Seattle Bride Best of 2011 Winners

Seattle Bride Best of 2011

It’s good to be a Seattle bride: From gourmet cakes to boutique invitations and designer gowns, all the ingredients for a chic fete are right at our fingertips within the region’s wide-ranging wedding repertoire. But behind the magic are the people who make our celebrations come to life. Select vendors and individuals stood out this year for their innovative creations, for their wide product selections and, above all, for creating very happy brides. Allow us to introduce the Best of Bride 2011 as voted on by Seattle Bride editors, readers and wedding vendors.  

By Anna Samuels

Aria StyleALL-AROUND BEST WEDDING VENDOR
Winner: Aria Style
Known for: Flawless floral arrangements, fabric draping and reception décor
Finalists: True Colors Events; Luly Yang Couture
What began 10 years ago as a bouquet boutique in owner John Gardner’s garage has since bloomed into a full-blown bridal operation. In addition to stunning florals, Aria now assists brides with every aspect of planning, from initial theme brainstorming to final day-of assistance. The feather in his cap: a new showroom in Georgetown to accommodate the blooming operation. And inspiration overflows from the studio: designers create centerpieces and textile experts sew draperies and chair covers to ensure a seamless appearance for every event.   

OFFICIANT/CLERGY
Winner:
Window to the Soul Ministry (the Rev. Mary Calhoun)
Known for: Personalized and relaxed interfaith ceremonies
Finalists: A Heavenly Ceremony; Rev. Ray Van Winkle; Annemarie Juhlian
Choose Mary Calhoun of Window to the Soul Ministry for your ceremony and you’re signing on for a lifelong connection. Calhoun has a genuine interest in her couples; whether it’s the home-cooked meals she prepares for clients or the personalized handmade valentines she sends to past and current couples (she starts in November!), the full-time wedding officiant knows how to establish personal connections. “I’m dedicated to their marriages,” she explains. “I track couples from 17 years ago!”

True Colors EventsWEDDING PLANNER
Winner:
True Colors Events
Known for: Dream-team Travis and Jesse bring creative, one-of-a-kind weddings to life
Finalists: Erin Lindeman, Lindeman Weddings & Events; Wendy Wojcik, Weddings with Wendy; Stephanie Solomon, Solomon Event Planning
Since opening Ballard-based True Colors Events in 2005, Travis McBurney and Jesse Brix have become one of Seattle’s go-to wedding planners and winners of this category for the second year in a row. Brides flock to True Colors for the can-do attitude and for elegant fetes that also evoke a spirit of whimsy. “We love helping couples create an amazing experience for themselves,” McBurney explains.

ENGAGEMENT/WEDDING RINGS
Winner:
E.E. Robbins
Known for: Relaxed environment, helpful staff and third-generation jewelry know-how
Finalists: Green Lake Jewelry Works; Ben Bridge Jewelers
When it comes to diamonds, Emerson Robbins has the genes, and heart, for success. The third-generation jeweler has carried on the family tradition with two Seattle-area locations where he and his staff of diamond experts stock an array of hand-selected stones. Ritani and other top name designers share space with lesser-known boutique jewelry artists such as MaeVona and one-of-a-kind creations crafted by in-store goldsmiths. Robbins’ sincere attitude and the store’s relaxed, male-friendly atmosphere (beer for grooms!) have made the boutique a repeat winner.

Nordstrom Wedding SuiteNEW WEDDING VENDOR
Winner:
Nordstrom Wedding Suite
Known for: Providing accessories and gowns to dress a bride from bridal shower to wedding to honeymoon at a one-stop downtown location
Finalists: Utina Wardroom; JayLee Photography
Nordstrom’s new Wedding Suite waltzed into the Seattle scene in early 2011, making big-day preparation unbelievably easy. Located inside the downtown store, bride and bridesmaid dresses from the likes of Kate Spade and Trina Turk share space with sweet shower frocks, maxi dresses for the tropics as well as extensive shoe and jewelry collections, making one-day shopping for bridal attire a reality. 

DAY-OF WEDDING COORDINATOR
Winner:
Invisible Hostess
Known for: Affordable and personable coordinators who ensure your big day goes smoothly
Finalists: Jennifer Taylor, Taylor’d Events; Erin Lindeman, Lindeman Weddings & Events
Spend less time worrying about the caterer and more time putting finishing touches on your vows with the help of Westlake-based Invisible Hostess. The bubbly day-of coordinators, owner Sheena Kalso (far right), Afton Vander Pol (above, right) and their team, put brides at ease behind the scenes thanks to calm confidence and crisis-averting superpowers. And, with affordable day-of coordination, plus staffing and bartending services, brides can rest assured plans will fall into place without breaking the bank.

Herban FeastCATERER
Winner:
Herban Feast
Known for: Sustainable practices and eco-friendly menus prepared by top chefs
Finalists: Lisa Dupar Catering; City Catering
Make your reception the talk of the town with help from SoDo-based Herban Feast Catering. Choose from a seasonal menu of Northwest delights made from local and organic ingredients, including sweet potato–crab cakes and tender figs encased in savory bacon, or add a personalized touch by working with chefs to create a customized meal. Herban Feast partners with local farms such as Foraged and Found Edibles and Monroe’s Willie Greens Organic Farm for fresh, tasty ingredients.   

GROOM'S CAKE
Winner:
Mike’s Amazing Cakes
Known for: Jaw-dropping, gravity-defying cake sculptures
Finalists: The People’s Cake; Crème de la Crème
A shiny patent-leather shoe, a dartboard and a cherry red VW van normally wouldn’t make your mouth water, but what if they were made of fluffy cake and topped with melt-in-your-mouth frosting? Thanks to Mike McCarey of Redmond-based Mike’s Amazing Cakes, they can be. Repeat winner Mike’s museum-worthy dessert creations come in all manner of flavor combos (he recommends chocolate with salted caramel frosting) and as far as subject goes, he’s always up to the challenge.

Azzura PhotographyPHOTOGRAPHER
Winner:
Azzura Photography
Known for: “Illustrative”-style photographs that combine tradition and innovation
Finalists: Barbie Hull Photography; Photo Elan; La Vie Photography
Tania Shepard of Bellevue-based Azzura photography has an eye for love. Shepard has worked alongside husband Ken since they founded Azzura as newlyweds in 2003. The couple are known for an “illustrative” style of photography (think photojournalism with a relaxed, fun vibe), resulting in such light-hearted photos as a wedding party, arms linked and jumping into the air. “Honestly, we love it all,” Shepard confesses. “Getting to know our couples, being a part of their day and creating images we know they will love.”

CUSTOM WEDDING CAKES
Winner:
Tallant House
Known for: Elegant, old-world French-style cake creations
Finalists: Crème de la Crème; New Renaissance Cakes
The custom-made cake creations at Monroe-based Tallant House are the stuff of dreams. Owner Judy Tallant uses all-natural and organic ingredients to craft her entremet-based cakes, composed of delicate layers of mousse and garnished with berries and flowers. “I use minimal ingredients, delivering a more honest flavor,” explains Tallant. “I’m willing to go anywhere with flavor and texture combinations.” As for theme, Tallant thinks outside the box while still adhering to her signature elegance; who else could make a gold cake adorned with mink look good?

Edit 1 MediaVIDEOGRAPHER
Winner:
Edit 1 Media
Known for: Emotion-packed videos with attention to detail and an unbelievably fast same-day edit service
Finalists: Bogle Productions; Aaron Horton Productions
For more than 10 years, Tacoma-based Edit 1 Media, led by husband-and-wife team Chris and Laura Randall, has been providing couples with creative, customized wedding videos so they can relive their big day time and time again. Edit 1’s same-day edit service, in which footage shot before and during the ceremony is shown at the reception, is a favorite.Destination brides: The duo also gladly travel to film in exotic locales. 

FLORIST
Winner:
Aria Style
Known for: Boutique floral arrangements in a variety of styles
Finalists: Flora Nova Design; Juniper Flowers
John Gardner of Aria Style knows his flowers. After being laid off from his corporate banking job in 2001, Gardner found the perfect excuse to try his hand at a lifelong dream: floral design. Winning in this category for the fifth year in a row, Gardner and his staff at Aria select blooms to create hand-tied bouquets in flowing, organic styles or crafted and tight alternatives. The vast floral selection is gorgeous, but Gardner’s favorites of the moment are paper-thin peonies and vibrant anemones. 

Michael Benson Band. Photo by Azzura Photography.LIVE BAND/ENTERTAINMENT FOR RECEPTION
Winner:
Michael Benson Band
Known for: Five-piece dance and jazz band that knows how to get the party started
Finalists: Jeff & Rhiannon Dueling Pianos, The Haggis Brothers
Sure, friends and family can’t wait to watch you walk down the aisle, but by the end of the ceremony they’ll be itching to get their groove on. Give them a night to remember with the foot-tappin’ and booty-shakin’ tunes of the Michael Benson Band. Michael and his bandmates are eight-time winners in this category, and their infectious energy and wide-ranging cover repertoire (spanning Sinatra-era swing to Usher) have been filling dance floors since 1975.

MUSICIANS FOR CEREMONY
Winner:
Windsong Trio
Known for: Polished and professional flute, violin and cello ensembles
Finalists: Neil Hubbard (bagpiper); Ekstedt Entertainment
Since Megan Imrie (below, center) founded Windsong Trio more than 30 years ago, her talented flute and string musicians have become experts at providing soundtracks for romance. “We all get such pleasure being involved in weddings, from the beginning planning to the actual playing,” Imrie explains. With a broad repertoire of classical and contemporary pieces from Bach to Beyoncé, as well as a custom song-arrangement service so you can walk down the aisle to your favorite tune, Windsong always hits the right note.

MarryliciousMOST CREATIVE FAVORS
Winner:
Marrylicious
Known for: Mouthwatering goodie baskets filled with local treats
Finalists: Seattle Sundries; Paper Fling
Marrylicious co-founders Julianna Wong and Heather Kleiner have their hunger to thank for inspiring them to start their own wedding favor company in 2007. Unable to find snacks before a friend’s wedding, the two decided to start marketing foodie-inspired gift baskets. Marrylicious’ pretty packages are filled with local specialty foods, premium juices and snacks sure to keep the wedding party happy pre-ceremony and delight guests with Seattle savories from the likes of Beecher’s, Belle Epicurean and Nunes Farms (awesome almonds) for their cupboards at home.  

DJ FOR RECEPTION
Winner:
Wave Link
Known for: Extensive digital music library and a staff of seasoned DJs led by vet Brian Dale
Finalists: Austin Beaver; Bamboo Beats
Let’s say you describe yourself as a raging disco addict, while your husband-to-be is more of a country connoisseur. A Wave Link DJ will please everyone (without an argument), as well as guarantee a dance-heavy reception. “We really pride ourselves on listening to the client to create the atmosphere they are looking for,” principal DJ Brian Dale (above) explains, whether that means a strict song list or a request-filled evening. Additional services, including lighting packages and wireless microphones, make for a flawless reception.

Paper MoxieINVITATION DESIGNER
Winner:
Paper Moxie
Known for: Custom handmade invitations with a fun, modern twist
Finalists: Kerri Efendi Designs; Nicole Mae Paper Design; Izzy Girl
Dazzling handmade invitations from Snohomish-based Paper Moxie introduce weddings in style. Owner Sheryl Bracken utilizes unusual design concepts such as pop-ups and mobiles to create invitations unique to each couple. “From classic and traditional to modern or urban, we fuse a client’s personality into a unique introduction,” she explains. Bracken loves creating playful and interactive invitations; she recently designed 3-D invitations sent to guests with an individual pair of 3-D glasses!

PLACE TO BUY WEDDING SUPPLIES
Winner:
PS Stores
Known for: One-stop gift-presentation store with a knowledgeable and creative staff
Finalists: Bravo Bride; Paper Zone
Whether you’re on the hunt for the perfectly sized favor box, a few small gift items or a ribbon in that exact shade of aqua, Packaging Specialties Stores (with locations in Redmond and Georgetown) will put an end to your search. The one-stop superstore has been providing Seattle brides with craft items for the past 20 years, and has such a following that many employees started out as dedicated customers. The creative staff offers inspiration both one-on-one when you pop by, or during courses with tips on everything from jewelry making to paper bouquet creations.   

AA Party RentalsRENTALS
Winner:
AA Party Rentals
Known for: Large selection of glassware, linens and chairs
Finalists: Pedersen’s Rentals; Choice Linens
For more than 50 years, AA Rentals has been outfitting Northwest weddings big and small. From table linens to tents (have to be prepared for that Seattle weather), AA has got you covered with an unbelievably large inventory for all your party needs. Everything from table centerpieces to bull- horns to candelabras can be found in the two fully stocked showrooms in Mountlake Terrance and Fife, plus dedicated owner Greg Helle, Nancy Shaw and staff are available for pickups, deliveries and setup needs to ensure your reception goes as planned.

CUSTOM DRESS DESIGNER
Winner:
Luly Yang Couture
Known for: Seattle’s premier couturiere for gorgeous dresses and two new (affordable) bridal gown lines
Finalists: La Belle Rêve; Cicada
It’s no wonder that Luly Yang, the well-known designer fresh off celebrating the 10th anniversary of Luly Yang Couture, is a repeat winner in this category. What makes her gowns the best? Let us count the ways: customized couture fit, amazing detail (organza appliqués galore!) and affordable designs courtesy of two new dress lines (see page 34 for details). All brides receive personalized treatment, with Yang supervising designs to produce a dream dress every time.

A Princess Bride CoutureBRIDAL ACCESSORIES
Winner:
A Princess Bride Couture
Known for: Custom-made veils, effortless shoes and couture jewelry under one roof
Finalists: Nordstrom; Luly Yang Couture; I Do Bridal
In addition to wedding gowns, owner Kathy Diamond offers all the finishing touches needed to complete your wedding look with a staggering collection of accessories and styles in her Bothell boutique. From custom-made veils crafted by Diamond to sparkling headpieces from Erica Koesler, jewelry, undergarments and shoes to match any gown, putting together an A-plus outfit is a cinch.

DRESS SHOP
Winner:
I Do Bridal
Known for: Large selection of dresses starting at $399
Finalists: Luly Yang Couture; A Princess Bride Couture; La Belle Elaine’s
Take the stress out of the dress at I Do Bridal, where a relaxed staff led by Robin Garrison makes low-maintenance Northwest brides feel right at home in their intimate, relaxed Wallingford boutique. I Do carries top-of-the-line designers, including Maggie Sottero, Rina di Montella and Justin Alexander, as well as exclusive designer lines not available for purchase online, so glamouristas and girls-next-door alike will find the style they’re looking for.

Moms, Maids, and MoreFLOWER-GIRL DRESSES AND MOTHER-OF-BRIDE APPAREL
Winner:
Moms, Maids, and More
Known for: Outfitting the bridal party in chic style with a wide selection of dresses and accessories
Finalists for flower-girl dresses: Nordstrom; Bella Bridesmaid
Finalists for mother-of-bride apparel: A Princess Bride Couture; Luly Yang Couture
Though Bellevue’s Moms, Maids, and More has the same white satin and flower appliqués found in most dress shops, owner Erin Green’s (above)selection is a bit different: None of the dresses are for brides. “We carry everything but the wedding gown itself,” explains Green, whose boutique has been dressing bridal parties for the past seven years with a wide selection of darling flower-girl frocks (including sweet local line The Flower Girl Boutique) and modern MOB wear.

HAIR AND MAKEUP
Winner:
Gene Juarez
Known for: Tried-and-true beauty services with locales throughout the Puget Sound area
Finalists: Salon Maison; Erin Skipley
A perfect wedding dress won’t do much good if it outshines the bride who’s wearing it. A visit to a Gene Juarez salon always does the trick, where talented stylists emphasize brides’ natural glamour with custom-blended foundations and lipsticks, while updo specialists craft hairstyles ranging from simply classic to bombshell. All bridal hair and makeup services include a complimentary consultation, so you can experiment with colors and styles to find your perfect look pre-ceremony.

Men's WearhouseFORMALWEAR FOR MEN
Winner:
Men’s Wearhouse
Known for: Extensive and affordable selection, with nine stores in the Seattle area
Finalists: Nordstrom; Wall Street Custom Clothiers
Make sure your prince looks his best on your big day with a visit to Men’s Wearhouse. Grooms-to-be can build their own custom suit, choose from pre-styled options or go for a basic suit package (shoes and vest not included) for just $59.99, available in a rainbow of color options (need a chocolate brown suit?). The informative website also has fast suiting tips in the “Style Advice” guide.

NEW RECEPTION SITE
Winner:
Urban Enoteca
Known for: Wine-tasting and culinary adventures in a chic, elegant warehouse event space
Finalists: Utina Wardroom; Urban Light Studio
After opening late in 2010, Urban Enoteca became the wine aficionado’s oasis in industrial SoDo. Guests can sip selections from seven Washington wineries, including Cave B Estate and Fielding Hills, while nibbling chef Chris Opsata’s small plates of locally produced charcuterie and cheeses. Stunning stonework, a ceiling-high rain fountain and warm wood finishes plus three private, distinctly different event spaces make any gathering a success.

Herban Feast at Sodo Park. Photo by Azzura Photography.QUINTESSENTIAL SEATTLE-AREA RECEPTION SITE
Winner:
Herban Feast at Sodo Park
Known for: Industrial-chic venue in refurbished warehouse minutes from downtown Seattle
Finalists: Edgewater Hotel; Four Seasons
Nestled in Seattle’s SoDo district, Best Caterer winner Herban Feast’s Sodo Park venue lends vintage glamour to any reception. Housed inside a refurbished 1907 warehouse, the 7,500-square-foot venue exudes rustic warmth, with lofty ceilings, exposed wooden beams, large, open windows and reclaimed lighting. Sodo Park has earned the right to call itself Seattle’s wedding hot spot; hosting more than 100 weddings a year, the rough-hewn backdrop is quickly replacing the waterfront as the quintessential Seattle locale.

PLACE FOR A SUNSET WEDDING
Winner:
The Golf Club at Newcastle
Known for: Views of the Seattle skyline and the Olympic Mountains, plus a bridal suite and ballroom
Finalists: Edgewater Hotel; Golden Gardens Bathhouse
For fairy-tale-esque vistas and a classic “kissing in front of a sunset” photo op, head 20 minutes east of downtown to The Golf Club at Newcastle. An in-house catering team assists brides in planning and executing their entire event, all the way down to day-of needs. The jaw-dropping views of Mount Rainier, the Olympics and the Seattle skyline, along with the lush, rolling green hills, 5,000-square-foot St. Andrews Ballroom and personal bridal assistants have made this site a repeat winner. 

Four Seasons Hotel SeattlePLACE FOR A LARGE GALA WEDDING (200-PLUS)
Winner:
Four Seasons Hotel Seattle
Known for: Classic grand ballroom setting with views of the Olympics, Elliott Bay and Puget Sound
Finalists: Fairmont Olympic Hotel; Herban Feast/Sodo Park
With a ballroom that holds 300, an expert catering staff led by chef Kerry Sear and enough rooms to accommodate even the largest guest list, Seattle’s Four Seasons Hotel makes orchestrating big weddings a piece of cake. The 18-foot-tall windows in the ballroom provide stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and Elliott Bay (“The lights across to West Seattle and Bainbridge Island sparkle at night,” director of catering Kirk Sugamele raves), and a complimentary bay-view suite for the bride and groom is an added bonus.

NORTHWEST DESTINATION WEDDING SITE (OUTSIDE SEATTLE AREA)
Winner: Semiahmoo Resort
Known for: Unbelievable panoramic views and a variety of indoor and outdoor wedding sites
Finalists: Roche Harbor; Alderbrook Resort
If ditching the city and adventuring into the beauty of the Pacific Northwest is more your style, one dazzling destination spot stands above the rest: Situated just 25 miles north of Bellingham in Blaine, Washington, Semiahmoo Resort has been responsible for dream weddings since 1987. If the panoramic beauty doesn’t get you (“We’ve got views from the San Juans to Mount Baker!” gushes wedding sales manager Adrienne Kar), perhaps the 1,000-acre wildlife preserve, full-service spa or breathtakingly beautiful golf courses will.

DeLille Cellars. Photograph by Tasha Owens.PLACE FOR INTIMATE WEDDINGS (UP TO 75 GUESTS)
Winner: DeLille Cellars
Known for: Bordeaux-style wines at an old-world French-style château
Finalists: Utina Wardroom; JM Cellars
Transport your wedding party to the pastoral hills of Bordeaux with a ceremony at DeLille Cellars. Overlooking the Woodinville valley, the Lill family’s 10-acre private estate is a mecca of tall cedar trees, lush greenery and hidden walkways anchored by a European-style villa where winemaker Chris Upchurch produces 11 Bordeaux- and Rhône-style wines, available for receptions. Rental of the estate is for a 12-hour period, so you and your guests will have plenty of time to explore your château for a day. 

PLACE FOR AN OUTDOOR WEDDING
Winner:
Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park
Known for: Modern art and Northwest fauna in a waterfront park with views of Elliott Bay and the Olympics
Finalists: Woodmark Hotel; Kiana Lodge
When it comes to wedding venues, not many brides can brag that they were married amid a collection of modern installation art, so make your declaration of love at the Olympic Sculpture Park. The nine-acre park, comprising distinct landscapes representative of the Northwest and featuring views of Elliott Bay and the city skyline, is dotted with striking sculptures, including Alexander Calder’s angular Eagle, and also has a glass-encased pavilion (home to photographers’ favorite new photo op, the colorful rain mural by Trenton Doyle Hancock).


EDITOR'S PICKS

NEW BACHELORETTE PARTY SPOT
Take your pick of 11 “boxes” (private jewel-toned rooms with couch seating) at the new Rock Box Japanese-style karaoke bar on Capitol Hill. Belt out the big notes with the bridesmaids while enjoying drinks from the swank bar and Japanese-inspired bites such as yukkari popcorn popped in duck fat and smothered in salt. Dudes love to croon here too, so combine bachelor and bachelorette shindigs in the party room, which has room for more than 35 wannabe Glee stars. (Boxes $4/hour before 8 p.m., $7/hour, from 8 p.m. to closing; reservations recommended)

KOOKIEST GETAWAY MOBILE
Wait, is that a white funeral hearse at a wedding? Has the hot pink interior been completely tricked out with white vinyl bench-style seats? Can I ride in it? Delightfully, the answer to all three queries is yes when you book the wildly hilarious Barbie Dream Hearse. Owner (and driver) Kat Taylor can ferry up to seven adults in the remodeled 1992 Cadillac Brougham Superior hearse (which made its first appearance on our city streets in February 2010), and the ride comes complete with Barbie-themed pillows, a flat-screen TV and ready-to-party subwoofer speakers.

BEST LOCALLY MADE CUSTOM BRIDAL JEWELRY
Michelle Lenae Jewelry uses a kaleidoscope of colors and mixed metals in her delicate yet modern jewels. Yellow canary diamonds, rare-cut garnets and aquamarine quartzes are woven into heirloom-worthy custom chandelier earrings, diamond-faceted drop necklaces and hand-forged wedding rings. The Queen Anne–based goldsmith crafts bridal-party jewelry around a theme (for a recent birdcage-filled fete, she crafted abstract hammered silver necklaces to look like birds in flight) or color scheme, and can also lovingly repurpose family pieces to give extra meaning to your big-day bling. This summer, Lenae will launch a ready-made suite of bridal jewels.

MOST CREATIVE WAY TO SAVE THE DATE
If you want to save a few trees whilst you save the date, turn to husband-and-wife team Lance Wagner and Trixie Lane at Seattle Retro Photography for DVD or online videos made using an old-time approach. Photographer Wagner uses photos stills to create a silent-film-style video complete with captions to re-create your proposal or love story, with the grand finale announcing your wedding date. Makeup artist Lane styles hair, makeup and the retro costumes (which can range from 1920s flapper attire to ’60s mod). The process is a gas; the result, darling and oh so fun.

FUNKIEST PHOTO OPS
Sure, you could take your wedding photos at Kerry Park, but we love the plethora of funky, weird and bizarre (yet still so Seattle) photo props that come with a reception at year-and-a-half-old venue Urban Light Studios in Greenwood. From the mammoth 9-foot stuffed lion in the Tiki Room, to a butter yellow tub that begs for brides in full regalia, to the wood paneling from the set of Northern Exposure in the cabin dressing room, it’s a setting where fun wedding parties just can’t resist striking a pose.

BEST CUSTOM GROOM'S ATTIRE FOR WANNABE ROCK STARS
Let him channel a bit of his rocker self in a custom suit from not-so-wannabe rocking local designer Christopher Jones of Like a Rock Star. In addition to his ready-to-wear pieces, Jones crafts custom skinny-fit, tailored suits in sleek pinstripes, white wools and sleek gray cottons, accessorizing his wedding-day attire with an array of boldly colored lapels, corduroy vests and paisley shirts ($350–$500).

BEST GROOMSMEN GIFT
You’ll have happy, giddy attendants when you tie up Woodinville Whiskey Company’s Age-Your-Own-Whiskey Kit with a bow. Groomsmen can craft a batch of the new whiskey purveyor’s White Dog unaged liquor in the 2-liter oak barrel; the extra-small barrel works fast, so they’ll be downing perfectly aged whiskey before you finish completing the paperwork to legally change your name (or three to six months).

MOST ELEGANT NEW PHOTO BOOTHS
We love a good vintage-style booth, but they don’t always jive with grand ballroom settings. Enter the classy, subtle Post Modern Booth from the year-old vendor Limelight. Owner Clete Schroeder has crafted a swirly circle design out of a white photo scrim that resembles a mod piece of art; guests are completely concealed within the set-up interior, so they can snap goofy photos while you maintain an elegant aesthetic.


(THE BEST OF) BEFORE & AFTER THE WEDDING

WEDDING SHOW
Winner:
Seattle Wedding Show
Known for: Two-day bridal extravaganza with all the wedding vendors you can fit under one roof
Finalists: Urban Unveiled; Weddings in Woodinville

BOUTIQUE REGISTRY
Winner:
Sur La Table
Known for: Top-of-the-line cooking gadgets, linens and kitchenware, from Cuisinart to Le Creuset
Finalists: Table Top & Home; Stuhlbergs

QUINTESSENTIAL WEDDING REGISTRY
Winner:
Macy’s
Known for: More than 800 locations and easy-to-use registry services
Finalists: Crate & Barrel; Target

PLACE FOR BRIDESMAIDS' GIFTS
PLACE FOR GROOMSMEN'S GIFTS
Winner:
Nordstrom
Known for: A wide selection of gifts for her, including jewelry and cosmetics; everything for that special guy, from cuff links to designer shades
Finalists for bridesmaids’ gifts: Local artists on etsy.com; Something Silver
Finalists for Groomsmen’s Gifts: REI, Tiffany & Co.

BACHELOR PARTY
Winner:
Lucky Strike
Known for: Upscale retro bowling alley serving tantalizing bar food and drinks
Finalists: El Gaucho, Tulalip Casino

BACHELORETTE PARTY
Winner:
Butler Transportation Woodinville Wine Tour
Known for: Customized tasting tours through Washington wine country, led by wine aficionado and owner Stuart Butler
Finalists: Chopstix, Elaia Spa at Hyatt at Olive 8

SPA FOR GROUP MANIS AND PEDIS
Winner:
Spa Scotta
Known for: Chic day spa with available catered lunches, and new longer-lasting shellac manicures
Finalists: Gene Juarez; Julep Nail Parlor

REHEARSAL DINNER RESTAURANT
Winner:
Canlis
Known for: More than 60 years of impeccable food and service, and two private dining rooms with views of Lake Union
Finalists: Ray’s Boathouse; Salty’s; Palisade

HOTEL FOR GUESTS
Winner:
Hotel 1000
Known for: Super-swanky downtown digs with pedestal bathtubs that fill from the ceiling and über-popular virtual golf club
Finalists: Edgewater; Four Seasons

TRANSPORATION/GETAWAY CAR
Winner:
British Motor Coach
Known for: Variety of classic British getaway cars, plus limo options for wedding-party transportation
Finalists: Butler Transportation, Rare Form Limo

VALET SERVICE
Winner:
Butler Valet
Known for: Outstanding customer service (they personally greet every guest) since 1994
Finalist: Red Carpet Valet

PLACE TO SPEND THE WEDDING NIGHT
Winner:
Alexis Hotel
Known for: Recently renovated boutique hotel nestled mere
blocks away from Pike Place Market
Finalists: Salish Lodge; Willows Inn

Voting methodology: The Best of Bride 2011 winners are the result of an online survey in which more than 1,200 brides and wedding vendors voted for their favorites.