Reception Site Success!

So, we’ve decided to partner up with to bring our faithful readers a little more information along with my planning woes and successes (as much as I’d like to pretend that I’m a wedding expert, I’m actually far from it!) The Web site’s bridal guru Judy Lewis will be adding little tidbits of useful (and professional) information to my blogs each week. (And let me just tell you – it’s definitely going to be helpful! I’ve visited the site literally hundreds of times since I’ve been engaged, and it’s been extraordinarily helpful in me finding the things I need for the wedding. The Tips will be in this color, so you easily can find them.

And speaking of things I need for the wedding, I found one – our reception site! It was a really tough decision, but we looked around for weeks and I think we made a good choice. We chose . . . the Garden Cathay Resort in Walkill, NY!

There were a number of things we were looking for in a reception site, and it just seemed to have everything we needed. We’re inviting about 120 guests so it had to fit at least that many people in the room, it had to have a buffet (Tim’s request), and it had to be at a reasonable price. Not too much to ask, but you’d be surprised how difficult it was for us to find everything we needed in a reception hall – especially the “reasonable price” part.

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[ Tip: Not the Hard Stuff For guests who prefer it and for those who are driving, make sure to have a good selection of non-alcoholic beverages at the reception. As a bonus, it will also save you money.]

The first place we looked at was the Samuel Morse Estate, Locust Grove, in Poughkeepsie. They had a great space – clean, shimmering wooden floors and ceilings, a big window over a pretty landscape, and a caterer’s kitchen (they supply tables and chairs, but no food.) I love Locust Grove – the grounds are gorgeous, and it’s nice and close to the church where we’re getting married. When I called to find out some information, however, I didn’t exactly get the response I was hoping for on the price. It was $5,000 just for the space – and I was expecting over $5,000 for the catering, as well. Not exactly cost-friendly for our little budget, especially when you factor in centerpieces, flowers, decorations, accessories, and the cake. Although I didn’t want to, I had to say no.

[ Tip: Kid Count: Make sure that when you count “heads” for your caterer, that you get the number of kids’ meals separately, as there almost always is a lesser charge for the under 12 set.]

I also looked at Millbrook Winery, which I thought might be fun and unique. Their reception room (if you opt for indoors, which we want) looked BEAUTIFUL online – high wooden ceilings, a large window overlooking the vineyards, and a cool-looking art gallery hallway attached. They said it fit around 100 people, which would have been cool if it looked like it did at all! The space was too small, and the thought of having no dance space made me nervous. The price was definitely right (only $200 an hour – sweet!) but I couldn’t deal with the small space. No again.

Mohonk Mountain House was way too expensive for us – a total no-go. I would love it, if we could afford it. I’d also love to go to the Grandview Hotel in Poughkeepsie, but it was pricey as well.

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When I visited the Garden Cathay Resort, however, I was so excited. It wasn’t located in the best area, but when I drove down their driveway I felt like I was in a totally different world. A small golf course with Asian-influenced gardens, the resort seemed perfect. It had a nice stone entranceway and a trendy-looking lobby with rustic wood chairs in the corner. The first room I was shown was very nice – it was spacious with a nice wood dance floor and windows overlooking gardens.

[ Tip: Gratuity Charges Be aware that many sites and caterers automatically add “gratuity” of 15-20% of the cost of the meal and bar.]

The second room was even better, though! A short staircase led to a double-level ballroom with large, round hanging lamps and a burgundy-and-crème color theme – exactly the theme I wanted for our wedding. There was a whole bunch of windows and a larger dance floor, and – yay! – the option for a buffet. Heaven! Plus, the bathrooms were large enough to accommodate my dress (yes, I even thought about that) and food and cake was included . . . which means that clean-up is included. The price was wonderful, to boot. After a visit with my mother and a food-tasting session during which my parents and Tim and I were served with plate after five heaping plate, we were sold. Finally!

So, there you go. It only took us about a month, but we found our reception site!

-Laura =)

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