Hokies In Birdland: Seven Lessons Learned in the Wedding Venue Search

I wasn’t the girl who had multiple scrapbooks full of wedding dresses or bouquets or color schemes already picked out for my wedding day. I certainly hadn’t thought about where I’d get married – the wedding details would also partly depend on who I’d be marrying, after all . . . I’d always figured that when the time came these things would become obvious to me. I couldn’t be happier about the venue we chose, but we almost went down an entirely different path, and we learned a lot along the way. So with that, I will share my unsolicited advice for finding the perfect place to get hitched!

1. Listen to your gut or heart or brain or other innards of choice

We were *this close* to signing a contract for a stunning venue in the city, which even my father, the #1 certifiably most difficult person to impress, loved. It was so hard to walk away knowing we might not find something he’d be as happy with – but I’d always pictured something with an outdoor element to it, and without that it just didn’t feel right. It was really difficult and nerve-racking at the time but I’m so glad we kept looking.

2. Picture your friends having fun

Yeah, these hooligans are our friends, and we dress like this all the time. And who doesn’t want their wedding to be the most awesome party your friends have been to in the history of ever? So, when we walked away from our almost-venue, I tried to picture where we are with our friends when we’re all in one place having a grand old time. For me, one word comes to mind: “Wawwterrrrr” (the Brad Paisley pronunciation).

3. Picture your family there

Photo courtesy of www.clarkgriswoldcollection.com

(^note, this is not my actual family) Considering where your friends have fun is a good start, but the venue still has to accommodate everyone. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces/nephews/cousins, the whole fam damily, both sides! I wanted a space that will encourage our families to mingle, with each other and with our friends. Anyplace you can picture your grandparents bragging about to their friends, and simultaneously see your friends having an awesome time at, is a surefire winner.

4. Know your age groups

I’m no expert but I have noticed from the weddings I’ve been to that any reception crowd separates into three distinct groups: Kids, Party Animals, and Grandparents. (Maybe a little overlap if Grandma has had a few Chardonnays). While it’s great to have everyone together, I’m a firm believer in having unique activities and/or spaces for each of these groups, as they have distinctly different interests. (Respectively: Chocolate, drinking, and meaningful discourse). We definitely sought out a venue that could accommodate something for everyone.

5. Location x 3

Images courtesy of: found.co.uk

Where could you tie the knot that is meaningful to you/will stay meaningful to you and not just because you got married there? What about to your families? Where can people travel (and do you want them to)?

6. Book Early!!

We booked our venue in December of 2013 for a wedding in May of 2015 and let me tell you, we had the whole calendar to pick from. This gave me ample time to procrastinate on doing everything, and made sure we had an optimal weekend in the midst of a very busy vacation season.

7. LOVE your rain plan

I have to disagree with T. Swizzle on this one – rain can be suchhh a pain. If you wanted something with an outdoor element like I did, picture it raining. Where do you put people? Are you waking up day-of to ominous cloud cover and crying your eyes out (no puffiness for me please)? Or is it OK because your alternate space is pretty darn fabulous? It isn’t easy to think about hypothetical disasters before a venue is even yours, but if you confront the possibility of rain very early on, and make sure your alternate plan is still something you love, you’ll be alright if it actually happens. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. But I know where we’ll be if it rains and I’ve made peace with it (I think).

So – with ALL that in mind, I’m happy to announce that we chose….

Images courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club.

The Chesapeake Bay Beach Club! Here’s how it looked when we saw it in December of 2013 . . . and yes, the bay is frozen!!

The frigid winter didn’t stop us one bit on our first visit – we saw a versatile venue that captures the essence of what really brought us together: Maryland. This locale pays tribute to water sports and other activities we grew up doing with our respective families and other lakeside shenanigans we still get into with our friends, to this day. The space is versatile and we plan on using the bay side tavern and beach club rooms to provide many different things for our guests to do. The tavern in particular is great because you can feel very much outdoors but there is a roof over your head (Rain plan? Loving it!).

I hope those of you searching for a venue can find the place that speaks to what you picture on your day. Happy hunting!!

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