Here's the skinny on the top six for part one of this post:
Norfolk Botanical Gardens--Baker HallContact: Stephanie James @ 757 441 5830 or email@example.com
Price: Friday/Sunday $1900. Saturday $2600 (check website for current prices as they fluctuate with each year: http://www.norfolkbotanicalgarden.org/facility-rental).
Food: they have a list of preferred caterers you must go through. We contacted four of the ten or so on the list and couldn't get a price quote for under $5,000, which would've completely blown our budget right out the window!
Pros: Beautiful grounds and setting, well maintained gardens, guest access to full gardens for entire wedding day. The hall itself is gorgeous, with exposed beams and great light.
Cons: Where do I start? There were a lot of reasons this venue didn't work out (although it was my number one pick!)
- Firstly, the venue itself isn't available until 6pm. This is a really late start to do a wedding + reception, to say the least. The caterer isn't allowed access until 5pm and most caterers said they would take two hours prep time, leaving your guests to wait until 7pm for dinner. You also only have the venue until midnight.
- Secondly: the require you hire/have a wedding coordinator with you at all appointments. This is just an added expense that we couldn't afford.
- You must pick from their preferred caterer's list, and from the four we contacted, the prices are very expensive. We couldn't find a price quote (just for hors d'oeuvres) for under 5,000
- You only have one hour to put up any decorations (lights, lanterns, poms, etc.) The tight time frames + expensive venue fee + expensive caterer price quotes ultimately threw this beautiful right out the window for us.
- There are a lot of specifications on what chairs and tables you can use, and where you can use them. Essentially, if you wanted to have dinner outside on the terrace, you would have to rent extra chairs and tables to do so.
Baycreek Resorts (Eastern Shore) Cabana RoomContact: Tiffany Mohr @ 757 331-8602 or firstname.lastname@example.org www.baycreekresort.com
Price: $1,500 for a full day (regardless of on/off peak) and includes the upstairs restaraunt, a small upstairs balcony and elevator access.
Food: You must go through their restaurant. They have a variety of menu's and Tiffany is more than happy to work with you, however their food is still pricey and it was hard to try to fit it in our budget. We managed to get the menu down to 3,000, but it was still out of our budget and wasn't enough food for our guests.
- The room is gorgeous! With wall to wall windows, you will view the bay at almost any part of the venue. The ceiling also is vaulted with windows and exposed wood beams, so it's really light and beautiful in there during the day.
- There's a fireplace and even some couches and chairs for your guests to lounge on.
- Eastern shore is also just amazing--so quaint and so very quiet! It's like a destination wedding but just across the water!
- Additionally, Tiffany did try to help with budget by ultimately giving me a 500 discount on the room. She really try's to work with you on making it work with your budget.
- Your Hampton Roads guests will have to cross the Bay Bridge tunnel (about $16 round trip). It is also about 40 minutes from the Norfolk/Va Beach area.
- The grounds they have beside the restaurant/venue is where couples typically wed and it isn't the most pleasing place to tie the knot. It's essentially just a side lawn with a few rows of flowers facing the venue...although it does overlook the bay.
- Chairs for your guests during the ceremony there were a sky high $3 per person to rent! (typically chairs are 1.00-1.50 pp -per person-).
- Their bar/alcohol/drink fee structure is really REALLY expensive. You can either do an open bar and pay per hour (essentially 1000 per hour @ 100 guests). Or you can pay a flat fee for the bar for the night, however they charge you per person over 21, whether they drink or not. Additionally, you can set a limit on the bar, but you are charged 'bar prices' (re: 10 bucks a drink).
(image property of Bay Creek Resort)
Madison Loft and Terrace on GranbyContact: Lindsey or email@example.com 877-345-3345
Price: Basic Rental (Saturday night peak): $3500; Skyline Package (Saturday night peak): $5000. All Inclusive Wedding Packages: baseline packages starting at $22,000 (includes "everything but the dress").
Food: Did not inquire after hearing the price for the venue. I imagine they have a preferred caterer's list given the wording in their info sheet they mailed me.
Pros: Unique venue, perfect for the urban chic look. Manager and security on site during event. Loft + outdoor terrace for great views.
Cons: Extremely expensive, prepackaged 'look' and feel (ghost chairs and decor lock you into that upscale, trendy modern look and you wouldn't really be able to shift out of that look).
(image property of Madison Loft and Terrace)
Waterman's by the SeaContact: Courtney @ 757 428 3644 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Price: $475 for a full day (regardless of on/off peak) and includes 'the attic' space above the main restaurant. This does not include 10% tax and 20% service fees on space + food (which you must purchase through the restaurant itself).
Food: They have a full service restaurant that you must go through for food. The food is really reasonable, but doesn't favor the vegetarian, vegan or gluten free eater (although they will do their best to accommodate).
Pros: Great space with wood floors, wall to wall windows of the ocean, exposed wood beams in the ceiling, light set up included (they even have a disco ball). The event manager Courtney is also a GEM to work with! She's amazing, promptly responds, works with you on every detail start to finish, is quick to reply to menu requests and sending back proposals, and will accommodate you in every way she can. Very flexible and affordable bar/drink options.
Cons: not a ton of vegetarian/vegan/gluten free options. You can not bring in a cake that isn't from an 'approved bakery' (re: that great friend who is awesome at cake decorating can't make your cake for a fraction of the cost that a bakery will charge.) Since it's on the top floor with no elevator service, you will have to take this into consideration for your older and/or handicapped guests.
*At the time of this posting, Waterman's is definitely my top pick.
(image property of weddingwire and Waterman's)
Norfolk PagodaContact: Madeline @ 623-1949 or email@example.com
Price: $950 for a full day (regardless of on/off peak) and about $35 for about 40 reserved parking spots. Includes the grounds, access to the restaurant if you choose to have your reception inside (although there's only seating for about 20-40.)
Food: they have a preferred caterer you must go through.
Pros: Beautiful grounds, well maintained gardens and restaurant.
Cons: For a larger wedding (over 50 people), you will have to rent a tent, tables and chairs to set up on the lawn to accommodate seating for your guests. You will also have to purchase a permit through the city (although Madeline did offer to purchase it for me) for temporary reserved parking spots on Harbor Street (28 spots) and Brook Ave (12 spots). Music must end at 10 p.m.
(wedding property of theknot.com)
Sandler Center: Miller Studio TheatreContact: Unknown. After six attempts via phone and email, I gave up. Their website lists 757.385.2536 as a contact number.
Pros: Central location in Towne Center. Beautiful wood floors with floor to ceiling windows.
Cons: It is impossible to get someone on the phone at this center. I've been to the Sandler Center for events and absolutely loved the look and feel of the building inside and out, but they are really missing out with not hiring an event manager for this space.
(image property of Sandler Center)
Stay tuned for Vendors: Part Two where I'll cover Lawson Hall, Half Moone Center, Williamsburg Community Building and Suffolk Planter's House among plenty others!