A CT Wedding: Venues

Let the madness begin...ugh. (Flickr user MyEyeSees)

So, The Boyfriend and I got engaged a couple of weeks ago (I think henceforth he will be known as “The Fiancée” which is annoying because of the accent). It was lovely, in Vermont, standing on frozen Lake Champlain. But you don’t care about that really. As much as I would prefer to elope, it apparently is not an option. Thus, upon returning to CT, I moved into Planning Mode. Having worked special events for several years in non-profits, I do know how to put a party together…usually on a tight budget. However, a wedding is a totally different animal. Let me tell you, the Internets are our frenemy. It makes finding a million venues easy, but choosing one…not easy. While every venue is going to show pictures of itself looking its best, taking a closer look at certain things in those pictures is helpful. If I noticed the bride and flowers were straight out of 1992, I usually dismissed it. If the venue didn’t maintain its online marketing, chances are they aren’t going to be too helpful with planning via email–which is what I think most of us rely on these days. I also look at the menu if they have one posted. If I see your grandmother’s country club menu of rubber chicken and prime rib, I’m going to go the other way. So many venues are able to do some really creative things for large parties, why would you go for the same old same old? The Fiancee had his heart set on an autumn wedding with a view of New England in all its colorful glory. However, having done events, I am not a fan of relying on the weather for outdoor shindigs. I agree that nothing beats an outdoor event on a beautiful fall day–but nothing is worse than being confined to a plastic tent during a monsoon. Except maybe doing it while wearing heels… and a  10lb dress. This means we were also looking for a place with enough shelter for all 150 guests in case of a hurricane. This automatically eliminated many cute vineyards, barns, and smaller inns that Connecticut has to offer.

While there is a multitude of cutesy mansions and inns all over our state, they tend to be in the more remote parts like The Quiet Corner and Litchfield County. Since we have guests coming in from across the country, we needed a locale that offers lots of stuff to do. Given this, we started looking around Hartford and Mystic. (Geez, we’re starting to sound like really picky people. Truthfully, all of these stipulations were actually helpful–by eliminating a lot of places.)

Saltwater Farm Vineyard

We checked out Inn at Mystic which had a beautiful view, but also seemed like it had seen better days. Maybe it was because it’s still winter, but it reminded me of a mansion Scooby and the gang would stumble upon. Then we headed to Saltwater Farm & Vineyard. I have to say I fell in love. Since The Fiancee has his pilot’s license, the fact that the building is a converted hangar and the vineyard was once an airfield seemed perfect. And it would have been…except for the price. At about $8,000 just to rent the place, we couldn’t bring ourselves to sink that much just to rent a building and some tables and chairs. Finally, we looked at Stonington Meadows–which looked very nice online. Unfortunately, it sat on a main road…connected to a wicker furniture store. What had looked like a lovely area to hold the ceremony was a paltry patch of grass and the function room could have been in any chain hotel. So, we decided to look back around Hartford. After eliminating Avon Old Farms Hotel simply for being too small (it’s a gorgeous place though!), we finally settled on The Riverview in Simsbury. I visited the place for work a year ago, and was impressed with its prettiness at the time. Even though it is a “banquet facility,” it’s a spectacular one. It’s run by Riverview Catering, which has been around for 25 years, so we know the food should be good. The room is stunning, even when it’s partitioned in half. The decor is classy yet still modern, and the bar area is properly spacious for any group of alchies. The building also overlooks the Farmington River for a gorgeous view of New England in Autumn.

So…success! But the war has just begun. Next we will do battle with photographers, DJs, florists, and the like.