Wednesday, June 22, 2011

{M&D} Wedding Venue Search!

Getting engaged was so exciting! After the shock wore off, all I could think about was wedding details- the flowers, the ambiance, decorations! And then I talked to Dan. Turns out, just as opposite as we are in life, we are in our idea of our wedding! He wants traditional- boys in tuxes, fancy food, inside. I want casual, boys in suits (even without a jacket- gasp!), bar-be-que, outside. Miles apart, right?

So the first step was venue searching. My amazing, amazing, amazing sister researched probably every venue in the Northern Virginia area and sent all the promising links to us. There was a lot- mansions, country clubs, farms, hotels, b&bs, banquet halls, private residences. The idea of a big house where everyone could stay for the weekend was perfect for me. However, most of these places are not set up for big events. Many said that they could not accommodate weddings as large as ours and others just did not respond. 

Another obstacle was Dan leaving. My groom, and all of his opinions, will be 7,000 miles away during most of the planning process. I wanted him to see something before he left. So in between all of the other 1,000 things we had to do, we found the time to see two different places: one a country club that would take care of a lot, the other a private residence where we would be able to do everything.

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We visited Stoneleigh first. The event manager gave us a tour and let us walk around. The grounds and the golf course were beautiful; there were lots of old buildings, and the area where you get married is surrounded by an old stone wall. They are trying to become a more prominent wedding venue and were open to any ideas that we had. It it pretty close to Winchester, and had gorgeous views. It was promising, but we wanted to look at the other location, and perhaps others, before making a decision. 

Next we drove to Woodstock, where the river house was located. The website said that it had a mile and a half of river front for the property and could sleep 12-15 comfortably. We were both excited to see the house and the grounds. Then we came to the "private bridge." Dan was afraid to go over it. His whole family is from the city- some of them may have turned around when they saw it! Plus, after a party, not so good. However, we made it over the bridge and the house was really nice. The inside was great and the back patio was beautiful as well. However, there were no river views and the flat land that the tent would have to be on was not near the patio. After hearing everything that the other venue included, the fact that we WOULD BE able to do everything ourselves turned in to HAVING to do everything ourselves. Tent rental. Port-a-potty rental. Caterers. Linens. Flatware. China. Getting everyone over the bridge. While a beautiful, beautiful place, it was not the place for our wedding. 

After looking at many, many other options online and conversing more with the people at Stoneleigh, we decided it would be the place for our wedding! It was kind of scary to make the decision, but now the biggest parts are done! We have a location for the ceremony and reception! They have a tent, all china, flatware, barware, linens, and they cater as well! So while many decisions lay ahead, I am happy to have somewhere to think about my ideas. The event planner is awesome- she is definitely open to any ideas that we have, so I think we will be able to have an amazing wedding that is totally us! Compromise is the name of the game- I got my outdoor venue, Dan got tuxes and no bar-be-que. We will try to make the wedding feel whimsical & warm, casual but sophisticated. More on my wedding inspiration in another post...

And one of the coolest things about our venue? My bridesmaid/roommate/friend since kindergarten's Dad's family (did you follow that?) used to live on the property! The land was in his family for a very long time, so he is going to dig up information that he still has on it- so cool! Daddy Ford has been in my life a long long time, so it is almost like getting married on family land :) The people that lived there were all given one square mile for a garden; the courtyard that we will be having our celebrations in is one of the gardens. Very, very cool!

Venue- check! Everything else... still to come!

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