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The Tale of Two Venues

by Meghann on February 6, 2012

Are you tired of hearing about venue shopping yet? This is the last one. Pinky promise.

Derek and I picked a venue over the weekend. After meeting with the people at Cross Creek on Wednesday, it was really the only thing we could talk about this weekend. There was a lot of going back and forth, a lot of last minute emailing and chatting with other venues, and a lot of talk about finances and our future. It’s crazy how planning a wedding really makes you and your fiance step back and talk about the important things like your future, especially when you’re putting up a good chunk of change out of your own pocket for it.

Cross Creek is gorgeous, there is no doubt about that, and it would be nice to have everything wrapped up in a neat little package where you basically show up on your wedding day and just enjoy it, but the more we thought about that, the more we realized that wasn’t for us.

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It was more than just the money. If we got our guest list under 125, went with the cheapest food option, and cut back on the dress, invitations, favors, etc. the wedding total would only be $1500-ish over our original budget and still well under what ‘the norm’ is for weddings out there. BUT – now this is a big but – there were other things to consider.

We didn’t like that it was their contracted vendors or nothing. I really have this dream of my grandmother making her famous red velvet cake for our wedding and filling the rest of the table with an array of homemade desserts like chocolate chip cookies, whoopie pies, cupcakes, brownies, etc. That wouldn’t be possible at Cross Creek. We would have to get our cake (or any other dessert) through them and pay a premium for it.

I didn’t think food was important to me, but it is. Going with the cheapest catering option just wasn’t something I wanted to do. If Derek had pushed the venue I would have been all for it, but that was a big reason why I wasn’t pushing for it on my end.

Alright, maybe it does have a little bit to do with money. Spending $1500 over our intended budget would mean cutting back on our honeymoon. With the other venue we’re able to include our honeymoon in our original budget (and not as an addition) and go on a really kick ass one.

And I know people asked about saving at Cross Creek, but everything is set at a locked price. We were given an off-season discount and there is no difference in price between a Saturday and a Friday wedding. Trust us. We tried.

So, where does that leave us? Oh, yes. Birdsong Barn.

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It’s not official until Derek sees it next week, but I’ve already spoke with Luanne to lock down our date. (p.s. Cross Creek already booked up on January 5th – which was my sign that it wasn’t for us and proof that wedding dates book up FAST).

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What it comes down to with Birdsong is the FREEDOM we have to do everything we want to. Yes, it’s a little extra work, but saving over $6000 (!!) when all is said and done (yes, I’ve already contacted vendors for price quotes and added in wiggle room just in case) is worth it. I’ve spoken to a highly recommended caterer who is flexible with the menu and handles table set-up the day of, the contact at Birdsong will help with decorations and has given me free reign to everything she already has on hand, and I have no problems with hiring a coordinator to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible the day of.

The total venue fee includes the space for 24hrs, chairs and table, access to all the decorations on site (actually that’s an additional $50), onsite parking, onsite bathroom (with running water – some people asked), fire pits with sticks, and linens (china place settings can be rented for $2 per head, but I struck a deal with the caterer to have them added-on on her end for no charge).

We just need:

  • caterer (I have one, just not officially booked yet)
  • photographer (my cousin is doing Kelly’s wedding and I would love to book her for my own)
  • chairs for the ceremony (contacted the rental company already)
  • officiant (Derek and I need to discuss this)
  • DJ
  • Cake (Grandma?)
  • Bar Tender + Alcohol (I can get a licensed bartender through my caterer and alcohol for cheap from BJs)
  • my dress (we’re shopping in March)
  • invitations and save the dates
  • favors
  • heaters
  • flowers
  • bridal party gifts
  • hair and make-up
  • tux rental for Derek

What am I missing?

We also have a larger space so that 150 people shouldn’t be a problem (the space can hold 185, but I’m sticking with 150 – sorry Mom!). Weather is still at the top of my mind, but my Dad is already coming up with ways to close the barn in if weather is an issue. This means I get to spend 335 days crossing my fingers for warmth, but we’ll cross that boat when it gets here.

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I never thought I would like the idea of getting married in my hometown, but the more I think about waking up in my childhood room the morning of my wedding and going on a quick 5k run with my bridesmaids before we start to get ready, the more I like it.

Derek and I are really excited about our decision and can’t wait to dive into the little details.

Let the nitty gritty planning begin!

{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Krissy @ Shiawase Life February 6, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I am so glad you chose this one!! When we planned our wedding we were so glad to have flexibility over everything, I’m sure you will be sooo glad you made this decision!
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2 Anne P February 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Ahhh so exciting!! That place looks amazing and it sounds like you guys weighed all the options and really made the right choice for you. Can’t wait to hear more as you plan!
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3 JessicaE February 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I think its a GREAT idea to not skimp on the honeymoon budget! My husband and I are both a bit anti social, so we had a quick small wedding, got the heck outta there and had the time of our lives on our honeymoon :D. The time spent together with your new husband is much more important than the actual wedding day, in my opinion :)

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4 Anne P February 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm

p.s. One other option to save money is to nix favors – we’re doing that. While they can definitely be a cute touch if done well, most of the weddings we’ve been to we’ve ended up just throwing them away eventually. We figured open bar was more important. :) Just a thought!
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5 Meghann February 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I was thinking about just putting favor bags next to the dessert bar so guests can bring desserts home with them as the favor. :)

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6 Anne P February 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm

GENIUS. Edible favors = win. And no work beforehand or extra money for you = major win.
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7 RunEatRepeat February 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I second this idea! I always toss favors, but loved the candy at my friend’s wedding in Nov!
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8 Claire February 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

One of my friends is doing this too – she actually got cute little chinese food take-out boxes for like $3 for all of them.

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9 Emily G. February 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm

OrientalTrading.com is good for something like that!!

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10 Kimra February 6, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Yep, I did that. I ordered paper bakery bags online from some bulk supplier and printed some cute stickers on my home printer to decorate them. We made cookies from both families’ family recipes and encouraged people to take them home (and we also directed guests to our website if they wanted the recipes!)
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11 Sarah February 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm

We did a charity donation (for the MS Society, near and dear to my family) and wrote out little cards for each table explaining the donation in lieu of favors. I got several sweet comments (and one tearful brother) about it. People really don’t like wasteful party favors I guess!

Something edible was my second choice. Everyone likes something tasty.

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12 lynne @lgsmash March 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm

we’re doing a donation to charities too instead of favors – my fiance’s mom died of breast cancer when he was young and my family has lost an aunt to suicide and depression so we’re leaving table cards letting guests know we’ve made donations on their behalf to the American Cancer Society and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. much more meaningful to us.

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13 Sarah February 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I love that you put sorry Mom after your guest count!! Story of my wedding planning life!!!

Looks like you guys are right on track!!
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14 Krissy @ Shiawase Life February 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm

p.s. I know you already have a photog in mind, but I just wanted to throw this out there – my amazing wedding photographer used to live in Titusville and though she now is in the DC Metro area, you should check her out if you need photog options :)

amandamcmahon.com
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15 Abby February 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Congratulations, such a cute location! Picking the venue really is the hardest part- now you get to do the fun stuff!

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16 Amanda February 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Very exciting! I honestly thought that picking the venue and setting the date was the most stressful decision so far! May just want to consider a few other little things – veil, shoes, jewelry for you, items like programs, guest book, card box? Ceremony music?

Congrats!

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17 Meghann February 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Yes! Thank you for the reminders! I actually have a cute story for the veil that I’ll have to blog about when the time comes.

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18 janene February 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

It’s funny you mention those little details – that’s where we saved all of our money! We nixed programs, I made our “guest book” (which was a fingerprint tree – I drew the tree, guests did the rest), we used an antique cake cutter from my parents’ wedding, baskets from my Mom’s kitchen for the cards, and our Guinness pint glasses for the toast! These little things can get so insanely out of hand, and they were all free for us! :)

Also, I love seeing old photos at weddings- we had our parents & grandparents wedding photos along with some other family photos, and guests said they LOVED looking at them during cocktail hour – free decor, too!

As for music, we just hooked my computer up to the venue’s sound system – I spent maybe 20 bucks on iTunes, but mostly used songs we already had and had complete control over the music. We put my cousin in charge of “DJing” – he just used a remote app on his iPhone and it worked like a charm!

I wanna get married all over again, that day went by WAY too fast! :)
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19 Allison February 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Buy bourbon and you are supposed to bury it at the site a month before the wedding at the same time for good weather! Weird southern tradition that I found since my daughter is also having an outdoor wedding in November. And our photographer is from Titusville also and was priced well boy did we get some high prices, tarasprocphotography.com. I don’t blame you for wanting your cousin as well so I hope that works out for you.

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20 Meghann February 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I went to high school with Tara! This is my cousin’s webpage http://www.andreahubbell.com/

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21 Allison February 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Small world, small town! Her engagement pictures turned out so cute, you can see some on Tara’s facebook page. Laura and Jonathon pics. She just ordered her photobook to use for a guestbook.

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22 Nicole February 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm

You want a bartender who has a license but also buys the alcohol and has insurance (if they are legit – they won’t let you buy the alcohol yourself). If you buy the alcohol, if something happens you could be sued. If you have a licensed bartender with insurance – then it becomes their issue because they bought it and are serving it.

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23 kristin February 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Depending on the size of your bridal party, many tux rental places will throw in the groom’s tux for free if the groomsmen rent theirs there. It saves about $150. Every little bit helps!

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24 Jessica February 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Invitations :) :) :)

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25 Meghann February 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Is that your way of telling me you’ll help with invitations?!?! ;)

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26 Jessica February 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm

UM yes. Sign me up!
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27 Kate February 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I juuust sent you an e-mail with some recs for flowers, wine, cake and a few other things. I’d also look at Total Wine for liquor — they beat BJs price-wise on more than a few things for us. Plus, it doesn’t go bad, so if something’s on sale, or you find a good deal anywhere stock up and just store it. We also had a January wedding, so we took full advantage of holiday season discounts, too.

We didn’t do favors; after searching high and low for mini-marmalade jars (we did more of a citrus-heavy vintage-y Old Florida thing) which I was dead set on and not being able to find any, I just said screw it. You know what? NO ONE CARED. I spent the money on awesome toys, coloring stuff and glow bracelets (oh, so many glow bracelets) for the kids tables and even the adults had more fun with that than anyone would have with something to take home.

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28 Amanda February 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Congrats on making a venue choice! I choose a similair venue where we set up eveything for ourselves and I wouldn’t change it! We had pulled pork and BBQ chicken catered and did our own apps and desserts. People still rave about our dessert spread that was made by my mom. It was a lot of work, no lie, but our wedding was paid for 100% by us and well (WELL) under the normal wedding budget (some people spend the same amount we paid for our whole wedding for 120 people for just their flowers!). Our wedding was rustic and unique and 100% personalized. It sounds like you are on the road to a wedding that is just as heartfelt.
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29 Amanda February 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Oh and about the weather: We wanted to get married outside. Our date was 10/1 in upstate NY. We ended up with weather that was 40* and POURING. It was still a blast though. The umbrellas in the pictures are so sweet and eveyone survived without any heat! We just set up a big basket of umbrellas buy the door because it was a bit of a walk to the bathrooms :) It was 70 degrees and gorgeous the next weekend. You just never know, but the weather won’t wreck anything, only make the memory sweeter!

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30 Lindsay @ Running the Windy City February 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Congratulations! I’m so happy that you’ve picked a venue and are pleased with the decision! I look forward to reading about the rest of the planning :)
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31 Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life February 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm

It sounds like you two have put a lot of thought into it and wherever you choose will be perfect! I would also include in your budget postage for invites and thank you cards (along with thank you’s), also dress alterations, any gratuity, and keep in mind if you want to do any gifts for your parents. I hope that helps.. :-)
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32 RunEatRepeat February 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Where do I get in some of Granny’s red velvet cake?! Yes please.
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33 Cara February 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Wow so exciting! What a beautiful venue and so much fun that you “get to make it your own”!
I also was unsure about marrying in my hometown, but when it came down to it I had the same thoughts as you. Waking up in my childhood bed and running a familiar route with my bridesmaids would be perfect :)

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34 ct cupcake February 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm

transportation to and from the wedding for yourselves/bridal party ?
tips for all the vendors?
shoes and accessories for yourself/the bridesmaids? as a many time bridesmaid- there is nothing worse than being told, oh you have to wear these shoes/jewelry and being expected to purchase expensive, otherwise unusable accessories such as icky dyeable shoes.

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35 Poptartyogini February 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Yes!! That’s the one I was cheering for. It looks so romantic. It is also priceless to get ready for your wedding day in your childhood home. You’ll be so happy. Heck, I’m happy for you. Scratch venue off the list!
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36 Tami February 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm

We had to lie ans say my mother owned a bakery. It she has been making wedding cakes for 30+ years so it was worth it

We had small (but still big) cakes as the centerpieces for our tables!!! We invited people. To eat fake whenever they wanted too…everyone knows how much I love cake so it went over well and people were thrilled that we didn’t make them wait-nearly all the cake was gone by the end of the day

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37 Madeline - Greens and Jeans February 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Too funny because even though we thought about places all over the US, we ended up booking a venue in my hometown too! The more I think about it, the more excited I get to be able to have a place that means so much to me be a part of my memories of my wedding.
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38 NJ February 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Justr some recs…

I think Sensational Cermonies serves your side of FL too… they are the best around and a JOY to work with. We used Rev. John Shaw but they all have nothing but great reviews. They will do non-religious, religious but non-denom, etc. whatever you want. Great prices too. Check them out I would not have used anyone else.

For flowers, a friend of mine orderd from Costco and arranged her own the day before. They looked great and flowers are a great place to save money.

Favors= anything not edible will be tossed/left at the site. Anything with your names/date will probably be tossed by most people too. Go with edible!

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39 Victoria (District Chocoholic) February 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm

-Marriage license (no, really, people forget about this until it’s last minute)

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40 Jessica February 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I’ll second that and add:

-Guest book (Traditional/Photo Based/Other)
-Candles/Votives – I got ours from QuickCandles.com
-Garter
-Dress Accessories (Veil/Undergarments/Shoes/Hairpiece etc.)
-STAMPS (not cheap :( )
-I’ll second edible favors, we chose to do CD’s only because we had the supplies laying around already. Surprisingly, a lot of people took them home. Guess we were lucky.
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41 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm

All I can think of is paper things for the day of: programs, place cards, menus, etc. And I think this sounds like the best choice for you so you can make your wedding exactly what you imagined it to be!
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42 Cait's Plate February 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm

It’s beautiful!!
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43 Emily G. February 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Gifts for the bridemaids and groomsmen! Although it isn’t necessary, it is appreciated. I was in my aunt’s weddning she got all the girls the jewelry she wanted us to wear in the wedding that way no one could “out shine” her or be too over the top.

Another thing to consider is the rehersal dinner. I’m not sure yalls finances and who is paying for what, and it’s none of my business but that’s a little chunk of change to consider, too!

Another thing – hostess gifts/thanks you for the people throwing your bridal showers. They don’t have to be expensive, but something that definitely shouldn’t be left out!!

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44 Hillary February 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Hearing you plan your wedding reminds me how much WORK it is! Granted it’s fun work, but it is work. When my best friend was planning her wedding last year, I was overwhelmed by all the details!

Congrats on finding your place—it sounds like you love it!
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45 Natalie @ Adventures in Jackson February 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Not sure if this is a big deal or not, since I’m not married – but what about a car or something that takes you away after the reception. Some people rent old cool cars or a carriage or something…a horse-drawn sleigh would be SO cute given your theme!
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46 Silvia @ skinny jeans food February 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm

You have this extended expert party-throwing family (as seen on your Thanksgiving posts) — I am sure they all be happy to be involved, take a responsibility, and also things are always more fun if you have a responsibility… you guys will wing it!
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47 Jamie February 6, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Hey Meghann! Yay for January 5th, that’s my birthday! I got married this past July and one idea that I was excited about during planning and absolutely LOVED how it turned out was our “guest book”. Instead of buying a book, my family purchased postcards from my home state of Arkansas (where we were married) and my husband’s family collected postcards from Texas (where he’s from) and where we now live. Our guests could choose whichever state they wanted and they filled it out with their well wishes and placed it in a glass bowl. Then, my parents collected them at the end of the night and mailed them to us while we were on our honeymoon. I’ve got to tell you, getting home from our trip was so awesome when we opened up our mailbox and got to read all of the wonderful postcards from our friends and family. We also did a photobooth where each person got two strips, one for our album and one to keep. We loved that album so much, we’ve also made a matching album for our postcards and it makes such a wonderful memory. Happy planning!! :)

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48 Caroline February 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Congrats on your beautiful venue choice! It looks awesome and will make for a great environment and beautiful pictures that day!
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49 wymberley February 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Chill girl, you have plenty of time! Its like buying all your baby stuff before your showing…enjoy the ride! way to be on the ball though.
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50 Katie Southard February 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Go to theknot.com
Start an account with them. They have all sorts of checklists and timelines to help you plan!!! Was my surviving tool!!

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51 SaraRM February 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm

I think you made a great decision. Lot more to do yes but it will be fun. And maybe with the money you saved you can recruit a day of coordinator to do all the tidus details so you or family dont have to worry about it. Now that is money worth spending!

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52 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs February 6, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Congrats on making the decision! Sounds like it was totally the right one for you. I think the venue will be absolutely beautiful when it’s all gussied up :)
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53 melissa (fitnessnyc) February 6, 2012 at 8:24 pm

I think you are making the right decision, it will be wonderful!
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54 Rachel Wilkerson February 6, 2012 at 8:27 pm

It sounds like you really did your homework and went over this from every angle! You must be so excited on finally having that major detail worked out…happy planning from here!
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55 Victoria Runs February 6, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Whatever venue you chose, it will be fabulous because it’s your wedding day! I am getting married March 3rd, my bridesmaids and I are running in a 5k that day too! I love the idea and the afterglow :)
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56 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy February 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm

So exciting! I think the only thing you left off your list is the honeymoon..but you have plenty of time to plan for that!
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57 Laura @ Backstage Balance February 6, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience here! Wedding planning is something that I don’t know much about, but it seems a little less intimidating now.
Sounds like you snagged a great deal! And I LOVE the look and feel of Birdsong :-)
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58 Melissa @TryingtoHeal February 6, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Yay!!!! I’m so glad you went with that venue!!!! I loved it the first time you posted about it!
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59 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife February 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I am SO glad you chose that one!! It is going to be awesome! I LOVED the flexibility a venue is when it’s not locked down in a contract. Our wedding was awesome b/c of that!
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60 Emily February 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Ceremony plan! With all the wedding porn out there, it’s easy to get caught up in the details and the reception, but the ceremony is super important! Choosing readings, vows, music, and other aspects of your ceremony are very important.
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61 Marie February 7, 2012 at 6:56 am

Congrats on choosing the venue. You are smart to get a head start, the venue & the church (when an option) seem to book up the quickest! I had NO CLUE about anything when I got married but it all worked out. We concentrated more on good food & making sure the guesrs had a blast as well. The day goes by so quickly!! Don’t forget to add wedding bands to the list also! Congrats on everything!!! So exciting!!!

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62 Hope @ With A Side Of Hope February 7, 2012 at 7:44 am

Congrats on choosing a venue! :) It’s best to get the big things out of the way, venue, catering, music, etc. Then you can focus on the other things and won’t seem as overwhelming.
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63 Allison February 7, 2012 at 8:04 am

Congrats on picking your venue.. it looks amazing! For our guestbook we bought a Florida nature photography book that had a lot of white space and just had people sign in the blank areas. It turned out great! I made my invitations and I had a lot of compliments on them.. saved me a ton! I’d be glad to help out when the time comes!

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64 Sara February 7, 2012 at 8:46 am

Sounds like you made the best choice! Congrats! If there was no wiggle room with the other venue, then I would have gone this direction too! My brother and his wife used a day of coordinator and it ran very smoothly. She made sure she knew everyone’s name in the wedding party, and parents, and directed the whole thing! Just as worry free as having an all-inclusive venue.

If you need any honeymoon suggestions, we stayed at a beautiful all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. There were lots of great activities, and we also went to this really fun adventure park called XPLOR.

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65 Laura @ My Pink Thumb February 7, 2012 at 8:53 am

So glad you chose a venue! If I hadn’t gotten married on a beach down south, I would have totally gone with something like this. ;) I think it’s going to be gorgeous!!

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66 Emily February 7, 2012 at 9:27 am

Yay for being nearly certain on your venue!
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67 Danielle Dillard February 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

Great… now you have me wanting to get married and I’m not even engaged! I better stop surfing the net for venues ;-) Hah!

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68 Kristin @ FoodFash February 7, 2012 at 10:05 am

Congratulations! I’m sure you have a huge sense of relief now that the venue is chosen and you have more financial flexibility for the details you’ve always pictured having. I’m so happy for you!!
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69 The Many Thoughts of a Reader February 7, 2012 at 10:55 am

You could probably even save more by not doing Save the Dates. And since it is an outdoor place you shouldn’t have to worry too much about additonal flower costs.
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70 Callie February 7, 2012 at 11:10 am

Congrats on picking a venue! So exciting!!!
Have you considered hiring a videographer?

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71 Michelle February 7, 2012 at 11:31 am

Congrats on picking a venue!

One thing I totally spazzed on (and wish I did better) was gifts for the parents. We ended up giving everyone nice picture frames and a wedding picture (once we got them) – but it was completely uncreative.
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72 Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope February 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I found it odd in a previous post when you mentioned going cheap on food. This just seemed opposite of what a food blogger would say! ha
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73 Allison February 7, 2012 at 11:31 pm

You’re missing the wedding rings!
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74 amy February 14, 2012 at 12:27 am

Im actually planning a wedding as well and we looked into a destination wedding in florida (im in Boston, MA) — have you said what your budget is? I am curious since weddings here are pretty pricey too.

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75 Kimberly January 18, 2013 at 1:18 pm

We just heard about this place through a friend that is attending a wedding here in two weeks ish. Congrats to you and your man, and its nice to see someone else and their thought process so I can feel more at ease reading about others going through the same thing, makes a difference so thank you for sharing :-). Also I was wondering did you include your rings, dress and tux in the budget too? We’re finding a date and its funny to think the date has meaning but it’s really honestly what works best for us, our parents, and if the venue is open that day which makes me laugh compared to how I thought it was, ” this day spoke to me and that’s why you get married on that day”. Reality- this was available and it fits ours and our parents needs.lol. The day will become special to us and I had to flip my thinking. Anywho lots of luck to you and thanks for sharing:-)

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