For any couples looking for the convenience of a hotel wedding and who want a venue with real character and style, we strongly encourage you to check out the Hotel Monaco Alexandria, a Kimpton hotel. Not only is the hotel gorgeous (with tons of cute spaces for photos, as our photographer friends will confirm), but the food is absolutely amazing and the catering sales manager, Allison Manning, is truly a joy to work with! Her passion for creating unique weddings comes through the first time you speak with her, and her clients rave about every aspect of their weddings at the Hotel Monaco. No wonder our DJs are over the moon when they book a new wedding there!
Allison was kind enough to share her thoughts on weddings with our readers. Ready to learn more? Here we go!
How did you get started in the wedding business?
I planned my own wedding and fell in love with all things wedding-related. I found myself thinking about the small details of planning a wedding after I said my own nuptials, Say Yes to the Dress never left my TV channel, and I was fairly confident that David Tutera and I would be best friends one day. But, what really got me interested was when I discovered I was sitting on a gold mine of a venue (Hotel Monaco Alexandria) -- it was then that I really envisioned having a career in the wedding business. When the day came when they offered me a promotion to Catering Sales Manager I gladly, with a big smile, accepted.
What do you do when you are not working?
I am a new mom, so I try to spend as much time with family and especially my daughter Aria. And when my daughter is napping….I’m checking work emails! Let’s be real here. You never stop working in this industry.
How would you describe your approach to weddings?
My approach to weddings is much like the internal philosophy of the company I work for (Kimpton Hotels). I put all my creativity, passion and focus into each wedding I service, while at the same time promoting the individuality and vision of each couple.
What inspires you in your work?
My clients do! I work with so many great people and most of my couples are aiming to have a certain vision on their big day. So, it is my job to work the catering end of that vision and collaborate with Chef McPherson to make their wedding THEIR wedding. We want the venue and the catering to be unique and memorable…and most of all delicious!
What do you find the most rewarding about your job?
Honestly, the biggest thing for me is hearing the feedback after the wedding. Of course I enjoy all that's in-between, from the day they sign a contract to the day they say I do. But what always get me teary eyed is when I read a review or get a letter on how great everything was. It makes all the hours that you spent crafting their wedding well worth it, to hear everything was perfect.
What's the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business?
I wish people knew how AMAZING our Chef is and how open he is to customization of his menus. We love creating menus that tell a story. For example, we did a wedding where the bride was Indian and the groom was from Chicago. During their reception we had mini pretzel bites with dipping sauces and for the bride we had Indian Street Food.
What do you think sets your company apart from other venues?
We love to customize! This is not very common working in a hotel setting. We have had the opportunity to work with some amazing clients and planners who ask for the strangest things, and you know what.....we do it! We genuinely care about the service we provide and we will go out of our way to ensure everything is perfect.
What do you love about weddings?
EVERYTHING! There is so much to love about weddings. But most of all, I love that I get to be a part of one of the most important days of my client’s lives together. It is such an honor!
What do you hate about weddings?
I don't think I hate anything about weddings. I would say, there are some things that I do not look forward to, but these are things that are out of my control. Such as...rain! We have a gorgeous courtyard for our ceremonies and when the weather doesn't cooperate, I am never happy to be the bearer of bad news. This is when you just have to deal with the hand you’ve been dealt and move on and try to keep everyone's spirits up as much as you can!
What is the coolest thing you've ever seen at a wedding?
We have seen some pretty spectacular things at Hotel Monaco Alexandria. But, the most memorable, was a bride who decorated a chair with flowers in honor of her late mom. It was so touching and sentimental.
What's the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding?
A lot of your spare time is used to create this special day. My advice to couples would be that when little details start to bog you down, focus on the big picture: being married!
Who is your favorite artist or band?
Right now, my favorite band is Kings of Leon.
What is the worst song of all time?
Oh gosh, I have never been a fan of those ‘group’ songs…like the Cha Cha Slide, The Macarena, YMCA, Boot Scootin' Boogie……those songs. Haha.
Open mic, final thoughts:
Still waiting to meet David Tutera….one day! ...Thanks so much again, Allison, for opening up to our readers! (P.S. We did a wedding with David and his team in 2011, and we're confident in saying that we're positive he'd adore you!)