Thursday, February 18, 2010

Diamond Alumni Centre - Can't Get Much Better!

Where to begin? Let's see - how about WOW.

Simply put - our experience with the Diamond Alumni Centre was nothing short of amazing.

From the remarkable price, to the amazing food to the beautiful view and the courteous staff - there is nothing I can find fault with. Vivian Tan, the coordinator of the venue, was always quick to answer my (many) emails. Regardless of whether it was a year out or two weeks out from our wedding, she was there with an answer to my questions. She was flexible and accommodating, making time to see us when we popped in (on 3 different occasions) before the wedding, and allowing us to store our decor in the backroom the day before and the day after the wedding (as we were short on set up /strike down time)!

Let's see, what else....oh yes the FOOD! We decided to go with the buffet option rather than a seated dinner. Now I know when one hears buffet they worry that the food will be overcooked, dried out, and cold, but folks, I'm here to set you straight. Our buffet food was hot, moist, and taaaaaaaasty! I had more than one person comment on how delicious the food was, and although I didn't get a chance to try everything, I can tell you that what I did try was superb! The buffet option we went with was called Centennial Park and included choice of 4 reception style platters, choice of hors d'oeurves, fresh rolls, various types of salads, choice of 2 entrees, a chef attended carving station, potato, rice, and veggie sides, a dessert selection and of course coffee and tea to top the night off!

We really wanted an open bar at the wedding, but were a bit worried about breaking the bank budget with premium liquors and drinks. When we mentioned our concerns to Vivian, she encouraged us to choose the liquors covered by the host bar, and allow the guests to pay for anything above and beyond our choices. Also, we were able to limit the number of wine bottles served with dinner, and were NOT required to pay for any bottle left unopened. Again - such flexibility!

The staff were courteous and polite during our ceremony and reception. Any questions or concerns were answered right away. The evening manager allowed my parents to pick up the decor the next day (instead of trucking it all home at 1am in the morning), and the friendly bartender offered us a bottle of wine to take home to celebrate our first night as a married couple!

The room itself is beautiful even without any decor! The palette is neutral and works with most colour schemes. The main room is large and open with glass windows for a back wall, high wood-beamed ceilings, a cozy fireplace, a dance floor, two open air patios and a stately wooden bar. We had 65 people attend our wedding, so we decided to have both the ceremony and reception in the large main room, but if your wedding is larger, they have a second room downstairs where you can have the ceremony if you want everything in one location.

Originally, we were wondering how to add lighting to the wooden beams, but were thrilled to discover the twinkle lights already wrapped around each one! That saved us so much time, and created such a lovely glowing backdrop for pictures. And of course, the other gorgeous backdrop is the spectacular view of the north shore mountains all along the back of the venue. Honestly, if people weren't talking about how good the food was - they were commenting on how beautiful the location was!

As you can tell by my review - we were thrilled with our venue choice! Now I've been asked to list both the pro's and con's of the venue, and I think I've summed up the pro's rather nicely.

As far as cons go, there are really very few of them. Some may not even consider the following as "cons" as for the most part, they weren't deal breakers or anything. And they did not impact our wedding day one bit. But for the sake of being complete - I'll give you my short list:

1. Distance to location from Vancouver: If most of your guests are driving from Vancouver proper, it is a bit of a drive to get to the location. For those guests that wish to drink but don't have a designated driver, there is the option of taking a taxi (approximately $40.00 to central vancouver area) or transit (some of your guests may not want to be on the metro in their finery) or a combination of both. If it's within your budget, you may consider hiring a couple drivers and some vans to take your guests home at the end of the night. This con really was not a big deal to us. Our guests didn't complain about the distance of the location, and a shared cab between 4 guests really wasn't too costly.

2. Minimum spend for Saturday/Sunday booking. At the time that we booked the wedding, there was a minimum spend clause of 5000.00 on saturdays, and 4000.00 on sundays. But really, if you plan on having more than 80 people at your wedding, it shouldn't be an issue. If however, you plan on having a smaller wedding, it may be difficult to meet the minimum spend. Again - this really wasn't a huge con for us. We decided to go with a Friday night, and since most of our guests were from out of town, they planned on making at least a long weekend out of the event anyways. For local guests that had to work on friday, we had a 5pm ceremony, so most only needed to take off from work a few hours early.

3. Circular dinner tables. Originally, I liked the idea of using rectangular tables for the dinner, but unfortunately, there weren't enough to go around for the seating tables when combined with the buffet, gift, cake and guest book tables. We ended up going with the round dinner tables (seated 8 guests comfortably but could fit as many as 10) and in the end I was very happy with the results, so once again, this wasn't a huge con for us.

4. Linen Selection. The linens for the circular dinner tables were 90" squares - which means they don't drop all the way to the floor completely. The four tips of the square do, but the space between is about 2 feet off the ground. Also - they only have choice of white or black overlays. So if you want anything fancier - you may need to add linen rentals to your budget. I didn't like the idea of using white on white linens, along with white dishes. It just felt a bit too bland and cold for the style we were tring to achieve. But I didn't want to spend scads of money on linen rentals either. In the end we decided to have 90" square tablecloths made from burlap! Sounds weird right? It worked PERFECTLY! They added colour, and texture, and looked great as a backdrop to our centrepieces . AND they were only $5.75 per tablecloth to have them made! That's cheaper than renting tablecloths and we got to take them home after! Speaking of which.....aAnyone want to buy some burlap tablecloths? heh

5. Chairs - the chairs are comfortable to sit in, however the backs are black in colour while the padded areas are in neutral tones. At first I was worried they might detract from our overall look (oh no, black doesn't "go" with our woodsy, foresty, chartreuse/mango decor whatever will we do?!?). Seriously - they were fine. Sure we could have opted to rent chair covers, but once again, we didn't have the budget for it, and the covers we saw (during a pre-wedding visit), sat a little funny on the backs of the chairs; they weren't bad, but they weren't perfect either. I decided to let this one go - and I am so glad I did. Honestly - the only people noticing the non-matching chairs are you, and maaaaaybe a friend in the midst of planning her own wedding (so yeah - basically just YOU) ;)

Aaaaaaaaand that about sums it up! Anything else you want to know? Leave me a comment with your question and I'll be happy to answer 'em for ya!

Here are some of our professional photos that best capture the beauty of the DAC:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Notable Photos!

Just a quick note to let you know that the reviews I'll be posting over the next couple months will not include many wedding photos.

Why you ask?

Well it's NOT because I enjoy torturing you, and it's certainly NOT because we don't have any, and it's definitely NOT because we aren't happy with our photographers (the exact opposite actually)!

You see - our amazingly wonderful photographers have submitted our wedding to REAL WEDDINGS magazine! And since it's a publication (duh), they obviously prefer that the weddings they choose have NOT been previously published - which includes putting photos on public blogs. Not that I have this massive following (or any following for that matter) but I don't want to go ruining any chance we have (no matter how slight it might be) you understand right?

So I'll post what I can, but you may have to wait a month or two for more detailed photos!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happily Ever After...

Wow - I wonder if there's an award for longest time span between posts? If there is, I think I should nominate myself! I have no idea how other blogging brides are able to keep their posts up to date in those last months before the wedding - all I can say is KUDOS to them! I had to give up that ghost long ago. And in the end, I'm glad I did as I was able to hold on to some semblance of my sanity.

Since the dust has settled, and things are "back to normal" for the English household - I figured - why not write about our wedding after the fact? I've had a few comments asking for our experiences with various vendors and venues - so let's do it!

Over the next few months, I'll review each of our vendors in turn, starting with the venue as that seems to be where most of the interest is. But make sure you check back for the rest, as we had the most amazing vendors - really they went above and beyond!

But before I get into the reviews, let me start out by saying:

Our wedding was the most wonderful, amazing, love filled, joyful, beautifully fantastic day of our lives (so far)!! Seriously - everything seemed to go off without a hitch. I was so worried about everything "falling into place" and in the end, everything worked out perfectly. When asked by other brides what I would have done differently after the fact, I honestly had to think about it. There were only a few very minor things that I might have done differently - but they didn't affect our enjoyment of the day one bit!

More to come...but for now I'll leave you with this photo teaser from our amazing photographers - Pelaez Photography: