Wedding Wednesday Vol. 1: Venue Search Tips and Tricks

GUYS!!!! I’m doing a Wedding Wednesday post! Me!!! Because we’re getting married!!!! Lifelong blogger dream of mine, LOL.

For a first WW post, let’s talk about first things first – finding your venue/church! It’s pretty much the first step after deciding on a date/time of year you want to be married. (But you probably knew that because you may not be as newbie baby to this as I am, haha.)

So I hope today’s info is helpful if you plan to get married in the future or maybe are engaged! (If not, would you mind passing this along to a friend or relative who is – I’d love to help them in any way I can! Thanks 😘) Since I don’t really have any photos to share, I’m going to sprinkling in some Pinterest/web images that have been inspiring me lately for my own wedding.

So let’s start off with our date….

Love this distillery wedding tablescape

Cam and I started dating on November 15th and this year (tomorrow!) is actually our 8 year anniversary. We’ve always joked about getting married on the same day as our dating anniversary just to keep things the same. It’s so odd to me that November 15th could be so special to us for just shy of a decade and then all of a sudden we have to celebrate an entirely different date. It kind of worked out perfectly as luck and God would have it considering we got engaged on September 23rd and wanted just a little over a year to plan a wedding. That felt like a good timeline for us!

So then we really started thinking…could we keep our date the same?

And the answer is – we can! Just not the same, same. πŸ™‚

We want to do our wedding on a Saturday, so that would take us to November 16, 2019. Guess we’ll just be having a 2-day long celebration of our relationship for eternity! πŸ˜‰

With that in mind, we began looking for our church.

We’ve always wanted to be married in the church. It’s really special and sacred for us, and it’s just an extra magical, spiritual aspect to our day. We both grew up attending separate but similar churches in Cypress, but we wanted to find one with a Houston zip code to keep everything in the loop.

There were a couple we’d been “trying out” over the last year. We’d go to different ones for Mass and just get a feel for it – basically I was just imaging our friends and family there, me walking down the aisle, how some simple flower arrangements would look on the pews, etc.

Fries and beer – these are appetizers I could be into! I love this real wedding on Junebug

There was one (we’ll call Option A) that we LOVED. Beautiful interior, great location, and we’d been a couple times for Mass and loved the priest and clergy.

But boy – did we not have a great experience when trying to see if we could be married there!

First off –

  • Communication with Option A Church was sloooowwww. I emailed them in early October after the excitement had died down of being engaged and I was ready to move the needle on the church and reception venue. No response. Another follow-up email. No response. Finally on my third e-mail, I got a one sentence reply. Meh.
  • So that was no good. I feel like this hurt us because during all the back and forth of just trying to get information from Option A Church and set up a meeting, our date was probably getting snatched up.
  • ….When we finally made it in to have a meeting, they didn’t even have our date. (Face palm.) We weren’t left with many options…any later in November and we’re too close to Thanksgiving and many of our family members who we want to be there have prior engagements for that time. Any later than that and we’re too close to Christmas!
  • So, goodbye Option A.

Here are some tips I have from that experience:

  • When you first email your church or venue – tell them the exact date (or dates) you are considering. If they don’t have that date available, you don’t want to go down the rabbit hole and waste your planning time.
  • If communication via email is slow, call them! Better yet – call them first. Learned this the hard way, but had better luck calling over e-mail every time.
  • Trust your gut! If the coordinator you’re dealing with seems like they don’t have your best interest in mind/could care less, skip it! Ultimately, that is the person you’ll be talking to every step of the way, so even though their not your mom or best friend, you want them invested and advocating for you to try to make your day the happiest as possible. πŸ™‚

How did we fix our sticky church situation? Deep breaths, a couple phone calls, and teamwork! We talked to our parents and they really restored our hope that that just wasn’t the right place for us.

That night, Cam ended up looking up a bunch of other beautiful churches in our area. He called about 5 or 6 the very next day, told them our 11/16/2019 date, and took notes on their availability, deposit price, and rental price.

Love this! We plan to do individual desserts rather than a cake…any guesses what we’re serving? I think we could model them like this donut tiered cake from Bubbly In Love on Instagram.

We then had a very neat little note about all our options! From there, it was easy to see which was the best option, and that ultimately led us to our church.

It’s gorgeous inside and out, in our desired area, fits everyone we need it to, and is priced within our budget. Cam just put a hold on it last week! ❀️

So that solved our church problem. Option B is no second-place at all – it’s the perfect place for us because it’s the one that suited us in every way possible.

Moving on to the reception venue because we are doing a separate event space instead of holding everything at the church!

This was tough, ya’ll.

  • There’s a lot of options out there. Even when we narrowed it down to only venues that were our desired style and in our area – there was still a lot to look at!
  • Prices varied a lot, but most of them just seemed like “WHOA that’s a lot of money.” Sticker shock for real.
  • I very much considered throwing a Father of The Bride moment and doing everything at home. But even though my parents’ home is beautiful and my dad reminds me of Steve Martin during that classic hotdog buns scene, it would still be a little squished in there.
  • There are some places who’s venue rental prices are great, but then you have to add their alcohol packages and the price is jacked up immediately. We really needed to save some room in the budget for other wedding needs such as invites, food, and decor.

Here’s how I organized my search:

  • Made a Google sheet with all the venues we were considering and added in their prices, guest count, amenities, and availability
  • Emailed or called each venue to get any additional information that could help us make the decision of whether we wanted to tour
  • Scheduled tours for venues we felt could fit our needs and took notes and photos during venue tours

Love this sign idea! I think I could definitely calligraphy this myself and just cut + paste images I design on the computer. It’s a darling idea from this whimsical wedding.

That was super helpful! We learned a lot through our search such as sometimes a venue seems perfect online and then is super cramped and has no room for dancing when you see it in person. Sometimes a venue is even better in person and the pictures online didn’t do it justice. Sometimes the prices indicated online end up being different for your wedding when you pick a package based off your needs and guest list. Tours are great, and I’m glad we went on a few to really make an informed decision!

The ah-hah moment for me came after we went on our second venue tour. Both places we’d seen were great – but one was too expensive and didn’t offer us much for the asking price and the other was priced GREAT but was just going to be too small to fit what we wanted.

I love this pallet for bridesmaids dresses. Edgy with a touch of classic fall elegance from Prom Mode DesignsΒ 

I was feeling discouraged, but a good friend of mine suggested another venue and I called them right up when I got home from touring.

The lady talked to me for 37 MINUTES, ya’ll.

She asked me about what I wanted. Our guest list. Our style. When we got engaged. What places we looked at and what we liked and didn’t like. She really sought out questions from me that would better help her to help me have the best experience. I was so happy and relieved to be having that conversation with a total stranger. Just her really caring for Cam and I despite knowing us or officially having our business was so refreshing! We have scheduled a tour for the end of this week!

And I know that doesn’t really bring us to some kind of happy ending with our venue search, but we do have a really good lead on venues and a hold on a church! It’s all coming together, and through lots of chats, Cam and I have promised to focus on what this whole process is really about – a marriage! The wedding is just a fun formality, really. (I may have been keen to just elope, but a party with good food and some family sounds great.)

I hope this was at least a bit helpful, and if not – just gave you an insight into what our wedding planning process has been like for the past couple of weeks! πŸ™‚