It is said that one’s fate and future are written in the stars, or perhaps on the palm of the hand. Marina Vidrine’s future was written in her name. Her name comes from the Latin word for “sea,” and appropriately she has always loved being near water. When she realized that she was unhappy in her impersonal career as a corporate consultant, she began to consider other possibilities. Then she saw that there was a job opening at the Cherry Creek Marina and Yacht Club, and she knew that it was destined to be. Her name was already stamped on the job. She contacted the owner. “Look,” she said, “My name is Marina. You should really just hire me.”
Crystal, the owner, agreed that it was meant to be, and Marina began working at the marina in April of 2008. Soon thereafter, she became the site coordinator at the yacht club – the venue space housed in a building right beside the marina, overlooking Cherry Creek Lake. Although she’s a student earning a degree in Modern Languages and plans to eventually pursue another career, she views her current job as a true stroke of good fortune. “That I get to be near this lake is one of the best parts of my life,” she says.
The opportunity to be at the lake is also a huge incentive for brides and grooms looking for a venue. “There are probably only two other places in Colorado where you can get married near water,” Marina says. The yacht club offers not only a beautiful view of the lake, but also a view of and access to the nearby Cherry Creek State Park. This provides couples with an outdoor location where they can take their wedding photos quickly and get back to the reception. “[Usually] everyone’s waiting around for the bride and groom to get done with their pictures,” Marina says. “For people to be able to get married, have somewhere really close by to take pictures, and get that over with and get back to the reception, that’s really amazing.”
“That I get to be near this lake is one of the best parts of my life.”
That’s not all the Cherry Creek Yacht Club has to offer. One of the best things about renting out the venue is that it comes with an event planner. Marina will coordinate everything from the catering to the flower arrangements and even the disc jockey. “I’ll work with them to get through the first stages of planning the event all the way up until the event. And then I’ll hang out at the event and make sure everything’s good,” she says. “I’m the first one in, I’m the last one out.”
The building also has a commercial kitchen space where caterers can prepare food on-site. This not only makes things easier for the caterers, but it also helps ensure that all of the guests at an event receive high-quality food that is prepared fresh on-the-spot. This makes catering at the space a dream-come-true for the list of caterers that are approved by the venue. “Every caterer would love to be on our list,” Marina says. “Because [usually] the brides find their venue first, and then based on the venue they find their caterers.”
To make their way onto the yacht club’s approved list of caterers, it takes more than the correct licenses and insurance. “You have to have demonstrated to us that you provide a quality product,” Marina says. “We require that we’ve seen you work… we like your food, and we like your service staff.” Caterers must demonstrate that their food is up to par, but more importantly that their employees won’t ruin the night for the party hosts or guests. According to Marina, there is nothing worse than working with a caterer whose staff gets cranky throughout the night. It makes her job harder, and it certainly doesn’t improve the guests’ experiences.
“The best part [about this job] is that I get to watch people get married… I love how I get to be a witness to this really intimate part of people’s livese that I would never have access to otherwise.”
In special cases, a client may be able to bring in a caterer that is not on the approved list. This usually only happens when the client has special food needs. “There would have to be some extenuating circumstance for why they would need that caterer,” Marina says. “We have a Greek Orthodox reception that we’re doing this summer, so [the owner] is allowing a Greek Orthodox caterer who’s not on our list to come do the food.” However, most client’s food needs, whether kosher or vegetarian, can be accommodated by one of the caterers on the list.
While occasionally a bride and groom will find their caterer first, in most cases the venue is the first step in planning a reception. Many brides and grooms find the Cherry Creek Yacht Club through bridal shows and journals. Sites and Services – a wedding service magazine – provides the largest margin of referral. Other than that, it’s all word of mouth, and many couples who were happily married there in the past are willing to spread the word.
The Cherry Creek Yacht Club isn’t a venue for a lavish or extravagant super-wedding. It is a small venue with an unpretentious design, and is most suitable for those brides and grooms who want to keep their reception simple and affordable, yet elegant. The owner wants to provide an affordable space where couples can get married – in her opinion, couples should spend their nest eggs on buying a house or starting their new lives together, rather than burning it all on an overly expensive wedding.
Even so, even the simplest weddings are pricey, and Marina is often faced with the difficult challenge of breaking this news to a bride. “The bride has been thinking about her wedding day since she was five. But she hasn’t done a lot of research, and she doesn’t know how much it really costs to put on a wedding. So she has all these ideas and she has these hopes she’s had her whole life, and her dreams are finally about to come true,” Marina says. “And then she finds out how much it costs, and you see how upsetting that can be. It’s hard to be the one to reality check.”
Marina may be the one to watch the bride’s face fall when she learns how much a wedding costs, but she’s also the one who sees the bride’s face when she gets married. “The best part [about this job] is that I get to watch people get married. And it’s just really beautiful. I’ll cry during their wedding. I’ll cry during their rehearsal.” In fact, Marina even begins to tear up just talking about it. “I love how I get to be a witness to this really intimate part of people’s lives that I would never have access to otherwise.”
"I’ve gotten to the point where I hear “marina” so much that I can distinguish by the tone of voice whether they’re talking about me or the marina.”
And it’s not all about the weddings. “We did a memorial service here last fall, and that was really emotional, too.” Regardless of what kind of event is occurring, Marina’s clients can rest assured that their event coordinator has an emotional stake in the success of the event. “We did our first commitment ceremony last weekend. Two women got married here. And it was exquisite, and I loved every moment of working for them and with them,” Marina says. “My personal agenda is to break into the commitment ceremony niche.” Marina and the owner also hope to kindle more relationships with meeting planners and hold more corporate events. The marina is only a few minutes away from the Denver Tech Center, a huge hub for corporate offices. “All of those businesses have the opportunity to come out here and feel like they’ve actually gotten away for a retreat,” Marina explains, “whether it’s team-building or just a meeting.”
As Marina continues to work on expanding business for the Cherry Creek Yacht Club and Marina, she is constantly reminded that she is where she belongs. Quite literally, she is in her element. She loves the water, she loves weddings, and coincidentally she shares a name with the business she works at. “I’ve gotten to the point where I hear “marina” so much that I can distinguish by the tone of voice whether they’re talking about me or the marina,” she says with a laugh. “Sometimes people are annoyed by it,” she says. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s confusing, because they told me to call the marina, but you’re Marina.” But for the most part, people are as excited about the coincidence as she was when she first went looking for a better career. And watching Marina so at-home in the yacht club, and seeing how much she loves the lake and her job, there can be no doubt that Marina and the marina are the perfect fit.