Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Imagine if you had to pay someone three bucks every time you wanted to slice a piece of cake.
That’s exactly what you have to do if you’re trying to plan a wedding.
I’ll send an email to a place that sounds like it might be a cool place to get married and get this email back that’s all formal, like “Thank you for your interest in getting married on the White House lawn. As you can imagine, we are a very popular venue, especially in the fall. If you have 8 million dollars to spend, we’ll let you know if we have any availability in the next three years.”
I seriously haven’t felt this dissed since I applied for that job to be a stripper or auditioned for the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders.
Then the people from the Four Seasons Manhattan send you a PDF file that’s like 25 pages long with itemized lists of all the fees that gives a whole new meaning to the “item” part of the equation.
You would not believe the things they charge you for. Stuff like, “Access to top of Eiffel Tower: 400 steps @ $2.75 per step, per person, 200 person minimum: $22,000” or “Cocktail reception with hand passed caviar and Dom Perignon, $95 per person with 22% gratuity and $125 per server per hour (eight server minimum recommended)” or “Air, $3.25 per ml, 350 units minimum per live adult.”
Then there are all these little things you might not have thought of like, how much it costs to rent the fourth leg for the chairs so they don’t tip over, and just so you know, it’s extra if you want butter for your bread ($2/per foiled square). And if you want your ketchup in special rammikins, there is a service charge for the guy that has to transfer it out of the original bottle.
I do think every girl thinks about her wedding long before it happens, long before she meets the man she’s going to marry (though she will imagine marrying many of the wrong men). I know I had a million different wedding fantasies, depending on which drunk/stoner/ex-con I was dating at the time.
But then when it finally happens and it’s time to set a date and start planning, it’s a total fricking nightmare.
Of course at first I thought I had all the answers. Easy. Simple. Cheap. We’ll just get married at my parents’ house in Steamboat so we can spend our money on what really matters: good food, an amazing honeymoon and my fabulous shoes.
“I was thinking,” my mom said in the first of a long series of phone calls, “I can just have all the furniture moved out of the house for the weekend.”
“That’s crazy,” I said. “You can just push the furniture against the walls. We’ll make room. People can squeeze”
“Alison.” When she gets really annoyed she somehow can manage to turn my name into a complete sentence. “There is no way we can fit your 500 best friends in this house.”
That’s when I knew my Wedding E-Z plan was out the window.
Like, a tent and tables and chairs costs $4,000 to rent and that’s in Steamboat.
At some point we decided we might as well tie the knot in Aspen. I start making calls and sending out emails to my 10 favorite places in the valley. I’m half thinking I’m gonna be able to work it, pulling the local card and the whole “I live here and am not a wealthy person” routine. It’s gotten me this far, hello.
But how can I have a Princess’ wedding on a peasant’s budget?
I can honestly say (with the exception of Melina Glavas at The Little Nell, who I so totally love) that this is the first time since I’ve lived in Aspen that I feel snubbed.
I’ve always bragged about the fact that despite the stigma of Aspen’s wealth, I have never once been treated as if I didn’t belong no matter what I was doing or where I was, whether it was shopping at Prada or hanging out at someone’s big-ass mansion. I really haven’t seen pretension or snobbery, not ever.
But when I started calling around about wedding stuff, that all changed, at least as soon as we got to the answer to, “What is the budget you had in mind?”
I tried everything. I tried the whole, “What if we just had our ceremony in your parking lot?”
And I got responses like these: “We need our parking lot for the cars of people who are actually paying for something.”
At one point, after I told someone my budget and all about my creative, resourceful ideas and didn’t get a response, I tried again with a little humor to lighten the mood.
“Hello?” I wrote. “Are you laughing? You must be laughing.”
And still no response.
Then there’s the advice you get from the postman and the checkout guy at the grocery store, who all think they too have the answer. “You need to invite fewer people. It’s better that way – more intimate and you’ll save tons of money.”
But even after I eliminate people I feel obligated to invite, like the guy that cuts our dog’s toe nails and the lady at the paint store who helped me find the perfect shade of sage for my bathroom, there are still like 800 people who absolutely have to be there.
It’s nothing like I thought it would be. All this time I thought the media had it wrong – the royal wedding isn’t going to be in England, it’s going to be right here. That is, until I found out the only thing that’s royal about trying to have your wedding in Aspen is that it’s a royal pain in the ass.
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