I am supposed to be on a self-imposed wedding hiatus. Two days of not thinking about mermaid vs. sheath, reading bridal magazines, poring through Pinterest wedding pages, talking about poof and tulle or watching my 90+ DVR’ed episodes of Say Yes To The Dress. So what am I doing here, writing about my search for a venue? Good question.
It’s a sickness, I swear. Once that beautiful ring is on your finger, the snowball is already rolling down the hill. You say you won’t be caught up in all the trappings, or be swayed by everyone else’s well-intentioned opinions. No way are you going to be THAT bride. But the next thing you know, you’re subscribing to BRIDES magazine and signing up for The Knot website and following #bridalfashionweek on Instagram. Not that I did ALL any of that.
And while you’re swept up in the beautiful offerings of couture gowns, elaborate florals and THE hot color combos of the season, you realize that oh, yeah. You kinda need to pick a venue. And a date.
Spreadsheets are generated. (What? Just me? Shush.)
Requests for proposals are emailed.
Tours are scheduled and taken.
And you realize that your modest budget just flew out the window, right along with that Monique Lhuillier you’ve been lusting after.
Frustrated tears ensue.
Because there are so many more variables than you ever thought possible. Some venues simply rent the space, whether it be a large, open, industrial-mod-hipster warehouse or a re-gentrified barn in the middle of town. Their rental cost seems manageable, until you realize that the price doesn’t include food, beverage, entertainment, florals, officiant or photography. Plus, their numerous appearances on local bridal blogs and in national magazines do a good job of driving up the capitalism, right along with the elitist “only bridal blog-worthy weddings need apply” perception. So you brokenheartedly scratch them from the list.
Then instead of hype and hipster, you try to go for the unique and beautiful. A botanical garden. An aquarium. And guess what? Those too, are beyond reach in their splendorous price tag. (To my friend Might-E, I know … I wanted penguins, too.)
Other venues dazzle you with a one-price-fits-all package. They rent the space for the ceremony AND reception, plus they cover the food and beverages, the chairs/tables/linens/flatware and sometimes even the cake – all wrapped into one large sum. More bang for the buck? Or a sneaky way to get you to spend more on the needed upgrades?
You realize that it really is all about location, location, location. Venue A charges more, simply because it is located in Town Z – known for its “old” money and social prestige. While Venue B may be a little farther out of town in more modest socio-economic bracket, it is also way more affordable. You do your best to think about your budget instead of the future grumbles from your guests about having to drive an extra 20 miles.
Your head explodes when you realize that your guest list has ballooned to include the extended members of both your large families, which drives up the cost even further. Head counts for 125-150 mean $$$$ when compared to say, 75.
Then you start to really get annoyed. You begin asking friends where they got married and, if they are comfortable sharing, what their costs were like. Because clearly, you’re living in a dream world with the number you have in mind for your budget. Hell, you’ve already decided that the honeymoon may have to wait until the first anniversary and it’s okay if no one gets flowers on their tables and maybe buying a second-hand dress isn’t such a bad idea after all.
Maybe it’s time to take a break from the search. Reset and reboot. You stop sending inquiries. You ruthlessly strike through any venue on your spreadsheet that does not fit the budget or your wishes. Most importantly, you remind yourself of the big picture. Take away all the price tags, the add-ons, the service charges, the cocktail vs. seated buffet, alcohol by consumption vs. per head, and ask yourself what YOU want your wedding to be. And as you lay there in your fiancé’s arms after an Ugly Cry, he gently reminds you of a long-ago conversation held before you were even engaged, in which you said that you wanted a small, garden wedding with your nearest and dearest only. Intimate. Beautiful. Elegant. Simple. You and him. Nothing else really matters.
And you wonder, when exactly was it that you lost sight of something so easy?
With a clearer vision and renewed energy, you re-attack the search. And you ONLY request information from venues that fit your vision, hopeful that they will fit your budget as well. You and the fiancé take a proverbial red pen to the guest list and hack away, despite the fact that you know your Once-Removed Auntie Ethel is going to have some nasty words for you.
And you’re comforted, because you know that soon enough, one venue will stand out. And it will be exactly what you have dreamed of all along.
Intimate. Beautiful. Elegant. Simple. You and him. Nothing else really matters.
And then you can get back to the fun stuff, like dress dreaming and cake designs and table favors and picking your wedding day undies. 😉
Until the next meltdown,