Wednesday, November 30, 2016

wedding wednesday: the venue

one | two | three | four | five | six
When we got engaged last month, so many of you ladies said you wanted to know about our wedding planning process! I, of course, am more than happy to discuss ad nauseam, but instead, I'm hoping to do posts here and there as the big parts of the wedding come together, so for my first post in this 18 month series, I'm going to talk about how we found our venue site!

Before CR and I even got engaged, we had several discussions about what we each wanted in our future wedding. I was not raised in a religious household, and although CR was, we both individually did not want to get married in a church. I think if he had wanted to, I would have done the necessary steps for that to happen, but it was really nice that we were on the same page about having a non-church wedding. CR obviously didn't really have thoughts on where he actually did want to have the wedding, so when I brought up the idea of a barn wedding, he was all in. I personally love the idea of a barn wedding for several reasons. One, I just think they are gorgeous - anything with sparkly lights, lots of flowers, and the contrast of wood with lots of white is my favorite. Second, I like that you can have the whole wedding festivities in one place, from rehearsal dinner to the ceremony to the reception, as they are typically booked Friday-Sunday. Third, since it has indoor and outdoor space, there's a back up in case the weather is bad. And fourth, having a more bare backdrop (as opposed to a hotel banquet room) gives you more options on personalizing it and having it look the way you want it to. You also get a bit more space than just a banquet hall, so you can fun activities like lawn games and so on. Basically when I said lawn games, CR immediately agreed!

Next we had to decide where to even have the wedding. I'm from Wisconsin, but the only people that live there are my parents and a few friends from high school and college - all in all, about ten people. My extended family lives in Germany, and my college and medical school friends are all over the country, so in the end, my side of the guest list was going to have to travel no matter what. CR, on the other hand, is from Rochester, New York, where about 90% of his very large family still lives. We just knew that it really made the most logistical sense for us to have the wedding somewhere in upstate New York - that was the easiest thing for us to decide on so far!

Wedding barns are "the thing" nowadays (probably because of the reasons mentioned above!), so we narrowed it down to about five wedding barns within an hour of Rochester. We compared availability (many have online calendars that show bookings, which is so helpful!), capacity (we made a rough draft of our guest list so we had an idea of how many people were going to be invited), amenities (onsite bathrooms, AC or heating, deck or no deck), the caterers used, and the price and what that includes (how many days, tables, chairs, decorations). From there, I had my favorite picked out just based on pictures, but was also interested in a few others, so we emailed them for details and to set up times to check them out.

With engagement season in full swing, and seeing that many of the barns were already partially booked for 2018 (and some already in 2019!), we wanted to get moving on at least looking at the venues. We had discussed timelines and agreed that there was no way this was going to happen in 2017 - between the match happening in March, finding a house, graduating in May, going on a post-graduation trip, moving, and starting intern year at the end of June, it was all just way too much, so an eighteen month engagement sounded perfect to get our lives in order, actually enjoy this time, and still have the late spring wedding I was hoping for. Since we live five hours away in Ohio, we don't have a lot of chances to come look at the places in New York, so we asked the venues if there was any way we could see the barns the Friday after Thanksgiving.

We ended up booking two appointments with the barns last Friday, including the one I was interested in. We saw a different barn first, and it was very nice - big open barn, pretty lights already up on the beams, on site bathrooms, and the option of having a live band. There were several things we didn't love as much - it was a bit rougher around the edges, the ceremony locations weren't our favorites, some of the decorations were not what I would have personally gone with, and they wouldn't let you use a different caterer for your rehearsal dinner. All in all, I liked it, but wasn't in love with it.
The second barn was the one I liked based off of their website. It's a fairly newly renovated barn - they just wrapped up their third year of holding weddings there, so there were a lot of features that we really liked. The floors were new (but looked like the belonged in that barn), the deck outside was beautiful, they are in the process of building a wood bar on the deck, the barn has AC, the bathrooms are in the silos (so cool!), and we liked the ceremony sites better. A couple things that were bummers were they no live bands are allowed, and they don't allow sparklers. We just really loved that it felt like a modern wedding site but in a rustic location, if that makes sense. Overall, I could just actually picture our wedding here, and was already thinking about how I wanted to decorate.
So we pretty much decided this was perfect for us! While we had originally talked about doing a May wedding (CR's parents' anniversary is May 26th, which falls on a Saturday in 2018!), we went with June 2nd so we wouldn't interfere with our siblings' college graduations and Memorial Day weekend. So, with hopefully everything falling into place with the Match and our future vacations, we are 550 days away! Not that I'm counting ;)