I think the most difficult decision we have had to make in our wedding planning process is choosing where to have the actual wedding. In fact, the process of choosing our ceremony and reception locations took over 5 months! Now, I don’t know how we compare to others, but I’m assuming that since people around here usually plan an entire wedding within that same time frame that it’s a little longer than average.
We chose our ceremony location first, which wasn’t too hard, considering I already had a pretty good idea of where I wanted it to be.In fact, I had already fallen in love with a gorgeous location in the mountains long before we were even engaged and knew it would be perfect. I couldn’t picture having our ceremony anywhere else, even after looking at several other venues. Luv was a little reluctant to agree, because she had wanted to keep the ceremony and reception at the same location, but I
begged and pleaded explained my reasoning and, eventually, she gave in.
After deciding on the ceremony location, I made a list of about 30 different reception venues and I made Luv drive by every single one, which she was
not thrilled about. Some were easy to rule out like the warehouse space in the middle of a bad “up and coming” neighborhood or the hotel in downtown Salt Lake with a $10,000 minimum for catering. Others were not so easy, and we had to walk-through them before ruling them out.
Our first thought was to have the reception at one of the ski resorts further up the canyon from the ceremony, since it would be pretty close. However, both Luna and I get horribly car sick and the 14 mile drive up the winding canyon can make me dry-heave even when I am the one driving. Ski resorts are not exactly cheap venues, either.
Next up, were the reception centers. These made the list mainly because they are convenient. You don’t have to worry about finding vendors because they already have vendors they work with. You also don’t have to stress about rentals and decor, and most have an indoor/outdoor space in case of bad weather, too. This sounded pretty appealing at first, given our busy schedules, but after talking more about it, we decided that having a wedding at one just wouldn’t be “us”. We wanted a venue that complemented our personalities and a reception center doesn’t really allow for that. Plus, I’ve been to so many weddings at reception centers in my life, I almost puked in my mouth after trying to picture ours at one.
Also on the list were some really cool downtown restaurants. There was one in particular that I fell in love with. It was in the middle of one of my favorite blocks and had an industrial/rustic look, with wood beams and brick walls, which I’m totally a sucker for. However, anyone who has been brave enough to take kids to a restaurant any nicer than McDonalds understands that restaurants and kids don’t mix for long periods of time, and I did not want to deal with several bored kids in a small and confined space. So, those were ruled out, too.
Then, we started looking at unconventional spaces. Right away, we found one that we both loved. It was an old loft-style building with the exposed brick and beams like the restaurant that I loved. There were two adjoining spaces and we were told that a lot of people rented them both and left one as more of a “kid area” with babysitters and the other as the “adult area”, which seemed like a cool idea. Price was an issue, though, and parking was too. There were very few spaces for the building and limited street parking, so there was a good chance our guests would have to park on another street. It was also in a not-so-great area of downtown where our guests may or may not be offered an illegal substance on their way into the building, so we hesitantly crossed it off the list, too.
One by one, we eliminated the other picks on the list as well, including the Natural History Museum, some local gardens, an old church turned into a meeting space, and even a coffee house with a warehouse attached. Cost was the primary issue, but so was the atmosphere. Nothing was jumping out at us and we were starting to get frustrated.
That’s when a friend offered to let us hold the reception in their beautifully landscaped backyard. We both loved the idea and the fact that it would be a lot cheaper than a venue, but after calculating the cost for the tent rental, tables, chairs, dance floor, and decorations alone, it didn’t seem nearly as budget friendly as we originally thought it was. However, it was still cheaper than any other venue we had looked at.
Then, one night as I was going through our “wedding folder”, I noticed that I had kept a copy of a contract that we had been given when we toured an aviary near the center of town. It had everything we were looking for in a reception venue, a gorgeous historic building for indoor space, beautiful grounds and exhibits to wander around, and the ability to hire our own vendors and decorate it how we wanted to.
As I read the contract, the price list for rental items caught my eye and I noticed how much lower the cost was to rent items from the aviary versus the costs of renting them from an event rental company for the backyard reception. I started comparing the two and once I took out the cost of a tent and dance floor and compared the other rental costs, I realized that the aviary wouldn’t cost that much more than the backyard reception. This was great news because the aviary had been Luv’s top choice for a reception venue and we had only ruled it out because we thought the backyard reception would save us a lot of money
After I shared all of this with Luv, we scheduled another tour of the grounds so we could make our final decision. During the tour, I caught a glimpse of Luv’s face and how happy she looked. That’s when I realized that she felt the same way about having the reception at the aviary as I felt about having the ceremony up the canyon.
Suddenly, I couldn’t picture our reception anywhere else.
This was the location that we had been looking for all along.
It was “right”.
It was “us”.
It was perfect.
I asked about the deposit before the tour was over and booked it the following day.