On Locations: Our Wish List

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning
image via stock.xchng | photography by yrish

image via stock.xchng | photography by yirsh

Wedding blogs are filled to the brim with gorgeous locations just brimming with all sorts of sprawling oak trees, majestic staircases, rustic barns and glorious vistas.

It’s no wonder that when we start to actually look for places to host our own events, we might be a little disappointed.

Last February I started sending out requests for information, filling out web forms, and constructing a spreadsheet to house the results. I was casting a fairly wide net, looking both locally and up to 4 hours away just so I wouldn’t miss that potentially-perfect-for-us spot.

Turns out, the problem wasn’t finding potential locations, it was getting responses.

But more about that later.

When looking for a location for anything–wedding party or otherwise–it helps to know what sorts of things you’re looking for. Here is what our preliminary venue list looked like:

  • Room for both ceremony and reception; we didn’t want to have to transport people (or ourselves) more than a few steps between the different parts of the day.
  • Pretty location; the better spot you start with, the less you have to dress it up.
  • Outdoor ceremony, indoor reception area.
  • Not too rustic, not too formal; a bit Goldilocks, but the just right spot would be nice but still a little laid back.
  • BYO on the booze; since we have specific things in mind for wines and cocktails, some place that only worked from a set list wasn’t going to be our favorite.
  • DIY friendly; self explanatory, really: I’ll be doing a lot of projects myself, some not-so-traditional, and a space or manager that turns up their nose at the idea is not going to go far with us.
  • Water somewhere around us; while in Florida this almost always translates to beach (and we’re not beach people), I’d really like a lakeside ceremony or view or something with water around.
  • And, obviously, something that won’t break the budget; which, for us, means location & catering total can’t be over $3K.

Of course, now that we’ve looked at a few locations, we’ve learned a few more things about what we do and don’t want.

For instance, I learned that I really didn’t like the idea of splitting up the reception areas so that dancing is in one room while everyone is seated in another for dinner. I like the ability to have one long, wide table with everyone sitting together, Mr. Road Trip not so much (we’ll have to wait and see how that one shakes out). And T, to my surprise, prefers the feeling of spaciousness and openness in a venue.

And here I am the claustrophobic one!

More will be revealed.

What’s on your location wish list?

Bridal Show Tips, Part 2

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Bridal Show icon with lights and velvet ropeIf you’ve never attended a bridal show/fair/expo or you’ve been to one and didn’t really get anything out of it, maybe this week’s tips will help your next experience be more positive.

  1. Do your homework.
    Check out the list of exhibitors on the flyer or website, check out their websites or reviews on WeddingWire.com and be prepared to ask important questions on the day. Not only will you get more out of the expo for your own planning, but you’ll become more memorable to your chosen vendors as you’ll stand out from all the standard spiels they’ve had to give.
  2. Take all show-floor promises with a grain of salt.
    Our first show we talked to a local hotel rep who had us practically sold on her meeting room–it’s great for 50 people and it’s only $150 to rent. Wow! Thankfully, Todd had the idea to stop and take a peek on the way home. 50 people could fit in that room, sure, presentation style. And even then it’d be tight. Get sample contracts if you can, or at least get them to write down the too-good-to-be-true offer on the back of a brochure.
  3. Be honest about your budget.
    I’m not saying you have to put your budget on your nametag, but if you’re standing at a table for a local mansion whose rental fee (before Food & Beverage) is your entire budget, tell them. They may have a venue they can recommend or a smaller building on the property that’s in your price range. But don’t lead them down the peony-lined path if there’s no way in Prada they can make a sale.
  4. Enter everything.
    Okay, maybe not everything. But don’t pass up an opportunity to win a free honey, a discount on your catering or a floral consultation. Nixed the limo due to budget? Enter the giveaway and maybe you win the use of a town car. Already have honeymoon plans? A pre-wedding getaway might be just the ticket for your stressed selves. And a door prize is always nice. Even if the gift isn’t your style, maybe one of your bridesmaids would like it?
  5. Print up info labels.
    This is the best thing I ever picked up along the way! Print up some basic address labels (30 per sheet) with your names (bride & groom), mailing address and email address. You can also, depending on your font size and preference, put your wedding date on there. Bring these labels with you to the next show and not only will you breeze through all the sign-up sheets and cards, you’ll impress the hell out of the vendors.

I almost didn’t bother going to any bridal shows this time around–I figured I knew enough from before. But the first 2 shows I attended taught even this wedding-veteran a thing or two, yielded some impressive intel and even snagged me a couple of door prizes. The first show I went to I won a piece of jewelry from a local shop and this last one I got a gift certificate to the store that hosted the show. Now I’m just wondering how long the luck lasts?

Pretty Book and Flower Icon


Any other tips on surviving the bridal show circuit that I’ve missed? Do tell!

Bridal Show Tips, Part 1

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Bridal Show icon with lights and velvet rope

A bridal show is no different, really, than any other trade show or convention you might go to for a hobby or work. There are people trying to make sales, a lot of them have brochures, some have little freebies, and many are sponsoring giveaways as a way to build their mailing list.

So far, for this time down the aisle, I’ve attended 2 shows and have 2 more on the near horizon. By the time it’s all said and done, I’m sure I’ll have attended an easy 6-10.

Why? Because there’s always something new to learn!

Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way that will make your experience at a bridal show more effective and rewarding.

  1. If you can help it, don’t go alone.
    It helps to have a buddy for this sort of thing, be it your fiance, your mother or your maid of honor. This buddy can not only help you in practical ways (holding your tote bag while you search for that pen you picked up at the other table, giving his or her 2 cents on a vendor that you were dazzled by but they weren’t, and making sure you don’t miss something good–like cake samples) but also they are indispensable in the subtle subterfuge of avoiding certain tables.
  2. Avoid eye contact unless you want to be hailed.
    Remember, these folks are here to try and make a sale–if not today, then sometime in the next few months. They want to talk to you, impress you, and try and sign you up for their mailing list–and they’ve probably paid a hefty table fee for the privilege. You’re there for information, yes, but if there’s someone you just don’t want to talk to, don’t make eye contact. You don’t have to be rude, but you also don’t want to get cornered.
  3. Dress the part.
    I’m not saying you have to dress to the nines or even wear white! But for vendors looking to make a sale, it’s very possible you’ll get taken more seriously if you’re dressed nicely, not in a rumpled t-shirt and a pair of flip flops. Books, covers and judging all come to mind, but we’re talking the ways of the world and years of conditioning don’t wash away as easily as hair products.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes!
    With the exception of  shows held at actual wedding venues, many expos are held in convention centers and under a thin layer of carpeting (if you’re luck to have that) will be concrete. And your feet will be killing you if you table hop for 2 hours in spike heels. Just don’t do that to yourself. Comfy flats or a nice low-heel or wedge will keep you standing pretty when all the seats for the fashion show are already taken when you get there.
  5. Pre-register, if possible, for VIP entry.
    Some shows offer early entry if you pre-register, others offer an extra drink ticket or a special gift. Early entry may mean getting a chance to have a good talk with that caterer you’ve been dying to check out or a 1-on-1 with a complementary makeover before everyone else gets there.

Pretty Book and Flower Icon


Learn anything new, yet?
Come back tomorrow for the rest of my tips;
there’s bound to be something to help you!