With a world now full of unlimited options, choices and opportunity, does that make decisions harder? It certainly can. If you can now have anything, how do you choose? It can drive people crazy. Think of it this way. You have $10,000 that you just won in a contest. Where do you spend it? Do you save it? Limitless ideas but not enough for unlimited ideas. This is your wedding. You have as much control as you've ever had. Any date of the year. Any kind of food, color, dress, style ... it can be almost overwhelming but in a good way, because you hold that control.
Ok, take a breath. Like anything in life it's best to step back and relax. There's no rush. Even if there IS a rush to get married, an hour of your life won't hurt. Here are 4 tips for you that can help with a decision:
1) Set priorities - You've already chosen your spouse, so the rest is gravy right? For some. What's the most important thing to you though? A BIG wedding? The Church or not a church but a location? The guest list? The budget? Whatever your top fear or concern is, put them in order of priority and address the biggest ones first. By the time you get to the bottom of the list, you'll be a pro at making the decision.
2) Time - Create time for yourself to dedicate to what you want. It's ok to say "I need this hour for me" to sit back with some good music, maybe a candle and write it all down. You'll be happy you did and might surprise yourself with ideas.
3) Delegate - This might be the toughest job for any bride or groom. You control every step but it doesn't mean you have to do all of the legwork. Friends may want to help, and you may want them or not. They DO know you well so have them get a caterer list together for you, or local florists. You'll still make the final decision but they can take some stress off the table. And if all else fails, ask your venue. Venues should all have preferred vendors they can recommend for you to talk to. You'll make the final decision, but let others help you with leg work.
4) Enjoy it - I know, that sounds crazy and easy to say but c'mon. This is the day you've had dreams about since you were small ... and (hopefully) the only one you'll ever have. Enjoy the process. Try the cakes. Taste the caterer's samples. Watch YouTube videos of weddings and borrow ideas to make your own. This day is far too important to stress over. You want to look back and smile about the process. It is exactly what you'll make it. Again you control it.
So this year when you sit down to enjoy some Turkey and share that ring with family, give thanks that you will have an amazing day, that you'll have complete control, and that you have a great life. You have love and your day to demonstrate and display that to the world should never cause you stress.
The 2018 wedding season is upon us. It's hard to believe but just a week away from Labor Day 2017, we are at the close of another Summer season. If there's nothing else we can count on, it's that the months will fly by when you're planning any event. The earlier you can lock down any detail, the better off you'll be in the long haul.
How soon do I need top plan this out? We get that question a lot. "How early should we book the venue? The caterer? The flowers?" The answer is that the sooner you book each of the necessities of your wedding, the less stress you will put on yourself (and those around you) as the date gets closer. The last thing you want to do to yourself is cause undue stress. This day is the one you've always thought about, so don't lean to "last minute" planning. Relieve that stress level and start looking.
Do I need a firm date in place first? Not really, no. Once you know about when you're looking at, and even if it's not a firm date yet, start that event research right away. You don't have to have a specific date locked in but you'll be surprised at how many people have booked dates for 2018 and even 2019. Get on top of the list of your preferred venues asap!
IS an outdoor venue right for me? I get this question a lot. People can have concerns due to rain. The good news in that tents can always go up and rain can't stop love. It's not worth the stress. Check your dates for "rainy season" and go for the ceremony you want. Clearly, we prefer the outdoor venue. At one with the natural beauty of nature and the surroundings here in the park are truly breathtaking. If you want an outdoor wedding/reception, then don't let anyone tell you otherwise or scare you into a hall. The halls have a job, to book weddings every weekend. I get it. Don't let sales tactics scare you into a decision that's away from what you really want.
Is it more expensive? Quite the contrary. Most outdoor facilities offer a more inexpensive option to the big grandiose ballroom. Yes, some brides dream of the giant chandelier like "Beauty and the Beast" but nothing tops fresh air. Besides, fresh air is FAR less expensive. Plan the event that doesn't drain your bank account for a party that lasts a few hours. Be sure you can be among your guests, your family, your loved ones. Don't waste money on the extravagances that may be out of your budget. Save the money for the honeymoon.
I hope this helps relieve the stress of planning ahead. It's really a fun adventure in checking places out and SO much nicer when you don't have to worry about the time as much. Enjoy the process!
Independence Day is upon us and this is a wedding blog? What? Shouldn't we be discussion hot dogs on the grill and fireworks? Sure. maybe. But here at Harrybrooke Park, we try to think outside the box. Many of you are planning a wedding and you have today off. Some are sitting poolside looking for inspiration and others might take a few minutes to search for new wedding ideas in lieu of the barbecues. Well, we hope to help because here in Harrybrooke, we don't take holidays off. We host the parties and yes, we are even in the office on July 4th. We're not crazy, just dedicated to creating while others can rest their brains, celebrate with family and think about the sacrifices of a nation.
Independence Day marks the birth of our great nation. Likewise, it marks the beginning of an idea taking shape into reality. Much like the concept of love between two people, our country is standing behind the ideal of Liberty. For centuries people spoke of freedom and some even attempted it. The concept is outstanding and as we find out 241 years later, the concept IS possible AND it takes work. Love is possible and takes work, too. Like cultivating our beautiful gated garden, love demands regular attention throughout the process. From that first "ask" to dinner or a movie to a 50th wedding anniversary. Ask any "old" couple and they'll tell you it takes work.
My parents just celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary last month. 55 years! The testament to their love is watching them walk down the street hand in hand ... still. That's an amazing achievement, as the 241 years are as well for a nation but it's rooted in the same concept. Dedication to a concept and refusal to give up on it. Sure, the nation has a few more people involved, but the shared concept and approach is real. There is compromise. There is negotiation. There are occasionally battles. When the day is done though, it comes back to the concept.
Our weddings are sometimes very unique. From the ceremony to reception we have seen some very traditional ceremonies here and some crazy concepts but that's the best part. You make the day whatever you want it to be here. It's YOUR IDEAL. No one is telling you how you have to do your ceremony. As a Justice of the Peace, I have seen so many crazy ceremonies! Costumes. Crazy vows including laundry duties. It's yours! Do with it what you want and don't let ANYONE dictate your wedding but the two that it matters most to. We have ideas, we have examples and we have people who will listen to what you want.
Be your own founding father (or mother) of your day. Grab the concept of love and fight for it. Fight for the birth of the next steps of your life. Make the day as full of pomp and circumstance as you want. I've performed ceremonies with just the couple by the falls. Why? That's what they wanted. They stood strong with it. SO on this Independence Day, stand tall for the ideal of love. The rest will all be the icing on your cake. Happy 4th of July.
People get married. It's what happens.
Jobs don't, or shouldn't. "Hey that doctor married the pharmacist." Sure that happens but 95% of all weddings are just two people. Two regular people looking for an extraordinary day. So what difference does that make for a venue? Does it? I guess it comes down to the people providing you that experience.
When you choose your venue, it's very much like buying a car in some ways. you need to shop and actually go there to see it and see if the photos are accurate. You need to see if their garden or their tables are as nice as that one image is. Heck, with Instagram these days we can all pull off an outstanding photo, right? So your venue needs to live up to expectations, sure. What else is there?
It's a very simple answer. The people. Who will be working with you to ensure your wedding day is all it can be. When you shop for the right venue, it's very important to ensure that the people who will be providing that experience that day are people you can and want to work with. It sounds so very simple, but do you buy your care from the pushy jerk or the person you relate to? They ask you for recommendations afterward, but would you recommend your "sales experience" to a friend, regardless of how nice the car is?
We don't sell you. We won't mislead to "land the deal" for your wedding. We are regular people who honestly will be standing behind the flowers in the garden to enjoy your ceremony and likely be shedding a tear at how beautiful the day was. We don't claim to be the perfect match for every couple and the park won't always be YOUR ideal spot. We get that. We promise that the people here are genuine and we actually get to know our couples. The brick memorial walkway is chock full of couples married here and some by our own staff. We bring you as much as we can and bottom line, you have a lot that you will stress over on your wedding ... don't let the venue or venue staff be a part of it.
While there are many different benefits for having your wedding outside, here are a few of our favorites.
Next to the bride, what could be more beautiful than Mother Nature's gifts. We have many here at Harrybrooke Park, including, the Gated Garden, Still River Falls, the Pond adorned with two elegant fountains. There are so many options for not only saying your vows in any of these special areas, but also, just imagine the pictures you will get here! Between the vibrant colors of the flowers in the Gated Garden, or the presence of the Still River Falls, your photographer will be delighted to have such a beautiful backdrop to work with and you will have gorgeous memories captured forever.
Who doesn't like to save money? With the flowers in the Gated Garden and the lush greenery all over the park, you won't have to spend a lot of money on floral arrangements or other decorations because Mother Nature has done for you. You can keep things very simple and elegant with the natural ambiance just by adding lantern lighting or simple white string lights to enhance the setting. It won't take much to add to the charming setting of Harrybrooke Park.
Did you know that Harrybrooke Park is a non-profit park? That's right! Founded in 1965, given to the People of New Milford, by Frank & Elizabeth Harden. This was their home and it was their wish to see it be used for events just like this. For recreation, for family, for fun! When you have your wedding at Harrybrooke Park, you are helping to raise funds to keep the park open. Harrybrooke Park receives no funding from the town or state and we work very hard to plan park wide events, such as weddings, to raise the money needed to keep this gem alive. So you see, by having your wedding at the park, you are giving back!
Sit Back, Relax, Enjoy Your Special Day
Probably the most important reason to have your wedding outside. Outdoor weddings tend to give off a more casual feel, allowing for not only your guests to kick back, but the bride and groom as well. Just being in the warm, fresh air is comforting, it's soothing. Also, the luxury of the extra space will provide you and your guests with the freedom to move about more and not be confined to one or two rooms. Everyone will enjoy themselves in such a relaxing atmosphere and love will be sure to fill the air!
To learn more about having your wedding outside at Harrybrooke Park, please contact Valerie at:
email@example.com to set up a tour of the beautiful grounds.
There are a few constants to every wedding in the history of weddings. The first and most important is that the bride is beautiful. Regardless of "good hair days" or weather or even if the cake falls over, the bride herself will be beautiful. She may not always believe this and certainly may be too preoccupied with the events of the day and the schedule she keeps, but rest assured, the bride is the glowing center of the universe on her day. Every single person will notice and if her essence doesn't bring a tear to your eye, they you are cold hearted, my friend, and you don't belong at weddings. Open your heart. Yeesh! It is her day to be the center of everyone's attention and her beauty is on display for all to take notice. The photos will be amazing. The mental notes will be of tremendous beauty.
A bride deserves the backdrop.
Every photographer has unique gifts, angles and tricks to make your photographs unique. You hire them because they have talent. If not, you'd let cousin Charlie use his iphone and you'd capture moments, but let's be clear here. How many days in your life will you hire a photographer to capture moments professionally. Not just for your facebook feed but to proudly display on your mantle for your grandchildren to see how beautiful the bride was on her day? Most people hire a professional only a handful of times in their entire life. IF that. Some only hire a pro for THIS DAY. This photographer can utilize props and your centerpieces, but they can work better if given a larger canvas. Imagine the backdrop of a park. Natural beauty and natural lighting. Blooming trees and flowers not plucked from the ground but a garden deserving of the bride's beauty.
Your photographer deserves the backdrop.
Ok, so what do I mean by the backdrop? Is it a pretty wallpaper on the reception room wall? Maybe. Is it a church? Perhaps. We have many beautiful ones in Litchfield County. But when we step outside into nature's beauty, we find infinite backdrops and choices. The backdrop of rolling waterfalls, of a well manicured garden and blooming trees provides the natural beauty that compliments the bride.
If you walk Harrybrooke Park, there are so many options and so many opportunities that have never been utilized in any photograph. Why? Because it's always changing. The flower in the garden is there for the exact moment in time for you to capture, just like your love and your vows. Unique to you.
Give us a call and come take a walk with our staff who can show you the unique backdrops that this park provides so that you can show your grandchildren exactly what moments were grown for you.
Showers. The party before the party. Baby showers. Bridal showers. I don't quite get "Jack & Jill" showers because it's like "Wedding Lite" or "pre-gaming" but they're also quite popular. We get a lot of calls to reserve a pavilion for a shower. A lot. While weather pending, it's a great way to spend the day outside and bring in the sunshine. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn't always shine on these outdoor events and it can be a bit frustrating. You'd think as a mother she would understand the importance. But that being said, how can you control that in a park? Welcome to the Harden House Museum.
Most people think of museums as marble buildings with vast open spaces and one small painting behind velvet ropes. What if you could go behind the ropes and shrink the building so that it would be a cozy setting? Couches and chairs from the 1940's and paintings you can look at closely. A beautiful love story to the building, the property and the people who gave their home as a museum. THEN, what if this beautiful museum sat along a waterfall with a patio so that you had outdoor and indoor access so that you can enjoy BOTH aspects in one day?
So many people do not know what Harden House Museum is, or what it HAS for the people in this area. As an affordable location, we have hosted more and more weddings on the grounds, but so many brides have said "I wish we knew about the house for the shower!" We are now booking baby and bridal showers here in the museum. For 20-50 people it's a gorgeous location to introduce an element if style, history and nostalgia. Elegance and class mixed with a serene view of the falls makes Harden House Museum the true hidden gem of shower venues. Large halls that hold 200 people end up displaying a lot of empty space.
As beautiful as this location is for a large or small weddings on the grounds, the museum is intimate, classic and truly unique for your next shower. Give us a call and set up a time for a tour. THIS is the new hot spot for all things shower.
As technology changes, weddings change. The first wedding video sparked an entire industry. Think about how registries are different today for any given wedding. The utilization of the internet and sites like Amazon have drastically changed wedding shopping for the better, or so it would seem. Think about ordering your cards, cakes and even your dress online now. It's all there.
Ok, we all know basic facts about the internet, but a podcast? How? Podcasts are now mainstream and an excellent opportunity to inform your guests on your story. I am not talking about a series of events or a weekly show, but one message that your loved ones can stream on their very own, whenever they'd want. Think about an interview of the couple and how inspiring that story can be. Think about listening to that interview on your 25th wedding anniversary. It's another way to capture to moment of your event.
It doesn't even need to be a podcast per se, but that audio message that you can upload to the world. Let your friends and family understand why you chose the colors you did, because maybe they were the colors for your Grandmother's wedding. Or why that old table holding the cake was brought in because your husband to-be made it himself and is proud of it. The day itself goes by in a blink and you now have an even greater opportunity to reach your guests and convey your message while preserving even more of your pre-wedding energy.
Every wedding has stories to tell before the event. Every couple has dreams they would love to share before their big day. Why not preserve your own voice?
Justice of the Peace
Executive Director of Harrybrooke Park
The champagne bottles are empty. The confetti has fallen and we are in full swing of 2017. The meaning of this falls far beyond "where were you when the ball fell?" We are into another year of life and here at the park, preparing for another season of picnics, parties and especially weddings.
What's unique about a Harrybrooke wedding is that most are not planned out 4 years in advance. Engagements are shorter these days and there's just no need to take forever to lock down your venue, caterers and so on. Here are a few facts for you to consider:
*The average wedding budget is $20,000
I don;t know about you, but I don't have $20k socked away under the mattress. That's a significant downpayment for a house.
*The bride's parents traditionally pay for the wedding.
This tradition has become less and less a reality. Last yeat only 17% of bride's parents paid for the wedding and over 30% of couples pay for their big day themselves.
*Most wedding guests spend between $70 and $100 on a gift
So much for covering the cost of their plate, right? If the average gift is $85, then (and using the $20k mentioned above) you're welcoming 236 guests to cover the expenses. S omuch for gaining ground or putting cash aside for a honeymoon.
*Finally, the average Honeymoon costs $3,657.
Considering 99% of couples take a Honeymoon, and the average trip is 7 to 9 days long, IF you can both get that much time off from work.
What do all of these numbers mean? It means the trend in wedding is now outside the church. 20% of couples now find an alternative location for their celebration. More and more people are shifting from 200 guests to under 100.
It means, more than anything, that you shouldn't live beyond your means for one day of celebration. While the "big wedding dream" is engrained in us all, it's not financially smart. Why spend $20K on a wedding when you can have a gorgeous day and an incredible celebration for half of that if not less. Places like our own Harrybrooke Park allow you to have a beutiful destination while maintaining a budget that allows for a Honeymoon and some cash in your bank account when you get back.
We have dates open for 2017 and 2018 available for you in all seasons, providing the museum for the bride to get preparred on the grounds, and a staff ready to help you plan as much as you want. Give us a call and see how stress freeyour wedding day can be!
Harrybrooke Park & Harden House Museum
Who doesn’t love a great cocktail party? Add in a creative theme, and you will have a unique experience that your guests will always remember. There are so many different themes to choose from so I thought I would first go over the logistics of how to plan a themed cocktail party and then I will share with you my Top 10 Holiday Themed Parties. The Harden House Museum would be a lovely place to host your themed holiday cocktail party or sit down dinner.
A themed cocktail party or dinner can be as formal or as informal as you would like. In the early stages of planning, first decide if you’re looking to host a dressy evening or something more casual.
Here are some helpful tips when planning your party:
#1) Christmas Carol Karaoke Night: Who doesn’t love a good night of Karaoke. Add some cocktails and familiar tunes and you’ve got yourself a party!
#2) 12 Days of Appetizers: Christmas cookies are great, and I am sure we have all been to our fair share of cookie exchanges, but how about sharing savory holiday finger foods instead? Have friends bring their favorite seasonal appetizers for an app-only-potluck and this will save you on the catering as well.
#3) Santa’s Workshop: This theme is centered on charity, focusing on giving back by asking your guests to bring an unwrapped toy to donate to an organization of your choice.
#4) The Chocolate Factory: This is a fun, casual theme with Willy Wonka at the center. Select big, bold colors and plenty of chocolate to indulge in or maybe you call it “Candyland” and expand the treats you will be serving.
#5) White Christmas: Turn your entire party into one big winter wonderland through your décor, food and attire your guests will arrive in.
#6) Retro Christmas: This theme allows you to step back to a simpler time and your guests may really enjoy cruising through thrift stores to find their attire. How fun would it be to pull out old decorations from your childhood along with taking your menu back to old school foods like clam dip and ambrosia!
#7) We Three Kings: A bit more elegant in theme with this gorgeous black, gold, and white theme. The sky is the limit with how much you want to express these colors, from the decorations, to the attire.
#8) Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer Party: How fun it will be to have a game filled evening for you and your guests to enjoy! An evening full of reindeer games for all!
#9) Nutcracker Party: Do you have a collection of Nutcrackers you would like to show off? Here is the perfect occasion for that. Make it festive by playing music from the ballet for your guests.
#10) Old Fashioned Dickens’ Christmas Party: A Victorian affair, filled with vintage charm. The Harden House Museum would be the perfect setting for any of these themes, especially this one.
The Harden House Museum is a very special venue to host any of these themed cocktail parties or even a sit down dinner. Perhaps you have a different idea and would like to see if the Harden House Museum is the right place for your gathering. I would love to show this beautiful place to anyone who would like to call or email me to set up a tour.
Happy party planning!