Top Spots to Say “I Do!”

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    You’ve finally met Prince Charming and you have the ice, ice, baby to prove it. Along with finding the perfect dress, picking a caterer and florist, ordering invitations and all the other little things that go along with planning a wedding, you have to pick where you are going to pledge your lifetime love.

    0208GIBBERMAN.gif If that short list already has you overwhelmed, you need some help. But don’t worry, many brides need help and that’s why Your Wedding Mafia got started. “The wedding industry is pretty cutthroat,” Leigh Ann Miller, co-owner of the Mafia says. “I always say it’s like middle school. We try to make it easier for the bride and take away the pressure they feel.”

    Miller says Your Wedding Mafia was created as an alternative to stressful bridal shows. “Brides don’t get to find out enough information about the companies vying for her business at bridal shows.We try to put together a group of vendors who might not be the most well-known, but that are dependable,” she says.

    “[The Wedding Mafia] is a great resource for brides and vendors,” Miller says. In March, June and September, The Wedding Mafia hosts cocktail parties for its clients. Vendors will set up mock-ceremonies so you can actually see how things turn out and view the finished product. This allows you to see how the vendors work together and get creative on their feet. But the only way to get into one of the parties is to be part of the Mafia. Membership is $30, and after that you can get invited to cocktail parties, Wedding 101 seminars and other Mafia sponsored events.

    The cocktail parties also follow themes. Miller says they will give different ideas to brides who might be fresh out of college, working professionals, glamour girls or party animals.


    But the best thing about Your Wedding Mafia is all the research they’ve done on all the wedding vendors in town. According to Miller, they researched the market by scanning online wedding forums where brides discuss various vendors, they secret-shopped vendors and they’ve held focus groups with brides about their experience with local vendors.


    And previous to co-owning Your Wedding Mafia, Miller was an event planner, so it’s safe to say she can offer advice to local brides. Chief among that advice, Miller cautions brides to be careful when looking for their little slice of heaven on their big day, as hidden costs lurk everywhere! “A lot of places will give a price per meal, but you also have a price per chair, per chair cover, for the tables, dance floor, stage, microphones…it really increases expenses more than you realize.”

    Parking is also an important thing to look for in a venue. Many places in downtown Cincinnati do not come with parking, leaving guests to find their own. If you have out-of-town guests with no one to lead them in the right direction, they may never make it to your wedding.

    Miller says the best way to protect yourself from any surprises on your wedding day is to get everything in writing. This will help you to document what will be provided, and have in writing should it not be provided. Check out this week’s career story in which wedding planners offer advice on contracts.

    Here’s an overview of the places Your Wedding Mafia recommends for your ceremony and/or reception:
    The Savannah Center at Chappell Crossing
    This eco-friendly center of southern hospitality can seat up to 1,200 guests. The five-acre lake not only looks gorgeous, but also heats and cools the venue. The Savannah offers a bridal parlor for the bride and bridesmaids and a bachelor pad complete with a putting green for the Groom and groomsmen! It also has a gazebo and two garden settings, so there will be plenty of places to take your wedding pictures! Just keep your checkbook handy – this is one of the more high-end venues in the area.

    The Newport Syndicate
    The Syndicate has seven different rooms that are each decorated with a different theme, eliminating decorating for your reception from your wedding to-do list. They can seat from 30 to more than 500 guests and offer catering and a wedding coordinator to help plan your event with them. They are also offering a bridal special right now. If you book your wedding on any remaining Saturday in 2008 or January 2009, you will receive Friday night buffet prices.


    The Shaker Run Golf Club
    Miller says there are several golf clubs in the area that offer space for weddings and receptions, and one of them is The Shaker Run Golf Club. They have a Grand Ballroom that accommodates up to 325 guests and an enclosed pavilion with breathtaking views of “Ohio’s number one rated public golf course” that can hold up to 250 guests for a ceremony.

    Other golf courses she recommended are Pebble Creek Golf Course and Ivy Hills Country Club.


    Millennium Hotel Cincinnati
    Miller says the Millennium was recently remodeled to have the top two floors opened up to be used for banquets. It offers a breathtaking – and rotating – view of the Cincinnati skyline!

    The Phoenix
    Located in downtown Cincinnati, The Phoenix is a renovated gentleman’s club that features a marble staircase, Tiffany stained glass windows and 35-feet-high ceilings. The Phoenix offers inclusive wedding packages starting at $44 a person. The Grand Ballroom can accommodate up to 450 guests and the Archway Ballroom can hold up to 250 guests.

    Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
    Union Terminal offers an old-fashioned, classic atmosphere because of all the history within its walls, Miller says. According to their Web site, virtually any area of the Museum Center is available for private parties. And the Grand Rotunda will keep your wedding guests entertained for hours just looking at it!

    Miller says popular places for outdoor wedding are in the Hamilton county park district. One of them is Ault Park in Cincinnati. It offers bandstands and music pavilions suitable for a wedding ceremony, garden wedding areas and The Pavilion, which has two rooms that can seat between 80 and 100 people.

    Another Hamilton county wedding option is the Alms Pavilion in Alms Park. This will hold up to 120 people, but also has tenting options to increase capacity if needed. The stone pavilion offers a second floor arcade with a breathtaking view of the Ohio Valley.

    Probably one of the most beautiful places to get married in this area, Miller says, is Drees Pavilion. Overlooking the city from Covington, it offers spectacular views of the city lights at night. Don’t believe me? Take a look at their Web site for yourself. It has space for everything from small ceremonies to receptions for up to 300 people. Event specialists are available that will help you coordinate all the details of your special day.

    But the Cincinnati Netherland Plaza’s Hall of Mirrors is where many local celebrities go to tie the knot. This gorgeous hotel was built in 1931 with French Art Deco architecture. Take a look at a 360 degree view of the Hall of Mirrors! Just be prepared to spend on this spectacular venue, as it has quite the high price tag. But you get what you pay for. Miller says its staff helps you with every aspect of your reception to help make things go as smooth and easy as possible.

    There are many more places around Cincinnati that offer space for ceremonies and/or receptions. not only offers a more comprehensive list of venues available in the area, but also resources for everything from accommodations for your out-of-town guests to cakes to flowers to photographers to wedding planners.

    Another great Web site for brides-to-be is Here, you can find tips for planning your wedding, picking out dresses, budget calculators and three choices of Web sites to list your wedding details and allow your guests to RSVP online. The premium option will even let you upload photos and video to your site.

    Ultimately, Miller says, when a bride is looking for a place to share her special day, she should try to find somewhere that is convenient for her guests and will fit her personality. And after you find exactly what you want, make sure that’s exactly what you’re getting!