Monday, June 27, 2011

Productive Weekend!

Saturday my mother and I went out shopping for a veil and wedding jewelry. We didn't get either of those, however we did manage to find a fabulous pair of shoes for me to wear on the big day -- on SALE! Also we got gifts for my bridesmaids! I'm so excited to be crossing things off my list.

Saturday night we went with all of the parents (all 8 of them) to the Paragon Grille - the restaurant that is now where Raffael's was, and which will be catering the food for our wedding. Soon after being seated, we were served shrimp cocktail and stuffed mushrooms - which we had not ordered, but which are two of the passed hors d'oeuvres we will be having at our cocktail hour. They were delicious! I fully expected my fiance to order the chicken saltimbocca, since he is so in love with it, but it was not on the regular menu, so he got the filet (our other chosen dish) and said it was absolutely delicious. He failed, however, to save me a bite. Guess I've gotta train him a little bit better. I got the pasta ala vodka with shrimp and loved it.

The food and the service were wonderful, and it was so nice of "them" (I can only assume that this was Beverlei's doing, as my fiance had told her that we would be going in for dinner) to provide the appetizers. Everyone had a fabulous time. All of the parents got along so well. We asked the hostess if we could show the parents the Surf Ballroom, which is where we will be having our reception. She told us there was a wedding going on, but that we could peak in. So we made our way up the stairs and took a look -- the wedding looked so fun, we wanted to join!

We cannot wait for our wedding in September and are very pleased with the way everything has been going. Now, if only my dress would come in!! (It's due to arrive sometime in July)

Until next time...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wedding Planning Update

Clearly, I am not a regular blogger. In fact, I completely forgot I even wrote this blog with those couple of posts until I just got a phone call from my fiance telling me that Beverlei (from the hotel) had called expressing concern over something she had seen online. I can only imagine she was referring to this blog ... soooooo... here is an update.

So far, so good. We are a mere three months away from the big day, and after the couple of bumps in the road which you may have read about in my prior posts, everything has been just fine.

We ended up setting up a meeting with Beverlei, followed by a tasting. As always, Beverlei was helpful and gracious and assured us that everything would be fabulous on our wedding day. I'd like to take a minute to clarify here, that my prior frustration was not ever with Beverlei... it was with the management, or the ones "behind the curtain" (no one can see the great and powerful Wizard of Oz) -- I don't even know who these people are. My only personal contact has been Beverlei and she has been great. The new hotel management definitely made a wise choice when they decided to keep her on their staff. My frustration was, however, with the management and their lack of contact with us regarding the changing of hands (which, really was not such a big deal), but more importantly, the closing of the restaurant that had taken our deposit and was set to cater our wedding ... let's face it folks, the food is one of the very important things at the reception. It is, after all, what you are paying for -- well, that and the booze, but can you really screw up a bud light? We are not concerned about that.

Okay, so back to the matter at hand... we met with Beverlei and seemed to finalize most of the details. We then proceeded down to the new restaurant (now the Paragon Grille) where we tasted a couple of appetizers and one chicken dish each. We had shrimp cocktail, stuffed mushrooms & clam cakes which were both absolutely delicious. The stuffed mushrooms we had that day were meatless, but we opted for stuffed mushrooms with sausage as one of our passed hors doeuvres. While the crab cakes were also delicious, we already had our minds pretty much made up about our other hot appetizers so we did not go for those. We then tried the chicken saltimbocca -- now, we tried another dish too, but I truthfully cannot recall exactly which one it was (it may have been chicken francesa, but I am not sure). I cannot remember the second chicken dish because we just loved the first one! My fiance declared that he will be ordering the chicken saltimbocca for his meal at our wedding. Now, this means that it is absolutely delicious, because he is definitely a meat and potatoes guy and had previously declared he would be ordering the filet (which we did not taste, but will be our second meal choice). That's saying something. While we were eating the chef came out and chatted with us -- I cannot remember his name, but he was very personable and seemed to care a great deal about the food he prepares and the satisfaction of his guests. Beverlei even bought us a drink to have with our meal (the house sauvignon blanc was pretty good! Matthew, typically, got a bud light).

We are returning to the restaurant this weekend with our parents (all 8 of them!) for dinner and are excited for them to try out the food prior to the wedding. Everything seems to be moving along quite well, and with only three months left, we're hoping we stay on that course!

Now it seems our biggest worry is how we should handle the booze situation... cocktail hour, open bar, consumption, beer and wine... oh boy. It's great that we have so many options, we can pretty much customize it any way we want, but all of the options make my head spin.

Until next time....

(which will probably be like 3 months from now unless I get all worked up about something!)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tasting - Trials & Tribulations

Oh, does it ever end? I just got off the phone with the wedding coordinator at the hotel. As you read in my last post, they had the group testing last weekend, while we were out of state and unable to attend. She said they had a great turnout and it went really well. So, I asked when we could set up our tasting? She started throwing out dates and we finally agreed on March 5th. I asked if we could still bring our mothers, since our tasting would now be at the restaurant instead of the group tasting. She told me that in the restaurant it's typically just the bride and groom (the restaurant that only opened within the last couple of weeks --- how is anything "typical" for such a new place?!?). Then, she went on to say that on March 5 we wouldn't be having our tasting, but just meeting with her -- wait a second? Well, she said, unless you already know two entrees you want to try --- um, we only get to try two entrées? Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of the tasting, which, I thought, was to figure out which entrées you would like to offer your guests? How can we make that decision without trying them all? Or, come on, at least more than 2! So I said I would have to talk to my fiancée to figure out if he knew which ones he wanted to try. THEN she replied, we cannot try the filet or the prime rib, but we can try the chicken or the fish. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I said, I'm fairly certain that we would want one of the beef dishes offered to our guests. She said we can only try it if it is on special at the restaurant ... and how will we know if it is on special, I asked. Well, we would know that week when I talk to the chef. This is turning into a MESS and I am getting completely fed up with the whole process. Now only 7 months shy of the wedding and I feel like it is falling apart. The one thing, the venue, that I thought we had figured out at the outset of this whole wedding planning is the one thing that is causing me the most aggravation. I don't know what to do!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Let me tell you a story....

Once upon a time, in a land, not so far away, I met a boy....

My fiancé and I met when I was 16 while working at Stop & Shop. With a couple of bumps along the road, we have been together ever since, and got engaged on July 31, 2010. After being together for so long, we decided a long engagement wasn't necessary, and chose to set our wedding date for September 2011. We looked at various venues online, but really only chose one to look at in person, and hoped that we would like it.

On August 14, 2010, my fiancé and I went and met with the wedding coordinator at The Clarion Nantasket Beach Resort and met with Beverlei Olivere-Shannahan. Beverlei was a pleasure to speak with and answered almost, if not all of our questions. My mother and her boyfriend joined us to see the venue and meet with Beverlei, and then we all went to get a drink afterwards and discuss. We agreed that we wanted to have our wedding reception at The Clarion Nantasket Beach, and immediately put our deposit down and set our date for September 24, 2011. We were thrilled to have found our venue so quickly and with such ease, little did we know that of course, it wouldn't be so simple...

In December 2010, I learned, by reading it in the paper, no less, that the restaurant with whom our contract was with and which would (have) provide(d) the food for our reception, had shut its doors in November and was filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. I began calling Beverlei on December 3, 2010, and always got her voicemail. I did not leave a message, because I wanted to speak with her to find out what effect the closing of Rafaels would have on our wedding plans, and I knew that she had been employed by Rafaels, although her office was located within the hotel, I was not sure if she still worked there! Much to my dismay, I called for a week without reaching Beverlei. I sent her an email, but I can only assume that when the restaurant closed, so did their email accounts, as I never received a response. I called the front desk of the hotel, and was told by the person who answered the phone that "they believed" Beverlei still worked for the hotel. Finally, after a week of not being able to speak to anyone regarding my wedding, I left a message on Beverlei's voicemail, and asked her to call me. She did, in fact, she got back to me within a day or two.

When I finally spoke with Beverlei, I asked her what was going on with the closing of Rafael's. She advised me that the new owners of the hotel -- oh that's right -- during the same time frame, the hotel itself was sold and changed hands, yet NO ONE informed me of any of this. I was already upset over the fact that I learned of the closing of Rafael's through a newspaper article, and now I find out (off-handedly) that the hotel had new owners as well! Anyways, Beverlei told me that the new owners had brought on a lot of Rafael's staff, including Beverlei, and that they would send me out a new contract under the new hotel name (Nantasket Beach Hotel Resort & Spa) and that they would honor the $1,500.00 deposit we had paid to Rafael's, which apparently, the restaurant owner had "run off" with. Beverlei assured me that the menu would remain the same and that they would be setting up a tasting for the 2011 brides and grooms in January. She advised that she was looking at January 22, 2011 for the tasting date and asked if we were available. I advised that we were.

I hung up the phone and sat in disbelief for a few minutes. Now, I'm not your typical bride, I am not stressing out over stupid little details, nor do I think that the world revolves around me simply because I am getting married. However, we are talking about an event that is going to cost approximately $30,000, our estimate for the food and venue (nevermind the bar bill) was $22,000 for our estimated 200 guests. That's a lot of money where I come from. Not to mention a lot of other vendors need to be coordinated for the day, which means a lot more money and deposits, yet when the restaurant that is supposed to be providing our food abruptly closes, and the hotel where we will be (hopefully) blissfully dancing the night away and staying with probably close to 100 of our guests has changed hands NO ONE thinks it is important to notify us?!?!? STRIKE ONE.

As if that wasn't bad enough ... days after my phone call with Beverlei, I receive a letter from Jonathan Colter, the new general manager of the hotel. And how does he start off his letter? "As you have been informed ... Rafael's has closed ..." As I have been informed by whom??? The Patriot Ledger -- because that is how I was informed. I was livid. STRIKE TWO. It's merely a matter of courtesy that you inform the brides and grooms who have booked their weddings at your venue of (1) the change of ownership and (2) (more importantly) the fact that the restaurant is GONE. I considered not signing the new contract and finding a new venue, but ultimately, I signed it. I did so for a couple of reasons -- as I said before, I am not your typical bride. I had found my venue, I wanted that part to be done with, I really did not want to have to go back to looking for a new venue. Besides, at this point, we were 8 months away from our wedding, we had already given deposits to a DJ and our photographer -- who knew if we would be able to find a venue with our date available, and if our date was not available, who knew if our photographer and DJ would be available on the new date. Just thinking about it now makes my head spin. Also, the hotel said they would honor our $1,500.00 deposit, which truthfully, I just can't afford to lose. So we signed the new contract. But I'm still PISSED!

And THEN, about a week after I received the letter from Jonathan Colter, I received an invitation for our tasting -- scheduled for February 5, 2011. PLEASE explain to me why I was asked about my availability on January 22, 2011 and then not contacted again if the tasting was going to be scheduled for February 5, 2011 -- a time when we are OUT OF STATE. I'd really like to know the logic behind this. I called Beverlei, and although she was, once again very nice, no apology was offered regarding the schedule snafu. Rather, I was told that the new restaurant "should be" open by the time we return (we are only out of state for the weekend) and that I should call her upon our return to schedule a tasting in the restaurant. Well, that is just lovely and everything, however, what if the restaurant is NOT OPEN when I return? OF course, as I write this blog, my get away (and the group tasting I will miss) is scheduled for this weekend, and there is no word of the restaurant opening any time soon so I can only assume that when I return, in 7 days, the restaurant will not be open. Then we are seven months away from our wedding, with no clue if there will be a restaurant, no clue what the food will taste like, which we are supposed to offer our guests, no idea if we like the food or which entrées to choose -- basically lots of unanswered questions, which I did not expect to have when we booked our venue over five months ago. I'm very organized, I like to make lists and cross items off my lists ... now I've got this item crossed off, yet still totally unresolved. To me, that is unacceptable.

I feel as though Jonathan Colter and the new owners/management team of the Nantasket Beach Hotel simply do not value their guests. It makes me wonder what other surprises will be coming along in the months to come. I'm at the point where I am seriously considering looking at other venues. It's unfortunate, and not the route I want to take as I really like the location of the Nantasket Beach Hotel and love the idea of being right on the beach, however, I cannot go forward with planning this wedding with all of these uncertainties. If we were to find another venue that we liked that was available to host our wedding on September 24, 2011, I might consider just foregoing my $1,500.00 deposit and moving my wedding. I really don't know what to do at this point.

Let's just hope the situation improves...