Romantic Historic Inn Wedding
by Elisse Goldstein-Clark
Dan and I had our wedding July 3rd, 2005 (me 46, Dan 58) at the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre, the historic "Coal Heritage Trail" building we saved from the wrecking ball and restored after the floods of 2001 & 2002 devastated southern West Virginia, and then opened as an historic Inn.
Dan, who is US Army Retired, and I both work for FEMA- we met during the FEMA disaster response operation for the 9/11 WTC terrorist attack in Oct. 2001, and came to West Virginia in the spring of 2002 when Dan was sent by FEMA to West Virginia to do Logistics for the disaster response operation after the 2002 flood. After the operation concluded, we bought the flooded building and moved permanently to WV because Dan believed he could save and restore the last historic building in the area and that we could help kick-start the economy of the area by opening our home as an historic inn to provide sorely-needed lodging and fine dining.
We had a delicious sit-down dinner of almond-crusted pan-fried catfish fillets at our wedding, (one of Chef Dan's recipes!), and a Bluegrass concert outside at our Theatre, a copy of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre that was on our property and that Dan had also restored, and pre-and-post-wedding receptions back at the Inn.
The 25 guests included my then 83-year old mom (now 87), who was swing dancing w/Dan on the stage of our Theatre, three of Dan's 8 siblings, and dear friends who came from across the country. We had a "destination wedding"- at our very own destination! My fairly gorgeous pearl-gray beaded gown came from a bridal store that was going out of business ($10!), my handmade gray pearl tiara ($50) from a jewelry artisan I found on eBay, Dan's Ungaro tux from Sim's in NYC, & his Totally fab silk cummerbund & bow tie from an Upper East Side NYC thrift shop! We splurged on my beaded Steve Madden shoes, hiring South 52 to do the concert, and getting a gorgeous, delicious cake, chef, and wait staff from the excellent Greenbrier Valley Baking Company in White Sulphur Springs, WV, so Chef Dan wouldn't have to cook at his own wedding!
Our friends and family did the photography, and our favors were July 4th sparklers and hand-crafted West Virginia coal statuettes that we have made for us for our Gift Shop by a couple here in WV out of real WV coal! (I had an art & special events gallery in Germany & NYC, and had coordinated numerous special events prior to our opening the Inn, so I was my own wedding planner!) Our wedding was a Lot of fun & I wouldn't have changed a thing!
It was truly THE most romantic day of my life, because it celebrated my (finally!) getting- for KEEPS!- THE most amazing man- at the ripe old age of 46!!!
Historic Mansion Weddingby Shelley Markle (Illinois)
Married in a Chicago historic mansion, built in the 1890s by a German Brewer, my husband and I hosted an intimate wedding of 75 friends and family. On a cold March evening, guests arrived to a happy-hour hosted by us where my “grand entrance” was every time someone came in the door and clearly thought “oh my god there she is.” We all enjoyed beverages such as Guinness on tap and hot toddies with delectible appetizers. After an hour or so, our guests gathered around the grand staircase, holding drinks, while we exchanged vows in front of the 2 story painted glass window.
From there, our guests figured out at which table they were sitting (18, 23) by solving riddles, where the caterers were able to provide exactly the right meal to the right person based on the image on the place card at each setting – a crazy chicken holding a meat cleaver, a man hugging a life size carrot, or a cow in straight jacket. The back side of the place card listed the guests preferred name visible by the other table members.
The post dinner reception included a pianist who plays piano bars, taking requests, and a sweets table with endless desserts, a chocolate fountain, and chocolate chip cookies made on site, of course with milk. Seven years later, our guests still call it the best wedding they’ve ever attended, and how the event was emblematic of us.