Wedding Woes: A Venue Revue

In my last post I was beginning to lose it, just a little bit. Our wedding budget felt like it was spiraling out of control. Our venue was already more than we had budgeted for, and then they tacked on an outdoor ceremony set-up fee. The proposals from the approved caterers list started coming back, and they were all really high. 

We did have one other venue that we liked, as I mentioned, which would be slightly cheaper. It's in Baltimore, and it's quirky and artsy and funky and fun. 

However, my cousin was married there in 2010. She's now divorced, and thinking about her being there with her current boyfriend just felt weird and slightly unkind. Our family is small; just my sister and I and our three cousins on my mother's side. Hers has been the only wedding in our family so far. Let's just pick any other venue! I thought. But we visited, and Simon didn't want to love it, but he did, and I didn't want to love it, but I did. But was it really worth losing our deposit at the first venue and starting over?

This was the head space I was in last week. Then that night, I read something on one of the Facebook wedding planning groups I'm in (yes, there's more than one, ugh!) Someone (smugly?) posted the price she had been quoted for her all-inclusive wedding package, including venue, catering, open bar, and cake; a price per head that was lower than the rates I was being quoted just for catering. "Is that a good price?" she asked, and I kind of snapped. What you quickly realize when you're in one of these groups is that wedding costs vary wildly, and that weddings in most of the rest of the country are much, much less expensive than they are in a major city like DC. (I tried proposing a destination wedding in Ohio but for some reason Simon wasn't into it.) So when brides share their inexpensive wedding costs in these groups, I usually just assume they're in Pawnee, Indiana or somewhere and try to shrug it off. But this time she posted a link to her venue, and it was in New Orleans. New Orleans, I thought, I could do that. (Although, trying to picture my parents (conservative and religious) and Simon's parents (same) in New Orleans was an...interesting thought exercise.) "Yeah, that would be fun," Simon agreed, and I was off to my laptop and my spreadsheet again, essentially starting the venue search from scratch. What I found was that this was not the only affordable, all-inclusive wedding venue in New Orleans; I found five right off the bat, and they all seemed great. It seemed almost too good to be true: the venue, open bar, catering, and even cake, all for less than just the cost of the catering in DC. But then I started adding in the costs of a scouting trip (two plane tickets and hotel for two nights, meals, ground transportation) plus the cost of travel and hotel for the actual wedding, plus our lost deposit from the first venue. It would still be a cheaper wedding overall, but the difference was now a lot less dramatic. 

At this point I finally received a local catering quote that didn't make me want to cry, and so, after considering all the pros and cons, we are sticking with the original venue. Which is, after all, my original, love-at-first-sight, dream place to get married. And it's only 20 minutes from home. 

If we were just starting this process knowing what we know now, we would probably choose New Orleans. We've come too far to change everything up now and I don't want to start all over and risk having to move our date forward by as much as 6 months. But this is my advice to anyone thinking about getting married: go to New Orleans! It's super affordable and looks like a lot of fun. And send me an invitation. :)        


  1. Hah! The original venue (and The Venue) look stunning, and I'm glad the pieces are coming together. And while no doubt there will be other low points in this wedding planning process (planning a wedding is perhaps the worst), I'm personally VERY excited to keep hearing about them :) and of course giving very dubious advice where appropriate.


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