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Evonut Review: Las Vegas Wedding, Sept 2007 (heavy pics)

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Click the image to open in full size. (Picture of me in seedy casino in Greek Isles Hotel)

 

My fiance (now husband) and I are wedded on August 31st, 2007. We have two weddings--one simple legal wedding in Las Vegas and one formal symbolic wedding in the Mayan Riviera in November. As most of our budget is allocated to the wedding in Mexico, we didn't want to spend as much for the legal wedding in Las Vegas.

 

Here's my review (it's a LONG one!) and grades:

 

 

 

Wedding Attire, Bryan's Bride, Burnaby, BC: A

 

I bought my dress off the rack for $300. Simple and elegant, and inexpensive, considering that the average wedding dress is $800. The staff was helpful, although compliments flowed on every dress I tried on, heh heh heh. Those salespeople are slick. To save on the $200 alterations, my mom took out a day to hem it short for me. She did a beautiful job.

 

The salesperson put on me a stunning necklace to model with the dresses. The price tag: $150. I shopped around for similar necklaces from various of stores and found that they cost anywhere from $100 - $500. Then I went to Phoenix, Arizona on vacation in June and found a costume necklace in a little non-descript boutique for...are you ready for this?--$25 dollars! It photographs beautifully.

 

Click the image to open in full size.

 

Maid-of-Honour's dress from BCBG Maxaria, Seattle Premium Outlet, Seattle, WA, cost $75, discounted from $200. I love the shimmer of her dress.

 

 

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Make-up and hair: I did it myself. The picture of me above--I'm in the photographers' car waiting for them to set up the engagement shoot.

 

 

 

Las Vegas Bouquet Flowers: A

 

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The flowers were expensive but absolutely stunning. The cost came to $320 for the bride bouquet, maid-of-honor bouquet, groom and best-man boutenierre. According to the wedding statistics, the average bridal bouquet is $150. There is some solace that mine came in under the average. They delivered it to our hotel at the stated time. My only concern was by the time it got to the ceremony, some of the trailing flowers and leaves were falling off the bouquet. The bouquets were heavy.

 

 

 

Hotel Accommodation: Signature at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV: A++

 

Not to be confused with MGM Grand, these three stately towers are located behind the MGM Grand, one block off the Las Vegas Strip. This is unrefutably the BEST hotel for the value that we stayed in. This hotel was recently voted #1 on the TripAdvisor Popularity Index and for good reason! I especially liked the fact that it is smoke-free and casino-free.

 

When the front desk found out we were newlyweds, they put us in the best junior suite available. Our balcony on the 26th floor boasted a spectacular view of the strip.

 

The suite had an amazing large bathroom, his and her sinks, a large jacuzzi tub, and a walk-in shower. There's a mini-bar and the kitchenette which carries high-end kitchen equipment and stainless steel utensils. Hubby and I drove out to a grocery store, bought some food and made breakfast during our 5-day 4-night stay.

 

More importantly, I was impressed with the excellent service at the Front Desk, Concierge, Housekeeping and Bell/Valet. Hubby needed his suit to be pressed and ready by noon the next day--they got it done by 2:00 am (we were still up, lol)! When our photographers didn't show up at our tower at the stated time to pick us up for our engagement shoot, the Bell guys called around the three towers' lobbies to track them down. Hubby also forgot his phone charger and the hotel lent him one to use free-of-charge.

 

Thank You MGM Signature for making our stay enjoyable!

 

 

 

Engagement Photo Session, ATG Studio, Las Vegas, NV: A+

 

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These two young photographers (husband and wife team, she's 37 and he's 32) were fun to work with, and their professionalism shined through when they picked us up at our hotel, drove us to the Boneyard (graveyard of old Vegas neon signs), let us stay in their air conditioned car while they pulled out and assembled their lighting and camera gear.

 

The attendant supervising the Boneyard went out and bought us water, to which we are very thankful in the 41 degree Celsius/ 110 degree Farenheit heat.

 

After the session, they dropped us back at the hotel in time for us to get dressed and go to our wedding ceremony in the evening.

 

Click here to see our engagement pictures.

 

 

 

The Princess Chapel: B

 

I chose the chapel because of the (perception of) beauty of it over the others online and having read the reviews, knew it was located in a seedy hotel. Indeed, the chapel physically did not disappoint.

 

 

 

Princess Chapel's Arial Package: D

 

The package included the chapel fee, the wedding coordinator, traditional wedding music, brides rose bouquet, groom's boutenierre, 12 4X5's color photos, 2 5X7's, 2 8X10s, video recording of the entire ceremony, and wedding licese scroll, all for $299. Limo is a-la-carte at $100 extra. Mandatory suggested for minister: $60 and $50 for limo ($50!! That's way too generous, I think.)

 

I had already ordered my own flowers from the Las Vegas Bouquet florist for a different chapel we had booked in, but cancelled it when I found out the Princess Chapel included real flowers. Then upon further discussion with the wedding coordinator, I found out the flower bouquet was three roses (or something insignificant like that) so I asked the wedding coordinator if I could bring my own flowers. She said yes and that there would be no surcharge. I promptly reordered the original flowers that I had cancelled earlier ($320 for bride bouquet, maid of honor bouquet, groom and best man boutenierre).

 

When we arrived at the chapel with my flowers in tow, I was told there would be a $45 surcharge for using my own flowers! I got upset, called the coordinator on it but she did not budge. So I said, "Fine, how about I not use mine and just use yours, since I've already paid of it as part of the package?" She said no, because I already brought my flowers in and pressed for authorization to charge on my visa. I relented because I didn't want to hold up the wedding ceremony and signed the receipt...but was I ever fuming.

 

Strike ONE.

 

 

 

Princess Chapel, The Wedding Coordinator: D

 

The mastermind behind it all, this woman was rude and pushy. She reminded me of the well-dressed agressive touts in Bangkok selling sex. Same attitude, different product.

 

Hubby was discouraged to tip the limo driver and minister directly, which sounds a little suspicious to me. Also, one of the guests reportedly saw her yelling at the limo driver.

 

 

 

Princess Chapel, The Minister: A+

 

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The minister was FANTASTIC! His speech, perfected by practice, was smoothly delivered in a good pace, good voice and with good humor. He was not distracted by the series of my cell phone rings (oops, forgot to turn it off) which rang to the tune of U2's 'Stuck in the Moment' and Michael Buble's 'Tenderness' every two minutes throughout the ceremony. The DVD video captured the cell phone tunes and my facial expressions of surpise and laughter. Guests who recognized the cell tunes knew it was mine while others thought it was the chapel's faulty sound system.

 

 

 

Princess Chapel, The Photographer: C-

 

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Unfortunately, guests are not allowed to take pictures inside the chapel. The above pictures were taken from the photographer.

 

The photographer is alright--just a guy with a fancy camera. He already had canned poses lined up for us, most of them very cheesy. He appeared at the beginning with the bride and maid-of-honor in the dark tacky tiny bride's room and snapped pictures throughout the ceremony and after. I felt rushed by him. By the end of the session, I knew over half of the shots were going to be crappy--and I was right. If you think the chapel pictures you see here are pretty good, that's because I did some color, bright/contrast, cropping corrections with Photoshop.

 

We were put in the viewing room to watch the slide presentation of 195 pictures, set to cheesy love songs that will make people vomit. Despite of it, we enjoyed the presentation, cringed at several bad shots of us and various guests, and laughed. Then one of the staff emerged from the control room and discussed prices in front of everyone. It was an awkward moment, so we ushered the guests outside.

 

Strike TWO.

 

I was already fuming over the flower surcharges, so I was not open at all to hear her sales pitch. It was something like $17.50 per additional pictures, $400-600 for the DVD picture slides. Just to give you an idea how much a rip-off this photography is, we came back earlier in the day from an engagement shoot with ATG Studio. We paid $700 which included one hour session and TWO professional photographers whose work was showcased in magazines like the National Geographic and other commercial advertisement. They brought in their own power lighting equipment and cameras with telephoto lenses. After the session, they required about a week's time to go over the images to ensure it's ready to be presented to their clients. Compare that to the chapel's photographer with a camera with wimpy lenses, who wanted similar price, little work, little time and expertise.

 

Strike THREE.

 

We told the staff we'll stick by the package and take our 12 pictures. Then we went through all 195 pictures on the DVD screen to pick our 12. Incredible, with all the technology we have before us, they couldn't zoom into the pictures and they couldn't move to the next picture quick enough. I kept pressing them to hurry up, because I didn't want to keep the guests waiting.

 

While they burn our 12 images on CD (BTW...where are the PRINTS we were promised in our package?), the staff approached us with an envelop "the Photographer's Tips" with the printed suggested tip of $60 or more. Hubby and I looked at each other and he suggested $20. A couple minutes passed and I countered with $10. A few more minutes and more fuming later, it became zero. Hubby cheered. They can take their tip out of the $45 flower surcharge, which is nothing but a cash grab.

 

Once we gathered our stuff, CD and DVD video, we left the viewing room. while hubby went off to gather the guests, the staff ran after me, "Excuse me, excuse me! I think you forgot the photographer's tip!" (Is this bad taste or what?) I turned around, looked at her calmly and said, "No, I didn't forget. I do not like the photographer's service, the quality nor the product". "Oh", she replied as her face fell.

 

As for the DVD Video, I didn't expect much and didn't get much either. The cheese factor was very high.

 

Our objective was to get legally wedded in an elegant setting without costing an arm and a leg. Did we meet our objective with Princess Chapel? YES...but only because, aside from falling for the $45 flower surcharge, we did not buy into the more expensive wedding packages and the rip-off photography. If we could do it all over again with Princess Chapel, would we? NO.

 

 

 

Reception, Hugo's Cellar, Las Vegas, NV: A+

 

Click the image to open in full size.

 

Voted #3 on TripAdvisor, this restaurant service and food is excellent! The ladies recieved a rose upon entry (except me, the bride--they gave me FIVE roses!) They customized our menus so our guests can choose from a variety of entrees. Each dinner meal consist of bread, bottled water, a hearty salad (salad cart where guest can choose different items to have in their salad), a lemon sorbet on a cone to refresh the palate, an entre of the guest's choice, finished with chocolate dipped fruits with white chocolate mousse.

 

Hubby ordered the salmon, and when he ate through half of it, it seemingly grew bigger. He didn't finish it because he was so full. While the guests enjoyed chocolate dipped fruits, the restaurant surprised us with a chocolate mousse paramid dessert with "Congratulations" in chocolate syrup on the house.

 

One negative, which the restaurant did rectify. A group of mid-30s-40s women on the next table were cackling like witches around a cauldron every two minutes or so. Their laughter drowned out our conversation in our private room and carried throughout the restaurant. Other patrons must have complained because 10 mins later, the manager went to their table and said something to them and their wait staff. Apparently it worked, because their laughter toned down a bit.

 

I brought my five roses back to the hotel and with some fallen callas from my bouquet, made a little bouquet to put by my night stand. Here's the picture of it below:

 

Click the image to open in full size.

 

We'll be certain to drop by to eat there again on our anniversary. :-)

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

The overall experience of planning this wedding was easy and pleasant due to the small bridal and wedding party (7 guests). The most surprising and memorable moment for me was the statement of vow. My fiance and I didn't expect me to shed a tear but I did. My voice cracked and I shed several tears...and the cheesy DVD video capture it. :-)

 

Click the image to open in full size.

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Congratulations!!! You look fabulous and so in love. I am sorry you had problems with the chapel, but thank you so much for sharing so that the next vegas bride will know to stay away.

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Thanks for the detailed review. It's a good heads up for those LV brides to be.

 

I can't beleive they actually inquired on the tipping. That's so distasteful. You looked gorgeous in your dress and your hair looked really nice. You must be a hairdresser cuz it defintely scores an A plus for doing it on your own.

 

Congratulations on becoming a Mrs!

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Click the image to open in full size.

View from our suite at the Signature at MGM Grand

 

 

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Me at the balcony with a different view of the Strip

 

 

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Hubby and I at Hugo's Cellar Restaurant

 

 

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I absolutely adore this profile shot of my new hubby

 

 

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Us in the limo

 

 

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Us at the MGM Signature Lobby

 

 

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Hubby posing as Malcom X's "thinking" pose

 

 

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Pretty cool shots of the slot machines.

 

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I'm just glad this part of the wedding planning is over. Hubby and I had a BLAST in Vegas and we look forward to returning again. Destination Wedding #2 Mayan Riviera November 2007 planning will start soon.

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Great review, and you looked so pretty. Sorry things weren't as you hoped it would have been. I can't believe those people had the nerve to ask about a tip.

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Thank you for this wonderful review! It was really detailed and I loved seeing your pics. You looked gorgeous and your make-up and hair looked very nice, I still can't believe you did it yourself. You and your hubby look very in love and I think that was one of the nicest things about your photos. I'm sorry you hit some bumps down the road, but thankfully everything turned out okay.

 

BTW if your still pissed about that flower charge I would contact your credit card company and have them fight for you. Especially if you used a reputable card such as American Express, Chase, Capital One, etc. If you tell them how upset you are and how you did not authorize this, how it was agreed upon, (basically make as big a stink as possible) they will most likely credit the money back to you and take it up with them.

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Wonderful review! I am so sorry that you had such a difficult time at the chapel, but it sounds like you and DH had a good attitude about the whole thing, despite the apparent lack of tact of the employees- asking for a tip? How rude!

 

Your hair, makeup, dress, flowers all were beautiful- you did a fantastic job!

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