Posted 27 November 2012 - 05:45 PM
I live on the Mainland and have never been to Maui before but the Fiance and I decided we would do a destination wedding. Neither of us have ever been to Maui so of course we did our research online and through reviews and suggestions. We hired Kelly of a Perfect Paradise wedding because she was more flexible with what our needs were as far as the package plan. Our wedding was going to be intimate with family only so it wasn't a huge event we had to coordinate. Kelly charges an additional 20% to anything she touches. It seems to be a standard rate with Wedding planners and I'm ok with that for the most part since it is a business and Kelly has to make money. However, here is the low down on my experience hiring and working with Kelly of a Perfect Paradise Wedding. I hope this helps other brides looking to plan a destination wedding on Maui make their decision to hire A Perfect Paradise Wedding. I'm a gal who tends to ask questions to gain a better understanding for what is involved. I think it is only fair since I had never been to Maui. I had talked to many resorts and a couple of other wedding planners but the venues and packages they had to offer was not flexible to my more simple needs, which was just a location for a private ceremony site for a group of 20. Since my party was going to be more on the intimate side, I thought it would be easier to find a restaurant on my own and work with the manager there to set up a private room and menu for my guests. It was that simple and I did a lot of my own favors to personalize the wedding and ceremony. By planning my own reception I avoided the 20% upcharge for the wedding coordinator services. Let me tell you. It was easy. What wasn't easy was finding a venue I liked (non beach but by the ocean, a beach lawn and access to the black lava rocks). and coordinator who would be flexible enough to allow me to have the site for a ceremony only. I first found and fell in love with Kukahiko Estate and found a couple wedding planners who worked with this estate. Kelly was the first to respond back while the other (which I feel I really should have hired in hindsight had some hiccups responding back, if I had time to wait for the other planner's response, I would've hired her instead of Kelly). I was a bit pressed on time so I hired Kelly who responded quickly and had a friendly attitude. We talked about all details and she remained flexible the entire way through. We had the ceremony site for 2 hours, enough time to get have the ceremony and pictures done. I had even sought out my own photographer prior to hiring Kelly and she was gracious enough to give us credit back for the photographer charge in the basic package. Didn't feel it would be right to have done all the work to find my own photographer (fell in love with his work online before finding the coordinator) and then have the coordinator upcharge me the 20%. I nearly signed on with another coordinator who was going to charge me $200 more than the photographer was going to charge me + 20% fee and she wasn't going to let me work with the photographer on my own. And the other coordinator was going to charge me $2K extra for a sunset ceremony onsite and I had to rent the site for 10 hours despite only needing it for ceremony only. So I went with Kelly for flexibility sake, thinking all coordinators do the same job. I think that is as good as I got out of working with Kelly. I had difficulties with Kelly as we got closer to the wedding, which added some stress to the wedding planning. I asked a lot of questions, some related to the wedding and some related to Maui, such as national banks in Maui (so that I know if there are ATMS affiliated with my bank on the island to avoid service fees to withdraw cash, etc). At first, Kelly responded in a timely manner, then she started to ignore some emails which led me to wonder if she got my email at all. I had questions about the bridal room at the estate, the amenities inside and the size. I considered having a tea ceremony on site before the ceremony but needed to know if it would be too cramped for that. She would provide explanations but I don't think she really understood my intentions or tried to understand. I asked for pictures and she couldn't provide. Which to this day, I don't understand why since it is a venue you are trying to sell for use. It could only be to your benefit to have pictures available for clients to better understand the layout of the property. she provided photos of the outside but of course when I arrived did not piece together for me the same way. The Estate was lovely and I'm still glad I had my ceremony here. We requested a rehearsal at the estate before the wedding which helped everyone know their place and how the ceremony played out. Because the ceremony would be next to the ocean, it got breezy. I asked Kelly which side I should stand based on the wind. I was also going to have a side bun done on my hair and needed to know before the wedding so it is done on the correct side facing the guests. Kelly didn't really say which side but said in Hawaii, it is traditional for the bride to stand on the left as opposed to the right side from the guests. I really didn't care which side I stood but based on the wind direction. So I stood on the side the wind was blowing against so my hair wouldn't fly into my face and the veil flies back. So on the day of the wedding, before I was to walk out, she tells me that they have decided to switch sides from yesterday, and I said but my hair is based on how we stood the day before. She then rudely comments " Well I told you to stand on the other side yesterday", which I KNOW she CLEARLY did not. Otherwise, I would've had my hair done in the opposite side. It was my wedding day and I let it slide without going Bridezilla on Kelly because I didn't want to be upset before I walked out. But that really was rude of her to say, not to mention untrue. Even if the bride is wrong, she should've just been more subtle and agreeable giving the client the benefit of the doubt. Even my Matron of Honor thought it was rude of her. Also she had offered to deliver our wedding cake from the ceremony to the restaurant and retracted her offer days before the wedding telling me she was just going to put it in our car for us. I called her out on it in an email response and she never responded back either. Not sure if she has pride issues but she wasn't very professional in these instances. Also in the rehearsal Kelly explained that Matron of Honor could help the bride lifting up the veil and looping the veil through when the lei was being put over the head. When the MOH mentioned it would be hard holding the bouquet, Kelly suggested she do it one handed. She said It's not an issue. WTF?!?!? Seriously? I was appalled. Then Kelly said if it was too hard for the MOH, the officiant can do it for the bride....why would I have the officiant do it if the MOH is her closest gal? Yes, I know the officiant probably does it a lot (when there is no wedding party!) but its almost a personal act to have a MOH do it for the bride. Then we added long stem red roses to the ceremony to honor our own mothers after the lei exchange and Kelly suggested the MOH hold the roses during her processional. Again, WTF?!?! the flower bouquet was all pastel colors and the roses were RED and LONG STEMS. Kelly told my MOH to hide the roses behind the bouquet. Those roses would never blend in with the bouquet! There is no way to hide them because they are RED and the stems are longer than the bouquet. It would look wrong in pictures and videos. I did not know how to react to her suggestions (and she spoke as if she was the authority to listen to). So the MOH and I decided that during the lei exchange that the MOH would hand her bouquet to one of the flower girls and the flower girls held on to the roses as they walked in. That worked out better than Kelly's suggestion. If I could change anything, it would be my planner and preference to have the officiant in the center between the bride and groom rather than to the one side of the bride. I didn't know whether to turn around and look at the officiant while my groom looked at the back of my head for half the wedding. also the officiant was in the way between the MOH and the bride, and became an obstacle for the MOH from helping with the brides veil in the wind and the lei exchange. So to summarize, Kelly started off pleasant but became difficult as we got closer and on the day. I could've done without the attitude and lack of response to questions. I am considered to be pretty laid back but wanted to gain an understanding for the venue, ceremony and information on the island. Instead I contacted my photographer's office manager who was way more responsive, helpful with wedding suggestions and island information than my own planner.