Connecticut Wedding Group’s reputation for excellence has been built over 30 years.
Years of experience have given us a clear understanding of what makes wedding days so special. This allows us to create a truly inspirational celebration that wraps up your courtship story with the fairy tale ending you’ve always dreamed of.
But weddings signify new beginnings, too. So Connecticut Wedding Group will work with you and your family -- down to the smallest details of design, style, and service -- to organize an event that honors bride and groom’s friendship, love, and future together.
Tom McDowell is the founder, President & CEO of Pavilion Catering, Inc. and Connecticut Wedding Group, which are located in his hometown of Middletown, CT. Tom graduated Xavier High School in Middletown, CT and then went on to receive an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts and a B.S. in Food Service Management from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. Tom founded Pavilion Catering in 1984 and later formed Connecticut Wedding Group in 2008, focusing the company's efforts on planning and producing Connecticut's best and most exciting wedding experiences.
Connecticut Wedding Group is the exclusive caterer at The Barns at Wesleyan Hills, The Pavilion on Crystal Lake, and Lyman Orchards, where his award-winning team focuses on farm-to-table cuisine, innovative design, and comprehensive wedding planning.
Tom is a member of the prestigious Leading Caterers of America, an organization comprised of the most successful catering companies in the country, as well as a Trustee of the International Caterers Association Education Foundation. Tom can usually be found flying under the radar in his "Head Groundskeeper" sweatshirt, overseeing the entire operation from behind the scenes. Tom is most enthusiastic about bringing together and mentoring his staff of talented professionals, each of which help with his passion for making wedding day dreams come true.
"Tom - I just wanted to send a big Thank you! to you and your team. Our Grand Re-Opening was absolutely perfect. The food was delicious, the presentation special and memorable, and your staff was top notch! A million thank you's!" - TJ Jackson
Jonathan has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer with CT Wedding Group since 1999. Jonathan believes that weddings today are about transforming raw, non-traditional spaces into magnificent wedding venues, bringing the rich diversity of Connecticut Farms to the (reclaimed) table and creating unexpected, fun and unique experiences for wedding guests.
Jonathan is very active in the hospitality community. He serves on the Board of Directors of the International Caterers Association and the CT Restaurant Association and is a member of the National Restaurant Association. He is a member of the elite, invitation only, Leading Caterers of America group and a member of the advisory board for the University of New Haven Hospitality and Tourism program. Jonathan also belongs to the Les Amis d'Escoffier Society of Connecticut. Jonathan is a Justice of the Peace and in his free time, Jonathan enjoys mentoring young caterers across the country.
"Did I mention that our property guide was Jonathan Jennings, the company’s COO? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never known another COO to jump in and help the team like Jonathan did for us on our wedding day – literally driving us around in golf carts. He pleasantly accommodated all of our location desires, even those more extreme photos that we were after. He even made suggestions to add to our list. He drove us up to the highest point in Middlefield at sundown to capitalize on the breathing taking view and gorgeous natural light. I cannot wait for our photos!" - Maria & Brian
Connecticut Wedding Group Executive Chef Stephen Lisitano is the 2013 Connecticut Restaurant Association Chef of the Year! We are honored by this award, and that Connecticut has recognized how delicious Steve’s menu is, and how inspired his presentation has become! Growing up within steps of The Pavilion on Crystal Lake, Chef Lisitano began working for Connecticut Wedding Group as a dishwasher, riding his bike to work everyday. He quickly developed a love for his kitchen, learning anything and everything he could. Through his culinary training, Steve continue working in that same kitchen. He has grown and succeeded with Connecticut Wedding Group, continually transforming our menus with his seasonally inspired, farm-to-table foods, and imaginative presentations. Executive Chef, Stephen Lisitano treats every single event individually, giving his full attention to the culinary details that make your wedding day dreams come to life. He is always willing to go the extra mile to make sure each and every guest is taken care of; regardless of allergies, special dietary needs, and restrictions. Steve is committed to creating delicious food on your wedding day, and can’t wait to be a part of the celebration!
"No matter what I say here, words will fall short of the praise that Steve Lisitano, Executive Chef and the rest of the team at Pavilion Catering deserve. Just hearing the way Steve talked about his menu offerings, my foodie husband and I instantly felt relief, trusting that the food would be amazing… We just didn’t realize HOW amazing!" - Maria & Brian
Dawn Pandolfo oversees all aspects of our Golf Catering and Restaurant Operations. She loves the challenges and rewards of motivating a team and also coordinating food and beverage services to help create successful golf tournaments. Her experience began at 16 yrs old. While serving a cub scouts dinner, she was offered a position by a caterer who had attended the event.This led to more than a decade of work in the hospitality field, and has given Dawn the expertise to meet and exceed all the needs of Pavilion Catering and Connecticut Wedding Group clientele in an effortless fashion. She brings enthusiasm, professionalism and endless energy to each day and takes great satisfaction in working with clients from the very start of the sales process to coordinating details to the final setup and completion of an event. As the winter months near and the golf clients put away their clubs, Dawn always looks forward to transitioning into wedding sales and planning each year, and is always excited to see the innovative ideas brides & grooms are coming up with!
"Dawn - WOW - what an awesome job Lymans did on behalf of Kevin's Memorial Golf Tournament. Everyone said best tournament & we are so grateful for all of your hard work to ensure his event was successful. Kevin always wished for a 'hole in one' and we got that for him on Sept 26th! Thank you!" - Cheryl & Lauren
Michelle joined the Connecticut Wedding Group Team at the start of the 2012 wedding season, and instantly felt right at home. Planning and celebrating weddings has always been her true passion. There is no greater satisfaction for Michelle than seeing a happy couple’s wedding day dream come true. Michelle began her career in event planning in 2003 while attending Johnson & Wales University, where she earned her B.S. in Hospitality. Since then, Michelle has gained lots of experience working many different types of events, both social and corporate, but always knew her heart was in weddings. Whether it’s helping choose linen colors, creatively setting up your wedding event, or just being there by your side before walking down the aisle, Michelle will bring her unique and innovative expertise to make sure that each and every Bride & Groom’s wedding day vision comes to life the way they envisioned it!
"Hi Michelle! When thinking of our wedding day, the word PERFECT comes to mind! The day ran smoothly and effortlessly, from getting ready at the homestead, to the ceremony, to the reception, and right down to the end of the night packing up the cars! You truly thought of everything, every last detail was taken care of. Your organization, attention to detail, and genuine thoughtfulness is so much appreciated. We have received so many lovely comments about how personal the ceremony felt, how beautiful the decorations were, how amazingly delicious the food was, and how the night was a total blast!! Thanks for all you did to make our wedding day the most special and spectacular day of our lives!" - Erin & Oliver
As The Director of Wedding Planning with Connecticut Wedding Group, Mary-Beth McDowell provides her wedding planning expertise for Connecticut Wedding Group's couples, and leads her team of planners in guiding our couples throughout the planning process. Mary-Beth received her B.S. in Atmospheric Science from the University at Albany, but always knew planning and coordinating weddings was her passion. She has been with Connecticut Wedding Group since 2001, but continues to be Connecticut Wedding Group's resident meteorologist, assisting to get each and every ceremony outside. Helping you plan your wedding with Connecticut Wedding Group, and knowing that your planning process is stress free, fun, and exciting, gives Mary-Beth the greatest sense of satisfaction. There is no better feeling than to know that she can help in creating a dream wedding for a beautiful couple. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Mary-Beth for questions, concerns, or even a forecast!
"We worked with Mary-Beth and she's a dream. Living in NY we were worried about planning a wedding in CT and communicating mainly through emails. But Mary-Beth could NOT have been friendlier, more responsive, more interested, organized or helpful. She gave us great ideas and really understood and followed our theme. She responded to emails so quickly she made me feel like I was the only bride she was working with!" - Linda & Robert "Mary-Beth is hands down the sweetest, most professional and talented wedding coordinator. She helped us to create a magical day down to the smallest detail - there was not a single thing we asked for that was refused." - Carly & Taylor
Jessica joined the Connecticut Wedding Group in 2015, and immediately felt right at home. She began her career in the hospitality industry in 2004, planning both corporate and social events, but finding a true passion and dedication to wedding coordination. As a Wedding Planner with Connecticut Wedding Group, Jessica finds the greatest satisfaction in creating the most memorable day for our couples! Be it guiding you through your menu design, or being by your side as you prepare to walk down the aisle, she believes that the perfect wedding day is all in the details that make it unique!
"You know how they say something always goes wrong on your wedding day? That is not true with a wedding with CT Wedding Group. Every detail of our wedding was executed perfectly, and every single guest raved about the wedding! I didn't think that my wide and I would be able to relax and lt go of the details, but our wedding planner, Jessica, did everything right to put our minds at ease and made sure every detail was even better than we dreamed." -Stephanie & Tracy
As early as Jenna can remember, she has known she wanted to be involved in the wedding industry. Growing up on a 30 acre horse farm in South Jersey, she not only gained a strong work ethic, but was able to envision her passion for rustic weddings. After working as an event planner in South Jersey for nearly 6 years, Jenna relocated to CT and began a career in the wedding gown industry. While there, she gained an immense amount of experience, but always hoped she would one day follow her dreams back into planning and coordinating weddings. Jenna believes that establishing a connection with each couple and truly getting to know them individually is imperative. At the end of the day, her main goal is to be apart of each couples dream wedding and celebration.
"Our day of coordinator Jenna, the biggest super star of all who made our day feel so special and made everything run so smoothly and on time, and made me - the biggest worrier ever - actually not worry about things on the best day of our lives. Our immediate family and bridal party that interacted with Jenna the most of all of our guests, absolutely loved her as well. She was so down to earth and kept cal, which made me feel calm. She worked behind the scenes with the Barns staff and our vendors to keep things moving seamlessly." - Kerri & Justin "Jenna was our day of coordinator and I'll never be able to thank her enough for the amazing job she did not only for the wedding but for the calmness in the way she approached everything that made me feel so at ease the day of the wedding. Jenna made sure the entire day that my husband, our bridal party, and our immediate family were all set and had everything we needed. At one point it started to lightly rain before the ceremony was starting and my nerves were kicking in. Jenna was completely calm and reassuring that everything would be fine and put me at ease. The rain stopped and and the sun came out as soon as I was walking down the aisle :)" - Elizabeth & Robert
Welcome CT Wedding Group's newest team member! For this Cheshire, CT native, the journey towards her career in wedding planning was anything but traditional! Cathy received her degree in Communications & Media from Western New England University, and completed a certificate of Culinary Arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Cambridge, MA, before moving back to CT to follow her passion and love of all things culinary and planning events. Cathy's passion for planning, combined with her love for food and drink, has led her to follow her her passion for planning weddings. She brings more than 14 years of restaurant & event planning experience to CT Wedding Group, and pairs it with her outgoing and friendly personality. She is so excited to help you plan and celebrate. You will feel completely at ease knowing she has the little details covered on your wedding day!
"The CT Wedding Group were absolutely amazing to work with! Leading up to the wedding day they were quick to respond to any questions I had and gave fantastic input. Cathy was our wedding coordinator and she did an amazing job! She made the rehearsal and wedding day run so smoothly. I wasn't stressed at all. I would highly recommend this venue at the CT Wedding Group" - Dana & Ryan "Now, our day of coordinator was Cathy Amarante and I could go on and on about how wonderful she was. She made our wedding go so smoothly and we had so many guests comment on how great she was. She always made sure we had a drink if we wanted one. She even had our favorite drinks waiting for us as we walked back down the aisle. Cathy wrapped up so much food for us at the end of the night, knowing we didn't eat much at the wedding. She just thought of everything and made sure we were never stressed. Thank you Cathy, Pavilion, and CT Wedding Group for help us create the wedding of our dreams!!" - Kelly & Steven
Samantha is thrilled to be a part of the award winning CT Wedding Group Team! As one of our dedicated wedding planners she helps our couples in creating the wedding day you deserve, bringing her experienced knowledge of our unique venues along with her personal knowledge of our ceremony & event coordination to every aspect of your planning process. Samantha graduated from Johnson & Wales University in 2014 with an A.S. Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts and with a B.S. in Food Service Management with concentrations in Sommelier Studies & Event Management. From there her passion of event planning flourished as she gained experiential education with the banquet operations team at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, where she was coordinating weddings & various corporate events. Samantha has been with the CT Wedding Group team since 2015, and is elated to help make the remarkable vision you have for your once in lifetime day become a lasting reality. She will be there from the moment you call, all the way through to putting the final touches on your momentous day. She looks forward to hearing from you!
"Samantha was our day of coordinator and she is the bees knees. Such a positive woman who will calm your nerves and remind you of the important things. My DJ messed up big time during the processional (putting the wrong music on) and she ran up and shut it down! She was there to pull me away from guests when I was starving and needed someone to excuse me. She helped put everything together before we left the venue and made sure I had plenty of extra cupcakes to eat. Always trust the person who is willing to be the "bad guy" for you. Sam, thank you for everything, you are so fantastic at your work and it is clear that you love doing it." - Julia & Steve, May 2017, The Knot "A very special thank you goes to Samantha Nickerson, wedding planner extraordinaire. She couldn't have been more responsive and thoughtful at our final details appointment, in the days leading up to the wedding, and on the day of the wedding. We are grateful for her dedication to making our wedding day perfect for us, taking care of the last minute hiccups that can arise, and communicating effectively with the rest of our vendors, all without causing us any stress or hassle. How she coordinated everything on our wedding day is beyond us, but she did it all with a smile on her face and checked in often to ensure we had everything we needed." - Lauren & James
Allie has been a proud and valuable member of our team since 2011, and has over a decade of experience in the food service and hospitality industry. Her warm and reassuring nature, combined with a very natural and genuine interest in the desires of others, instantly puts people at ease; and most importantly has you immediately feeling the center of attention. Her mission is always to make sure every inch of your venue is perfect and decorated to your unique tastes! And above all, Allie's true joy is the smile on your face when you are able to relax and enjoy the wedding day of your dreams! In the years that Allie has been with Connecticut Wedding Group we have seen many happy couples, and their guests, enjoy the momentous occasions she has managed. You can certainly rest assured that she will dedicate herself to understanding your vision, she and her team will bring that vision to life, and she will make sure your very special day is everything you've imagined!
"There are no words to describe how amazing our experience was with Connecticut Wedding Group and The Pavilion on Crystal Lake. From the moment we called to inquire about the venue, we knew we found out spot! Their customer service is truly unparalleled -- we were treated like members of the family immediately. They made the planning process so easy, the packages are transparent and easy-to-understand, and Mary-Beth's weekly emails kept us on track. Staff were friendly and always willing to answer any questions that I had, and our day-of coordinator Allie (which is included with your package!) was FLAWLESS. From cleaning stains off dresses, to making sure we (and my family) all had their favorite drinks in hand, to adding last minute decorations, to watching the weather like a hawk, Allie did it all. As a type-A person, I was truly able to shut off the planner in me and enjoy my day. If you are looking for a place that will treat you like royalty, with AMAZING food (seriously, our guests can't stop talking about it and it's farm-to-table!), with gorgeous views, look no further. The Connecticut Wedding Group will you the wedding of your dreams, guaranteed. Thank you all for everything!! We wish we could do it all over again!" - Dana & Blake
As soon as Lindsay worked her first wedding with the Connecticut Wedding Group Team she knew that this was where she wanted to be. Over the past five seasons Lindsay has fallen in love with the wedding industry through her various roles and responsibilities within the company. She thrives off of the unique energy and excitement of each wedding she is a part of. Through her childhood, her participation in theatre both on and off the stage generated her creativity and passion while directing events. Lindsay currently holds a bachelor degree in Health Sciences and an Associates Degree in Occupational Therapy but found her calling with weddings while interacting with couples and their guests on the big day! She believes the most important piece of the wedding day is making sure there is a smile on the couples face from the minute they step foot on the grounds to the moment they leave.
"Lindsay made me and my wife feel like Royalty the entire day. The Barns gave us the happiest day of our lives. When people go the extra mile it shows. Everyone associated with this venue goes above and beyond." - Kelsey & David "Everything thing went better than expected. The food was amazing, the venue was perfectly cozy, and the staff adapted to any change in plans throughout the day with ease (switching the ceremony indoors due to rain, adjusting the head table setup). Lindsay was wonderful - she was on top of everything and kept things running smoothly throughout the day without being too intrusive. I could not have had a better experience and it was a day that I, my husband, and our family and friends will remember fondly." - Brittney & Suleyman
Mia is so excited to start her third season with Connecticut Wedding Group and Pavilion Catering. Mia currently holds a B.S. in Business Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from Post University. She found her passion in event planning while helping her own family and friends coordinate parties throughout the years! Starting as a banquet server, Mia has a deep understanding of what it takes to make an event run smoothly. She takes great pride working with a team to make wedding dreams come true for Lyman couples and is eager to assist outing clients in any way. Kicking off her second season as the Assistant Manager of Pavilion’s Golf Division at Lyman Orchards Golf Club, she is looking forward to using her experience to contribute to another successful year at the course.
Ashley was born and raised in Middletown, and grew up in the hospitality business starting with her parent's restaurant. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2011 with a degree in Theatre Design and has her Culinary Arts degree from the Lincoln Culinary Institute. In the winter of 2014 she began her career at Connecticut Wedding Group.
"I also need to mention Ashley. She was my phone girl. Especially near the end I was calling constantly asking very random questions, "what's the diameter of the tables?" Ashley has an answer for everything and if she didn't she would do research and get back to me. Thank you to all of you. I will never forget that special day and you were all such great help and support throughout it." - Julia & Steve, May 2017, The Knot
Gillian is very excited to be one of the newest members of the Connecticut Wedding Group family! She is a CT native who graduated from CCSU with a B.A. in Entrepreneurship. Having over 14 years of experience in the hospitality and catering industry; transitioning into the wedding field was a refreshing and thrilling change. Her deep seeded love of art and history is a wonderful aid in helping couples create their dream day. She is looking forward to collaborating with all the wonderful brides and grooms to be to make each wedding a memorable and historic day for everyone!
Cate is very excited to be with Connecticut Wedding Group for her third season! Starting as a member of the waitstaff, Cate has been able to experience many aspects of the service that makes our company so special. As a banquet captain, she makes sure that each wedding is unique to every couple that celebrates their big day with us. She has a lot of experience making dreams come true from her time working in Walt Disney World, where she visits as often as possible. Cate is in her final year at CCSU where she studies Political Science with a concentration in American and International Law, but knew from her first day at CT Wedding Group that working in the wedding industry is where her passion is and she can't wait to help you celebrate!
"We had the absolute pleasure and honor in having Cate as our wedding coordinator, and needless to say, my husband and I officially dubbed her "Cate the Great" before cocktail hour even started. The nickname is of course, deserving. She was FANTASTIC. -Kearney & Tim, April 2019
"We went into the wedding day with the old thought, "something will go wrong". That couldn't be further to the truth. The wedding was like a fairy tale. Cate was a perfect angel. She dealt with both of our difficult families with ease. My mother pulled me aside to let me know how graceful Cate handled a family lining up issue at the rehearsal. She even brought items from her own home to decorate because it tied together with our theme. These girls are amazing. After a picture perfect ceremony, during photos, food and drinks were ready to go for my bridal party & Cate was never more than a glance away, if I needed anything. The Barn itself looked straight out of a fairy tale." -Lisa and Dave
Nicole is very enthusiastic to start her second season with Connecticut Wedding Group! She discovered her love of weddings and events after having earned both a B.S. in Accounting and an MBA from Salve Regina University. With nine years of service industry experience, she loves people and knows that weddings and helping our couples celebrate is her calling. Nicole loves seeing each couple's excitement on their wedding day and believes attention to detail is key to making every wedding unique and memorable. She cannot wait to help you celebrate!
Amanda is so excited to join the team at Connecticut Wedding Group. She currently holds a B.S. in Public Relations and Marketing from CCSU. She found her passion for weddings and events while planning her own nuptials and coordinating family parties throughout the years! Amanda can't wait to greet you with a big smile and a cheery disposition!
Being involved with the wedding industry had long been the dream for Amy and she is beyond thrilled to have joined the team at Connecticut Wedding Group as an assistant wedding planner. While her experience is in social, corporate, and community event planning, weddings have always been a favorite hobby and she is thrilled to be focusing on them full-time. Amy has also honed her craft over the years as the go-to family member and friend for planning, organizing, and executing celebrations of all kinds. Her passion and attentiveness are present from the first moment you meet her. Every idea is worth vetting, and every single detail is important. Amy’s ability to anticipate and avoid issues allows you to get the most enjoyment – and satisfaction - out of your special day!
Shelby was working for our friends at NoRA Cupcake Co. when we first met her during a tasting event in 2018. She found herself so inspired after watching our staff's passion for what they do and she quickly applied to be a banquet captain. Shelby joined the team shortly after! Shelby is still great friends with the owner of NoRA and remains a certified expert on cupcakes, but is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the CT Wedding Group team!
After living in San Francisco and attending The Academy of Art University to study Photography and Marketing in 2013, Shelby came back home to Connecticut to be closer to her family. She began working for the Mayor of Naugatuck in 2014 where she learned to plan spectacular downtown festivals and discovered her true passion; coordinating events. After witnessing her sister's wedding in 2014 and being in awe how magical of a day it was, Shelby knew wedding coordinating was for her.
When she isn’t busy making wedding day dreams come true, Shelby runs a creative studio space called The Hive, where she hosts pop-up events and creative classes of all kinds! Shelby’s greatest joy comes from treating her couples, their families and their friends like they’re her own family and making sure everyone has the BEST day ever!
Summer is thrilled to be a part of the CT Wedding Group family, and excited to bring her wedding planning expertise to all of our couples! Summer graduated from Johnson & Wales University in 2006 with a Bachelor's Degree in Hotel and Hospitality Management. She started her career in a hotel management program where she learned all aspects of hotel operations including front desk, housekeeping, and food and beverage. Wanting to use her customer relationship management skills and the love she had for social affairs, Summer decided to transition over to wedding planning and sales. Summer enjoys every aspect of wedding planning and is something she holds very dear to her heart; from connecting with her couples from the first meeting and having them feel comfortable to celebrate one of the most important days of their lives with her, then to see their dream vision come alive. Summer cannot wait to help you plan and celebrate the best day ever!
After several years - she's back! Melinda began her career in the hospitality industry in 2010, working as a server at CT Wedding Group and she moved her way up through to wedding coordinator, building on her wealth of wedding and event planning knowledge. Over the years, this experience opened doors working in New Hampshire and lower Fairfield county. And most recently, working as a Catering Sales Manager since 2016, booking/planning/producing events ranging from 10 person dinner parties all the way up to 2,000+ person galas.
With her experience in off premise events, she has truly seen it all and there is nothing she can't conquer.
Born and raised in Middletown, Connecticut, Melinda has recently moved back to her stomping grounds to put down some roots for the next chapter in her life. Craving all it takes to help make her couple's wedding day dreams come true, Melinda returns to CTWG with the experience to make sure your day runs flawlessly. Her commitment to you? Making sure every detail is handled - from tiny to crucial - so that you can be fully present with your family and friends, and your day can be as perfect and stress free as you've always envisioned. Her calm, cool and collected manner gives her couples the confidence they need to soak up every moment on their wedding day.
Outside of her professional world, you can catch Melinda enjoying craft beer at all the best breweries in New England, planning spontaneous adventures with her wife, getting lost in the woods or working in her garden where she's absolutely the happiest.