Interview: Wendy Phillips of Old Rittenhouse Inn
The famous Old Rittenhouse Inn is an appealing venue for many brides and grooms who want to incorporate the historic charm of Bayfield into their special day. Whether looking for a place for guests to stay, a location for the rehearsal/groom’s dinner or a special venue for the wedding itself (or all of the above!) – The Old Rittenhouse Inn provides an ideal backdrop for your Bayfield wedding.
We spoke with Wendy Phillips, the Wedding and Event Director at Old Rittenhouse Inn, to learn more about their venue and everything it has to offer.
Wendy prides herself in being an organized and detailed person when planning your wedding from afar. Read ahead to hear what advice she offers and what she can do for you and your wedding, elopement or honeymoon!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and Old Rittenhouse Inn.
Old Rittenhouse Inn was started by my in-laws 41 years ago. Interestingly enough, I started my first job here when I was 16, met my husband and ended up getting married here! I have been the Wedding & Events Director for the last 13 years. Old Rittenhouse Inn was the first bed and breakfast in Wisconsin 41 years ago. Now it is comprised of 2 Victorian mansions and a guest cottage. We offer 20 rooms all year around along with gourmet dining.
What services does Old Rittenhouse Inn provide for weddings and honeymoons?
For weddings we offer full service, wedding and event planning. We can do as little or as much as desired. We can refer officiants, photographers, florists, musicians, and bakeries and provide music, chairs, all of the setup and cleanup of the event, catering services, full wine and liquor, and lodging services. For smaller elopements we can even provide witnesses!
For honeymoons we offer a special Honeymoon Package, which includes a room of your choice, a candlelight dinner at Landmark Restaurant, homemade sweets, cookies & bottle of champagne for your room, a keepsake Old Rittenhouse Inn ornament, a hand-crafted mug with glazed Old Rittenhouse Inn, and a choice of two Bayfield preserves.
How many weddings to date have taken place at your venues?
In the last 13 years since I have been the Wedding & Event Director we have done more than 300 weddings. Weddings have been taking place at Old Rittenhouse Inn since opening 41 years ago, so that number would be much larger!
Tell us a little bit about the process of hiring you to plan a wedding.
We offer a free consultation and tour for anyone who is interested. After determining the clients needs we provide them with a general proposal. Once someone has determined they want the Old Rittenhouse Inn for their wedding, we require a deposit and signed contract. After receiving the deposit and signed contract, we start the planning process! I do a majority of the planning during the winter time, which couples appreciate having most of the details worked out far in advance.
Tell us about elopements.
Elopements have become very popular in the last 4-5 years, this may be due to the fact that we began heavily marketing elopements around that time. We have an elopement package that is basically a one-stop-shop. We cover all of the major things people would be looking for in an elopement. Typically elopements are for 2-10 people, and we can provide witnesses if needed.
Do you have many couples who were married there return in the years to follow?
Many couples return every year for anniversaries. It is really sweet to see people come back year after year and eventually come with babies in tow. I have couples come back that were married by my in-laws years ago.
Do you have any recommendations for brides looking to get married in Bayfield?
I highly recommend you plan in advance, especially for the larger weddings. There are a limited amount of venues that can cater to larger groups, and they book up quickly. Keep in mind lodging can book up quickly too. All in all, Bayfield is gorgeous. There are so many neat things that people do these days with their weddings. I say do it! Bayfield is more natural to me, orchards, woods, and gardens offer many pretty and unique experiences.
What is a piece of advice you tell all of your clients?
The biggest thing I stress to all of my clients is don’t forget your marriage license! One time I had someone show up with a Minnesota license. You need to be very careful with marriage licenses. Couples can overlook it, leave it until last minute or just not prepare for it as they should be. Educate yourselves on the laws as far as which state/county you live in and what documents you need to bring with you.