Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Middletown: The Little City with Big Selections - Part II

Middletown: The Little City with Big Selections

As part two of our exploration of Middletown, CT as a local wedding destination; we’re going to take a look at a seaside venue with New England appeal.

The Canoe Club sits on prime real estate in Harbor Park, in Middletown. Harbor Park is one of those places you and your family can go on a lazy weekend afternoon to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Mattabesett River flowing into the vast Connecticut River. According to the Canoe Club’s website, the restaurant was built in 1915 and is still the only restaurant open year round on the CT River.

The Club would host your wedding on their second floor banquet room, which would include a cocktail hour on their balconies. Talk about a beautiful view of both sky and sea! The shoreline and plush landscapes of trees are more than enough beauty to draw you to this venue. If you’re into Nautical style, without overdoing it, this is the spot for you! The best and only feature of this facility is the view. But wow, what a view! You won’t have to wait until the summer to get that “Cape Cod” or “New England” feel you want for your wedding…you can get that here year round! You can be on the water, without the unpredictability of pending bad weather.

The Club can host up to 125 guests in their upstairs room, a manageable size crowd for any budget. The menu selections listed on their website are pretty standard, with a typical array of chicken, beef, and fish entrees. What I do like is that you get Wine Service with Dinner at no extra charge. Most venues add on fees for that.  I absolutely adore the Chilled Martini or Frozen Drink Station that you can add on for just $8 per person. A fab idea for that is to create a signature drink that fits your wedding theme! You seem to get a lot of bang for your buck with their menu and add ons at the Canoe Club. Banquet prices are only $89 or $99 depending upon the weekend day you select. Plated service is $25 more, but well worth it if you’re just not into buffets. So the Canoe Club would work well with a budget of $30,000 and up, since you’ll be spending about $15,000 on the reception.

The only negatives I can see with this place, was my brief interaction with the staff member who handles the online banquet inquiries. When checking out the website, at first glance it wasn’t obvious that their prices were anywhere on the site. So I sent a query and was told in a kurt tone, and grammatically incorrect text, to click on the word “Wedding” and the listing would come up. So I’d just recommend a user-friendly update to the website to fix that misunderstanding. The staff member informed me that the prices listed were 2015 prices, and the 2016 prices would increase by 10%. Pretty standard practice to increase the pricing year to year, so if you’re watching your budget closely, do the calculations and make sure the increase doesn’t affect your bottom line. The staff member also proceeded to advise that if you book The Canoe Club, you’d have to rent place settings and glassware! What the what?????!!!!! I have to wonder why the second floor room is unable to use the plates, glasses, and silverware that the downstairs restaurant uses? Or do they not have enough to accommodate an event while serving customers in the restaurant? As a coordinator, a whirlwind of questions are spinning in my brain about that. But the staff member mentioned they use CT Rental Center for their rentals…who I absolutely LOVE and am a repeat customer of. So if you should choose The Canoe Club in Harbor Park as your venue, you’ll be getting a standard meal, a great rental company, and fabulous view!

Check out The Canoe Club:

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And stay tuned for more info on the other locations! Just in time for your 2016/2017 Wedding!

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Middletown: The Little City with Big Selections

                                       Middletown: The Little City with Big Selections

As an event planner, I’m always advising my brides to do something unique at their wedding. Whether it be to use a hot new location, add a trendy décor element, or personalize the ceremony program to suit the couple’s quirky character. I’m always saying have your wedding stand out from the rest! So this blog is a tad unconventional for me. I am going to go outside of my own box and recommend a not so unique little city like Middletown, Connecticut for your wedding location.

Middletown, CT is definitely no mega-metropolis like New York City or Los Angeles. There’s no bright lights or celebrity presence. No broadway stages. No glitz and glamour. It probably won’t be on anyone’s tourist map because there are no tourist attractions whatsoever. But what Middletown does have is home-town appeal, a breath-taking harbor park, and a great selection of wedding venues. This little city of just under 50,000 residents, packs a punch when it comes to the variety of places to have your wedding.

If you’ve decided to stay local for your nuptials, Middletown is the place to be! From a grand scale to an intimate setting, there are six incredibly beautiful locations to choose from. We love finding the best choices and best bang for your buck for you! That’s what we do! So we’re dedicating our October blogs to giving you the scoop on each location in regards to: Style, Features, Menu Selections, Cost, and any Negatives that might go along with using that facility.

First up on the venue roster, is the scenic Pavilion on Crystal Lake. One of three venues owned by the Connecticut Wedding Group, the Pavilion on Crystal Lake has the more “traditional” style of all of the venues. It features a lovely outdoor ceremony site with a scenic view of the lake. Your photos will definitely capture the beauty of any season! Inside, the banquet area is pretty standard, but includes a huge dance floor and large windows to enhance the view for your guests. And a gorgeous chandelier adorns the high ceiling. According to their website, the facility offers a specific menu for each of the four seasons. So there is plenty of selections to choose from within each menu. Wedding banquet costs range from $89.95 to $139.95 per person depending upon which menu you select. A great budget can handle that cost, a more modest budget may make you cringe at anything above $75.00 per person. Either way, it’s a pretty standard cost for such a nice venue. The only negatives I can think of are: What happens when weather prevents an outdoor ceremony? And what if you don’t want the menu selection that corresponds to the season you’re having your wedding in? The best feature The Pavilion has is the lake side ceremony site. It does not have a designated “Plan B” space to accommodate an indoor ceremony. In the event of bad weather, per their sales staff, the main banquet room would be set up for the ceremony to take place literally on the dance floor, while your guests sit at their reception tables. Not sure how I feel about that. Thank goodness the wedding I decorated and coordinated there back in 2010 had perfect weather! In terms of the menu selection, say you’re getting married in the Spring, but you want the Summer menu. Can you choose the Summer menu??? The website doesn’t suggest you can. I’m hoping the sales staff will work with you on that. When I did that wedding there, the staff was very helpful and accommodating to my client’s needs. So it doesn’t hurt to ask! But overall, The Pavilion is a quaint and lovely location that would appeal to anyone’s tastes. Great pics, good food, plenty of space for dancing and mingling….definitely a winner!

Check out these pics of The Pavilion on Crystal Lake:


Next, another venue owned by the Connecticut Wedding Group, The Barnes at Wesleyan Hills. The Barnes is totally “rustic chic”. It features an authentic barn, outdoor ceremony sites, and sings of southern charm in New England. The photos on their website are to die for! OMG, the weeping willow trees, the pond, and white wooden bridge, are a MUST for photo opportunities! The barn is a haven for nature enthusiasts and simplistic tastes. Of course being owned by the same corporation, The Barnes offers a seasonal menu. And banquet costs range from $109.00 to $129.00 per person. Your budget would have to be $30,000 and above in order to pay for 120 guests. OUCH! Kind of pricey for the average DIY Bride, but if you set your wedding date out one year, it’s possible to save up enough if you keep your guest list to a minimum. But that’s the least of your concerns! The negatives that I see upfront for the rental of The Barnes, is a $4,000 - $6,000 site rental fee. What this means is, you have to first rent the space to use The Barnes THEN pay for the meals. That’s a huge expense added to your budget. So if you’re working with anything below $30,000; The Barnes may not be the place for you. Another negative is an 11pm curfew as noted on their website. That means the festivities will have to be over before or by 11pm. There’s probably a noise ordinance in the area, I’m not too sure. Definitely something to inquire about if you’re interested. Regardless, as the saying goes, “You ain’t got to go home...but you have to get the heck outta there!” Something to think about if your family loves to party. You could always plan an “after party” at a hotel, a place for the party animals in your family to go to once the clock strikes 11pm. But that’s an added cost that may not be worth the trouble. All in all, The Barnes is an amazing venue. Definitely a place you’ll remember for a lifetime.

Check out The Barns at Wesleyan Hills:

To round out the Connecticut Wedding Group’s holdings, is the Lyman Orchard Golf Club. Situated on a serene and well-manicured golf course, this venue is mobile! Having your wedding at Lyman Orchard means doing a tented reception. Talk about outdoor ambience and romantic style! A tented reception on the course features pretty views of the orchards, and amazing landscaping; a buffet of perfect pictures! Tented events are HOT right now! With the open space and blank canvas of a tent, you have the opportunity to create a world of your liking underneath the big top. Although everything has to be brought in…tables, chairs, dance floor, lighting, heating/air conditioning; all the work is well worth the effort. The corporation offers the same seasonal menu selections. Lyman Orchard does have a Plan B room in case of inclement weather, so that’s a plus. But let’s face it, with a gorgeous setting like that, who wants to be inside? LOL So if you choose Lyman Orchard, definitely select a Spring or Summer date, and keep your eyes and toes crossed for no rain. If you love the unique experience of a tented wedding, this is the place for you.  I must admit, your wedding costs accumulate to a hefty sum when you begin factoring in all the fees. There is a $1,000 ceremony fee, chair rental prices of $3.50 - $6.00 per chair; and your meal prices begin at $119.95 per person and go up in the Fall months. The only negatives are again, an 11pm curfew, and of course the costs. As a DIY Bride, your calculator will get in a full work out when totaling the fees involved with the rental. You could easily spend $19,000 on meals for the 125 minimum with tax and tip, and that doesn’t include the ceremony site rental and chairs for your guests! In the infamous words of Shia Lebouf in the Transformers movies…”Don’t freak out, don’t freak out!” Lyman Orchard is completely doable! If a tented wedding at this location is your one true MUST HAVE, then let the creative spending begin!  Your budget will have to be atleast $40,000 and you’d have to skimp and save on everything else…your gown, rings, transportation, décor, honeymoon, etc. No pain, no gain, right? So don’t let the price tag scare you! If you want it, go for it!

Pics of Lyman Orchards:

Stay tuned for more info on the other locations! Just in time for your 2016/2017 Wedding!

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