Jeanette Bennett, utahvalley360.com
Location, location, location.
Thirty years ago, most Utah Valley brides held their receptions and open houses at their local church building or their backyards.
While these options are still popular, more than a dozen reception centers around the valley are now the premier places to hold weddings.
Brides can choose from full-service centers (which take care of everything from photography to food), partial-service centers (which require using some of their services) and open facilities (which provide the building and allow the wedding party to bring in their own cakes, food and additional decorations).
While the wedding ceremony, which for Utah County brides is often in an LDS temple or chapel, is the most important part of the day, the reception is a way for everyone of all ages and relationships to celebrate the occasion.
Here are some of Utah County’s finest reception center options.
ALPINE ARTS CENTER
“I think brides choose us because we are a large art gallery,” says Steve Streadbeck, owner/director of Alpine Arts Center. “Guests are able to look through the gallery, which provides a classy, cultural setting for a wedding.”
Two sides of the large room at Alpine Arts Center are big windows that look out on beautiful gardens and a quaint stream. Brides can have indoor or outdoor receptions.
The hall rents for $850, and the wedding party must do a minimum of $500 of catering services.
“We have everything from a full-meal menu to a dessert menu,” Steve says.
While the Alpine Arts Center does a lot of full-service weddings, brides can bring in their own cakes and use their own photographers, which allows family members to fill these roles if desired.
“We are close to the Mount Timpanogos Temple and a good half-way point between Provo and Salt Lake City,” Steve says.
Another advantage to the Alpine Arts Center is they only book one event per day, so brides don’t share the building with anyone on their special day.
Jane and Roland Robinson, owners of the Bungalow in Pleasant Grove, are arguably the parents of the reception center industry in Utah Valley. They began their business in 1972, and their hidden beauty is drawing second-generation family receptions there.
With greenery and quaintness associated with European facilities, the Bungalow is simply beautiful.
This full-service facility takes care of all the details, including serving on pewter.
“We are joyful about every bride,” Jane says.
The Robinsons do more than provide food and unlock the facility. There is personal care given to each family.
“We deal with all types of family situations, whether it be divorced parents, terminally ill mothers or international couples,” she says.
Jane usually begins working with brides with a telephone call, and then an appointment is set for Jane to meet the bride and hopefully the groom and parents.
“We get more brides calling in January than the rest of the year combined,” she says.
Utah County is unique in its wedding industry, and the Bungalow caters to this.
Some of the largest weddings are held in Utah, Jane says, with big families and wide circles of friendship and love.
The average wedding at the Bungalow includes 300 guests.
“I like to do something unpredictable in each of my weddings,” Jane says. “We’ve done cakes on tree trunks, for example, and there is no ceiling as to what we can do to make a wedding special.”
The beauty of the Bungalow can be enjoyed inside or outside, with stunning ambiance in both places.
“There’s a way and a better way to do everything,” Jane says wisely. “We want to do it the better way.”
Jane believes the couples now are the neatest generation because she can tell that they are truly friends and truly in love. She can see that they are team players in their marriages.
Roland laid all the tile, and the couple’s sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren have played major roles in the creating and maintaining of this classy business.
CHILLON RECEPTION CENTER
“In Utah County, people tend to focus on price, and that is a good place to start but they should also compare what features are being offered,” says Cameron Dotten, manager of the Chillon Reception Center.
Features at the Chillon are extensive.
Packages start at $2,200, and this includes food, flowers, cake, facility and decorations.
Brides can bring their own photographers, cakes and flowers, if they desire, although they can also choose from the Chillon’s talented staff.
The Chillon Reception Center has about 30 years of experience, and their “food is the finest in the valley.”
“We try to customize our weddings as much as possible, including ice carvings and decorations that suit the bride,” Cameron says.
Brides can choose from the starting package on up to their grandest offerings. And it is a year-round facility.
“We can go inside or outside,” he says. “If the weather goes sour, we can move your party back inside.”
“We’re one of the few reception centers that is truly full-service,” says Gary Nelson, owner of The Historic Colonial House. “I act as wedding coordinator, and the bride pays me for everything and I build the wedding.”
While many centers simply hand out business cards for services such as photography, flowers, music, etc., Gary lines up the services, taking away a lot of the footwork for the bride and her parents.
An initial deposit is required, which is standard in the industry, and prices start at $1,300 and go up to $8,000 or more.
The Historic Colonial House is a one-stop wedding, with details including stretch limousines, photography and flowers.
One thorough appointment is all it may take to plan a wedding with Gary, with florists coming in at the tail end of the appointment.
Decisions such as how many tables, styles of invitations, etc., can all be taken care of with Gary, who has been in business for 20 years.
“We offer spaciousness, as we have 14-foot ceilings, beautiful staircases and paintings done by local artists.
Most brides book three or four months in advance. Gary notes that one unique thing about Utah County is that weddings are almost exclusively on Fridays and Saturdays, while even in Salt Lake City, they book weddings every day of the week.
MELLOR HIDDEN MEADOWS
Lehi’s Mellor Hidden Meadows is a beautiful location and offers many options.
Mellor’s newly remodeled reception center is a good choice for north Utah County wedding receptions.
Its outdoor park is beautiful with waterfalls, ponds and gazebos.
In second-generation ownership, Mellor Hidden Meadows has years of experience.
POINT DU CIEL
Minutes from the Provo LDS Temple, Point du Ciel is a perfect location for a wedding brunch or reception.
Point du Ciel is on the third floor in a classy office park, so it is easy to find and affords a nice view.
Photographers don’t struggle with finding good backdrops at Point du Ciel, as the interior design is exquisite.
Menu options are extensive and can accommodate large and small groups.
SOMEWHERE INN TIME
A waterfall backdrop and baby grand piano are two of the signature features of Somewhere Inn Time in Lindon.
“Brides don’t have to worry about anything when they come here,” says Jennett Shepherd, owner of Somewhere Inn Time. “We are congenial with people, and nervous brides need someone calm and collected.”
Wedding packages start at $2,490, which includes serving 200 people and a three-tier cake with refreshments.
Starting this year, outside receptions will be an option at this lovely location.
Brides can choose from a menu of 25 different things, while the typical bride selects between four and six items.
“We have a lot of unique furniture and a beautiful staircase,” Jennett says.
Brides can bring their own flowers.
While it’s never too early to make a reservation, most brides reserve their night three months out, she says.
Brides can pick their colors, and Somewhere Inn Time makes the centerpieces, tablecloths and additional decorations coordinate with the wedding theme.
It’s hard to beat the location of Southworth Hall, a new reception center in the remodeled Southworth Building in downtown Provo, near Nu Skin.
“We’ve mixed the old with the new,” says Diane Berntsen, who owns Southworth with her husband, Mike. “We have beautiful lighting, brick, and the original ceiling.”
One advantage of Southworth is the flexibility.
“We are not going to have exclusives (for photographers, food, etc.), so brides can use whomever they would like, although we are confident when they see our flowers they will love what we can do.”
Parking is also ample, and an open house will be held in January to showcase the renovations and options for receptions and other events.
“There are a lot of people doing great things in this valley, and we want our reception center to be a place for them to showcase their abilities,” she says.
Thanksgiving Point has quickly become a premier place to hold wedding parties. With its eight indoor rooms and two outdoor garden areas, brides have options depending on number of guests, season and budget.
Thanksgiving Point requires brides to do their flowers, cake and decorating through them. Brides can bring their own photographers to capture their special day.
Kaylynn Freeman, wedding coordinator, says brides are pleased to hold their event at Thanksgiving Point because of the prime location and elegant surroundings.
“The quality of service we offer is No. 1,” says Becky Miller, owner of White Willow Reception Center. “My customers leave happy, and word of mouth is how a lot of people hear about us.”
A charge of $1,200 includes cake, photography and facility. A three-piece food tray is $3.95 per person.
Although Becky can suggest invitation designers and flowers, she also can provide these amenities, which means White Willow can be a full-service facility or leave some options to the bride.
“People can afford to use us, and they don’t want to be running from the ceremony straight to a church to decorate it,” she says. “You’ll spend the same amount if you let others take care of the reception.”
A $300 deposit is required, and it is refundable up to 45 days before the event. Most brides book three months in advance.
“I like to do fresh flower centerpieces,” she says. “People really like this option because it saves them having to find an additional florist for the decorations.”
(WITH HELP FROM CLASSIC DESIGNS BY LORI)
While reception centers are beautiful and elegant, not every bride has the budget or the desire to hold her wedding party there. Perhaps a home or church is a more fitting location.
Classic Designs by Lori offers everything from backdrops to centerpieces, and Lori Winder has found that her brides are happy.
“For those who can’t or don’t want to use a reception center, there are some good options, but they have to look for them,” says Lori.
Starting at $400, Lori has silk trees, a variety of decorations, lights, and screens to dress up any location. Many of her items are custom-made.
“Weddings can be stress-free because we do the set-up and the take-down,” Lori explains. “We’ve had a good response and many happy people.”
Lori suggests seeing things first-hand rather than selecting decorations, fabrics and colors from pictures.
“Sometimes brides aren’t sure exactly what they want, but if they can touch and feel fabrics they begin to make decisions.”
Lori uses her expertise as a former hotel interior designer to create an overall feel and look that adds to the beauty of the wedding day.
LOCAL WEDDING RECEPTION CENTERS
Alpine Art Center, Alpine, 763-7173
Am. Fork Amphitheater, American Fork, 763-3081
Bella Via, Spanish Fork, 798-7244
Bungalow, Pleasant Grove, 785-2111
Cascade Golf Center, Orem, 223-9199
Chillon Reception Ctr., Spanish Fork, 798-1098
Colonial House, Lehi, 768-3345
Heritage Room, Provo, 792-5643
Lehi Historic Hotel, Lehi, 768-0307
Mellor Hidden Meadows, Lehi, 768-4578
Point du Ciel, Provo, 356-8273
Provo Marriott, Provo, 377-4700
Restaurant Roy, Orem, 235-9111
Rocky Mountain, Orem, 224-8058
Sharpe Wedding, Provo, 377-8956
Somewhere Inn Time, Lindon, 785-9777
Southworth Hall, Provo, 225-5578
White Willow, Provo, 375-9793