Monday, July 02, 2012

Getting Married? Choose Wellfleet's Prez. Hall

Many of us have fond memories of Wellfleet, but none are as cherished as those of the people who choose to get married here. I’m always thrilled to see a bride in town, dressed in a long satin gown, posing for photos on Uncle Tim’s bridge, where Sven and I were married almost 15 years ago. In the past few years, a number of wedding venues have become available locally. Brides can be married at Winslow's Tavern, Holden Inn, Chequessett Yacht & Country Club, or Preservation Hall, which seems even more perfect for having once been a church.

I was able to experience the excitement of a Wellfleet wedding two Saturdays ago when Gigi Ledkovksy, Preservation Hall Event Coordinator, invited me to a reception for newlyweds Charlotte Agger and Asa Palley. Charlotte looked radiant. The couple graciously allowed me to take their photo. The wedding, reserved for family, had taken place on a beach near the summer home of one of Charlotte’s uncles. A second uncle lives in Wellfleet year-round: David Agger practices deep tissue and relaxation massage at Quiet Mind Studio.
Here David and his wife are greeted by Gigi. Buses brought the wedding guests to the reception from Mayo Beach. While Gigi chatted with David, I lifted the elegant ribbon draped across the Prez. Hall driveway so the wedding party could proceed towards the huge white tent where lively music had begun to play. “Simple. Charlotte wanted simple,” Gigi told me later. “She only wanted to get married outside, by the water. Some people get carried away. One couple brought in furniture.”

In my mind, I saw the moving men, installing couches behind Prez. Hall where the elegant tent now stood. That’s what is great about wedding receptions. They can be as simple or as fancy as the bride and groom desire. Charlotte’s mom, Paula Agger, took time away from her latest project – the renovation of the former home of one of Wellfleet’s most famous citizens, Lorenzo Dow Baker – to welcome friends and family, in town to celebrate Charlotte’s wedding.

“It’s been a big year for the Aggers,” Gigi said. “Painting all the rooms in a house and organizing a wedding.”

At most Prez. Hall weddings, either the bride or the groom has long-time ties to Wellfleet. They have lived here, or spent summers working here. “Rosa Miller, that was our first wedding a year ago. She’s the bride on that wedding brochure you’re holding,” Gigi told me as we undid the ribbon again for a couple stragglers, who had opted to come by car. “Rosa Miller worked at Hatch’s. We have fewer destination weddings, but they do happen."

“Oh, my goodness!” a passerby whispered to a companion. “There’s a party going on at Prez. Hall!”

Gigi offered the passersby a smile. She must get this reaction of shocked pleasure and pride a lot from the Wellfleetians who happen to be on Main Street when wedding guests arrive. This year Preservation Hall is booked for two weddings in June, one in July, one in August and four in September. Prez. Hall depends on wedding revenue to survive. “Every year we need to raise a substantial amount from rentals to meet our operating budget. Weddings are a great way to do that,” Gigi said. “People started asking about getting married even before this building had been torn apart. It took a leap of faith at first, to say, This is where I want to have my wedding next year.”

No longer. It was obvious to me that a Preservation Hall wedding has become something for little girls to dream about as they walk into the ice cream shop, across Main Street. Asa was so supportive of his beautiful bride. At first, he walked around holding her train, while guests snapped a few final photographs. The wedding party took shelter under the tent during the thunderstorm that raced through later in the evening.

Massachusetts is one of the first states to allow gay marriage. Two brides were married in Prez. Hall in 2011. Two more brides will get married this year in August.

“Part of the mission of Preservation Hall is to have an economical impact on local businesses,” Gigi said. “The weddings accomplish that. The Aggers are using Sumptuous Foods, based in Orleans today, but many of our weddings, in the past, have featured Mac’s Parties and Provisions. We often use flowers from Kelly’s. Guests stay at the B&Bs. But then, you must know that?”

I nodded. We often receive requests for accommodation from people attending summer weddings in town. Anyone considering getting married in Wellfleet can pick up a brochure in the Preservation Hall foyer. The Aggers were pleased they did. “'This was perfect,' Charlotte said,” Paula Agger told Gigi breathlessly. “What more do you want to hear from a daughter?”