A Cardinal House
"I want them to be astounded by what they're eating," said Kevin Lepore, who also cooks at the Commerce Eatery on Commerce Street. :Their wedding meal should be one they always remember, as memorable as the ceremony itself."
More than 30 couples have found a haven at A Cardinal House even if for just one night.
"Words cannot express how wonderful everything was," wrote newlywed Suzi Guilford after she and her husband Tod came from New Hampshire tp have their wedding ceremony at A Cardinal House.
"We had our fairy tale wedding thanks to you without a lot of stress. It was wonderful to tell you what we wanted and have it materialize without having to tear our hair out. I'm so glad we eloped. We'd do it again in a heartbeat."
The details of an intimate wedding and romantic start to a marriage are very important to Dr. and Mrs. Lepore.
"What we offer here is an extension of how we live," said Mrs. Lepore, who has pictures of both her parents' and her in-laws wedding days displayed in one of the inn's bedrooms.
The Lepores have faith in true love and commitment, having been married for 43 years. They met at Plainville High School in the band room on the first day of school when Nancy was a junior and Michael a brand new freshman.
"It was love at first sight," Mrs. Lepore said. "People teased me because he was younger than me. I heard all sorts of jokes about stealing the cradle."
They have been together ever since and raised three children in Glastonbury, moving to the house that became A Cardinal House in 1975. The house was in good shape because its previous owner had been a contractor, although the Lepores did convert it to gas heat, updated the electrical service and redid the wood floors.
Upon retiring as a dentist and orthodontist Dr. Lepore considered a second career, including going to law school. "I wanted to do something other than just sit around," he said. "Then we thought about one of us, either Nancy or me, becoming a justice of the peace and have the house become a destination inn for small weddings and elopements."
They had welcomed the public into their home many times before for the historical society tours, Audubon Society teas and the annual viewing of Dr. Lepore's extensive electric train and Christmas village set-up in the attic.
"We've had 1,200 people come through here in one day," said Mrs. Lepore. "They really love to see the Christmas village all lit up."
It seemed a natural step to establish their home as an inn for small weddings and to help couples create an event that reflected their tastes and desires, without having to please various relatives in the process.
"You won't find cheese and crackers or just plain old eggs here, unless, of course, that's what you want," said Kevin Lepore, who has cooked a vegetarian five-course wedding meal for two as well as a non-vegetarian one for 60 guests.
Couples wanting to have just a handful of guests and a gourmet dinner can be accommodated, and if for some reason the Lepores, who have hosted a wedding with 120 guests, don't have the means
This Greek Revival home in Glastonbury, Conn. is used exclusively for weddings, elopements and vow renewal ceremonies. The Inn is located on Main Street in the Historic District of the town, just five miles from the capital city of Hartford. The expansive manicured lawns, formal gardens, well-appointed common rooms and cozy guest rooms make A Cardinal House the perfect setting for small, intimate, special ceremonies involving two to six people. Innkeepers Dr. Michael and Nancy
In February, Valentine's Day may inspire many couples to consider the advantage of eloping.
Once they discover the refuge A Cardinal House offers them, it may become even more irresistible.
"If they don't leave here saying 'wow', then we haven't done our job right,"Dr. Michael Lepore said.
The circa 1840 Greek Revival house on Main Street is a bed and breakfast inn that offers more than just a night of hospitality.
Two years ago owners Nancy and Michael Lepore started inviting guests to their five-bedroom home, guests who were looking for a quiet wedding ceremony, an elegant gourmet meal and a wedding night spent in a four poster bed in a fireplaced bedroom. The event's grand finale is a candlelight breakfast the morning after.
for a large reception, they will help the couple find a location that can.
"We've had the ceremony here and then had the guests and the bride and groom go elsewhere for the reception. Then the couple comes back here for their wedding night," said Mrs. Lepore.
"Mom's passion is in the garden and the flowers and the music. Dad's passion is in structuring and working out the details and my passion is in the kitchen," said Kevin Lepore. "We want to offer a no-stress experience that's memorable in every way possible."
If you opened the February issue of Arrington's Bed & Breakfast Journal you'd see a very familiar building - Mike and Nancy Lepore's historic Greek Revival home on Main Street is featured in the trade journal as an "Inn-Credibly Unique" bed and breakfast.
So it is.
The couple, who have been together 46 years, decided to open a bed and breakfast when Mike retired from his orthodontic practice several years ago, turning his downstairs office into a guestroom suite and redoing two intimate and romantic rooms. Besides antique and traditional furniture, the guestrooms feature amenities like a fireplace or a two-person Jacuzzi.
They named it A Cardinal House, and to make their venture stand out, the Lepores decided to specialize. They offer not just a bed (antique) and a breakfast (gourmet and served by candlelight) they organize and house small, intimate wedding and elopement packages. Mike is a Justice of the Peace, so it's all in the family.
Mike hears the vows, Nancy provides the flowers and their son Kevin, a professional chef, prepares to-die-for meals for the couple and their attendants. If music is wanted, Nancy can oblige, she plays the piano and flute.
The wedding or vow renewal ceremony may be in the lovely Lepore garden, in the gazebo, or in the historic parlor of their home. If the couple prefers, they may be married in a nearby park or rose garden.
Several wedding and elopement packages are available, listed at www.acardinalhouse.com. The packages can include special Unity Candles made by Nancy, a champagne toast and reception, a wedding cake, a candlelight dinner and/or breakfast.
And Mike and Nancy say they really enjoy sharing their home with the couples who visit. After all, who better to preside over the beginning of a wedding than a couple who has been together nearly 50 years?
Excerpts from Glastonbury Life, February 05
Arrington's Bed & Breakfast Journal - February, 2005
Lepore were high school sweethearts and have been together for 46 years. They love each other and their beautiful surroundings, and they decided to share these feelings with others when they converted their home into a bed and breakfast. A friend of the couple used to take wedding photos in their gardens, and it gave them the idea to host wedding ceremonies. A Cardinal House has been specializing in small, intimate weddings and elopements for almost two years. And who better to throw weddings than a couple that has been married almost five decades?
Mrs. Lepore arranges the flowers and decorations, and plays the flute, piano or vocals, depending on the couple's musical tastes and preferences.
For other musical requests, from a harpist to a violinist, then Mrs. Lepore calls upon her contacts at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford.
Aside from the music and flower details, she has even made hairdressing appointments for brides who come in from out of town.
Kevin Lepore, the Cardinal House chef and youngest of the three Lepore children, is the creator of the fine cuisine offered at the inn, from the hors d'oeuvres for a post-ceremony refreshment to a five-course meal for two.
With the marriage license easily obtained after a short walk to the town hall a few doors down and Justice of the Peace Michael Lepore, a retired dentist and orthodontist, ready to officiate, A Cardinal House wedding is a romantic and stress free process.
Dr. Lepore is happy to accompany the couple for the short walk.
"There's no need for blood tests anymore, no residency requirement and there is no waiting period," said Dr. Lepore, referring to the marriage restrictions that were lifted by the state legislature almost two years ago.
"It's as easy as Las Vegas," he added.
That's where the comparison stops, since the regal antiques and quaint gas fireplaces of the inn are New England charm personified. In warmer months, weddings are held in the brick-lined garden, lovingly and diligently tended by Mrs. Lepore.
The Glastonbury Citizen, March 10, 2005
The Inn's name came from Nancy, who is a birder. She thought it was particularly fitting for their use of the home, since cardinals mate for life. The Lepores have lived in the large, historic house since 1975, and Michael practiced orthodontics in a home office for many years before he retired. The couple turned his downstairs office into a guestroom suite, and they now have three intimate and romantic rooms. One of the guestrooms has a fireplace, and one features a two-person Jacuzzi tub. All three are elegantly decorated in antique or reproduction furniture.
In 2003, Michael became a Justice of the Peace, and the couple began hosting wedding ceremonies. It is truly a family affair - Michael performs the ceremony, Nancy provides the flowers, and their son Kevin is a professional chef and prepares gourmet meals for the couple and their attendants.
Several wedding and elopement packages are available. the day of the ceremony, Michael typically walks the couple down the road to Town Hall to obtain a marriage license. A late afternoon ceremony in the garden, gazebo or great room is intimate, as Michael personalizes the ceremony for each couple. Nancy creates spectacular floral arrangements for the ceremony and is able to provide piano or flute music. She can also create a custom Unity Candle for the ceremony. These candles are intended to be anniversary candles, also, and should be lit for one hour each anniversary. Photography services are provided, as well as a champagne toast and reception, a specialized wedding cake, a gourmet candlelight dinner in the home's formal dining room, a night in a guestroom and a full candlelight breakfast. When a ceremony is scheduled at A Cardinal House, there are no other guests. This way, the Lepores are able to focus all their attention on the celebrating couple. "We make the couple feel as if they're the most important people in the world", Nancy said.
Michael and Nancy truly enjoy sharing their home with the happy couples that visit. Michael says, "There are many warm feelings associated with our home, as well as the relationship between Nancy and myself, and A Cardinal House is an extension of our feelings".
For more information about A Cardinal House,
visit www.acardinalhouse.com or call (860) 633-8109.
2205 Main Street