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Wedvice: Where you at? Picking your venue!

Part 3 of a 6 part series, describing the ins and outs of your first few months as a to-be-wed!

lavender and white tabletop

In honor of our rainy weeks out here in sunny Southern California, a winter inspired table setting! Scroll down to the bottom for more photos! Oh yah, and read along, too!!

You know what they say: location, location, location!

My mom is a real estate agent. With her job, location is essential to setting the tone of the property. In the same way, your wedding location is essential to setting the tone of the party. Of course, there are many things to consider when you’re looking for a site for your wedding: cost per person, distance from the ceremony site [if at a church], vendor flexibility, cutoff time…. But we won’t be talking about any of those in this article. What I’d like to focus on is how your site will play a role in your wedding- both emotionally and physically.

First off- understand something: no site is perfect. Although you may get that certain rush of feeling when you walk into a beautifully decorated room that is ready for a fancy reception, it’s not likely that you’ll feel the same about it [the same EXACT room] naked and in the daylight. Remember that when you’re out on the hunt, [comparing apples to apples to apples to… you get it] it’s all about the vision you or your designer have to TRANSFORM the space into something uniquely you. It doesn’t have to be ready for photos from the moment you walk in. I know for certain people, envisioning the final picture is more difficult than others. Try to push yourself- to convince yourself- to see outside of the box. Look at what that little nook in the corner could be used for: an elaborate 3-tier cake on a brilliant stand with a pin spot washing it the palest shade of pink. When you note the courtyard adjacent to the room, envision an ultra-hip lounge area that allows your guests to flow freely from the dance floor and rest their tired feet, while still being a part of the party and conversation. Your MENTALITY about a space going in will greatly impact your emotions about the space going in. Even if you’re on a budget [and these days, who isn’t??], don’t let yourself get bogged down because the “budget-friendly” sites are more blank spaces and you feel like you’re choosing just from the bottom rung of the wedding latter. Any blank space, with a little vision and elbow grease, can be transformed into a breath-taking site. Now that we’ve got you mentally prepared….

1. Consider the source. The source of your inspiration, that is. We talked a bit about this next week and we’ll CONTINUE to talk about it [until I said so!]. ☺ Remember when I said to cut out and gather pictures? Well, what’s the common thread in them? What did you find out? Are your details rustic? Spanish-inspired? Are the locations of your inspiration pictures all including a dramatic view or does it seem to be a simple banquet room with a great chandelier that’s got your heart jumping? The best thing you can do is at least narrow down your options. There is no point wasting your time trekking all over the greater state of ________ [fill in the blank] looking for a wedding site if what you’re primarily looking at, you’re not into! It’s okay to, at this point, have options. Give yourself some leeway to find something you not only are inspired by, but that will fit perfectly into your budget- and give you options for greatness.

2. Dress for success. Literally! By now [and let’s be honest, for at LEAST a few months prior to the engagement… right] you’ve seen a few wedding gowns. What are you thinking when you see them? Now, I am NOT recommending buying anything, personally, until you’ve nailed down some of your details a bit more firmly. But, I know that by now you’ve seen something and thought “that’s too stuffy!” or “I want something more formal than that”. You’ve got opinions. Allow your site to follow suit. I don’t want you to end up in a very upscale, formal site with a dress that doesn’t “match” the vibe of the location. And in the same way- a princess poofy dress doesn’t translate as well to a seaside soiree complete with on-the-beach [toes in the sand] pictures. Be aware of this, and you’re that much closer to nailing down your wedding style. Sure, this may not be mandatory, but it’ll help you a whole heck of a lot!

3. Be open. Ask a LOT of questions. Find out everything! There are some great sites out there that, initially, may be overlooked because their rules are on paper. But other sites may be less willing to bend than the ones who are up front! You need to know certain things in order to prepare yourself for the big decision of picking your dream venue. Small things matter. Do they choose their vendor list by people who paid to be on there? Do you HAVE to use one of those vendors, then? I recently worked with a client who told me that every vendor they find for themselves off of the list, they get charged $100 fee to bring that vendor in. Even the FLORIST and DJ! I was stunned. But more than that, I was saddened! You want the site that’s right for you- so being ultra prepared is part of that battle. And, I’ll be honest- this is where a planner will come in EXTRA handy. Not only are we more familiar with the questions to be asked, but we may be able to come up with concerns on the spot for things that aren’t regularly thought of anyway!

4. Take deep breaths. This is the hardest part. Let me say it again: this is the HARDEST part. It takes on average anywhere from a month to three months to find yourself the perfect site. That means every day looking, searching, visiting, walking, writing…. It’s a LOT of work. It’s exhausting. It’s emotional. It feels as though it’ll never end. But, keep heart! Staying positive about it is crucial in this step of the game- if only for your fiancée to not lose his mind trying to cheer you up. It’s okay for certain things, in your engagement, to take a while to find and decide on. It’s okay, and even encouraged, to mull over the big, important details and to be more lax about the small ones.

5. Gimme a break! It’s ok to take a day off. Did I mention that? Take a weekend here or there- even if you haven’t found “THE SITE” yet, to just be with one another. You can also try switching up the people you’re visiting the sites with. Take your best friend one day, your mom the next, and give your fiancée a bit of time off [you can always bring him back if it’s your FAVORITE, right?]. Giving one another some slack in the planning will allow it to feel as though it’s not taking over your life. That’s important, believe it or not! By the time you get there, you want to still be looking forward to the wedding, right? Not over-saturated and under-stimulated!

I feel like I say this almost every time, but again: mind the gut! You’ll get a feeling somewhere inside that THIS could be the place. And sure, you may get that a few times- there’s nothing wrong with that! When you find something that’s utterly you and you feel confident that it could be tailored to fit your style, you’ve found the place! Who knows, maybe that will be on the white sands of the Hawaiian shore, or it’ll be down the street at the local Golf Club. Whether you end up in a ritzy Hotel or at a city-owned community center, we want your heart to be there. After all, this is where you’ll be starting the rest of your life!!

Alright now, you’ve earned it!

purple and white tabletop

I was inspired by the cool palette of eggplant on plum. I love- LOVE- tonal color palettes and adding in the pop of a modern white element sent me to the moon! You’ll see a repeating pattern of circles here as well, which makes me swoon. So, I paired simple white chiavari chairs with a plum linen and focused on the place mats to bring in the eggplant details. I really wanted the branches in the centerpiece to feel barren and “cold”- with their scare clusters of blooms- it was more about the height and the surroundings than it was the flowers!

branch centerpiece

I bought simple purple-tone glass vases from a local craft store and Kristin really entangled the branches together as they sat in a cluster. Uggggh I LOVE vases that are intertwined due to their flowers and branches being intertwined! We added bud vases with single blooms around the border of the larger cluster. The effect came off perfectly winter-y!

dark purple placemats

The place mats were truly a perfect compliment to the table. You can’t tell in this photo, but I actually set them off-center. The plate is centered in front of the chair and the silverware [complete with hand-made paper pocket… though the knife and spoon are missing in this photo!!] is set off to the right side. I loved the clean, square white plates on the deep purple fabric. Here you’ll notice the playful combination of circles and squares coming into play!

wedding information card

A close up detail of what was on that paper pocket! I am a BIG fan of a “what’s there to do?” list for your guests. I had one at my own wedding and it was a major hit! I always feel like, if you’re paying for something- tell people about it! If there’s a lounge area, let them know how to get there! If there’s a photo booth, tell them where to hit it up! Also, it allows your guests to peer into your personalities and styles while letting them know all the ways you took to make your big day as personal as possible! And the crystal details are just killer, right??

rock candy favors

Even FURTHER over to the right were our favors [perfectly winter-inspired!]: swizzle sticks of clear rock candy, tied with a thin plum ribbon and fashioned inside a clear glass bag. It’s ALL about the details!

rock candy favor packets

Here’s a close up of the bud vases I mentioned above:

branch centerpiece

circular tablescape

Circles and circles and circles galore!

purple tablescape and branch centerpiece

silverware packet

YAY one of the silverware pocket FULL this time!! :)

white square plates

Who doesn’t love a good arial view??

branch centerpiece

And, to leave you with:

purple and green tabletop


The Treasured Petal


Signature Party Rentals

Jonilyn Photography

You’ve all been so great! I love my job- and this is part of it! I love that I look forward to exploding with scattered and frantic information each week here, at EAD. My readers, my followers, my bloggies… I am so honored and blessed to be a part of your lives [virtually or in reality]. Thanks for reading, and keep on keepin’ on!!


A. Auer