Author: Belinda Kracunas

longwood venues alden castle silva parr wedding
longwood venues alden castle silva parr wedding

A Timeless, Candlelit Wedding | Alden Castle

Jane and Geoff knew they wanted to say “I Do” at a venue that had enough space for both the ceremony and reception in Boston’s backyard, without sacrificing the classic and elegant details they both desired. Alden Castle was the perfect match.  (more…)

Annual Company Gala | Belle Mer

You don’t need to switch up the venue every year to keep an annual company gala fresh. Just take it from The Renaissance Group, who has entertained its loyal staff with the many faces of Belle Mer for six years and counting.  (more…)

A Festive & Fun Company Holiday Party | State Room

When it came the time to plan their annual holiday party, this Boston-based company had ample options for where celebrate, but Longwood’s experience and ability to bring fresh and trendy ideas to the table had Putnam Associates going with the State Room for the second year.  (more…)

Corporate Leadership Meeting | Alden Castle

 This year’s our Corporate Meeting took place in our Brookline venue, Alden Castle, ideally suited for corporate events, full-day meetings and any company celebrations. When the Longwood Venues team celebrates, we do so with the guest experience in mind. That’s why we treat each year’s Corporate Leadership Meeting as a chance to explore new and old processes, as well as taste some new creative culinary arts from our Executive Chef David Blessing. (more…)

How to throw a Royal Wedding Watch Party

The Royal wedding is hours away and the team at Longwood Venues is full of excitement.  While our venues are fully booked with our own royals that day we want to make sure you have ideas to throw the best Royal Wedding Watch Party this side of the pond. With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle following up what currently holds the title of Royal wedding of the century, you know this weekend is going to be full of stunning dresses, drool-worthy tiaras, and lots of love.

Our first suggestion would be to set your alarms.  The Royal wedding will begin at 7:00 in the morning, EST with a lot of build up before hand. The Prince and Meghan are set to say their vows at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in front of 600 people and you do not want to be late.  Once you schedule your wake up call, it is time to get down to business.

ROYAL WEDDING WATCH PARTY MUST-HAVES

SET THE SCENE

The Royal Wedding is the best excuse we can think of to throw a tea party.  Don’t worry if you don’t want to pull out your favorite china (but we think you should).  From Amazon to kitschy party stores, you can easily find union jack themed party decor just about anywhere right now. There are also life-size cutouts of the royal couple if you want your guests to have the option of posing with the newlyweds.

If you are opting for subtle Royal Wedding watch party decor, Ms. Markle’s favorite florals are peonies.  You can bet on seeing them in addition to white garden roses sprinkled throughout St. George’s Chapel come Saturday.

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Official recipe via Pimm’s.

DELIGHT YOUR ROYAL TASTE BUDS

Just because it will be time for eggs and toast in the U.S. during your Royal Wedding watch party doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a Pimms.  A Pimms Cup has been a long time summer staple in Great Britain and is a must for any Royal Wedding watch party.  The recipe is really quite easy and can be enjoyed long after your party has ended.

Lemon scones are an easy way to incorporate the unique flavor of the Royal Wedding cake at your party.  Store bought or homemade, your guests can enjoy fresh scones with a side of English Breakfast tea.  If you would rather have cake for breakfast (we fully support the idea), a lemon elderflower cake is a no-brainer.  The Royals plan on serving this unconventional flavored cake to their guests instead of the traditional fruit cake that Royals usually serve.

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Freshly made Fish and Chips from an event at State Room. Photography by Erin McGinn.

If you decided to sleep in and record the Royal Wedding, cook up some Fish and Chips for your watch party.  You can find this iconic meal at almost any pub in England as well as at any Longwood event.  Our chefs take the freshest local fish and deep fry it to golden perfection.  It will taste as if you are enjoying a meal across the pond.

Fun fact: Kate and William served the prestigious Loch Duart Scottish Salmon as an entree at their wedding and Longwood is one of the only kitchens in the united states who also has a partnership.  We are in good company with Per Se by Thomas Keller.  We are all eager to see if this extraordinary Salmon will make an appearance this time around.

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Jewels fit for a Royal from a recent wedding at Belle Mer. Photography by Move Mountains Co.

ACCESSORIZE LIKE A ROYAL

It would not be a royal engagement without some over the top headpieces and jaw-dropping jewels.  Invite your guests to wear their best fascinators, tiaras, and jewelry or plan for them to make their own once they arrive.  Much like the Kentucky Derby, it was a tradition for British women to wear fascinators or headpieces to weddings and events.  Nowadays, it is less of a status symbol and more about being a form of self-expression.  There is often an unspoken of competition for the best fascinator at British events so why not make it a full-fledged battle between your guests.  The only supplies you will need to have are some feathers, veiling, crib, and an array of embellishments.  We will leave the rest of the rules up to you but here is our suggestion when it comes time to pick a winner, the more unique, the better.

Countdown to Your Kentucky Derby Themed Event

Kentucky Derby Inspiration by @stitchnwitchz

The most exciting two minutes in sports is right around the corner and we want to help you pull off a Kentucky Derby themed event.  The Kentucky Derby has been held annually at Churchill Downs since 1875.  The race is the longest continually run sporting event in the United States. If that isn’t enough of a reason to throw a party, think of the mint juleps!

Key Elements of Throwing the perfect Kentucky Derby themed event:

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The perfect accent rose wall for your Kentucky Derby themed event. Image via Angela Greenlaw Photography

Décor

Let’s start with décor.  Our team at Longwood loves statement walls upon arrival.  These showstoppers set the tone right when you walk in.  Roses are a must for any Kentucky Derby event since they will tie back into the history of the race itself.  Using rose centerpieces, or even better, rose garlands down the center of the table will represent the garland given to the winner of the race.  Including mint leaves into your centerpieces is also a unique way to tie your florals back to the Derby since they are a main ingredient in the ever-popular mint julep.  Incorporating trophies, horseshoes and preppy prints will always be on trend.  You can use these as accents throughout the event on table tops, escort cards, and at place settings.  If your event is going to be less formal, we recommend heading over to the official themed Derby decorations store at Kentucky Derby store.

Millie Mackintosh and her friend sporting their best derby looks on the left and opera singer, Katherine Jenkins, on the right.

Attire

Now that we have decorations handled, let’s move on to attire.  Spectators often wear bright colors and prints at the race.  Encourage your guests to wear their favorite colorful sundresses or bold ties to bring the atmosphere of the Kentucky Derby to your venue.  Suggest that the women wear their favorite Derby style hat and have a wager for the most stylish. Channel your inner royal family.

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You can’t go wrong with this classic Mint Julep recipe. image via honestlyYUM

Beverages

If you have ever been to an event at a Longwood venue, you know we can mix up a delicious cocktail and a Derby party would be no different.  The most iconic and official drink of the Kentucky Derby is the mint julep.  Made with bourbon, simple syrup, and mint leaves, the mint julep is best served on the rocks in a silver julep cup.  If a classic julep cup is not something readily available, a simple highball glass will do.  For a refreshing drink without alcohol, serve sweet tea.  Either of these southern staples will be sure to please the crowd at your Kentucky Derby themed event.

Longwood Heritage Pork Bacon Pops, Maple Bourbon Glaze, Chive

Food

After a long day of festivities Chef David Blessing, Longwood’s Vice President of Culinary Arts + Development recommends hardy flavorful bites.  His twists on Kentucky favorites this season are:

  • Kentucky Hot Brown Arancini with bacon gravy
  • Crispy Pretzel Crusted Chicken Skewer with Beer Cheese sauce
  • Chicken and Waffles – This hors d’oeuvre is a crowd favorite at Longwood Venues.
  • Heritage Pork Bacon Pops with Maple Bourbon Glaze
  • Corn-grit Lobster Corndog-fun fact: the Longwood team will be serving this at Nantucket Wine and Food Festival in a few weeks.

One last, but extremely important, key to remember; if the race is going on during your Kentucky Derby-themed event, make sure guests all have a great view of the excitement. If you don’t have a ticket to the race don’t fret.  Locally our team loves spending the summer in Rhode Island at the Newport Polo fields for more pony time.

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Top Five Things to Consider when Selecting Your Wedding Venue

Congratulations, you said YES!  Our sales and event experts at Longwood Venues want to make your planning as easy and fun as possible so we have put together a list of the top five things to consider when selecting your wedding location.  We want to make sure you have the inside scoop on all things venue before you begin planning the day of your dreams.  Not only does your venue, food and beverage end up constructing more than half your budget, but they will set the tone for the entire wedding day.

Here is what we recommend you consider before selecting your dream wedding venue:

Decide on the aesthetic of your day.

When out on the search for your ideal location you and your significant other should be on the same page for the type of feel and style you want your wedding to have.  You will want the aesthetic to reflect your personalities.  Are you searching for something seaside, the lights of the city, or more of a historical castle? It is important to remember that while you can make each space your own, it will not be as easy to plan a style-specific wedding at every venue.  Deciding on your aesthetic early on will help you narrow down the wedding venues you want to look at and might even help you narrow down your focus on décor.

What is your guest count?

Wrapping your head around a guest count early on will be a huge help for selecting your wedding venue.  There is no way to know exactly how many guests you will have at your wedding until you get closer to your event date and start collecting RSVP’S but you can make a decision with your partner about how big or small a wedding you want.  Create a list that meets your wants and needs and stick to it. This will help when navigating which event space is the best fit for your wedding as some venues have multiple spaces with varying capacities.

Flexibility in dates.

Being flexible is key when it comes to selecting your date.  Available Saturdays in 2018 and 2019 are few and far between.  However, if you are being flexible, Fridays and Sundays or a midweek day are all great options and tend to be a bit more flexible price wise.  Furthermore, ask your salesperson if there are dates they need to fill due to short-term openings or recent cancellations.  These dates can save you upwards of $10,000.

If you are looking for flexibility, research the peak seasons – often forming around the most desirable time of year for your geographical location – then ask about availability in the shoulder periods.  The shoulder seasons are often the last to fill and you may be able to get these dates for a less expensive price.  Your flexibility may sometimes win you locations you thought were out of the question or allow room for beautiful enhancements. You will not be able to find any negotiation in peak sellout periods.

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A bride and groom making their grand entrance at State Room in Boston – image by Person + Killian Photography

Quality of food.

Before selecting your wedding venue, be sure to learn about the culinary team.  We find that many of our couples are foodies and love asking questions about what to expect. When your venue also shares a love affair for food you can be confident it is a match.  It is important to ask questions about where the food comes from and what items are made in-house.  Find out if the food is prepared on-site or in a commissary.  If the venue’s food is prepared in a commissary, be aware of the use of hot boxes (aka food warmers, meaning food probably sits in these boxes for a period of time before being served to guests).  You should also find out if the food is frozen.  Frozen products are usually lower in quality.  For added personalizing and creativity check if customization is possible at all.  Sticking to package A, B, or C can get boring.  Ask about the newest culinary trends and see what the venue has available.

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Longwood Venues’ delicious Petit Choice Filet Mignon & Butter Poached Local Lobster shot by Erin McGinn Photography

Overall Hospitality Experience.

In the height of your planning excitement, be sure that the wedding venue is equally excited to help you.  You will know this right off the bat – and listen to your gut.  You should receive responses from the venue in a timely manner.  Take note of how long your salesperson takes to respond and if he/she are truly listening to your wants and needs before they give you a quote.  Proposals, contracts, and expectations should be clear and they should all be outlined as you discussed.  This is one of the biggest days of your lives, be sure you trust the professionalism of the entire team of vendors you choose. Understanding and setting expectations will give you peace of mind.

You will want to make sure that your wedding venue has a service level you are comfortable with.  Leading up to the wedding, your event team will build timelines, floor plans, check vendors in, and worry about all of the details you discussed on property.  Your “day of” team truly executes the plan.  Wait staff ratio should be 1 per every 10 guests and the bartender ratio should be 1 per 100 guests.  These are the industry standards. If you are adding interactive food stations, cocktail service or tableside menu ordering, more staff may be needed for flawless execution.  If you still feel like you may need more of an extra hand we always recommend hiring a wedding planner.  These professionals can help keep your whole weekend organized and even do some of the negotiating for you.  Your venue team can handle anything on site but a wedding planner organizes the entire experience.

Most importantly, have fun!  You are about to begin a life long commitment to the person you love most in this world.  Enjoy the ride.

xoxo

Holiday Entertaining Trends Boston and Newport

The 2017 holiday party line up in Boston and Newport are among the best we’ve ever seen.  We are honored to collaborate with some of the top meeting planners and corporations in the country. Since the Longwood goal is to have your guests raving about your party long into the new year the pressure is on to bring you the latest and greatest in holiday entertaining.  Our team has hand-picked just a few of their favorites this season that are sure to make your soiree a success.

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Holiday tablescape with jewel tones – perfect for corporate holiday party – image via 100 layer cake

Jewel Tones

The hottest hues for holiday parties are rich tones like plum, ruby, jade, and sapphire.  Although bold and playful, jewel tones bring an air of elegance to your event. If you are not sure how to incorporate these hues, we recommend mixing them in with florals, linens, soft seating, and signage.

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Holiday place setting with copper accents at Newport Beach House – ideal venue for a coastal entertaining – Photography by Ruth Eileen

Copper Accents

A new metallic has taken over.  Copper is everywhere this holiday season from gift wrap to accessories so why not weave it into your décor? Copper brings a refreshing and multi-dimensional twist to the everyday silver and gold.  An easy way to add copper to your holiday party could be through flatware, the ever popular Moscow Mule mugs, or even bar back shelving.

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Holiday tablescape with plaid accents at State Room – the ideal venue for your corporate holiday party in downtown Boston – table design by Peak Event Services

Plaid  + Fur Accents

What better way to ring in the holiday season than with timeless plaid accents?  From linens to paper products, there are endless possibilities to use this as an accent.  Fur is a great way to create warmth in a space.  We have seen everything from fur table runners and chair coverings to hanging taxidermy in our spaces.  This is an area where we say more is more.

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Natural holiday garland breathes fresh air into your holiday party in Newport or – image via Jess Ann Kirby

Garland Centerpieces

Mixed greens and leaves bring natural raw elements indoors.  Greenery pairs well with any tablescape since you can incorporate seasonal greens like pine, cedar, and fir. Their scent adds to the nostalgia of the holidays.  Jess Ann Kirby, a Newport-based blogger, posted about holiday entertaining and featured the above tablescape with greenery done by one of our trusted partners, Kim of Greenlion Design.  We can bet that you will be seeing this trend throughout all of winter.  Another way to incorporate your garlands is to hang them from the ceiling or suspend them above your tables.  This creates a romantic and whimsical vibe that will help immerse your guests into the aesthetic you are aiming for.

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Hanging lanterns to create the perfect ambiance at your holiday party in Newport – Photography by Kearsten Taylor

Unique Lighting

Enhance your reception space with jaw-dropping lighting options like neon signs and chandelier installations.  Custom neon lights are great to spell out names or hashtags on photo backdrops to add a hint of edginess to your event.  If you would rather forgo the backdrop, giant marquee lights are a showstopper as well and easy to install in any venues.  If it is the drama you are looking for, chandelier installations will never fail you.  You can have them hung in the entryway to set the first impression, above the dance floor as a statement piece, or over top of dinner tables for a romantic ambiance.  There are so many ways to use a production team to step up your lighting game and make your event shine.

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Elan Artists performing at Alden Castle – hire them for your next corporate holiday party in Boston or Newport – Photography by Binita Patel

Live Entertainment

Surprise your guests with a special performance by Elan Artists.  This a one-of-a-kind corporate and wedding entertainment company specializes in unique soloists, ensembles, and dance bands.  You can hire classically trained dancers to waltz around while you dine or an orchestra to treat your guests to an intimate performance.  The artists will help elevate your holiday party and bring the event’s creative direction to life.

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Homemade Chips by Longwood Venues for a previous corporate holiday event – Photography by Binita Patel

Inventive Menu Items

Create memorable moments throughout the party by using food and beverage as art and entertainment. This holiday season, we suggest, bringing excitement to your menu with unique spins on the classic party dishes.  Chef David Blessing has a few personal favorites he is working on with meeting planners who are looking for something a little different:

  • Porchetta Style Roasted Turkey Breast
  • Warm Blue Cheese and Fig Dip with Port wine and homemade Potato Chips (bonus points if you have them waiting for your guests like we did in our annual leadership meeting in the image above)
  • Deep fried Brussels sprouts with bacon Dijon Aioli
  • Lobster Corn Dogs with Chardonnay Mustard Dipping Sauce

Chef also suggests turning the classics into gluten-free options.  Instead of serving potato gratin to your holiday party guests, try root vegetable gratin with rutabaga, celery root, parsnip and sweet potato.

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Custom food bars at Alden Castle – the perfect holiday party venue in Boston – photography by Binita Patel

One-of-a-Kind Food Stations

Chef David Blessing also suggested upping your holiday party game with one-of-a-kind food stations that will entertain your guests.  A great idea would be to try a Slider bar with Garlic Aioli, Truffle Caramelized Onions, and Exotic mushrooms.  We also love seeing a Tater Tot bar paired with sweet and regular tots, Cheddar cheese sauce, Smoked Bacon, Blue Cheese, Lobster meat, and gravy.  Both of these displays will excite your party goers and leave them wanting more.  Try ending the night with a Warm Cider Donut bar or Churros bar with ice cream, Chocolate Ganache, Salted Caramel, Peppermint bark, and various candies.  Your holiday party will be the talk of Boston until next year rolls around.

A Long-Awaited Downtown Boston Wedding | State Room

Years ago, two friends looked at the State Room in awe and vowed to each other that one day, someday, they’d attend a wedding there.  At the time, they didn’t realize that wedding would be their very own.  (more…)

TOP 6 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING YOUR WEDDING VENUE

 

TOP 6 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING YOUR WEDDING VENUE

Pop the champagne, you’re changing your last name!  Our event experts at Longwood Venues will give you the inside scoop on selecting your wedding venue. Although simple, these items are often overlooked in the height of the excitement. Did you know that wedding venue, food, and beverage will construct approximately 75% of your entire budget? That being said, this is probably the next most important decision you will make, aside from saying yes.

Here is what we recommend considering before selecting your location:

Sentiment and Personality. Discover your personality as a couple and what tugs at your hearts’ strings.  This will lead you to your dream wedding venue.  

Begin by making a list of items that are important to both of you.  Is there a place you both grew up vacationing as children? Do you share love for city life? Are you both attracted to old world Hollywood glamour? Are you weekend warriors wanting to treat guests to a mini vacation? If it is a specific look you are going for, try to narrow down your non-negotiable items (unique decor, unforgettable location, date) and don’t compromise.

State Room, A Boston Wedding Venue

Flexibility. When selecting your date, it pays to be flexible.  There are only 53 Saturdays in 2017 and 52 in 2018.  The harsh reality is most of them are already taken, however, don’t despair. Consider Friday or Sunday, which are usually a little less expensive, a midweek option, off season, or an early afternoon affair. Daytime wedding will allow to highlight the beautiful outdoors if your reception is en plein air.  Furthermore, ask your sales person if there are dates they need to fill due to a shorter term openings or recent cancellations. These dates can save you upwards of $10,000.

Be open about your target budget.  Many clients have the misconception that you shouldn’t discuss money in the first appointment.  Talking about money will actually help you in this case. Purchasing a date at a wedding venue isn’t the same as purchasing a car. There are so many variables that could change your bottom line. A budget could change based on guest count, date, plated versus stationed dinner, flat rate bar versus consumption bar, ceremony on site versus off-site.

If you are looking for flexibility, research the peak seasons – often forming around most desirable time of year for your geographical location – then ask about availability in the shoulder periods.  The shoulder seasons are often the last to fill.  Your flexibility may sometimes win you locations you thought were out of the question or allow room for beautiful enhancements.There isn’t any negotiation in peak sellout periods.

Assistance in Planning. In the height of your excitement you want an event venue or caterer who is equally excited to help you.  You will know this right off the bat – and listen to your gut. Things to note: How long does it take to get a response after your initial inquiry? Is she/he taking the time to really listen before quoting you a price? Are proposals and contracts clear and do they outline everything you discussed? Are you comfortable with the proposed planning and detailing phase? Are milestone meetings and expectations laid out? Do you need to consider a wedding planner?  This is one of the biggest days of your lives, be sure you trust the professionalism of the entire team of vendors you choose. Understanding and setting expectations will give you peace of mind.

Recent Renovations + Plans for Improvement. A great way to understand how well the venue is cared for is to ask about recent renovations and their future plans for improvement.  This could be as small as painting and buffing floors or as large as multi-million dollar refurbishment.  Venues with solid capital plans are investing in their future and the experience of their guests.

Newport Beach House, A Rhode Island Wedding Venue

Quality of Food.  Be sure to learn about the culinary team.  Ask questions about food quality. What items are made in house? Is food prepared on site or in a commissary? If the latter, be wary of hot boxes (aka food warmers, meaning food probably sits in these boxes for a period of time before being served to guests). Frozen products are usually lower in quality.  Ask about the newest culinary trends.  Is customization possible? Sticking to package A, B, or C can get boring.

Farm house cheese display by Longwood Culinary Arts

Service Level. Understanding staffing standards will allow you to gain a comfort level.  The event team will build timelines, floorplans, check vendors in, and worry about all of the details you discussed but your “day of” team truly executes the plan.  What is the waitstaff ratio? Industry standard is 1 per 10 guests for a seated dinner. What is the bartender ratio? Industry standard is 1 per 100 guests. If you are adding interactive food stations, cocktail service or tableside menu ordering, more staff may be needed for flawless execution.

Best of luck in your planning. We  know you will make the right choice and your wedding will be exactly how you dream it! We hope to meet you throughout your search. If you are doing your research before the question is officially popped, kudos for being on top of your game!

 

 

 

Images by:

Erin McGinn Photography  ||  Zev Fisher Photography  ||  Lovely Valentine Photography