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Wedding Venue Shopping in Central Florida

by Meghann on February 3, 2012

I’m not sure it hit me just how crazy wedding venue shopping could be until my sister got engaged last May.

When my brother got engaged – it was easy. He and his fiance knew they wanted their ceremony at the local catholic church and their reception at a hotel in nearby Cocoa Beach. They reserved the church and found the only hotel on the block in their budget and booked it. Done.

My sister and her fiance weren’t as confident with their needs. They wanted an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception for 150 people. Simple and basic. However, it was once they started seeing real budget numbers and had to make decisions on when the ceremony would start, when the reception would end, and other little details when comparing venues, they became overwhelmed and decided to step back. Months went by and everything booked up – fast. My sister ended up scrambling around Central Florida, looking for ANYTHING that had her date available (the date was important, since my doctor brother already put his time off in for 2012). She ended up booking the first place she found that was semi-reasonably priced and had her date.

The whole thing ended up being a huge headache for my sister. The first thing she said when I got engaged was ‘Learn from my mistakes! As soon as you find a venue you like – BOOK IT! Don’t waste time.”

She didn’t have to tell me twice. Just for fun, I decided to call my number one venue pick at the time (Winter Park Farmer’s Market) just to see if any dates were available. There weren’t. In fact, there wasn’t a free Saturday open until May 2013. Crap.

The venue didn’t end up working out for other reasons (it’s too small to hold our 150 potential guest list), but that moment of realization that places are ALREADY booking up for January, had me on the move – fast.

I ended up finding two amazing venues that I’m still debating between (Birdsong Barn and Cross Creek Ranch), but here’s a list of other venues I looked at and the reasons why they didn’t work out.

Winter Park Farmer’s Market

winterparkFM.jpg

(source)

I LOVE this space and if I could somehow whittle my guest list under 125 (the ‘limit’ is 140, but that’s a TIGHT squeeze) I would have booked here in a heartbeat.

Pros:

  • Budget friendly ($1100 to rent the space + tables & chairs)
  • Great location that’s easy to get to for local guests
  • Blank canvas – no catering or liquor restrictions
  • Lots of personal meaning behind it, Derek and I used to come here for the Saturday morning market when I lived in Orlando and we went on many dates on Park Ave.   

Cons:

  • Too small
  • No open Saturdays in January 2013 (although Fridays and Sundays were completely open)
  • Loud train nearby
  • Time crunch – wouldn’t be able to start decorating until 4:00pm

Duncan House

Screen shot 2012-01-31 at 12.08.00 PM.png

Pros:

  • Beautiful space on Lake Dora
  • Budget friendly ($1500)
  • Local hotel nearby with shuttles or you can rent out the 8 bedroom house to stay for the entire weekend
  • No liquor restrictions

Cons:

  • Would need to rent chairs, tents, dance floor, decorations, etc. (which turns the venue into not-so budget friendly)
  • A far drive for anyone attending the wedding
  • After looking at photos and several emails with the girl, it just didn’t feel like ‘us’

The Lange Farm

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Pros:

  • Gorgeous farm setting in Dade City
  • Price includes chairs and table rentals
  • Lots of pretty photos when googled
  • Inside space for reception

Cons:

  • The space was gorgeous for the ceremony, but I was not a fan of the look of the garden house space for the reception (our party size was too big for the barn reception space :()
  • Catering and liquor restrictions
  • When all the numbers were crunched this place was way out of budget.

Cypress Grove Estate House

Screen shot 2012-01-31 at 12.00.19 PM.png

Pros

  • Beautiful space in Orlando, FL
  • Could hold our party size

Cons

  • It was so far out of our price range that I actually laughed out loud when I saw how much just food would cost.

Laurelwood Gardens

Screen shot 2012-01-31 at 12.12.41 PM.png

Pros:

  • Budget friendly ($975 to rent the venue space, tables & chairs, decorations and day-of coordinator. $450 to rent the tent to hold up to 200 people)
  • No catering or alcohol restrictions
  • Super sweet family that owns and runs the venue

Cons:

  • More of a garden than the rustic feel I was going for

Maison and Jardin

Screen shot 2012-01-31 at 12.14.59 PM.png

Pros:

  • Easy to get to location in Orlando
  • Beautiful grounds

Cons:

  • Too many hidden costs and random fees
  • Not exactly our style

Do you have any Central Florida venues to add to the list?

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