Ally Kraemer: Want a great wedding? Pick the right vendors

9 On Your Side's bride-to-be heeds references

9 On Your Side reporter Ally Kraemer got engaged in November. She will be writing about her wedding planning experiences for the next six months, until her wedding on Aug. 19. Expect to see the good, the bad and the bridezilla. (Just kidding!)

Ally Kraemer. (Illustration by Kevin Necessary.)

CINCINNATI -- My wedding is about six months away, so it’s crunch time to start booking vendors. I quickly learned that most brides book vendors a year in advance. 

The Knot

The Knot is essentially the overwhelming Pinterest version of wedding vendors. It’s a good starting point, but sometimes the best vendors are buried on Page 5 and don’t have a photo. Those people are probably overlooked but could be really great.

I did like the reviews. (I read reviews for everything.) But does anyone really leave a bad review on the Knot? It’s not an Amazon product review with some anonymity. So I relied heavily on personal references. 

Photographer

I work with the best photographer every morning. Dwayne Slavey is creative, innovative and just downright talented. Dwayne has always told me he doesn’t like shooting weddings. I laughed because surely he would make an exception for mine, right? But I couldn’t talk him into it. (It’s OK -- I’d rather him come to the wedding and enjoy!)

The best advice I received about a photographer is that after it’s all said and done, all you will have to show for it is the photos. So for me, the photographer is worth splurging on.

(Mandy Paige Photography)

Amanda Niehaus with Mandy Paige Photography shot our friend Lindsey’s wedding, and the photos are breathtaking. She has a way of capturing the candid moments, and that’s what I love most. She was available, so I booked her!

Officiant

We’re not getting married in a church, so we don’t need a pastor, a minister, a reverend or a priest.

The best officiant I’ve ever seen was actually at a friend's wedding. He was ordained online and married our friends the Dittys. The ceremony was personal, humorous and all-around spectacular. But we just don't think we have any friends that could inject the appropriate amount of humor.

My brother and sister-in-law were married last summer in a surprise wedding. (She didn’t know!) We hired Steve Hoffman for the big surprise, and he was wonderful. He handled my screaming niece and the August heat, too; certainly he can handle my indecision and procrastination!

DJ

The DJ runs the show and I knew he would be an important hire. Bobby Leach from Steve Bender Entertainment came with a great recommendation, but that’s not the only reason I hired him. I submitted a request for a quote online and 30 minutes later, I received a phone call from Bender.

We negotiated and discussed what I really wanted out of a DJ. His customer service is what sold me. I wasn’t just another bride calling to get information: He put some time into adjusting our services and costs. I’m juggling a million things, and someone that makes it easier is a big win in my book. 

Hair and makeup

Do I really need a hair and makeup team? Yes, I do. I manage to brush my hair (most days) before I go on TV, and WCPO meteorologist Jennifer Ketchmark taught me how to do my TV makeup. But I’m going to need help for my wedding.

Jenn Simpson with Moxxie Makeup did reporter Ally Kraemer's makeup for a wedding she was in last year. (Provided)

This was an easy decision -- for once! Jenn Simpson with Moxxie Makeup did my makeup for a wedding I was in last year using perfect airbrush foundation that lasted through the July heat and my joyous tears.

The best part: false eyelashes! My mom thought they were a little large, which they were, but I wanted them to be full and fabulous -- and she delivered!

More importantly, you want someone who is easygoing and fun to be around. I think of Jenn as just one of the girls, and I’m lucky to have found her.

Moxxie Makeup. (Provided)

My hair is usually a hot mess, so this was a little more daunting. Usually I’d turn to the hairstylist who keeps me blonde year-round, my Aunt Karen!  But there’s a good chance I’ll be keeping her busy with errands on the day of the wedding, so I didn’t want to bother her with doing our hair, too.

Simpson recommended hairstylist Jen Nally. I met with her, saw her work and showed her pictures of what I was thinking. She knows her stuff and made me totally feel at ease.

What’s next?

The basics are booked, but I can’t stand up there alone! Next week I’ll show how I decided on who will be in the wedding and how we asked the bridesmaids and groomsmen. I’m always looking for advice! If you have some to share, email me at ally.kraemer@wcpo.com.

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