The Hippo


Oct 15, 2019








Location, location, location

Maybe you want your wedding day to look like a scene from The Great Gatsby. Or maybe you want that tropical feel even though the special day is happening in the Granite State. [Two words: destination wedding. Just kidding. But seriously.]

If your theme wedding involves a special location, you need to have a plan in mind and be ready for a steep price tag, according to wedding and event coordinators at New Hampshire venues. Staff members at these venues say they’ll do their best to accommodate people’s dream themes, but elaborate themed weddings are not the norm.

“We will try to accommodate,” said Nancy Greiss, event manager at the Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown. “We will do our best to make the day as special as you want it to be.”

Greiss said  Stonebridge has done a beach-themed wedding before, as well as some decidedly more casual affairs. Greiss remembered one wedding where the bride and groom wanted a picnic feel. That’s no problem.
“If they have a good plan, if they’ve researched out ideas that they have, we’re happy to work with them to bring that idea to fulfillment for that day,” Greiss said.

At another wedding, the happy couple wanted a lounge theme, where the venue was set up like a cocktail bar lounge, with half the tent set up for dining and the other half like a cocktail area with chairs and low tables, Greiss said.

“That was pretty unique,” Greiss said.

“We’re not seeing a lot of that happening, but we do occasionally,” Greiss added.

Dan Witham, director of catering at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel, said it’s more common that a bride and groom opt for a traditional wedding and incorporate themes into some aspects of the ceremony. Witham said the Sheraton once held a medieval wedding; the style was incorporated into every piece of the wedding, he said.

“We can do anything, within reason, if you have the money to make it into something,” Witham said. “So sometimes it’s backtracking a little bit, depending on what the theme is. The more simple it is, the easier it is to incorporate.”

— Jeff Mucciarone

Tasteful planning together
Themes can make a wedding memorable

By Kelly Sennott

Why is it that Star Wars, Harry Potter, Medieval and other out-of-the-ordinary themed weddings get eye rolls and snickers? Sure, they can be goofy and silly, but they provide what’s important in a wedding: they’re memorable, they’re original and, most important, they’re fun.

Professional event planner and owner of Every Day Details LLC Laurie Mantegari prefers planning themed weddings to planning traditional ones. The trick, she says, is to do it tastefully.

“You don’t want it to get out of control,” she said. “Make it so that everything goes together; you have to be careful not to be overwhelming,” she said.

Having been in the business for 23 years, she knows what it takes to make a wedding a hit. She typically tackles 12 to 20 weddings each year, from May to December, and has planned weddings themed around baseball, hockey, wineries, beaches, hiking, writing and fairy tales. The themed weddings, she said, have become much more popular within the past 10 to 15 years.

That may be partly because they provide a more intimate experience, both for the couple and for the wedding guests.

“It brings you closer because you’re working on the details for a passion you share. And the wedding guests feel part of it too — they feel they’re part of the story, because if they know you, they know about the passion you have,” Mantegari said.

Mantegari recently planned a wedding for a Red Sox-crazed couple. The event was decked in Red Sox paraphernalia, with tiny baseball bat name tags and mini candy baseball mitts.

“Visitors knew that this couple was all about the Red Sox, and friends were very a part of that,” she said. “People love to be able to relate to something because it makes them feel like they belong — it sets the tone.”

Chloe and Matt Kanner celebrated their shared love of the written word in a writing-themed wedding. They met when they both started working at a newspaper on the same day.

“I thought there should be a strong concept to make our wedding unique and sort of brand it as very ‘us.’ It would also help to tie the different parts of the evening together,” Chloe said.

They collaborated in planning their wedding, sending save-the-date bookmarks as invitations, and describing the wedding as the “next chapter” in their lives. A ring pillow was created out of an antique poetry book and tables at the event were numbered as “chapters.” Used books with colorful fabric covers and symbolic titles were centerpieces in the middle of the tables, with a handful of romantic flowers atop in a mason jar. An old typewriter and a vintage card catalog helped guests sign in, with the wedding date stamped in red ink and the guest name listed as the “borrower.”

Themed weddings provide something that traditional weddings lack: the element of surprise.

“Traditional weddings typically follow a specific outline. When my friends were getting married, it was the same thing over and over: You go to the church and have the ceremony, which is then followed by a reception or cocktail — people know what to expect,” Mantegari said. “However, with a themed wedding, you don’t know what the next piece coming will be, and it’s exciting.”

The theme can create a relatively relaxed atmosphere. That’s what Laura Tisdale was going for when she planned her beach-themed wedding at Hampton Beach. “I didn’t want something formal and uncomfortable — I just wanted everyone to have fun. I didn’t want people to think they had to buy an $800 dresses and wear expensive clothes,” Tisdale said.

Cristin Benson noticed a more relaxed, fun atmosphere at her winery-themed September wedding, which Mantegari helped her plan.

“I got calls afterwards — everyone had so much fun at ours, and we got really great feedback. We had an excellent DJ, and we even played games of golf! It was so relaxed,” Benson said.

In planning a wedding, however, there’s also the question of the price and the work required: is it worth it to hire a planner? Does it cost more to hold a themed wedding? Is it more difficult?

Benson thought planning a themed wedding was easier: “You know exactly what you want, and instead of being all over the place, you have a focus,” she said. “The planner is someone who can advocate for what you want vs. what various venues want,” she said.

Traditional weddings can take just as long to plan and be as expensive as themed weddings, Mantegari said; the price is dependent on the details, and of course, the theme. Although it may seem pricier to hire a planner at first, they offer expertise and can provide more affordable options based on their knowledge of venues, caterers, etc.

“She had references to photographers, cake makers, florists, and I knew that she got me better prices because she knew how to find them,” Tisdale said. “She also made it so easy — I don’t know if it actually would have happened if I didn’t have Laurie’s help!”

For those who prefer to plan their wedding themselves, Mantegari offers day-of-wedding services, allowing the couple to relax on the day of their wedding.

“The day of the wedding is really a time that they need to enjoy themselves. The day goes by very quickly, and many people hire me just for the day of — to ensure that everything runs smoothly,” Mantegari said.

“I like to make it so that people have so much fun that day, people will continue to talk about it for years to come. It’s great to see the finished product the day of,” she said. “One of my biggest goals in life is to put smiles on people’s faces. When you help someone, and when you make them feel good, it makes you feel good, too,” she said.

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