How did you get involved with the wedding industry? When did you first help out with an LGBTQ+ wedding?
I happened to get published in the first RainbowWeddingNetwork.com print magazine and met Cindy Sproul (one of the RWN founders) several times in my career. I did the very first LGBTQ+ marriage in Lambertville NJ back when civil union legislation first passed in our state, which was 2007.
What are some of the current trends you're seeing in your particular business? Anything new for 2022?
Lots of Comfort foods especially with the pandemic lifting. We are seeing things like Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup shooters, Mini Sliders... all the comfort types of foods. Wedding couples today want the foods at their reception to provide an interactive and memorable experience, and these days that means offering their wedding guests a way to feel pampered as well as setting a backdrop for socializing and having authentic conversations.
What are some of the most important things a couple should keep in mind when booking your type of business for their wedding?
When couples choose a venue they should do their homework first by searching through the Rainbow Wedding Network, The Knot and or Wedding Wire by filtering the categories that fits their needs such as: If a beach is their love and reflects their personality then that is where they should turn their focus. There are couples that feel they need to visit 10-15 venues before making a decision on a venue of choice. That simply is not the case.
I always use the analogy about choosing your wedding apparel (there are so many styles, types and colors) ...When you finally put on that very special suit, gown or tux and tears flow -when that reflection in the mirror is exactly the person you want to be- then you know without a doubt that you are done. The feeling needs to be the same with a venue. -When you get the fuzzy feeling about the venue and the wedding staff at that venue, who are excited to assist in the planning process with you, then you know that is your venue of choice.
Also, most venues offer a Wedding Specialist to help with each event. The expectation that a couple should have in regards to a venue's Wedding Specialist is to keep in mind, first and foremost, that their unique wedding marks the start of a new chapter in their lives. This very special milestone should be of the utmost importance, not just to them but for the wedding pros who assist. It requires time, patience and excellent customer service. Also, I suggest couples keep in mind that a Wedding Specialist brings a great deal of professional knowledge to the table. We plan weddings thousands of times, whereas a couple touring a venue is planning it only once. While listening skills are the most important to see and bring to life the details of a couple's vision, Wedding Specialists should also have the capacity to lead the couple in the right direction... and do so with respect, insight and hopefully a smile.
When you first meet a couple, who is considering booking your services for their event, what do you do to help put them at ease? How do you really connect with them?
Find that common thread and be enthusiastic! Know the details of my services so that I can meet the couple where they're at, and explain what we offer thoroughly, so they can make an educated decision about whether our venue is the right fit for their vision.
Specific Tips, as a venue wedding specialist?
Cocktail Hour is key! It sets the tone for an amazing Reception. At our venue, we offer Local Fresh Creative and Flavorful Butler Style hors d'Oeuvres as well as Station Style Presentations of world class cuisine.
What are some general planning ideas you have for our readers?
Food choices and creativity. Personalized details, such as a signature drink that may coordinate with where they met. If they have a puppy and are having an outside ceremony perhaps that puppy is the ring bearer. Talk about your vision with your Wedding Specialist or coordinator, as well as your other wedding vendors - let that person ask questions and pique your excitement about all aspects of Your Special Day... and offer ideas that build on your own, and also work within your budget.
Any budgeting tips you can suggest, as a seasoned wedding professional?
At Celebrations, we run an all inclusive package of Tax, Gratuity, Bartender's Fee, Room Fee, Bridal Suite, Service Fee. The Wedding Couple knows exactly what they are paying for based upon head count by the package price. Very specific and detailed preliminary rate information is key, and I suggest that couples look for this kind of information from any wedding pro they are considering working with.
What is the most important thing couples should remember when planning their wedding?
Make it fun! This is a new chapter in your lives and it's a great way for you to find out how well you can work together, support each other, adapt, problem-solve, brainstorm, communicate... and find ways together to accomplish goals and then delight in the end result! Enjoy each other, and the process of planning this amazing Special Day!
About the Autor:
Catherine Geer / Celebrations Distinctive Wedding Venue
Wedding and Marketing Specialist for over 32 years of planning and executing Weddings!