A Place to Get Hitched: Part 4

Yes, a fourth installment about our venue search. I know I might be beating a dead horse here—apologies for the awful idiom—but for me, the venue sets the tone for the wedding. Without it, you not only don’t have the horse, you don’t have the stick!

While we are thoroughly psyched about getting married at the Mansion at Valley Country Club, there are concessions we’ve made picking it over Martin’s West, the other venue finalist. Basically, it’s not going to be the precise wedding I pictured the first moment I walked through the door.

The Yummy Stuff

Martin’s West is a foodie’s paradise. Your guests eat from practically the minute they walk into the ballroom. You get dozens of hors d’oeuvre options. You get multiple appetizer options. You get a ton of meat, pasta, and fish options. And you can easily get four different dessert tables plus a full-size wedding cake. All that without breaking the bank (at least, the typical wedding bank).

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Image via Valley Country Club / Photo by Maria Linz Photography

Our guests won’t go hungry at the mansion, trust me. But the food choices are limited compared to Martin’s. It’s not surprising: as a family-owned business, the mansion is the mom-and-pop diner compared to Martin’s McDonald’s. We’re doing paired platings for a few extra bucks per person (two entrees per plate versus one), and we’ll still get five hot hors d’oeuvres, salad, and starch.

Mr. Puffer’s biggest disappointment was not offering guests a dessert option in addition to the wedding cake. The mansion does have a dessert package, but it’s not that impressive, and we’re giving it up for extra time in the mansion before the wedding for photos. With Martin’s, our package would have included a three- or four-tier wedding cake. No such option at the mansion, so we have to try out bakeries and go to cake tastings—something Mr. P was most definitely OK with.

The Rules Stuff

Having a wedding in an old mansion means facing a lot of restrictions. I mean, a lot. It’s chock-full of antique furniture and flooring that can easily be scratched, dinged, or otherwise damaged by a guest who has had a little too much to drink. So with our contract came a list of rules we have to obey. No photo booths. No candy bars. No sparklers, birdseed, confetti, or bubbles…the list was a page long.

And we get it. All the things they’re trying to protect are all the reasons we love this place. It was a family home at one point. The owner/manager has told us stories about sneaking over to “the big house” to sleep on the porch during the hot summer months. The mansion has personality. Would we have liked our guests seeing us off with sparklers, or getting their pictures taken in a photo booth? You betcha. But we traded some of the “fun” stuff for the opportunity to really treat our guests to elegance.

The Potty Stuff

Yes, I’m going there. This is about toilets, people. One of the first things I was told when I became engaged was to make sure we checked out the bathrooms at our venue before booking. There’s nothing worse than being at a wedding with unflushable toilets. This is a major concern, friends.

I don’t like that the bathrooms are on the small side and located on the second floor. We don’t have too many infirm guests who cannot do stairs, and there’s an accessible bathroom with space for a wheelchair (or a huge wedding-dress skirt) off the bar. The upstairs bathrooms are…meh. Nothing like the marble wonders Martin’s has. (If you’re in Maryland or the DC area, go check out the bathrooms at a Martin’s location. Because whoa, impressive.) The manager assured us that they’ve never had a plumbing issue, even with over 200 guests at the wedding, but we would have liked something cozier.

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Um, a Google image search for “wedding bathroom” yielded this. Priceless. / Image via Tosh.0

The Shared Space Stuff

When the ceremony starts, chairs will be placed in rows, with an aisle running between them. But in the corners of the ballroom? The tables for the reception.

Sigh. I really didn’t like this when I first heard about it. I wanted the tables fully removed for the ceremony. But as the manager pointed out—and my mother later said too—the ballroom would look ridiculously empty with just a bunch of chairs in a row and nothing else. The manager told me that brides had requested (and paid for) full removal of the tables, but those who kept them later said no one even noticed them. That’s what I’m hoping for.

The Timing Stuff

We’re getting married in November. The ceremony starts at 7:00 PM. We want photos outdoors in daylight. That means we’re doing the whole “first look” thing and arriving at the mansion several hours before our wedding begins. And we’re paying extra to get into the mansion. A lot more. It’s not how I want to allocate our budget, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m afraid we’d regret not getting a few outdoor shots in our finery.

Any concessions you’ve made when planning your wedding?

BLOGGER

Mrs. Puffer

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  1. msclownfish Bee
    Mrs. Clownfish 6 posts, Newbee @ 11:47 pm

    I definitely think every venue has pros and cons, and no one venue is absolutely perfect. I know for us, we love our venue, but don’t exactly love that we have to wait until the museum closes before we can have our wedding. The bathrooms are also a tiny, tiny issue for us, but mostly because of it’s accessibility and slightly because of the outdated decor lol. The mansion you chose is SO gorgeous, and it looks like there are much more pros than cons :)

  2. milkcow Bee
    Mrs. Milk Cow 216 posts, Helper bee @ 4:08 pm

    I agree that every venue has pros and cons. The hotel venue gave us all our important things, but we definitely missed out not having a traditional “wedding” space. It was all fine in the end though!

    I have had friends who have had events/weddings at both venues and I’ve heard good things about both. I know firsthand that Martin’s has delicious food (and girl, that menu is INCREDIBLE. It almost sold us!) but I have also heard that Valley Country Club’s food is incredible. So… less options, but still very very good. And your guests won’t know what they are missing :)

    PS – I’m in love with the all the wedding photos I’ve ever seen at Valley Country Club and I’m so excited to see yours! Pretty please take some on the stairs/under the chandelier. :)

  3. Member
    keldel24 2 posts, Wannabee @ 5:03 pm

    So i just found your blog but i went through much of the same decision process! We have a 200 person wedding in october and our top 4 venues were:
    Martin’s West
    Mansion @ Valley Country Club
    Turf Valley
    Morningside Inn.

    We actually ended up going with Martin’s but watching you go through the same thought processes was really fun!

  4. puffer Bee
    Mrs. Puffer 144 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:00 am

    @keldel24 Ha, small world! I wanted to check out Turf Valley, but once we visited Valley Country Club, it was all over, lol. But every single time we’re on the beltway and pass Martin’s, I feel a twinge of sadness. Part of me still kind of wants to have the wedding there. Each time we drive by, I tell Mr. Puffer that one of our friends HAS to have a wedding at Martin’s so we can experience it. I’ll have to live vicariously through your posts! Share lots of pictures!! :)

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