Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wedding Wednesdays: The Venue

This may have been one of the most stressful decisions of the entire wedding. I had always dreamed of this picturesque view of a pond with a giant weeping willow tree, dinner by hanging lanterns and dancing under the stars. Obviously with a December wedding (in Virginia) in the works, this wasn't an option - unless we wanted to be ice skating on the pond and bundled in our parkas. So, no outdoor venues, which automatically cut 75 percent of the options (including Mike's dream of renting a big house on the Ocean and having a week-long wedding celebration...darn :).

My number one choice was the Woman's Club of Portsmouth. This gorgeous venue was recently renovated and would have been perfect for our vintage chic theme. Mike immediately canned the idea of Portsmouth in general, but I called for details and found out we wouldn't be able to stay past 11 p.m., which simple wouldn't do for our NYE wedding.

The Obici House in Suffolk, top
Yacht Club at Marina Shores, bottom

We considered the Yacht Club at Marina Shores, but this venue really shines with warm-weather weddings when you can enjoy the deck and water views. We talked with the event planner at the Obici House in Suffolk, but dates, the commute and rising rates within a week, left us unable to commit.

From top left, The Parlor on Granby, pretty warehouse wedding ideas, The Wells Theater and Vintage Kitchen

We decided it was really important for all of our visiting guests to see where we met and have built our lives together, which narrowed it down to Norfolk-only venues. I tinkered with the idea of the Arts District...a loft, warehouse style wedding? The Parlor on Granby wasn't able to hold our growing guest list of 150. The Texaco Building wouldn't be completed in time. Vintage Kitchen wouldn't return our phone calls. But perhaps The Wells Theater? We were good on dates, fees, it was in our beloved Norfolk ... but we might not have use of the theater because it'd be between shows and sets would be under construction.

Somehow I came across The Woman's Club of Norfolk website, which didn't help one way or another. It was hard to get in touch and schedule an appointment, but when we finally met with Mrs. Miller and walked around the house I started to foresee a wedding. That is, until we saw the reception hall. It was dingy, dirty, the floors were in bad shape and the "stage" was covered in a dark brown poop carpet (the color, not the smell) that was frayed and frankly, terrible. I said thank you and left without a second thought. Mike, on the other hand, was totally in favor. We'll re-carpet the stage, they'll clean the house, we'll rent furniture and have them de-clutter the rooms. These seemed like pretty lofty requests to me. However, as I started to show pictures of the house to family and friends (one being an interior designer), I gained some assurance it wasn't really as bad as I thought.

The reception hall of ugly.

The main house was beautiful and full of history, stunning antiques and pretty much my idea right before my eyes. Once we added decor, food and 150 (drinking) guests, you'll never notice the other stuff, they said. I prayed they were right because we signed the contract and promised myself I wouldn't question it. But I did, until the day of setup.