Where to Wed

photo by Heather Lynne Photography

Janice Houser, of U. S. Rents-It, talks local wedding venues.

For many brides, the biggest project on the list of “wedding to-dos” is planning the reception. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when trying to figure out the big questions of who, where, when, how, and, most importantly, “What will it look like?”

Janice Houser, wedding decorator extraordinaire at U.S. Rents-It, is all too familiar with helping brides calm down from a Pinterest panic. With all the different styles and aesthetics out there, many brides have trouble narrowing down what exactly they want their reception to look like. “When a bride comes to me, I encourage her to start with the top five non-negotiables of what she needs to have at the reception, then build your budget from there,” Houser says. “‘What is going to make that day special for you?’ U.S. Rents-It is here to help turn your vision into reality. After we figure that out, the rest falls into place.”

Houser describes wedding decorating as a form of artistry — all the pieces must work together to form one coherent work. After brides decide on what theme they want for the celebration, the next important step is selecting the right canvas, so to speak, to ensure “that vision becomes a reality,” Houser says.
There are several notable wedding venues in Jefferson City, each outfitted with its own set of characteristics and capabilities. With the right decoration and insights, any venue could be used as a canvas to create the look the bride is looking for; however, some have strengths that could fit to a certain theme better than others. For brides seeking to host a reception in Jefferson City, here are some stops to be made.

Capitol Plaza Hotel

Capitol Plaza, located a stone’s throw from the Missouri State Capitol, is an enticing venue located in downtown Jefferson City. With a ballroom that can seat 800 and hotel rooms at the ready, this is definitely a venue to consider. “Capital Plaza has that big city feel,” Houser says. “From the atrium to the ballroom, the bride can create a spectacular reception. You can do everything from using tall, grandeur centerpieces with a formal design to a wedding with more simplistic design. This venue offers the bride a more a traditional look.”

The Millbottom

The Millbottom is a renovated power plant that offers the perfect location for brides to host a memorable reception. With indoor seating that for 300 and outdoor seating for even more guest space, this is the ideal spot for warm weather weddings. “The Millbottom is definitely what I would term as your perfect ‘blank canvas’ venue,” Houser says. “You can either play to a more industrial look, shabby chic, or go for a glitzy aesthetic. It’s really up to the bride’s imagination.” The venue is fitted with rustic brick and perfect coloring to play off of looks from vintage to BoHo.

The Colonel Bolton Home

The Colonel Bolton Home feels as though it’s straight out of a Jane Austen novel. The antebellum house has the capability to seat 200 people as well as suites for the wedding party to get ready. Houser describes this venue as the perfect place for brides looking to do a country-style wedding. “The Bolton Home is a charming and quaint historical home,” she says. “It’s perfect for a wedding that could be very romantic or very casual. The venue definitely makes a good fit for a rustic, Victorian, or shabby chic wedding.” If you’re looking for a more intimate venue, this historic house is the perfect “something old” to add to your wedding.

Canterbury Hill Winery

Canterbury Hill is another prime choice for a wedding in the warm season because of its patio with a view, as well as extra space for guests to roam. The venue offers the option of renting select rooms or the whole space. Houser points out that this venue would be an excellent spot for brides wishing to use the “enchanted garden” theme, a decoration aesthetic that has become popular in recent years. “The Canterbury Hill Winery and Restaurant allows brides to really work with the natural feel of the outdoors,” Hauser says. “The winery creates the perfect venue to pull in a cozy, intimate feel by using the winery and scenery to help with the overall wedding aesthetic. The look that works well with this venue is enchanted garden, romantic, and old-world.”

No matter which Jeff City venue a couple selects, Houser stands ready to help them make their vision a reality. “My biggest advice to couples is don’t sweat the small stuff,” she says. “The bride and groom will set the tone for the whole day. Just be happy and enjoy your special occasion! At the end, your guests will drive home and talk about what a special time they had.”

Modernizing Tradition

photos provided by The Sylvie Collection

While the industry may change, the tradition of purchasing engagement rings remains.

Technology has changed life as we know it in virtually every way — some more obvious than others. Telecommunication, cars, computers, and 24/7 access to the internet are some of the more brazen ways we see the effect it has had on our lives. But for some industries, the process has been more nuanced, the age of smart phones and social media bleeding slower into businesses that hold traditional values at their core.

Todd Vandelicht, Vandelicht Jewelry, and Mary Kay Kempker, The Blue Diamond, can attest to this.

At face value, the storefronts of Vandelicht Jewelry and The Blue Diamond haven’t changed since they opened in ’90s, The Blue Diamond in 1990 and Vandelicht just two years later. Couples still walk in to browse glass cases filled with ring options, all polished and just asking to be tried on. One might think that with the advances in online shopping, more couples would turn to the wider span of options on the internet, but as Vandelicht points out, “Ultimately, they still want to feel it, touch it, and try it on.”

Sentiment and traditional values have protected the storefronts of these beloved jewelers, but technology has still been a major game changer for the business. When Vandelicht first started Vandelicht Jewelry, every ring would be created with a hand-carved mold with molten metals poured in, often with a risk that the ring might crack and have to be poured again. Now, with computer-aided design systems being at the core of the design process, it’s down to a science. “It’s completely changed the industry and made almost anything possible,” Vandelicht says. “Just like technology advances within the medical field, jewelry design has evolved along with the times.”

With accessibility to 3-D design software, Kempker is able to design all of her customers’ pieces in-house. “We start from square one,” she says. “A couple will usually bring in a picture from Pinterest and we’ll come up with a similar design in our 3-D CAD system. I’ll then have our 3-D printer print off a wax mold to show the couple. If they like it, we’ll then cast it using the wax mold, which is referred to as the ‘lost wax process.’ It’s amazing how precise the design can be.”

The capabilities of jewelry design have come incredibly far. Kempker can remember when she installed her first CAD system in 2001. “It was just a 1-D program that would allow us to draw up a design to help the customer visualize it. We still had to hand carve the wax. Of course, the same software company then came out with the 3-D version. But now the newest thing is being able to 3-D print a piece just off a picture. It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come.”

Shari Lukacs, the certified gemologist at Vandelicht Jewelers, has seen the effects technology has had on the stylistic and retail side of the business. “With the internet and Pinterest as resources, it has really helped brides narrow down styles that really match her,” she says. Through the constant access that customers have via social media, they can see what’s popular and who’s wearing what. This is a large determiner for what sells. “Millennials pay attention to what celebrities are wearing,” Lukacs says. “I think Princess Kate’s wedding ring is a prime example for why millennials are starting to look for diamond alternatives.”

Stylistically, yellow gold and large stones were the popular style in the ’90s, but currently, vintage and delicate rings with round-cut stones have become the new standard. But fashion tends to recycle its fads. “White gold and silver are the more common metals,” Lukacs says. “Though with yellow gold becoming a more popular look in casual jewelry, we may see a resurgence of that in wedding rings.”

Though the internet and technology has changed the wedding ring business, the same goal remains: to outfit each couple with the band that is the perfect symbol of their love.