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From the moment that wedding planning starts, securing the perfect venue should be at the top of the list. In fact, finding the location of the ceremony and reception is so important that in the Brides.com “Ultimate Wedding-Planning Checklist and Timeline” it’s ranked as something that should be secured at least a year in advance. But securing a spot early isn’t the only thing to worry about, couples have to be sure that wherever they choose to get married or host their reception will be accommodating to their needs. And for LGBTQ couples it’s vital that whatever venue they pick it’s an accepting one.
This year, Between The Lines is hosting the 9th annual Wedding, Home & Life Expo on Sunday, Oct. 13. At the event will be over 80 equality-minded vendors and venues eager to assist all couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, in their hunt for the perfect wedding celebration. The event will be held at The Henry, Autograph Collection hotel in Dearborn that not only serves as the expo’s venue but also as a viable option for couples interested in tying the knot in the Metro Detroit area. This year, The Henry is also BTL’s highlighted venue.
Kari Honomichl is The Henry’s social catering manager. In her role she creates contracts for every couple interested in doing a wedding or large event at The Henry, and she walked BTL through the process of preparing for the big day. First, couples meet with her to decide on the specifics for their event, and at The Henry customization is key.
“I think any venue has their ‘standard package’ that they start with. So, I always run them through our base package and any enhancements that we generally have are in there as well. But I always tell groups, ‘If there’s something that’s not in here that you were wanting to do let me know, because 99 percent of the time we can do it,’” Honomichl said. “So, for example, we just had a wedding a couple of weekends ago that instead of wedding cake, because any wedding would have to bring in their own cake here, they wanted a fun cake shooter dessert. So we customized and created a mini-mousse shooter and it had a slice of cake on the side of what looked like a shot glass. And depending on what different groups want we can put a price on it and generally do it.”
That personalization is what Honomichl said sets The Henry apart from most venues in the Metro Detroit area. Couples looking for a large celebration have their choice of The Plaza Ballroom, which can hold up to 250 guests, The Presidential Ballroom which can hold 750 and The Gallery, a more intimate setting that can accommodate events with 40 to 60 guests. The Henry is also familiar with doing uniquely structured events that can last multiple days or accommodate for weddings outside the “standard” bridge and groom structure. For a gay wedding last year, Honomichl said that both grooms didn’t host their main reception or wedding ceremony at The Henry, but they did have several smaller events at the hotel that were coordinated for the immediate family of the couple.
“We’ve also done fusion weddings where maybe the bride is Indian and the groom is Christian and they’ll have two ceremonies here,” Honomichl said. “They’ll have an Indian wedding in the morning and a Catholic one in the afternoon — we’ve done it and seen it all.”
Once couples decide on the specifics of their event and contracts are done and signed, Honomichl then takes them to meet with an event manager who is the second stage of planning. The manager will help couples do everything from organizing vendors ahead of time and menu planning to day-of coordination — a service included in any wedding package.
“I think most people are surprised that we have that event manager that they’re going to build a relationship with and they’re going to care so much that their day goes smoothly,” she said. “And some people stress about having to set up their reception hall, so I help them understand that our goal is so that you don’t have to do anything on your wedding day but … celebrate. We’ll handle all the small stuff like if you have favors to put on each plate, a photo table, name cards — we’re there and can help you set up those items, too.”
to find out more about The Henry, Autograph Collection visit behenry.com.