Booked: Wedding Venue

April 13, 2010

As of this morning, a signed contract with our initial deposit is on its way to our wedding venue. It’s the first big wedding decision we’ve made so far. The venue is by far the most important aspect of the wedding, so it feels good to get that done.

The process of choosing our venue started before we even got engaged and yes, Paul does know about that part of it all. I knew I wanted to get married in the Hudson Valley. I don’t remember actually making a decision, I think it just happened organically. In college, I took the Hudson River line up to Poughkeepsie to visit a good friend atMarist (and to see Guster!). It was the middle of Spring and all the leaves were turning green. It was just beautiful. We chose the Fall, because the leaves in the Hudson Valley in the fall are just stunning. Fall has always been my favorite season. The weather is crisp, but sunny. There are very few things that bring me joy as much as crunching leaves under my shoes. (One of those things is definitely my fiance!)

The metaphorical road that took us to Dutchess Manor started with searching the Internet for sites in the Hudson Valley. Finding wedding venues was pretty simple. There are a lot of locations that claim to be in the Hudson Valley. My brother, for example got married at the F.E.A.S.T. at Round Hill in Washingtonville, NY. Washingtonville is closer to the Catskills than the Hudson. There are plenty of locations scattered around the valley that are definitely in the Hudson Valley, but I fell in love with the Hudson River and I really wanted to get married on the Hudson River.

Unfortunately and surprisingly there are very few locations that are actually on the Hudson River. In the end, it came down to two locations. Both are on the river, practically down the street from each other. Venue #1 has a slightly better view. The scenery across the river is lush and I can only imagine how gorgeous it would be during the Fall. The ceremony space is outside and has an arbor with the river and mountains in the background. Gorgeous. But it was at a strange angle. And the number of seats would have been uneven, which was just awkward. There was also, randomly, a tent set up around there. I specifically wanted to avoid tents and there’s a tent. At a venue space. What’s the point? The room itself was very bright and open with huge floor to ceiling windows. The food would have been fabulous, as the chef is a Culinary Institute graduate. The whole facility is very impressive. Off the cocktail areas, there are big porches overlooking the river.

Ultimately, the problem with Venue #1 was the cost. The facility fee was a lot. And the per person rate was a lot and it seemed like every time we were shown something else that was really cool, we were told that it would cost even more money. To be fair, the price does include a lot. You’re paying for a five hour open bar and a full three course meal. Tables, chairs, linens and china are all included, as is set-up and breakdown. A tiered cakes with a variety of flavor choices also came with the package. Had we booked Venue #1 and kept to our current budget, 75% of our money would have gone to booking the venue and food. It was just too much.

Venue #2 had a lot of the same features as Venue #1. It was right on the river. The views were less impressive, but we did see the location before the leaves had come out, so hopefully, it’ll be more lush in the Fall. The venue is bigger and for less money, we were able to book the entire place, which meant we could use the back porch overlooking the porch for no extra cost. The outdoor space for the ceremony is a grassy area on the overlooking the river, but the inclement weather plan has us moving into the smaller of the two dining rooms.

The per person fee was $30 cheaper at Venue #2 and included more. For our money, we’ll be getting a 5 1/2 hour open bar, a three course meal, with three dinner options. Again, tables, chairs, linen and china are included, as is a wedding cake. But if we’d like, we can get simple centerpieces for no extra cost.

The main reason we chose the venue we did, however, was the atmosphere we felt as we walked in for a tour. At Venue #1 we were met by a salesperson. She was excellent, extremely helpful, able to answer every question I had. But she was a salesman. That was her job. At Venue #2, we were met by on of the owners. He, along with his brother and sister, took over the place from their parents. The whole things just seemed like a labor of love. He had made all the improvements to the facility and was able to answer Paul’s questions about lighting and sound possibilities. There were some aesthetic things that needed to be fixed, the snowfall had ruined an awning, and instead of brushing passed it, he explained what had happened and explained what his plan was to fix it.

Selecting the venue was a big relief. We had a very specific date in mind and though it’s a year and a half away, the Hudson Valley in the Fall is very sought after. I was getting nervous. Paul definitely had to tell me to chill out more than once. But without a venue, nothing else can really be planned. Now that we have a venue, we can start thinking about a DJ/band. We can start researching photographers in the area. Hell, we can order our invitations! Okay, it may be a little too early for that. The start times haven’t been finalized yet, but we have tangible details to work with.

And one of the best things we can start sorting out is where to base our wedding party out of. The venue is close to Cold Spring, NY, which is a lovely little town with a main street with shops and bed & breakfasts for everyone to stay in. Cold Spring is so cute it has not one, but two model train stores. How awesome is a town that has a need for two model train shops? I think one of my favorite parts of the whole idea of being in Cold Spring is that there will be plenty for people to do and see over the course of the weekend.

Hopefully, this is the first of many decisions that ultimately lead to a really fun, beautiful and, I dare say, epic wedding weekend.