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Offbeat Weddings

How did you find your venue?

MommaOwl and I were chatting today and I mentioned that I would like to stay away from typical banquet halls for my wedding since there are so many options in our city. 

I know lots of you have offbeat venues (or really great ideas for decorating a hall) so I would love to know more about your process for finding a venue.

What did you look for? 
What were red flags that you watched for?
How did you know your venue was the one?

Re: How did you find your venue?

  • We had a crappy venue booked, it had a lot of meaning to FI and I , but it was a hole in the wall, and my sisters failed marriage started at that same venue. Just as we were about to finalize the catering and we were visiting my grandparents (where the ceremony will be) and drove past a venue in that tiny town. I pondered it and then we called them for a price quote, and it was cheaper than our crappy venue and the mediocre catering we were going to get there. This place is fricken gorgeous too, and the food is awesome! I'm so excited about it!
  • I got the idea from a knot budget wedding for an art gallery. We looked at the one feature, but it was to small. Though I wanted an art gallery from that point on.

    What did you look for?
    Nice part of town, good price, big enough, unique.

    What were red flags that you watched for?
    Bad reviews on weddingwire and theknot.com.

    How did you know your venue was the one?
    The space gallery was perfect. We could see ourself getting married there. Could picture the walk down the stairs and we were hooked when all the check points were met, and all the reviews were good.
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  • We're getting married at a little chapel that was built in 1842 in Canada, and was bought and moved in pieces to Oklahoma City...it is in the art district of OKC, known as "the paseo" Mostly we went to look at it because FI has grown up and lived in and around that area and does slam poetry and such.

    What did you look for? OKC offers a lot of "all inclusive" type wedding venues, which can be great, but a lot of them also churn out cookie cutter weddings. We looked for something that appealed to us, was affordable, and still let us customize each part of the ceremony and reception.

    What were red flags that you watched for? Anybody that wouldn't let me change something automatically got thrown out. Several places had existing contracts with vendors so, for example, I would've had one or two choices for cake when I already know that my cousin (a pastry chef!) could make one more amazing. It was really important for us to be able to make this our own.

    How did you know your venue was the one? FI had been to a wedding at our venue before but I had only seen the outside. I was concerned about the small size, and when we went to view it the people were late (time change) and I was concerned about professionalism. When the lady finally got there and let us in though...I just knew. I could see our wedding there and decided we could do whatever it took to cut the guest list down, so we booked it.

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  • I wanted to stay local (small burb without many options)  I checked out the usual country club(s) elks lodge, blah blah blah...Boring.  Then I found this great little known place  we have downtown - Art Gallery!  Holy Cow, I hit the jackpot!  Very lofy, exposed brick & duct work, bar in the center, and free decorations via the art.  The gallery hasn't been open all that long and the owners are trying to promote so we got a steal on the rental fee!  Around here venues have set caterers that are a must use if you book that venue - catering fee of $1000 & up plus the cost of the venue.  HA, my rental is less than 1/2  of what other venues are charging and I can use whoever or whatever catering I want.   JackPot!!!! 
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  • I got some recommendations from my wedding planner, but because of our unique-ness, she didnt mention the country club she works with a lot.  After several options panned out due to expense and/or logistical issues, she said it might be in our price range.  My mom and I went to look at it and I thought "Eh.. it's pretty" but I hated the insinuation that "country club wedding" gives off.  I took my husband (then FI, duh) to look at it and he said "Eh.. it's nice".  He basically said it was gorgoeous, and his family would love it, but he didnt care where we got married, it could have been at McDonald's for all he cared.  "Babygirl, I just want to marry you!" I realized he was right.. it would be beautiful for our photos, but the point was WE WERE GETTING MARRIED.  I put down a deposit a few days later. 

     
    What were red flags that you watched for?
    Red flags to ME were how much work did WE have to do.. for example, catering/decorating... I didnt want our families to have to decorate and/or clean up afterwards. 

    How did you know your venue was the one?
    See story above.  Also, it was all inclusive.  We had our ceremony on the lawn and then reception moved indoors.  Easy peezy, no traffic or lost guests or long waits in between.  It had a place for us girls to get ready, we got there at 11 for our 630 ceremony.  Catering was provided by the CC.  This included tables and basic black or white linens, chairs (but not the fancy chairs) and all silverwear/dishes/glasses.  All we were basically charged for was food and alcohol.
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  • these are great! thanks for all the info ladies!
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  • FI and I are having the wedding and reception both in our church.  I'm not excited about it because I feel like it's going to take a lot of work to make the space look nice, but it's free and close to a lot of the VIPs (including our own apartment, lol).  They aren't letting us have alcohol (which we didn't want to begin with), but they are letting us have dancing (which we always wanted).
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  • We knew we wanted an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception, plus with having to travel from afar, having them in the same place was an added bonus. We started by googling.

    When it comes to red flags, I'm with apelila. The less work I had to do, the better. Our venue comes with a wedding coordinator, in house catering, and the staff gets up everything and tears down everything. Perfect for us.

    The icing on the wedding cake was how beautiful the place was. The first time I visited was in the evening and it was raining. I had goosebumps before I say it in the daylight. 
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  • what did i look for?  not a typical hall (no flowered carpet, no flowered wallpaper).

    i had an idea i liked my venue before FI did (he took a bit of convincing), but ours is great...it's in a brewery, has a rustic feel - brick walls and tiled floors and the price worked for us...it includes everything and the coordinator there is awesome.


    the pic is taken from a room that will be closed off, but the big empty space in front is for cocktail hour and then dancing...the far room is where will be eating.

    there is also a HUGE balcony that overlooks the harbor...which was a plus for FI
  • I never actually answered the questions in the original post!

    What did you look for? We wanted something very inexpensive where there weren't too many policies to follow, we wanted FI's band to play, my aunts making us our cake, and we wanted to have a venue for as long as we wanted.

    What were red flags that you watched for?
    Prices, and I wouldn't even think about going somewhere where you need to invite a minimum amount of guests, we've always wanted a somewhat small wedding.

    How did you know your venue was the one?
    It was gorgeous, so close to the ceremony site (we're actually walking there from the ceremony), the food is very good and only $14 per person, and their coordinator is very easy to work with. I love that he's opening the venue at 8:30 so everyone can start setting up and we can stay until bar close (obviously we won't stay that late, but I don't want to have a crazy time restriction) Oh and they're very much ok with us having a band play, I can't wait to see FI in his tux screaming, ha, I can't wait to see peoples reactions!
  • awesome ladies.
    cmalchow, that looks very much like the urban winery that i have a soft spot for. perhaps we'lll end up with similar venues :)
  • We wanted to get married outside in northern Michigan for not a lot of money. I was googling around and found the site for Mackinac State Historic Parks and saw that one of their lighthouses could be used as a wedding venue. We love lighthouses so this seemed perfect. The lighthouse, the lake and Mackinac Bridge will be our decorations; perhaps a freighter will pass by, too. After the ceremony we will be having a pizza and pasta reception there in the park. Hopefully the weather will cooperate! The wedding coordinator has been very helpful so that's a nice bonus. And the hold a backup location for us in case the weather is bad - a restored colonial mission church. My avatar is the lighthouse where we're making it legal!
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  • For me the first thing I knew was that I didn't want a big Virginia wedding. It just didn't seem very...us? But at the same time I wanted the location to have some kind of meaning for us so we ended up going with Maine, which is where FI is from originally. I'm from the UK and New England is called New England for a reason you know...it has that feel to it which I liked too. We picked a little town that bears the name of my favorite part of London, where he had spent summers as a kid. So that was how we picked the location. As for the venues, once we nailed the area it was pretty easy. I knew I wanted to get married outside and once I explored the options (on google, TK and weddingwire primarily), the one we picked was a standout. It's an old outdoor amphitheatre, it was just "us" I guess, outdoors, rustic in a sense but still with style. Just what I was going for. Then I picked out the Inn we are hosting the reception at and all of our guests will be staying at, again once I looked around it was an easy choice. Everywhere in that area is Victorian, which pretty as it is from the outside is just not my style on the interior. The place we chose had been gutted and renovated by two gay Europeans and is full of bright colors and lovely fabrics. It's completely luxe yet still with that olde world charm, modern yet traditional, aka just like us, so that was that. All my research was online, and I made all my decisions site unseen which was a gamble. But after going up there and seeing everything I know we picked everything that was just right for us. I'm very instinctual and I just had a vibe from both places. We also booked a schooner to go on a cruise during cocktail hour because I wanted to do something different. My family grew up on the water, as did his, so it seemed like common ground too, so we'll get hitched and set sail together with our guests before the reception. We picked the boat purely based on how many people it could accomodate, which has in turn set the headcount for our wedding at 49 exactly. That number will be forever etched in my memory!

    Anyway, I am rambling. Hope that helped...I say go with your gut, get any feedback and reviews you can but at the end of the day its a very personal choice and especially for those of us that like to walk the road less travelled, what many brides rave about may not blow us out of the water, and vice versa so trust yourself and your (almost!) FI to know what's right for you :)
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  • Ramiau3Ramiau3 member
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    We are getting married in a Butterfly Conservatory! Our ceremony will be right there in the conservatory and using their atrium for the reception.  We visited the place exactally a week before my FI proposed.  I found it while looking up inexpensive day trips in our state.  And when it came time to think of some where, it was the first place I thought of. We did look at 6 places total, but this was the place we keep coming back too. It was most inexpensive, most unique and fit our style and needs the most. And we already built happy memories there. :)

    Red Flags: I will go with Carasad, anything that didn't allow us to plan our wedding the way we wanted.  We talked to the people at the small art museum where we had our first date and they had base rate that was much too high and required things we didn't want, there was little wiggle room and any room was on their side and only went up.  Also, we looked at a place where we were told to "just come in", so we did.  They were hosting a 40th high school reunion.  And then we were told to just go in.  Here we were, checking out a hall while these people where trying to celebrate their reunion and obviously we didn't belong, we were under 60!! And the manager gave us zero time.


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  • The venue was the hardest that to find for me! First we were going tented reception on a friends land with a cute old school house on it. Tented receptions are expensive! So we charged out minds and tried to look for a venue that we both liked. It look a lot of online searching on my part. We didn't want the same thing as everyone else, so we looked at an old barn but realized it was too small. Then a friend recommend a place her friend got married and we fell in love! It's a nice building that is on a prairie. It is simple but different, just like us:)

    What did you look for?  Some please that we good pick our own caterer and bring our own alcohol. We also wanted a place that was under $1000.
    What were red flags that you watched for? Hidden fees! I drilled all the people I talked to about how much things cost. You wont beleive the things they charge you for!
    How did you know your venue was the one? The price:) LOL and tables and chairs were included. Also, we could get married in the court yard for no additional cost. They offer a lot of things that we were looking for. I think you will know when you find the right one:)
  • do it!  have a vineyard wedding!
  • We refused to do it at a hotel banquet room, golf course, vineyard or just anything typical. We were originally looking into an old restaurant that was nice, but not wedding-ish. We asked the owner about a place near by for the ceremony- and we fell in LOVE with the botanical garden. Before heading to our home town, my FI and I stopped into a new tapas lounge that just opened for a bite, and fell in Love with it as well. 
    One day 2 places. Total fluke. 
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  • I didn't want a hotel, country club, hall or the beach. I wasn't left with much, haha!

    We ultimately booked our local zoo. We absolutely loved it! It fits our slighty offbeat style and it was in our budget.

    As far as what to look for, it really just boils down to what you like and don't like. We knew right away if we liked something or not. But, we were also able to rule out a lot.

    Go with your gut!

    GL!

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  • What did you look for?  We knew we didn't want to get married in a "wedding factory".  There are a lot of them in Vegas.  We also didn't want a hotel/casino wedding.  That left us with golf courses, but none really called to us.  Then I started lurking TK and read about rental homes/estates.  We talked about it and realized it would give us the flexibility we want.

    What were red flags that you watched for?  With rental estates, it's good to choose a place that has already hosted weddings.  They all have 2-3 night minimums, and they all have their own different fees and deposits.  I made a spreadsheet to compute grand totals for each potential site. 

    It's also important to see how the owner reacts to the type of event you're doing.  Our guy is super laid-back - he just wants us to clean up after ourselves.  And finally, get stuff in writing.  Rental homes don't usually have "wedding contracts".  Confirming details in email is a good way to go.   The owner was highly recommended by several brides.


    How did you know your venue was the one? My jaw dropped when we drove up to it, even though I'd seen the virtual tour online.  It is stylish, which we want even for an offbeat wedding.  Everything will be outdoors, but the home itself is visually stunning and helps create the feel we want. 

    AW time!  I always post this pic...



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  • Our venue had more to do with how many guests we could fit.  We both come from big families and will have probably 350-400 guests.  I knew I wanted to get married outside in the fall with a lake in the background.  There's a state park that has a beautiful lake but they only hold 125 people.

    So I looked up state parks in my county and found the Rotary Reserve.  We went out to look at it and its beautiful.  It doesn't have a lake but it does have a gazebo where we'd be standing that overlooks the river.

    The lodge holds enough guests and is very rustic inside which I also wanted to coordinate with our decor and theme.
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  • In Response to Re: How did you find your venue?:
    [QUOTE]Our venue had more to do with how many guests we could fit.  We both come from big families and will have probably 350-400 guests.  I knew I wanted to get married outside in the fall with a lake in the background.  There's a state park that has a beautiful lake but they only hold 125 people. So I looked up state parks in my county and found the Rotary Reserve.  We went out to look at it and its beautiful.  It doesn't have a lake but it does have a gazebo where we'd be standing that overlooks the river. The lodge holds enough guests and is very rustic inside which I also wanted to coordinate with our decor and theme.
    Posted by PrincessMandie101312[/QUOTE]
    That sounds pretty. Good luck with your large wedding. Take a lot of deep breaths and come back here to vent if you need to. :)
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  • What did you look for? 
    Budget friendly places. Our ceremony is outdoor in a public park so we only need to pay for a wedding permit to save the spot on our day, and since everything is in bloom we dont need much flowers or other decorations. Our reception is in a community center that does weddings all the time and is pretty much an empty room that we have total control over.
    What were red flags that you watched for?
    Places that had hidden fees and where you had to use there vendors. I am a pastry chef and hubby to be is a chef so we will be doing our own food so we didnt want a place where we needed to use there menus.
    How did you know your venue was the one?
    After researching, these two sites where the best in every category (price,freedom, view)
    Pumpernickel and olive juice
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