Wedding Wednesday: The Venue

Picking out a venue is one of the hardest decisions for many brides. In fact, I’ve known a few friends outright obsess about getting the right venue for the right date, stalking the wedding directors and moving their wedding date months later in order to have the perfect wedding venue. They’ve even made movies about it. But it is a very big decision, and usually the first one after you get engaged. The venue sets the stage for the wedding and there’s a lot of pressure to find one that meet all of your wishes.

We had our own set of venue wishes: convenience, aesthetics, proximity, and price.

At first we were going to have the wedding at my parents house in an effort to save money. Then we started brainstorming: it would need to to be outside, since our home can’t accommodate more than 50 people inside. We would need to rent tent,  in case it rained, in addition to tables, chairs, silverware, plates, and even porta potties. That’s when we dropped the home-wedding idea. No matter how fancy it may be, there’s no way I want any of my guests visiting a porta potty at my wedding. Plus after looking at all of the extra items we would need, we would end up spending about the same amount on a place that provided all of those things.

So then we looked at the venues around my hometown. I wanted somewhere close to my parents’ home so it be the central-hub for where my bridesmaids stayed and all of the family friends hung out during the weekend. I wanted a place that we could easily run home to pick up a vase or cake stand or my passport if it was left.

I also wanted somewhere pretty and convenient enough that we wouldn’t have to nickel-and-dime everything. You’d be surprised at some of the overpriced plain-Jane venues out there that require so much work to decorate and make it look like wedding!

I also thought it would be very convenient to have the ceremony and reception at the same location to avoid everyone traveling after the ceremony–we can just party right where we are! Even though both our families are very religions, it wasn’t a big deal not being married in a church since I didn’t have a real connection to one physical church in my hometown.

And that’s how we decided on Our Venue.

It’s a place close to my parent’s home that I have driven past so many times. In fact, years ago, back in high school, I remember thinking “I’d love to be married there someday.” Of course on our $10k budget, I never thought we’d be able to afford it. But we inquired anyway, just to see what the prices were like. And we were right–it was expensive. However, after a few visits and negotiations, we were able to get the price down $600 from their original offer, plus received a $100 discount for paying in full upfront. 20 days after I got engaged, I wrote the largest check I had ever written, and it was ours.

The venue has a beautiful facility with cute bridal rooms and masculine grooms room where we will get ready. We will get married under an arbor outside in a beautiful yard. Nearby, there is a tented patio for the reception, which we will use for the ceremony in case it rains. There are beautiful gardens and little pools surrounding the ceremony and reception area. The whole site is gorgeous and will take little effort to decorate.

I won’t share where it is (to avoid creepy wedding crashers), but here are a few pictures:

What kind of venue do you want or did you have for your wedding? Is getting  married in a church important to you? What is the most important thing about the venue in your opinion?

  • This was one of my favorite aspects of wedding planning. After visiting several sites including a winery, a hotel, and a public park we finally picked the perfect spot for us – an old hacienda that once belonged to a wealthy lady who donated her house to a non-profit after her death. Now that non-profit rents the hacienda out for special events with proceeds going toward their mission. It was a little spendy but it truly set the tone for the entire day and I was happy to support a good cause. Also, the place was so gorgeous that lots of extra decorations really weren’t needed, the place spoke for itself. So I think you make a great point about cheap or plain jane locations that require lots of decorations! Congrats on finding the perfect spot – it makes things even more real!!

  • Amy

    Hi! I discovered your blog last week and have been really enjoying it! We booked our Jan 2012 wedding venue last month after looking at tons of locations. We ended up going with the first venue we saw, but I still had to check all the other options because I couldn´t believe we got it right at the first visit! It definitely brought out the crazy second-guesser in me more than anything else haha. I completely agree about finding a venue that is beautiful without tons of decorations. Ours is a historic wine cellar, and we´re hoping to find a church nearby that also won´t require much decoration.

    Margie, that´s great you found a venue that benefits a non-profit! I was hoping to do somethign similar, but the only one we found was too small :(

  • Living in Colorado, we originally wanted something rustic, with a big stone fireplace and exposed wooden beams and a view of the gorgeous mountains. But we also wanted to keep costs low. VERY low. We booked a beautiful spot where the price was right and went about our planning, but something about it just never felt quite right. It felt like we were planning a beautiful wedding, but not OUR wedding.

    So we pulled the plug. Blessedly, we’d booked probably the only place in America that actually offered a 100% refund upon cancellation.

    We went back to the drawing board and wound up pursuing a plan we’d joked about in the very early days of our engagement: We had an “at home” wedding at the home of some very good friends of ours. It’s just a regular old home – not a stately mansion or beautiful ranch or anything else. It’s just an old home in an old neighborhood with a mid-sized, half-way decent yard. But it felt like US, so we went for it.

    We completely neglected anything resembling a rain plan, so when it lightly sprinkled for a half hour on our wedding day, we just went about the business of dancing and eating and being merry. We gave zero thought to parking, figuring the street would be fine – and it was. The fact that the home only had 1 full bathroom to service 50 people never crossed our minds, but that too was fine. There was never even a line.

    Our wedding was, in essence, a party much like many others held at that particular home, and that’s exactly what we’d wanted all along.

  • We actually went to see only 2 locations (after doing some price comparisons online and finding out my first choice was going to be WAY out of our budget) but the 2nd place is absolutely perfect for us and the “theme” of the wedding and completely within our price range :)

    The pics look lovely, I hope you guys have a truly memorable day :D

  • We have a lot of great, BEAUTIFUL churches nearby but I’d rather have both ceremony and reception in the same place.

    I think finding a venue will definitely be one of the hardest parts! Would love to hear more about your search and negotiations :)

  • It looks beautiful. I hope that everything goes great.

  • Oooh, it sounds like a beautiful venue! Congratulations!

  • Indeed, locating the ideal wedding location is a difficult task, but if you know what you want, you can find the best spot with more ease. Congratulations on finding your perfect venue, it looks very intimate.

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