Besides the fact that I’d already extensively researched The Sanford House in Arlington and pretty much liked everything about it, I started to get cold feet and researched some other venues.
1. Ashton Gardens
Image via Ashton Gardens
This venue is simply stunning. The venue operates with an all-inclusive package (food, drink, cake, location), but for a June Saturday wedding it would run us close to $20k, and that was before photography, videography, DJ, or anything else. Our original budget was supposed to be $16k, and it has crept up to close to $18k. Although this venue is absolutely gorgeous and very tempting, I couldn’t see how we would have made it happen for less than $25,000. As lovely as it was, we just had to pass on it.
2. Sheraton Arlington Ballroom
Above images via Sheraton Arlington Hotel on Flickr
I remember attending a school dance at this venue in high school and thinking it was really amazing. The ballroom is literally suspended over a little lake with fountains. I emailed a little bit back and forth with the coordinator, but was surprised when I didn’t have the same interest in this property as the others. I wasn’t eyeballing my inbox hoping for speedy responses, and I just couldn’t picture us there. There was no charge for using the space, but there were lofty food and beverage minimums, with catering starting at $40 a person. The food sounded delicious, in their defense. However, the open bar charge for four hours was about $45 a person. All in all, the food prices might have balanced out the lack of charge for the space and they did have more rooms for our guests, but we still weren’t crazy about it.
3. Paradise Cove, Lake Grapevine
Images via Paradise Cove
This venue we explored because of his family’s attachment to Lake Grapevine. They dock a boat there, so we spend a great deal of time every summer on the lake! It wasn’t the prettiest venue we’d seen, even with the lake views. The low, sloping ceiling also made it seem cramped. I’m 5’10″ and the Mr. is 6’4″, so ceilings are important to us! The lease-only package was actually pretty reasonably priced, but for the same price at the Sanford House we would get linens, four hotel rooms, valet parking, and setup and break-down. They did allow outside catering, and the company they preferred had really yummy sounding food. I never did get around to asking for a catering estimate. Couples could also buy and bring their own alcohol to be served by Paradise Cove bartenders. I’d have to say that this was the most temping option. It was also close to the church Manatee-In-Law was pushing we have the ceremony at. More on that later.
In the end, we decided to meet my parents for brunch at the Sanford House and let the food do the deciding for us. Since our biggest concern was that they required we use their caterer, the food had to be up to snuff. And it was! My stuffed chicken was to die for, Mr. Manatee’s steak was cooked perfectly, and as an added perk, my mom was excited to see eggs Benedict on the menu! We also discussed our concerns with the coordinator a little more. She assured us that because of the shade, June 1st would be just perfect for an evening wedding, and that if it did rain on our big day, we wouldn’t have to shell out an extra $1,000 dollars on the spot for the tent. It was also just down the road from a church we were considering for the ceremony (more on that later!). We handed in our deposit soon after!