Rhode Island

Belle Mer Reception Site?

Let's hear it - the good, the bad, the ugly... I'm meeting with the Belle Mer Sales Associate this weekend to check the place out... I'm reading a lot about minimums and excessive mark-up charges for vendors - can anyone give me some perspective on Belle Mer?

Thank you!!
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Re: Belle Mer Reception Site?

  • edited December 2011
    There is quite a bit of discussion about Belle Mer on the second page under a post titled "looking for a venue". From what I have noticed all the brides who get married there have absolutely stunning pictures but it does seem to be a pricey establishment and the minimums and such can get a little confusing. Although, that can be said about some of the other Newport sites as well. In the end most girls have stated that they found the staff to be professional and the day of went smoothly. Good luck with your venue search!
  • edited December 2011
    I'm a belle mer bride, and yes, you pay a mark-up for the vendors they book for you, in addition to the service charge most places charge as well. In my opinion, that mark up is paying for a planner and day-of execution. It's also paying for their corporate structure, which (I think) allows them to provide professional service during the planning process and the event execution they're known for.

    The contract explains all the fees, and they will answer all the questions you ask. There is nothing hidden or sneaky - everything is laid out for you. I asked LOTS of questions (by email since I was out of town) before signing the contract, and I think it's definitely the smart thing to do. When we finally saw it in person (a family member toured it for me before we booked), we were blown away, and so excited to get married there.

    We all pick different venues for different reasons though, and like someone said in the previous post, it's not for everyone. Personally, the space is perfect for us, and their organization makes me more comfortable, since I'm planning from far away. Those things made it worth it for us.

    Good luck!

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  • ayleeaylee member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    The beauty of the place reallys draws you in.  And I've heard that weddings there were executed beautifully.

    Vendor fees and mark-ups
    Belle Mer books the vendors, they mark up the price 30% for coordination services apparently.  You book vendors, you pay $500 per vendor, again for coordination services. You can get this waived at the discretion of your Belle Mer event coordinator.  What's funny about this coordination service is that, I was told to tell my DJ (that Belle Mer booked for me) this and that and this and that.  If I'm paying Belle Mer addl 30% for coordination services, don't they coordinate with the vendor what is needed for the wedding?

    Custom menus
    Belle Mer has no menu list for you to choose from.  If you know exactly what you want for your menu, the custom menu I guess is great for you.  But... the Belle Mer culinary team likes to do things differently and add their own twist to usual items.  This may be good or bad.  For example, we requested regular Chinese duck sauce, but they of course created their own and I didn't like it.  We then discussed with the chef what I didn't like about it and I had to trust them to create something I would like for the wedding.  And the way the custom menu works is different as well.  You discuss with them the type of food you like and they create a menu proposal based on what you said.

    Administrative Charge
    They charge 18% administrative charge.  I've never seen a venue that charges that much for administrative services.  Note that this is not gratuity or service charge.  The staff are not tipped.  So if you want to tip them, you have to spend more.

    The staff is very nice though.  And I love my event coordinator, she's very helpful and very responsive.  I trust them to make my wedding run smoothly.

    If you want to chat about Belle Mer, you can email me at aylee at gnyc dot net.
  • edited December 2011
    The style me pretty blog is currently showcasing a stunning wedding at Belle Mer
  • breezybride15breezybride15 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Thanks everyone, this is great information!  We have our initial consultation with them this Saturday (weather premitting) so we'll see if the site matches our personalities and take it from there!
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  • melinda478melinda478 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I got married there in July and everything went great! We had the old contract so we didn't deal with any of this stuff but I wouldn't have changed a thing. They were great. Everything went smoothly. Yes they are pricey, but its Newport, your on the water, you have the bridge on the background and its just gorgeous!
  • Karen G.Karen G. member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Can't add much more to TC and Aylee's information but I, too, am getting married at Belle Mer this summer. I think your satisfaction with the markup depends on your coordinator because it is partially paying for that coordination.

    We had problems initially with our first coordinator and asked to get her switched. When we balked on our first markup, they adjusted it made the first move to meet together with a manager to make sure we were all happy with our adjustments and on the same page. Now they take care of everything and we're pretty happy thus far. (I'm surprised they have you doing most of the chatting with your DJ, Aylee. They told us they could take care of everything or that we could contact the vendors. They said they mostly preferred to deal with vendors but that in most cases the brides wanted to be part of the process so they left it open. I'd also love to hear more about the food tasting process. Perhaps we could chat by email?)

    The administrative charge was standard with other venues in the area. We checked 2-3 places and found that 15-18% was typical.

    Belle Mer was the first place we looked at in Newport and it was ultimately what we kept comparing everything else to until we finally put the pen to paper. Pricewise, it's not significantly higher than others in the area and it really is SO different from other venues. We priced it out and found that the slight higher price would make up for all the drawbacks we'd have to work around at other cheaper venues we were considering. But, I'm also getting married in August in the Island House on a Sunday; my price is MUCH lower than it would have been had I gotten married on a Saturday night in the summer in the Salon.

    It's such a terrific modern structure and the ability to have so much outdoor space, a custom menu, etc. just can't be beat. The venue really has taken a beating in the last couple of months with its new transition, but we've been really happy thus far. If it's a venue you're really interested in, I'd give it a chance. There are a lot of Belle Mer brides here who would be happy to answer any specific questions you have before signing.

    If you have any questions, you can definitely email me. Smile
  • Kelly8JellyKelly8Jelly member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    We looked at probably every place in Newport - including Belle Mer.  In my opinion, it's a pretty building but it ends there.  We found the woman we met with to be very uneducated, vague and ultimately dishonest with the pricing.  We spent over $35,000 on our venue and we did not choose Belle Mer because we thought their "fees and mark ups" were just stupid.  Why would anyone pay to have someone else book your vendors at a 30% mark up?  I totally don't get it.  It's way over-priced for a very "New Jersery night-club style".
  • JessiTessJessiTess member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I'm getting married at Belle Mer in August and have had similar experiences to those listed here.

    I also looked at the Hyatt, Atlantic Beach Club, Rosecliff, and Castle Hill before choosing Belle Mer.  For Newport I found the "event minimum" price to be comparable to the other minimums in Newport. 

    Besides the look and feel of Belle Mer, one of the things that appealed to me was the idea of an event minimum over a # of people minimum. 

    I wish I had asked more questions before signing the contract, perhaps I could have limited the mark up a bit.  However, as long as you ask questions and are clear about what you want and what your budget is you should be fine.  As another commenter said, the markups can be high, but they are not sneaky about it.

    Belle Mer has done all of the coordinating, except when I have requested it. 

    I would suggest asking to meet your potential coordinator before signing the contract (if you choose BM).  One of the problems I had in the beginning was the I absolutely adored the sales manager (Nichole), but didn't have the same admiration and confidene in my actual coordinator (who has since been changed).

    Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions, happy to help if I can!
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