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    Beauty

Vision and planning help couple shape the day of their dreams

news2by Jennifer Towery

Erik and Amanda Perkins had very different ideas for their wedding. "I wanted a destination wedding. My husband wanted local," Amanda Perkins said. "We compromised with an outdoor wedding." They decided to have both ceremony and reception at Metamora Fields. The planning required as much imagination as it did logistics; the large clubhouse wasn't even built when they booked it.

"It was just dirt and frame when we visited," she said. "But they really gave us the plans and the vision. I really trusted them." Even the menu was a leap of faith for the Peoria couple. The first meal they ever ate there was at their reception. The Metamora Fields catering staff cheerfully made suggestions when Amanda decided she didn't want a traditional menu.

"We got married Memorial Day weekend. And with it being outside, I thought 'Hey, how about barbecue,'" Amanda said. So after the outside ceremony, the guests filled the new ballroom on the second floor of the clubhouse and enjoyed macaroni and cheese, Jamaican jerk chicken and pulled pork. It was a huge success. "Everybody who was there ranted and raved about the food," she said.

Amanda also ditched the traditional wedding cake. Instead, guests were treated to a lavish display of brightly colored cupcakes. That kind of customizing is par for the course, according to Lisa Miller, director of events at Metamora Fields, which opened for business Dec. 1. She's seen quite a few brides opt out of traditional wedding cake and instead ask the Metamora Fields chef for something special.

One bride next month will be serving each guest mini desserts in little parfait cups. An October bride who is using a fall theme will have pumpkin bars, apple pie and caramel apples at her reception. The personalization doesn't stop at the menu, Miller said. The banquet hall has yet to look the same for two receptions. "The decor is neutral. So what we're seeing is every bride who comes in really makes it her own," Miller said. "It's like an artist with an open palette. "I tell the brides all the time, 'You can put your signature on the day.'"

Amanda was the first bride to book at Metamora Fields. She found she was a little out of her element when it came to finding other vendors nearby, and wasn't sure an untested staff would be able to make recommendations. Not only did the Metamora Fields wedding coordinator suggest vendors for the cupcakes and flowers, but she also arranged a meeting among Amanda, herself and the other vendors, so everything would be coordinated for the big day. "They all worked together," Amanda said. "It took a lot of stress off me."

The ballroom can seat 350 guests or can be divided for smaller weddings. Brides and grooms can choose not only their decor, but how they want the reception laid out. But one of the most enviable facets of the decor comes courtesy of Mother Nature. "Three sides of the ballroom all look out on the golf course," Miller said. "One side faces west, so you get these wonderful sunsets. It's truly breathtaking."

For Erik and Amanda, who had never visited the facility at night before their wedding, the sunset made for some of their best pictures and memories. "People really need to see the view and the windows up there," Amanda said. "Daytime, nighttime. It's gorgeous."