Just looking for some simple advice.
I have two venues I'm eyeing. Basically, the price for either is perfect when it comes to actually renting the location. I will describe them below with pros/cons.
Venue #1 is on a mountain. They built a new lodge in 2006, and it's very beautiful, and something a lot of people haven't seen yet. There's a terrace to have the ceremony, and a banquet hall that can be separated into three banquet rooms, for rehearsal dinner and reception. Plenty of rooms for guests that want to stay the night before and for the BP to get ready in. Lovely little cabins for FI and I to get away to afterwards. Cooler up there. My only problems... I don't want a location where we HAVE to use their catering service. I heard the food wasn't good, plus it can get pretty expensive. Also, we have to use their bar. I really wanted to have beer/wine and bride & groom's "signature drinks", but you can not have any use of hard liquor. The catering/alcohol is not going to be the deciding factor but the pricing really turns us off. Also, no sparklers. I really really wanted sparklers as our send off.
Venue #2 is a visitor's center on the lake at one of our state parks. It's very pretty out there, as well. We can have our own private caterer as well as hard liquor (which will be in the form of mixed drinks if we decide we really want to do sig. drinks) as long as we aren't getting drunk and running around like idiots. And we can have sparklers, yay. You can have the ceremony right next to the building in front of the lake and then go inside to a conference room with beautiful tall windows overlooking the lake connected to a patio with an outdoor fireplace for the rehearsal dinner/reception. There's a hallway right outside that's perfect for a buffet table, guestbook table, etc. And here's the problems with this one: We would like to get married before I start going back to classes in late August so we can have enough time to have a destination honeymoon. So we were thinking early August. One, it's going to be hot as hades here in Arkansas at that time, even in the evening. But maybe by the lake it will be cooler? Who knows. Two, the visitors center stays open to the public until 8pm. No thank you. I don't want them to be touching our buffet and peeking in on our reception. BUT - by September 1st they start closing at 5pm which would be perfect. We were originally looking at September 20th until the honeymoon thing recently came up in conversation... we will consider that still and wait until I'm out of class in December to go somewhere. But by then it almost seems like such a waste.
So.. basically let me sum that up for you.
Venue #1 that's absolutely stunning, has the added bonus of it being nice and cool if we chose to do it in August, but has the large fees of using their own catering/bar? Or Venue #2 that let's us use our own caterer/alcohol, has my sparklers, but might be at risk of having the general public touching/looking at our reception stuff?
This is difficult stuff.