The Wedding Ones: Vendor Love

Side note before I jump in:  we finally bought our own domain!  Our new URL is www.alivingspace.com, so if you link to us at any point, please use the new URL!

Over the break, we tried to catch up on some wedding planning, and we got (and are continuing to get) quite a lot done!  One of the big things we had to do was finalize our two main vendors: catering and photography.

We are trying to keep our budget reasonable (it still seems like a huge number to us, but is relatively modest for a wedding in the Bay Area), and that means trying to find awesome reasonably priced vendors for a few things and doing the rest ourselves.  We're doing our own flowers and other decor, making our own music playlists instead of having a DJ, doing my own hair and makeup, and designing and printing our own save the dates (post on that soon, they're coming along!) and invitations.  That leaves hiring a photographer and caterer who also provides all the rentals and set-up.  The bulk of our budget is going towards these two vendors and our venue, so we wanted to make sure we got our money's worth!  I have to say, I couldn't be happier with our choices.

A-MAY-ZING... I'm obsessed with this image by Kym!  from here

Let's talk photography first:
We have lots of artistic friends, but I keep hearing everywhere about how the photography is so important because that's all that remains after the wedding to remember the day, and you know Chris is super picky, being a photographer himself.  I noticed that I was much pickier than I expected after looking at tons of wedding pictures.  Also, we really want our friends to be able to enjoy the day with us rather than stressing over taking pictures.  So the wedding photographer hunt began...

It's amazing how many wedding photographers take really boring pictures, at least to my eye.  Chris and I are both pretty artsy people, and we definitely want our wedding photos to reflect that.  Of course we want a certain amount of good technique and skill, but the most important thing is to have beautiful, real, and above all interesting pictures.  Pictures that capture the day, the mood, and the feeling, and look good doing it.  So we are both super excited that we found and booked Kym of Ventola Photography!  Her photos are crazy gorgeous, and she is really sweet to boot.  We video chatted and discovered that we actually have an odd amount in common (including the same hairstyle!), and I know we're going to love having her at our wedding.

It was really hard for me to narrow it down, but here are some of my favorites of her photos:
Credit for all the photos in this post expect the last one goes to Kym Ventola; click on the caption of each one to check out her site!

from here

One of the ways I looked for photographers was by going through some wedding blogs to find real weddings that had photographs I really liked, and then checking out the photographer's website to see if I liked their overall style (and prices!).  I found Kym after looking at this amazing wedding on Ruffled. Love their wedding, love the way it was photographed. 

from here

She has a bunch of shots where she steps back and captures the whole environment, which is something we want (and is oddly hard to find in a wedding photographer) since our location is so gorgeous.

from here

Her use of negative space is just the best.

from here

I really like how warm and romantic all her photos feel.

from here

This is from a wedding she shot in Japan!

from here

The light in all her photos is just delicious.  I'm a sucker for good light.

from here

Kym actually lives in Arizona, but it worked out that she could come up to the Bay Area to shoot our wedding, and we think it's totally worth it to have the photographer we really love (she was basically the only photographer Chris wanted... the other ones I showed him he would have "been ok with" but that's about as good as it got other than Kym).  Actually since everything is so absurdly expensive in the Bay Area it worked about to be less spendy than most local photographers, even including travel.

Next up: catering.
Our venue (the beautiful UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens - read about our trip there and see lots of pictures in this post) has a list of preferred caterers to choose from, so I researched all of them and we met two while we were in California.  This decision ended up being surprisingly easy, and we are very excited to be working with Carrie Dove Catering.  Chris and I both love to eat (who doesn't), and we wanted our wedding food to be awesome, but it was also really important for us to find a caterer who was able to work within our budget, was creative and willing to make our vision of the reception a reality, and most importantly, was easy to communicate with and just felt trustworthy to us.  I guess that's true for any vendor, but since we only met them once and won't have a tasting of our wedding food or see them again until we are there for the wedding, and the catering is by far the biggest chunk of our budget, this felt especially important.  Luckily, they're the best.  I've been emailing with Adam, who seems to run the business side of things, and I was immediately impressed with how straightforward he is;  I have no doubt that he will always tell it exactly how it is.  Also, we got to try some of what they were cooking the day we met them, and it was delicious.  I was especially convinced once I read their five star average Yelp reviews (with 46 reviews nonetheless).  I mean seriously, just go read a few, it's ridiculous. 

from here

We decided that we don't want to have a sit down meal or even a traditional buffet.  Instead we're going to have tapas-style (just not Spanish food) heavy hors d'ouvres (some will be like mini-entrees--sliced steak, salmon, etc--some will be fruits/veggies, some will be more like normal appetizers) served around the reception space, encouraging guests to mingle and move around.  There will be some tables for sitting if people want to, but we're not going to tell people when, where, or how to eat.  Hopefully the reception will feel like it flows easily from one thing to the next, with food and conversation giving way to toasts, cupcakes, and dancing in a natural-feeling way.  The menu we have planned with Carrie Dove Catering sounds amazing so far, and I am certain it will be perfect once it's all completed, cooked, and served!

One awesome thing about our caterer is that they are letting us provide our own alcohol, which will definitely save us some money (plus we're just doing beer and wine, which will help, too), and they will have a bartender to serve what we bring, along with nonalcoholic drinks.  They'll also provide all the extra rentals we need (some taller tables, linens, glasses, flatware, napkins, the awesome VerTerra compostable plates we want that are made from fallen leaves), and since the venue doesn't have a kitchen, they'll bring in ovens and whatever they need to cook the food fresh onsite.  They'll set up all our stuff, clean it up at the end, and their event coordinator will keep everything on track.  Perfect!

Those are our vendors!  So excited to have both of them, and that this part of the planning process is all squared away!  Of course we'll let you know how everything actually turns out, but we can only assume it's going be be awesome with these people helping us out.

What do you think of our choices?  If you're married, how did you choose your vendors?  Did everything turn out how you expected?  Any tips for us?


  1. You guys! Seriously so excited for your wedding! Love, love, love this blog (and you guys!) Can't wait to video chat again soon.....dogs and cats included! hahaha!

  2. The tapas idea sounds really great!!

  3. Ugh, your photographer is to die for. Congratulations! It looks like all the choices are beginning to be natural and easy.

  4. Kym is not only a fantastic photographer, she's a fantastic person, too. You will absolutely love every second you spend with her. I know I do!


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