Interviews with New England Wedding Vendors: Wedding Venues!
I’m so excited to announce the finale of my blog’s miniseries of interviews! I have discussed the COVID-19 pandemic effects on the wedding industry in Massachusetts and New England. Today’s vendor industry is wedding venues! I had the opportunity to interview Stacie Warcewicz at Red Ridge Meadow, Tom Cassar at Cobb Hill Estate, Kate Heemsworth at Hotel Providence. In addition, Ashleigh Currier Mutty at Steeple Hall, as well as Christa McLean at Flag Hill Distillery & Winery.
A little about the interviewees…
Stacie works with Red Ridge Meadow, a family-owned and operated wedding venue that boasts over fifty acres of pasture. Located in the rustic country, Red Ridge Meadow is the perfect destination for couples who want to celebrate their marriage in a natural, scenic landscape that is charming, timeless, and beautiful.
Tom works with Cobb Hill Estate as a business manager and client communicator. Cobb Hill is a mountaintop wedding venue that offers wedding packages in New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region. We do these from April through October and includes onsite lodging.
Kate works with Hotel Providence in Rhode Island as the Catering Sales Manager. Hotel Providence is a full-service event venue with unique space & incredible menus. We offer top-notch services for weddings, special events, and corporate groups.
Ashleigh works with Steeple Hall, an event and wedding venue and full-service restaurant. They offer timeless and classic events in New England, with the unforgettable experience all taking place within a stunning cathedral.
Christa works with Flag Hill Distillery & Winery, the largest vineyard and farm distillery and first legal distillery in New Hampshire. Flag Hill offers farm-distilled whiskeys and craft spirits, luxury wines, vineyard-side tented events for up to 250 guests. In addition, a post and beam dining room that can accommodate up to 75 guests. Also a stone fireplace that is festive and cozy during the winter season.
Without further ado, let’s get into the final interview…
When inquiring about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses, Stacie states the following. “95 percent of our 2020 weddings have canceled or rescheduled.”
Tom says, “We went into 2020 looking at our best season ever. COVID-19 turned the industry as well as the economy upside down. In addition, we have [been] adjusting our business model to be able to host weddings in this new environment. I am surprised by the number of couples that have adjusted with an amazing amount of positive energy and creativity. They do this to continue with their plans and work with their families to make their wedding happen. Ultimately this experience will help build a foundation for a long and happy marriage and closer relations with their families.”
Kate responds, “[Almost] all weddings have been postponed to 2021. [However,] [our] micro-wedding package has been tremendously popular. To be honest, it’s been nice to have time to press pause and reflect [and] we were given the luxury of reevaluating our business practices and making sure we’re delivering the best possible product.”
Ashleigh mentions, “We had to close our doors for regular dining for nearly three months. We have had to reconfigure our events schedule. In the case of our venue specifically, we were planning to do a large renovation. However, initially had a tight timeline to get it completed. Our renovations ironically started just as the pandemic hit. Therefore, the silver lining was we were able to complete the renovation without the stress of an impending event. And it looks great!”
Such yummy food too!
Christa adds, “Our busy season was essentially delayed by 3 months. Early into the pandemic, we shifted our distillery operations to make hand sanitizer which REALLY took off. We started by donating to first responders and then started selling to the general public as well! We have truly been preparing for the worst while hoping for the best.”
Regarding their ideas on the overall impact on the wedding industry as a whole,
Christa says, “I am hoping we bounce back.. I am thinking most wedding and event businesses will have heftier contracts. In addition, more non-refundable deposits in place, and more flexibility with set-up requirements and guest minimum requirements…[and the] elevated cleaning and sanitation practices will be something that is here to stay. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst.”
Stacie admits, “Things will be great but [I’m] not sure when the pandemic will calm down.”
Ashleigh adds, “I think, more than ever, people will cherish special events where they can gather with friends [and] family. I believe that we will see a lot of new creative and resourceful ideas come into play for 2021. As we all learn to adapt to this new normal.”
Kate mentions, “I think that we’ll see a slow return to the pre-COVID wedding industry. I think we’ll start seeing an uptick in highly stylized [intimate] weddings, which affords couples an opportunity to make their dollars stretch further into more decadent menu choices, higher quality wines and liquors, and stunning decor and floral arrangements. I also think the live-streamed ceremony will become more commonplace. On a vendor [and] ‘friendor’ level, it has been really incredible watching my talented peers come up with innovative ways to celebrate during the pandemic, and the level of support that the wedding industry has shown each other has been quite wonderful to witness.”
Tom predicts, “The wedding industry has likely changed permanently. Therefore, even when the number of cases subside, peoples’ plans and habits will favor smaller venues and outdoor settings. People’s attitude to travel has changed as well and this will likely affect guest lists and the willingness to travel. I also think that we will be seeing face masks at weddings for years. I do hope that people will continue to think of their weddings as important and want to share this experience with friends and family.”
For regulations to be set into place moving forward and their own personal suggestions…
Tom states, “I think that our state has done a good job of regulating our industry. New Hampshire has an advantage with its sparser population density, space and fresh air.”
Ashleigh reflects, “Definitely want the attention to cleanliness to remain. When dealing with a venue that sees thousands of people each year, we will need to remain diligent on cleaning [and] sanitizing during and after each event.”
Christa adds, “Testing needs to be kept up with. I believe masks, sanitation stations, and limited buffets are here to stay for a while!” Stacie answered she’s unsure.
Kate explained, “I appreciate and respect the job that Governor Raimondo has done in Rhode Island. I’m excited to keep moving forward through the phases and reopen our beautiful state in a safe way. Beyond that, I absolutely think that further attention to cleanliness and sanitation is in order […] keeping a respectful distance between people is a good idea. Being a bit more mindful of ourselves and how even the smallest action can affect others will certainly be beneficial.”
I absolutely agree, Kate, and well said!
While we unfortunately have yet to close the pandemic chapter in our lives, I’m beyond grateful. I have spoken with so many talented and experienced vendors. They all have offered their time and insight into the chaos and uncertainty we’ve all been living through this year.
I hope that this series also provided you with some comfort. Whether you’re a wedding vendor or an interested reader, to know that you’re not alone during this experience.
There are even brighter days ahead, as many of my fellow wedding vendors have suggested in their comments and optimism.
Thank you again to all of these wonderful people – and as always, to you, for reading.
Until next time,
WEDDING VENUES SOCIAL MEDIA AND WEBSITES
Stacie Warcewicz at Red Ridge Meadow
Tom Cassar at Cobb Hill Estate
Kate Heemsworth at Hotel Providence
Ashleigh Currier Mutty at Steeple Hall
Christa McLean at Flag Hill Distillery & Winery