How the venue search helped me grow as a person

Guest post by Ocelot

Remember when Ocelot struggled with being “bridal enough” when it came to her wedding gown? She's back with another eye-opening (and all too common) struggle — the venue search.

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Here's a shot of the ceremony space. There's a good chance the leaves will be orange like this on my day. Like it's on FIRE!

The venue search has been one of the biggest learning experiences about myself. It took me a while to get over my grand dreams of an elaborate fancy black-tie affair in a posh museum. I had a lot to learn about how inflated my expectations were, even though I previously considered myself immune to the hypnotic bridal magazine photos of “real” weddings that had been staged to the micron. I also learned I am very frugal and this shit just ain't cheap!

I feel like I've overcome a big obstruction — my own over-inflated need for perfection.

I shed a lot of tears in the process. Between a money drought, moving several times and bad luck like a freakin' curse, I was not set up for easy success in the first place. However, the largest hurdle was overcoming these inflated notions I had of what the “average” couple was capable of achieving from various wedding pushers, like magazines and TV shows. Much of what I expected to achieve was not affordable for us. Many venues I liked best were just too far outside our price limit. There were unexpected costs like chair rental and sneaky “wedding taxes” too. I couldn't believe 20,000 dollars was a small sum in the eyes of a wedding planner.

I was frustrated constantly and angry a lot. I am normally a high strung, high emotion person and this was totally draining me. I just thought that if I kept on searching and searching the most perfect, affordable, and available venue would surface and announce its presence like a beautiful wedding whale. That would never happen, and I knew it, I just couldn't stop myself. I didn't want to just pick something out of desperation, but time was running out, people were getting annoyed and, I needed to do something quickly before I went completely nutter-butters.

Finally, after lots of emotions, we concluded that a previously-shot-down modest and affordable venue would have to do. The Mister practically dragged me back there to consider it a second time. It's not fancy, it's small, it has a bunch of restrictions, and it's far from perfect. It's miles from what I thought I wanted, but as my expectations started to deflate, I started to come around. It has four sides, a roof, a floor and a little garden on the side. Add a few posies, a bunch of friends and maybe that would be good enough. Miraculously, they still had my preferred date available.

So, I wrote the biggest number I had ever done on a check — a deposit for the site and the caterer and a signed contract. It was the first thing I purchased for the wedding and there will be plenty more and higher numbers to come. It has become real. I'm getting married for reals.


I feel at peace. I've learned a lot. I feel I've grown a lot as a person. I feel like I've overcome a big obstruction — my own over-inflated need for perfection. There will be more stress and more strange new problems to overcome by the time this wedding day rolls around, for sure. For now, however, a large chunk of it is completed.

Anyone else wrestle with their perfection demons and came out with something not-so-perfect-but-still-good?

Comments on How the venue search helped me grow as a person

  1. Thank you for posting this!
    I am looking for a venue at present, and I am so overwhelmed. I feel like whatever I pick is going to catastrophically ruin our wedding! It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone, and that “real weddings” are not real weddings.

  2. I was in a similar situation. Looking, looking, looking, not finding what I wanted. Then it hit me: the place will be great because the people who will be there are great. The “perfect” place is where you, your friends, and family can have your brand of a fantastic time. The rest is just filler.

  3. Went through the same thing! I started with the idea of a super sexy rooftop ceremony overlooking downtown LA – then I foun out how much that would actually cost. There were plenty of tears as each venue responded w/ a more ridiculous quote than the last. We finally stumbled across a photograper’s blog and saw photos of a wedding at a nearby college – we got our venue and I stopped acting like a crazy person.

  4. I suffer with the endless, horrendous ‘but what if there’s somewhere better out there’ thinking when it comes to, well, all aspects of my wedding. I play music at the very odd wedding (not professionally or anything) and every time I do I am struck with ‘here – oh here’s nice’, ‘ooh what about here – they serve Pimms to everyone coming in’, ‘I like that chandelier’ and ‘I WANT TO GET MARRIED IN A BIG CASTLE’ (this was the most recent after I played at a wedding in a glorious castle and everyone wanted to kill me to shut me up).

    In reality, I booked my venue without having seen it. On the basis of friends’ recommendations, photos and reviews. At the end of the day, we just want somewhere not totally hideous to have some nice food and play a few tunes and kiss and hold hands and say some nice things about each other and then get on with the business of our lives.

    I honestly think that there is huge, unbelieveable pressure on women to be perfect, to host the perfect party, to be the perfect wife, to look perfect, to say perfect things (this expands into our everyday life too – perfect wife, mother, worker, looker, housekeeper, friend, daughter, sister). Just because we can do it all, doesn’t mean like, we have to or anything. Sometimes we can’t afford it or we just don’t feel like it. Authenticity trumps some made-y up-y standard of perfection anyday of the week.

    Congratulations on finding your wedding venue – I know that it will be beautiful and special and just right for your wedding.

  5. From the picture I would never have guessed that you “settled”. It looks beautiful! And once you dress it up with your personal touches I bet you can have something simply awesome.

    Thank you for writing this, though. It really hits home with me as I’m going through the same thing in the venue search. I want a place I can fall in love with that won’t destroy the rest of my wedding budget. It’s definitely been tough but I’ve still got hope 🙂

  6. We have where our ceremony will be held, but the trouble right now is finding a venue for our reception. Neither one of us are even sure where to start since most of the places we’ve found online are WAY out of our budget. Either that or they are closed by October 1.

    Still, even if we can’t find a formal venue, I’m still okay with a tent in my parents’ back yard. Plenty of parking, directions friendly, and someplace we love to be.

    • We had our reception in my in-laws’ backyard. It was lovely and it gave the in-laws something to be in charge of, which they really wanted to do. Win-win 🙂

  7. ADVICE: The first thing you do is ask for a quote for the whole event based on your approximate guest count.

    We got so confused seeing a high rental fee, but low plate prices, then the other way around. Once we got formal quotes that included all FEES & TAXES it was much easier to compare the places within our price range based on how we felt about look’s and offerings. It also turns out that many more places are priced the same … like almost all of them in a similar area. If you are serious about a place make them serious and give you a full quote!!! It is the best advice I can give

  8. I knew where I wanted to get married, I’d seen this great lodge at a local state park and fell in love with it. The problem was we wanted to get married during Spring Break while my finace was off work. He teaches at the UofA. The State Park doesn’t open the lodge until April! We looked around a little bit and finally decided to go ahead and move the wedding date to April so we could get the place we wanted. The best part? This amazing lodge costs $150 dollars a day to rent. It has two big stone fireplaces, two big rooms, bathrooms, a kitchen area and is great. At that price we went ahead and reserved it for the Friday before the wedding so we have it all day to decorate and finish projects. I’m thrilled and so glad I gave up my original date to get the place we love. Only 22 days now till the big day!!

  9. I totally understand this. The main issue I had was finding the perfect place and venue. It’s funny because we initially thought of Port Townsend and having the ceremony Chetzemoka Park (where we were engaged)but I was worried so much about it being too far away for guests or the fact that it was a park. Looked at tons and tons of venues closer to home and became so frazzled my fiance put his foot down and said again “Why not Port Townsend?” Thanks for this post! By the way your wedding venue looks absolutely gorgeous!

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