Tuesday, May 14, 2013
i met Courtney Gleaves, Sales and Marketing Manager for Hard Rock Cafe Nashville, over lunch where she gave me a tour of the restaurant and its event spaces. I haven't been to a Hard Rock Cafe since I visited the Washington DC location in 1997. Before she contacted me, I had no idea that it was even rentable for weddings and events.
Courtney was a great host, showing me all around, treating me to lunch and giving me an overview of the company's history and mission. She was especially proud the the company's commitment to stellar service and charity, donating millions to end hunger. I asked what steps the company takes to cultivate customer service focused employees and she shared with me their unique training program that requires all levels of management to walk in the shoes of other employees - including wait staff, cooks, etc.
I liked that concept and philanthropic nature but was curious as to whether their mission was theory or was actually being embodied by the staff. It sounded all rainbows and fairy dust. Although I was happy with my interactions throughout the day - from the valet guy to my server - I was curious as to how well the team lived up to their mission when a "bridal blogger" wasn't around:). Anyone can treat one person well, when they think that person matters. But what's most important to me is that my brides, their families and guests are treated well. That's a tall order!
On New Year's Eve, I decided to attend a party at Hard Rock with my then beau. (We've since broken up but luckily for Hard Rock, it had nothing to do with their NYE party. I don't think!:))
The party was fantastic! The service was top notch. Every Hard Rock employee that we encountered that night was happy, which makes a difference. It was like Disney for adults. They weren't just pleasant but were helpful. As you can imagine, the bar was super busy but the bartenders were attentive and courteous and even made recommendations. The were unflappable, even with the hectic nature of the night. They served entrees all night long and the food was inventive and well presented.
We had a blast and even bumped into other wedding pros like Scoobie and Lisa of Scoobie Photographic Images and Sarah of Music City Events.
And the view - awesome! We were able to enjoy all of the activities taking place on Broadway via their oversized balcony but were also able to retreat inside to the private space that was equipped with a private entrance, stage, and full bar.
What does my experience on NYE have to do with your wedding? If you are seeking a perfectly placed downtown location that is all about food and service that just happens to have a great view and great spaces, you definitely want to add Hard Rock to your short list of venues to consider. The spaces are more than you would expect and the team at Hard Rock is dedicated to ensuring you have a wonderful event - from rehearsal dinners, bachelor parties to wedding receptions. Plus, Hard Rock is all about music and love and which are great themes for a Nashville destination weddings.
The view from their balcony!
The restaurant. I love their slogan/sign.
(Photos above - Scoobie Photographic Images)
The upstairs private event space.
Museum quality memorabilia is everywhere!
Another view of the balcony from the inside.
The fully functional stage with concert worthy sound capabilities.
A Hard Rock Cafe guitar can be signed by your wedding guest and taken home and framed. (Photo above - Scoobie Photographic Images)
All photos are from my tour unless otherwise noted.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Today's guest blog contributor is Emily of Simply Yours Weddings, a favorite Nashville wedding planner and brand new mommy! She and her crew of hand-picked wedding pros recently came together to showcase a lovely new wedding venue, Belle Meadows Farm, via a styled photo shoot. The theme was nothing other than Pioneer Woman. I've definitely not seen that concept before. Love Nashville's innovative wedding pros.
I'll let Emily tell you all about the venue, their photo shoot and why she loves Belle Meadows for Nashville brides.
"It all started with the venue. I happen to know the family that owns the venue and I knew they were hoping to open up their gorgeous (and then functioning barn) and turn it into a venue. Belle Meadows' barn is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The Wilsons (the owners) have an eye for beautiful things. You can tell from the minute you approach the property in Lascassas that they put such intentionality into the design. At the time of the photoshoot, it was still a functioning barn with their horses and sweet little donkey living in its stalls. But even then, the barn had a ½ kitchen, a bathroom, a porch full of rocking chairs, and a wood-burning fireplace with a flatscreen television hanging over the mantel. The land itself... there seems to be no end of possibilities for photos, ceremonies and more. Not to mention it was the cleanest animal barn I have ever been in!
Since then, they have moved all the animals out, knocked down their stalls and started creating a big open space that can be used for any number of purposes and layouts. They have also added saloon-type bar and finished their GORGEOUS Bridal Suite. The options of where you can have your ceremony, the various ways you can set up a reception, even for a 200 person guest list, continue to grow. I think that in itself makes it a welcome addition to our Middle Tennessee venue options!
With that in mind, I wanted to pull together some of my dear and talented friends and flex our muscles to create something fun and beautiful as well as show off the potential of the venue. The barn, the Wilsons' home and the land it sits on is breathtaking. After I visited the venue a number of times, I could not wait to show it to Jennifer and Courtney (my collaborators!) and let our imaginations run wild. Once all the pieces came together, Jennifer and I loaded up all the goodies we own personally into our cars and just got to playing! We wanted to just let the inspiration come naturally in that space with the weather, the Fall, the Barn, the Bride... and it just flowed out of us all day long! All of the items you see in the pictures are rentable from either Jennifer or myself with the exception of the farm table (from Southern Events) and the chairs (from Stewart's Special Events.)
The bride you see pictured is a former bride of mine and Courtney's from last Spring named Katie. She was so gracious and willing to put her divine JLM Couture dress back on and play in the fields with us. Her hair and make up were styled by Sammie Peterson, a wonderful h&m artist out of Murfreesboro. (Who also happens to be a dear friend of mine! I fully believe in showing off my talented friends) ;)
However, when we were planning to do this, Jennifer and I also started hatching a side plan. We have a deep love for all things involving the Pioneer Woman. She is a blogger who turned her love for food, photography and fun into two amazing cookbooks and now a TV show on the Food Network. We took our mutual love for her food and her spirit and we decided if we were going to put all this time and effort into an inspiration shoot, we should use it to our advantage and have a party! So after all the pictures had been taken around the farm, and all the styled shooting complete, we set up a gorgeous table with more friends (Kristin Vanzant, Kristen Steele, and Becca George) and settled in for a crock pot style- bring your favorite Pioneer Woman recipe party! It was a perfect Fall night to settle into the smell of fabulous food, the gorgeous surroundings and lots of laughter. As the sun settled behind the trees, we lit a fire in the fireplace along the side porch of the barn, gathered all the rocking chairs around the hearth and enjoyed the mess and wonder of s'mores. We sat there together as women who love this industry and love being creative in new spaces, and we all agreed that Belle Meadows is a perfect place to celebrate ANY event with friends and family.
So brides - no matter where you are located in Middle Tennessee, you should check out this venue! It is located off of the main highway that runs through Lascassas which is accessible either by driving through Murfreesboro or via backroads off I-40. It is worth the trip for your guests to come and enjoy the beauty of the Southern countryside in all its glory and for you to find a place you can enjoy for your special day!"
Jennifer Hamilton of Jennifer Hamilton Events and Emily of Simply Yours Weddings
"Kristen Steele of Kristen Steele Photography, Becca George of Modern Vintage Events (not pictured) and Kristin Vanzant Photography brought food to the party for fun following shoot."
Photo Shoot Team:
Planners & Designers | Simply Yours Weddings and Jennifer Hamilton Events
Photography | Courtney Davidson Photography
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
As a bride who had a lot of guest who traveled to Nashville for my wedding, I can't say that I was the most thoughtful bride. My reception venue required a 20 minute drive from my ceremony location. I did set up a wedding website that included some directions but I didnt really give my guests ideas for local activities. I did make sure my guests enjoyed a cocktail reception while we took formal photos. I also choose a hotel that offered a free breakfast the morning after my wedding. (That was one of my better decisions actually.!) Overall, I'd give myself a B-. I simply just didnt think all of how I could have made different decisions that would have been good for me and for my guests. their needs through. But when you know better, you should do better.
What I now know is that when you are planning a destination Nashville wedding or are catering to many out of town guests, it's important to start with a solid game plan that considers your guests and makes their journey to your wedding as easy and enjoyable as possible. But how do you do that?
I reached out to Jalessa of the Nashville City Club for advice on weddings with a large number of out of town guests. As an all-inclusive wedding location in the heart of Nashville, they attract a large share of out of town brides who 1) love Nashville and have chosen our city for their big day 2) prefer a central, downtown venue and 3) are planning remotely and need a strong team that knows Nashville to help with details. With their expert help, you should have a much better luck planning your destination Nashville wedding and accomodating your out of town guests.
Above images: The Collection
Above images: Dove Wedding Photography
Above images: Scoobie Photographic Images
Above image: Kery Woo Photography
What should brides consider as they plan a destination Nashville wedding or if they anticipate a good number of out of town guests?
All inclusive venues - They will make it easier as you plan. They are less work for the bride and groom. Unless you go with an all-inclusive venue, you will definitely need a planner.
Transportation - Be sure that you have a plan. Think this through for your guests. The easier you make their travel, the better.
Activities - Provide highlights of Nashville and give them something to do. Highlight why you choose Nashville and provide suggesttions for their weekend.
Staff - Make sure you are comfortable with any vendors that you hire. Make sure they are readily accesible and are good about communication. Develop a good relationship with them because you will be depending heavily on them.
The Nashville City Club was voted the "Best Place to Get Married" and "Best View of Nashville" by TheTennessean's readers. Here's what makes them a favorite place for destination weddings and out of town guests:
1) Downtown location
easy to get to from any part of the city, including airport
walking distance to hotels, no car needed to get around downtown area
2) All-inclusive packages
reduces the number of local vendors to contact, hire
single contact for most wedding needs - food, basic linen, ceremony, reception, beverages
complimentary parking for wedding guests
can host ceremony and reception in one easy location, saving money and travel time for guest
3) Unmatched views of city
view on 20th floor - great view of city
unique backdrop - floor to ceiling windows
voted best view of city serveral years in a row
great venue that shows off city
4) Walking distance to hotels and nightlife
so many lodging options all around
guests don't have to worry about driving to wedding
with signed contract, Nashville City Club provides couples a list of hotels in area that offer NCC brides discounts on room blocks
free shuttle to hotels that are not located in walking distance
walking distance to nightlife on Broadway, Printers Alley
5) Helpful concierge program
Nashville City Club's concierge has relationships with Nashville event venues like the Ryman and Bridgestone Area as well as restaurants. Brides, grooms and out of town guests can work with the concierge for event tickets, reservations or activity suggestions. Couples can even work with the concierge to plan special events for their bridal party or post-wedding events for out of town guests.
Above images: The Collection
Contact Jalessa at 615.620.1327 for a tour of the Nashville City Club or to learn more about their all-inclusive venue for local and destination brides. (All photos of Nashville City Club weddings and in downtown areas around venue.)
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The folks at Nashville Event Space manage some of the most stylish venues for weddings and events around town.
I reached out to Bianca, one of their event specialists, to learn more about aVenue, one of their most popular venues. I asked all of the questions that you will need to know as you consider this chic downtown location. Oh - and all of the design shown below is the work of Laurie Hardman and Julia Page of Randi Events, an event team that is available to assist venue couples.
Quick location highlights: stunning blank canvas space, downtown location, outside food and alchohol allowed, event design services available
Photos above: Jonathon Campbell Photography
Tell me about Avenue.
This 15,000 square foot gem sits right in the heart of the growing downtown events district. Its location at the foot of the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge sits just across from the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and the Music City Center. This amazing location makes it the perfect location for any type of event.
When was the business established? 1998
What is your company's motto/philosophy? “We plan an event that no one else can because we make the impossible possible.”
What attracts couples to your venue for their wedding?
aVenue offers downtown Nashville’s most unique event rental option. With a team of designers at Randi Events, we make every event special for every client and guest. aVenue has plenty of historic charm with it’s exposed brick and hard wood floors. Located just off of Broadway, aVenue is a great venue that will definitely impress your guests. Perfect for events large and small, aVenue can meet your every need!
Which bride budget do you serve? Moderate, Luxury
What makes your venue so unique from a service perspective?
Need a wedding planner? No problem! Randi Event designers offer this service. We offer wedding ceremony and reception coordination services not just those that are managed by Nashville Event Space. This service would encompass all aspects of the wedding planning including developing a timeline and directing the rehearsal and wedding ceremony. However, if you have come to us with a wedding planner, we welcome them and are happy to work side-by-side with them to make your wedding day perfect!
Photos above: Nashville Event Space
What is your pricing model?
Rental fees vary based on the day of the week. Peak versus off-peak times may also vary rental rates. Please inquire with the Sales Manager for the Facility Rental venue rental rates. A cleaning fee, facility manager and security fees will be charged in addition to the venue rental.
What payment options are accepted? Payment is accepted in the form of cash, check, cashier’s check or money order. Visa or MasterCard are also accepted. What event options does your venue offer?
We can accommodate both wedding ceremony and reception at aVenue. aVenue is also a great place to host your next birthday party, holiday party, bar/bat mitzvah, corporate meetings and music industry gatherings or any type of celebration.
What type of rooms are available?
The venue features a built-in stage perfect for live music, performances or presentations, a loft space for additional seating and entertaining, and a full basement with a bridal suite and catering area.
How many people can you accommodate?
aVenue can accommodate up to 250 guests for a buffet style seated dinner, 180 guests for a plated, seated dinner and up to 500 guests for a standing reception.
How many events do you take per day?
Nashville Event Space only hosts one event per venue per day allowing each client ample time for set-up and tear-down of their event.
Is outside catering allowed? Do you require couples to use a set list of caterers?
To ensure the great level of service we provide to our clients, we work with a list of approved caterers in our venues. We would be happy to work as a liaison with you and our approved caterers to develop a menu for your event based upon your specific tastes and budget. Clients wishing to work with a caterer not listed on the Approved Catering list will incur an outside catering fee of $7.50 per person. The caterer must supply a copy of their off-site catering license and provide a certificate of liability insurance.
Is outside alcohol allowed?
Yes! When you choose to purchase and bring in your own alcohol, a bar set-ups fee is charged. We hire the ABC certified bartender set and serve all alcoholic beverages. Security is also required for all events serving alcohol.
Is an on-site event coordinator available?
Any client who rents one of our managed venues has the option to utilize our event design services. This service extends to those things which involve event décor and production. Our processional staff is also well trained in Wedding planning so if this is something that you may be interested in please inquire.
Our event designer will work with you every step of the way to make sure the venue is an absolute reflection of your wishes presented throughout the planning process.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Sambuca recently announced an “all-inclusive” daytime wedding package. Brides can now rent out the entire restaurant for 4 hours on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday any time between 12pm-5pm.
The cost is $50 per guest and includes:
~ Valet parking
~ Passed appetizers
~ Lunch buffet
~ Use of restaurant's AV system
~ Wedding cake from Dulce Desserts
~ DJ and photo booth from FADD’s Entertainment
~ Taxes and gratuities
...all for the $50 per guest! Think about it, if you have 100 wedding guests, you can have just about everything you need for $5000. That's quite a deal.
Contact Dana Patel at 615.248.2888 for details and to schedule a tour.