The long awaited venue review! One of the most important decisions during the wedding planning process boils down to the location. My husband and I chose Raffael’s Walpole location, which has a lovely Gazebo for outdoor ceremonies. All of the photos on WeddingWire show the Hingham location, which we’ve also been to for lunch a couple of times (Greenside Grille). Hingham location has more of a country club with a golf course as a backdrop vibe. It’s worth noting that it’s slightly cheaper, but not as renovated. If you want to test your wedding etiquette knowledge, take this ridiculously detailed quiz. I only got 21/35 correct! I’ve also included testimonies from my friends about the location from the guest’s perspective.
If you had asked me for a rating right after the wedding I would have given them 4/5; the extra half star is for their responsiveness AFTER the wedding when I contacted the since one of their sub-vendors (Judy’s, check my review for that too) provided the wrong floral arrangements! I was not too impressed with their responsiveness leading up to the 2nd deposit payment, especially with the lack of communication for the big “Tasting” event that they provide 1-2 seasons before the big day. More on that later. However, I cannot deny that the big selling point of booking this venue is that their packages include so many items! All we needed was a DJ, Photographer, and Officiant for the on-site ceremony. We also used the lovely Bridal Suite for the “Getting Ready” photos and to secure the personal items as it’s passcode protected.
If you want the full timeline I’ve updated the original series post! Also more miscellaneous photos on Yelp from the Tastings Event!
Raffael’s Wedding Timeline
- February 13, 2016 – Visit Raffael’s to meet with Tina about package options and put down Deposit #1
- October 28, 2016 – Deposit #2 Due
- November 3, 2016 – Raffael’s Tastings
- November 8, 2016 – Picking out stationary, linens and cocktail napkins
- January 8, 2017 – Konditor Meister Cake Tasting #1 & Bridal Dress Roundup part 2
- January 14, 2017 – Judy’s Flowers Florist Consultation
- February 11, 2017 – Konditor Meister Cake Finalizing
- April 16, 2017 – Headcount / Meal chart finalized
- April 25, 2017 – Remainder balance/deposit due
- April 27, 2017 – Rehearsal & Dinner
- April 30, 2017 – Wedding Day!
Quality of Service
Tina and Lynne were the main Wedding Coordinators for the Walpole location. We met with them a couple of times as you can see from the timeline and communicated by phone and e-mail before deciding on their no longer offered DaVinci package. We had a different person, Lindsay for the day of coordination. They were all pleasant and professional! Aside from forgetting to give us the options to choose the other courses (Italian Wedding Soup and Salad/Veggies) they were easy to work with. I had my husband actually do the majority of the communication since his family actually found this venue (secondhand from a client who my MIL and I helped with the day of makeup)! On the day of, the ballroom for the reception looked even more beautifully decorated than I expected! They provided containers for the extra ribbon streamers, photo props and set up the guestbook next to the card box. They even added a lovely touch, by rolling up a cloth napkin to look like a rose matching our cake!
“The food was good. I liked that they had soup for starter, and it was tasty [Italian Wedding] soup. The prime rib was also decent. Not impressive but probably better than most of the few weddings I’ve been to. The venue itself was very nice, fancy and elegant. There is also ample parking close to the building. The only thing I wish would have been different was that our table was set behind a pole.”
The servers were also attentive to refilling our water, bringing the various courses then clearing off our plates. As my friend stated unfortunately there were several poles at the venue that hindered several people’s views. We obviously couldn’t see the mapping of the poles on the floor plan so we only considered how close the guests were to the bar and the dance floor! The outdoor setting for the ceremony, the bridal suite, cocktail lounge were beautiful spaces for all of the photography. Oh and we can’t forget to mention their quick resolution of the Judy’s Village centerpiece debacle. They quickly called me and issued a check refund along with a very sincere apology note and thanking us for choosing them!
I sent Raffaels various e-mails with random questions and either Tina or Lynne usually replied within the day. One pet peeve of mine is when I add someone else in the e-mail “To or CC” field, and the recipient only hits “Reply” instead of “Reply All”. Either me or my husband was left off of several exchanges that I would have to forward thereafter. It was annoying seeing only one side of the conversation, especially when I requested on several instances for them to “Reply All” so we could both see the responses. Then again, my husband and some of the other vendors were guilty as well, so I think most people might not be used to “Reply All”.
Back to the “Tasting Event”! Raffael’s invites all of their clients that have booked a wedding with them in the upcoming season and usually schedules the event for a weeknight at 7 PM. I originally inquired about when so I could block off the date in my calendar, but we didn’t receive the “Invitation” or rather follow up/reminder e-mail until 1.5 weeks before the event! I am not sure if this is when they usually send out a formal invite or reminder. Lynne asked if it was just going to be my husband and I attending but also confirmed that we could bring additional guests for their valued opinion for no extra charge! The event featured all of their meal options, including the enticing add-ons, upgrades, and samplings from the contracted vendors. We had a choice between 2 bakeries for the cake and 2 florists with our package! We ultimately chose Konditor Meister and Judy’s.
We set up another follow up appointment the week after Tastings with Lynne to pick out our wedding stationary, linens, and cocktail napkins! I was actually pleasantly surprised for all the options they included for matching stationary (invitations, response cards, escort cards and thank you notes). We went with a classic design as ribbons were an extra charge and too much hassle in the mail. Only your address is printed for the Response Card envelopes. Otherwise, you will have to print or write the address for your all of the guest addresses on Wedding Invitation envelopes. For the Rehearsal, we worked with Joe, and the day of the wedding itself we worked with Lindsay for coordination. They were both very helpful, especially Lindsay! She helped put us at ease when tensions were boiling over – leading up to and after the wedding. Everything on the wedding day went smoothly and we narrowly missed the downpour of rain after the outdoor ceremony! The only thing was we forgot was to remind them that we wanted the extra food not served from no-shows/last minute cancellations boxed up for us. (Might as well since we already paid for them right?) They thankfully still had them in the fridge the next day and we were able to pick it up thanks to my new mother-in-law!
The we chose was the middle option (the DaVinci package) since it had the best mix of additional inclusions such as the bakery, florist, stationary, guestbook, etc… It was possibly the best value per headcount! If you check their website they have updated their brochure to only 2 gem-themed packages, most likely to persuade people to either decide between the basic package (not including cake and flowers) OR the all-inclusive one. If you check other websites you might see the outdated Brochure with the 3 tiers that we were offered: Michaelangelo (basic), DaVinci (middle) or Raffael’s (all-inclusive). Originally we were hesitant about choosing Raffael’s and seeing many more other venues since it was still early on in the wedding process. To help persuade our decision Tina told us that they could give us the complimentary ceremony at the same location. Otherwise we would have had to plan for 2 locations and different timing for the short Wedding Ceremony or pay $900 + taxes and fees. It was so great that they waived the extra charge for us for the ceremony! Ours was 30 minutes or less so it definitely saved time and frustration to have everything in one place.
The “Michaelangelo” package is most similar to the “Emerald” and “Raffael” is most similar to the “Diamond package”. You will of course need to contact them directly to get an actual quote for your desired date and package. They printed out the quotes for us on all 3 packages to help us decide, and even agreed to not charge us for having the ceremony on-site! Overall I think that for the money that we spent (slightly less than we were originally quoted since we had less people than expected) it was an excellent deal!
Luckily I was able to find the 2 pages with the package info if you wanted to take a look at the old and current options. They also changed a few items on the menu and re-arranged some pages to make the payment terms more visible. We decided to forgo the open bar option, but for the upgraded package it included open bar for just beer and wine. The additional alcohol is extra. One of my friends shared his experience ordering drinks.
“I ordered two Manhattans and it was like 11 bucks, which is fair, but the portion is small. Like, really small. they weren’t using like black label either, I think they used Jack Daniel, which is respectable but shouldn’t cost that much.”
Raffael’s allowed us to choose our own vendors that were not covered in the packages, and it was straight forward for them to coordinate to tour the place. We also had so many different options surprisingly for the wedding invitations. There were at least 20 different color combinations and hundreds of styles. We didn’t want to incur any additional charges so we made sure to just pick the options included with the base price. Yet again it pains me to say that we didn’t have any color swatches of our colors with us for comparison. They had ribbon options, embossed lettering and several different font options all indexed by number.
We were able to customize the exact wording of our invitation and response cards. I made sure to add our link for the wedding website as that was our preferred method of RSVP. Since we had response card envelopes we gave the guests the option to respond either way, but didn’t bother to include a pre-stamped envelope. There are also upgrades such as changing the color of the linens. Our package included 2 meal options for our guests, and of course we had other guests with special dietary needs. They had a pasta primavera option just for vegetarian/vegans. The third option, and having a gluten free version did not cost us extra! They offered vendor meals which were significantly lower cost than the per person costs for the guests.
That’s all folks! If you have any more questions feel free to submit them in the comments or using the contact form!