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How much does it cost to get married at the Mansion — Part 1

As the Executive Director of the Wadsworth Mansion and twenty six years of hosting weddings, I have watched couples navigate the complexity of wedding planning.  At least once a day a bride will ask us, ‘How much does it cost to get married at the Mansion?’ The short answer is to quote our rental rates of $5,500 for a Friday/Sunday wedding and $6,000 for a Saturday wedding, but in reality what the bride really wants to know is how we compare to our competition and whether a Wadsworth Mansion wedding is affordable.  The response to that question is much more complex because we offer our couples the opportunity to select from a list of caterers that vary in price point and style.  In this blog post I hope to enlighten the couple who has never planned an event before.

 

Location:  The Mansion

The Mansion rental rates are based on the day of the week, $5,500 for a Friday or Sunday, and $6,000 for a Saturday.  No tax is applied to the rental rate.  If you wish to purchase extra time, it is $750/hour.   [Always needed for Indian Weddings] If you hire a caterer from our Approved List no extra fees are assessed.  Couples do have to purchase Liquor Liability Insurance and that generally runs about $135.  There is no fee for having your ceremony here, or using our ceremony chairs.  If your rehearsal transpires during our work day there is no fee for a rehearsal.

If you were creating a budget the amount allocated for the Wadsworth Mansion should be $6,135 dollars for a Saturday wedding [$5,635 for a Friday/Sunday].

 

Food and Beverage:

Your food and beverage costs depend on how many people you are having at your wedding and what you are eating.  When a caterer presents a proposal there is a food cost and a staffing cost.  Some of our caterers, to make it easy, will just quote a per person cost, but when quoting, they have always calculated the two components.    Some caterers will present a food cost and a labor cost.  When figuring out what the bottom line is for food and beverage always ask if and where the service charge is added.  Service charges can run up to 22% for the higher end caterers. Sometimes it is applied just to the food component, sometimes to the whole package. Tax is 6.35% in Connecticut.

 

Don’t be embarrassed to say that you have a budgeted amount for food and beverage.  If you are on a budget, the way to save money is to select a menu with lower food costs.  [Don’t ask for filet mignon, lobster tails, and a sushi bar.]  Don’t be embarrassed when a caterer presents a proposal to ask if there are ways to save money.  Substitutions can always be made.  It is not necessarily cheaper to have food stations rather than a plated dinner as the caterer has to supply enough food for all the guests to sample everything and keep the stations presentable throughout the serving period.  Staffing is not something you can negotiate.

 

Some caterers will include linens and place settings in their proposals. Some own their own linens and place settings, others will make arrangements for rentals.  Generally if linens and place settings are included the price per person is lower than if the caterer has to procure those items through a rental company.

When selecting a caterer it isn’t just about money; it is about value. There generally is a reason why things cost more. Here are some questions to ask a caterer to understand the value of the proposal:

  • How experienced are your wait staff?
  • What do they wear?
  • Is someone assigned to attend the bride and groom?
  • Is there someone greeting guests at the door?
  • Is all the food made in house?
  • How are your stations presented?
  • What isn’t included? [If you have never been in the business, you won’t recognize what isn’t included so ask.]

 

All the caterers on our Approved Catering list are good.  We wouldn’t let a caterer work here who isn’t doesn’t provide good food and service.  They represent different price points and styles.  For planning purposes we have a caterer that begins $85.00 plus tax.  This fee includes food, staffing, full open bar, linens and place settings.  They would say that on an average their clients spend $100 pp plus tax.  Their high end is $150 pp. [short rib/sea bass/sushi bar served under a tent in the back lawn].

For budgeting purposes you must budget at least $90.00 per person for food and beverage. [This is all inclusive:  food, beverage, bar, linens, place settings, service, tax and service charge.] It is more realistic to start at $110 per person when creating your budget.

In my next blog I’ll write about flowers, music, and photography, as there is more to a wedding than just the venue and a delicious meal.  When finished I’ll share my niece’s budget as she is getting married here in August.

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NEWLYWED QUICK 10: Susan & Christopher

Spouses   Susan & Christopher

Wedding Date   June 24, 2016

 

  1.  Length of engagement:  11 months, 20 days
  2.  3 adjectives to describe wedding vision:  classy, elegant, unique
  3.  Most challenging vendor to find/hire:  cocktail hour music
     How close to wedding were they hired? 2 months before
  4. Ceremony location:  our church, St. Mary Star of the Sea in Unionville, CT
  5. Most surprising thing:  How quickly the day went…what a blur!
  6. Standout memory:  our first dance
  7. Would you change anything?  Chris: I would have invited more people.  Sue: I would have organized our picture taking time better and had people show up for the reception a little later.
  8. Wedding hashtag?  not really, kind of #chrisandsuesayido
  9. Guests couldn’t stop talking about:  how beautiful and breathtaking the venue was
  10. Advice for future couples in 125 characters or fewer:  Make sure you take time to consciously enjoy the day and take it all in. It goes SO quickly and you will remember very little. Enjoy yourself, relax, and don’t sweat the small stuff!

|| Catering:  David Alan Hospitality Group || Photography:  Val McCormick Photography || Flowers:  It’s So Ranunculus || Ceremony Music:  Bronwyn Burns Violin Studio || Music:  Alpha Waves DJs || Hotel:  Radisson Hotel Cromwell || Transportation:  Liberty Limousine ||

 

Natalie Newman Locke, the Event Supervisor and a Wadsworth Mansion bride herself, is a seasoned wedding & production professional.  When not creatively writing, photographing weddings, or acting as social media guru, she enjoys sampling wedding cake.

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NEWLYWED QUICK 10: Becca & Kate

Spouses     Becca and Kate

Wedding Date     August 12, 2016

 

  1.  Number of venues considered  3 (Wadsworth – always our #1, Eolia Mansion, Branford House)
  2.  Number of guests  180
  3.  3 adjectives to describe your dress/attire  Classic, romantic, elegant
    Repairs or dry cleaning post-wedding?  both dresses cleaned and preserved for our future daughters to choose from
  4.  First look?  Yes! On the front steps with our bridesmaids peeking out
  5.  Goldilocks your party: too much, not enough, just right  Just right
  6.  Ceremony location  Back lawn [vista]
  7.  Most surprising thing  How seamlessly everything happened. There was no stress as the night went on, only killer dance moves.
  8.  Standout memory  Both of our dads’ toasts – there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd
  9.  Honeymoon when/where?  2 days after the wedding to Riviera Maya, Mexico
  10.  Would you change anything?  Pray to the temperature gods sooner for a slightly cooler day 🙂 (it was the 2nd hottest day of 2016!!!

 

|| Catering:  David Alan Hospitality Group || Photography:  George Brooks || Flowers:  Terri Krisavage Wedding & Event Florals || Ceremony Music:  Mike Carnaroli || Music:  DJ Derek Egerman || Officiant: Sara Anderson || Hotel:  Inn at Middletown || Transportation:  Gateway Limousine ||

 

Natalie Newman Locke, the Event Supervisor and a Wadsworth Mansion bride herself, is a seasoned wedding & production professional.  When not creatively writing, photographing weddings, or acting as social media guru, she enjoys sampling wedding cake.

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An Ode to Marriage

When sitting down at my keyboard to tap out blog entries, I typically focus on thoughts to consider during planning, what brides and grooms should expect, and words of wisdom about the actual day one becomes wed.  Usually it’s about the new, the excitement, the blissful blur.  Today, however, I feel compelled to discuss something else: what it’s like once the tuxes are returned, the lashes come off, and you’re, well, married.

It takes a little while for the newlywed shine to start to show some wear, but it does.  And life starts to happen again in ways that somehow take a back seat during the engagement phase.  Job stuff.  Family drama.  Bills.  The reality of gaining a lawfully wedded life partner is that it doesn’t stay in that pinnacle moment, rather roller coastering up and down and constantly evolving.  It’s really about how the two of you get from day to day successfully, working as a team.

It isn’t always easy…and sometimes it’s just plain hard.  But in the end, the love you share and life you are constantly building (and rebuilding) together is worth it.

 

Full disclosure – today is my anniversary.  Two years ago I stood on the vista behind the Wadsworth Mansion and vowed to my husband that I’d be in it with him through good times and sad times, easy moments and difficult ones.  And as much of a fairy tale as it was (seriously, it was – watch the preview HERE), we don’t live in a movie or the slow motion stop-time of our wedding day.  In fact, we’ve experienced the gamut of life in the span of a year: laughing until our sides ache with old friends over dinner, supporting each other through major parental illnesses, singing along to the radio at the top of our lungs during road trips, feeling helpless from the losses of multiple pregnancies.  Through the highs and lows, I wouldn’t trade my chosen person for anything in the world.

 

Wedding vows are a serious thing, not to be taken lightly.  You might think that with all of the weddings I witness and am a part of that by now I’d be jaded or unaffected by them.  But it’s just the opposite.  Maybe it’s because I, too, made such life-changing promises here in this place, and I know first-hand what it feels like to say those words with these stately, grand surroundings…  I’m truly moved, though – often – and hearing others pledge their souls and eternal love to one another is an amazing reminder to me of my own vows, and how I can be a better partner to my best partner.

Today’s wedding has been no exception – perhaps it rang even truer because they will share our anniversary date and the same, special venue.  As dinner proceeds and I hear the sounds of celebration and happiness ringing through the house, I’m feeling nostalgic for my own wedding.  So much life has happened since then…  But that’s what marrying is all about – declaring that you’ll go through everything that life has in store hand-in-hand and doubly strong.

May your anniversaries be happy and centering.  May your marriages be long and hardy.  May your loves be nurturing and giving.

 

Happy Planning!
Natalie

 

P.S.  Happy Anniversary, Tom – I love you beyond measure…

 

Natalie Newman Locke, the Event Supervisor and a Wadsworth Mansion bride herself, is a seasoned wedding & production professional.  When not creatively writing, photographing weddings, or acting as social media guru, she enjoys sampling wedding cake.

 

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