Saturday, July 25, 2009

July 17, 2010

Seth and I still have to finalize everything, so this is technically tentative. We are looking to have the wedding on Saturday, July 17.

The ceremony will be at Abbey Chapel.

The reception will be at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

In Which Our Hero Travels to Ohio

Sunday of this week my co-worker, Maria, and I boarded a plane for a conference called STAFF (for annual fund people in higher ed). The conference was held at Denison University in Granville, Ohio outside Columbus.

The first thing to know about going to Ohio is that it is impossible to get a direct flight. Maria and I had to fly from Bradley in Windsor Locks to Baltimore/Washington International and then into the Columbus airport. We did the reverse when coming back east.

Upon our arrival at Denison around 12:30 on Sunday, Maria inquired as to where we could procure some food on campus for lunch. This is when the first surprising thing happened: There was no food on campus during the summer. We had to walk into town. The good news is that town is about as far away from the campus as one's dining hall is from one's dorm at UMass Amherst. Walking into town some deer crossed our path very closely. Throughout the trip we saw many local animal, including more deer and groundhogs. (We also so more animals at the zoo on Monday night.) We got food in town at a small restaurant where our waitress was wearing a prairie dress (with Nike Air sneakers) for no discernible reason. After lunch we walked around town - this took about five minutes since the town was actually just a block with a couple or restaurants and a place that sold frozen custard. When STAFF was registering people to come to the conference in the winter, they attempted to entice us with this frozen custard. This was a sign that there is little to do in the area of Granville, Ohio. Sunday evening was passed with a much enjoyable reception and keynote address followed by a dessert of the much touted frozen custard (which was like ice cream made firmer with eggs) - tasty.

Monday was a jam-packed with sessions and networking. In the evening, we got bussed to the Columbus Zoo. Zoos in general make me sad because I never feel the animals have enough space. At the same time, I do like seeing the interesting creatures. A visit to the zoo is a very conflicted experience. Here are some of the animals I saw.

There was also a rainbow in the sky as I departed the zoo.

Tuesday was a short day at the conference and basically spent getting back to the North East (where you can get food on college campuses during the summer and where waitstaff doesn't wear such odd clothing and where there is more than a block of town). The return flights went as well as the outgoing ones, apart from some slight turbulence flying into Bradley due to rain.

The conference was a wonderful professional development experience in which I got to do a lot of great networking, visit a new state, and eat famous frozen custard.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Last Stop

We made our last visit to a possible reception location today: The Barney Carriage House at Forest Park in Springfield.

For the $1,495 rental fee, you get use of The Carriage House for the day as well as the grounds immediately outside. Tables and chairs are also included (although linens and all items needed for eating and drinking are not).

The pro's: 1. The grounds are lovely. They afford a lot of nice photo opportunities.

2. The outside patio is perfect for cocktail hour. It is right off the indoor room with the bar.

The staff at The Carriage House will prop open the doors when the weather is nice and people can mill around between indoors and out. There is a shaded area directly outside the doors to the patio and then the patio beyond.

3. The Carriage House is nice inside, although the horse wallpaper in the main room is a bit much and slightly dark. I know they wanted to keep the horse theme from the location's original use, hence the wall paper. They were setting up the room for a meeting on Monday, hence the tables. I didn't really get a good interior shot because of all the furniture.

This is another picture of the interior from The Barney Carriage House website so that you can get a real idea of what the main room looks like. I didn't take this picture. The image is the property of whoever took it for The Carriage House - the website doesn't say - and of The City of Springfield.

My favorite part of the building's interior was a room upstairs which they reserve for the bridal party to use before they make their entrance at the reception.

The con's: 1. Forest Park, where The Carriage House is located it not a convenient location. It's about thirty minutes south of South Hadley where the ceremony will likely be and about forty-five minutes south of Amherst. Where would we have people stay in hotels? Springfield is not a nice city, not nearly as nice as Amherst where we would like to have the reception. It would be nice for out of town guest to get to stay in Amherst where we live. There are so many lovely things to do in Amherst - it is such a great town. I would like to get to share that with our guest who might not have been to the area before. If we had the reception in Springfield we would lose that. The distance would also mean that we might need to provide transportation between the ceremony and reception, something we hadn't planned on doing. (We were thinking people could drive if they only had to go ten minutes down the road.) 2. This is not as much of a con as the first one but it's still a difficulty. The Carriage Park has an exclusive caterer that does the bar (although you can hire anyone you want to do the food). The bar caterer offers a pretty limited wine and beer selection, a minus because we wanted to just have a wine and beer bar. Also, on Saturday's the bar caterer has a $1,000 minimum for alcohol, which is more than it would cost to have wine and beer for fifty five people. That really won't work for us.

We liked The Carriage House, but we didn't love it. And we would have had to love it to want to go down all the way to Springfield.

I am in Ohio for the next three days at a conference for work. When I get back, Seth and I will pick a reception location, either UMass or The Carle; set a final date and book with whatever location we pick; and book Abbey Chapel at Mt. Holyoke for the ceremony. I will be glad to have this finalized so we can move on to what happens next.

Friday, July 17, 2009

24 Webster Court Updated Virtual Tour

On Wednesday, my co-worker, Maddy, and her husband, Dave gave us their old dresser. They had gotten a new dresser, and in an act of generosity offered Seth and me their former dresser - a completely lovely piece of furniture. Seth and I are filled with joy at having it.

I told Maddy that I would show her a picture of the dresser in it's new home. As I was taking some bedroom with new dresser shots, I realized that I hadn't posted updated pictures of the house in its entirety for a while. We've made some changes since we moved in, gotten a chair, purchased patio furniture, and moved things around. Here's the updated virtual tour.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Alma Mater: Reception Location?

Today, we went over to the alma mater, The University of Massachusetts Amherst to look at the Marriott Center there as a potential reception location.

The Marriott Center is located on the eleventh floor of the Campus Center, an unattractive building located in the center of the attractive UMass Amherst main campus.

The new Marriott Center is completely lovely though! I actually think that I helped raise money for it when I was working at the Annual Fund and making calls for UMass Amherst.

The Center is very modern and has wonderful natural light.

The view of campus is tremendous. Here is the south side of campus. You can see the Old Chapel, Memorial Hall (where I used to work in the basement at the Annual Fund), The Fine Arts Center, and the Southwest Dorms to name a few items.

Here is the view of the north side. You can see the Northeast Dorms, the North Dorms (still just called North A, North B, North C, and North D - they are waiting for rich people to name them), and the edge of the Lederle Graduate Research Center.

The pro's and con's. The pro's are easy: 1. The center is very neat looking. I like the modern patters and the neat lighting. The view is amazing! It reminds me of all the wonderful things that UMass Amherst did for me. I think it was the most wonderful undergraduate experience I could have had. I love UMass Amherst dearly. 2. This ties into the first point. The idea of having the reception at UMass Amherst is very nestolgic. We met at UMass. We loved at UMass. It brings back nice memories. 3. UMass is pretty affordable. The wedding food packages are a very good value. (Especially compared with what we saw at Hampshire because Hampshire had the food price and then a rental fee. UMass does not and includes wine in the fee, flowers, and cake. The service fee is also only 15% instead of the standard 20%.) The con's are also easy: 1. The outside of the Campus Center isn't too attractive. 2. Is this unique location? Is the fact that it's at UMass unique? Are there neat things that we could do on campus or would we just be located in the Marriott Center? 3. There isn't an opportunity for going outside - it would be nice if they had a balcony from which to enjoy the view during a cocktail hour but they do not.

In sum, a good option, as The Carle was a good option. So far, I like The Carle and UMass Amherst best.

Going forward: Again, we have The Barney Carriage House on Saturday. It might be too far away - we'll have to see but the pictures make it look lovely.

The Springfield Museums are out! They don't have any place where you can have dancing except if you do a tent on the outside lawn, which is not what anyone wants. Too bad.

We have yet to hear back from The University Club at Umass Amherst. I will try to follow up, but it's difficult because the staff person didn't answer his e-mail, and I cannot call the Club because they are closed in July and August for renovations.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Carle!

Today, we went over to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

We looked at the present exhibits: The Hungry Caterpillar (it's his fortieth birthday!), the art of Winny the Pooh, and the art of Tomie dePaolo. The galleries were wonderful. It brought back fond memories of my mother and father reading me books by these authors (especially by Carle and dePaolo) in my youth. It was very exciting to see the original art. I don't have photos because photography is not allowed in the galleries - it's bad for the art, which is already not on archival materials. Carle uses a lot of collage with tissue paper in his art, which doesn't age well.

We were also scouting the museum as a potential reception location. You are allowed to have events with food, drink, and dancing in the main hall.

The art on the walls is original by Carle and done on Tyvek. He used broom, carpet pieces, brushes, and other materials.

When you rent the museum for events you have access to all the galleries for viewing as well - very, very cool!

The main atrium overlooks the orchard outside, which is quite lovely and which would be a good location for photos.

Directly outside there is a patio that one is given access to with the rental.

Here are some better pictures of the main atrium, where an event could be held and the outside of the museum. These images are from three postcards Seth purchased for me. The images are property of the museum and the photographers, Jim Gipe (top and center) and Paul Shoul (bottom).

Unrelated buy cool is the Very Hungry Caterpillar VW Beetle.

I absolutely love the museum of the reception. Pro's: It's unique, the galleries are very cool for a "thing to do" when people need down time from partying. The outlying area is lovely. The museum is conveniently located in Amherst and about ten minutes away from Mount Holyoke. Con's: The obvious - cost; it cost $3,000 to rent the Carle.

More places to look.

It seems that the Garden House might be out because it's not available any Saturdays in July 2010. We'll keep it on the back-up list because we could always have the wedding in August instead.

UMass has been moved to Monday. I will post pictures then.

The contact persona at the Springfield Museums is driving me crazy. I e-mailed her a while ago, and then called yesterday because I hadn't heard from her. She was mostly incomprehensible on the phone. She promised to send me information via e-mail and never did. I am interested in the museums, but the staff person is such a hassle to deal with. She is completely uncoordinated and doesn't get back to me. If she's like that in the inquiry stage, I can't imagine how it would be to work with her planning a wedding.

We still have The Barney Carriage House for next Saturday as well.

In sum, we have a few more places to check. The Carle is my favorite place so far, and I would say go for it but for the cost. Still, it was a lovely museum visit.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Search Continues

Yesterday, during the lunch-hour, Seth and I headed over to Hampshire College to look at The Red Barn, a possible reception location.

The Red Barn is situated in a nice location overlooking mountains and meadows.

It has a nice deck that one can use during a cocktail hour.

Hampshire handles the catering and provides all the tables and chairs and linens. They provide all the staff on hand for the event.

Here are some pictures of the inside space, where one would have one's reception take place. There is plenty of room for tables and dancing - the dance floor would be located in the center of the room, according to the events coordinator.

While unique, the space is more rustic than I would prefer.

The pro's and con's. Pro's: 1. Hampshire handles everything and had a goodly number of highly experienced staff. 2. The space had lovely views of the surrounding town. There is access of the patio, which is a really good bonus. Con's: 1. It is a bit expensive - there is a rental fee and you pay for catering. Most places that have catering included don't have a rental fee. There are a few smaller fees as well and one needs to take out insurance. 2. While The Red Barn certainly does not lack for New England charm, it is less elegant than I had envisioned for a wedding. It is unique, and unique is what I want, but I want a more classic look for unique (hence my interest in historic locations and museums.)

We have more places to check out:
1. The University of Massachusetts Amherst's new banquet facilities. (You can view images here.) We should be going to check it out this afternoon. The facility is located on the eleventh floor of the Campus Center and offers lovely views of the campus. It is very contemporary looking. Catering would be included here and would be very affordable.

2. The Eric Carle Museum, which is also located in Amherst and where we are going tomorrow. The Carle rental offers a lovely reception location with many windows overlooking the orchard there and access to exhibit halls. We would have to hire a caterer here. The con about The Carle is going to be the rental cost which is $3,000 (about double most other places but at least the money is going to a good cause).

3. The Barney Carriage House at Forest Park in Springfield (on the Longmeadow side). The pictures look beautiful. You get to rent the entire property with surrounding gardens for the day. The rental is just under $1,500. You need a caterer and, because it's a City of Springfield location, you need to use an approved caterer. We have a meeting here next Saturday, July 18. The Barney Carriage House is a forty minute drive from Amherst and maybe a twenty-five minute drive from Mount Holyoke's Abbey Chapel, which we hope to reserve for the ceremony. It is a bit far away. We'll have to see if we love it in order to justify the travel time.

4. The University Club at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I have just contacted them. Seth loves the idea of having our wedding at UMass for reasons of nestolgia. I want a unique location. The University Club, which is a set of historic houses located at UMass would be perfect. We just have to see if they have room for a wedding of fifty-five. I am hopeful they will get back to me soon with and answer.

5. The Springfield Museums offer spaces for weddings and events. Check out the cool pictures of events that have happened there by using the link I just provided. I e-mailed the Special Events Coordinator there on Monday and haven't heard back. I am going to follow up with a call. The Springfield Museums (there are four of them) are located in downtown Springfield, which would be about ten minutes closer than the Barney Carriage House, which is a plus.

6. The Garden House at Look Park in Northampton is a neat location. It overlooks the bumper boats. Imagine bumper boats at a wedding (or not)! I like the wood paneling in this room. The rental is $2,200 for Saturdays. Seth is e-mailing the contact person today to set up a meeting. Look Park is a lovely location. I know the website doesn't really have a good picture, actually the website is overall not good. Here is a link to a picture of the inside of The Garden House.

We still have a lot of places to check out and a lot to do. We hope to have something finalized by the end of the month.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Another Possible Reception Location

Today I went over to the Hotel Northampton, a possible reception location. Seth was feeling ill and was home convalescing, so my co-worker Maddy went with me. (She was a great help!)

The hotel is a historic hotel. The best picture of the outside can be found on their website. I also took a picture.

Because we have a small wedding planned, they mentioned the Hampshire room would be ideal.

If we wanted to, we could rent the larger Grand Ballroom for a fee. (You get the ballroom for free if you have 135+ people, just like we'd get the smaller room for free. If you have a small party and want to go for the bigger room it costs $700.) This allows you to use the atrium for a cocktail hour.

There is also a nice bridal suite, included in the larger wedding package but which I am sure you could pay extra for with the smaller one.

In sum, there are pro's and con's. Pro's: 1. The Hotel Northampton is a bit more neat than a traditional hotel because it's historic with parts dating back to the 18th century. 2. Everything would be very organized there - they have done a lot of weddings and are prepared to have everything to order. There are a lot of ways to customize, they can meet all dietary restrictions, and they can provide extras like flowers and cake (or remove them from the packages without charge). Con's: The Hotel is a little bit less unique than I think I have envisioned for the reception.

For some reason, I am obsessed with the idea of having the reception at some place non-traditional, such as a museum. I am interested in the Eric Carle Museum as a place to check out - they allow rentals for weddings (although it's a bit of an expense.)

We are also checking out The Red Barn at Hampshire College next week. They allow you to bring in outside caterers, and it's an interesting building with a large deck.

Things are moving along, but nothing is finalized yet. There is a lot more to do.