Wednesday, February 11, 2009

For reals, this time

We have a venue!!!! It's real and almost official!

September 5, 2009 at 6pm, we will wed in Richmond!
The ceremony will be at the University of Richmond Chapel, and the reception will be at The 2300 Club! tada!

Also, while working on that, I found an organist for the ceremony. Elliot Bromlee was recommended by the woman at the chapel, and I totally trust her. We're meeting at the end of next month to decide on music. Yay!

The manager at the 2300 Club has also started doing event flowers in the past few years, and it looks like he does a good job, for what I think is a reasonable price (flower prices are so hard to compare before you have a real quote!). I'm also meeting with him at the end of next month. He has 5 reviews on, and they are all glowing recommendations, so I take that as a good sign.

Also, since we aren't going to have tables for people to sit at, I don't have to worry about centerpieces, so I'm hoping that will free up some of the budget and make room for some decorations for the entrance. Since it's in a residential neighborhood, I'd love to make it stand out a little for our guests. I'm imaging some sort of lanterns hanging from shepherd's hooks lining the walkway, and maybe a little something along the fence too. And maybe a wreath for the front door? (That makes me wonder if I can do something to mark the path from the parking lot to the chapel too...)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reception venue hunt, and learning to make decisions together

First, I was completely set on the 2300 Club. I knew that Mr. L liked it because he raved about the wedding he'd attended there, the price was perfect, and it was terribly historic and charming. Sure, it didn't have a true dance floor, it was split into rooms, and we wouldn't be able to have everyone sit down, but it was charming enough to make up for that. And there was that great price. That totally made up for the lack of off-the-street parking.

But I was looking at heavy hors d'oeuvres there, and Mr. L really just wasn't OK with that. OK. We can handle that. Onward, to find another venue that worked for him in Rich.

I found the Colony Club. It too, was pretty perfect. It was within walking distance of three great hotels, was another historic row house, and was run by an amazing caterer. I sat with her and came up with a menu. We'd have food stations upstairs and people would mingle, and then we'd adjourn to the ballroom downstairs. Sure, the ballroom was kinda lame, but it had a real dance floor and everyone could fit in the same room for dancing and cake-cutting. The cost-estimate came back, and we realized that we'd have to cut back to make it work; a little less food and a lot less people, but I thought it was do-able. Mr. L was again worried about providing plenty of food, and didn't like the idea of having to move everyone downstairs. Fine. Keep looking.

This time, I wasn't limiting myself to Rich. Sure, we had reserved the chapel there, but there was not deposit, and we wouldn't really lose out if we changed our minds. So I looked all over. He thought that it had to be somewhere that we had ties to - OK, that takes a lot of places out of the running. So, I found two places that looked promising around Lex. The Stoneridge Inn, and the House Mountain Inn. I found out that a few of the people I graduated from law school with used House Mountain, and they all said it was great. And there was the great price. So, while we were in Lex for the (failed) e-shoot, we also stopped by both places to have a look.

House Mountain Inn was lovely, in a brand new, huge hunting lodge sort of way. It came highly recommended, and it had great views. There was even a pond by the ceremony site, and there are hiking trails all around. Not a bad way to spend a weekend. But... we just weren't feeling it. It was too new.

So, the next stop was the Stoneridge Inn. It was everything that was missing at House Mountain. It was a historic plantation home, filled with antiques. There was a spring house and a small family graveyard in the back. But, everything (not just the ceremony) would have to be held outside, and the road up to it was gravel. Small details, as far as I was concerned. It was historic, near Lex, and affordable. And we could have the ceremony there, overlooking the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sigh. Enter Mr. L. He thought it was too far from civilization and wasn't really the Lex that he felt connected to. But he did like the ambiance. He also suddenly started to care about the possibility of rain.

And then he brought up the idea of having it at the 2300 Club again. I was more than a little upset. But I took a step back. We definitely had it narrowed down to two locations - 2300 Club or Stoneridge. Richmond or Lexington. I made it very clear that I wasn't going to look at anywhere new. I had exhausted every place that I knew how to find. (And the wedding planner that I would have trusted to take all of this out of my hands was completely booked for our Richmond date.)

And so, we're learning to make this decision together. We have very different decision-making styles (and I've known this for a while). I take in all the info I can get for a limited amount of time. I look at the info I have at that point, and then I make a decision based on what looks best at that point. I eliminate what I can easily (like places that are booked or way out of our price range), and then pick from what remains based on their known pros and cons. And then I'm done. Once I've made a decision, I feel good about it. I know that I looked at many options, and I know that it was the best one. I like to think of this as "the best way" to make a decision.

Mr. L, on the other hand, feels like he must have all of the information before he can make a decision. He worries/is convinced that there is one perfect answer to each question, and he is sure that he'll eventually find it. This is great in many ways. I know that when he gives me a gift, it is well thought out, and absolutely perfect. He also rarely makes impulse purchases, and the vacations he plans really are absolutely amazing. He finds the best hotels/restaurants/recipes and because of this, I have really been able to experience amazing things that I never would have known even existed. I'm really not complaining. Exactly.

The problem is that once I've made a decision, he starts questioning it, wondering if it is the absolute best. It drives me crazy! It makes me think that he doesn't trust my decision making skills, that I really did make a bad decision and he'll never be happy with it, and that I'm a giant failure because I can't even make these decisions! Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but really, it's not much of one. I'm an emotional creature.

And so, I am now trying a new technique. Now that we have it narrowed down to two places, I have let Mr. L know which way I'm leaning, and that I think he's leaning the same way, and that I'm giving us another day (today) to think about it. If we still feel good about it tonight, I'm going to sign the contract tomorrow. And I'm therefore going to have all of the info for our invitations and save-the-dates in to our stationer by the end of this week. And I have hope for this new method. If it works, I'll have a lot of updates this week!

Monday, February 9, 2009

e-pics that weren't

Saturday was going to be a productive day in Lex. We had engagement pics scheduled with our craigslist, student, free photographer. After many emails and a phone call, we had it all set-up... or so I thought. We got there at 2. I realized that I'd accidentally left my cell phone at home. Oops. Not that I had her cell phone number anyway.

At 2:25, there was no sign of her, and no voicemail from her. Damn. So, we opted for lunch and going to check out a couple of venue options (more on that later).

When I got home, I had 3 voice mails from said photographer. The first one was at 2:50, saying that she was running late, but was on her way. Another at 3:10 saying she was there, and another even later, that was the first to leave her actual cell phone number. Seriously? I'm assuming that she thought we were meeting at 3. Lame.

and now, someone else's e-pic, as gratuitous eye candy from the remarkable Scott Hayne.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


We spent Sunday morning starting our registry. I opted for Bed, Bath, and Beyond because I knew that they had a large selection of actual china and silver, as well as nicer pots. It also helped that they have a reputation for having a good return policy, they have stores all over, they aren't going bankrupt (that I know of) any time soon, we can edit the registry online, and guests can purchase online. Generally, prefect.

We spent about an hour. We picked out a china pattern, Mr. L vetoed any more catalog pattern shopping (ie. for silver), and we made it through most of the big kitchen stuff. And then we realized that we have no idea about decorating stuff, because we have no idea where we'll be. Awesome.
Generally, it was pretty easy. I think we both have similar taste, and it was easy to agree on most things. There were a couple of things that only one of us wanted, but none of them were things that would bother the other person (like the pot I wanted. It won't hurt him to have an extra pot in the cabinet).
And Mr. L bought an onion keeper. Apparently he felt that he needed one.
Now, I realize that I really wish I could register with etsy and anthropology. If only.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Over the course of my search for the perfect venue, I have actually looked into over 50 different locations. Is that normal? I wanted a place that was

a: affordable (this proved one of the most challenging criteria, not surprisingly)
b: historic (I wanted it to at least feel historic)
c: unique to Richmond (see b)
d: fairly close to the chapel and to hotels, and that had it's own off-street parking.
e: I wanted it to have a dance floor. I am really excited about our first dance, so a place where it couldn't happen, or where people couldn't see it just wouldn't do!
f: Also it had to be able to accommodate 150 people, seated. (We did end up cutting the guest list considerably, when I realized that feeding 150 people directly conflicted with (a) on this list.)
g: And it had to be available on our date.

Here are the places that didn't make the cut:

2300 Club
Agecroft Hall
Ash Lawn Highland
Bear and Bull
Bellwood Club
Berkeley Plantation
Berry Hill Estate (although, seriously, this place is beautiful!!!)
BlackFinnBoathouse/Gardens at Sunday Park
Carillon at Byrd Park
Carnegie Institution (DC)
Celebrations at the Reservoir
Commonwealth Club
Country Club of Va
Dellwood Plantation
Dominion Club
Gallery 5
Hermitage Country Club
Historic Long Branch
Lee Hall
Legend Brewery
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Linden Row Inn
Mainstreet Station
Maymont Park
Meadowbrook Country Club
Montpelier Center
Morven Park
Oatlands Plantation
Old Original Bookbinders
Raspberry Plains
Richmond Country Club
Science Museum of Virginia
Shirley Plantation
Stonehenge Country Club
The Armour House and Gardens at Meadowview Park
The Manor House
The Place at Innsbrook
The Women's Club
Tobacco Company
Tuckahoe Woman's Club
VCU Scott House
Virginia House
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Westover Plantation
White Hall Manor
White House of the Confederacy
Winterham Plantation
Woodrow Wilson House

Yes, I considered adding pictures, but... really?!

I'm really excited about the venue that we finally decided on! Not only did it meet all of the above criteria, but it also is owed/run by a caterer who is very well-known locally for doing an amazing job. And even more than that, I really liked her! I felt like she understood what I was going for, and really had the expertise to make it happen (and to make it better than I would have been able to come up with on my own). I am soooooo excited about our menu!

However, like any good thing, there is one little detail that I would change if I could. The set-up is such that the guests will eat upstairs (on the main level), which is absolutely beautiful. It's a restored row house, so there are separate rooms, but they are all pretty open to each other, and I think that there is still a good flow between the rooms and the patio. So that's great! BUT, after people eat, everyone will move downstairs to the ballroom, where the dance floor is and where the band will be. It's more open (and there is another bar downstairs), and this is where the 'stuff' will happen - first dance, cake cutting, assorted tosses, etc. Which is fine. But it is very plain. It's everything I was trying to avoid. The walls are bare. The ceiling is a drop ceiling. The dance floor is just kinda there, and there are (currently) some columns draped in fabric and Christmas lights that I totally hate. HATE.

So what do I do with this space to make it tolerable?