Vendors I Know: The Shakespeare Garden

October 28th, 2013
Here is the Garden as it looked in September.

Here is the Garden as it looked in September.

There is a little gem of a wedding ceremony venue tucked away on the Northwestern University campus in north Evanston.  If you’ve never heard of the Shakespeare Garden, you are in very good company.

The Garden can accommodate a small group for a wedding ceremony in a beautiful, well-maintained garden setting.  The Evanston Garden Club, which maintains the Garden, does not permit the use of chairs (with some exceptions), so this venue is not for everyone.

But it is as idyllic a setting as you could want.  It is secluded from its surroundings by a double hedge of hawthorn bushes, and is graced with a sundial and a fountain.  It is even on the National Register of Historic Places.

I have coordinated a wedding in the Garden, and I was very pleased with my experiences there.   The biggest drawback is the fact that it is an unknown location and vendors (delivery drivers, bus drivers, etc.) may have trouble finding it.  If you can live with that and with its other restrictions, I recommend this location highly.

Photos from a June wedding

October 21st, 2013

Here are a few shots I took at a lovely, very small wedding in June at the Orrington Hotel in Evanston.  I hope to have the professional photos later so you can see the rest of what it looked like.

The room at the Orrington was decked out for the reception.

The room at the Orrington was decked out for the reception.

Here's a close-up of one of the place settings.

Here's a close-up of one of the place settings.

MilleFiori did a lovely job with the flowers.

MilleFiori did a lovely job with the flowers.

The sweetheart table for the newlyweds.

The sweetheart table for the newlyweds.

I thought their signs were cute.

I thought their signs were cute.

Here's the cake with more flowers.

Here's the cake with more flowers.

Long Tables? Or Round Tables?

October 14th, 2013

You’ve booked your reception venue and made your guest list.  Now you have to figure out where people will sit at the reception.

Your planner or the venue may have one good question to get you started:  Do you want to have long tables or round tables?  Or both?  There are good things to say about each, as well as some drawbacks.  (It also happens that a venue stocks one or the other and if you want something different, you have to rent them.  Do keep that in mind, as well.)

Large round tables seem to be the standard for wedding receptions.  They look elegant, and there is a lot of table space for outstanding centerpieces.  But all that table space means that with round tables, you can fit fewer guests into your reception venue.

Here's a classic use of round tables at a wedding reception.   Photo by hannahelaine photography (hannahelaine.com).

Here's a classic use of round tables at a wedding reception. Photo by hannahelaine photography (hannahelaine.com).

Obviously, you can’t exceed the number of guests that the fire marshal rates the hall for, but if you have more guests than will fit at round tables, it might be time to consider long tables (also called banquettes, for whatever reason*).

Round tables can also be casual.   Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

Round tables can also be casual. Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

People sometimes think that long tables are more casual, but long tables can be perfectly elegant when they are draped and dressed well.  They also have the advantage of bringing your guests closer to each other at the table, making conversation easier across the table.

Here's a beautiful use of long tables.   Photo courtesy of christytylerphotography.com.

Here's a beautiful use of long tables. Photo courtesy of christytylerphotography.com.

You also have the option of doing some long tables and some round tables.  I’ve seen this done to excellent effect at wedding receptions.  It’s a little trickier to do the layout this way, but that’s no reason not to try it.

(*A banquette, for what it’s worth, is actually a long, upholstered bench against a wall, the kind you might sit at if you’re sitting at a row of long tables.)

Words You Don’t Want to Hear Yourself Saying

October 7th, 2013
The guests never know if something is awry.  Photo by hannahelaine photography (hannahelaine.com).

The guests never know if something is awry. Photo by hannahelaine photography (hannahelaine.com).

One of the things I like about wedding planning is that it is full of surprises.  Unfortunately, not all of them are the pleasant kind.  I coordinated a wedding recently where I found myself saying words that no one wants to hear coming out of their mouth.  It went like this:

“Hello, gas company?  I’d like to report a gas leak.”  I gave the address.  “I need you to send someone right away.  Please send someone really discrete, because there are 150 guests here for a back yard wedding.”

It was about 15 minutes before the ceremony in the back yard of a beautiful North Shore home.  The caterer was using the coach house kitchen, and we kept smelling gas in the garage below the kitchen.  All the family members had gone a few blocks away for pre-ceremony photos, so I was the logical person to make the call.  I figured that the disruption of a service man arriving would be less than the disruption of a gas explosion!

Fortunately, the people at the gas company understood the situation, and the man who came to turn off the gas came and went before the ceremony started without even making a ripple.  When the family returned, I explained to the bride’s father what had gone on in their absence.  And then we started the processional, without anyone else being the wiser.