So far, the reception venue has been the most problematic/stressful part of my planning process. When I first started my venue search, I found that there are actually a lot of nice venues around here. Like most southern cities, there are old antebellum southern mansions that have been turned into Bed and Breakfasts that are a popular place to have a wedding. Also, with the rustic barn weddings that are so popular now, there are new barn venues popping up in all the small country towns that surround Greensboro.
Photo courtesy of Belmont Estate, Reidsville, NC
Photo courtesy of Starlight Meadow, Burlington, NC
But when I started pricing these places, I came to the realization that it is just not possible with our budget and guest list. Most of the venues are all-inclusive (tables/chairs, linens, food, etc) which can sometimes be a good thing, but when the cost amounts to 75% or more of my budget, I had to realize that the all-inclusive route was not for us.
The church where we are getting married is kind of out in the middle of nowhere, so it has been very difficult for us to find some place for the reception that is 1) in our budget and 2) less than 30 minutes away from the church. My first thought was to have the reception in the church Fellowship Hall, but when I took a look at it, I realized that it just wasn't big enough for our 125 person guest list (but I wasn't too torn up about it, it was UG-ly!).
So then I started looking at anything else in the area that might work, the local state park, community centers, other church Fellowship Halls. Finally, I found something that could work. A church about 25 minutes away had a large, relatively new Fellowship Hall that I could rent out. After searching for 3 weeks, I jumped at the chance. But the more I thought about it, the more uneasy I started to feel. Yes, it was nice, everyone could fit, it was within my budget, but it wasn't what I had always wanted.
This is what I had always had in mind:
Photo courtesy of Southern Weddings
An outdoor reception with a tent set up and tables and chairs underneath. That's the kind of reception that I always wanted, but I didn't think it would be possible with my budget. However, after a pep-talk with my Mom and Geoff, I finally came to this conclusion: this is only going to happen once, now is not the time to settle. I didn't settle with my man, I shouldn't have to settle with my wedding. So we're looking at having a tent set up on the lawn behind the church. Now, everything isn't completely squared away yet, I'm still not sure that the lawn will be big enough for the size tent that we need, so we might have to look elsewhere for a space where we can set up a tent. But ever since I decided that this is what we were going to do, I have felt such a sense of relief.
Although on one hand I am very relieved, I am also well aware that this will in all likelihood put me over budget, which I was trying so hard not to do. I am going to try my best to make sure that it doesn't go too far over budget and I am willing to skimp in other areas to help cover this cost.
The most important thing I have learned so far in this planning process: it's all about compromise. Finding out where you are willing to compromise and where you aren't. And this was just one of those areas where I wasn't willing to compromise.