Union Mills Homestead Brides??

Hey ladies.

Are any of you using Union Mills Homestead in Westminster as your wedding venue?
If so, can you share any information you have about hosting your wedding there?

Is there a preferred list of caterers?  Do you have to rent tables, chairs, china, etc or do they have that there?  I know there are a ton of other things I should be asking, but just wanted to get an idea of what weddings there include.

Thanks so much for any input you can provide!!
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Re: Union Mills Homestead Brides??

  • Yep!!!

    I have actually met 1 girl already who booked there, and another emailed me yesterday who is interested too haha.  

    I booked back in August for my June 2013 wedding.  But there is only 1 caterer, Kountry Kafe.  Tom (owner of KK) has decorated the barn and basically runs the show there, so naturally they don't let any other caterer in there.  You/he rents the tables and linens and tents (should you want them, I will be using one for the bar, and one out the back since my father has decided to pay for it and add a handful of people to the guest list) for you, so he goes through this process each weekend with whoever he rents from.  So he just forwards the cost of renting to us so it is added on top of the quote he gives you for food.  You can give him a call (just google Kountry Kafe Catering and call and ask for Tom) and he will send you the menu with pricing.  He is always more than happy to answer questions too.  I think one thing that was unclear was sodas, and I think he only includes free sodas if you are paying for a bartender (since he suggests we supply our own alcohol, which is GREAT because it's much much cheaper).

    I am happy to answer any more on here, but if you PM me please keep in mind I always forget to check my inbox...
    June 2013 - Shoe Inspiration
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  • Oh, and they do disposable plates included in pricing (they are actually quite nice, hard plastic with a painted metallic rim around them) or its $5 pp to add in real china.
    June 2013 - Shoe Inspiration
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  • Thank you sooooo much!!!!

    Do you rent the barn thru Kountry Kafe or do you still have to go thru Jane Sewell?

    How many people can the barn accomodate?

    Thank you again ever so much!!!  I would love to stay in touch as I'm thinking this might be a perfect fit for us and would love to see how your planning is going :-)
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  • Jane is how you rent the barn, but when I went to book she had just handed the papers to Tom and I signed both contracts (catering and venue) with him, and he returned the venue one back to her.  I think I could only meet on a sunday and maybe they aren't open on sundays or something, but I needed to book the date ASAP because the date I originally wanted (May 25) had already booked while I was waiting for my church to get back to me.

    I would say if you do the bar outside under the tent (I think everyone basically does this, it costs like $400 for that tent), you should be able to get 140-150 people inside the barn.  Then if you add a tent off the back side too for $500, he says he can get up to 210 people.

    I have 180 invited, and I am doing a tent off the back side (thanks to Pops :-p so I could invite a few cuts that I didn't want to make) so it will be much more comfortable because I was planning on having 150 all inside, which is possible but probably tight.
    June 2013 - Shoe Inspiration
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  • How many guests will you have?  And when are you looking to have your wedding? 
    June 2013 - Shoe Inspiration
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  • We will be between 125 and 150.  We haven't created our definite invite list, but I just started brainstorming today and am up to 105 people.  Then while I'm sitting here typing this, I thought of a whole other set of family friends that I forgot to add to that list...whoops!

    I spoke with Tom and he mentioned that he was pretty sure 2013 dates were booked up and that Jane was working on booking 2014 dates.  This kinda bummed me out, but we've already been engaged for almost 4 years, so what is another 2 (maybe a little less) to wait??!!!

    Did you setup an appointment with Jane to tour the barn or did you just go there on your own and look around?  Before even saying, yes we will do 2014 - I guess it would help to see it in person and decide.  Fiance and I have both been there 10 + years ago as a middle school overnight camp run by our school system, so weddings there had never even been a thought in my mind.  I'm sure going back now and with an agenda will give me a whole new perspective on this place.

    I'm happy to see the barn rentals doing so well for that area, but sad that I may not be planning a 2013 wedding anymore if this is what we decide we absolutely love!  :)

    I know it's not air conditioned, but are there fans? 

    Sidenote: I did speak with Tom and what a super nice, helpful guy!  Thanks for sending me his name :-)
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  • NO there is no AC, so I tried to get May and ended up in early June because I do not want July or August.  But yes, he will rent fans (maybe $50, not a big deal) and there is a nice cross breeze in there when you open it up.  

    Yes I met with Jane to take a tour, I don't live up there so it was tough for me to schedule, but I do recommend sooner rather than later.  As evidenced, they book up quickly and when I booked in August for my 2013 wedding, I was the second person to book (the first took May 25 sad face).  

    The good news is if you invite 150, they likely won't all show so I know you could fit everyone in the barn without the added tent off the back (I was planning on 150 attending and still fitting them in the barn).  Still would need the bar tent though but I seriously think about 90% of people use it.

    June 2013 - Shoe Inspiration
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  • I am getting married there on Saturday! I will let you know how it goes.  :)
  • edited June 2012
    So, the wedding and reception are over, and here are my experiences. 

    The venue: Could not be more gorgeous or affordable. The only reason to rent Union Mills Homestead, in my opinion. The bullfrogs in the pond behind the ceremony were out in full force, and there was a lot of croaking going on during the rehearsal and ceremony, which I was delighted about since we had an animal themed wedding.  :)

    The catering/bartending: This one is more complicated. I will break it down by each topic: Catering: The food was good. It's not the fanciest thing you will ever eat, so brides looking for a fancy meal will not want this place as a venue (as KKK--yes, poor choice of catering initials but I suspect it's on purpose--is the only caterer allowed on site). My guests liked the food, but as I suspect is the case with most wedding guests, they will soon forget it. The servers overall were attentive and polite. Tom, the main manager who works with the clients, is very helpful, down to earth and attentive. He was wonderful to work and plan with. Unfortunately, he was not there for our wedding, as he had another event that day, and he did not tell us this until the day before the wedding while we were setting up. I think A LOT of what we had discussed with Tom got lost in translation when it came to working with the co-manager, Donnie. 

    Bartending: This was my main concern, and if it does not bother you, then you should have no problem. A week before the wedding we discussed with Tom how we would like to pretip the bartender, so that tips would not be accepted from our guests. We wanted that kind of experience for our guests. Tom recommended what would be a generous $ amount, and we were happy to go along with it. On our wedding day, while setting up, my now-husband gave the bartender kid (early 20s?), Casper, an envelope and confirmed what we had discussed with Tom (no accepting tips).

    However, after dinner, several people who knew of the arrangement saw Casper accepting tips. I went to Casper to see what was going on and to make sure my husband had given him the envelope (as my husband was very busy that day and could have forgotten). But, he had given Casper the tip envelope. While at the bar, I did see a cup filled with cash on the back table. Though it had appeared he was not accepting tips (no cup was on the front table) while I was there, several people saw him taking tips and saying "thank you" rather than "thanks, but I am not permitted to accept tips as the hosts have already taken care of that." And I get that guests can be persistent with tipping; if tips are left on the table and the guest walks away, put them out of sight. Don't leave a tip cup on the back of the table making it appear as if tips are being accepted.

    About 30 mins after my chat with the bartender, his father, the co-manager caterer, Donnie, told me how his son relayed to him that the "bride came huffing and puffing, running up to the bar to see what was going on" and that his son "felt insulted and as if he was accused of stealing." This is not the case on my end. I was composed and wanted to make sure my husband did not forget to tip him. Any insult or embarrassment he felt was probably due to his own internal demons for double dipping the tips and getting caught. So, in summary, my advice to avoid this drama is to NOT offer to pretip the bartender. Just let your guests do it to keep the drama away. It's not as "fancy" but it will save you drama and keep you focused on having fun.

    The cake delivery was also late, which caused some issues. I am not sure who made this decision, but because of that, we and our guests were not allowed into the reception barn until 5:30, 30 minutes after our introductions were to occur, making us lose 30 mins of our dinner/reception. It may not seem like a lot, but with that lost time and the time I took to work things out with the bartender and his dad, the co-catering manager, I feel like I missed out on a lot of time to meet with my guests and dance. In addition to that, the bar helpers purchased 7 small cranberry juices from the liquor store and charged us for them ($18), even though almost three 62-ounce containers of cranberry juice that we provided went untouched and unopened. I am not sure what happened there. When I spoke with Tom on Monday, he said the cake situation probably caused his team to get flustered and confused, so that could have caused the extra juice incident. 

    Info that may also come in handy for you, for budgeting purposes: We had 114 guests. We ordered off the cheap menu, and our catering/rental bill came to over $7,000 (with about $1,700 of that in rentals). None of the bill was itemized, so we do not really know how much we paid for linens, chairs, tents, etc. I did not expect the rentals to cost $1,700 but they were necessary items to have.

    (sorry about formatting--will not let me change colors)

  • edited June 2012
    More info...

    Concerning KKK: When the cake was late, which I was chatting with Donnie about, all he seemed to focus on was that the delivery guy was "black." He dropped that several times in our conversation. I am not sure why he had to make sure to point out that the delivery guy was black, but it was all he seemed focused on. At one point he mentioned how he wanted to "kill that black delivery guy in the parking lot when he arrived." I found that a bit off-putting, esp since I had black guests at my wedding.

    Bats: as the reception room (The Tannery) is a barn, there are bats living in it. When you set up the Friday before a wedding, you will see bat poop all over the tables and floors (unless the caterers get there before you). However, you will not see any when you uncover the tables the day of the wedding. I guess they fly away that night due to the commotion. As I mentioned, we had an animal themed wedding (and we own pet rats), so we were cool with the bats (and even excited to know they were there), but that may turn some people off...esp when they have to clean off bat poop on Friday before setting up.
  • MsCakeRat thank you for posting your take on the Homestead.  I am getting married there this month and was eager to read what you had to say.  I really got a kick out of you pointing out that that the catering company's initials are KKK.  I was furious when I came to this realization that the exclusive caterer for my venue was ultimately rubbing there hate title in my face as I was being forced to support his business that comes along with the beautiful homestead location.  I have not had the same experience as you with finding the manager of the KKK establishment to be easy to work with.  Tom is quite stuck in his ways and gets frustrated at any mention of doing something different than he normally does it.  I have found his company to be unproffesional in numerous ways when it comes to itemizing or describing the product being received.  There was no description for any of the food choices beyond it's basic title and no real option for a food tasting.  So hopefully what ever I ordered tastes good cause I wasn't allowed to try it. 
    I spoke with local restaurant owners that were distraught over the KKK catering company's exclusive contract for the homestead seeing as it's a county run facility and their tax dollars go to maintaining yet they can not obtain the contract.  Instead the customer is left with a very unflexible choice.
  • Very interesting to read and I truly appreciate your honest feedback. We visited Union Mills today and just love it! Now after reading your comments about the caterer, the big decision will be do we want to tolerate and support such a place??!! Ughhh! Just when I felt closer to making a decision! Also, thanks for the rec about not Pretipping. Although something we would have done, I would prefer to not have to deal with that hassle as well!
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  • MsCakerat - thank you for all the good information. I am getting married there this May and I agree with whoever said the lack of tasting is very frustrating. 

    I was wondering which menu items you selected, since you said they were good. Thanks for your help!

  • Do you know what times they rent out the barn? Their website lists events ending at dusk, but that seems so early.
  • In Response to Re: Union Mills Homestead Brides??:

    thank you SO much! were you able to bring your own liquor at least? Thanks!!!!!
  • Thank you for posting! I looked here yesterday and fell in love. I'm so worried about "what if it rains what do I do?!!!" Any suggestions for pictures if it rains?? I have until Thursday to decide to book my date. :
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