By Courtney Byrnes
Many details and decisions go into planning big life celebrations, and finding a great space for your party can offer the perfect backdrop to a special moment.
Some venues also make the process easier by offering assistance with regard to planning and vendors who help bring a b’nai mitzvah or wedding to life. For that reason, Terri Kufel, director of sales and catering at InterContinental Cleveland in Cleveland; Makenna Delgado, wedding and special event coordinator at Walden in Aurora; and Jaime Nosse, director of event sales at the Glidden House in Cleveland, share with Celebrations what makes an event at each venue so special.
Hotels are often prime venues for celebratory events, offering convenient lodging for out-of-town guests. But an event at InterContinental Cleveland has more to offer in terms of quality service, food and staff as a Four Diamond Luxury property designated by AAA, Kufel says.
With synchronized table service offering a restaurant feel and experienced staff who give a personal touch from booking to the day of, the hotel strives to earn its high ratings, she explains. Additionally, The Knot awarded InterContinental Cleveland with its Best of Weddings award in 2022 and 2023.
For weddings, InterContinental Cleveland has two wedding specialists, senior catering sales manager Melissa Fleming and catering manager Melissa Leone, who are there from start to finish.
“The level of expertise I think that they offer is insurmountable, as well as the fact that they sell and plan it, and they’re there that day,” Kufel says, adding that there can sometimes be a disconnect when working with different people for booking, planning and the day-of activities.
“We often find that the person books with that person because they connect with them and they trust them, so they’re there the whole way – including the day of the wedding,” she says.
In terms of venue options, InterContinental Cleveland has three spaces accommodating different numbers of guests. For a large party, the Founders Ballroom can accommodate 450 people with space for a dance floor, a band and cake table; the space can also be divided in half to hold a ceremony on one side and open up for the reception. A third-floor gallery and the Six Continents junior ballroom offer a more intimate setting, accommodating up to 175 and 80 people, respectively.
For weddings, the hotel can offer rooms to get ready in and a ketubah signing room, as well as a complimentary suite for the couple on their wedding night. The cake and valet parking are also included in the wedding packages.
InterContinental can also offer accommodations before and beyond the day-of festivities as the hotel offers a 10% discount to add an additional event, such as a rehearsal dinner, and a “Honeymoon on Us” program which offers points based on the amount of money spent on food and beverage.
Looking to popular trends, other accommodations can include uplighting, Chiavari chairs or cold sparklers. Celebrants can also bring in outside vendors for the cake or for kosher catering.
“If they want to set up the room, we can set up many different ways,” Kufel says. “… What we found has really been a trend lately is to have a couple really long tables on the side of the dance floor, and with those suspending flowers from the ceiling above you or a special decor look has become very popular.”
If you ever hosted or attended an event at Walden, you can expect any future celebrations there to look a little different as the inn’s former Cafe space is undergoing a renovation, expanding and doubling the maximum capacity to accommodate 225 guests.
“It’s making it possible for us to host larger weddings, and just events in general without having to do a tented reception,” Delgado says. “In the past, a lot of people with larger parties would do a tented reception because they loved Walden and they wanted to be here. So, they did whatever they had to do to be on Walden property.”
The updated space is expected to be completed in June, with its first wedding scheduled for June 17. It is being expanded by removing the second floor loft and pushing out one wall, and will have updates to lighting fixtures, floors and the bar to keep up with current trends.
While the former Cafe space is the most popular wedding space at Walden, there are plenty of other options for events at its Inn and the Club to fit the size and style of a party.
Delgado describes the Jodhpurs Lounge at the Inn as “a very Ralph Lauren-inspired room” with a fireplace, private patio, copper-topped bar and view of the indoor horseback riding arena. The room can hold about 72 people formally seated, allowing for over 100 if used for a cocktail party. The Inn also has its Pyramid Room which is often used for meetings, but can hold up to 40 people banquet style for an intimate party.
Over at the Club, the Main Dining Room can host 150 people or be rented with the Bogey Bar & Deck to allow for additional space and private bar service. The bar can hold 30 people banquet style or 50 people for a cocktail party.
Walden is also updating its garden and lawn spaces, such as Club Arbor, often used for outdoor ceremonies, cocktail hours and parties with upgraded hardscape, landscape and bar.
When it comes to planning an event, Walden offers many accommodations. As an inn, Walden can offer lodging in its newly upgraded suites. Linens, candles, tables and chairs are all included with event room rentals, with upgrades available to fit a party’s style. For anything not included such as floral arrangements or centerpieces, hosts have access to Walden’s preferred vendor lists.
“We don’t want people to stress about party planning,” Delgado says. “We want them to come to Walden, feel relaxed, talk to me, talk to anybody who can throw their party, and then we basically help plan the entire party from our end because we are the venue, we’re the food and we’re the bar.”
With the backdrop of lush green landscaping and a historic 1910 French gothic mansion, the Glidden House offers a beautiful location to host events, Nosse says. And its space allows it to host just one event at a time – a benefit for the celebrants.
“You’re not competing with other events like at other larger venues,” she says. “… So, we’re able to just solely focus on your special day.”
With a manicured lawn ideal for an outdoor ceremony and cocktail hour and its indoor dining rooms, the Glidden House can comfortably accommodate a party of 150 people. The Juniper room offers space for dining and dancing with room for a dance floor and a band or DJ.
The attached Magnolia room is ideal for serving meals, dessert or adding a photo booth or photo wall.
“It’s a great way to be announced into the room,” Nosse adds. “Usually, we’ll hold the wedding party back there to announce everybody in.”
In case of inclement weather or to find a quiet moment away from the crowd, other rooms in the mansion such as the dining room, library and loggia are open to offer an extension of the cocktail party on the patio.
For serving food, the Glidden House helps with the design and layout of tables and chairs, provides linens and bar service, and works with the hosts’ vendors. It offers a list of preferred exclusive caterers to bring the day to life.
“We’ll work with them and then any of the vendors that the (celebrant) has selected, as far as like the florist or entertainment, to provide what their needs are for that day,” Nosse says. “We work together as a team of vendors to make the day go really smoothly.”
Not only can celebrants host all their festivities at the Glidden House, but the mansion has 60 guest rooms for lodging – including the eight suites where the Glidden family previously resided. The other 52 traditional guest rooms are undergoing a renovation to be completed this spring, upgrading to more modern technology and an elevated design. The new rooms will have workstations, platform beds, mini refrigerators and custom cabinetry. Hotel guests receive a complimentary breakfast available daily and on-site parking.
“Nobody has to travel to the ceremony and then back here for the reception,” Nosse says. “So, it’s nice to have everybody in one spot.”