How did you begin to search for venues?
Soon after we got engaged the ‘wedding talk’ ensued, even though we said we were going to wait. He brought up that we should look up ‘north’ (we are both from the Philadelphia area and most of our extended family lives up there and a good handful of family friends). I was skeptical at first thinking it would be easier to have a wedding near were we lived but as I began looking at venues online I began falling in love with the idea of getting married up there. The venues have an old world feel that you just can’t get in a 30 minute driving range of where I currently live. They had gorgeous woodwork, stone or stucco exteriors, and dazzling chandeliers. We agreed that we would look up north at venues over Christmas weekend than in the weekends following look in our area but we found the ‘one’ up north and nixed even looking around home.
What were the key features you were looking for in a venue?
I of course was a ‘pre bride wedding pinterester’. As Devin and got closer to becoming engaged and discussed the possibility of having a permanent future together I began honing in on what I wanted my wedding to look like. I knew I wanted my colors to be a dusty wine color, a dusty blush pink, and gold (with lots of gold sparkles!) I began envisioning more and more pieces – a pre-50’s gold crystal chandler. The beautiful wood work I was talking about earlier was a must! We needed an outdoor ceremony space because I want to get married outside. The outdoor space needed to have some sort of hard walk way for our guest in heals and so that our older guests would be solid on their feet. Then there was the food aspect we needed yummy food. Also, we needed a venue that offered an open bar option. We also wanted the bar to be a permanent fixture in our reception room. We both agreed that moving bars that they bring in for weddings are not as good as a permanent bar – at least in our experiences – and we wanted to have an awesome bar. I personally wanted a large bridal suite to get ready in because I am having 7 bridesmaids and want to get ready with them and my mother and future mother-in-law there. I have done this for weddings in the past and it has been enjoyable just sitting around talking and getting ready for that day’s events.
How did you decide on the date?
The date was the easy part – I want a peak fall day were the leaves will look PERFECT. Sadly, I have been paying attention to this during the fall season for many years so that I would be set when the time came to pick the date. If we were getting married in southern Maryland it would be the last weekend in October and up-north it was going to be the 3 weekend in October because the leaves turn a little earlier up there. Since we ended up deciding on a venue up north the date is October 22, 2016. Honestly, I’m not sure how much say Devin really had in this – it was my dream to have it in a fall and he let me keep that wish.
Which venues did you look at? What were your main concerns? What kind of questions do you ask and did they ask?
We looked at four different venues up in area where Devin’s mom lives. The first one was a recommendation from his dad. It was a country club that provided a huge amount of food during cocktail hour, salad, two choices for entrees, wedding coordinator for the day of, champagne toast, table wine service during dinner, and the cake on top of an open bar for 5 hours (permanent bar). It also came with a beautiful bridal suite that was large enough for my plans. We would need to pay for a ceremony, but they had a lovely space with a small pond next to a gazebo and a tree behind the gazebo. My concern for the ceremony space was that there was only one tree the rest was golf course and the entrance to the area was pretty open so you would see the bride and bridal party assembling for the ceremony. Now the reception space was fabulous – it was in the process of being redone and the colors that they were going with would look fab with my décor for the wedding. My only issue with the space was that the chandelier weren’t the style of chandelier that I wanted. We saw three different pricing for plates 1 least expensive and 3 being the most expensive. This place was a 2. Then there was also a minimum once again following the scale this place was a 3 for minimum. Also, the girl that we meet with there was WONDERFUL she was very sweet and fielded all of our questions.
The second place that we looked at was a golf club that was near where my grandparents lived when I was younger. We had often gone out to dinner there and they had a pool when I was younger that we went to ALL the time, so this place was close to my heart. They offered a ton of food during cocktail hour, champagne toast, wedding cake, tea lights for tables, on-site event coordinator, valet parking, salad course, and 2 entrees, along with five hour open bar service (moving bars). The bridal suite was TINY like no lie it felt smaller than my master closet – which with 7 bridesmaids would be extremely tight. The ceremony space was indoors because we would be in the smaller reception space (which was a HUGH negative for me). But the décor was perfect – the colors matched what I wanted and they had the style of chandler that I wanted. Oh and to top it all off they had managed to double book – which while we were fine waiting was not okay on the overall impression. This places package placed at 3 for costs and their minimum priced at a 2. To me it reflected poorly on their management skills and was not the right foot to start off on.
The third place we looked at seemed to be a ‘one-stop shop’. The outdoor ceremony space was lovely and outdoors. They offered a ton of food during cocktail hour, an open bar for 5 hours, wedding cake, coffee bar, linens, etc! The bridal suite was an okay size but not large enough to spend a lot of time in. The reception room was HUGE like it felt to big and really was too big for what we needed. The décor was ehh – they didn’t have the chandlers that I was in love in. This places package placed at 3 for costs and their minimum priced at a 2. In the end they were already booked on the date that we wanted and we would have to squeeze into a smaller room and the outdoor space was not as nice. Another huge negative for this place was its location – we had to drive down a bunch of tiny back suburb roads and I did not want my guests to have to navigate that on the wedding day. Also, the larger room (with the ceremony site I liked) had already been booked for our date so we would need to reconsider the date if this was the ‘one’.
The fourth one was the first place that Devin thought of wanting to look at. It is an inn/restaurant/hall near his parents’ place that serves AMAZING brunch. They provided a huge amount of food during cocktail hour, salad, three choices for entrees, and wedding coordinator for the day of, champagne toast, table wine service during dinner, and the cake on top of an open bar for 5 hours (permanent bar). It also came with a beautiful bridal suite that was large enough to fit all my girls – but sadly we they don’t open the suite more than three hours ahead of time because they could have a morning wedding. The ceremony space was an extra cost, but they had a lovely space gazebo surrounded by trees, bushes and flowers. It was without question that this space would be beautiful in the fall. The reception space was almost everything I wanted!!! It had those chandlers that I wanted and while not the most updated décor it will work for my wedding. The only down side was that they might have another wedding booked that evening in the smaller room next to us. For the pricing of plats this place was a 1. The minimum for this space was a 1 only! Finally, the coordinator that showed us around was extremely helpful and enthusiastic about the wedding.
How did you compare them? How did you decide on the site?
We nixed venue 2 and 3 off the bat – they weren’t what we were looking for and during the visit we had some major concerns. I knew which venue it was after visiting them all BUT Devin needed some time to process. We decided to make a spreadsheet looking at what the different venues offered for their costs and the pros/cons of each venue. The next day (after touring venue 4) Devin finally had had enough time to ponder and agreed that we needed to go with the fourth venue–The William Penn Inn! We immediately booked it and are excited to have our wedding there in 2016!