Best of 2009

  By Karen Brost & Laura A. Willard

This year’s top wedding service providers—selected by our readers online—reflect the exceptionally high expectations of today’s brides. They are consummate professionals with extensive training, experience and expertise in their crafts. What’s more, they understand that the wedding day is one of the most important days in a bride’s life, and they lace their services with passion, commitment, artistry and love.

Top of the Tiara: All-Around Best Wedding Provider
The finalists are: Brides for Brides Photography, Imoni Events, Victoria Canada Weddings & Events
The winner is: Brides for Brides Photography
4150 W. Peoria Ave., Ste. 101 | Phoenix | 602.978.9364

“If I had to use one word to describe Brides for Brides, it would be ‘phenomenal!’ Everything went so smoothly, the photos were beautiful, the photographers were helpful and calming, and the pricing is reasonable.”
–Heather Peterson, Buckeye, married Oct. 4, 2008

Sara Cruz-Mora and Tamara Acuna photographed each other’s weddings. Having experienced the most important day of their lives from both sides of the lens, the two friends were inspired to offer the same experience to other brides. Thus began Brides for Brides Photography.
    “I know that I will never forget my wedding day—the excitement, the passion, the tenderness and emotion of it all—and our goal is to capture that in our photos,” says Cruz-Mora.
    “We attribute our success to our clients,” she says. “We have been blessed with the brides who have come to us, and we connect with our clients on a very emotional level. These brides have chosen us to be there for the most intimate moments of the most intimate day of their lives, and that’s an honor we take very seriously.”
    Cruz-Mora and Acuna strive to make their pictures look natural and candid. Their signature style is illustrative and photojournalistic. “Our focus is on the reality of the day, the special moments of each wedding,” says Cruz-Mora.
    The two have somewhat different styles. Acuna excels at close, tight shots and at capturing the intimate details of a moment, while Cruz-Mora has a talent for the panoramic view. The two perspectives are the perfect complement and the women work as a team at each wedding. Their ability to highlight the details without losing the overall beauty of the scene leaves brides with remarkable images and lasting memories of their special day.

Best Attendant Dresses
The finalists are: J. Crew, Suzanne's Bridal Boutique, Twirl Boutique
The winner is:
Twirl Boutique
6137 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste. B101 | Scottsdale | 480.221.1222

“Twirl Boutique has an enormous selection of all the top designers and they provide the actual dresses and swatch samples right in the store for you to see and feel.  Their customer service was superb and their store was so cute, fun and inviting; they truly are the best!”
—Kristen Johnson, Scottsdale, married Oct. 11, 2008

Best Formalwear
The finalists are: After Six, Mr. Formal, MW Tux
The winner is: MW TUX
Statewide | 877.986.9669

“MW Tux was at the top of my list not only because they are well known, but also because the men in the wedding are [from] out of town and out of state. MW Tux was very accommodating; I had decided to change the order a couple months before the wedding and they were very helpful.”
—Megan Moncayo, Peoria, married Apr. 4, 2009

Best Caterer for Large Weddings (100+ guests)
The finalists are: All About Catering, Heidi's Events & Catering, Santa Barbara Catering Company
The winner is:
Santa Barbara Catering Company
1090 W. Fifth St. | Tempe | 480.921.3150 

“We loved working with Santa Barbara! We appreciated how flexible and responsive to our needs both the chef and Melissa Falcone were. We also thought the food was very tasty. Our guests still talk about the lamb chop hors d’oeuvres.”
— Bonnie Laflamme, New York City, married Sept. 27, 2008

Best Jeweler
The finalists are: Addison Taylor Fine Jewelry, Shane Co., Ganem Jewelers, Molina Fine Jewelers, Tiffany & Co.
The winner is: Addison Taylor Fine Jewelry
Scottsdale | 480.344.9318 

“I love Addison Taylor Fine Jewelry. Scott Berger, the owner, was great; he made me feel like his sister or best friend. We purchased my engagement ring, wedding ring, and the jewelry I wore for the wedding. Everything is beautiful, matches wonderfully and the quality is incredible.”
—Missy Parks, Phoenix, married May 24, 2008

Best Band
The finalists are: Easton Ashe, The Groove Merchants, The Hamptons
The winner is:
The Groove Merchants
6501 E. Greenway Pkwy., Ste. 103 | Scottsdale | 602.788.1667

“I think they’re fabulous. They have everybody up dancing the entire time. They know how to work the crowd. They get down off the stage with the horns and come into the audience. Barb Randall, their manager, was very organized and very easy to work with.”
—Linda Szabo, Scottsdale, mother of Mara Dobrusin, married Mar. 21, 2009

Best DJ
The finalists are: Infinity Entertainment, Lunadisc Entertainment, Ray the D.J., SKM Entertainment
The winner is: Ray The D.J.
tempe | 480.921.9665

“From the moment we met with Ray, he was so excited to hear about our story and ideas for the wedding. We explained the type of feel we wanted our wedding to portray and he suggested music and songs we hadn’t even thought of.”
— Kristen Johnson, Scottsdale, married Oct. 11, 2008

Best Florist
The finalists are: A Wedding Occasion, Flora Europe, The Flower Studio
The winner is: The Flower Studio
20815 N. 25th Pl. | Phoenix | 602.279.3404 

“I voted for The Flower Studio because I was impressed with the presentation they gave me during my consultation. They listened to what I wanted and gave me creative ideas from which to choose.”
—Ashley Edson, Paradise Valley, married June 20, 2009

Best Cake
The finalists are: Bamboo Bakery, Honey Moon Sweets, Let Them Eat Cake
The winner is: Let Them Eat Cake
4747 E. Thomas Rd., “Sweet” E | Phoenix | 602.952.5272

“They are very creative. The cake designs are amazing and taste great!”
—Antonella Bravata, Mesa, married Oct. 24, 2009

Best Caterer for Small Weddings (Under 100 guests)
The finalists are: All About Catering, Heidi's Events & Catering, Santa Barbara Catering Company
The winner is: Heidi’s Events & Catering
2095 W. 15th St. | Tempe | 480.491.5254 

“I was happy with the whole planning process and their availability when I had questions up to the last minute. I was mostly impressed with how nice the staff was at my event. They were all really sweet, friendly and down to earth. I really appreciated that.”
—Carla Brown, Dallas, Tex., married Oct. 11, 2008

Best Invitations
The finalists are: Flossy Stylist Designs, Kelly Ashworth Design, The Invitation Lady
The winner is: The Invitation Lady
Gilbert | 480.664.1550

“I found Rikki Hernansky’s work through photographers who had taken pictures of her programs and invitations. I really liked how her invitations are a little bit more modern. The final product is just amazing.”
—Marie de Sarthe, Scottsdale, married Apr. 18, 2009

Best Photographer

The finalists are: Brides for Brides Photography, Jennifer Bowen Photography, O Grace Photography
The winner is: O Grace Photography
364 N. Fourth Ave. | Phoenix | 602.881.3383

“I interviewed several photographers and knew Jennifer Radack was the one for us as soon as we met with her. She immediately understood our vision and our style and did an unbelievable job capturing special moments in our engagement and wedding pictures.”
—Paula Manning Vincent, Houston, Tex., married Feb. 28, 2009

Best Attendant Gifts
The finalists are: Red Envelope, Tiffany & Co., Things Remembered
The winner is:
Tiffany & Co.
7014 E. Camelback Rd., Ste. 1272 | Scottsdale | 480.946.9100

“Who doesn’t love Tiffany’s? It’s that little blue box-everyone loves it. I got little pendants for each of the girls. They had lots of options with the charms and I was able to personalize it to each individual in some way.”
—Melissa Colner, Scottsdale, married Oct. 25,2008

Best Reception Site for Small Weddings (Under 100 guests)
The finalists are: Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa, Troon North
The winner is: Royal Palms Resort and Spa
5200 E. Camelback Rd. | Phoenix | 602.840.3610 

“The staff at the Royal Palms was very attentive and took care of every detail. The reception and ceremony were everything I’d dreamed of: luxurious, yet intimate. Also, the staff took a lot of pressure off and worked with our vendors so we didn’t have to worry.”
—Bethany Aldecoa, Phoenix, married  Apr.19, 2008

Best Travel Agency
The finalists are: All About Honeymoons, Jane Allie Travel, Riso Studio
The winner is:
All About Honeymoons

“We didn’t know exactly where we wanted to go for our honeymoon. We just knew that we wanted a tropical destination. Sam Becchetti helped us decide on the Bahamas. She took care of everything and even obtained a great rate on first-class tickets. We recommend her to all of our family and friends.”
—Jill Kenyon, Chandler, married May 2, 2008

Best Rehearsal Dinner
The finalists are: Grimaldi's, Old Town Tortilla Factory, Olive & Ivy
the winner is: Grimaldi's
Valleywide | 480.874.8209

“I was almost happier with my rehearsal dinner than I was with the dinner at our wedding reception! Grimaldi’s was remarkable—the night was so much fun, the food was great, the service was wonderful and it was affordable.”
­—Sydney Goldstein, Phoenix, married Oct. 14, 2006

Best Reception Site for Large Weddings (100+ guests)
The finalists are: Montelucia Resort & Spa, Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Villa Siena
The winner is: Villa Siena
890 W. Elliot Rd., Ste. 104 | Gilbert | 480.782.7218

“Villa Siena is a very intimate setting with the most amazing staff. The venue itself is breathtaking, and every picture taken there proves it. I couldn’t have asked for a better wedding day!”
—Jamilyn Baker, Queen Creek, married Sept. 19, 2008

Best Rentals
The finalists are: CCJ Linen, Kool Party Rentals, Tri-Rentals
The winner is: BBJ Linens
3191 N. Washington St., Ste. 4 | Chandler | 480.503.4449

“They have a decent selection and the quality of the material seemed really good. That was important. I didn’t want anything that looked cheap. It’s the last thing you want to worry about two days before your wedding. Karen Davis was very patient to go through all the combinations. It was fun.”
—Ann Marie Byrnes, Chandler, married June 6, 2009

Best Spa for Bridal Party
The finalists are: Alvadora Spa at Royal Palms, Dolce Salon & Spa, Spa at Calemback Inn
The winner is: Spa at Camelback Inn
5402 E. Lincoln Dr. | Scottsdale | 480.596.7040

“It’s such a beautiful location and the spa is wonderful. It’s my favorite spa in Arizona. The amenities are amazing and the treatments are great. Everyone who works there is so accommodating and I love the view from the pool.”
—Elena Breese, Phoenix, married Sept. 27, 2008 

Best Hair and Makeup
The finalists are: Glam Lounge, Kensington Makeup Artists, Linda Wagner
The winner is: Linda Wagner
Scottsdale |  480.229.9408

“She’s a head-to-toe stylist who can help transform you into anyone you want to be on your special day. Her brilliant, natural bridal makeup looked great in person and in photos. She even stayed through the ceremony to help with dress bustling, veil removal and make-up re-touching.”
—Jordan Ragland, Phoenix, married Nov. 22, 2008

Best Wedding Registry

The finalists are: Bed, Bath & Beyond, Crate and Barrel, Macy's
The winner is:
Crate and Barrel
Scottsdale Fashion Square and Kierland Commons, Scottsdale

“Crate and Barrel was by far the most efficient vendor to work with when it came to registering for our wedding. Their website is much more user-friendly than other vendors, and ordering and returning products was painless.”
—Amy Baum, Tucson, married Oct. 25, 2008

Best Favors

The finalists are: Bright Event Gallery, Red Envelope, Target
The winner is:
Bright Event Gallery
4251 N. Brown Ave., Ste. A1 | Scottsdale | 480.656.0623

“What I like most about Bright Event Gallery is that they are always looking for things that are cutting edge and not overdone. Whatever it is that brides end up giving the guests as favors, there’s a lot of style and a lot of creativity that goes into it. And the girls there are so much fun to work with.”
—Jen Thye, owner, Imoni Events, Chandler

Best Videographer
The finalists are: Beautiful Day Films, Serendipity Videography, Taken Video
The winner is:
Serendipity Videography
Gilbert | 602.380.3869  

“Our experience with Serendipity was just that: serendipitous! We are so unbelievably happy with the customer service we received, the accountability put forth by the team, and of course…the finished product.”
—Lauren Crider, Phoenix, married Nov. 1, 2008

Best Wedding Planner
The finalists are: Imoni Events, In Awe Weddings, Victoria Canada Weddings & Events
The winner is: Imoni Events
Chandler | 480.254.0555

“Working with Jen Thye at Imoni was a pleasure. She was always proactive, checking in with me to make sure I was on track. She and her team helped to make our wedding day magical.”
—Liz Walker, Phoenix, married Oct. 18, 2008

Best Talent Agency

The finalists are: Arena Group, Encore Creative, Krigsten Agency
The winner is: The Arena Group
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Ste. 4 | Scottsdale | 480.991.2575

“I can call them, and brides can do this, too, and say, ‘I need a band in this genre for this budget. Can they play these songs?’ and they can find one for me versus me having to know (for example) which bands play Motown. It saves quite a bit of time.”
—Liene Stevens, CEO, Blue Orchid Designs, Phoenix

Best Officiant
The finalists are: Amy Miller, Ceremonies by Crystal, From This Day Forward
The winner is:
Ceremonies by Crystal
Chandler | 602.403.1145

“Reverend Crystal was the only choice for our wedding. Her highly professional manner, attentiveness to the needs of our entire wedding party and family and her intrinsic ability to make everyone attending feel included made the day.”
—Tonya Eick, Ishikawa-ken, Japan, married Mar. 13, 2009

Best Arizona Honeymoon
The finalists are: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Grand Canyon, L'Auberge de Sedona
The winner is:
L’auberge de Sedona
301 L’auberge Ln. | Sedona | 800.905.5745 

“The location is second to none, the rooms and service are beyond compare. We stayed in one of the creekside cabins and it was the most relaxing place to be at one of the most stressful times of your life. Thank you to the entire staff for their help and for going above and beyond when we really needed it.”
—Jean Clements, Phoenix, married Feb. 14, 2009

Best Wedding Night Hotel
The finalists are: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa
The winner is: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
10600 E. Crescent Moon Dr. | Scottsdale | 480.515.5700

“Everything was phenomenal—the location, the setting, the service. They provided a beautiful rose-petal turndown service and champagne. It was very romantic!”
—Alison Collins Lundberg, Cave Creek, married Mar. 7, 2009

Best Ceremony Venue
The finalists are: Boojum Tree's Hidden Gardens, Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa
The winner is:
Boojum Tree’s Hidden Gardens
16026 N. 36th St. | Phoenix | 602.867.8975 

“The uniqueness and beauty of the grounds of the Boojum Tree gave the place a magical quality. I only hope that one of my friends gets married there so I can enjoy it again.”
—Alexis McArdle Mickowski Watkins, Phoenix, married Apr. 19, 2008

Best Ceremony Music
The finalists are: Allegro Quartet, Elegant Spanish Guitar, String Serenade
The winner is: Allegro Quartet
7349 N. Via Paseo del Sur, Ste. 515-154
Scottsdale | 480.948.1866

“So many of my brides use Allegro Quartet. I’ve had problems with other entertainment companies in the past being late or not returning phone calls, but I’ve never had any problems with Allegro. They’re reliable and the epitome of professionalism.”
—Courtney Peretz, catering manager, The Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Scottsdale
Best Valet
The finalists are: American Valet, Epic Valet, GO Green Valet
The winner is:
2022 S. La Rosa Dr. | Tempe | 602.690.9695  

“I met Bobby [Green] from going to Arcadia Farms, where I had my bridal shower. They’re always really friendly, and they were really helpful with unloading the gifts. I also like the ‘go green’ concept. It went along with my concept.”
—Megan Thompson, Tempe, married Apr. 5, 2008

Best Transportation
The finalists are: Driver Provider, Luxury Ride, Ollie the Trolley
The winner is:
Ollie the Trolley
1680 N. 74th St. | Scottsdale | 480.970.8130

“We loved Ollie the Trolley for the professional, fun experience. From the moment we booked with them, we felt confident with their level of expertise. Our driver was enthusiastic and made the whole experience fun for all involved, plus we got really great pictures on the trolley.”
—Amy Conrad, Chandler, married May 31, 2008

Best Alterations
The finalists are: Danese Creations, Destiny's Bride, Suzanne's Bridal Boutique
The winner is:
Suzanne’s Bridal Boutique
645 N. Gilbert Rd., Ste. 174 | Gilbert | 480.926.9106

“Suzanne Novak is amazing. She makes you feel like you are her own daughter. She cared about making my vision perfect almost more than I did. The dress fit like a glove and I have sent all of my friends and family to her; everyone has loved her just as much as I do.”
—Nicki Myers, Phoenix, married Oct. 18, 2008

Best Dance Instructor
The finalists are: Arthur Murray Dance Studios, Dance with Chad, Fred Astaire Dance Studios
The winner is: Dance With Chad
Academy of Ballroom Dance | 832 E. Indian School Rd. | Phoenix

“Chad knows how to make beginners, especially the guys, feel comfortable with dancing. His wedding survival course was superb. He and his assistants were very patient, teaching us the steps, and even helped choreograph the entire first dance for us. Chad was a life saver!”
—Joy Lau, Chandler, married Nov. 1, 2008

Best Bridal Gowns
The finalists are: Destiny's Bride, Suzanne's Bridal Boutique, Uptown Bridal & Boutique
The winner is: Destiny's Bride
6166 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste. 609 | Scottsdale | 480.368.8868

“I love my dress! The ladies at Destiny’s were completely accommodating and everyone felt like a girlfriend to me, not like salespeople. From start to finish, my experience was sublime and my dress is beautiful.”
—Sarah Roberts, Phoenix, married June 21, 2009

Best Custom Dressmaker
The finalists are: Danese Creations, Lillian Lottie Couture, Suzanne's Bridal Boutique
The winner is: Danese Creations
3902 E. Indian School Rd. | Phoenix | 602.955.1313

“Everyone at Danese was very detail-oriented and more than willing to listen to exactly what I wanted. The quality of the dress that was created for me was amazing; it was a re-creation of a designer dress that I found that was out of my price range. It fit me like a dream.”
—Christine Crockett, Gilbert, married Aug. 9, 2008

Best Outdoor Reception Site
The finalists are: Desert Botanical Gardens, Royal Palms Resort, Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort
The winner is: Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort
5700 E. McDonald Dr.  | Paradise Calley 480.948.2100

“The event coordinator is just incredible. The cocktail hour reception location, which overlooks the city, is exquisite and we enjoyed the beautiful sunset. We were most impressed with the service; everyone was very friendly and went above and beyond to ensure our needs were met.”
— Emily Styskal, Marina del Rey, Calif.,
married Mar. 21, 2009

Best Mother-of-the-Bride Apparel
The finalists are: David's Bridal, Macy's, Nordstrom
The winner is: Nordstrom
Scottsdale and Chandler

“I was so happy with Nordstrom’s selection. I put everyone and everything else first, so I only had three days before the wedding to shop for myself. I bought a beautiful skirt and perfect sweater set and loved it!”
—Ann Malone, mother of the bride, Phoenix

 Best Accessories
The finalists are: Lillian Lottie Couture, Macy's, Nordstrom
The winner is: Macy's

“The selection of jewelry was better than other stores and the prices were reasonable. I bought a necklace and earrings that were very sparkly and complementary. I was so happy with my purchases and I received many complements.”
—Stephanie Lebowitz, Gilbert, married Oct. 18, 2008
 Best Calligrapher
The finalists are: Jennifer Schmitt, Kelly Ashworth Design, Paper Joy
The winner is: Jennifer Schmitt

“Jennifer does amazing calligraphy. She’s a great person, she does really great work and she’s absolutely easy to work with.”
—Heather Crabtree, co-owner/event producer, Outstanding Occasions, Phoenix

Best Hotel for Wedding Guests
The finalists are: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch, Royal Palms Resort and Spa
The winner is: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch
7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd. | Scottsdale | 480.444.1234

“The coordinator at the Hyatt was amazing. The accommodations were beautiful and we couldn’t have asked for better service. I stayed there the night before our wedding, and at least 20 of our wedding guests, including out-of-town company, stayed as well; everyone was very happy!”
—Adrianna Nahra, Chandler, married Mar. 7, 2009