Written By Shelly Horn

Jen Irwin of Westminster and her fiancŽ Richard Weiss of St. Ignace, Michigan, have been planning their “big day” (June 4, 2005) for four months and are patronizing many Carroll County businesses for their unique wedding plans.

“We’re holding our rehearsal dinner at Johansson’s,” says Jen, “and Victoria Koontz of Taneytown is creating our cake.” Jen adds, “But we’ve added a modern flare to tradition that reflects my family’s diverse ethnic background.”

“I’m Irish and Scottish, my fiancŽ is German, and my step-dad is Jewish. Our wedding will include a Celtic music trio at the ceremony,” says Jen. “The cultural backgrounds will intersect at the reception, which will feature some German traditions, Irish bells and the traditional Jewish chair dance.”

Jen and Richard are not typical of couples planning their nuptials, but they have one thing in common with everyone else: the process.

You set a date for your wedding and the planning begins, a race against time to put the finishing touches on that perfect day. Fortunately, as a Carroll County resident, there are many local businesses that can lend both experience and expertise to your wedding day – traditional or not – regardless of your budget.

The first steps in planning are setting a budget and deciding who will orchestrate the day’s events. Some couples choose to employ a wedding planner. Others take the more traditional approach of planning and carrying out the wedding day events on their own, oftentimes with help from family members or friends.

In either case, the prospective bride and groom must establish a financial baseline in order to select the appropriate services for their special day. Most Carroll businesses provide services to fit any budget, from modest to unlimited.

The Place
Many Carroll residents have attended elegant wedding receptions at Martin’s Westminster and the Carroll County Farm Museum. But the county boasts some hidden treasures as well for those couples seeking a more intimate or unique experience.

The Yellow Turtle Inn, New Windsor, offers three acres complete with a large Victorian Manor, rooms for overnight accommodations, a glass enclosed garden courtyard and outdoor patio, a gazebo garden and an upper deck for up to 80 people.

Those on a tighter budget have the option of a weekday evening ceremony at $875, while others may choose a Saturday event at $1200, adding an overnight stay for the wedding party participants, ranging from $75 to $165 per night per room.

The facility charge includes planning meetings, a six-hour event for up to 82 people, Yellow Turtle Inn Staff, parking attendants, rehearsal, dressing suites and the choice of Gazebo Garden, glass-enclosed and air conditioned Garden Courtyard.

Boulevard and Beyond Ltd (formerly Wilhelm Ltd Caterers) offers on- andoff- premises reception catering. They can also put together a number of different packages, from the less expensive cocktail reception with appetizers and non-alcoholic drinks, to the more extravagant sit-down dinner reception with appetizers, an entrŽe and open bar for guests.

Pricing is based upon the package and number of guests expected. Limited or open bar can be added to any package for additional charge.

Country View Tuxedo & Wedding Accessories, Westminster, has tuxedos for rent for the groom and groomsmen ranging from the basic tuxedo at $49.99 to the popular Ecko Unlimited at $110.99.

“In addition to tuxedos, I offer a lot of different wedding accessories
here,” says owner Robin Pool. “I have everything from cake topper figurines starting at $9.99 to gold and silver champagne flutes at $50.00. I also have garters, guest books, ring bearer pillows, gifts and more.”

Cecelia’s Bridals in Westminster also offers high quality designer gowns and wedding day accessories to fit most budgets.

The Cake
Linda Gourley, owner of Carroll’s Just Desserts by Linda, is a member of the Wedding Professionals of Maryland and enjoys creating unique wedding cakes for her clients.

“I can create unique and beautiful wedding cakes within a budget. My specialization allows me to offer many suggestions to bring out the unique blend of the bride and groom’s personal preferences.”

Linda points to two of her creations as examples: “The staircase and fountain cake is beautiful as well as tasty and costs about $600,” she says. Her unique seashell cake cost $325.

“It was chosen and designed because the bride and groom were going to be married in a tropical location near a beach and would be spending their honeymoon there,” says Linda. “They had planned for their reception to be held after the honeymoon, and wanted the theme of the cake to coincide with the wedding.”

Starry Night Bakery in Westminster has been serving Carroll for only about three years, but boasts a large collection of recommendations, photo albums of unique wedding cakes and tips for couples planning a large reception on a tight budget.

“Fool the eye,” advises Starry Night owner Shannon Clarke. “A good way to save money on a large wedding is to have a smaller, gorgeous wedding cake at, say, $3.25 a person and larger back-up sheet cakes, at $1 a person kept in the kitchen to serve to everyone.”

In addition, Shannon recommends that couples choose a memorable flavor for their wedding cake. “It seems like such a waste to go with yellow cake when you can get an almond raspberry, pineapple mango or peanut butter blast for the same price!,” she says.

Local florists add a creative flair to Carroll weddings by providing far more than flowers.

“We have all the rental items for tables: centerpieces, table covers, candles, flowers and vases,” says Lori Welsh-Graham of Dutterer’s Florist, Westminster.

And apparently many are making unique choices with their floral selections. “Cubed glass is really popular right now,” says Lori. “These are glass cubes, varying in size, that can be joined together in sets of two, three, or four.

Some people choose to have flowers in all of the cubes, and some fill them with a variety of flowers, glass beads, candy, you name it.”

For those on a tighter budget, Lori suggests everyday flowers and less expensive vases or holders. Some people provide their own vases to cut costs.

“We did one wedding with all the flowers in Mason Jars,” adds Lori. “A more expensive wedding would include more elegant 3-foot glass vases with large arrangements in the tops.”

As for the choice of flowers, Lori advises those who are keeping a tight rein on expenses to choose everyday, more available flowers. Those who wish to splurge can opt for imported roses or orchids.

Lori adds, “The secret is fitting the bride’s budget. We are well aware that flowers are not one of the first things chosen in the wedding planning process.”

The Main Event in Mt. Airy is a retail party supply store with event decorating capability as well, specializing in balloon dŽcor.

“Balloon dŽcor, in the hands of a professional, can be a very beautiful,
effective, and economical alternative to using flowers,” says Main Event owner Carol Cahall. “We do a lot of arches, dance floor treatments and head table dŽcor.”

“DŽcor is of utmost importance because it sets the tone for the whole event,” says Carol. “It is also a way to personalize the event and incorporate colors and themes throughout the event, which creates continuity and an intricately planned, organized effect.”

Transportation & Entertainment
Some couples enjoy shopping for bands for their reception, but many opt for a versatile deejay with a large selection of music.

Lasting Impressions Deejay & Limousine Service offers two wedding services:

(1) Three different Deejay packages that range from “Standard,” a single deejay for four hours at $1095, to “Super Deluxe,” a deejay and an entertainer, advanced light show, including laser and intelligent lighting, and fog machine for $1395.

(2) For transportation on the wedding day, a large selection of cars including classic limousines, the Ford Excursion limo, a 1947 Princess Rolls Royce limo and others. Those who book the deejay service receive three hours of complimentary limo service.

“Go see what you’re getting,” advises Lasting Impressions owner Ron Brooks. “See the vehicles and check out deejays ahead of time. If companies don’t offer, beware.Your wedding reception will be the quickest and most expensive four hours of your life, but because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, couples should be supercritical on everything.”

Those on a slimmer budget who wish to ride in something nicer than the everyday vehicle and less expensive than a limo may consider renting a car for the day and having a family member or friend drive. Enterprise offers luxury cars like Jaguar, Infinity and Cadillac for about $80 a day, and will drop off and pick up the rental car.