Grey Likes Weddings Rockin' a new rock?!

The day after getting engaged we had a snow day from work {my first since graduating college – it was pure bliss}. First blizzard of the year and I was left to celebrate from the comfort of my couch watching romantic holiday movies. I immediately started looking up when the bridals shows were scheduled. Two in the first month of January, score! I invited two of my college girlfriends & soon to be bridesmaids, Maggie & Dina, who happened to be on winter break from law school, to attend. I didn’t want any pressure to make any major decisions but to get a feel of what to expect, so it was just us girls. We indulged with too many cake balls & may-or-may not have tested out all the photo booths in attendance.

Tip: Pre-print labels with your contact information. I spent too much time writing down information for giveaways, email updates, etc. And while you are at it – create an email strictly for wedding vendors – you get many updates and follow up emails and they will flood your in-box. It’s nice to have a separate, contained space where information won’t get lost.

The second bridal show I attended with Cody {Mr. Brunette}, one of my maids-of-honor, Jackie, and my mom where able to come with. I wasn’t sure if my fiancé would be overwhelmed with all of the vendors, but I am happy he came and he was able to speak to what he liked or didn’t like. Once again, we ate too much cake and tested out a photo-booth or two. Our other main goal during this show was to find potential venue spaces. We had initially discussed getting married and having our reception in the same space, but with a little family influence and feedback decided to go with a more traditional route as I am Catholic. We ended up picking a church in my hometown that I’ve attended since graduating college two and half years ago. While we were still waiting to hear back on dates from the church we had a rough idea of when our date would be – May 2014.

Tip: Most spaces are booking events in months and months in advance so make it a top priority after getting engaged. Flexibility is key as venues you want may determine your date.

Did we want an outdoor wedding or reception? No – too much stress worrying about a back up space, or if your outdoor location doesn’t have a back up space, securing a second venue, etc. I have bad luck with outdoor events and rain stemming back to my college event planning days. It’s like I have the magic {or not so magic} touch. Did we want a more modern reception space? A more traditional feel with a grand ballroom? Rustic and romantic? I was extremely disappointed in our lack of ‘jaw dropping, amazing’ venue spaces that one can find in Chicago or Minneapolis – my cousin’s getting married at a train station in St. Paul- swoon. Not that we don’t have unique spaces available in Des Moines, but when you have something in mind and you are at a loss to find your exact vision – it can be disappointing.

As we made our way down the last aisle of the event – we stumbled across two vendors at opposite ends of the spectrum, a traditional space with a grand ballroom and a newly built barn just outside the Des Moines area. The ballroom vendor offered a blank canvas showcasing four tables set up with different extravagant florals and table linens and chairs, any vision you wanted to create could come to life. The space was located not far from our church, which was a definite plus. And the second space let me tell you, that barn had me at hello. Built just for weddings, the owner and her husband built the barn initially for their daughter’s wedding and recently opened it to the public for weddings and events. We put our name in for two dates, pending the date our church could get back to us with.

With our afternoon wrapping up at the show, the three of us decided to run home to pick up my dad and head out to the barn barn space to see it in person. Though we couldn’t get inside, we walked around the barn and fire pit area, walking through the day of events. Where people would park, logistics, the works {my mom also works in event planning, so we were going through all scenarios possible. Would it be easier to bus the guests to the space or have them drive? It was about a 20-30 minutes drive from the church}. As we looked through the windows we realized that the space long but not as wide as we had hoped which limited the number of guests and table formations we could have – we will have a big wedding want to share in our celebration closer to 300 guests versus the 250 the barn would fit. We would have to do long tables to fit the guests with benches vs. rounds which are perfect for large parties and easier for conversations with fellow attendees. And the idea of a bon fire and s’mores? I loved. But in a white dress with potential of mud if it rained? Not ideal. A mental pro/con list had already started to form…

As 3:00 pm approached, we raced to the more traditional venue space in our hometown, not even ten minutes from our church, which happened to be hosting an open house following the bridal show. We got there just before the closed the doors. Upon arrival we were greeted with a glass of wine. The space offered three rooms, a smaller room for the bridal party to get ready, a small ballroom for overflow of guests or potential ceremony location, and the grand ballroom. The bar sits in the foyer between the two rooms. This space would more than accommodate our number of guests. As we talked with the event manager of the space, it became more clear that this was the space was right for us. And it turned out, Cody loved the space more than the barn. My dad even pulled me aside saying, “This is where I see my daughter having her reception.” The men in my life sure do know how to tug at my heartstrings.

As the months have passed since securing our reception location, I still think of the barn and the what-if scenario. But I know that this event space is going to be spectacular. Because at the end of the day, the space is what you make it. As Cody and I delve deeper into planning, I realize this is the right space, perfect for the two of us.

Whoa, that was a long post! So tell me, how did you and your fiancé decide on a ceremony and reception location? Ballroom, outdoor, rustic barn, destination? Are you holding both the ceremony and reception at the same space? I want details!

Image Sources: Rustic Reception Venue via Style Me Pretty  shot by Mark Brooke| Modern Romantic Reception Venue via Style Me Pretty shot by shot by Aaron Delesie