I may have lied…it’s not TECHNICALLY the first decision. I mean, it’s the first decision we’ve paid for, so that should count as the first decision, right?
True Confessions, hive: I’ve been planning this wedding for years. Mr. Palm Tree and I were together for almost eight years before we got engaged. I’ve had visions for forever. I used to joke that the engagement just meant I could move things into the execution stage, because almost everything was planned.
Because of this, decisions came kind of easy-ish to us. We were able to make decisions regarding our DJ and our photographer, but we didn’t “officially” book either of them immediately. We were really hoping that this particular venue came through, because we had found it and LOVED it, but didn’t want to start making decisions in case it didn’t come through and we had to adjust our date…spoiler alert: THE VENUE DID COME THROUGH!
When Mr. Palm Tree first proposed, we just tentatively agreed on May 25, 2013 as the date. We started dating in May all those years ago (May 27, 2004, to be exact) and figured we’d just keep it as close to the same date as possible. We could be flexible if needed, but wanted to just go with that and see what we could find. As far as venues went, we knew we wanted to get married in Pittsburgh—or as close to Pittsburgh as possible.
A bit of background information: We grew up in a very small town, about an hour north of Pittsburgh. I speak from experience when I say that there’s a 98% change that ANY “large” event (like weddings and graduation parties) took place at one of many fairly typical banquet halls. They were all buffet style (to clarify: DELICIOUS Italian buffet style, like oodles of homemade pasta and chicken and mmmm), and they all followed a similar style: dollar dance, cake walk, bridal party dance, COOKIE TABLE VISITS!, etc. (Here’s a really great article explaining the cookie table phenom, if you’re unfamiliar. It was only this year that I realized this wasn’t standard across the board.) As much as we’ve loved our experiences, we didn’t want this wedding.*
However, one bonus to these weddings in our old neck of the woods is that they’re cheapola. The Pittsburgh area in general has an uber-low cost of living, but our hometown takes the cake (ha). So as I started looking around at various venues in the area, I was having heart palpitations. First of all, WHAT DO YOU MEAN we cannot bring in our own food?! This news turned me Southern, hive. I may or may not have said “Well, I NEVER!” and fanned myself. I am so used to family members making the food! I was floored. Second of all, WHAT DO YOU MEAN the $10,000 price tag is just for the space? No tables, no chairs, no food, say whaaa? Or, I’d fall in love with a reasonably priced and/or gorgeous place (Morning Glory Inn, in the South Side, for example) and they’d only hold a number far less than our estimated 200 guests. I kept clicking though, and voila! THE FEZ.
Photo from The Fez / A shot of the Balconade Room, set up for a wedding this past June
To make an inevitably longish post a teeny bit shorter, after getting in touch with the contact, I booked the consultation. Through various emails, our contact—Ms. Debby—explained to me that the quoted prices were all-inclusive. Meaning, for instance, if you chose the $25 per head dinner price and the $15 bar package (I don’t even know if that’s an option, but let’s play pretend) and you had 150 guests, that’d be a total of $6,000 even. That includes the rental of the space, the setup, the tear-down, the staffing, some decorations (centerpieces, for example), lighting, etc. THIS. IS. UNHEARD. OF. The only thing to be added on is the sales tax and 18% gratuity. I cannot stress enough to you all that this is unheard of—for everything to be included and still so reasonably priced? A dream.
So, Mr. Palm Tree and I perused the menu and decided on tentative choices. This past Saturday, armed with Bridesmaid Y and MOH Mem, we went for a tour and sit-down meeting. Debby is FABULOUS. She is so incredibly friendly and helpful, I felt absolutely comfortable with her from the first instant. Bridesmaid Y was in awe: “She’s so NICE! And helpful! It’s almost like you want to ask her if she can be your coordinator…she just knows everything and wants to help you.” As we walked around, we fell completely and unequivocally in love.
Personal photo / Do you SEE this bar? It’s in its own room, off of the reception area…we have like a whole freakin’ wing.
Personal photo / Mr. Palm Tree photo bombing the pictures. It was set up for a high school formal the day we went to visit.
Honestly, we couldn’t have found a more perfect place. As noted above, the bar is HUGE and in its own area. Not noted above, the bridal party has a whole giant room to itself to get ready. We (meaning all of the reception guests) have our own restrooms. We have a beautiful balcony to descend from and make an awesomely grand entrance. We’re having our reception on site, and there is little to no fuss associated with it. We get to bring in our own cookies and they’ll tray them for us. Oh, and the bar doesn’t close for dinner—did I mention that tidbit? Absolutely positively beyond fabulous.
Needless to say, we absolutely placed our deposit and signed the contract. We’re so beyond happy about all of this, to have an official venue and an official date.
How was the venue decision for you, fellow brides-to-be? Did you opt for a one-stop-shop or did your venue require multiple venues?
*Hometown folks past and present, please don’t take offense at this. We just feel as though so much of our life is based in Pittsburgh; we’ve attended college here, we’ve started adulthood here, and it was very important to us to start our lives together here, in one of our all-time favorite cities (Charleston, South Carolina being a close second).