I never thought it would be so hard to select a place to have our wedding. Chris and I knew that we wanted to have the ceremony and reception in the same location, but beyond that, our ideas differed drastically. He was partial to some catering halls, while I wanted nothing to do with those wedding factories.
Despite that, we did our research, called different places for prices, and started to set up appointments to see various wedding locations in the New York City area. I have to say, this was one of the most stressful parts of the process. We wanted to stay within budget, but so many places we called were ridiculously overpriced. Others that may have been fine had minimums in terms of how many guests—and we were set of having only 75 people (manageable enough to plan in 6 months, would help us keep our costs down, and just all in all would be a more intimate affair).
So we started scheduling our visits for the first month or so after the planning started (four weekends). One of the first places we saw made me want to literally throw up. It had space for probably about 20 weddings—or proms or Quinceañera parties or any other event—at one time. It was lavishly tacky, with statues as you drove in and a huge marble spiral staircase that ended in a fountain on the ground floor. While the price was very reasonable, I was turned off by all the gaudiness. Another place we scoped out was right by the Hudson River, with beautiful skyline views of Downtown Manhattan. I loved it—Chris, however, hated the room that would be our dining area and was even less thrilled with the floor of the area where we’d be doing our dancing (it was cobblestoned and they did not provide a smooth dance surface). Back to square one. Another place had very nice views, but the chapel where the ceremony would be performed was musty and buried in the basement. Others were just honestly not what we had in mind.
All in all, we visited about eight different places; each was lovely in its own way but not quite right. And just when we were thinking of maybe moving the wedding to next May to give us more time to see something we both liked, we found the place: It was a charming historical carriage house close to the town where we live in New Jersey. It had a huge garden where we could have the ceremony (we knew we were taking a gamble with an outdoor November wedding, but if it was possible, it was going to happen!). The Victorian structure had so much character, it was just what we were envisioning. I was overjoyed to find out Chris liked it too, so we booked right away—they had our weekend available!
When it comes to looking at places, of course make sure it’s what you both want—and most importantly that they’ll be able to work with your budget. A catering hall may be a bit impersonal, but they provide a lot for a great price. We ended up booking a location where we had to bring everything in except the tables; in the end, I can say it was a bit more work and a bit more money because you have to search, compare, book and coordinate for caterers, waiters and service staff, chairs, linens, decorations—things that would otherwise be included in a catering hall or restaurant’s price and setup. But we can honestly say it was worth it and in the end meant so much more to have actually had a hand in every detail of our wedding