Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How We Got to the 26th...

This little tale has more twists and turns than Old Montauk Highway itself!

First there was the Montauk Lake Club. Soon after getting engaged in January of 2009 we discovered this great little members-only club situated on the edge of Lake Montauk. We figured out an "in" and began chatting with the head chef and house manager, both of whom we got along with right away. The date was set, the venue seemed perfect, the food would be fabulous, so we began to spread the word.
Time passed and we had plenty of back and forth asking questions and getting answers from Mike and Matt. That was until early March of this year when we all of a sudden got an email from chef Mike stating that he and Matt had been laid off, most definitely. He had no idea who his replacement would be, or Matt's replacement for that matter, but he wished us all the best. Mind you these two were the only people at the MLC that knew anything about our proposed wedding. We tried to get in touch with the owner to ask what was going on, trying not to sound totally crazed but obviously concerned. To this date we have not heard from him.

So we scrambled to figure out "Plan B". The Montauk Lake Club is on East Lake Drive which dead ends at the water's edge and there you find a local seafood restaurant called the Inlet. Some friends raved about the food and the setting so we wondered if it might be a possible back up.
With their ample deck space, good-sized dining room and bar area we thought it might be tight but was definitely worth asking. The end of East Lake Drive is a town beach called Gin Beach and with the Inlet only hundreds of feet away we thought we might still be able to have a waterfront ceremony and fun reception all close together and easy for people to navigate.
So as soon as we had the news from Mike about the Lake Club we called the Inlet. A few conversations with a friendly staff member led us to believe that even though the restaurants capacity was smaller than our expected 110-120 guests they would be willing to work with us. Obviously we were in quite a bind and we felt the Inlet was really coming to our rescue so we were thrilled. We knew some aspects of the wedding reception would have to be changed but we were assured the Inlet wanted to try and help us out. They offered logical suggestions and for that we were greatly appreciative, not to mention we liked the idea of supporting a locally owned and operated business. Well, that was until we actually went out there and met with their "best of the best" house manager at the end of March, exactly six months away from our proposed wedding date. In the meeting we were introduced to a very different place, a place that really didn't care to work with us at all. For every suggestion I had discussed on the phone the house manager said tersely "no way". They couldn't accommodate our size group, there was no chance of dancing, and the idea of closing the restaurant for a private party on a Saturday in September was not at all something they were interested in doing. Somehow the meeting was over before it even began. Deflated we didn't know what to say or what to do so we left without so much as a "sorry we couldn't help you" or even a handshake. Crying and cursing the Inlet from their own parking lot we swore we would never eat there again. As it was we had spent a good amount of money on dinner (terribly overpriced sushi) the night before the meeting. Clearly we would come to regret that decision! We felt led along and now the rug had been pulled out from under us a second time. Talk about leaving a bad taste in our mouths.

For a minute we really thought our wedding was off. Completely baffled we realized there was one place we hadn't checked. Gurney's Inn has been around since the late 1920's, a seaside inn, resort, spa, and conference facility. Almost 100 years later it is still considered one of Long Island's most spectacular destinations. Because it is such an all-inclusive and luxurious operation we assumed right off the bat that a wedding there would be way out of our price range. Just the same we stopped in and asked for some wedding information. There we met Virginia "Ginny" Davis, a Gurney's employee of 30 years who now works solely in the wedding department. We explained our situation and Ginny was clearly astounded by the tragic turn of events. She asked about the possibility of moving the date to a Friday or Sunday since she knew there were no Saturdays free for a wedding in September. You see, when it comes to weddings at Gurney's the staff and facility are nothing less than top notch. They have many couples that book their Gurney's wedding years in advance so we realized we had to open up our thinking even more if we still wanted to pull off a date close to September 25th. Ginny sat and worked with us, listened to our needs and told us what she could offer, honestly, realistically, and professionally. It turned out that Gurney's could and would take care of everything for us and even better? ...within our budget. Following an amazing tour of their facility there was no question in our minds this was the perfect choice for our wedding. The one catch was that we would have to change the date to Sunday the 26th. With our notebook full of numbers and information and pamphlets we retreated home to the Feleppa house in East Hampton. A couple strong drinks were poured and we spent the night talking with our parents and thinking through it all. Considering how sensational the ceremony and reception promised to be we figured the date change was not the end of the world. (And we hope it's not for our guests!) The next day we woke and knew what we had to do. Without hesitation we raced back out to Montauk and tracked down Ginny. After discussing our latest list of questions, all of which she was able to answer with the same kindness, honesty and open mind, we all cheered, "let's go for it!" The best part was that Ginny seemed as excited as we were, and it was completely genuine. It is going to be the best. Without question we have made the right decision.

So here we are. We have a signed contract and now, finally, we have a wedding venue. YAY!
Until we are all together again, looking out over that awesome ocean, celebrating the brilliance of love, and partying our little hearts out,

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