Let the games begin!
Or something like that.
Wedding planning is sort of like reindeer games, in that there are a lot of hoops to jump through, options to try out, and it’s like you’re at the beginning of the obstacle course with the venue as your first challenge.
The first venue that really piqued our curiosity was Honey Lake Plantation in Greenville, Florida.
taken from the tour bus from the vantage point of the chapel (all photos personal)
What made it stand out on paper?
First, the event coordinator, Cara, was so helpful via email. It didn’t look like our budget would make it possible, then she came back with the idea of using one of the smaller reception venues (since we’re only 50 people, this makes sense!), then we talked about ways to keep the catering budget in line. She even checked out my blog.
HLP also got major points for being cool with us bringing in our own wines and our own dessert option (be it the ubiquitous cupcake tower or a variety of desserts for display) without corking or cutting fees.
In my “potential venues” spreadsheet, they are on the tab for surrounding areas: places that are close enough for locals to have the option to drive their and back without mishap or stress but not in the city (or even county) limits, so not just down the street. It took us a solid hour to get there for our 12:30 tour, but the trip home seemed a lot quicker.
gotta love google maps!
The surrounding area, leading to the turn onto Honey Lake Drive, doesn’t look like much, giving HLP that diamond-in-the-rough quality. I think, for us, this was another perk though I’m not sure I could really put my finger on why this was.
Cara picked us up in their new people-mover bus that seats something like 16-18 Â (they also have golf carts on the premises), which can be used to transport folks from one part of the property to another, if needed. (Off-property transport can be arranged–they’re still finalizing the rates on that feature, but it’s good to know if you wanted to go off-property for your rehearsal dinner or arrange a group trip to Wild Adventures or something like that.)
Simply stated, HLP is beautiful (and we were there on a dreary, drizzly day). Though I went in thinking that we’d do a lakeside ceremony or maybe something under one of their many amazing trees, we also talked about using the front of the Gathering Hall for ceremony and cocktails which has the benefit of being right next to the Owl’s Nest (the smaller reception venue). What is really a small, circular drive with a fountain in the middle would provide a nice, sturdy (no heels sinking into the ground!) platform for the first part of our party, with the ceremony held in front of or on the steps of the front porch.
no cars on the wedding day–the cocktails would be on this side of the fountain and the ceremony seating between the fountain and the stairs up to the porch
I liked this idea more than I thought I would–which is why I’m so glad that a) Cara suggested it and b) Mr. Road Trip liked it and spoke up. See, this is why you don’t plan in a vacuum!
the outside of the Owl’s Nest, where our reception would be
from inside the Owl’s Nest you look out on a good chunk of the property and all 3 lakes
Of course, it was the first location we looked at so we weren’t ready to pull the trigger, yet. There’s more places to see, and lots of spreadsheet comparisons in my future (plus we’ve got to nail down some last questions about this spot and get a better idea of the catering costs).
Here’s the short list of pros and cons. Some of these might not make as much sense without comparing them to other locations, but trust me, they make sense in my head.
As you can see, some of my cons have disclaimers on them–mostly because they’re technically a con but not always as objectionable as they might have first been. Like the outside catering? While I’d ruled out venues that limit you to using only the outside caterer they happened to be contracted with, I expect a hotel or resort to require me to use their own house kitchen.
Would you agree with my pros & cons?
What would you classify differently?