~I can not say enough wonderful things about Kia and ESTOccasions. My husband was VERY hesitant about hiring (paying) a wedding planner because he is very frugal. The budget he set for us was a lot smaller than I expected, and since we were paying for most of it on our own, I had to adjust some expectations. I wanted an eco-friendly wedding – or as much as I could get with the budget we had. (I hate talking about money, but I can tell you, our budget was less than half of the CT average. Very hard to do a full blown organic wedding on that. . . .)
We looked at some venues, we looked at some caterers, we looked online for all sorts of ideas. Nothing matched my vision and still fit in our budget. I had met Kia at the CT Bridal Event at UCONN, Storrs, CT, and really liked her. So, I pulled out my bag of cards from the event and sent her an email. We talked and eventually I convinced my husband to at least meet with her. We could just hire her for day-of-coordination to make sure everything ran smoothly. Well, that was my pitch anyway, and he agreed.
After the first meeting, I was in, and so was he. We decided to hire her for full blown wedding planning! She told us (and showed us) that we could have a beautiful, elegant wedding on our budget, and still incorporate as many eco-friendly things as we wanted. She met with me regularly and was always available to me by email, and sometimes by text. I had a unique situation – all three of my bridal attendants were pregnant at some point during the engagement. On top of that, my matron of honor had dated the brother of my next in line gal, and the third gal married that same brother. These are my best friends, but since my MOH lives in Buffalo NY, the awkwardness was never a problem – until I decided to have them all in my wedding party. Kia was invaluable in helping me navigate this situation, and I counted on her to step in and take over if I needed her too. Luckily, her advice was perfect, and we managed to get these ladies together without any issues. They actually ended up as friends. . . . go figure!
Besides that, my mother-in-law was gunning for a town hall wedding, and my mother was looking for a big-ole-princess wedding. Kia helped us balance these two very different ideas with a medium sized wedding at some fabulously local venues. My husband also had his heart set on getting married at a local winery (church was absolutely out of the question for him) and we were unable to get much information from the owner. Kia was able to get in touch with the owners, negotiate a contract, and give us a beautiful outdoor wedding. Any time there was a conflict or question about this venue, I called Kia and she took care of it. She helped us find a local florist that gave me EXACTLY the kind of look I wanted at the perfect price. Our ceremony was beautiful and we got exactly what we wanted.
She also set up interviews with several different caterers that focus on local food, which was great. We selected one who lives in the same town as the ceremony venue and who also has worked at UCONN and with the Alumni Center many many times. The food was great. My biggest challenge was finding supplies – plates, utensils, etc. so Kia helped us coordinate that as well.
Another big challenge we had was finding invitations that were eco-friendly but still budget friendly. All of the recycled paper or paper alternatives were WAY out of our budget, and the invitations that we could afford were a complete waste of paper products. Kia found a solution to that too – she created a new division of ESTOccasions! Now ESTOprints can meet all sorts of print needs for all of their clients! The graphic designer and Kia really nailed down our theme and colors and we got beautiful postcard invitations that really captured our style.
Another amazing thing Kia did for me was come to a dress fitting. My mom couldn’t make it because she had to work late, my friends couldn’t come because they had infants or were on bedrest. I asked her I think THAT DAY and she came. It was just nice to have someone else ooh and ahh over me for a minute, and it gave her an idea of my style once again. I tried not to call her for every little thing, but Kia was truly available to me at every turn. Oh yeah, and she helped me find a hair dresser who does a great job with my crazy hair. I have been so happy with her that I decided to keep her as my regular hair stylist!
I can tell you that I didn’t stress about the wedding really at all. And anytime I would start to worry about something, I’d tell Kia, and she’d take over and fix it or give me some great ideas to try myself. The ceremony was perfect, the reception was beautiful, and she managed to coordinate different vendors – some she knew and some she’d never met – into the most wonderful day. We have gotten a ton of compliments on our party and I just keep telling people that it was all Kia and her crew. I could’ve had a wedding without them, but it would NOT have been what I wanted, nor would it have been so beautiful, and so simply elegant. Really.
There is a picture collage of my wedding on the website, and I put a review on her FaceBook page too. I know this is a lot of information, but I truly truly loved what Kia did for us. It really was my perfect fairy-tale wedding, and we did it on a budget AND I got to have a boat-load of eco-friendly options incorporated. If you decide to go with Kia and ESTOccasions, I’m sure you will be pleased.