Friday, August 12, 2011

The Venue

Two major events took place this summer that changed our plans significantly. The first is that I got a job, which means we may actually have funds to have a wedding. It also meant that having a fall wedding is out - we're getting married in the summer, when I have time to actually think about things. The second is that New York legalized gay marriage. I grew up in New York, and 95% of my family still lives there. It makes sense - less people travelling, only one ceremony, and cooler summer weather.

We scheduled a long weekend to look at wedding venues. Because our research here helped us figure out what we want, and because so many places have outstanding web pages, the weekend was just barely enough time. And because we were crazy excited, we booked it.

The Rabbit Room at the Lower Mill

It's an old grist mill

With galleries on the second and third floors (rain plan from the gods)

and a restaurant on the first 

There's also outdoor space, if the weather chooses to cooperate, but I'm having a terrible time finding decent pictures of it. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Venues: The Runners Up

We started looking for venues outside D.C., where we live. The high prices actually helped us figure out what kind of wedding we want to have - we cut out all the extras until we were left with just the core idea of what we wanted.

So, the runner's up:

Our First Runner Up: The Agricultural History Farm Park

Pros: It's an absolutely beautiful setting, surrounded by 400 acres of land. Married in a meadow and then a barn party? Yes please.
Cons:  No kitchen, the closest bathrooms are port-a-potties, and the parking is extremely limited. No rain plan for the outdoor ceremony. Just making this list, I can see my grandmother shaking her head at me.

Our Second Runner Up: The Lodge at Little Seneca Creek

Pros: Sweet log cabin look, small kitchen, indoor bathrooms, plenty of parking
Cons: Houses nearby on either side, limited outdoor space, small. Also, that picture of the outside is of the back - the front is a huge parking lot right off the road. 

The good news: by the time we narrowed it down to these two venues, there was a pretty clear theme. Lots of wood, and some outdoor space. We weren't going to be happy in a hotel lobby - it's just not our style. So when we moved the entire wedding a seven hour drive away, we knew what we were looking for. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Venue Check List

I'm not going to lie. Finding a venue was ROUGH.
We knew what we needed:

  1. Protection, but not total separation from, the elements. We're getting married in August (this is a change from the last time I said a date - more on that later). That means the venue has to be able to keep everyone cool when it is ungodly hot, and that there has to an outstanding rain plan. 
  2. Low fuss. After the laws changed, we decided to get married in Western New York, close to where I grew up. That means we live 7 hours from the place we're getting married. We don't have the resources or the proximity to completely overhaul a building, or even to bring in more than a few of those sweet little crafty projects.  The building has to have good bones. That doesn't mean fancy, or even necessarily pretty. But it has to be easily dressed up (or preferably, not dressed up at all). 
  3. As much included as possible. I know this is a horrible thing to say now, in the time of DIY brides with endless ambition. But when the school year starts, I can't focus on the wedding anymore. That meant we either needed a restaurant with a lot of space and a generous policy about renting the place out, or a really capable caterer who was willing and able to take on a lot of our grunt work. 
  4. Reasonable cost. We're paying for this by ourselves. We are not wealthy people. The end. 

After looking at several places outside D.C., we had a decent idea of the style we liked. Something slightly outdoorsy. Lots of wood. Above all, some place comfortable for our guests. So I took to the internet, and looked up every historic building, art gallery, restaurant, park, and even some schools and public spaces in the  area.