One of the things that surprised me the most after I got engaged was that, even though I’d been thinking about marrying Sam for years and planning my wedding for the past 24, I had no idea where I actually wanted to get married.
In middle and high school, I had visions of tying the knot at the Plaza Hotel in New York City (before Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway made it popular in Bride Wars). I remember I even e-mailed the Plaza to inquire about the length of the waitlist. Needless to say, they never responded. Now, roughly 10 years later (read: wiser and more realistic), I knew the Twin Cities would be my wedding’s host city, but as for the venue, I was completely clueless.
Before booking any vendors, you need a date and venue, so we got started on our search a few weeks after getting engaged. After talking about the budget with our parents and sketching out a rough guest list, we knew what we could afford and how much space we needed. There were only two requirements: We didn’t want a downtown wedding (costs and the traffic volume tend to be higher) and it had to be in the fall (my favorite season). Other than that, we were pretty open-minded.
I started my research by scouring bridal resources and talking to recently married friends. When I saw a venue I liked, I e-mailed the staff about pricing. If it was too expensive, I crossed it off the list; if it was within our budget, I scheduled a tour.
We visited five venues over the course of a month—an arboretum, a hotel and conference center, a lakeside property, and two golf clubs—before making our decision. In June, we put down a deposit on the Minneapolis Golf Club in St. Louis Park for October 29, 2016.
It’s everything we could’ve ever imagined for our venue, and more. Celebrating its 100th birthday next year, MGC is one of the oldest, most historic golf clubs in the state, so it jibes perfectly with our vision for a more traditional, romantic setting. The fireplaces in the lobby (which will be used for the cocktail hour) will do wonders to achieve that cozy feeling we’re going for, and guests can step out onto the twinkle light–decked patio for a breath of crisp fall air—and a gorgeous view. There’s also a room on the second floor that will come in handy for my bridesmaids, moms, hair/makeup team, and me to get ready in the morning (read: drink mimosas and blast Michael Bublé while we primp).
Above all, I think what really made Sam and I fall in love with MGC (aside from the fact that we can do our ceremony and reception in one location) was that we will be the only wedding party onsite on our special day. While we were touring venues, I was shocked to discover that many of them host multiple weddings on the same day. How are you supposed to feel special when you see other brides traipsing around? I’m so grateful that’s not the case at our venue. Thanks to the intimate vibe and amazing staff, I know Sam and I will feel like the only bride and groom in the world that day.
I will admit, I had my first (and hopefully only) wedding breakdown while trying to pick our location. I was blubbering about whether or not we were making the right decision with the venue when Sam said, “Don’t be upset! We are planning the most important day of our lives. This process should be fun!"
I really took that to heart. I don’t want to look back on this incredible time 50 years from now and remember the stress; I want to remember the happy, little moments—like the funny things Sam said about weddings during the planning process (seriously, I'm keeping a notebook), the look on my mom's face when I walked out of the dressing room in the first wedding gown I ever tried on, or how the whole experience further bonded our families. Since then, all of our decisions have felt so much easier. I’m sure we have some stressful times ahead, but as long as I keep the big picture in mind—that I get to marry the love of my life!—I know our day will be unforgettable.
A few tips . . .
- Learn wedding lingo like “room rental fee” and “food and beverage minimum,” and ask about those costs upfront. You don’t want to be surprised by any hidden fees that may push the venue out of your budget.
- Book early! I can’t stress this enough. I thought we had more than enough time 18 months out, but when I inquired with MGC about dates for October 2016, I was shocked that they only had one Saturday left. You can imagine how quickly I snatched that up.
- Research as many venues as your heart desires, but try not to tour more than five. Eventually they will start to look the same.