When you work in the wedding world as I do, you can't help but cross paths with many of the same great people and businesses over and over again. I certainly don't recommend EVERYBODY, but here are some I do. This list will grow as I meet or partner up with other businesses. Click on the business name to be taken to their website.
Gunderson's Jewelry - My wife and I bought or wedding rings here and while there are many fine jewelers in town, we truly believe the quality of diamonds and jewelry there is 2nd to none. Not only one of the best in town, one of the best in the entire Midwest. Highly recommend Gunderson's. They have also been great partners with me as they chose me to photograph their "Diamond Dash" event in the summer of 2011 and they currently include a voucher for my services in their bridal package when you purchase your rings from them. I don't know the folks up in Sioux Falls, but the staff in the Sioux City store is awesome! Get your rings from them! You won't regret it.
Tip Top Tux / Dream Dress - I have nothing but good things to say about Tip Top Tux. They really care about taking care of your needs and I think they are some of the friendliest people. I don't think you can go wrong getting your tuxes from Tip Top Tux. If you're planning on renting tuxes and haven't found a place to rent some from, check them out! Great people!
Wedding and Reception Decor
6 South Designs - Sarah at 6 South Designs in INCREDIBLE!!! Every wedding we have ever shot that they have decorated has been gorgeous! Highly, highly recommend them!
David Anderson Weddings - David is the most professional vendor I think I've ever worked with. He is always the utmost pro with how he handles the DJ experience. In fact, he doesn't refer to himself as a DJ, but rather a Master of Ceremony. He's always dressed to the T and to this day, I have yet to hear a hot mic come from his set up. He's a total pro! Highly, highly recommend him!
Acoustix Entertainment - Another DJ I've had great luck with is Damon at Acoustix Entertainment. Some of his DJ's for hire have been hit or miss (some excellent, some not so great) but if you're lucky enough to get Damon, he does a great job!
Big Dog Entertainment - We've worked with Brad at a few different weddings and he always does a great job for couples. I have no problem at all recommending him. Good guy.
Habitue/Cakes to Remember - We have worked with Habitue many times and they always deliver beautiful cakes! This company is owned and operated by Cheryl Wells and she along with her husband Mike, take a lot of pride in everything they do. You won't be disappointed!
Cakes by Monica - This is Becca and I's ALL TIME FAVORITE place for cake, HOWEVER, word has got to me recently that she is no longer offering wedding cakes. Her cakes are so good, I'd encourage you to call and ask just to be sure. It's worth asking. She is based out of Vermillion and I know she at least used to deliver if/when she makes cakes for people. Again, it's a sad day if she's no longer offering wedding cakes, but it never hurts to call and just ask. She owns Cafe Brule and a Pizza place in Vermillion. She's very busy and VERY good at what she does! Highly recommend her!
Sugar Shack Bakery - Tasty bakery here in town. I don't know the owners personally, but we've always had good experiences with their cake!
I need to preface - I LOVE all three of these florists. I really think they are not only some of the kindest women in town, but all of these women deliver some of the most gorgeous floral arrangements I have ever seen. They have all wowed my wife and I at different times over the years. Highly recommend any and all of these florists.
Honeysuckle Hollow - Mercedes and Summer are just beautiful souls. I love the arrangements they put together and I have seen them do it for the highest of budgets as well as some of the lower ones. They have something for everyone. LOVE!
Sisters Floral - I have known Amy of Sister's florals now for almost 10 years! Hard to believe how fast time goes! I have photographed her family many, many times over the course of my career and they are truly some of the finest people you will ever meet! They can meet just about any desire your imagination can come up with. Beautiful, beautiful stuff! Highly recommend them!
Flower Cart Creations - Diane Mollet is absolutely incredible with the work she does! She is a wonderful person and her work is absolutely stunning. I feel like I could take all the things I've said about the other two florists and say the same thing about Diane at Flower Cart Creations. Her work is absolutely stunning. Highly recommend her!
Delta Hotels- South Sioux City, Nebraska - This place is located directly on the river with a great view of the bridge and Sioux City. It has a wonderful restaurant inside (Kahills) and they have top notch facilities for hosting your reception. The Presidential suite is awesome for hosting the bride the night before the wedding (and after maybe for the newlyweds). The food has always been pretty good that we have eaten. All in all, we really love shooting events at the Delta Hotel. Highly recommend having your event there.
Hilton Garden Inn Hotel - Another great hotel on the riverfront - this one happens to be on the Sioux City side of the river. This hotel has a beautiful outdoor area that your wedding can be held at as well as the ability to accommodate an indoor ceremony if the weather dictates such. The rooms are beautiful, the food (onsite restaurant Crave is excellent) is excellent and they can accommodate your wedding from beginning to end. Highly recommend!
Stoney Creek Inn - Beautiful hotel near downtown Sioux City! This is another great venue that can host your wedding day from beginning to end. They have a beautiful courtyard with a pond that makes an excellent spot for wedding ceremonies as well as a large ballroom that can host your reception guests as well. Highly recommend this place!
Country Celebrations - We LOVE getting to shoot at this venue! Kathy and Erica are wonderful hosts and they will help you have the perfect rustic/country wedding! They have room to do indoor or outdoor ceremonies and a HUGE property that you can roam around in for pictures or just to enjoy your time with guests. They are NOT a hotel, so this venue is only ideal for your reception, but they are fantastic to work with and we highly recommend them!
I don't pretend to know everything, but I do get asked a lot of questions from other photographers. I will add to this section over time as well. For now, here are some businesses I recommend for other photographers.
B & H Photo - I purchase almost all of my gear from B&H Photo out of New York City. This store is amazing! They are probably the most trusted photography store in the world. Their prices are always great and they always ship things quickly. Plus, if you visit the store in New York, it's like Disneyland for photographers. Just so much to see... Love this store! Highly, highly recommend them!
Canon - All of my gear is Canon gear. I am VERY happy with the gear and what it has done for me. I currently use a 5D Mark III, a 5D Mark II and a 50D for my bodies along with a bunch of pro L lenses. I think Nikon has great gear also, but for my experience, I have nothing but good things to say about Canon!
Canon Professional Services - This was something I had never heard of until I dropped one of my lenses. If you are a Canon user and have multiple pieces of gear, this is a MUST for you. Seriously, it costs me $100 per year and I get: an EF Lens Work Book, 1 Rear/Body Cap set, 1 CPS Pro Strap (I love my strap), a CPS ID card and a CPS Pin (these things are nice, but not what sold me on the program) - here's where you make your money back - You can borrow equipment on evaluation loans for up to two weeks. I believe you can borrow any particular piece up to 3 times before you can no longer borrow it. Your only cost is the return shipping! This is gold! Just to rent a camera body for a 3 day weekend would usually cost about $150. Borrow from them ONE time and you have already made your money back. PLUS, you have an Exclusive Member Hotline. (This is LEGIT - I have used it and it's REAL! I got right through to the actual person who's name was listed and he was AMAZING with his help). You get a 3 Day turnaround on repairs instead of the normal 7-10 day turnaround which ends up being a couple weeks with weekends and such. You can get a loaner after the 3 day turnaround if they're taking too long (no charge to you - just return shipping). You get 2 free clean and check's per year for your gear. You get a 30% discount on repairs! When I dropped my lens, the repair bill was $800! The discount would have saved me $240, more than paying for itself. And lastly, you get free return shipping from Canon when you send stuff in. So much value for only $100/year. It's a no brainer for me.
The ICE Society - I am a HUGE Jerry Ghionis fan. If you're not familiar with him, he's one of the top wedding photographers in the world. I try hard to model my style in the same way that he does. He has tons of great material for photographers. He is an amazing resource and the ICE Society has lots of great info as well as monthly competitions and such to improve your photography.