By RITA KUEBER
Despite the flip of the calendar page, 2021 is still an uncertain time, especially for anyone hoping to host a significant event such as a wedding. While many couples get engaged over the holidays, given current circumstances, ‘What now?’ is a planning question that may have no quick or reasonable answer. However, at least one venue is working pro-actively to assist couples wanting to tie the knot, leveraging the micro wedding as not only a viable solution, but a heartfelt celebration, and a festive, intimate affair.
The Kimpton Schofield (2000 E. 9th Street, Cleveland) has developed a micro wedding package. “The Schofield spaces are perfectly suited for a micro wedding; and we will do whatever it takes to make the day spectacular for the bride and groom,” says Nicole Bakker, the hotel’s Experience Specialist. “Couples are realizing that they do not have to sacrifice style or safety, and they can honor traditions, as well as have a theme with meaningful details, just on a smaller scale. It actually allows for people to celebrate with more amenities, upgrades and personalization, often resulting in a more memorable affair with way less stress.
“What we’ve been seeing is that the couple doesn’t care about the mundane details –that’s my job,” Bakker adds. “I can handle every little detail and they can trust it’s going to be taken care of. I’ve done this thousands of times over 10 years. I just want them to let me make the judgment call as needed, make the wedding happen and it’s all going to be OK.”
Bakker recalls the dilemma facing Patrick and Emily Kramer (nee Loosi), who had a “slower than most” engagement due to long-distance dating, plus a year of planning. Both are doctors with busy schedules, both simply wanted to get married. Their date was always December 5, 2020, but when their guest list dwindled from 250 to 35 it made no sense to rent the large west side venue they had booked. But with one phone call, and one in-person meeting, they compressed everything into a romantic evening at the Kimpton Schofield.
The Kramer’s wedding was at St. John’s Cathedral, and the couple took photos around downtown afterwards. The sit-down dinner at the Kimpton followed, with a live band and just a dance with the bride and groom and the bride and her father. “We felt stressed about doing the right thing for the safety of our guests,” Emily says. “But we didn’t want to delay either. It was great that my grandparents, Bob and Ann Loosi got to come because of all our precautions.”
As both bride and groom are residents at Akron Children’s Hospital and University Hospitals respectively, they had no time to second guess themselves. “I’m glad we’re both so busy – we made decisions and stuck with them. We didn’t have time to rethink everything. Nicole is a planner through and through, and I’m not,” Emily adds with a laugh. “It was all really wonderful and I’m thankful to them.”
Bakker explains how the hotel staff can shift rooms around to accommodate the bridal couple’s wishes. She describes a wedding just this past New Year’s Eve in which until the last minute, the couple wasn’t sure if they would be married in the Penthouse or the Ballroom, but just rolled with the fact their ceremony was set for a date, time and location. “We have a bride for July who’s planning on a larger wedding, four food stations in the ballroom, and a dance floor. But if we can’t allow for socializing at that time, it will have to change to a sit down. Everyone understands that there are a lot of unknowns. They are just happy to be able to get married and have a celebration at all.
“It took a pandemic, but brides are finally hearing me when I say it will all be fine,” Bakker continues. “As I tell them, no one is going to say ‘wow, I wish that linen had been a shade darker,’ or ‘there should have been six tulips in the centerpiece, not three.’ As long as the speeches aren’t too long, there’s a killer music list and a good flow, do not stress about the little things.”
For 2021 Bakker advises newly engaged couples to lock in their date and venue as quickly as possible. She mentions the Kimpton’s slots for micro weddings are quickly filling up for the coming year. “We have everything we need right in our building, and the staff and expertise to handle the details,” she says. “Six months ago you couldn’t have a wedding at all, so brides and grooms are more flexible these days. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but for now everybody’s okay with that.”