116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The hospitality industry and the wedding services industry have been particularly hard hit over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Longbranch Hotel and Convention Center in Cedar Rapids decided to get creative on how best to serve couples wanting to get married and tap into that market.
'When COVID put everything to a halt we started to recognize that we were having a lot of event cancellations due to the size,” recalled Jaimie DeLong-Traynor, director of operations at the Longbranch.”
'Couples were having to cancel and then they started requesting smaller gatherings with just family and close friends. After talking with several of these brides and grooms, we started trying to find a way that they could still have a full-blown celebration during these times, just on a smaller scale,” she said.
DeLong-Traynor tapped into her network of friends in the industry across the country and came across the idea of micro-weddings.
She immediately set to work to bring the idea to the Longbranch, the first concept of this kind in the area as far as she knows.
'Essentially what we are trying to do is adapt to the current environment including COVID pandemic and economic state and ensure we are delivering options that allow people to still celebrate their life events while keeping their safety, budget and stress in mind,” DeLong-Traynor said.
'Our vision when creating this new micro-wedding offering was to put together an intimate, all-inclusive package that provides all the frills without the fuss. This offering is intended to be both budget friendly and intimate to allow couples to enjoy their special day with their closest friends and family without the stress or breaking the bank.”
The package includes most everything a traditional wedding would include - a personalize ceremony performed by a licensed officiant, photography, flowers, décor, catering, dessert and even Champagne - for up to 40 guests in a three-hour time frame.
'Couples booking one of our micro-wedding packages select their date and allow us to handle the rest,” DeLong-Traynor said.
The Longbranch is partnering with other small, local businesses to bring couples a one-stop-shop.
'Our hope is that working together, we can help support other local businesses through these challenging times and bring a new, fresh option to couples who have had to reschedule due to COVID,” DeLong-Traynor said.
'Plus, we know that this has been really hard on the economy, and for a lot of people they have to really think about the finances for their wedding,” she added.
'The price that we're offering this package for is going to be so much more reasonable than going and trying to book each vendor individually.”
Since launching the initiative in January, calls have been coming in to learn more about the packages and to tour the space, DeLong-Traynor said.
She noted there are a few bookings for later this year already scheduled.
The Longbranch also plan to host an open house later this spring to show things off and highlight an outdoor venue option it's adding to the property to cater to the growing interest in couples wanting outdoor, natural spaces for celebrating their special day.
'The Longbranch has been around for 50 plus years, and so a lot of the younger generation that are looking to get married now, maybe have not heard of us or forgot about us,” DeLong-Traynor said. 'I think its fun to show them the elegance of our grand ballroom.”
A third-generation owner at the Longbranch, DeLong-Traynor said she is proud to be carrying on the tradition her grandparents started decades ago.
'My grandparents' main goal was to make sure that the customers were serviced with a certain level of expertise. We want every customer to feel valued and, like they're being serviced the best they've ever been served. So for me, I'm helping out in any avenue that I can fill a gap to support our business and that legacy,” she said.
Whether she's meeting with the banquet team to talk through details of an upcoming event, handling the website and social media, or making sure all parts of the property - the hotel, restaurant, event space and on-site gym - are following COVID-19 protocols, DeLong-Traynor wears many hats at the Longbranch.
'I'm here,” she said, 'to make sure everyone has a good experience.”
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At a glance
' Owner and director of operations: Jaimie DeLong-Traynor
' Company: Longbranch Hotel and Convention Center
' Address: 90 Twixt Town Rd., Cedar Rapids
' Phone: (319) 271-1612
' Website: thelongbranchweddings.com