An Ocean Place Wedding

The true story of a wedding at Ocean Place Resort and Spa.

I had to wait almost a week to write this post about my son’s wedding at Ocean Place Resort in Long Branch, NJ… just to make certain my judgment wasn’t clouded by emotions. Besides, I was raised if I didn’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. I just can’t bite my tongue any longer. Future brides need to know exactly what to expect from Ocean Place Resort and Spa if they decide to book their most special day there.

Scott and Krisa Wedding

It’s a big day when one of your children gets married. It’s even bigger when it’s your last… and a SON to boot. Oh… I’ve been MOB (Mother of the Bride), twice, so I know the drill. As MOG my friends cautioned me to wear beige, sit in the corner and keep my mouth shut. However the bride-to-be included me in the planning, and I’m forever grateful she did.

From the moment my future daughter-in-law and son began the discussion of making their commitment to one another ‘official’, a team consisting of her mother, a bridesmaid, and me was formed to hunt down the perfect venue. The future bride and groom live on the west coast… the rest of us live on the east and some live out of the country. A beach wedding was the future bride and groom’s wish… so off we went in search of a location and venue fit for the wedding of the century located on a New Jersey beach.

I’ll skip past all the venues we checked out that didn’t even come close to meeting our criteria, and cut to the chase… Our team unanimously thought Ocean Place Resort and Spa in Long Branch was the ultimate venue. The large expanse of pristine sand planted with palm trees, the glorious renovations, the option of having a bonfire on the beach were all major check points in the ‘plus’ column.

We toured the facility with one of their event planners and were ‘wowed’. Although her mother was suffering from sticker shock, we all knew the bride would love the place. It had just the right amount of ‘laid back’ beach wedding feel mixed with enough elegance for the bride to feel like a Princess. Perfect!

Before the final decision was made… it was time to bring the bride’s father into the mix. The bride’s parents and I made a date and met at the venue on a Saturday evening to see a real wedding in action. What we got instead was FIVE weddings to view. The stars in our eyes dimmed as we realized this place is a wedding factory… churning out weddings one right after another… five weddings, five cocktail parties, five receptions, and five bonfires.

Instead of going back to the drawing board, the kids decided to plan their ‘big day’ on a Friday in early June. One big bonus is the price is a bit lower on a Friday and secondly… it’s not as popular a day and therefore the odds are better you will not be sharing the beach.

Let’s fast forward now… the bride and groom have flown in and seen the place, and approved. Paperwork and contracts passed back and forth, more tours and meetings have taken place… the dress has been chosen, altar designed and made… it’s been a flurry of activity and the big day is just a month away. Our first major disappointment rears its ugly head… the food tasting. Oh… don’t get me wrong… the tasting went smoothly, but only ONE dish from the chosen menu was served. Yes… only ONE, the lobster and shrimp pasta. The chicken dish and beef selection were not the items the bride chose… so, why were we here??? The beef was grisly and a bit tough… so the bride’s father asked for a different cut… and he didn’t care for the red sauce used on the lobster and shrimp dish and requested it be changed to a white wine and garlic. I’ll comment further on the actual food the day of later.

Picture this… everyone has flown into town. It’s the day before the wedding. You are scurrying around in all directions with last-minute preparations… when you get a call from Ocean Place stating although you made your room reservation 6 months ago, they are so sorry, but they have to BUMP you. YES… this really happened to the sister of the groom… who had a newborn!!! Oh, the front desk assured her they secured her a room in a lovely hotel a few blocks away and of course there would be no charge for the room that night. What good does THAT do when you have to nurse the baby, and fit in naps when you are blocks away from the action???? She, or her husband (the best man) would be traveling back and forth, missing some of the planned festivities. OH… and even though the room they requested 6 months ago was for 2 queen sized beds so they could share with the in-laws to help with the baby sitting… they were given a room with one king size bed… cozy. Not to mention the ‘open’ bathroom… as in no wall between the shower and the room. Speak about getting to know your in-laws a little more than you are comfortable with. Needless to say… the in-laws drove up the next day.

We were still reeling over this when Ocean Place placed another phone call… The BRIDE WAS BUMPED TOO… in addition to one of the bridesmaids!!!!! The bride!!!!! Really!!!! I can’t make this stuff up!!! Ocean Place apologized, stating they made a huge mistake and a difficult decision had to be made… but another event booked 240 rooms and so the bride had to move on down the road. Promises of a bellhop moving their things back over the next morning were made, but never executed. The front desk was quick to assure everyone they would still be able to use the facilities like the Spa, pool, and workout space… just assuming the bride would feel comfortable walking a few blocks to the other hotel in her bathrobe.

To add insult to injury… upon check out one of the bridesmaids was charged for the change in rooms and the front desk refused to remove it immediately stating ‘accounting’ needed to make the adjustment… and they weren’t ‘in’ at the moment. It’s almost a week later and the problem has not been resolved.

So…. Here we are… the Bride and a few other guests have been bumped… and feel like second-class citizens. Nerves are being stretched to their snapping point, clothing and belongings being shuffled between a few ocean beach blocks, the sister of the groom is seething trying to rearrange her feeding and babysitting schedule to be able to enjoy the wedding. After a few hours we all calmed down and made the decision we were not going to let this ruin our good time. Tomorrow was the ‘big day’ and there was so much else to focus on.

And things went downhill after that!

Our schedule was to be at the hotel in the ‘get ready’ room at 9:00am for hair and makeup to begin. During our tours we were shown the ‘get ready’ room. It was beautiful, located on the second floor with a huge balcony overlooking the boardwalk and a spectacular view of the ocean. Imagine my surprise when I was escorted to a thin, narrow, totally enclosed room with a dripping air-conditioner compressor!!! “Oh HELL no!”

OK… in all fairness the staff probably didn’t know about the dripping air-conditioner… but come on… did they really think that squishing 11 women in a tiny room with no windows for 5 ½ hours was an acceptable way to treat a bride and her wedding party on the big day???? Seriously???

The bellhop called down for a manager as requested… then quickly scurried away. The manager arrived and informed us another bride was using the other ‘get ready’ room across the hall and since they want their brides to feel special they keep them separated!!! I kid you not… she actually said those words, “they want their brides to feel special’!!!! And she said them with a straight face!!!! Oh yeah… my future daughter-in-law really felt special all right… NOT!

We were moved to the room we were originally shown… but it shouldn’t have taken an act of congress to do so!!! The morning’s room juggling cut out about 45 minutes of much needed time for the hair and makeup artists to do their thing, so they were a bit frazzled.

In the end… we found out there were a few more weddings scheduled that day. We knew the bride of one of them… and the groom of the other. Small world. In addition, the other bride wasn’t getting married until later in the day… and arrived just as we were leaving for our ceremony.

The ceremony was scheduled for 3pm on the beach. Around 10:30 the weather report was bleak… predicting 70% chance of rain. Damn! The indoor back up ceremony site was set up and looked lovely… but it wasn’t the bride’s dream wedding. The father of the bride created the altar and was waiting for permission to erect it in the sand…as it couldn’t be erected inside. Things were getting tense. It was finally decided to set up the outside site… just incase. Besides, none of the decorations could be used indoors any way.

The weather co-operated and the ceremony was held on the beach as planned. Although it sprinkled just a little before the sun came out, the hotel provided some towels to wipe the seats… but not enough. The ceremony was lovely… just as we all hoped and dreamed. The cocktail portion of the day, originally planned to be held on the outside patio, was moved indoors due to foreboding clouds overhead. Good call! I think everyone was overjoyed to be out of the sticky, muggy heat.

At the entrance a server offering the signature drinks of the day greeted me… Coconut Mojito and Rum Punch. Both were refreshing… however no one tasted the alcohol. Maybe that’s how it was supposed to be??? The food, both passed and at stations were plentiful and delicious. The steel drum band was exceptional!

However… reports of a rude bartender began to circulate. Apparently it wasn’t WHAT he said that was rude, but rather HOW it was said. He accused the best man of drinking too much and would be cut off… when in reality he was only being helpful and gathering drinks for tables and basically serving them. Perhaps the bartender needs a refresher course in customer relations?

Upon entering the reception room I was pleased with the set-up. The table scape wasn’t an easy one to replicate, but the staff did an AWESOME job! The room was a bit crowded, but that was to be expected as the guest list pretty much maxed out its capacity. That didn’t stop us from dancing the night away and having a wonderful time.

I am sure you will agree with me that a wedding is only as good as the entertainment, the food, and the bar… right? Well… the DJ nailed the entertainment! He read the crowd, played the right music at the right time and remembered the Bride called all the shots. I wish I could say the same about the food and the bar.

There were over 90 guests… and only ONE bartender. Yes, it was the same rude bartender as the cocktail party, and no, his demeanor hadn’t changed… commenting rudely to guests about their drinking habits. In addition he was s-l-o-w. When asked why only one bartender was on duty, the reply was that the serving staff was told there were only 75 guests attending. Huh! The final count had been in for weeks… there was no surprise the number was over 90. It was an open bar, so my guess is that is how Ocean Place keeps their costs down. Slow bartenders make fewer drinks therefore using less alcohol.

Speaking of alcohol… let me touch on the champagne toast for a second. I only have a second because that’s how fast the servers whisked my glass away after the toast. The glass was only filled with 1 inch of liquid to begin with. My daughter doesn’t drink a drop of alcohol, so she passed hers on to me. I took 2 small sips from my glass, stood up to speak to someone at the next table for a few minutes and when I returned both glasses had disappeared! Gone! The servers had cleared the table in such a hurry. I was so stunned I snapped a picture of the round indentation the glass made in the tablecloth as proof a glass really existed at all.

Remember I mentioned the food tasting earlier? Well… here it comes into play. The requested white wine and garlic replacement sauce never happened… the sauce was still the red one. The Jerk Chicken, which we never tasted was NOT Jerk Chicken at all… and was so dry I only took one bite and pushed it to the side. The Black Bean Salad was wonderful, fresh, and colorful. Nothing else looked appetizing so that’s all I ate… one bite of dry chicken and a few forkfuls of black bean salad.

I work for an event planning company part time and have eaten at Ocean Place on many occasions. I was never a fan of their brown resin hot water baths they use for buffets… and was overly disappointed to see they use them for weddings as well. They just aren’t fancy enough for a wedding in my opinion. They are great for the outside bar… but seem to add a ‘picnic’ feel to the serving table.

Let’s talk cake! It was beautiful and delicious, purchased from an ‘approved vendor’ … although it was difficult to tell since the servings were so thin you could almost read a newspaper through the slice. Thank heavens there was a smorgasbord of desserts on the side. They were all yummy!

Everyone assumed the cake slices were thin so the happy couple could save the top layer for their first anniversary. Ah, no. The top was never saved nor given to anyone on their behalf. I’m guessing if you wanted the top you had to spell it out in the contract. Don’t you think that should be a checklist question for the event planner? It wasn’t. Perhaps that was our mistake??

The reception ended with a bonfire on the beach… with S’mores! What a peaceful and calming finish to a celebration of two families blending together. Then WHAM… time’s up! The staff threw a trashcan of cold water on the fire… and it was time to go home. I know the staff has to get cleaned up and get home… and there might even be regulations about bonfires on the beach… but in my mind I envisioned the fire slowly burning down and extinguishing on it’s own. Silly me.

One last point of contention to discuss is Ocean Place’s total disregard and mistreatment of your personal belongings. We were assured during the service and reception all ‘get ready’ rooms would be locked. I believe that was true for the girl’s room… for some of the time… however we know for a fact the groom’s room was never once locked. Thankfully nothing was stolen, although many expensive items were there on display.

After all is said and done, the staff gathers everything up and delivers it to the couple’s room. This is where the real heartache happens. To say the couple’s belongings were handled without care is a HUGE understatement. The guest book poster which was signed with happy wishes for the newly weds was crumpled and stuffed under the burlap runner and is damaged beyond repair. Leftover cookie favors were broken and many are missing. Handmade seashell frames arrived to their room broken, which most likely can be repaired… but that’s not the point. The bride’s seashell bouquet was also stuffed in a box without care and has a few broken shells. Items were simply tossed haphazardly into boxes without thought. Total carelessness!

None of these things ruined the wedding completely. The bride was still beautiful, the groom still smitten, and the guests danced ‘til they couldn’t move another muscle. After a year of plotting, planning, dreaming, and implementing, the wedding was still a success, IN SPITE of Ocean Place.

The DJ, Videographer, and Photographer were professionals (and AWESOME) and made the bride and groom the center of attention, rightfully so and made them feel special.

I will leave you with a favorite quote by Maya Angelou:

‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

Perhaps the staff at Ocean Place Resort and Spa needs to repeat this quote on a daily basis.

Pajama Day!!!

 

working-at-home-pajamas-1058896-170x259I officially declared today PAJAMA DAY… and stayed in my Pjs the entire day. I had no plans to go any where and as far as I knew no one was coming over… so why not? I wouldn’t be embarrassed if a friend or neighbor unexpectedly dropped by. For all intents and purposes I am dressed well enough wearing a white long sleeve Tee and flannel pants… although the pants are my Christmas jammies, printed with candy canes.

 

I brushed my teeth this morning and washed my face, but around 4PM it dawned on me I didn’t brush my hair. Oh well… it has that ‘fresh from bed’ tousled look… not that awful; no make up either… also not that awful. I haven’t done this in YEARS! What a relaxing day… ahhhh. Hey… I think I will declare every Sunday after ‘springing’ the clocks ahead one hour PJ DAY! Meet me here next year and tell me what you did in your Pjs

 

Today I frittered the day away on FaceBook and PINTEREST marveling at all the creative and clever people out there in cyber land. Sometimes I feel like such an underachiever… but then I realize these people aren’t this spectacular every day. I’m only catching a glimpse of their lives… a snippet really. I can be just as clever and creative a few times a year too… just not today.

 

As I look through many Pinterest ‘boards’ I have come to the conclusion that A. Too many people have a lot of spare time on their hands, and B. So many people have insecurities. On the other hand, I have found it a great resource for finding interesting recipes, hints on making my blog better, thought provoking sayings, fabulous fonts and type styles, and so many projects I want to do there just are not enough hours in the day. Basically, a huge time sucker.

I whipped up some Arepas for dinner… and am calling it a wonderful, relaxing, peaceful day.

Now I think I will head on over to Etsy.com and see all the new designs my daughter listed in her shop, Kreative Event Services. She is an awesome custom invitation designer… who just finished the Wedding Invites for my other daughter’s Disney Wedding this June. Check out the Save The Dates she designed for the big day. Hmmm… While on Etsy maybe I can hunt down a purse to go with my crazy dress for the wedding. Hmmm… Great idea! See ya later!

 

I hope you had as much today as I did!

Six Months…

Today, December 3rd marks the six month countdown to my daughter’s wedding. It’s time to stop treating peanut m&ms as a major food group and pay closer attention to what goes in my mouth. I should start walking again and maybe, just maybe get back into yoga.

I made the mistake of stepping on the bathroom scale this morning. Without getting into actual numbers… let’s suffice it to say the last time my scale registered that high I was pregnant!!! YIKES!

As a general rule I don’t worry about my weight. Sometimes I’m thinner than usual, other times I’m not. Whatever is… is. I have only dieted once… and lost 40 pounds on South Beach. However that was well over 10 years ago and the weight crept back on. As long as I don’t have to shop for a larger size in jeans, and can see my toes instead of my belly when I look down, I feel I’m doing OK.

I try to eat sensibly as best I can… but sometimes life gets in the way and the only way to cope is to share my troubles with my best friends, Ben and Jerry. Cherry Garcia is my hands down favorite, although Chunky Monkey and Peanut Butter Cup are yummy too.

Yesterday I looked into gym memberships and Yoga Studios. Who am I kidding? I know for a fact I won’t keep up with a gym routine. I would be gung-ho for about 2 weeks, then the novelty would wear off and I’d lose interest. Being cooped up in a stuffy, smelly gym with a bunch of other people doesn’t really appeal to me. I’m an outdoorsy, nature loving kind of girl… walking on the boardwalk, riding my bike around the neighborhood. I guess I had better bundle up and get back out there!

The local Yoga Studio MIGHT be something I would join. I’m going to check it out tomorrow. According to their website they keep the studio at 90 degrees which I’m betting will be a deal breaker for me. I understand the high temperature is to loosen your muscles and sweat out toxins… but I wilt in heat. If fresh cool air doesn’t pass my nose every so often I feel like I’m suffocating. On the plus side however, the studio is within walking distance from my home. I can kill two birds with one stone.

I am not really trying to lose weight so much as wanting to firm up what I have. I have known women who lost so much weight they look like a pez despenser… you know, where their head looks so much larger than their stick body. No, I just want to look good in whatever dress I decide to purchase, and not be the fat lady in the wedding photos. I’m not afraid of a little extra padding… just not a lot extra. You know, the camera puts an extra 10 pounds on you!

So… six months from today my daughter will be married and I will gain another fabulous son-in-law. Life is good. PLUS a bonus… the two dogs will move out with her. I don’t know which makes me happier! I love the dogs… just as I love my daughter, I will miss them all… yet it’s time for them to move on… and me to have an empty nest. I am ready to grow up and live my own life… like a big girl.

Six months.

Wedding Dress Shopping… Woo! Hoo!

The most surprising day of my life finally occurred! Wedding dress shopping with my oldest daughter. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would have gone the way it did.

Being an active ‘tom boy’ she was never really into wearing dresses. A week before she was beginning kindergarten she fell head over heels in love with the ugliest dress I had ever seen, and INSISTED she wear it on the first day of school. It was cheap fabric, screaming turquoise and red, with white eyelet on the hem, from K-mart. No amount of bribing could persuade her from wearing that dress. I put my feelings and judgement aside reasoning that, “Hey, she has to be happy and feel good with what she’s wearing”. I could suggest other options, but the final decision was hers. So… Off to school she goes, happy as can be… while I looked on and cringed.

I waited at the end of my driveway for the huge lumbering school bus to drop my little angel back home. I had prepared a special ‘after school snack’ just for her. I watched as she carefully climbed down the bus steps, one step at a time, holding on to the hand rail, with a smile on her face. I smiled back. I waved to the bus driver as she pulled away and reached to grab my daughter’s hand. She looked up at me and said plain and clear, “You don’t have to wait for me at the end of the driveway, just give me a key and I’ll let myself in… Oh… and I’m never wearing a dress again”. All of this from a five year old!

Needless to say she held true to word and hardly ever wore a dress again. For church and Easter, and family weddings… Yes, but not for anything else. Semi-formals finally required some dress shopping, but prom time came and I made her the dress. Over the years I have helped her shop now and then for a dress for an occasion or two, but her idea of dress shopping is… “Mom, I need a dress. Can you come shopping with me please?” We go to one store, she walks in, pushes a few dresses aside on the rack, pulls one out and says, “This will look good on me.” She then goes to the dressing room, tries it on, comes out to show me… Of course it looks fabulous on her… she pays for it and we are done. The whole process lasted an hour… If that. Shopping for her wedding dress was not that much different.

My daughter is a planner. From the moment she was engaged, she already had a wedding planner up and running. She had been watching ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ for over a year and had a good idea that she wanted two dresses… a formal one for the ceremony and a tea length for the reception. Scouting the Internet she found both dresses, printed a picture of each and placed them in her planner. She continued to stalk the sites watching for a price change. Last week she noticed her tea length dress was taken off the site. Uh-Oh… That means the dress has been discontinued and you can only purchase what is left on the store racks. PANIC MODE!

“Mom, are you busy tomorrow? Do you want to go shopping for my wedding dress at 2:00 tomorrow? I already made an appointment.” Ah… YES!! She called her sister to join us.

So, here we are… The three of us… sitting in David’s Bridal Salon waiting impatiently for our consultant to haul us in some dresses for my daughter too try on. Obviously understaffed, we had to share our consultant with another bride… who was commanding more than her share of attention. However, some dresses eventually arrived and the craziness began.

First up was a white formal number with beading and a full train. As pretty as it was, I wasn’t thrilled. Next came the dress we actually came here for… the tea length dress for the reception. Just as predicted it looked great on her. A simple white strapless number with rouching, nipped at the waist with a touch of bling. Adorable! Big smile! The bride is happy! Now, on to the formal dress.

The few dresses the consultant had dropped off to try on were not stunning. We were beginning to get bored. Two hours into this appointment and we only saw three dresses. My other daughter and I decided to step up the process and hit the racks ourselves… having no idea where to begin our search, much to the displeasure of the staff.

“Ack! Look at this adorable dress!”, my younger daughter exclaimed as she held up the most perfect reception dress I had ever seen. She poked her head in between the top of the dress and the hanger so it looked like she was wearing it. “Beautiful”, I replied, “Bring it back for her to try on.” This dress was NOTHING like the dress she already decided to purchase… Nope NOTHING like it at all. As MOB (Mother of the Bride) I was as giddy as a young bride myself knowing THIS was the perfect dress.

We continued looking through the racks and pulling dresses until a few disgruntled staff members came our way to shoo us back to our seats. Apparently THEY are the only ones allowed to touch the dresses. Oops! Our appointment swiftly kicked into high gear. Hee, hee. All of a sudden our consultant was much more attentive.

Although we thought the reception dress had already been decided on… The soon to be bride’s eyes lit up when she caught sight of the dress her sister was bringing to her. She eagerly tried it on. She LOVED it! Her sister LOVED it! I LOVED it! Woo! Hoo! AND… it was on sale for 99 buckaroos! Could this have worked out any better?

Okay… Now we seriously have to look for the formal dress. My daughter knew what she was looking for, but nothing was really hitting the spot. From elegant to over the top crazy, they all looked good on her… but just were not THE ONE. Not that it mattered much, we still had plenty of time before the wedding… it’s not until June, and besides we didn’t come out today with the intent of purchasing the formal dress. Today was just ‘try on’ day.

As she stood looking at her reflection in the mirror, we asked her what was wrong with the current formal dress she had on. It was everything she asked for… strapless, rouching, formal, long train, a bit of bling. So… Why not this dress? “I don’t feel like a Princess”, she pouted.

Ahhhh… how could have I forgotten that? The wedding is to be held in the Wedding Chapel in Disney World. Of course she wants to be a Princess… but with class. It’s her special day, and she SHOULD feel like a princess. “So,” I turned to the consultant, “What can you suggest that will make her feel like a Princess?” Her blank stare quickly changed as a smile came across her face. “How do you feel about a BALL GOWN?”, she asked. My daughter lit up like the Crysler Building!

The consultant rushed off and quickly returned hauling this HUGE mass of dress behind her. As she passed me I glanced at the dress… My heart leapt! I instantly knew… even while it was still on the hanger covered in the plastic garment bag… THIS was going to be her dress. Eventhough it wasnt anything at all what my daughter dreamed her dress would look like… I still knew in my heart that it was the perfect choice. I was wiggling in my seat in anticipation of seeing her in this dress. I was not disappointed.

The door to the dressing room opened slowly as my oldest child floated… yes, floated out into the room. Now THIS was a dress that made her feel like a Princess! The look on her face said it all… THIS would be the dress she wore to marry her sailor on June 3rd. No doubt about it… This was it! And no, I didn’t cry. I was way too excited and happy to cry. That doesn’t mean I won’t blubber at the wedding, but for today I am just so happy.

While reading this story I hope you notice I revealed NOTHING about the actual dresses. I will not spoil the surprise. You will either have to come to Disney for the wedding, or wait for the posting of pictures. Let me just say… I honestly thought when this daughter married she would be barefoot on the beach, wearing a short, casual dress. How pleasantly surprised I am!

Oh… And one more thing I would like to mention. My frugal, practical, researching daughter was able to purchase TWO wedding dresses and remain UNDER  budget! She makes her mother so proud!