Christopher Heath and Nora Stevens
May 25, 2001

The Groom Reflects

When Nora went to Cape Cod for a vacation with her parents, she realized that it was a perfect place for our wedding. Next time, they took me along too, and I had to agree. We went all over the Cape, looking for the "perfect" venue. But Chatham's charming town center, old historic buildings, and general quaintness stole our hearts. This was IT!

I also thought it felt right, because it seemed to have a lot of "New Zealand character" about it. I guess it was just the colonial feeling about many of the buildings, not to mention the close proximity of the beaches. I definitely liked the idea of getting married in a place that had a mixture of American and New Zealand qualities.

The church
We wanted to have our wedding in a Catholic church. There was only one in Chatham, so we didn't have much choice. But when we went to visit it, we were not disappointed. It was just gorgeous with its clapboard walls, very characteristic of that time and area. It was really too big for our purposes—our meager 20-person crowd would be dwarfed in there. But it was otherwise a perfect venue.

We also went and met the resident priest. We already loved the place, but Father Scales just made it even better. He was very talkative, and had a very strong local accent—a wonderful person to work with. Even in the service itself, he was constantly whispering instructions and reassuring us that we were "doing great so far!"

The Inn
We went to visit many inns, looking for a place to hold the reception. Once we had narrowed it down, it really came down to two choices: the Chatham Bars Inn or the Queen Anne Inn. The Bars had an absolutely breath-taking front garden, lovely gardens around the back too (ideal for photos), and beautiful views of the beach. But because our party was so small, we were offered a pokey little room off the side of the main dining area for our reception. It just didn't feel right.

Queen Anne immediately stole our hearts. They catered for small groups only, so we knew we would be well cared for. The inn has some beautiful woodwork. The owner, Guenther, was extremely helpful. We came to him basically with an open slate and asked him, "What can you do for us?" He made a number of suggestions, and also recommended other accommodations, activities for the guests, and so on. While the outside of the inn felt cramped and less neat and trim than the other inn, the indoors was just perfect. We, being indoor people, felt this was more important than having a nice outdoor garden, and anyway we naturally gravitated towards this place because they were much more experienced with small parties.

During our initial meeting, we asked Guenther if he would be able to make us a pavlova (a tradional New Zealand dessert) instead of a normal wedding cake. Surprisingly, his answer was yes, because he had previously had a New Zealand chef working there who had left many recipes. This just clinched the deal!

On the day, the reception dinner was wonderfully done. There were three main dishes on the menu, and everyone got what they ordered (I think!). The food was just exquisite. We heard from several sources that the steak just melted in your mouth. I personally could highly recommend the duck—very flavorful. The third dish was salmon and scallops, which also got rave reviews.

The only disappointment was the pavlova. I think they realized a little too late that pavlovas are very difficult to make, and they resorted to some sort of instant pav-like goo squeezed out of a confectioner's tube. It was wonderfully presented, with sour friut that complemented the dish nicely...but it was definitely not a pav!

The florist
Guenther's recommended florist was unavailable on our chosen day, so we had to find our own. Not to be beaten, Nora did a bit of Web searching and hit on a great find. She found Kathryn Manson, who calls herself not a florist, but a "floral designer". She doesn't normally do weddings because she can't bear to have the bride fussing about this color or that color. She wants to do the designing! But she took us on instantly because we again came to her with an open slate, and let her think about what would look good.

Well! On the day, the flowers were so good they brought tears to my eyes. Everything was so well laid out and arranged to fill the spaces so perfectly. Only having seen how she works do I know how much precision went into those arrangements. For example, every bouquet was a slightly different size, so that it matched the person carrying it. But of course, no-one would notice this because everything fitted their surroundings so exactly right.

The photographer
Guenther recommended Spencer Kennard to us for our photographer, and that turned out to be great advice. On the day, he was extremely professional. He had many ideas for places to shoot, an eye for composing pictures, and always watched out for loose hair.

He hasn't produced the photos yet, but on the positive side, he hasn't cashed our checks yet either. He used both traditional cameras and a digital camera, I guess to be on the safe side, but also because he is still experimenting and learning about the new medium. He printed up a couple of the digital ones immediately and gave them to us, free of charge. That digital camera was of such good quality that I cannot tell even when I look up close at the photo. He uses good equipment, has a good professional style, and I would recommend him to anyone.

The limousine
For a limousine, we needed something that could carry 6 people, yet wasn't too grand. We found a company called Connexions, which had an ideal car for us. It was a dark color, but not black; and it was slightly stretched, but not awfully so.

But the best part came when we met the driver. He went out of his way to hold Nora's dress off the ground, and he was generally very helpful to everyone. After the photos he drove us back by a scenic route so we could all see Chatham's sights. We got a complimentary bottle of champagne on the trip, too.

The candy-makers
For favors at the reception, we decided to use local candy makers. There is one shop in Chatham, the aptly named Chatham Candy Manor, that is just filled with just about anything chocolate coated, and a lot more besides. We contacted them and they were very happy to work with us. It was hard to choose! I personally liked the idea of giving everyone a small candy lighthouse surrounded by chocolate pebbles and shells (very realistic!). But in the end, we decided that it's better to have something that is easier for people to take away with them. We went with some chocolate-coated cranberries, which were attractively packaged and quite scrummy!