we’re getting married

A WEEK OF WEDDING VENUE TOURS

When I got engaged it didn’t really cross my mind right away that the next step was a whole lot of planning. That is until I saw my Grandma. The first thing she told me was “well you have a lot of work to do now.” (don’t worry, she followed up with a big congratulations)

So, two months after our engagement I came home from college for an extended weekend. My mom had planned a long weekend of venue tours. From what I have seen and heard, Long Island weddings are much more elaborate than weddings pretty much everywhere else. Over the course of 5 days me and Michael were booked to take tours of 10 wedding venues.

I have only been to one wedding, in Virginia, and Michael has never been to a wedding, so it’s a tough question to answer when people ask what we’re looking for in our wedding. Of course, I have had a Pinterest board forever, but when you’re venue touring images of your dream dress or cute center pieces aren’t too helpful.

For example, did you know that some venues have more than one wedding on a property at a time, and others promise that you’ll be the only event of the entire day? Or that some venues have partnerships with hotels for cheaper rates and free shuttle services? I had no idea there were so many questions I had to make sure were answered. There are so many things that have to be considered, and I quickly learned that I had no idea what I was looking for. Luckily, I had a lot of people who couldn’t wait to guide me through this process.

Day 1 of wedding venue tours: did we find the one already?

Unfortunately, Michael couldn’t come on the first tour with me. He had work and the venue could only fit us in before he was able to get out. I headed over to Grandma’s house a few hours beforehand to talk about the plan. Me and Michael had bought a wedding planning guide at Barnes and Noble that had some good questions to ask, and my grandma helped me think of a few more.

We had a long list of questions but a few big ones for me were: 

•is there seating for everybody invited at the cocktail hour?

•what is the bar situation like?

•can you comfortably fit over 150 people?

•is there valet parking?

•are there hotels nearby that you have deals with? is there a free shuttle from the venue to the hotel?

So, me and my grandma met Michael’s mom and grandma at our first venue. It had a really stunning entrance driving up with a big pond and swans and beautiful trees. The appearance driving into the parking lot was one of those factors that I had been told some people care about. So we walked up the stunning entrance and said our hellos and peeked into the venue. It was incredible. Way better than I could have dreamed up. I was so blown away by the first venue. It had a beautiful indoor and outdoor space with tons of greenery, think an exotic greenhouse, amazing sounding food, the most beautiful bride (and groom!) suites, and they even gave us complementary champagne on our tour. Also, the woman giving us the tour was great. I was feeling so excited at this point.

After the tour, I had to drive to the train station to pick up Michael and then to the other side of the island for our next tour. I think that was part of the reason I was so drained by the end of the tours. We drove everywhere, and when I say that I mean everywhere on Long Island.

The next tour was very different from the last. It was a beautiful, much more quaint and intimate, Gatsby themed venue. An old manor on the north shore of Long Island. It was run by an Italian family who had passed the manor down through the family for a long time. They were incredibly kind and seemed like they would be so great to work with on planning your special day. Unfortunately, we worried that it may be a little too small for our guest list.

This time it was me, Michael, grandma, and my mom. We decided to all go to a diner after the tour and talk about day 1. It was a really wonderful day but definitely a little overwhelming. It was nice to get in the car with just me and Michael after finishing our dinner and talk about how we were feeling, just the two of us.

couple at a Long Island street fair

Day 2 of wedding venue tours: not for us

Day 2 we only had one tour planned, and it was just me and Michael. We got a little lost on the way, but we figured it out. I think that the car show going on in the parking lot really threw us off. This is the venue that made me realize that I actually did care about a pretty entrance and parking situation. When we arrived, we walked in and there was a wedding set up. It looked beautiful. Unfortunately, we could not find anyone in the building, and we felt a little weird walking around someone else’s wedding. We called and found out they had a separate administration building we had to go to, so we made our way over.

After talking to a mostly nice woman about our guest list, budget, and what we were looking for out of a venue, we made our way back to the main building. It was very pretty. The cocktail hour was a room of all glass walls and looked very magical. Any Pinetrest girls dream. Also, the girl whose wedding was that night had done an incredible job decorating the space. 

I think me and Michael were on the same page pretty early on that it wasn’t perfect. The bridal suite was tiny, and there was no groom’s suite, the beautiful cocktail room could not be used after the first hour, and the floor felt weirdly sticky. Also, I did not love the women who was giving the tour, and we would be working with her throughout the whole process if we booked there. Whenever I asked questions like “can we keep the cocktail room open all night so that if the older adults want to take a break they have a spot to go” she responded with answers like “no you don’t want to do that” or “trust me that’s a bad idea”.

Not to sound like a crazy bride, but I want to work with someone who is accommodating to me and helps make it work when I want something at my wedding. She was definitely not interested in doing that.

When we left and got back in my car Michael and I were on the same page that this venue probably wasn’t for us. I actually couldn’t stop thinking about the first venue from the day before. It really was just so magical. I was pretty bummed that Michael hadn’t seen it and we really were so booked up for the weekend I was doubtful we’d have time for another visit. I told Michael this and we gave both of our moms a call and they agreed Michael would have to see the venue from the day before. Everyone seemed to love it as much as we had.

I ended up calling them, and we scheduled another tour for the next day, early in the morning. I was really excited! Although I was very open minded to seeing other venues and maybe liking them even more, but I loved this one enough to cancel two tours the next day to make a second visit. 

We had the rest of the night off and had plans that night to go to a comedy club fundraiser. It probably would have been funnier after a drink or two, however we had a pretty good time. We got KFC on the way home, and I ended up spending that night at Michael’s house.

Day 3 of wedding venue tours: back to my favorite

I woke up at Michael’s house, and we headed out to my aunt and uncle’s house. They live right around the block from the venue we were visiting and I met my mom and sister there. My sister had a change of clothes for me, one of her first Maid of Honor duties. She was excited to see the venue that she loved in the videos I had sent her. I was so curious to see how Michael reacted. I think I was holding off on loving the venue because you’re not supposed to pick the first one you see. We headed over and made it just in time.

A new woman was giving us the tour, and she was just as lovely as the first. Her tour was brief and then she allowed us to walk around on our own because I had already gotten the full tour. It was hard to tell how Michael felt. My sister on the other hand did not hold back on how beautiful she thought it was. She kept pointing out how nice the quiet music they had on was and how great the cocktail space smelled thanks to all of the beautiful flowers they had planted.

We were planning a spring wedding but visiting in the fall, so they even gave us a folder of images from spring weddings around the weeks that we were looking at. We sat on a bench outside and flipped through them. I’m running out of synonyms for pretty, beautiful, stunning, and incredible, but you get the point.

Me and Michael got in the car after the tour. I was going to meet my mom and sister at home later that afternoon, but me and Michael were going to go grab lunch with his mom and a friend first. (We had some delicious appetizers and I had the best fall sangria)

fall flavored sangria

The reveal: what does Michael think?

The whole time we walked around the venue I was so curious what Michael was thinking. He hadn’t said a whole lot, and this visit made me fall even more in love. 

We got in the car, and he immediately made fun of me. “Were you really considering any other place after your first visit here?” he asked. I told him I was trying to stay open minded, and he thought that was cute. He laughed at me. He was right, it really did seem perfect. I was so glad he loved it. They even had an availability on March 31st of 2023. We could book a Friday night wedding with March prices and it was basically April. It seemed like a great option. We drove to lunch very excited to talk about our visit when we got there.

Day 4 of wedding venue tours: a trip to the aquarium

On day 4 we had one tour planned, the aquarium. Michael saw one day that the aquarium did weddings, and his only request the whole week was that we went and took a tour, so we did.

We got to the aquarium and had to park blocks away in their parking lot for $10. Luckily, the boy there told us there was a parking lot right next door to the aquarium that you “technically” weren’t allowed in, but he told us that’s where he would go if he was us. He was very convincing so we took the risk. (Luckily it paid off)

We were a little confused when we entered the building, but we ended up making our way into their event building and finding the man who would be giving us our tour. He was great. He was so excited to give us our tour and show us why the aquarium was the perfect place to have the most unique and memorable wedding. 

it definitely was unique, he was right about that. You could have your cocktail hour in the same room as the giant shark tank, take pictures getting a big kiss from a seal, and give all of your guests access to the entire aquarium if you wanted to. After cocktail hour was over you made your way up into their hall room which overlooked the outdoor part of the aquarium, and partied in a very nice room. Honestly, if we were more into aquariums we probably would have loved it. We really enjoyed our tour, and it was worth the visit (free aquarium admission!), but we were definitely on the same page that it probably wasn’t for us. However, if you’re looking for something unique or you really love fish, maybe check out an aquarium for your wedding.

Day 5 of wedding venue tours: another favorite venue?

Sunday, the last day of tours, we had two venues planned. Both of these venues were on the water. I am a big beach girl, so it’s a little strange that I never really could imagine myself having a beach wedding. Michael had stayed over my house that night, and me and him met with mom and grandma at our first venue that morning. It was located around the block from the home that Michael lived in for the first few years of his life, so he got to show me that for the first time!

We pulled in and the entrance was beautiful. Right on the water with a great view. The lobby had drinks and very pretty decor. We met with our tour guide who showed us around. It was a beautiful venue with lots of great spaces, and I really loved the idea of having a great outdoor space on the water. The cocktail room had glass walls that opened up onto a huge balcony.

Unfortunately for the venue, we had already fallen in love with another venue, and this one just could not compare. It smelled a bit of fish (Michael here, it was way more than a bit), had a very small bridal suite with no groom’s suite, often had two weddings going on in the same building, and the ball room was two stories above the cocktail room. The stairs seemed like they could have been a little dangerous for one of our older guests or maybe a bridesmaid who had had one too many drinks. We enjoyed our tour, and the venue was beautiful, just not for us.

Onto our last stop, another beach venue that was actually owned by the same company that owned the venue we loved. Michael’s grandma drove her car and we drove mine and met there. Admittedly, it was more beautiful than I had expected. I guess this company just knew how to do weddings better than the rest. We took a tour with yet another lovely lady, and the inside was just as beautiful as the outside. The cocktail space was beautiful, and the ballroom had a huge dance floor. The bridal suite was stunning and had a beautiful balcony over the water. It was great. I actually felt like maybe I loved it as much as the other venue. That might sound exciting, but it was not. Without realizing, I had locked in the other venue in my head, and now I was left pretty confused.

What’s next?

What a crazy week this had been. I learned a whole lot about weddings and what I was looking for. The next morning Michael and I drove up to Ithaca because I had to get back to school, and he came with for a short visit. We spent the next week trying to figure everything out. How much could we afford to spend on our wedding? When did we want to have it? What were our priorities? When should we book? Since our tours, we have booked a venue, and we are so excited for our wedding which is now only 16 months away (which in wedding world isn’t that far away).

In the moment, this week felt like absolute chaos. However, looking back on it, it was a pretty fun experience to spend with my new fiancé. I think it made the wedding feel so much more real and got us really excited for the day. We cannot wait to keep planning, and I feel so much more confident that the day will be perfect knowing that our venue makes me so happy. To keep up with all future blog posts wedding related click here!

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