at Fallsgrove in Rockville for flowers- she was more reasonable than Petal's Edge or Growing Wild (we got estimates from those two, as well). The flowers were beautiful and Lynne is a wonderful person.
We were very seriously thinking about using the IPOD option, but we decided to leave it in the hands of a DJ, Mike Valenti of Bialek's, who turned out to be very low-key, yet at the same time picked a great selection for dancing (with some of our input). Many said that they had never seen so much dancing at a wedding.
I think that our professional photgrapher, Kerry Gastley of K and R Photography, was really amazing and reasonable for DC. She took almost 700 photos, gave us a link to the site where she hosts the photos, gave us proofs of every single photo, and also has an option of putting all photos on CD. She does "photo-journalism" and captured just about everything there was to see during the day- all beautiful. For an example, see her Blog
A cake suggestion: fancy cakes by leslie- delicious and beautiful.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:18 PM on October 3, 2006

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