although other couples may take a different approach, i suspect most wedding planning begins with either a date or a venue or perhaps both. some people want to get married during a specific time of the year; others have had a vision of the ceremony and reception occurring at a certain venue for quite some time. if either of those factors is at play, you and your betrothed might easily be directed to a specific set of choices to fit into that picture. however, phillip and i didn’t fall into either of those categories, and here is what our experience was.
first, phillip and i live in atlanta, ga. known as “the hollywood of the south,” atlanta has grown into quite a diverse and large city. as one can imagine, atlanta really became an oyster in that we had nearly endless options to meet whatever style and feel we want for our wedding day. we could easily go urban and modern and luxurious in a high-rise hotel with a view, we could have something more casual at the local brewery, or we could even have a shabby chic celebration in a restored barn just outside the city limits. do you see where i’m going with this? in a city like atlanta, having so many options can be inspiring but can also lead to indecisiveness. so! my first piece of advise is this: do your research and decide on your top ten venues to tour. you might be thinking that ten sounds like a lot, but something to keep in mind is that the pictures you look at online don’t always actually represent the space. you might come upon a venue that looked like a ten on their website but turned out to be a dud. or, the flip side, the pictures you saw were only somewhat interesting but then the venue was even better in person. the takeaway is that giving yourself enough variety but not too many options will hopefully lead to a venue that is a good representation of what you all want.
second, you actually may not know what you want or don’t want until you see it. unless experienced, this is probably the first wedding you are planning, and as such you likely have no idea how you are going to feel as you go throughout the process. for example, phillip and i had narrowed down our top option to have the ceremony and reception at the same location but then realized that having the ceremony at a church instead was paramount to us. we reevaluated our options and ultimately changed our plans. however, when we signed those contracts and wrote the check, we and our families were elated that we were picking places that would make us both happy. my advice here is to be flexible, patient, and respectful of one another as you explore your wants together. you don’t want to rush a decision as important as this one, and choosing a venue is one of the many things that brings you closer as a couple.
something else i have learned, even this early on in the process, is that nearly every decision you make during wedding planning is going to be emotional. sure, from the outside looking in some choices might seem logical (either option a or option b), but in the couples’ minds, hardly anything is that simple. considering the fact that your wedding day is probably the most important day of your lives thus far, it’s understandable that you want everything to be perfect. although i encourage you to fight for what you want, i do see the sense in also not overthinking things, especially the “smaller” things. maybe i need to write this down and keep it in my wedding binder as a reminder for future decisions…!
finally, as far as choosing where and when to plan your nuptials, i say this: the space you choose may require you to compromise on other aspects of plans you have for your big day. for example, the reception site we chose isn’t conducive to serving dinner family-style, something that was originally extremely high on my priority list. however, as you come across this kind of situation, ask yourself what will be worth it at the end of the day. did i want us to keep looking for a venue just as close to the church that would also do family-style? or was i willing to “give that up” for a gorgeous building inspired by the town of glendalough, ireland? well, the latter ended up being the case, and when this happens, it’s okay. remember, as they all say, sometimes compromise is part of being married. what better practice to get than when planning your wedding? 😉