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How much does it cost to get married at the Mansion – Part 2 & 3

(click here to read Part 1)

Part 2:  The Rest of the Reception—DJs-Décor-Music

 

There is more to a wedding reception than just the venue and the food and beverage.  Regardless of where you get married you will spend money on wedding flowers, djs/bands, photography, and your wedding cake if it isn’t included in the catering package.

This week I read a blog, called “How to have a wedding for $5,000.”  I won’t include that link as I thought it was pretty foolish.  It is easy to brag about how inexpensive your wedding was when half of the services were donated by friends and you fed your guests from a food truck. [Don’t get me wrong I like food trucks, but it isn’t my idea of a wedding.] I will adhere to the philosophy that you get what you pay for—unless all your friends donating services are wedding professionals.

 

MUSIC/ENTERTAINMENT: 

I reached out to a DJ this week and asked him to send me some bullet points on what separates the great DJs from the neophytes that are happy to do your wedding for $600.  The best DJs:

  • Know what to play and when. An experienced DJ has the ability to read the crowd and know when things need to be changed. Crucial decisions are made every 2 to 3 minutes – “Will this song work?” – He/she needs to be able to mix out of it quickly if it doesn’t.

 

  • An experienced DJ is not thrown by last minute changes and recognizes that although a timeline is helpful, a wedding timeline is fluid and an experienced DJ is ready at a moment’s notice to switch things up.

 

  • Confidence on the mic. A good DJ is comfortable addressing a crowd and has the ability to pronounce difficult names.  Imagine paying someone who can’t pronounce your name.

 

  • An experienced, professional DJ knows how to work as a team with the coordinator, catering staff, photographer, videographer and any other professionals. For example, a DJ should never announce a spotlight moment (cake cutting, parent dance, etc.) without first making sure the entire vendor team is ready to capture and/or participate.

 

  • A professional will have a backup plan in place (paid on-call DJ, backup song library, backup gear) and should never shy away from answering that question immediately without hesitation.

 

  • A professional will know where the spotlight belongs – on the wedding couple, NOT the DJ themselves. Guests, family and friends come to celebrate the married couple, NOT to come see the DJ.

 

  • Experience with the venue – especially important with a unique space such as the Wadsworth Mansion. Does the DJ know what’s needed and does he/she own the appropriate equipment to properly provide sound/services in multiple indoor and outdoor spaces?

 

When selecting a DJ, the price is going to be based on how many hours their services are needed. Packages begin at 5 hours as that is the standard reception length.  Adding music  or microphones for the ceremony extends the time.

DJs also provide other services, such as interior and exterior lighting of the venue, specialty lighting for dancing, and fog machines.

For budgeting purposes, if you are planning on hiring a truly professional DJ, plan to spend between $2,000 -$2,700 for 6 hours of DJ services.  If you add lighting expect to spend another $1,000.

 

 

FLOWERS

I think one of the hardest part about flowers at a wedding is that not all flowers are created equal.  Flowers aren’t sold by the pound, they are sold by the stem and some stems are more expensive than others.  [Peonies, Ranunculus, Protea, Orchids, and Garden Roses are some of the more expensive flowers.] Using local seasonal flowers don’t necessarily make arrangements less expensive unless the florist has access to flowers in someone’s yard, and then they most likely would not be able to provide the amount of flowers needed.

The second hardest part about budgeting for flowers is  knowing what you need.  The more attendants at your wedding the more bouquets and boutonnières you will need.  The more guests that you have, the more centerpieces that are required.   Don’t forget parents, grandparents, the flower girl or ring bearer.  That is just for starters, how about:  arches, chair arrangements/bows, mantles, garlands, cake florals, bathrooms, bars, console tables/altar.  It is enough to make you put your head in a spin.

Do tell the florist your color palette for the wedding.  Do tell the florist what flowers you like.  It is great to hand your florist a picture you found on Pinterest as an example of your style or color palette, but if you ask the florist to duplicate it you may be shocked at the price. The arrangement could have been created for a photo shoot where the budget is limitless—and isn’t expected to be duplicated 15 times!  Do give the florist some latitude when purchasing flowers.  The blush roses may not look that fresh when the florist is at the market and on the other hand, there may be something stunning that will make your bouquets a knockout.  In most cases, your experienced floral decorator will be able to guide you to the best look to fit your budget.

 

I have included a table of pricing from two florists on our list.

 

Floral Piece Florist 1 Florist 2
Bouquets $175-$300 $150-$300
Bridesmaids Bouquets $100+ $75-$125
Boutonnieres $18+ $15
Corsage-pin on $25+ $25.00
Corsage-wrist $35+ $25.00
Pew/Chair bows $30/pair
Low Centerpieces $65+ $75+
High Centerpieces $150+ $200
Garland $40/ft.
Cake Topper $35+
 Cake Florals $45+
Arch $200+ $500+
Rose petals $150+
Mantles $100-$300

 

For additional information about the price of arrangements, visit:  Here

 

Yes, you can go to Stop and Shop (a local  supermarket) for wedding flowers, however they are not generally full service, which means you have to pick up & set up and who has time for that on the most important day of your life!?  I tried to get pricing, but couldn’t get through to them.  [That may say it all.]  You’ll get what you pay for as a talented florist has a great sense of color and design and will make your wedding truly elegant.

 

If you have 5 bridesmaids, 5 groomsmen, 15 tables, 1 bride who loves flowers, 4 parents and two grandmothers, an arch, and two decorated mantles you can expect to spend around $4,000.

 

For additional information about the price of arrangements, visit:  Here

 

 

PHOTOGRAPHERS

 

Like DJs, photographers are selling time and talent. The price for wedding photography depends on multiple elements:

  1. The number of photographers covering your event—one or two.
  2. How many hours the photographer(s) will be covering your event: Is it from the time you start getting dressed in the morning until the party is swinging on the dance floor or some shorter timeframe?
  3. How the photos are being edited. Is the photographer editing the photos or are they being sent out?
  4. What the photographer provides after the event: Is it a flash drive, one album, or ala carte services?
  5. The creativity and technical expertise of the photographer.

Items one and two are easily quantifiable, not so much with items three, four, and five.

Talent is the most important differentiator between photographers. In the last fifteen years with the rise of digital cameras and software to edit pictures, the number of wedding photographers grew tremendously. Almost anyone could become a part time wedding photographer. The industry went into a tizzy.  Talented photographers were being undercut by the novices and there wasn’t much they could do without sounding resentful.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of really talented newcomers entering the field that offer lower pricing to build a business.  We have all done that.  What I saw, was a lot of not so talented or experienced people who don’t understand lighting and composition taking some bad pictures. By the way, there are no do overs over your wedding photos.

The good news, is that it is so easy to view a photographer’s work.  They all have websites with lots of pictures.  Check out their social media platforms.  Ask to see an album.

To understand the value of the proposal consider:

  • Is an engagement session included? An engagement session is not just about capturing your engagement.  It offers the photographer the opportunity to develop a relationship with you.  The more comfortable you are with the photographer on the day of your wedding the more natural you will look in your photos.

 

  • There is a big difference in quality between the companies producing your albums.

 

  • Ask about the experience and training of the photographer. Ask about the experience of the second shooter.   How many years have they been in the industry?  What is their training and prior work experience?

 

  • Ask yourself, is this photographer going to enhance your day, or just take pictures? A great photographer, because their ‘eye’ is omniscient, can assist in making the day run smoothly.  They can see things before they happen.  They calm nerves.  They assist the other vendors.

 

  • Lastly, is the photographer easy to be around? After all, it is easier to smile at the camera if you like the person behind the lens.

 

This link will take you to an article about selecting photographers.  https://www.theknot.com/content/wedding-photography-getting-started

 

For budgeting purposes you can obtain two photographers for six hours for about $4,300.  The range for a more experienced photographer with tremendous talent and breadth in their portfolio is $5,000-$7,000.

 

 

Part 3:  The Rest of Your Day

 

If you think your budgeting is complete, don’t forget that before you walk down the aisle you will have sent out invitations, obtained your marriage license [$50.] You will have purchased wedding rings, gifts for your attendants and a gift for your beloved.  You will have had your hair done and make up professionally applied.   [$350].  Of course let’s not forget your favorite purchases: your wedding, dress, wedding shoes, jewelry, and veil/tiara.  [I am not even going there!] Don’t forget the groom if you are sharing this budget!

Embellishing your wedding will be a guest book, place cards, toasting flutes, cake cutting service.  You may have opted for:

  • Horse Drawn Carriage Entrance $1,000
  • Live ceremony/cocktail musicians $550 for two  [May have a deduct from the DJ]
  • Photobooth $800-$1,000
  • Videographer
  • Fireworks $3,500-$5,000
  • Tent                                                                 $4,000 [Includes liner and sides]

 

The Knot recently provided an informative graphic as a visual for the cost of weddings across North America.  You can check out the full article here.

 

 

I hope this post has helped. It is only met to be a guideline for creating a budget. I am sure that there are vendor professionals who may cost less than I indicated.   I always tell brides and grooms to focus on the things that are the most important to them.  The most important aspect about hosting a wedding is not about how much money is spent, but how the love that is shared between two people is conveyed to their families and friends.  Have fun planning and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

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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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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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Raindrops on Roses

Once upon a time, a certain effervescent nun went spinning through the Alps teaching a gaggle of children to sing about their “Favorite Things.”  Although I can completely understand the positive-in-the-face-of-anything attitude of The Sound of Music‘s Maria Von Trapp, most of the people I encounter here at the Wadsworth Mansion are more on board with finding the happiness in “girls in white dresses” than with finding positivity in the first phrase of the song [see blog title].

In all the wedding tours my colleagues or I have given to potential brides and grooms, I can absolutely, 100% guarantee the following phrase of five words has never and will never be uttered:

“I really hope it rains.”

Sure.  Of course.  Naturally.

However, weather-related reasoning is, nonetheless, at the apex of wedding date selection.  Practically all brides and grooms are somewhere along the spectrum between “concerned” and “apoplectic” when considering what kind of day mother nature might have in store for their grand event.  Even the most easy-going couples understand that weather contingencies are an important part of envisioning the big day.

And I totally get it.  As our wedding day neared, my husband and I weren’t exactly jazzed about potentially having to enact our rain plan.  We loved the look of the Wadsworth Mansion’s open air terrace which leads to the expansive vista, and a tent would’ve altered that vision; still, we reviewed all the options and were prepared to pull the trigger had the extended forecast looked iffy enough.  In the end we lucked out with an absolutely gorgeous day… but we also understood it was just that: luck.  Although its easy to say in hindsight, I truly believe that I wouldn’t have let a little inclement weather ruin my day.  I mean, it was the day I married my best friend in the presence of our loved ones.  The rest was just icing on the cake (or the cherry on top, or gravy, or whatever idiom you fancy).

Not all brides and grooms are so accepting of the idea of a potential “weather event,” however.  In fact, I’d say most can be borderline irrational when considering that their date might not be clear and cloudless.  At least half the inquiries of last week alone involved poring over our availability calendar trying to deduce which of the remaining dates will be the perfect combination of not-too-hot, not-too-cold, and rain-free.

Comb through the almanac, find a weather statistician, consult your local psychic; not a soul in the world will be able to predict the forecast with any kind of accuracy so far in advance.  Believe me, I wish I could.  My pay grade would be much, much higher…

So what’s a weather-worrier to do?  Select a date, make a plan…then let it go.  Stressing about the weather is wasted energy.  There are plenty of other things that could benefit from repeated consideration (like if you selected a seamstress who has ample experience altering beaded-fabric, or which guests you can task with babysitting Great Uncle Morty during dinner).  Focus on the things you can control and roll with the things you can’t.

And if that’s easier said than done, then there’s only one thing left to try: singing until you feel better.  Julie Andrews would be so proud.

 

Happy Planning!
Natalie

[A noted field expert (me) prescribes the old standard “Come Rain or Come Shine,” performed here by Ray Charles, although many great versions are out there.  Bring on the car and shower singing.]

 

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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Frock It To Me

Whether you’ve been dreading or dreaming of it, the time comes in any engagement when you have to answer the age-old question:  What to wear?  Considering that the obvious answer is “something” – – unless of course you’re on a nude beach somewhere (disclaimer: The Wadsworth Mansion has no beach, nude or otherwise) — you’ll want to think through a few things before deciding on the dress, the tux, bridal party attire, or dress code.

 

 

1.  How you want your wedding to feel.  You’ll be referring back to this one all the time.  It is the key to your wedding seeming cohesive.  Your big event should be a reflection of both of you on your best day   ever.  Decide what that looks like.  Season and location are a big part of this; long, lacy sleeves feel a little imprudent on the shore in August, n’est pas?  Once you select a venue and date, which should help guide your vision, you still may want to think of a few adjectives to fill out the daydream:  whimsical & bright, elegant & classic, modern & trendy, understated & unique, warm & casual…  Once you’ve given yourself a basic road map it’ll be much easier to say, “yes, I loved that sleek, barely-there satin number I saw on Pinterest, but y’know it just doesn’t fit with the wintry, happy, storybook vibe I’m going for.”

 

2.  How you plan to move your body throughout the day/night.  Despite the image you’ve conjured up from the picture-perfect, stock-still photos of gowns you’ve been drooling over since the fifth grade, you will be moving.  A lot.  You’ll be sitting, could be kneeling, oughta be dancing.  Select something that makes you feel like a million bucks and allows you to eat dinner!  Keep this in mind as you try things on, and then again as your fittings happen.  Jump up and down, bend over, put your arms over your head; having to tug/pull/adj ust your wedding finery on the big day is a big no — your tailor’s job is to make you feel effortless regardless of action.
This rule also applies to shoes!  Make sure you can comfortably walk on any surface (and PRACTICE! Yes, you!!) so people are wondering over the vision that you are, not the over/under on when you’ll bite it or go barefoot.

 

2a.  How you want others to move their bodies throughout the day/night.  If you want your bridal party and guests to really cut loose on the dance floor, consider issuing them less restrictive attire and toning down the formality of the dress code.  If the effect you’re going for is a little more elegant than eccentric, remember that bending over to pick up a cornhole beanbag might not be the chicest (or easiest) cocktail activity.

 

3.  How individual you want the bridal party to look.  We are — thankfully — far from the era of matchy-matchy, one-note, prom-esque attendants.  Nowadays it’s acceptable to, y’know, be considerate of the people who’ve agreed to stand next to you and populate all those photographs.  Before placing the order on those shiny, cap-sleeved, mustard dresses and the matching vests and bow ties because they go with your fall scheme perfectly, think about the people who have to wear them.  Think of their body types, shades of skin, colors of hair… You want them to feel confident, right?  Maybe you like the look of similar dresses in complimentary hues. Maybe a patterned fabric in a bias cut will be the most flattering on everyone.  Maybe you want these dresses to actually be wearable more than once.  Even if you want them to be wearing the exact same thing from earrings to nail polish to shoes, you’ll still want to dedicate some time in deciding all those elements.  Do unto others…

 

4.  How you know your invitees.  Unless you’re some kind of royalty with a public ceremony (I’m looking at you, Prince Harry), chances are you’ll know all your guests.  (I mean, except for your fiancee’s Great Aunt Ermingarde who hasn’t left her neighborhood since the Nixon administration and is shockingly making the 3-state trek… although even she isn’t “a stranger.”)  But maybe you’re having a remote, intimate ceremony with just family, which probably invites less pomp and circumstance than a fete with 200 of your parents’ nearest and dearest.  Or, maybe you are having a grandly-scaled affair brimming with all your college buddies, which could make a “Creative Black Tie” dress code apropos.  At the end of the day, your guests will do their best to bedeck themselves according to the standard you set.  Just know the party you’re throwing, and for whom.  And if Great Aunt Ermingarde calls to ask, ” Just what do you mean by Cocktail attire,” she’s not nagging you, but only trying to answer that question:  What to wear?

 

5.  How you feel like you.  Remember when I said your wedding should represent you & your fiancee on your best day ever?  I couldn’t mean that more.  Even if you’re the poster child for the athleisure movement and this is your one chance to really gussy up, or even if you’re a Tuesday afternoon sequins person and you don’t know if there’s enough Swarovski in the world to out-do your everyday, there’s no reason that the fanciest or most refined version of that person can’t be present.  If your heart is set on being a princess for a day, do it — but be yourself.  If you want to wear a jaw-dropping red dress because white isn’t your thing, do it — because that’s you.  Don’t let your makeup artist, or your mother, or your own self-doubt talk you into wearing something that doesn’t make you feel like the ideal version of yourself.  Who cares if it’s different from what you imagined in high school?!  If, on your wedding day, you were to be asked the compulsory red carpet question, “Who are you wearing?” your answer should resoundingly be:  Me.

 

Now — go forth, shop well, be fabulous.

 

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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Mailbag #2 (Flower Power)

The Wadsworth Mansion Mailbag is back!  With all the wedding questions and concerns that we handle (I wish I had a nickel for each one), it only seems fair to share and spread the knowledge.  The following are just a few of our true inquiries from the not-too-distant past about all things floral:

 

Tiptoe Through the Tulips
Hello,
My daughter will be getting married there in August, and the flowers are a very important to me.  I know there is a garden on the property where ceremonies happen, which is where [Bride] will have hers.  What flowers will be in bloom then?  I recall you mentioned roses on the tour.  Are there others as well?  Please advise.

Hi [Mother of the Bride] —
Ceremonies in the Tennis Pavilion – where the little, white, columned building is bookended by rose trellises – are lovely, and that will be a perfect place for [Bride] to have hers, too.  The climbing roses there may have a few remaining stragglers in August, but usually the full rose effect is well gone by then.  Our other flowering plants are the giant hydrangeas, which should be white or turning white by August, and they flank the vista just off our terrace.  Since you envision a floral, garden-y atmosphere in the Tennis Pavilion, I have an idea which may work for you despite the season.  Previously we’ve had late summer and fall weddings where the florist has filled out one of the trellises with roses, other flowers, and greenery, with that serving as the ceremony backdrop.  Alternately or additionally, you could have an arbor or chuppah covered in flowers in front of the trellis.  I can point you in the direction of florists who have previously done these sorts of things here if that would be helpful.  Regardless of whether or not you choose to go with any of these options, your daughter’s wedding will most certainly be a beautiful event.

 

Build Me Up, Buttercup
Hey Natalie,
We’ve selected [Florist] to do our flowers, and we told them we want them to put some arrangements on the mantles in the ballrooms.  We’ll be nearby for a tasting next Wednesday.  Can we maybe come by sometime that afternoon to take measurements of the mantles for our florist?  It’ll be good to see the Mansion again, it’s been a little while since we’ve been by…

Hi [Bride] —
So great to hear you’ve picked such a fabulous florist; they were here several times last season, and knowing you and [Groom] I can see why you would select them.  Although you’re welcome to come by next Wednesday anytime before we close at 5:30, I have the mantle measurements to give you right now.  The East Ballroom’s is 9.5″ x 80″, the West Ballroom’s is slightly smaller at 9″ x 78″.  You’re also welcome to use the mantle in the Bar if you like, which is 7″ x 69″.  Some brides and grooms do fairly elaborate mantle decor, while many florists just use (or incorporate) bridesmaids’ bouquets on the mantles — I’ll be excited to see what you all come up with.

 

Orange Blossom Special
Hi again –
I meant to ask you on the phone about colors.  I really like lots of different flowers and want to do like a rainbow theme, but I don’t want it to look bad, lol!  What do other people do?  I just don’t want it to look boring and all the same.

Hi again, [Bride] —
You’ve got a lot going on with wedding planning, so having a little brain hiccup is completely normal!  Most importantly, you should select the flowers and colors that you like — it’s your big day and you should choose whatever makes you happy.  Having options is what it’s all about here at the Mansion 🙂  But since you asked: we’ve seen it all.  Blush, cream, yellow, orange, purple, red, 3 colors, 5 colors, all one color…  It’s completely up to you.  Flowers and decor are the perfect area to spice things up and really make your wedding your own.  If you want more specific guidance, let us know or ask your florist (remember, their name is on it so they will want to meet your expectations of simultaneously lovely and lively flowers).

 

Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Natalie,
Thank you so much for everything at the wedding!  It was the day of my dreams and I can’t believe it’s already over!  I did have a question, though.  [My florist] charged me extra afterwards, and when I asked her about it she said it was because the Mansion made her clean up more than she usually has to.  Can you give me some insight on this?  Everything else was absolutely perfect, so I just want to understand what’s going on.

Hi [Bride] —
You had such an amazing wedding (excellent DJ selection, by the way) and I’m so glad that it was everything you had envisioned!  I wish [the florist] hadn’t decided to tack on additional costs in the end, and I’m happy to explain our policy on flower clean up, and what specifically transpired with your florist.
Our contract states that if rose petals are used they must be picked up by the end of the rental, or the bride & groom will be charged.  We dislike having to deduct such costs from our couple’s security deposits, which is why we discuss our clean up policies and expectations with the florists ahead of time.  I spoke with [your florist] the day before your wedding and told her that it would be her responsibility to clean up any rose petals she scattered.  When she returned at night’s end to pick up her vases and votives, I had to reiterate to her that each vendor is held accountable for their items or debris from their services, and that she must clean up the petals so that a fee wouldn’t fall to you.  She did end up staying to clear the Vista of petals.  Perhaps other venues don’t require their vendors to follow up so thoroughly… but we feel every wedding deserves the Mansion and grounds in pristine condition.
Please let me know if you have any other questions or if I can shed any more light on the matter.  Your wedding was truly beautiful and excellent fun — your dance with your Dad was hysterical — and I can’t wait to relive it again through your photos.  Keep in touch!

 

 

If you have a question you’d like answered about weddings or events, post it in the comments section below.  Maybe we’ll feature it in a future Mailbag Blog!

 

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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Focus Is Future (or, How Weddings Are Governed by The Law of Attraction)

I’m not much of a New Age philosphy kind of gal.  Not that I have anything against it, really, it’s just not my particular cup of tea.  But the longer I’m around weddings and the planning stages that precede them, the more I’m convinced that the Law of Attraction is a thing.

For the uninformed, good old Wikipedia defines the Law of Attraction as such:

“…the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life.  This belief is based upon the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from “pure energy”, and the belief that like energy attracts like energy.”

I can’t necessarily speak to the second part, but the first bit about the outcome of experiences being reflective of the energy put into them is a very real occurrence.  And while I think it’s generally true throughout life, it is of course magnified under the glass of a major milestone event like a wedding.

0398 To wit:

A recent bride of the Wadsworth Mansion was the essence of relaxed.  Her planning was thoughtfully arranged and specific, but even as we met to go over details a few days before her wedding she seemed to be in a lovely bubble of equal parts calmness, happiness, and reality.  She was very aware that unforeseen things could happen, but she trusted her vendors to do what they were hired to do and keep her day running smoothly.  Lo and behold — her wedding was a breeze, full of life and joy, and not a thing went wrong!  Within a week of her celebration she had written us to to say that her dream wedding had come true and she couldn’t have been more thrilled.  Hooray!

On the other hand, I can recall an occasion that had a marriage ceremony and reception that felt nothing like a celebration.  Try as the bride and groom might for smooth, easy sailing, their families seemed determined to encounter disaster.  I met them for a rehearsal a day or so before the wedding, and even then I could feel a cloud of negativity hanging just overhead; by the time the big day arrived, the cloud had fully descended into a terrible fog of malcontent and cantankerousness.  Although the bride and groom left that night seeming peacefully light, their family’s negativity would soon find them and everyone else involved in the event, re-coloring the entire picture in sad, gloomy hues.  It’s so unfortunate when a murky, merciless attitude prevents others from having the time of their lives.

These two examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reaping what you sow in the garden of weddings.  It’s amazing how we can predict with quite a bit of accuracy the general outcome of an event based on the process leading up to it.  But we can.

And you can, too.  As you plan your wedding, or vacation, or birthday party, or whatever, take a step back and do some honest self-assessment.  If your outlook is positive — even if it’s realistic — your road should be relatively smooth and happy.  If your attitude needs some adjustment, now is the time to find (or create) that silver lining before the negativity gets out of control.  And if the negative influence isn’t you, find a way to redirect, reduce, or remove that person from the process.

 

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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For Your Consideration

You’re so excited.  The question was popped, the answer was yes, and now you’re on the whirlwind ride that we call engagement.

You’re overwhelmed.  Opinions from all angles are swirling around as you start to climb the mountain of decision-making known as wedding planning.

You’re resolute.  You know exactly what you want your big day to be like, and all you need is for everything to be perfectly as you designed.

Image Photography 039

However you’re approaching your matrimonial celebration, allow me to let you in on a little trade secret.  Your vendors — those you hire for the goods and services associated with your event (florist, photographer, cake baker, etc.) — are human beings.  I know, I know — it sounds obvious, right?  But you’d be flabbergasted at the countless, true stories that would provide substantial evidence to support how often that fact is forgotten.

That’s not to say that all brides, grooms, or their families behave in ways that seem dismissive of the lives of their trusted vendors (far from it), but it happens often enough that I have to wonder how many people outside of the event business are aware of the way their words or actions come across.

For example, I recently heard about a wedding vendor who had an extremely ill child, which set this vendor back on the designated timeline, although not to any real detriment of the services provided; the couple demanded a full refund, and when the vendor gave the very good reason for the slight scheduling setback, the couple’s reaction was not one of compassion but, “that’s not our problem.”

True story.

Not all such tales are quite as horrifyingly unfeeling.  Most could be characterized as simply inconsiderate.

Another story I’ve heard goes like this:  one of the vendors of an upcoming wedding had a parent pass away, to which the mother of the bride responded, “well you’re still going to be doing this wedding, right?!”  The implications being, of course, that vendors aren’t allowed to deal with their own lives like the rest of the world, and that they’re somehow in danger of forgetting their work obligations.

Regardless of what life throws their way, all that anyone hired to shoot your video or plan your day or arrange your flowers wants to do is put forth their best work.  Their name is on it.  It will represent them in the future.  They will do everything in their power to give you everything designated in their agreement with you, and then some.  I also don’t know of any vendors worth their salt who would enter into a contract if they weren’t able to fulfill it to the best of their abilities, no matter what’s going on.

The most classic case of ignorant behavior towards hard-working vendors is — you guessed it — pregnancy.  A female vendor “with child” can expect (no pun intended) to be on the receiving end of countless comments relating her gestation once the bump is no longer hide-able.  And, yes, I know vendors who will go to great lengths to hide their pregnancy for as long as possible for this very reason.  Some comments are intended to be jokey, while others are just downright impertinent and rude.  In any case, it’s clear that the old common sense rule of “think before you speak” is woefully absent from the minds of many.

Not too long ago there was a vendor that I know who told me that instead of being congratulated on her soon-to-be motherhood, a family member of a wedding in May said, with actual concern, “It won’t affect the wedding will it?”  Her due date was in January.

The all-too-real stories happen all-too-often.

So please consider, through your excitement, stress, and determination leading up to (and on) your big day, giving some consideration to the people you hire to help you have the event of your dreams.  A little thoughtfulness can go a long way.

As the saying goes: remember that your pants go on one leg at a time just like everybody else’s.

Or, less colloquially, abide by the Golden Rule and all will be well.

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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Mailbag #1 (Chuppahs and JPs and Tastings, Oh My!)

IMG_3066 We field many questions here at the Wadsworth Mansion — some big, some small (although when they’re about weddings, small is a relative term).  Here are a few of our recent, real queries:

 

Marry Me
Hi again —
We’re having a friend officiate the ceremony; I’ve looked in CT laws, and looks like we’re fine as long as they are credited through [American Marriage Ministries]– but just wanted to see if you had any additional information on this?  No biggie at all if not, but worth asking!

Hey [Bride]!
My understanding is that for a wedding to be legal in CT, a CT Justice of the Peace or Judge or active clergy member must be present to do the paperwork and legally witness your marriage.  I’ve seen couples have their friends do the ceremony with a JP present to do the legal paperwork parts; I’ve also known a JP or judge to do the legal marriage part first (tucked away somewhere) just before the friend does the big ceremony in front of guests and loved ones.  I can recommend several JPs who will happily help your friend marry you.  For a little further reading on legally marrying in CT, read here starting halfway down at “Connecticut General Statutes.”

 

To Taste
Hi Natalie,
We just had our tasting with our caterers and we’re a bit concerned. [My fiance] didn’t think his steak was cooked properly, and as you know having amazing food is a big part of what we want for our wedding.  I’m a vegetarian so I couldn’t taste it to give my opinion, but it was red in the middle…  Since they’re on your list, I thought we wouldn’t have any issues and that they would know what they’re doing, but now I’m worried that we’ve made the wrong decision about caterers.   We did like a lot of what they served (my entree was excellent) but [his] filet wasn’t well done.  Can you tell us how their food has been previously and if any other couples have issues with them?

Hi [Bride],
I’m sorry your tasting wasn’t quite what you hoped for!  I have to say I’m surprised.  I’ve actually never heard any negative feedback about [this catering company], nor had anything resembling a poor experience with them myself.  Have you let them know the exact things that didn’t meet your expectations?  You should — and don’t be bashful about it — because they can’t fix what they don’t know!  And remember that they are caterers; their job is to cater to your needs…which they can do well if you communicate those needs with them.  Tastings usually do go pretty smoothly, generally speaking.  But the reason they exist is to facilitate discussion about the menu and it’s appearance.  Let me also say that unless you’ve specified a particular desire ahead of time (like cooking filet mignon well done, which is atypical for that cut) the chefs will prepare the food to their professional standards.  So, give them a call and share your specific feedback, and continue to keep the lines of communication open with them.  I stand by their abilities to give you precisely the smooth (and delicious) wedding that you want, you just have to tell them exactly what you told me.  They’ll be more than happy to make any adjustments you need, I promise.  Keep me updated!

 

Got It Covered
Hi Natalie,
I was so excited to drop off our deposit and contract that I forgot to ask you about chuppahs when I was there!  Can you tell me where to get one? 

Hi [Bride],
Lovely seeing you today — and congratulations again on becoming our newest official Wadsworth bride!  In regards to finding a chuppah, florists tend to be the way to go.  Quite a few on our “Fabulous Finds for Wedding Planning” have done some really stunning ones here at the Mansion, so be sure to inquire with them.  But regardless of the florist you select, they’re the vendors to talk to about chuppahs (even if you want a very simple, traditional, non-floral one).  Happy planning 🙂
If you have a question you’d like answered about weddings or events, post it in the comments section below.  Maybe we’ll feature it in a future Mailbag Blog!
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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On Uniqueness

MichelleGirardPhotography189-(ZF-7163-86976-1-001) Here at the Wadsworth Mansion, uniqueness is our delight.  Each event is it’s own celebration, standing solo on our calendar for that day and befitting the design of the host’s individual vision.  Our mansion and grounds are merely a (beautiful) blank slate, leaving any and all details  — food, decor, flowers, floor plan, and more — up to the thrower of said party.

When my husband and I were married here almost one year ago, we loved that we weren’t forced into hiring a specific DJ or caterer or florist; the absolute last thing we wanted was a “wedding factory,” where we would just be shoehorned into a pre-set model like afterthoughts and hurried through our wedding to make way for the next one.  The a la carte manner in which the Mansion goes about it’s events allowed our big day to actually reflected us as a couple.  We had the wedding we intended from top to bottom (which, incidentally, you can get a taste of here, just scroll down a bit).

And since then, now that I am employed by the Mansion, I have seen many more weddings and parties here and none are alike.  Even among weddings with similar teams of vendors, the celebrations are unique representations of the hosts.

And all that freedom of choice isn’t for everyone.  I certainly give tours where our historic mansion and it’s one-of-a-kind, symmetrical footprint throws people off.  It does take some creativity to think outside of the same old, single ballroom box.  And that’s okay — coloring outside the lines is great for some and uncomfortable for others.  Plenty of people like to stick to safe, tried-and-true ways of doing things because the enormity of hosting a big event can be stressful enough.

But I can promise that if you’re willing to be intrepid in your party throwing you will reap so much more than if you copy the majority just to stick to the norm.  I recently overheard a comment by a guest at an event (who was late, and purposefully hanging back): “…if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.”  Yikes.  To be honest, the host didn’t deserve such an assessment at all. However, if that’s the general perspective you’re up against, wouldn’t you want to blow that thought out of the water?

Don’t worry so much about how everyone else did it, or does it, or will do it.  What makes these things so special and noteworthy is how personal they are.

Be uniquely you and your wedding will be extraordinary.

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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