Archive for August 2013

The holidays are always bananas for me. I go a bit overboard with decorating and gifts and all things holly and jolly. So, I took advantage of the long engagement and decided to take a couple months off from wedding planning during Christmas 2012. I still talked about ideas with family and friends but I let actual stuff chill for a bit.

I was at a friend’s house in January 2013 and her cousin mentioned that she was getting married and just booked her reception venue. She was raving about it, so I of course asked the name of it. Webster Golf Club. What’s a bride without a venue to do immediately after leaving the house? Google the venue, of course!

Source: Facebook

The venue’s website wasn’t the most high tech and there weren’t many pictures but the price was definitely in our range. Gee said that he had been there plenty of times and the Chicken French is the best in Rochester. Gold had just went to a wedding there and loved it and Sharpie and Big Flash had photographed one there as well. After six venue disappointments, the positive reviews from friends were a delight to hear and at this point, what was another visit?

Mr. PB and I first visited Webster Golf Club in February and met with Dave. He answered all of our questions, was real with us and he told me that I could have Chicken Parm as my dinner even if Chicken French was on the buffet. (Gold star for making the bride-to-be happy!)  Then Mr. PB asked his important questions – “How much would it be to extend the open bar?” and “Could I have Crown Royal?”

Dave also let us know that the club has an arrangement with a local florist for centerpieces. We could get one of four floral centerpiece options for free or have a credit applied to our centerpiece costs. Did I mention that gratuity was also included in the pricing, along with three hours of open bar, hor d’oeurves and a coffee bar? AND that it was under our budget? PLUS, Mr. PB and I would get a free suite at a local hotel the night of our wedding. We both left the venue in great spirits.

However, I didn’t love the venue’s option for an indoor ceremony. It basically would look like a conference room with no windows and a retractable wall on one side. So as long as we could find a ceremony space, we had a reception venue.

Did you hear about your location from another person? Did your groom have a couple of reception details that were important to him?

Mr. PB gifted me with a beautiful engagement ring when he proposed to me. What did he get? Sure, he gets to spend the rest of his life with me, but if we are playing tit for tat, I get to spend the rest of my life with him. So in reality, I get him and some bling but he just gets me.

nuggetI got a ring and a couple of days later, he got a heart shaped chicken nugget. // Personal photo

I’ve never quite understood the-girl-gets-the-ring-the-guy-gets-nothing phenomenon. I mean, I’m sure it goes back to the days when dowries were given in exchange for a bride but it’s now 2014, time for new traditions.

I’ve always thought that the groom should get something. Maybe a big screen TV or season tickets to his favorite sports team or a gadget he’s been oogling. I don’t think women need to spend as much on an item as the guy spends on the ring, but I think making him feel loved and appreciated is definitely important.

When it came to thinking of something to give Mr. PB, I didn’t want to get him something electronic because he barters and trades his electronics all the time. I would be pretty bummed if he traded his engagement gift for something shinier and new. Mr. PB doesn’t wear any jewelry so a watch or anything else in that category was out. Season tickets to his favorite sports team would be somewhat of a punishment thanks to the team’s poor performance as of late. So, the wheels started turning…

Mr. PB and I both love taking little weekend road trips and small vacations. Each time we would plan a trip, Mr. PB would come up with an outrageous travel plan. “First, we take a bus to Philly, stay a night, take a train up to Jersey and then rent a car and drive back home.” That was legitimately one of his proposed itineraries once. Needless to say, I shot it down. But I was reminded of his crazy travel plans when I was thinking of a gift for him. You see, Mr. PB had never traveled by train, commercial bus or airplane before. And neither of us had ever been to New York City during Christmastime.

After some quick research, I was able to book us a train ride from Rochester to Syracuse, a bus ride from Syracuse to New York City, a room at a cool hotel and a plane ride back home the next day. It was completely spontaneous of me and totally not something I would normally be okay with but I knew Mr. PB would be thrilled about it. Plus it made me happy that the gift was more based in creating memories than giving something tangible. But I needed to find a fun way to let him know about the trip. So I decided to propose.

I found some transportation clip art, added some words and cut four cards out. I put them into a box and had Mr. PB randomly select them out of the box one by one. He was a bit confused as the cards came out but once they were all together, I think he began to understand.

20130717_222541He didn’t believe me that I was okay with the multiple forms of transportation. Putting my likes and preferences aside is part of giving a gift, right? // Personal photo

Mr. PB quickly accepted my proposal and less than a month later, we were in the Big Apple and enjoying all the holiday spirit.

SAM_0269Don’t mind Mr. PB’s crazy man beard. It was a phase. Pay more attention to the angels playing trumpets in the background. // Personal photo

Did you gift your fiance with an engagement gift? Do you and your significant other enjoy weekend trips like we do?

Equipped with my venue spreadsheet, I made appointments with six different venues during October and November. Most of the venues were places on my spreadsheet and in the right price range, but I did do a bridal no-no and schedule a few that were going to be a stretch if we decided on them.

No way, no how

The Diplomat, Golden Ponds and the Auditorium Center were quickly scratched off the list after visiting the locations. Due to our group size, the only room the Diplomat wanted to offer us was a fully mirrored room on their first floor (which is really like a basement) and had no handicap access. Despite making appointments with Golden Ponds and the Auditorium Center, the former was not prepared for us when we arrived (the person I was supposed to meet with wasn’t even there) and the latter completely stood us up. Bad first impressions from places that we were potentially going to spend thousands of dollars at.

Nice try but no cigars

Source: The Shadows & Greystone Weddings Facebook Page

Shadow Lake was beautiful. It was picturesque and had huge windows that overlooked the golf course. The woman we met with was extremely nice and knew we were working with a budget. She was super accommodating and gave us lots of options to reduce the cost of having our wedding there. Unfortunately, the downgrades made me feel like I was sacrificing a lot to have the wedding there and their menu wasn’t exactly what Mr. PB and I had in mind. Nice place for a wedding, just not the place for us.

Not too big but a bit too small

Source: Salmon Creek Country Club

When we looked online at Salmon Creek‘s menu, Mr. PB and I LOVED it. Who can say no to an appetizer selection that includes macaroni and cheese bites? We visited the space but were unaware that a meeting was taking place in the venue at the same time. It was a bit out of the ordinary but we meshed with the event coordinator right away. She was real and honest and we loved the package options (especially the price). We made an appointment to come back the next day when there wasn’t another event. Upon further discussion, the venue would be too small if we decided on the stations menu, which was a huge selling point to Salmon Creek. We didn’t completely dismiss it but we weren’t sold either.

So many possibilities

Talk about an open floor plan. // Source: Rich Paprocki Photography

The Main Street Armory isn’t a normal wedding venue but when I was doing my venue research, I visited websites of local photographers and checked out locations they had photographed weddings at. I came across Rich Paprocki’s website and his photos of the above wedding. They took my breath away.

Benefits of castle-esque architecture // Source: Rich Paprocki Photography

Mr. PB and I were hoping for an all-in-one venue, allowing us to have the ceremony and reception in the same spot, circumventing any possible icky weather. I started to communicate with the contact at the venue and despite a couple lapses in responses from her, I couldn’t get the Armory out of my head. Mr. PB and I visited and we were in love. The woman even said that we could dream up any menu and they would make it. The price was a bit above our budget and there was a chance we couldn’t have the day we wanted, but I still couldn’t let the venue go. The woman at the Armory helped make the decision for me, as email after email after email went unanswered. If she wasn’t willing to reply to my emails when I was a potential client, what was going to happen when I was stressing before the wedding? Bye bye dreamy venue.

Did you have to kiss a few frog venues? What helped you turn potential venues into memories of the past?

Mr. PB and I had an 18-month engagement, so we knew we had some time to look at venues. We were open to buffets or stations and definitely wanted open bar to be part of our package. We wanted a venue that had some character to it but didn’t give off a formal vibe. After calculating our budget, I figured $55 per person after tax and gratuity was the highest I wanted to go.

I had some hesitancy with looking at venues during the fall/early winter. I wanted to make sure that I saw the venue in March before signing on the line. Perfectly landscaped grounds, bright flowers and sunshine aren’t exactly staples in March but they’re things likely to be found in sample photos. I didn’t want to fall in love with something I wouldn’t have on my wedding day. I considered being able to see my venue during the same month I’d use it as an advantage to a longer engagement.

I started browsing venues online and began to realize that a lot of places were one of three things: a) out of our price range; b) way too fancy for our style; c) combination of a and b. I decided to start making a spreadsheet with Google Docs to help sort the venues.

venuesDisclaimer: These prices may not be current pricing for the above venues. These were prices I gathered from their websites, special discounts or via verbal estimates. For actual pricing, please contact the venues. *steps off soapbox*

Without boring everyone with all the details, my spreadsheet allowed me to calculate prices for different venues including tax and gratuity and based on the percentage of guests who RSVP yes. For example, I quickly knew that venues such as Westminster were definitely out of our range but places like Whittier had varied pricing that could fit into our budget. Based on these estimates, I started scheduling visits with various venues.

What helped you narrow down the venue search? Are you a number-loving bride like me?