Sunday, September 27, 2009

Finally done! And more confused than ever...

We originally had 4 places to see this weekend. Sandcastle Caterers,
Russo's on the Bay,, Garden City Hotel and The Woodlands. However, due to a last minute (and rather spontaneous) decision to take a Web-Design Class at Queens College, I had to move our Sunday appointments to Saturday and make some cuts. Though I really want to see The Woodlands, they are very difficult and annoying to schedule appointments with. They won't let ANYONE in on Saturdays to see the place because they are setting up for weddings. I'm cannot possibly be having a wedding at 11:00 on a saturday, just let me come in and see the place. Believe me, I understand that I won't be seeing the final finished product. Anyway, they wouldn't let me schedule an appointment for Saturday, and Chris and I are very busy for the next two weeks. So, I have an appt. with them for Thurs. October 8th. Well, we may very well have reached a decision by that point. Sorry Woodlands: Your loss. We also ruled out Garden City Hotel because I just haven't heard good things about it, I hear it's overpriced and not great service. So, yesterday we saw Sandcastle and Russo's on the Bay.

Sandcastle was impressive and, like Marina del Rey, a place that I thought I was going to hate, I ended up loving. I don't even know where to begin. The outside entrance area isn't anything to rave about. When we walked in, Chris immediately goes "I feel like I'm in Las Vegas" There's lights on the stairs and medieval statues everywhere. I had to admit he was right and that wasn't entirely a selling point for me. I like Las Vegas, but I don't want to get married there. We were met with a very lovely young Greek woman named Dina who works at the Sandcastle but is also getting married there next June. First we saw the Hospitality Room. We would have this room from 5:30-6:00 in case any guests showed up early for our 6:00 reception. It's a nice lounge with tv screens and an open bar. They would also have passed hor'douvres at this time. Then she showed up the bathrooms and bridal suite upstairs. Both were very nice. I thought it was cool that there was a tv screen in the bridal suite that showed us a video of our guests at cocktail hour in case we didn't attend cocktail hour. (We plan on attending, but would probably leave it early to freshen up for the reception) Next, she took us into the cocktail hour room and it was one word: Impressive. We would have this room from 6-7 or 7:30 depending on what we want. There is a huge giant boat in the center of the room which will house all seafood from sushi to shrimp to raw oysters and clams and lobster.

There was a beautiful stage with a piano in which they would PROVIDE the pianist for our cocktail hour (which is a great deal). They have a brand new martini bar station with a waterfall. The Martini Bar has the capability of coming down from the cieling half-way through the cocktail hour with smoke and lights and they do a mini-presentation. Ummmm...not my cup of tea/pretty tacky. But at least it won't be me coming in from the ceiling for my entrance. (Please read below for Russo's on the Bay description). I would probably ask them not to do this for the cocktail hour, but could be persuaded to do it if I was allowed to laugh the whole time as it was happening to let my guests know "Yes people, I am aware this is a bit 'much.'" Now, the room itself was impressive but they're currently adding an addition which is an outside patio. It was very under construction while we were there but I think it's going to be beautiful. It's an outside patio half of which will be covered by glass for shade or rain protection. They will have tables out there, a waterfall and a staircase leading down into the garden behind the facility. I saw the computer generated pictures and it looks like it's going to be really nice. He told us to come back next weekend to see the finished product, which we may do. This way, our cocktail hour can be both inside and outside (which was also offered to us at The Inn at New Hyde Park). Next, we went downstairs to the Grand Ballroom. The worst thing about this place was that the bathrooms are on the second floor of the building and the main ballroom is on the first floor. That's not very convenient, but that really was the only negative against it. The ballroom was very pretty. Long dance floor down the center of the room. They have a camera on a tripod filming our entire wedding for us to take home at the end of the night. (all raw footage of course) They had tv screens for slide shows, very beautiful linens. Lights that we can change or decide how we'd want it to be and plenty of space. It was a very nice room. After that we went into her office to discuss the menu which was quite impressive and pricing...also incredibly reasonable. They include everything as a package, no extra add-ons or hidden fees, we get it all. PLUS the owner of the Sand Castle owns a hotel in Crete, Greece. This hotel is included in the price for a 7 day honeymoon!! Absolutely no where else included a hotel for their honeymoon and still this place was no more expensive than anywhere else. Of course, I need to research this hotel a little more but the pictures I happened to see looked amazing. All in all it was a great deal and a great place. My qualms here are really the very first thing that Chris said when we walked in: It felt a little like Vegas...and therefore, I'm worried it's a little gaudy. It's really not that bad and I'm sure as long as everything else is done tastefully no one will know, or quite frankly care.

Russo's on the Bay was hands down the worst place we have visited out of this entire process. I knew that we wouldn't like this place going into it, but I was curious to see it myself. Especially since this is the famous place where the bride and groom enter THROUGH THE FLOOR in a glass elevator for their reception entrance with a fog machine and everything. Really?? It all seemed very tacky to me. We enter the place and it's very clear there are multiple parties going on at once and it's very loud. It seemed very much like a wedding factory. I had called this place twice prior to coming in about scheduling an appointment. I was told that they don't do appointments, but to dress nice and the consultant will let us peak through to see the ballrooms. We go up to the office and are met by a very unwelcoming, very serious and not warm receptionist at the desk. She takes my information, we wait for a consultant. The consultant comes out, ONLY introduces herself to me and Chris. Never even acknowledges the Duni's, takes us into her office and immediately goes over the menu only addressing me and Chris the entire time. EVERYTHING is an "upgrade" You want dessert? More per person. You want linens on your tables and covers on your seats? More per person. You want this? more per person. You want that? More per person. Then, she gives us the base price per person and that's that. If we want to schedule an appointment to come back and see any of the rooms, we may do so with her. WHAT?! We didn't see a single thing about that facility other than the offices and lobby. Worst.Customer.Service.Ever. AND she definitely was the worst and coldest salesman(woman) that we've dealt with so far. I don't know where our wedding will be held, but I can certainly tell you where it will NOT be held: Russo's on the Bay.

So there we have it: Our top three choices are Marina Del Rey, The Inn at New Hyde Park and Sandcastle. Three EXTREMELY different places, all offering great packages. It all depends what kind of a "look" we're going for....beautiful and elegant by the water? Classy and sophisticated elegance at The Inn at New Hyde Park? Or just downright fun and showy (While still being classy) at SandCastle? (and with a honeymoon no less).

We have a lot of pro and con lists to make up. And, I think we need to visit each of these places again and hopefully with my parents when they come in 3 weeks to help us with the decision. Part of me doesn't want to sit on this for three weeks....but we are so busy the next two weekends we might just have to.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Inn at New Hyde Park

Last night we went to The Inn at New Hyde Park and boy was it BEAUTIFUL!! I was very surprised that Chris's parents liked it better than Marina Del Rey. Not because I didn't think it was better...but because I know how much they LOVE Marina Del Rey. Chris and I feel very torn. They're very different looks. The Inn at NHP is elegant beyond a doubt. Elegant, sophisticated, fancy, beautiful, everything about this place screams "classy". But, I guess I'm worried about it being a little "stuffy" I guess? And, if I had to say I had only one qualm, I think it would be the reception room. Yes, it was beautiful, but it felt a little "conference room" feeling to me, it was huge and I like when the dance floor is down the middle of the room with the bride and groom at one side and the band or DJ on the other. For instance, The North Ritz Club had one of the best ballrooms I think we've seen, long beautiful dance floor down the center of the room. But, that's me being nit-picky for the sake of being nit-picky. We have 3 more places to see this weekend so we'll see where we stand after that. I think we'll be done with our search then.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Successful weekend!

We had a very successful weekend looking at venues! On Saturday we started off by visiting The Swan Club. This place was beyond beautiful and it was everything I hoped it would be and more. It's like a beautiful Rose Garden with a lake, and had a very intimate setting for a cocktail hour/wedding. I loved the person we dealt with. He was an honest, sweet man who clearly had a passion and love for what he did. I couldn't have been happier with the place. Unfortunately, it was a little small for our size party. Even if we cut down our guest list down to the room's would just be too crowded. It was a shame, we were all sad that it wouldn't work out because we all loved it. Plus, the price was amaaazingly lower than any other place we've seen. Oh well, maybe we'll have our 30th wedding anniversary there!

Next we went to the North Ritz Club. I have to admit...I felt a little weird going there because the Yale student who was murdered was supposed to have her wedding there just last weekend. The place was really nice and they definitely had the best ballroom by far that we've visited. It was huge! The bar was gorgeous, a long wooden bar stretching across one side of the room. Only one wedding goes on there at a time and as a result, it was a bit pricey for everything. The woman we dealt with was nice (though she was ALL business and NO play) But, none of us left really feeling that was it. It really is true that you just know, and we just knew that wasn't it. However, the real clincher it wasn't "the one" was that their Saturday night cocktail hour STARTS at 7:30 and then the recpetion goes until 1am!! That was just too late, half our party would leave before it's over. Everywhere else we've been the cocktail hours start at 6/6:30 So, we will not be having our wedding at the North Ritz Club. We were hungry at that point so had a lovely lunch at Patsy's. Chris' parents really wanted us to see Marina del Rey in the Bronx because that's where they got married almost 30 years ago. I called the place in the car to see if we could schedule a last minute appointment and they could take us at 2! Boy, am I glad we went! I'm going to be completely honest here: I didn't think I would like this place. The website was "eh", I haven't heard a whole lot about it except from what I heard from his parents and well, it's in the BRONX. Or should I say "'Da Bronx". However, IT.WAS.NICE. They are located right along the water and have a beautiful view of the Whitestone and Throg's neck bridge. The place inside is gorgeous especially the ballroom (which unfortunately was set up with a make-shift wall when we were there so we couldn't really see it) They have a hospitality center for anyone who arrives early to our wedding. We'd have use of the outside patio for our whole reception and (weather permitting) could have our Venetian hour out there! the only thing I could possibly complain about was the space for cocktail hour. It was just a room, nothing special about it..but that gets made up for with the reception space. Needless to say, Chris and I were very impressed and this has undoubtedly moved up to the top of our list.
We have 4 places scheduled for this weekend: Garden City Hotel, Russo's on the Bay, Woodlands and Sandcastle. That will be the last of the main ones I wanted to see. I still have a list of 5 additional places I'm curious to visit however, I think Chris is eager for me to cut this list down so I'm going to have to start doing some eliminating.

Last Wednesday we went to an open house at Jericho Terrace. At the time, that was our favorite place but it is now in second place. It was extremely fancy and at first I was smitten with that. But, after thinking about it more...I was worried it was just "too much". Too much food, too much selection. It was all very overdone. However, they were willing to throw in a TON of extra stuff (martini bar, ice luge, espresso and coffee bar, venetian hour, etc.) which were pretty sweet deals. I don't have an eye for any of this, but Chris' parents also felt the main ballroom was too small and that we'd be crowded and I certainly trust their judgment on that. The linens and seat covers were also very was just white everywhere. We're seeing The Inn at New Hyde Park tomorrow after work and I've heard that it's unbelievably gorgeous. I hope I don't get torn between two or even three places. I hope that we just know where it needs to be...but only time will tell! We've successfully knocked through 11 venues in the past 3 weeks! PHEW!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Hunt Continues!!

This past weekend we looked at our first two venues! It was very interesting actually going to the places and getting a real actual sense of what we want we like and what we don't like. We went to The Inn at Fox Hollow first. This place was really nice. I did not like the guy that took us around. He was the manager, or owner or something like that. I know he's a salesman and so he has to do his whole "salesmanly" thing, but I just didn't like how cocky he was. However, that aside the grounds there were really beautiful and even neater was the hotel attached to the facility. The hotels are all suites and it would be really convenient for any out of town guests.

We then went right down the street to Crest Hollow Country Club which we also really liked. There was a crazy wedding going on upstairs in one of the rooms so it was really busy in the lobby and we couldn't see 2 of the rooms that would be available. I liked the grounds, I liked what was offered as far as food. Crest Hollow would def. win for the day...but I didn't get that "this is the place" feeling at either one. That could be because I know in my head I have like 10 other places I want to see, so I just want to get out and see them all before getting set on anything too soon.

We cancelled our appt. at the Riviera at Massapequa for 2 reasons. 1) we heard from multiple sources that 200 would be really tight in their space. Seeing as how our guest list will be more than 200, we didn't want to risk it. I still want to go and see the place at some point but it's not priority right now. 2) We were kind of pooped on Monday from the long weekend and really all just needed a day of not running around.

I also have taken up making my own monograms!! Unfortunately, this blog doesn't seem to support the monograms I've made in word so I cant show them to you. but it's a lot of fun...I just worry about being able to pick "THE" one after I've experimented. I'm also trying to download special fonts online, but I can't figure out how it works and I'm getting frustrated.

This weekend we are going home for Mandy and Billy's engagement party. But, we'll be back to the venue search next Wednesday when we go to Jericho Terrace! More then.