Its been 2 weeks since my wedding and I'm back from honeymoon with reviews.
I don't remember how I found the Village. They are out of the way up in Barkhamsted, are a seasonal venue and double as a summer camp during the week. They were fantastic throughout the whole wedding and planning. There were a few things that drew us to them as a venue. One is that their base package is pretty affordable, and they don't include alcohol in their wedding packages. For alcohol, you can bring it yourself, or work with a liquor store near them who will deliver whatever you want, then then pick up whatever is used, so its super easy. Or, you can work with a bar tending service like margarita man. I also liked that they have great spaces for outdoor or indoor weddings. We were planning outdoor, and then it rained the entire week leading to the wedding, and was pretty cold out, so we decided on indoor 2 days before. Inside, looks like a barn, very rustic, and you get married in front of a huge stone fireplace that can be decorated with flowers, or candles. Outside is in front of a pond, with a white gazebo. Either way, great options. For the reception you can mix indoor, outdoor, and a pavilion buffet. For pictures, they are also down the road from the Barkhamsted reservoir, which is really really pretty.
One final really cool thing about them as a place, is that it would be really easy to do a super offbeat wedding there. They have a pool, zip lines, bocci courts, volleyball courts, a climbing wall, ect, which all can be used (for a fee) during the day if you wanted to do more of a picnic and games type thing. We didn't end up using the facilities at all, but at the beginning we had thought about it.
Leading up to the wedding, they were very responsive and helpful, just all around great. Day of, same thing. Everything went smoothly, the food was delicious, the place looked great.
Potential downsides: They are out of the way a bit, and there are not good hotel options. The closest hotels are either at Bradly, Avon, or Torrington, all about 15-20 minutes drive, and at night, the area they are in is dark with small roads. So, if you are having a mostly out of town wedding like we did, this is a bit of a problem. The only other issue is that they don't do food tastings, so you just have to trust them...which we did, and the food was outstanding, but I can see how that would disturb some brides. One of their reasons for not doing food tastings is that they buy everything locally the week before the wedding...something I really liked.
I haven't gotten my pictures back yet, so this is a rec for the e-pictures and overall working with Alyson. We loved her. She is great to work with, very laid back, and very good at corralling family for pictures. Her prices are a bit lower then some of the other board favorites, especially if you get her base package.
Zach is a board favorite for good reason. He is great, responds quickly to emails, is easy going and easy to work with. affordable, and keeps the crowd happy during the wedding. We had tons of fun, and he was mixing up some salsa (half the family is from Puerto Rico) with the kindof 90's stuff us children of the 90's wanted to dance to. He was happy to take requests from my husband's little cousins (thus gangum style was played and danced to by all).
The Village doesn't do cakes, but Cakes Unlimited was on their preferred venues. Great prices, Amazing cakes. When we went for a tasting, Lisa had made a whole little cake for us, along with some cupcakes to try out, so we got to have friends taste it too, since it was way more then we could eat! The cake was beautiful, very nice and simple and so delicious. We were able to get two different kinds, with I think 3 cake flavors, and two filling flavors. I had sent her a few pinterest links of things I liked, and let her decide what worked for the venue.
I went for a trial at the Beauty Bar, and was really unhappy with my makeup....it was just way to heavy, and not what I was going for. Being somewhat of a getting my makeup done professional newbie, I hadn't brought pictures of makeup I liked(my fault!), so that was part of the problem I think. Adriana was extremely nice and helpful when I called, and she offered to redo the make up trial, which she sat in on(my make up artist was Egzona). Second trial, everything was great, and day of, I was very happy with how I and the girls looked. My family is not a big make up family, and my mom had never gotten makeup done before, so the looks ranged for a bit heavier (my husbands sister) to my mom with just color smoothing out/a tad of mascara, and all looked great. Sierra with hair did a great job too, also doing a mix of up do's and more simple looks.
Dress: Davids Bridal
I ended up at 2 David's Bridals while looking for dresses, one in Philly with my mom and one up in Manchester CT. I had a great experience at both. Both times I had great consultants, and was happily surprised by the quality of the dresses there.
Alterations: Marcy's Tailor Shop, Monroe
Marcy is great. Anytime I need anything else tailored, I'll take to her. She has great prices, and works to make sure you are happy and look perfect. She has tons of repeat business, and the shop seems a tad disorganized with people popping in and out, but the results are great.
I decorated with candles and lanterns, so flowers were not high on my priority list. I was at one point thinking of just getting some sunflowers and tying them together. Sarah was great at taking my very minimal direction and a few pinterest links and came out with beautiful bouquets. Sarah gets mostly locally grown/sourced flowers, which I also liked alot.
Transportation: Kelly Transit
We didn't get a limo, just a bus to ferry out of town guests to the venue from the hotel since it was a bit of the drive. I actually didn't ever see the bus, and my Hubby booked it. I think all went well, and he was happy with the booking process. I didn't hear about any issues at least! We had one trip for the way there, and the bus got there on time, which is all we were hoping for. One the way back we had and early trip and a later trip.
I guess giving them an A....I had no interaction/don't know the prices at all, but they showed up on time with the right bus, which I've heard on here can be an issue!
Hotel: Quality Inn, Torrington, ct
The hotel was just an absolute mess. It was a lower end hotel, so I wasn't expecting much, but they far bottomed out any low expectations. We decided to do a block of rooms in Torrington to keep cost down for friends and out of town family, lots of whom have kiddies, and also because out of towners were coming from the west and south. If we had put them in Avon or the airport it would have added at least an hour each way onto their trip.
The manager claimed that do they room blocks all the time, because they are near the racetrack out there and get large repeat groups of people. However, their system for actually getting reservations in the room blocks is pretty non functional. Guests who want to be in the block need to speak with a manager, however the manager is not always there and we found it very difficult to get them to call people back (With the exception of my brother in law who left a message and had people calling him back for a week, each time claiming he didn't have a reservation, even though he had made one the first call back). They lost reservations and doubled (or quadrupled in my Dad's case) reservations. A few weeks before the wedding after hearing of a bunch of issues, I had them send me a full list of who was in the block, which was missing about half of the reservations, and showed all of the double bookings. I went though each one with the manager, and after going through all these issues we got to the last one, where she said that the reservation was the same for two people (my sister's inlaws and one of my college friends) she tried convincing me that these two groups of people requested to share a room. When I said that wasn't possible, given that they don't know each other, she actually told me there was no way it could be in the system like that unless they requested it. I was pretty flabbergasted, considering all of the other issues that we had been going over that she would keep claiming it wasn't the hotel's issue. Just bizarre. Additionally, after I started having friends call to double check reservations she flat out lied to at least 1 of my friends that she had told me to tell people not to call unless they had a reservation number (Which was why they were calling...the hotel never sent them a number!)
Weekend of the wedding, there were more issues, including sending people to rooms that had not yet been serviced, a few rooms with non working toilets, a few rooms missing things like shower heads and light bulbs, ect. There was 1 guy working at the hotel, Mark who was great and really trying hard. The manager continued to be useless and terrible. Never apologized to anyone, including us for the issues, told one of my husbands friends that they didn't have a room for her (she was one of the lucky few who had been on our original list, and had a reservation number). The manager claimed that some of the rooms the week before had been flooded by the rain and that caused the day off issues... I really don't know if that's the case/made things worse since they were so disorganized already and clearly didn't have working systems.
On the good side, when we had about 30 friends crammed into our room for an after party, right above the lobby until about 2 am we had no complaints. Location wise they are also good, and the rooms are a good size and the beds are really comfy. Once you get into a room that was serviced, the rooms are clean and decent, and they were pretty quick to fix things that were wrong.
D (except for Mark...he gets an A for trying really hard)
Overall, with the exception of the hotel, everything was great and we had a great time! If you have any questions, send me a PM. Happy planning!