Advice for brides

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.

0398To 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_3066We 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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How to Make Your Wedding Yours

Oftentimes when giving tours of the Mansion to potential brides and grooms I am asked, “what do most people do?”  While I’m happy to relay typical arrangements of tables and chairs or layouts that harmonize fire code with aesthetics, it seems to me that the question is actually much more loaded.

MMwed-353The pressure put on couples (by themselves or others) to conform to certain ideas, ideals, traditions, and desires is real.  I see it every day.  I experienced it myself.  It varies in shades and degrees from wedding to wedding, but it is always there.  And it is perfectly natural and to be expected — two people in love from two different families [we hope, but that’s a different blog] and backgrounds are uniting in a singular celebration in a finite period of time.

Amid all the excitement it can be weirdly easy to confuse your opinions with those of your loved ones, or feel pressured into conforming to suggestions you don’t love.  Your best friend continuously tells you what colors she thinks you should use, your favorite uncle has written a song he insists on singing during your ceremony, and your parents feel they should get to cast the final vote on every last detail because that’s how their wedding was planned.  And yes, you want to be inclusive, and maybe someone will have a stroke of brilliance that you never would’ve come up with…

But.  Each couple deserves a wedding that reflects them as a couple.  The two of you should dream up a vision together that becomes the foundation for the event.  You have the right to decide if a particular tradition is or isn’t meaningful to you.  It’s okay if you & your fiancee don’t really care about flowers even though everyone else seems to.  Don’t worry so much about keeping up with the Joneses or being Pinterest perfect or agreeing to things just to appease certain people.  Your wedding will be happiest and most meaningful to all of your guests if it echoes you.

So the question is really, “how do you keep the wheels on the wagon?”wadsworth00496

Step 1:  Breathe.  In and out.  Slow is good.

Step 2:  Remember, everyone involved cares deeply about you.  If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be so passionate.  (This is an important marriage lesson in general.)

Step 3:  Tell yourself that this is all completely normal.  Because it is.  It really, really is.

Step 4:  Listen to the idea.  It just might be a good one, or half a good one.

Step 5:  Thank your loved one for the suggestion.  Whether it’s “yeah, that’s similar to something we’ve discussed,” or “I hadn’t thought of that before, but we’ll take it into consideration,” be kind and acknowledge it’s coming from a good place.  Sometimes recognition of a suggestion is all that’s needed.

(optional)
Step 6: Gently remind your loved one that it’s your day.  Be firm if you have to, but the key word is ‘gently’.  Emotions are already high and there’s no need to be nasty.  The point will be made.  Slow your roll, ‘Zilla.

Repeat all (especially Steps 1-3) as needed.

 

Trust the foundation that you set as a couple — and I mean that in life and in wedding planning. The rest will fall (okay, sometimes hurtle) into place.9 Dancing 1
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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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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It’s Wedding Season (…well, almost!)

With April just around the corner, we here at the mansion are eagerly anticipating our hosting duties for what should be one of our busiest wedding seasons yet!  Now is the time when our spring couples are excitedly discussing their event details with us and feeling the final days of their engagements rapidly approaching.  While each couple is different, they all have visions about what their perfect day will be like.

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When planning a wedding (as those of you who have done it can attest), there are always surprises between the popping of the question and retiring to the bridal suite on the wedding night.  It may stem from an unseasoned vendor, an overzealous family member, an unplanned weather event, or accidental wardrobe malfunctions… but every wedding has something happen that you just can’t plan.

Sometimes they are happy accidents — like lucking into the world’s best DJ when your budget didn’t allow for a live band.  And sometimes they’re really not — like a groomsman bowing out mere hours before the ceremony.  Regardless of the outcome, or how much you try to prepare or overthink each possible outcome, something will catch you off guard.  And when it does, just keep moving forward!  It might be the best thing that could’ve happened.

 

Any wedding pros or married readers care to share their experiences with the unexpected?  Please regale us with your stories and how you handled the surprise in the comments section below!

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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Frommer’s Lists Wadsworth Mansion in top 50!

Frommer’s Lists Wadsworth Mansion in top 50

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Middletown, CT.   The Wadsworth Mansion was listed as a “Best Place to Get Married in all 50 States” by Frommers.com this July.   Frommer’s selected one venue from each state for this distinguished list.  Some venues were selected for their stunning locations, others were selected for their beautiful architecture.  Executive Director, Deborah Moore, was delighted when she received an email from Frommer’s saying that the Wadsworth Mansion had been selected.  ‘We are honored, as the Biltmore in Asheville, NC is included as well as the Grand Canyon and the beaches of Maui.  We don’t have beautiful beaches or mountains, but the Olmsted designed 100 acre estate is very private and the Beaux-arts style mansion is beautiful. Couples can exchange their vows on a 700’ lawn and can dance on the terrace under the stars.  I don’t think there is a more beautiful place in Connecticut to get married.” http://www.frommers.com/slideshows/848035-where-to-get-married-the-best-weddings-in-all-50-states#slide849489

The Mansion hosts 70 weddings a year as well as other celebrations.  It is owned by the City of Middletown and was restored in 1999.

Frommer’s is a travel guidebook series founded by Arthur Frommer in 1957. Frommer’s has expanded to include more than 350 guidebooks across 14 series, as well as other media including the website Frommers.com. Since May 2007, Arthur Frommer has been actively blogging about travel on the Frommers.com website.  In 2007, Frommer’s celebrated its 50th anniversary of guidebook publishing.[1]

 

Information will be available at the Wadsworth Mansion by calling (860) 347-1064 or visiting www. WadsworthMansion.com.

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Bliss Celebrations Magazine Feature

Gorgeous BLISS Feature!

We were recently featured in the newest issue of Bliss Celebrations magazine! We are so happy to have such wonderful representation. To see the full article you can go toBliss our feature is on pg 181. We hope it inspires you!

To see the rest of the images from their wedding look at our blog post from 8-5-14 it features Linnea and Joey!

 

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Wadsworth Mansion Bridal Show 2015

Our 2015 Bridal Show was one of the best yet! We want to thank all of our vendors, as well as all of our brides and grooms for making it such a success! The new fallen snow made the Mansion appear even more magical.

Along with the amazing tables showcasing  flowers and wedding photographs, there was great food, drinks, and entertainment  What more could you ask for on a snowy Sunday afternoon?  Thank you to all of our vendors who donated raffle prizes to help  our brides and grooms plan their special day.

Another very big thank you to our 3 lovely Mrs. Wadsworths: Lisa Awugah, Sarah Gadbois, and Lisa Maino. They were on hand to offer advice and helpful hints to our new soon to be brides. They were lovely and so very helpful.

Another big thank you to all of our vendors who participated and really helped to make this show such a success. Thank you for all you do!

To see a full list of this years participating vendors, click here.

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