Bride-to-be Blogger Carly: Finding Our Philly-Perfect Venue


Some girls know exactly what their wedding will be like before they even meet the groom. It’s something many of us dream about from a young age and continue to imagine into our more grown-up years. My sister Claire and I would play wedding with our Barbies, stuffed animals, golden retriever Trouble, and even our childhood neighbor, Ronny. We would visit our Grammy, who would buy us bridal magazines from Shop Rite and together rip out pictures of pretty dresses, colorful flowers, and handsome grooms!

But once I met Sean, I stopped all of this pretend planning. Even once I knew he was the one, I was very superstitious about making plans for our future wedding before getting engaged. Now, I know plenty of girls with “someday” Pinterest boards and bookmarked engagement rings—and I definitely don’t judge—but I felt I might jinx myself. So, I shut down the dream wedding part of my brain for a little while.

Not having any pre-conceived ideas for my wedding has made the beginning stages of planning both exciting and difficult. Once we were done basking in the happiness of just being engaged (roughly 24 hours after Sean popped the question!) we looked at each other and said “Now what?”

Sitting at brunch with my parents the morning after Sean’s proposal, they suggested we take a walk around Old City and check out some potential venues. (Do you think they might have been excited?) So with full bellies, we walked to Carpenter Hall, through the Independence Hall Visitors Center, and around the National Constitution Center, just to get the ball rolling.

A week after Sean’s proposal, I had Friday off from work and decided I would spend the day doing venue research online. Having no clue where to start, I printed a list of Philadelphia venues from a wedding website and started Googling them and making calls.

With every phone call I made I learned more about what I should be asking: is there a venue fee? Do you have an onsite caterer or do I bring my own? Is there a bar or is it BYOB? Does your venue provide a wedding coordinator? What’s the deal with parking? And on, and on, and on. My head was spinning with prices and possibilities. By the time Sean got home from work, I was excited and exhausted. I had scheduled some visits for the following weeks, had an inbox full of catering packages to go through, and a budget to create. So this is how brides get stressed?

After visiting a few venues in and around Center City, but not finding one that was just right, I began to get frustrated.  Sean saw this and suggested he take a look online to see if he could find a venue we hadn’t thought of. Touting himself as an excellent Googler, Sean sat down and came up with a list of 10 more venues. Feeling discouraged, I picked up the phone and called the first three on his list before apprehensively calling the Down Town Club.  From the website I knew the DTC had to be too good to be true: located in Old City (check), historic feel (check), amazing reviews (check). I spoke with Lynn, our wedding coordinator, who emailed me catering information (awesome menu, check) and pricing (within our budget, check!). I immediately called Sean to tell him the news that, barring something horrible, I thought we found our spot!

So I spent hours and hours looking at venues online, sending emails and leaving messages and within 15 minutes of sitting down at the computer, Sean found our wedding reception venue. If I didn’t love him so much, this would drive me crazy (I’m supposed to be the wedding planner in this pair!). But regardless of who found the Down Town Club, it is the place where we will get to celebrate the beginning of our lives together with our family and friends. June 29, 2013 … I can’t wait.

My best advice to other brides-to-be is to sit down with your groom and prioritize what is important to you. For Sean and I, we really wanted a walkable wedding; we wanted to be in the heart of the city; and we wanted a venue that was going to be a one-stop shop: provide catering, tables and chairs, our cake, etc. And we found it.

How did you find your venue? Have you always known where you wanted to get married or was it a search like mine?


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