I Do: Part Deux – Wedding Photo Contest


Weddings are a big part of our history. From the grandest to the most intimate, each wedding has a special place here at The Pfister. That’s why we’re proud to announce our I Do: Part Deux, Wedding Photo contest.

You are cordially invited to share your Pfister wedding day memories with us for a chance to win some great prizes!

To participate, please upload your favorite wedding photo and story to our Facebook page. The couple with the best photo/story submission will win a one-night “I Do” anniversary package that includes the following:

Submit your story today. 

Scaling Forward

I’m a Libra. Some of you may have already guessed as much. One of our best qualities is indecision. Our symbol is the scales because we try to be fair and just.

I was happy to share indecision Thursday with my colleagues at the Pfister as we looked at the six finalists for the Narrator position to begin in May.

Choosing your replacement is a difficult task. Many of us would choose…well, medicine us.

But I’ve heard, and believe it’s true, that “if you’re not replaceable, you’re not promotable.” But of course, this is where our debate formed. Who is promotable? All of the candidates were writers, storytellers and engaging people, illness in a word, all could narrate. Who should get promoted to Narrator, however, was the big question.

There were so many amazing things to see and read. I loved the videos of the candidates, not just for their film quality (thanks April and Pete; and by the way candidates, they made you look fantastic) but because for weeks, we’ve only known these people on paper. We’ve conjured images of them in the lobby, we’ve envisioned them drinking one of Val’s bloody Marys, retelling (or trying to) her amazing recipe. We’ve seen them on the threshold of a summer wedding gala, documenting it all.

But we never saw them in person. Here they were, up close, chattering, nervous, excited and to their credit…bursting with ideas. That alone became a fantastic qualifier for each of them. Do we choose based on who is bringing profile-writing experience, literary experience or pure unadulterated energy to the position? Or should we evaluate based on how they talked about the hotel? Do they like the art, the history, the beauty or the things it houses?

I think the committee members should each be responsible for a blog too, or we should have been filmed (I’m cringing as I say this… unsure if I’ll keep my new friends when this gets published). Facial reactions, oohs and ahhs, “great idea” “I didn’t think of that” “oh, I like her” and more resonated from our select corner of the newly remodeled café where Starbucks flowed among us but the really energy came from drinking in the vibrant options before us.

We just couldn’t choose.

That’s a compliment, candidates.

For me, listening to their plans and ideas was rejuvenating and hard—there’s so much left to tell and my time is growing short. That’s the beauty of it though, there’s no shortage of stories. The Pfister provides: in every guest a novel, in every event a sense of scene.

We did choose. We chose well; and we considered the charming smile, the great colors, the wonderfully themed sample piece, the pictures, the youth, the wisdom, the experience, the salesmanship, the recommendations, the effervescence, the technology, the reading list, the Pfister favorites, the drive, the energy…the embodiment of a Narrator.

This Libra is proud to say her scales of indecision, out of balance all afternoon, finally teetered into agreement. Soon, you too will meet our Narrator and see just how decisively she will compliment the hotel and document its story.

Historic Lens

As promised, Amanda has forwarded the photos from her  and Dan’s photo shoot.

It’s incredible to have lived the experience with them, but then to see some of the chosen photos and the angles and moments their photographer, Chloe from Life Tree Photography captured recreates the experience in an entirely new way.

I hope that’s what the blog does. I know what it’s like to talk with guests about my little notebook, their vacation, their work, their families and traditions. I know what it’s like to say “But the Pfister is just beautiful!” But even better, experiencing it yourself and seeing the recanted tales must double the power of memory, experience and more.

Some of her photos capture only a glimpse of the hotel, which is what is so intriguing to me. The patterns on the floor stand out to me because that’s what I’m attuned to seeing. Yet, in the photo, it’s Amanda and Dan who steal the scene.

Engagement photos at the Pfister bring a Coke and a smile.
The infamous balloons--charming, but a far less glamorous photo than Chloe's.
The Pfister as backdrop for creating a memory…
The balloons we saw Dan walking down the street with weren't the important part here.


Seeing them in period garb also enlivens the hotel. My favorite is the photo of the pair exiting the hotel and the large revolving doors behind them. Though the photo was taken in 2011, they could have been walking out of this very same Pfister 60 years ago.

Enjoy some snippets from another perspective and relish with me what it’s like to experience the hotel twice–from different angles, through a different lens–and then come down and capture your own moments, because if you haven’t figured it out yet, there are doors and floor patterns and chandeliers aplenty for you to sneak into your memories.

The Marrying Kind

I’ve been in my fair share of weddings. For awhile there, I could truly identify with the lead character in the movie 27 Dresses and though I don’t have a separate closet full of horrible gowns, I’ve done my time in unflattering colors, shapes, lengths and get ups.

My parents had two weddings—one early in their partnership and one later, with the same family and friends. It’s a testament to how you choose your support system that many of the same guests return more than 20 years later to continue to be a part of your experience.

It’s the experience that’s been capitalized on in our culture. The wealth of television programs showcasing weddings is unreal (and often, I’d like to believe the behavior of the brides on some of these shows is truly unreal, too). From surveying brides about one another’s wedding, to the planning, to the venue’s behind-the-scenes work to the dress shopping—an American wedding has been pulled apart and dissected to its parts in more ways than one.

Far better than reality television, however, is the reality in the Pfister Hotel. Last weekend showcased a bridal show and event and nearly every weekend, you can catch guests at some stage of the wedding process. In my people-watching tenure at the hotel, I’ve seen rehearsal dinners, pre-planning events and even bridal teas. From the toes-in-the-water nature of a first bridal show to the end of the wedding event itself, all pieces of the puzzle are housed in the Pfister.

Talking in the hallway with a Pfister staffer, I heard a squeal from across the lobby. I turned in surprise, but my colleague didn’t. Without turning he said, “Oh, a bride. That must be her sister or friend…” I smiled at his savvy and sense of the hotel guests. When I peered around him, it was indeed a bride and a horde of compatriots gathering in the lobby. Her dress hung, trapped in plastic sheathing, on the luggage cart and women flocked to her. My colleague continued, “Oh, I’m so happy to see you! Oh, I can’t believe you’re getting married!” He wasn’t mocking, he was truly lip synching—having seen this ritual performance more than once, the hotel is well-versed in what comes down their aisles.

“Traditional” is one way many of the brides on television measure themselves—they are or they aren’t. But I think what escapes all of them, and what is very present in the revelers I see at the Pfister, is that weddings themselves are rituals that are traditional to us. It doesn’t matter whether your dress is white or blue, your reception is themed or not and whether or not you host a bridal tea or post-wedding gift brunch. The way all hotel guests recognize wedding parties, the way hotel staff knows immediately to stick to their service vows with families and wedding groups and the way the grandeur of the hotel is clearly open arms to whatever “modern” notion you have of this age-old tradition is evidence that weddings and their process are a part of our culture and history that are here to stay.

What’s more, I know the entire process works like my parents’ dedicated family and friends. What I’ve had equal testimony of is those celebrating anniversaries at the Pfister—whether they were married or not. Clearly, the hotel is a committed support system for the tradition and creates every day acts of vow renewal with its guests.

Moved by Memories

The holidays often make people nostalgic. Smells, capsule lighting, seasonal images…all of it can take you back to a specific moment in time. Making memories is a big part of who we are and even though we live in a world of saved images and digitally infinite Facebook messages and Gmail chats it’s comforting to know that our mind will always preserve the best and most important moments in our lives.

Roc, a long-time concierge at the Pfister, can tell you a million stories about memories. His are, of course, of guests and interactions and moments he’s been lucky enough to share, but one he told me recently moved me to tears. Every April, a woman returns to the Pfister. She comes in to have breakfast on a Sunday morning and revealed to Roc that the breakfast is more than simply physical nourishment to her—it feeds her heart, her memory.

You see, this distinguished patron was married at the Pfister Hotel in 1942 and she and her lovely groom woke the next morning to share their first breakfast together in the hotel as husband and wife. Then, her beloved shipped off to the Great Lakes Naval Station and took his place in the war and dutifully gave his life. His new bride never saw him again.

When I was little, I remember my dad telling stories one night about being a young boy, sliding down a hill with his brothers. His eyes filled with tears and he grew quiet. I asked him what was wrong and he simply said “I’m sorry, I was eight years old again for a minute there. I was gone.” That’s when I learned how memories could work on you, how they could sustain you and bring you to life. Sadly, for my father, though, many places he spent his youth are gone—torn down, rebuilt, destroyed by fire or the elements in a small town unable to save or preserve them.

The ever-young war bride returns annually, however, to relive this vivid memory in her life, this scene of smells and lighting and images. That a mind–a memory–can preserve for that long is a wonderful reminder that in our hectic, 140 character micro-blogging world, we as people still have the ability to treasure the important moments that we have been a part of. It doesn’t take hash tags or photo captions to do it, either. Merely the scene, the staff, the ways of being in the Pfister can call this memory into a lived moment again.

It’s with a twinge of jealousy on behalf of my dad that I think of her annual opportunity. I can’t imagine what she must feel when she walks through the lobby each year, but I do think it’s amazing that the Pfister still stands and opens its doors to her every spring.