A Home is More than a House

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The perfect marriage of venue and vision

Choosing a wedding venue is always the most exciting part of the planning process.  It’s one of the first things you do after getting engaged, and there’s no better way to get psyched up for the big day than visiting beautiful locations with the love of your life.

But patience is of the utmost importance during this stage of planning.  It’s easy to fall in love with a space and rush to sign the contract, especially if you’re interested in one of the cities most coveted dates (I’m looking at you Saturdays in October!).  But before you take the plunge and lose that non-refundable deposit, it’s important to assess how each particular venue fits into your wedding day plans.

For example, say you’ve always dreamt of riding into your wedding on a proud white steed (I prefer a hippo, but they’re hard to come by in philadelphia, and besides, who keeps a stash of pearls around to feed them?).

At least you can choose your color

To fulfill this childhood dream would be impossible at most center city venues, even here at the ever-flexible Hotel Palomar (though we would love to make this happen, I don’t think a progression of wild stallions would fit on the elevator to our 25th floor Burnham Ballroom). In this situation, you’d have to widen your search to include the suburbs and more rural locations.

That situation may be a bit dramatic, but it illustrates our point – venue selection is incredibly important, both for the look you desire, and also for the type and style of event you plan to have.

Another example – say your heart is set on a 1o piece polka band (really?!? well, it’s your wedding…) but your guest list is only 100 strong, and you’d like an “intimate” venue.  Well, most “intimate” venues would get blown out by a 10 piece band, leaving you and your guest’s ears ringing for days afterward. Here you have to choose: 10 piece polka band, or small venue.  They are pretty much mutually exclusive.

I could go on all day, but you get the idea.  Choosing a venue is about more than just the right decor, or the right size, or even the right food.  It’s a combination of all these things and more.  So before you sign that contract and cut the check, be sure that your venue is able to accommodate the plans you have made (or dream of) for the big day.

– php

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You vs. “the Man”

Magazines – check.  Organized spreadsheet of venues – check.  Checklist – check.

Congratulations!  You’re on your way to an organized, efficiently planned wedding (or party… we do social events too!).  But after making some calls to check pricing and availability, you keep running into dead ends.  The hotels are all booked, and most of the event space is already taken.  And the ones that are available are demanding sky-high prices.

What”s going on?  Who is stealing your party space?  You specifically planned your date away from holidays and other popular times, to take advantage of the lower rates.  So why does everything cost so much?

Well, let me tell you.  It’s a silent killer.  Sneaky and shadowy, most magazines and websites never mention this one very important factor that can substantially increase the costs associated with your special day.  And that one thing is…CITY-WIDE CONVENTIONS…dah dah dah!!!! (that was scary music, btw)

Don’t let this force descend on your party!

Before you start a facebook page declaring your hate for city-wide conventions, remember that the influx of cash they bring is, economically speaking, vital.  They stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, and shop at local stores.  In addition, when cities make a pro-active effort to lure in conventions, that usually coincides with a city-wide effort to increase hotel rooms, retail, and restaurant space.  See New Hotel Monaco.  It’s a bit of a double edged sword, but luckily, there is a way around it.

The largest conventions in this city, the ones that will “compress” (a little industry jargon for you) available space and raise rates, take place at the Philadelphia Convention Center down on 11th and Arch.  And the great people over there have made everyone’s life a bit easier by posting a calender listing all the big events throughout the year.

See that one on the very top, June 10 – 12, the American Diabetes Association?  Yea, that’s a big one.  Maybe 15,000 – 20,000 new faces will descend on Philadelphia in a sugar busting frenzy.  Great for Philadelphia.  Bad for you.

But now that you are armed with the right tools, you can choose the perfect date, one full of open hotel rooms and low rates for you and your guests.  Unless of course your event is as large as a city-wide convention, in which case you’re going to need a top notch planning team.

-php

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Immediate Event Gratification

Hard to believe, but there was a time, not too long ago, when things were different.  A time when the closest thing to mobile communication was a cordless landline, email was only sent through AOL, and wooly mammoths freely roamed the earth…well, maybe that last part isn’t true, but it felt that long ago.

The modern, urban wooly mammoth

During this golden age of event planning, parties were planned many months, if not years ahead of time.  Weddings as well – throwing a full wedding with only 3 months of planning (cue gasp!?!) was deemed impossible.

But times have changed, and whether it is due to the increasing efficiency of the wedding machine or simply the immediate gratification that we now demand, it is not uncommon for us to field the hurried call of brides looking to get hitched within the next six months – and sometimes the next 3!

So how do you pull together such a large scale event in such a small time frame?  Well, here are a few tips that work well for us here at Hotel Palomar

  1. Venues that can supply everything you need can streamline the process.  Hotels in general (and Palomar specifically :)) have enough tables, chairs, plates, glasses, etc. in stock to handle the largest event their rooms can hold.  If you decide to use, say, that really cool community garden you saw in the wedding mag, you will need to rent everything separately, adding time, frustration, and ultimately expense, to the big day.
  2. Decide what’s most important, and finalize those details first.  While you may have always dreamt of riding into your wedding on the back of a white elephant, you’re probably better off making sure your DJ and photographer are booked first.  It’s the details that will kill you – there are so many more than you ever imagined, so keep it simple.  Once the basics are done, if you have extra time, add some pizzazz.
  3. Cut down the size of your wedding.  Less guests means less details which means less planning.  Added bonus: less headache
  4. Book you wedding with someone you trust.  You can’t go it alone, and having an experience planner at your side can increase the efficiency of your efforts 10 fold.  Most venues have planners on staff to help with the details – and some of those have won awards, like our very own wedding extraordinaire Jim Weber.

There are more of course, but we can’t give away all the secrets just yet.  You’ll have to call and talk to us for those.

(pssst…over here…I’ll give you one more – forget guest choice in entrees.  Pick a duet, preferably meat/fish, and serve everyone the same meal.  No more coordinating 100+ choices on your floor plan, and everyone gets a little something they want.)

– php

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It’s All About You…and a Little About Them

It’s your day.  We know that.  You know that.  Your guests know that.  But oftentimes, as your time fills up with hair appointments, bridal luncheons, photos, and all the hoopla that is involved in a modern wedding, your guests day is filled up with…ummm…well…aimless wandering and lifetime movies.

Fast forward to your wedding day – a beautiful, sunny Saturday, with little birds chirping and hopping around and sewing your dress (wait, i think that was snow white).  Your ceremony begins at 4:00pm sharp, which leaves your guests, ohhh, about 6 hours to kill before the big event.  What are they supposed to do?

It is an often over-looked component of the wedding weekend.  Most likely anyone staying at the hotel is from out of town – which means their weekend in Philadelphia is also a weekend away from home, work, children, or any/all of the above.  While they will surely enjoy your wedding, (especially here at the Palomar), it might be a nice idea to give them some extracurricular activities as well.

This leaves you some options.

  1. You can go through the trouble of finding interesting, exciting, and unique experiences, organizing them, and finding ways to get them into your guests hands
  2. Leave your friends and family on their own, to search through thousands of webpages and yelp reviews to find a relevant activity
  3. Let Hotel Palomar’s staff take over, with their local knowledge and incomparable hipness, to direct them to the best places to eat, play, and learn.

You see, we go out of our way to find the best locals we can, so our staff is not only friendly and professional, but well-versed in all the things that make Philadelphia great.  Wiz Wit please!

In order to make it easy for all, we’ve added a special page on our website, so that you and your guests can learn to Live Like a Local.  Or, find us on Facebook for real-time updates of the best of the best of the best of the best.  Seriously, it’s that good.

– php

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A Knight to Remember

Ask any Philadelphian, and they will tell you this city knows how to party.  Whether it’s tailgating before a Phillies game, clubbing in olde city, or a gala at the art museum, never a weekend goes by without booze that needs drinking and rugs that need cutting.

But every now and then, like a surprise storm, something comes through that just totally blows the lid off this city.  A party so stylish, so star-studded, so epic, that it reaches far beyond the familiar pages of Philly Mag and into the national conversation.  That party took place right here, at Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, on April 4.

Let’s rewind a bit and start at the beginning – Sir Richard Branson (the knight!) decides that his airline, Virgin America, is going to begin running non-stop flights out of Philadelphia Airport.  And to celebrate this new venture, he wants to throw a party.  But Virgin is no cookie cutter airline, and this can’t be just another cookie cutter party.  It had to have a WOW factor.  So naturally, they came to us.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so rather than tell you about it, I’m going to show you.  Since the bash was picked up by so many media outlets, I’ve organized all the links below.  Keep an eye out for your favorite personalities, like (now I’m name dropping) Amber Rose, Terrance Howard, M. Night Shyamalan, the Philadelphia Flyers, Penn Badgeley, Seth Green, and more…

Photos
Event Photos from SmugMug
Philly.com
Zimbio
JustJared.com
Philly Post
City Paper
Big Rube’s Street Gazing Blog
Virgin America’s Facebook Page

Videos
DJ Jazzy Jeff’s Video (same as above)
Philly.com Video

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I’ll Have What She’s Having

The wedding tasting is often one of the best parts of the wedding planning process.  It’s a chance for you, your spouse, and maybe a few others (industry standards usually allow 4 guests for tastings) to try the food that will be served at your wedding, as well as get a feel for the table sets, decor, and service style of your chosen venue or caterer.

Normally we here at PHP schedule our tastings Monday – Friday, from 3pm – 5pm, 8 to 10 weeks out from your date.  The timing allows our Chef Guillermo to be present, so he can discuss ideas, flavors, and accompaniments with you in person.  It also allows you to see the freshest ingredients we are offering – Chef changes the menu seasonally, so tasting too far out from your date and you’ll miss a chance to sample the locally grown heirloom tomatoes or organic squash blossoms that really make your dinner fit for foodies.

But this then presents a problem – many couples use their invitations as menu cards, allowing guests to choose their dinner when they RSVP.  But waiting to within 10 weeks to send out invites? Not a chance!

So how do you reconcile this dilemma?  How do you send out invites 12 months in advance if you don’t choose your offerings until 10 weeks prior?  It’s actually rather simple.  Take a look at these two sample invitations


Notice anything about the menu?  It’s generic! 

This is the solution to the tasting-invitation problem.  Pick your proteins ahead of time – maybe a steak and fish, or chicken and vegetable, whatever you want to serve.  Send this out on the invite, and let your guests choose.  Then, when you have your tasting, you can pick your favorite preparation, and surprise and delight your guests with a seasonally appropriate dinner.

Except in rare circumstances (allergies, severe avoidance of a certain type of food) most people choose their dishes by protein anyway, with the accompaniments as a secondary consideration.  We’ve used this method before with great success, and continue to recommend it to all our couples.  Give it a try, you’ll find it’s simple, easy, and best of all, something you can check off your list!

-php

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Another Award? Oh, You Shouldn’t Have!

Well, to be honest this award isn’t new…we won this one a couple of months ago, but it took some time to acquire the paperwork and put it up here.  Give me a break – I mean, if I had to post every award we win, when would I have time to plan events?

There are the environmental awards (green key, LEED certification), the hotel awards (#1 on trip advisor pretty much since opening day, #2 trendiest hotel in USA) and the event awards (brides.com editors choice, best of philly).  Am I bragging?  Well, yes.

But nevertheless, we were still excited when Philly Mag’s wedding publication, Philadelphia Weddings, announced we were chosen as one of the best venues in Philadelphia for under 150 guests!

For anyone out there planning a smaller event or wedding, you know how difficult it can be.  Most places are focused on the big parties, so either you are priced out of the space, or they stick you in the smaller, less-grand ballroom down the steps and around the corner.  You won’t be the only event in house, and most of the staff will be servicing the larger party.

But not here, oh no.  We’re a boutique property and proud of it, so our space is smaller, more intimate, and best of all, we only host 1 event at at time!  So when your wedding (or cocktail party, or brunch) is happening, you can rest assured you’re receiving our full attention.

Here’s a copy of our award…you can find us in the left column (under 150), 3rd one down

-php

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