Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Our Wedding Takes a Drastic Turn and We Explore a Bajillion Venues

When we last left off, I was feeling all sorts of confusion about our tiny wedding and venue choice.

After we dropped Mr. Rucksack's parents off at the airport, he and I had a heart to heart. I told him everything that had kept me up the night before and we discussed what it would mean for our wedding. We decided not to talk about it until we got back home and drove in silence both trying to figure out what we really wanted from our wedding.

About 15 minutes from our home, I got a phone call from my mom. She had just gotten off the phone with Uncle Bill, my grandfather's cousin. He had told my mom he understood if he wasn't invited, but that he would really like to be there for my grandparents since they couldn't be there - my grandfather died when my mom was in high school and my grandmother passed away a couple of years ago.

"I'm sorry," she told me over the phone, "I didn't know what to say."

I immediately started bawling. "Tell him he's invited! Tell everyone, they're invited!" I exclaimed as I hung up the phone with my mom.

Still crying, I turned to Mr. Rucksack to discuss for real. I had to invite Uncle Bill I told him. But then he would have to invite his Aunt Chris. But if I invited Uncle Bill and his wife, I would also want my Aunt Kim. Suddenly we were in a quickly growing snowball. It was If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, wedding style. (Has anyone thought of writing that book? If not, I declare it mine!)

"I guess we're having a wedding," we nervously agreed.

That night - just hours after viewing the vineyard - we told our parents about our new idea. I'm pretty sure we were giving them a huge headache at this point!
After we put our tiny wedding visions out of our minds and decided that yes, we would be having a traditional wedding, it was time to put Plan B into motion. Again, we listed out the things that were important to us, this time with 120 guests in mind: our family, our friends, good food, lots of dancing, fun, and of course getting married. We then had to do a whole new wedding venue search to find the best fit.

I think I researched every wedding venue (and restaurant, museum, library, pavilion...) in a three state radius. We had some grand ideas followed by some crazy ones followed by a whole lot of sticker shock. Some of the places we saw were really awful. Mr. Rucksack and I are pretty against anything that feels like a wedding factory, so I should have known we would have been appalled by a local wedding venue that prides themselves on 4 weddings a day and a magical dry ice dessert display. But desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

Among the disasters there were some great contenders and we narrowed it down to three awesome and very different venues.

Venue A: The James Blackstone Library in Branford, CT

Mr. Rucksack and I had visions of a vintage themed Great Gatsby reception here. Brimming with pink marble, muraled ceilings, and art deco accents, the library is simply stunning. The price was also right. At $300 an hour, we'd easily be in budget for our reception.
Via Wildmoo Books

Via James Blackstone Memorial Library

Via Donna Cheung Photography
Cons: The library doesn't close until five which would mean a limited amount of time for our caterer to set up. There also isn't a kitchen, so food prep would be difficult unless we found a caterer with a mobile kitchen.

Venue B: The Pine Orchard Club, Branford, CT

Mr. Rucksack and I loved the location of this venue, as well as the ease. With everything included, we wouldn't have to worry about a single thing. We also thought it would be really fun to play up the nautical vibe and go with a red, white and blue theme.


Cons:  This is one of the more expensive venues we looked at.(Which makes sense since they do pretty much everything for you) Also, all of the Saturdays for next year were booked with the exception of one Saturday in the fall, so we'd have to look at doing a Friday or a Sunday. And lastly, in our past experiences dining there, the food was good, but not amazing.

Venue C: The Madison Surf Club, Madison, Ct

The beachfront location of this venue was definitely a big selling point for Mr. Rucksack and me. The Surf Club is a town owned facility (think beach pavilion, but slightly fancier) that can be rented to residents for private events and we loved how casual and flexible it was. We thought it could be fun to do a "boardwalk" type reception or a beachy clambake. Oh and it was the least expensive of all the venues we looked at which of course was a huge bonus.

Via Paul Cantrell on Panoramio

Cons: It's a little on the rustic side. While the blank canvas meant flexibility and options, it also meant work and money. We were also a little concerned about how busy the beach would be. There's a snack bar literally ten feet from the Surf Club and it's open until some absurd hour like 9pm. We weren't sure how we felt about a bunch of screaming sticky kids running around during our wedding.

In the end, we revisited our list of important wedding factors and it was a no-brainer.

Which venue would you have picked? The Gatsby library setting, the nautical Yacht Club, or the casual beach club?

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