Atlanta's Best Wedding Vendors - 2009
Christmas 2009 is here and we’re excited to be wrapping up another successful wedding season. We photographed almost 30 weddings and had the pleasure of meeting many hardworking wedding vendors whose philosophy was similar to ours: the only acceptable outcome is total customer satisfaction for newlyweds, friends, and relatives.
Each year, we compile a list of the best companies we’ve met and worked with during our assignments. We always select only one vendor in each category and each year, it’s always a challenge - we constantly debate the merits of the candidates before making our selections.
This year it was particularly difficult to choose the best venue and reception location. We narrowed our list to three candidates: Never land Farms; Indian Hills Country Club in Marietta, Ga.; and Montaluce Winery. Each venue is extremely “picture-friendly” and is staffed by exceptional professionals.
We must note that we are not affiliated with any of the companies below nor are we on their preferred vendor lists. Our selection is driven solely by desire to point couples to exceptional local companies and help prospective brides choose the right vendors for their marriage celebrations.
Here are our winners:
Wedding Venue: Montaluce Winery
It is not easy to describe Montaluce Winery in just a few lines, but we’ll try. It’s one of the best-crafted interiors we’ve ever seen: a beautiful lake with a platform, vineyards all around, and great North Georgia mountain views. Whether you are looking to get married lakeside in the vineyard or on the romantic terrace, Montaluce provides the perfect environment for your nuptials and pictures.
Reception Place: Indian Hills Country Club
Indian Hills is not just a great location for a wedding reception. It’s also ideal for the entire wedding. Picture opportunities are numerous, including nice interiors inside the club, perfectly landscaped grounds, and, of course, the golf course itself. As photographers, we fell in love with the main dining room, whose distinctive architectural features help us to capture unique and memorable pictures with dramatic lighting.
Catering: Neverland Farms
Neverland Farms in Cleveland, Ga., is a beautiful space with its own magic and could very easily be named the best wedding venue on our list. But, above all, the food at Neverland Farms is was amazing. While there is standard wedding fare like soufflés, they put their own special touch on it by making it with grits. They also have an on-site smokehouse and a rock grill. The food is beautifully presented, but nothing is pretentious. The buffet usually features three assisted stations and every guest gets dinner without a long wait. By the way have you seen palm leaf plates at a wedding? Soup served during cocktail hour? These were some of the nice surprises at Neverland Farms. Enjoy a slideshow of introductory pictures from Neverland Farms.
Church and Ceremony: Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church
This Catholic church is located in the Buckhead area, offering many great opportunities for pictures, especially inside. Well-balanced lighting features a combination of stained glass windows and artificial light. The nice and supportive staff never hesitate to go the extra mile to help us with our shoots. They spend plenty of time with us when we scout the church and grounds days before a wedding. They showed us around and, on the wedding day, adjusted all of the lights just as we’d planned. Photographers can discreetly get near to the altar to capture the most important wedding moments in detail.
DJ: Dj Bally
We met Dj Bally at an Indian wedding reception, but we can recommend him for any kind of celebration. An evening with him can have a nice calming spirit while retaining full energy and, if you wish, wild moments, too. He invests tremendous effort in the preparation of the evening to help the reception flow effortlessly. His live sound system, L1 from Bose, has a sleek, minimalistic appearance that blends perfectly with thematic decorations; it’s barely noticeable in pictures. As Dj Bally says, the speakers put out the same volume at 1 ft as they do at 50 ft and disperse the sound at 180 degrees.
Videographer: John Clover
When we photograph a wedding alongside a videographer, it can sometimes get stressful because we often end up wanting the same shooting spot or limiting each other’s shooting range or background. John Clover is a calm, talented professional who is extremely easy to work with - almost like a member of our own team. He was like a master chess player, analyzing and planning his moves well in advance to ensure he didn’t miss a moment while still cooperating with us, two passionate photographers.
Accommodations: Hotel Palomar, now Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel
Check the Palomar’s Web site! This is one of the new Atlanta hotels featuring very contemporary interiors and rooms. Although our clients in October only used the hotel for accommodations, the hotel staff was very supportive and enabled us to conduct a small portrait session in their hallways, bar, and restaurant.
Live Music: Drive Train
Drive Train is a mostly acoustic band that performs a pleasant mix of bluegrass, jazz, blues, pop, and country. The founder of the group, Randy, sings and plays many instruments. At the wedding we photographed, three band members also played classical music for the ceremony and learned a few songs that had special meaning for the couple.
Danny Byers officiated a very special and emotional ceremony at a wedding we photographed at Sandy Springs Heritage in April. For a significant portion of the service, he spent time with guests, talking to the couple from the auditorium and putting himself into the background while making the bride and groom visually and also spiritually the center of everybody’s attention. Families and friends are accustomed to looking at the backs of brides and grooms during ceremonies. But that’s not the case with Danny Byers. The ceremony was a perfectly orchestrated dialogue between the couple and their guests. That day, we got some of the most unique outdoor ceremony pictures we’ve ever taken.
Yours Sarah and Slava
December 22, 2009, updated January 5, 2009
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