DIY

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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The Devil’s In The Details (or, Tips For Planning The Best Event Ever)

Coming from the latin word for flat, the word plan is a much-used root word defined as:  a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance.

Some people have a natural knack for masterminding things while others… well, not so much.  If you fall into the latter category, don’t fret — you’re not doomed to having a less-than stunning party.  The key is creating a detailed plan, which will become the foundation of your event.  So get out your Excel spreadsheet or Eventbrite‘s event planning software or regular old pen and paper because the first thing you should do is…

  1. Write it down.  There is a lot to keep track of — vendors, guests, timelines, budgets, shopping lists, etc. etc.  You won’t be able to keep it all straight in your brain, so don’t even try.  Professional party planners keep detailed notes, and so should you.
  2. Create a total budget. (and put aside an emergency reserve.)  Set these as early in the process as possible.  Beautiful weddings can be thoughtfully designed on any budget, but blindly spending is a good way to add unnecessary stress to the process.  Use the reserve as your safety net or to add extra finishing details in the day or so before the event.  Or save it for the next big thing!
  3. Dream up a vision.  Close your eyes and put yourself at your venue, say, The Wadsworth Mansion.  Imagine the portico’s stately columns rising to the sky, imagine the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the loggia windows, imagine the long expanse of our lush, green vista framed by rows of cedar trees stretching from the terrace… Now pick an adjective or two that describes the atmosphere you’d like to create here for your guests.  Keep your ideal atmosphere in mind as you select vendors and decide on details throughout the planning process.
  4. Photograph & label everything.  If you want your details to look cohesive and reflect your vision, do a test run; when your mock-up looks to your liking, put your smart phone to work and snap some pictures.  Label liberally — what is obvious to you may not be so clear to vendors during set up. This will save precious time on the day-of, earning you extra moments to deal with any last-minute hiccups.
  5. Communicate.  Save the surprises for your guests. Talk to your vendors. Make sure everyone on your team is on the same page. A quick phone call to confirm plans or specific details the day before can be the subtle difference between seamlessly smooth and stressful disaster.
  6. Walk in your guests shoes.  From arrival through any activities to the exit, step your way through from a guest’s perspective, which will help with 2 things: assessing if you’ve overlooked any details and making sure your festivities are fluid. If you throw a party for yourself and invite people, that’s exactly what it will feel like to your guests. If, however, you keep the invitee’s experience at the forefront of your planning, the likelihood of “Best Event Ever” status exponentially rises.

Photo by: Alicia Ann Photographers

Stay tuned for future editions of posts on event planning…  In the meantime share comments, experiences, thoughts, and questions below in our comments section.

 

Happy Planning!
Natalie

 

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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Featured Wedding: Larissa and Martin 8/30/14

Larissa and Martin were destined to have an awesome wedding.  When you take into account that the weather that day was perfect, that Larissa thought out every minute detail, and the couple brought the most fun group of people to celebrate – things fell into place flawlessly.  Lets start with the details.  The gray, coral, and gold accents complimented this late summer wedding with that perfect pop of color to our lush green surroundings. A delicious tower of cupcakes and initialed heart shaped cookies at every place setting were unforgettable sweet treats for the guests and the little touches Larissa put here and there all over the mansion, that turned a grand historic mansion into her big historic home for the day.  Take a look at the love, laughter, and fun captured by J. Fiereck Photography.  Congratulations to Larissa and Martin!  We were so happy to host your wedding at the mansion and wish you a lifetime of happiness!

 

Photography: J.Fiereck Photography

Caterer: Grand Gourmet Catering

Florist: Sharon Elizabeth Florists

Cupcakes: Sweet Cupcasions

DJ: Music in Motion

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