Wedding industry thrives despite economic woes, impending oil
While Americans struggle with economic hardships and as oil continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico, there is one industry that has managed to stay stable despite the many woes the nation currently faces.
According to Sherry Lucht, director of sales for ‘Tween Waters Inn, the wedding industry on Captiva is thriving.
Lucht has been planning weddings — between 150 and 180 every year — for ‘Tween Waters since she started working for the resort just after Hurricane Charley.
The process starts when a bride-to-be gets in touch with Lucht with questions about planning a wedding at the resort. She sends the bride a plethora of information and once the bride has decided to host her wedding at ‘Tween Waters, Lucht collects the deposit and gives the couple their paperwork while they contemplate the many special details for their very special day — from menu options, to venues and everything in between.
“Thirty days before the wedding, we do a detailing and get everything started. I cook and book,” Lucht said with a laugh. “I do the whole thing. I’m constantly changing hats.”
But Lucht doesn’t take all the credit.
“I have a fantastic staff, a banquet manager that’s out of this world, an excellent chef and everybody works so well together,” Lucht said.
Thanks to Lucht and her incredible staff, ‘Tween Waters has been the recipient of the “Best Weddings” award from The Knot, as voted by the brides, in 2008 and 2009. “I’m very proud of those awards.”
Puns aside, Lucht likened her talented crew to a well-oiled machine.
And though the oil might start making its way toward Captiva, Lucht says it’s the economy that’s become the biggest obstacle for couples who want to get married.
“We haven’t had a price increase in food and beverage in four years. We’re trying to keep everything to where the bride can still afford to have her wedding here,” Lucht said.
“When the economy fell, the calls fell off a little bit. But, I think the economy has more to do with slowing people down from getting married here than the oil spill does. I’ve only had three calls about the oil. Maybe they think it won’t come here, but they just don’t seem to be too concerned,” Lucht said. “Hopefully we never come to this, but up until that 30 day period before the wedding, if oil started washing ashore, we’d give them their deposits back.”
Because of the oil, ‘Tween Waters has also done away with their 14-day advance cancellation period and stands by a firm clean beach guarantee policy.
But luckily for Lucht, mid to late summer is the slowest time for weddings at ‘Tween Waters.
“August and September are our slowest times. This year, the biggest month for weddings was May. Last year it was in April. But October is always busy — every weekend we have maybe three weddings every night,” Lucht said.
Though, to make a summer wedding even more appealing, ‘Tween Waters will automatically enter couples who host their wedding and reception at the resort from July 1 to Sept. 30, in a drawing win a five-night stay in one of the resort’s Bayside Suites to celebrate their one-year anniversary.
To be eligible for the prize drawing, the wedding reception must have a minimum of 50 guests and 50 room nights reserved at ‘Tween waters.
The winning couple will be notified in October and the prize package is valid from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2011.
Lucht’s planning philosophy depends entirely on the bride.
“Each bride is different. Each bride is unique. They each have their own idea of how their wedding day is supposed to be. Whatever they want. If it’s within my power, I will get it for them. With all the weddings I’ve done in the last six years, I’ve never seen the same dress. I’ve never seen the same floral arrangements or place cards,” Lucht said.
And Lucht is willing to do whatever it takes — oil or not — to give each bride exactly what she wants. Even if it means braving hurricane-force winds.
“The girl wanted to go ahead with her wedding anyway. She got married inside with the patio doors open, looking out over the Gulf of Mexico. She wanted it and she got it. If they want to stand on the moon, and I can get them there, that’s what I’ll do.”
Her hard work always pays off.
“I get a lot of letters from the brides saying thank you. It’s great. A lot of them become like my daughters, like an extended family. Sometimes they come back for their one-year anniversary and stop by to say hi. It just makes it all worth it.”
To learn more about ‘Tween Waters Inn, bridal packages and special offers, go to www.Tween-Waters.com.