The one activity that my checklists were missing was: “Get the groom to Minnesota!” For those of you who haven’t read our bio, what this means is not only are we planning a wedding, but we are transplanting this sailor to the North Star state (and his first winter in MinneSNOWta)!
Mike's official welcome to Minnesota as a new resident!
We knew he wouldn’t be moving here until October 2010, so we got a head start on booking the church and reception hall when he flew to Minnesota for a weekend visit in March 2010. Since reception locations book out sometimes years in advance, it almost feels as though you should book it before you meet the guy you are going to marry! Knowing the timing and that we were having a summer wedding I knew we needed to get in gear on this key checklist item!
As soon as I picked him up at the airport, we hit the ground running and it was definitely a marathon weekend!! After we secured the date with the church, our mission was to see as many reception locations as we could in two days (since he wasn’t able to come back until the summer). We knew we might not actually find the location, but if we got to see places together we could narrow down what we were looking for (in case I had to book it without him here).
The great news was after visiting multiple hotels and other venues, we found a place we both loved! The Garden Room of Eden Prairie, which has a spacious atrium area with plants, lampposts, and benches for cocktail hour, and a banquet room with two levels and large windows looking over beautiful gardens as well as an outdoor patio and walking paths. As I was standing there smiling and imaging our first dance and all of the guests sitting at the tables, I looked over at Mike who smiled and said “Awesome! They have an outdoor patio for cigar toasts!” Ummm . . . didn't exactly make MY heart skip a beat . . . but it made him excited and that’s what counts. J We also liked that it offered a la carte packages so we can customize exactly what we want, which is different from many other locations that have packages that may include things you don’t want or wanted to do on your own.
So the great news is the ceremony and reception locations are booked! Whew! While I think that is a big feat, unfortunately it is only two little boxes on that checklist. We saved a lot of the other planning and decisions until he moved here, so now that he is officially a Minnesota resident, we have a lot of decisions to make to get ourselves back on track with these checklists that sometimes make me want to hyperventilate into a paper bag.
A few of my tips/thoughts from our experiences investigating reception locations:
- Try to make an appointment on the weekend (Friday or early Saturday) so you can actually see the venue set up for a wedding (much easier to visualize).
- Know your guest list number. That is one of the first things they ask since they may have rooms of different sizes. Ask how many they seat without putting tables on the dance floor, so no one has to get booted out of their seat.
- Ask how many weddings they book in a night (many times hotels will have one or two large ball rooms that they split with divider walls). Ask how they will separate the guests, where cocktail hours will be, etc.
- If they offer packages, ask if you can add or remove certain elements (such as decorations if you want to do them on your own—but make sure they let you).
- Think about acoustics for music. If you want a band, it might not sound as great if the venue has lots of marble/granite.
- Ask about fees—many places have cake cutting fees, staffing fees, set up/break down fees, etc. Even if you are able to bring in your own alcohol, there is usually a corking fee (which one of my friends avoided by supplying boxed wine)!
Any other thoughts or tips?
Reception Photos (Garden Room of Eden Prairie):