Bride-to-be Blogger Kathleen: Choosing Our Venue

Kathleen and Christian's ceremony site at Radnor Hunt in Malvern.

Ok, so yay, we’re engaged! Now what?

Well, if you’re like anything us, the majority of the wedding will be coming out of your own pockets— and that sets the tone for a lot of things within the wedding planning process. I will admit, within just a day or two after the engagement, I was vigorously searching the Internet and buying just about every wedding magazine I could get my hands on. However, this was mainly because I knew that if we wanted to get the most from our money, we would have to start figuring things out as soon as possible.

Our very first step was to figure out our guest list, and find out how much each of our families could afford to contribute—well before any of the site visitations could take place. After many hours of breathing into brown paper bags, we had nailed down a number, and had some idea of what financial help we could count on. (I seriously think my parents never thought I would actually get married.)
The next step in budget planning was to figure out which components of the wedding were most important to us: Adult beverages, fantastic food, and amazing entertainment; boom, easy peasy. Then we realized that we have expensive requirements. Ok, no big deal, I thought, I’ll just investigate ways to save money in those areas. Except, ugh—it is not easy. Options such as “Have the wedding on a Sunday’; “Serve breakfast instead of dinner,”; “Use your iPod instead of booking a band or DJ”; and “Just serve beer or wine,” were not good alternatives for us. For many people, those suggestions would work perfectly and they really would save money, but in our case, that would mean we would be ignoring everything we wanted that make our wedding our wedding. So, that meant we would have to get creative when it came to everything else. No big deal, right? We can do it!

In the end, we visited about 10 venues total, which varied from country clubs to tent venues. We fell in love with one outdoor venue, but alas, the exclusive caterer was too expensive when all the costs were figured in, even with a Friday night wedding. So, it was back to the drawing board. The next morning, after making the painful decision to find another venue, I came across Radnor Hunt. I sent an email request for information and about five minutes later I received a phone call from Amanda at J. Scott, the exclusive caterer. I told her our sob story, and she informed me that they could help. We set up a last-minute 9 a.m. appointment for the next morning, and by 10 a.m. that same morning we had our venue.

Amanda was right when she said we were going to love it! Miles of rolling green pastures with a place for a picture perfect ceremony under a large (willow?) tree, pictured. The historic house felt warm and inviting, unique and special. Perfect. When it came down to our budget, we laid everything out on the table from the get-go, and they came up with a menu plan that would put us right on our mark. I couldn’t believe how accommodating they were, without yet having even an ounce of our money. With everything from the quick response to scheduling the last-minute appointment and working with our budget to just being amazing people, we were smitten.

So, that is how we found our venue. If I can offer any sort of help with this process after having just completed it, I would say to do your homework before you see any venue. Before going appointment crazy, pick up the phone and speak to the people you will be meeting with. Ask them what weddings of your size typically cost, what discounts are offered for each season/day of the week, and what other costs are associated with the venue. That way, you won’t have to worry about walking away from a place you love because of cost. Happy venue hunting!

Do you have any tips to add when it comes to looking for the perfect venue? Anyone else out there have to do some finagling to find the right place after another one didn’t work out?




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