When we first got engaged, it was fun to think about all of the things that our wedding could be. But it turns out that what made it so fun was that we were thinking about the planning completely backwards.
Once we started the bigger, necessary steps to get wedding planning off the ground, like looking at venues, my head was buzzing with budgets, locations, and trade-offs — and I wanted nothing to do with any of it.
Let’s step back for a moment.
The “honeymoon period” of wedding planning
Within days of getting engaged, we started to have a lot of fun thinking about the highly personal details of our wedding — the favors, the décor, and the music playlist.
Friends and family back home were all too happy to share in our unwitting bliss by not being concerned with anything more than the ring and the proposal.
But now that we are a couple of months into our engagement, my fiancé and I are past the point where the only question people ask is how he proposed; now, everyone also wants to know whether we’ve set a date.
And setting a date, as it turns out, is overwhelming. It’s overwhelming because in order to set a date, we need to pick a venue. And picking a venue — especially one in New York — is overwhelming.
The reality check
We dutifully started to look into venues online, and asked for recommendations among friends and acquaintances. Before long, we had put together a diverse list of venues — big, small, indoor, outdoor, traditional, alternative, and so forth. And while it did strike us as odd that almost no place publicly listed their prices, with as many options as we had, this was going to be easy, right?
We emailed a dozen of our favorites.
One of the first to get back to us was within walking distance of our homes. I figured this would be a good practice run to get introduced to the process. Even if we didn’t like it, it would inform us to which questions we should ask about other places and how things like decorations and space might come into play.
When we arrived for our appointment, the place seemed nice, if maybe a little old and dusty, but we told each other that just added to its charm. During the tour, we found that if the weather allowed us to have the entire party outside, we’d have to get two different sets of chairs to accommodate grass and rocks — not to mention having to compete with street noise and the unsightly traffic, playground, and alleys visible over the waist-high fences. And if we chose or were forced to hold it indoors, half of our guests would have to stand to watch the ceremony.
The informative, personable director giving us the tour was wonderful, but as every little annoying compromise added up, we started to get turned off.
And that’s when we talked price — a price that would have taken us to the very edge of our budget — and this was before we had spent a penny on anything other than venue, chairs, and food.
I thanked the director warmly, but left in a daze.
I got back home as the emails from the other venues started to roll in — each promising its own high price alongside too many compromises. Looking at the number of places we’d have to weigh these for, I panicked.
I had dreamed our walk-throughs would paint a dazzling picture of our event, but all I felt was anxiety.
It was in this cloud of anxiety about overpriced, compromise-heavy New York venues that we decided to take a long break from even thinking about venues.
But after attending a relative’s wedding a few weeks ago, and having an engagement party last weekend, we realized that the longer we allow ourselves to stay overwhelmed, the longer we put off our wedding, and the further we are from getting married.
We had to get serious about planning again. But this time, I’m determined to make it fun.
In order to work toward securing a venue, while still enjoying the process, we’ll do as much research as possible before the visit and pair each walk-through with an excuse for an adventure, like going on a hike in North Jersey or out for dinner and dancing in Philadelphia.
Do you have any other tips to get over the hurdle of looking at venues?