Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Indian Wedding Vendor Reviews, Atlanta

Photo by Slava Slavik Photography

Since I'm having trouble getting back into the groove of regular SoCal restaurant reviews (most of my at-home writing is for thank you notes these days, a surprisingly time-consuming task, though I know we're blessed to have so many to write), I wanted to go off on one more tangent: reviewing the vendors at my Indian (Hindu) wedding in Atlanta. I wish there had been a blog post like this when I was researching vendors, especially since there aren't many Indian vendor reviews at the usual suspects (like TheKnot.com), so hopefully this will help other South Asian brides.

To be frank, our wedding was AMAZING. It exceeded all of my expectations. If you wanted to go with every single one of my vendors, then I predict you'll have a spectacular wedding. I didn't even want to leave our reception for five minutes to go pee because I didn't want to miss a single second.

When it comes to my day-of vendors, if I had to do it all over again, I'd likely choose them all again. The only caveat is that we had a mid-priced Indian wedding. Had I had a sky-high high-end budget like some Indian brides do, then I'd likely have upgraded at least some of my vendors to higher-end, higher-quality ones. But for my budget, I was happy with my choices.

WEDDING VENUE: Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway Hotel
Photo by Slava Slavik Photography
10 out of 10 Peppers = Extra Spicy
Pros: It's THE most convenient hotel to the Atlanta airport. There's a tram that travels from the airport to the hotel about every 30 seconds. The hotel is brand new and the interior is beautiful. Our event coordinator, Michael, was amazing -- detail-oriented, organized, accessible, calm, and flexible to meet our ever-evolving needs. A wedding website is included, through which all of our guests directly booked their rooms (at a discount). A hospitality suite for the weekend is also included, which was where the women got ready Saturday morning. There are mini-fridges in all of the rooms. The hotel takes pride in being environmentally-friendly. The hotel bar is open until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Cons: Our salesperson, Cassandra, was mostly inaccessible, so the first few months (from the booking through when we got assigned to Michael as our coordinator a few months in) were unnecessarily stressful. There's only one set of guest elevators, which means a) if you're at the end of the hall, you have a looong way to walk, and b) if there's a lot of people waiting for the elevator, it takes a long time to get in. Yes, I resorted to climbing 6 flights of stairs a few times. There aren't microwaves in the rooms; there's a shared one in the gift shop, but it doesn't always work. The hotel is in Clayton, not Fulton, County.

WEDDING CATERER: Cafe Bombay
Photo by Slava Slavik Photography

8 out of 10 Peppers = Spicy
Pros: Delicious Indian food. (The food itself deserves a 9.) A tasting is included. It was all set up on time for our buffet with an appropriate presentation.
Cons: The owner was a bit cocky, probably because he has exclusive agreements with most of the major hotels that do Indian weddings in Atlanta (including ours, so we didn't have a choice). And he had a set idea of what food we should serve. We went with most, though not all, of his suggestions. They ran out of Ras Malai during our reception and were at least temporarily out of Chicken Tikka Masala.

PHOTOGRAPHER: Slava Slavik Photography
Photo by Slava Slavik Photography
10 out of 10 Peppers = Extra Spicy

Pros: Stunning photos -- amazing composition, terrific lighting, unique angles. (All of the photos on this post are from them--and we have over 1,000 more!) It's a husband and wife team, and both are so easy to work with and calm under pressure. Amazing work ethic -- they busted their butts to capture everything. They have a digital photos-only package, which is budget-friendly and great for the modern bride who wants to share photos digitally and doesn't care as much for physical prints (which she can get on her own with the provided high-res disc, if desired). Slava and Sara aren't Indian, but they've photographed a ton of Indian weddings so they understand what moments to capture. The turnaround time is quick. (We got our digital proofs while on our honeymoon.) They put a little "thank you" chocolate in the mail to us with our photo CD, but honestly they are the ones who deserve a thank you.
Cons: They don't have a videographer on staff, so you'll need to hire one separately.

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