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Offbeat Weddings

How To Find A Venue?

Hey Guys,

My fiancé and I are just now starting really looking for a venue, which I want to get first.  My resoning is that I find a venue I love, pick a date that is free, and then fill in the blanks from there.  A hurdle that I'm dealing with is I just moved down to FL about two weeks ago, and don't know the area all that well, and don't know anyone here.  

We went to see 3 different venues thus far (Central Florida) that all had good reviews,  all had good websites with good photos, and we were not impressed by any of them.  One we rated 3/10, the other two are tied at 6.5/10.   We'd like at least a solid 8! 

I'm starting to feel lost: I would like to avoid hotel ballrooms if possible, and ABSOLUTELY no golf club/country club venues...which takes out a whole bunch right there.  I'm trying to find theatres in the area that have a good space we could rent, however, since most theatres aren't used to hosting weddings, they don't have the kind of information that would help me figure it out. 

SO, all of that is a lead up to your stories and advice:  How did you find your venue (a website, google searches, knew it already, family member)?  Did you look at other venues?  What sold you on your venue?  What is your advice for finding the unique (perhaps even off-beat) venue?

Re: How To Find A Venue?

  • I feel your pain. We didn't want a hotel, golf/country club, either. We wanted a space that was meaningful to us, and fortunately that led us to very very few places. I looked at dozens of venues online, and several in person, just to make sure I was covering my bases. Didn't like any of them except one.

    Some advice...Maybe start with asking yourselves what kinds of things/activities/places are meaningful to you? What kinds of spaces make you feel great? Outdoors, indoors, or both? Casual or formal? Do you want to have the catering provided or choose your own caterer? I would first brainstorm about what kind of celebration you would like and then go searching for venues. Also post to your local FL board and see if they have any suggestions.
    Some offbeat options:
    -love your theatre idea (it doesn't matter if they've never done it before, maybe you'll start a trend!)
    -coffee house
    -public park
    -rented mansion/property
    -city hall or other public building (some are beautiful, have courtyards, etc)
    -train station
    -a hotel that isn't cookie-cutter; maybe an old funky one or one with a lot of character
    Hope this helps a little bit!
  • Finding our venue was all about location! We had picked a different venue, but last minute we decided to get a quote from a venue that was a short walk from the ceremony site. It turned out that the price would be almost the same and it was a way nicer venue, and people are STILL talking about the food. 
  • I also had a really hard time finding a venue. I found one that I LOVED, with a tin roof and really cool skylight and fireplace, but it was way too expensive for our wedding. I did not not not want a hotel ballroom, but looked at a few because they were convenient for our out of town guests. I ended up finding a hotel that had a permanent tent set up outside, with chandeliers and lights everywhere that was perfect! I did tons of research on the internet, and looked at quite a few places. So basically what I'm trying to say is that I had to do a lot of work to find a good place, and it ended up being where I least expected. Research is key, and you can even look at places that don't normally hold weddings but are willing to work with you. Good luck!
  • edited December 2011
    SanFran had a lot of good suggestions I think. You have to decide what kind of wedding you're looking for first. We knew we wanted to be outdoors & not deal with a lot of rules & regulations, so we got married in a field. But we did look at a few venues first before we decided. 

    Where in Fla. are you? I'm originally from Tampa. Would you want to get married where you live or are you open to going to another part of Fla.? 
  • Thanks Guys!

    You're right that I should probably figure out exactly what kind of wedding we want, and we have a basic idea, but nothing too defined.  For example, we want it plated not buffet and we are not getting married in a church so we are looking for ceremony and reception spaces...ideally at the same place or super close.  

    We like the theatre idea because we met on stage (doing a show together) and we started dating not long after the show ended...and tons of our friends are or have been stage-junkies.   Because of that, the front-runner of the 3 we've seen is The Abbey/The Mezz in Orlando.  We'd have the ceremony in The Abbey, and use that for the Cocktail Hour (including the patio), and then go to The Mezz for the reception.   

    We also looked at Heaven Event Center (which is still a possibility) and Port Orange's Tavern and Chapel in the Garden which was such a disappointment we said we'd never set foot on the property again. 

    SanFranciscoEve: I LOVE the list you gave me...it gave me a whole lot of ideas of where to look!  I love it. 

    SJ Hansen: I'm starting to put together a research binder and website (becuase my darling fiance doesn't have the patience for sifting though information that I have). 

    balletdawn: I am kinda splitting the difference between Orlando and Daytona, so I'm basically looking at those two areas, and anywhere in between. 
  • I know it is not in the area you specified but The Harriet Himmel Theater at CityPlace in West Palm is gorgeous and has done weddings before. 
    Daisypath Wedding tickers Follow Me on Pinterest
  • Once you have your concept nailed down, take a look on VRBO.com for large rental homes in your area.  Specifically, look for ones which mention weddings in the description.  See if any of them might work for what you have in mind.  We did an outdoor ceremony and reception at one nearby.  It can be a lot of work because you have to rent everything, but that also means you get to customize it all.  You won't have a site coordinator telling you what you can and can't do.
    image image image
  • Where did you get married Bell, fellow Milwaukeean.
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