Pier 5 Hotel provides a very unique and special wedding experience for its clients with some of the best views of the harbor to be had in Baltimore. We've been fortunate to work there on several occasions and are always excited for an opportunity to work with their amazing Wedding Specialist, Chris Sikora. His clients can truly relax and enjoy their wedding day because they know (and so do we!) that he's got everything under control. Here's Chris to share his two cents on all things wedding!
How did you get started in the wedding business? I guess it was somewhat accidentally; When I purchased Fisher's Bakery in Ellicott City in late 2005, it was mainly to resurrect a dying local business and focus on the retail and cafe, but the wedding aspect of the business became more and more attractive and we became pretty good at it. Joining NACE really took our wedding business to the next level, and I became active in the business. And when I realized several years too late that i actually can't run a bakery, I decided to stay in the wedding business.
What do you do when you are not working? When is that? Seriously, during my sporadic down time I enjoy spending time with my girls, Meredith age 10 and Andrea, age 7. We do anything from shopping to fishing. Just took Meredith to her first real BSO concert! I like to get into a few TV series, currently Breaking Bad on Netflix and Mad Men through library DVD. I also love to watch baseball and football and college basketball.
How would you describe your approach to weddings?I think I have a very practical approach to weddings. Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you should. I tend to maximize the guests enjoyment and concentrate on everyone's experience.
What inspires you in your work?I'm inspired by my fellow wedding professionals here in Baltimore; so many of them are in our line of work due to a passion for weddings, not just to bring home a paycheck. It's so much fun to watch!
What do you find the most rewarding about your job?It's the ability to play such an important role in a very important day in the life of the couple and their families. when they tell you what a wonderful time they had and how everything was great, that's very rewarding!
What's the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your hotel?Everyone at every department at the Pier 5 shares my passion for beautiful weddings: front desk associates, banquet servers, housekeeping, the Chef and his staff and management. You're not just a customer; you're a guest in our home. And we just put in new carpeting in all the guest rooms.
What do you think sets your hotel apart from other venues? Besides what I just said, we certainly have a tremendous location right on the water, with a garden with real grass and real trees right on the harbor, and both event spaces have windows so you're not trapped in a 4-walled ballroom. and that we're not part of a franchised or national brand so we can do anything we want to make the guest happy.
What do you love about weddings?I love seeing so many happy people with their friends and family having a great time celebrating the couple and their new life together. I love seeing the culmination of so many different vendors coming together for a great event. And I like eating crab cakes and filet almost every weekend.
What do you hate about weddings?When certain people in the family or bridal party make exceptions to the fact that it should be about the couple and not them and push their own agenda. And that they are usually on Friday and Saturday nights. I'm all for starting a trend of Tuesday afternoon weddings.
What is the coolest thing you've ever seen at a wedding?One bride from last summer, Jenna, was overly worried that the Urban Pirates boat would interfere with her waterfront garden ceremony. I assured her that I had never seen it being an issue. Then during her ceremony, I see the pirate ship heading for our pier. Closer. Closer. Closer than I'd ever seen it before. Then I hear the the PA on the boat say "ladies and gentlemen, looks like there's wedding going on at the Pier 5" I'm in full fledged panic when they start yelling and screaming, then I see them hold up signs saying "Congratulations Jenna and Jorge!" and the bridesmaids are doubled over laughing. Turns out they had planned and set up the whole thing. And I'm happy I keep a spare pair of shorts at the hotel. I've also seen some cool choreographed father/daughter dances that I found especially meaningful. I'm sure that has nothing to do with the fact that I have two daughters.
What's the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding? Don't obsess over what the guests like. I've seen couples stress over a menu because they worry that a particular guest won't like asparagus or balsamic vinaigrette. When you invite someone to your wedding they should be honored and want to enjoy what the couple likes.
Who is your favorite artist or band?R.E.M. I saw them in a small club in Madison, Wisconsin in the summer of 1983 on their first national tour to support the Murmur album, and had a feeling they'd do pretty well in their career. I think I paid a $3 cover charge to see them and there was maybe 150 people there. Oh and also the Happy Schnapps Combo who did The Bears Still Suck Polka. My anthem during the football season.
What is the worst song of all time? Come on Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners. Hands down. No question. Although What does the Fox Say is making a strong case for itself.
Open mic, final thoughts: I am thrilled to count the members of our industry among my friends and inspirations. I'm proud of the work we do as a whole in our tight knit industry and the beautiful experiences we create.