Ferris Robinson: Venues, Menus and I-Dos

Monday, February 25, 2013 - by Ferris Robinson

It's not as important as actually saying I Do out loud in front of people. And knowing what hangs in the balance of that simplest of sentences.

But really, it's almost as important. The wedding venue is at the tip top of the To Do list, and as soon as you get the engagement ring on that finger, or have him pinkie swear it's on the way, or make him look you in the eye and promise he's being serious about the marriage invitation, find your venue!

You probably know what size wedding you're looking at, and that will narrow down your choices right away. Chattanooga has added a few new spots for weddings, and just in the nick of time! These wedding venues fill up fast, especially during the wedding months of spring and early summer.

Stratton Hall, nestled at the foot of Lookout Mountain right behind Wendy's and Krystal, is a great option for any size wedding. Capable of wining and dining enormous wedding parties, up to 1000 people, Stratton Hall can also host more intimate gatherings. Heavy drapery divides the 10,000 square foot space into intimate 'rooms', one of which boasts a mesmorizing 'flat screen fireplace'.

Large detailed columns divide the space, and elegant lighting give a formal feel that can easily be accentuated or dressed down.

The bride's dressing room is beautifully appointed with a door-sized gilded mirror and comfortable seating for the wedding party. Also, this former warehouse can be divided into a 'church' for the ceremony, and a ball room for the reception with a simple pull of the curtains. The private outdoor patio is furnished with seating and an arbor and is perfect for taking a break from the band, or just a few moments alone.

One advantage of Stratton Hall is the option to provide your own food and beverages. In other words, you can pay your caterer directly, load up on wine at Costco and practically save the rental fee. A list of preferred caterers is provided, but you can choose anyone you like. For more information, call 667-4332.

The Renaissance Center is another new venue and is located 2 miles off the East Ridge Exit in the middle of ten picturesque acres of farmland. Almost one thousand people can meander around the stone terrace with its outdoor fireplace, and come inside the main room and feast on delicacies from the one-of-a-kind hand carved buffet and bar. Or they can stroll down to the fields and pet the horses.

"We can seat 350 comfortably," event Planner Beth Roberson says, but we can also host a smaller number of guests, from fifty to seventy five, and because of the layout of the room, it looks cozy, not empty."

Beth can be as involved in your affair as you desire – she can provide everything from the catering to the band to the valet parking. Or she can be as hands-off as you please as well, basically providing the venue and leaving you to the details. And your price would be adjusted accordingly.

"We have a state-of-the-art sound system and a fantastic stage," she says. Lauren Alaina had her 18th birthday party here, and the Renaissance Center was nothing if not star-worthy.

"We are a high-end venue, but have a rustic elegance," Beth explains. Call her at 423-508-4468 for more details or for a viewing. But be forewarned. "Out of the thirty people I've shown the Renaissance Center to, all but one have booked it," she says.

Smack dab in the middle of downtown Chattanooga, the historic Stone Fort Inn can serve a seated dinner for up to sixty people, a buffet for up to eighty, or accommodate up to one hundred and fifty for a stand-up reception. Saturated with charm and warmth, the newly renovated inn boasts aged limestone block walls on the interior as well as exterior, two terraces outdoors and an award-winning restaurant, Terra Mae.

The newly wedded couple can just slip away upstairs to their bridal suite after the festivities and toast each other in front of a blazing fire or soak in an antique claw footed tub.

Your food and drink are in excellent hands with Terra Mae, "We have an outstanding chef," David says. "He is on par with the best chefs in the world."

One distinct advantage of the Stone Fort Inn is the ability to book all the beautifully-appointed rooms for the wedding party. Looking forward to retiring to a lovely guest room after the affair, then waking up to a gourmet brunch downstairs, then maybe wandering around downtown Chattanooga and taking the city in... Call 267-7866 for more info.

One thing is certain: your wedding will be absolutely perfect, no matter where you have it. Adieu!

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