Manchester Life 2021 | Page 69

Elizabeth and Eric Berger took over the Arlington Inn 19 years ago . Eric is the chef of the restaurant , which serves dinner to the public . They renovated the barn at the back of the property , where weddings and special events are held . Weddings make up a third of the inn ’ s business , and they have done up to 42 weddings in one year , with the peak time being from May to October . In the summer , they do special outdoor events like wine dinners in the two-acre country gardens . ( Eric is not only the chef ; he also does the gardening .)
Elizabeth and Eric met while working at what was then called Red Lion Hotels & Inns in San José , California . Elizabeth was working in catering and human resources and was the front-of-house manager for a restaurant in one of their bigger hotels . Eric was the executive chef for that hotel . They worked together in 1994 while the restaurant was being renovated , setting up an extended coffee bar with breakfast sandwiches , a lunch cart inside the hotel lobby , and ramped up room service .
Eric was born in Oakland and grew up in Redding , California . Elizabeth ’ s family is from the town of Newfane , Vermont , where they lived from 1976 to 1988 . Elizabeth , her brother , and their parents lived upstairs from the family-owned Newfane Country Store .
Elizabeth and Eric planned their wedding in 1998 , which was held at the Newfane Congregational Church ; the reception was in the grange on the village green .
Their wedding preparations had its twists and turns . On a visit to Vermont in April , they tapped the resources of the former Newfane Greenhouse , which was in the business of doing floral arrangements . ( It is now the Dutton Greenhouse .) Elizabeth had spent a lot of time explaining what she wanted , and when she called them back three weeks before the wedding to find out if everything was okay , she found out that the floral designer had left and didn ’ t leave notes . Elizabeth had to start from scratch . Meanwhile , her caterer in Brattleboro had lost their executive chef and couldn ’ t follow through with the wedding preparations .
Luckily , Elizabeth was able to find another caterer who had an opening for that weekend , and Elizabeth proceeded to organize her wedding in two weeks .
“ I realized you really only need two weeks to plan a wedding ,” says Elizabeth . “ You only need to know that you have the vendors . I ’ m a very laid back and relaxed person , so I was never freaked out about it .”
There were some 60 people at their wedding , which was on September 26 , 1998 . With her background in hospitality , Elizabeth wanted to do a lot of the preparation — although she discourages people from doing that . “ You really want to delegate to people to do stuff ,” she says . “ I spent my wedding day really working , and I should have had other people do that . I had my hair done , and by the time of the wedding ceremony , most of the curls had gone out .”
Another tip is to designate a special room where the bridesmaids and bride can get ready — and that is definitely not the bridal suite . “ After the wedding , after the reception , instead of having this nice bridal suite , I came back to an exploded room ,” says Elizabeth . “ The number one job of the mother or maid of honor is to use their room and not have the bride and groom go back to an exploded room .”
Another word of advice is that if a champagne bottle is left in the room for the newlyweds , make sure the muselet ( wire cage over the cork ) remains in place . “ The cork exploded while we slept ,” says Elizabeth .
There was so much that was just so lovely about their wedding — like the cake at the reception , says Elizabeth . “ I got an extra-large cake to have the tiers that I wanted , and they were different flavors . We saved the bottom tier for the next morning ’ s brunch .”
Their wedding was in the afternoon ; that evening , the newlyweds had made reservations to dine at the Grafton Inn . Still all dressed up , the two slipped away for a private dinner . “ We felt so special . All the strangers were excited , and people toasted us ,” says Elizabeth . “ I worked hard for our wedding . I was tired , and I didn ’ t really eat . We drove to the inn , and it was just so fun . We got to relive the whole day and talk about everything .”
She got the idea from a tiny article in a bridal magazine . “ Twenty-three years later , when I think of that day , a good half of what I remember was just being with Eric and enjoying him that evening .”
They chose Christmas ornaments for wedding favors , with their names and the wedding date printed on the ornament ’ s ribbon . There were three different styles : The Union Hall , the courthouse , and the church . “ Whenever my grandmother went on vacation , she would buy a Christmas ornament , and every Christmas , she would talk about the ornaments and where she bought them . The wedding favors were a nod to her , so that our guests would talk about our wedding when they took out the ornament years later .”
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