In my hometown, after you get engaged, the big question is “To Meadowbrook Ballroom or not to Meadowbrook Ballroom?”
I had both my junior and senior proms there. I’ve been to at least six weddings there. It’s historic and pretty, has a huge stage and dancefloor, and it’s familiar. And it would’ve made planning a wedding a LOT easier (and cheaper).
Christian and I have only lived in York for about two years, and you never realize how important those small town connections you make growing up really are.
“My mom knows a lady whose daughter does flowers.”
“My girlfriend’s sister went to school with a guy who’s a great photographer.”
Not knowing anyone or having those inside sources makes finding caterers, photographers, DJs, venues and florists much harder, and for the most part, we’ve turned to the Internet to find most of these things or get a good idea of what’s around.
However, sometimes randomly talking to people will pay off. While looking for a wedding budget book at York Emporium, Christian and I started talking about our wedding to one of the women helping us out.
I’ve lived here forever, she said. Send me an email, and I’ll see if I can put you in contact with some local people who do flowers and catering and what not.
The woman at York Emporium put us in contact with Hollie Chantiles Shortino, and within a week, we were emailing back and forth about flowers, decorating ideas and more. Hollie runs Frog & Bee, one of the local Beaver Street retail shops. A pro in flower design and all things vintage, Hollie helped point me in the right direction for decorations, gave me a great idea of what I want from my flowers and more. And I never would have met her without making a local connection.
Through Hollie, we’ve gotten names for a caterer (Busy Bee in Central Market) and a DJ. Within the past year, I’ve met two people who bake cakes as businesses out of their homes. Coming from a long line of small-business owners (two sets of grandparents, an aunt and my parents), keeping it local is important to me, and networking is the best way to find out about these businesses. Not only do you find out who to talk to, you also find out who’s good at what they do.
We also found our wedding venue, Lauxmont Farms through word of mouth. Fellow copy editor Andrea Lazarus offered some advice after getting married there a few years ago, and we had just passed over the venue while searching on the Web.
In putting all of these details together — and a wedding planner being way out of our budget — I’ve come to appreciate the small amount of networking Christian and I have been able to do in the short amount of time we’ve been planning our wedding. These local connections speak loads to the sense of community here in York and the fact that the local businesses all support one another helps everyone else support them.
One piece of advice I can offer is to network — talk to co-workers, friends. Even your hair dresser or a waitress at a local restaurant can offer some inside insight or names of places you might never have discovered. You never know when striking up a conversation with a stranger might lead you to your wedding venue, the best cake you’ve ever had or a superstar florist!
What’s the best local connection you used in planning your wedding?