We chose our wedding venue! It happened exactly four weeks after Kevin proposed, too. What a wild month it has been!
We did a lot of research into venues online, plus we received a lot of feedback from people who had been to various locations. It was helpful to know the good and the less-than-good for the places we were hearing about. We determined a budget for the wedding–good move, right?–and then updated the list of options accordingly.
We had a few things that were very important to us. We wanted to be close to home. Neither one of us wanted to spend a chunk of the day back and forth on the road. We also wanted to have an area we’re familiar with so we can advise guests from out of town what to do for fun when they’re not with us.
We also wanted to have a place that would be classy but allow us to infuse a sense of whimsy. If you’ve been to one of my Christmas or birthday parties, then you know I go pretty wild with themes and decorations. Our wedding won’t be as wild as that, but there sure has to be an essence of it.
We wanted it to be beautiful. This means different things to different people. I was okay with a venue that didn’t look grand on the outside because the majority of the time is spent inside anyway, but I didn’t want the place to look run down either. Sure, a grand entrance to the building gives a sense of wow to the guests, but for me it wasn’t the top priority, not that I was going to be upset with a wow factor.
We wanted a place that’s done this before. That sounds a little silly for me to say, but it was an internal concern. Of course places listed as wedding venues would have done them before, but we really wanted to have a sense that even though our day itself is a big deal, the running of the wedding itself wouldn’t be.
We needed a place that would accommodate a wedding of our size. Most venues we saw were looking at 125 guests minimum. But our guest list is closer to 80. And when we queried a few spots, this actually changed some of the availability and options. And for the record, I’m not loving an 80-guest wedding being referred to as “small.” I like to think of it as “perfect.”
For a smaller wedding, we considered a restaurant-type venue. A nice location, beautiful interior, cozy arrangement inside, personalized menu based off the main menu, and so on. We discussed having it at Mac’s Steakhouse. We love it there. It’s very “us.” And it was among our options. One of our maître d’ friends, Jason, suggested checking out the Mill Pond Restaurant, sister to one of our other favorites, Piccolo of Huntington. The place was great. The view was beautiful and they could fit our party on the main floor. As we looked at other venues later, we felt we wanted to do more than a restaurant site and that was the only reason Mac’s and Mill Pond came off the list.
Next we went to check out the Inn at Fox Hollow. I will abashedly admit that I was confused about where to go in when I got there. Let’s just chalk it up to nerves, but I drove around the venue and the hotel twice before settling into a parking spot and waiting for Kevin. (Hey, it happens.) We went into the venue, inadvertently through the back door, and got to see a few rooms along the way. The place is gorgeous. On our tour, we were only shown the Winter Garden because it’s designed for “small” weddings. A wedding was taking place during our site visit and we were able to see the table arrangements and the two locations they have for photos. On a Saturday, the Volpe Restaurant is closed to the public and becomes part of the ceremony, hosting the cocktail hour. It was elegant. So elegant, we were afraid to touch anything. As we were looking around, we realized our vision of our wedding would have to change to fit the venue, and that’s not how we should feel. Maybe we could have interjected our whimsy, but we went with our intuition. We liked that everything was close by, including the hotel, which would be perfect for out of town guests. But desiring a Saturday wedding, we were stuck with a noon to six time slot because of our “small” wedding guest list.
The Crest Hollow Country Club had a definite elegance and beauty to it too. It was massive at 24 acres and had many places for photos, and not just for us. There was a huge, geothermally heated pool and a sprawling set of paths throughout. It is so immense, they shuttle around the wedding party on carts! We talked about the whimsical things we wanted to do and Vanessa was supportive and said it was possible to incorporate most of those things. I liked feeling as if we were separated from everything, but in some ways it was really just too large for us. Most rooms would have to be enclosed with curtains to keep the room size feeling appropriate. Guests would wander around, and never find their way back! But despite that, this venue made it to our top of the list.
And then we went to see the Chateau at Coindre Hall. It’s a historic preserve and people can and do bring their dogs to run and play in the fields out back. The mansion itself is over 100 years old, built in 1912, and it has 40 rooms and great architecture throughout. As with the other venues, there are outdoor options with indoor alternatives. One of the key selling features was that our wedding would be the only one on premise that day. So there wouldn’t be any pressure to get out so they can set up for another party. And it gives us flexibility for our starting time. We have access to the entire mansion and guests can roam around and sit in the different areas. It basically turns the mansion into our house for the day. As with all the places we saw, there are a couple of drawbacks and I’ll mention them here and then move on. There is no elevator so a few guests may not be able to visit the second floor. The dinner menu is a little more limited than other venues, but I asked about a work-around and it seems okay. If guests want to walk the grounds, they may, but with all the dogs pooing on the lawn and their owners not cleaning it up, there will be land mines.
As for the rest, it is a beautiful venue and we did ask about our touches of whimsy and Kate assured us that it will all work, as long as we don’t tear down any walls or light things on fire. She even said there had been a Star Wars party there once, so I immediately felt we could do the things we’re looking to do without a problem. There is a big irony in our styles. Kevin, a computer programmer, is much more comfortable with traditional architecture and furniture. As a writer and lover of fantasy, I am actually much more interested in modern and contemporary styles. It’s ironic, I know, but it makes us a better fit. (This led to our wedding hashtag #magicandcode) Coindre Hall has a fantasy feel with a traditional backdrop. So, we both get what we want. It just felt perfect for our desires, our needs, and on April 8, 2017, it is where we will share our vows.