It has been almost three months since I became engaged… I was not expecting to get a ring at that time, but I got to WORK almost immediately.
As most brides know, dates book up FAST. Some brides even book their wedding dates two to three YEARS in advance! Yea. YEARS! I can barely plan a quick get together with friends more than a week in advance. I don’t know how some women can book YEARS in advance. Good for them… But I digress…
Within a week of being engaged I began the HUNT… TORTURE… SUFFERING… and finally JOY of finding my wedding venue. My fiancée and I have a lot on our plates right now. We are currently on a very strict budgeting plan in preparation to buy our first home in the beginning of 2014. We have been counting our pennies carefully. At our age, we are ready to be homeowners! We look forward to the challenge and independence. With the planning for homeownership we agreed that we would be having a small wedding. By small I mean under 50 guests. Also, we knew we wanted a beach wedding. I know that I can see myself with my toes in the sand saying “I DO”. I began breaking down the “musts” and “must nots” of my venue.
– The location had to be ON the beach. Not across the street. Not close to the beach. ON the beach.
– It needed to be close enough that our closest family and friends could travel to the venue without having to book a light.
– It needed to be far enough away to avoid the Miami beach crowds.
– It needed to be “different”. I’m a Miami girl so the beach is a pretty common location for events. We wanted our to have a touch of out-of-the-ordinary
– It needed to be in a location that didn’t have TONS of guests staying there. I don’t want my ceremony to be a spectator show.
– It needed to be a place that wasn’t difficult to walk or get around. The location needed to be “grandma friendly”. Both of our grandmothers have mobility issues and we couldn’t choose a place that would be difficult for them to get around.
– It needed to not be ridiculously expensive. Come on. We are trying to buy a house. We can’t go broke just planning a wedding!
I searched UP and DOWN the Western and Eastern coasts of Florida. I even searched down the Florida Keys. On TWO occasions I found PERFECT places. They both ended up being total heartbreaks.
The first place I fell in love with was in Islamora. It was a small hotel right on the water. The location only had about 20 rooms, and was a reasonable drive from Miami. Sadly, their “SITE FEE” and room rental requirements put our estimated wedding costs at wellllll over $7,500. And that was just for rental of the location and site! Um. NO. I’m trying to have the $5k wedding here! I was completely in love with the place. But I had to keep looking. Brokenhearted.
The second place I fell in love with was on the West cost of Florida on an island. My fiancée and I were SOLD on this location based on the price and the mode of transportation. To get to the island you had to take a 20 minute boat ride over a gorgeous bay. It. Was. Heaven. It ALSO had a horrible wedding/event coordinator who didn’t return phone calls, emails or even show up for a scheduled wedding tour appointment. He didn’t even schedule a replacement person on his behalf. It also fell apart when we saw that all of the houses on the island were raised and required quite a bit of stair climbing. Just for that reason our grandmothers would not be able to attend. With, yet again, a heavy heart I kept on searching…
My search tactics were conventional AND unconventional. I used websites like The Knot… WeddingWire… Etc… Everything I found tended to be outside of my budget… I Google searched like crazy… OH how I GOOGLED. Still. Nada. My best friend even shared venues she found from her own venue hunt last year. I got desperate. I went to the extreme…
I used Google Earth and Hotels.com… How you may ask? I SCOURED the Western and Eastern coasts of South Florida! I literally sat on both sites inching along the beaches making notes of all resorts, hotels, inn, venues, buildings, etc… I contacted no less than 50 venues.
I felt desperate. I felt frustrated. I also felt afraid. I thought I was not going to find a venue that I could afford.
Ladies, I’m here to tell you, there IS a venue out there for you. You WILL get frustrated. You will have days, like I did, where you close your wedding planning binder and lose hope. Thankfully I have some EXTREMELY encouraging and supportive people around me. All I can say is DON’T GIVE UP. Keep searching… You will find it…