separation from church and state winery

wineryWhen I went up to Canada a month ago, to look at wedding venues in Victoria, I went through seven in three days. Hatley Castle, four hotels, the Union Club downtown, and the Church and State winery. Of the six, I decided that I liked the idea of the winery the most. It was very New B.C. – all light wood and granite and an exposed stainless steel kitchen. And it sat on beautiful grounds with gorse on the hills, and a view of the Strait of Georgia a half-mile to the east. That’s my mom (left, in the blue turtleneck) and her best friend Janice (right), on the ceremony site on those pretty grounds. (My Flickr set of the place is here)

The only problem was the wedding coordinator, a girl about my age who was, well, a bit flaky. She’d forgotten we were even scheduled to meet, to start with, and we only caught her by dumb luck. But I decided to let that go. I forget meetings all the time, after all, unless I have Outlook in front of me to remind me. So we toured the building, and talked about the event, and agreed that she would send a proposal in a week.

Two weeks went by, and nothing. I called and got her voicemail. I left a message. More days went by, and then she called the next Monday to reassure me. No, she’d been on work/vacation in Napa. She hadn’t forgotten me. She would send a proposal by end of week. I was mollified and stopped worrying. Until the end of the week came with no proposal.

Finally, the next week, she sent it. To my mother. With my name spelled wrong on it. I looked it over, calculated it out to include taxes using my Wedding Calculator Spreadsheet, and agreed. They wanted US dollars, which made it more than they would have charged a Canadian, but the exchange is close enough that I would accept that. I’d renegotiate if the US dollar regained some strength. And I said the proposal was fine, let’s move forward. Next step: determine the exact costs so I could send a 20% deposit.

No reply. Again. I sent a reminder email later in the week, and received a reply. “I’ll send menus by the end of the week.” This was about ten days ago. Surprise, surprise, no menus. And no response to my follow-up email from the Tuesday after the due date. No word since.

I know that this venue is not that keen on weddings. They said it’s too much work, that they didn’t do weddings at all last year for that reason. But if you don’t want my business, don’t say you do. Don’t tell me you’ll meet me, and forget. Don’t say you’ll send a proposal, and send it two weeks late, after I’ve had to call you twice. Don’t miss a deadline to send a catering proposal and then not respond to my followup messages. That’s three strikes. If you want the business, you have to do the work. If you don’t, don’t waste my time. Because if you’re this sloppy and negligent now, how are you going to act once you have my non-refundable deposit? How much more stress will you cause me on this project?

P5250232So I have, in effect, fired the winery. Or will tell them so if I ever hear from them again. Then I went and wrote to choice number two: the Union Club of downtown Victoria. Or, as cracksmurf calls them, “the bastion of white male grumpiness”. It’s an Edwardian-era private club that was used by all the rulers of the province of BC as their hangout. Flickr set is here., and that’s their Begbie room in the photo to the right. I liked the idea of having the ceremony and reception in the same place at the winery, but I can go to Plan B: Beacon Hill Park Ceremony And Union Club Reception. Very old Victoria. Very much the sort of wedding that could have taken place at any time in my home town over the last century. Not unique, as the winery would have been, but the Union Club caterer wrote me back within 24 hours. And since this wedding is just one more project, one more campaign, that I’m buying inventory for, I like that level of professionalism.

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