Following our engagement, and a one month moratorium on wedding planning — because December is crazy enough, and goes way too quickly to not enjoy it! — Mr. Bruschetta and I began the search for our reception location.
Aided by Google (and the uber-useful Philly area event planning site PartySpace.com), we built a list of potential spots, and started to schedule visits. Dividing the work in half made the most sense, and helped each of us try to advance our own agendas. Yup, that’s right. One of our first major wedding decisions, and already the mister and I were at odds.
He favored the city: we frequent Philly, and so naturally, Mr. Bruschetta pictured us partying with family and friends into the late summer night in some hip, urban spot.
I, on the other hand, had my heart set on a Main Line reception: tucked away among the rolling hills of an estate in the suburbs, the newlyweds and their guests savoring an elegant evening celebration echoing the day’s stately church ceremony.
Prior to our first walk-through, we agreed on a few attributes of our ideal reception location:
- It should allow for movement throughout the evening: cocktail hour in one location, dinner in another and dancing in a third area.
- It must allow all our guests to dine together. (No surprise here, since food is *rather important* to us.)
- We both had to love the spot. (Yes, we realized early on that one of our “visions” would have to win out in the end.)
I’m sure other fall- and winter-engaged brides will sympathize: working with minimal daylight made visiting reception sites a challenge!
Without the option of swinging by a venue after work (since it was too dark by that time to see most of them!), our weekends became jam-packed running around to look at reception locations.
Mr. Bruschetta arranged for a Philly site visit a full week before we would be able to head out to the Main Line. I recall moaning and complaining about how I totally wasn’t interested in a city reception. But, after work one night in January, we met up and ventured into our favorite part of Philly — Old City.
We parked, and walked to a destination unbeknown to me. At the corner of Third and Arch Streets, we stopped.
(Um, ignore the random wedding party members. They weren’t there with us.)
Historic. Dramatic. Grand. On the outside, this venue was all of these. But my jaw dropped when we stepped inside. (Excellent material for a future post, don’tcha think?)
The F.U.E.L. House — an acronym standing for “fostering undergraduate exposure on location” — once a bank that has since been converted into an art gallery, is the fusion of classic and contemporary, traditional and modern. It can easily accommodate a seated dinner in a beautiful upstairs space, saving the foyer and downstairs for the latter portion of the reception. And cocktail hour? Why not enjoy a perfect summer’s evening in the adjacent Betsy Ross House courtyard? (And what a cute way to give a nod to the day our relationship began!)
It truly seemed too good to be true. And, indeed, for some time, I believed it was. I fixated on the shortcomings of the F.U.E.L. House. As an art gallery, it possesses nary a table or chair for our event, meaning we’d have to bring in everything from pieces of furniture to forks for dessert. It also comes with a preferred caterers list, severely limiting the list of professionals with whom we could work.
And so we left the F.U.E.L. House that evening, content with what we saw, but convinced we could find similar elsewhere. We came, we saw, and we continued to seek for far too long, visiting too many locations looking for the one that would surpass F.U.E.L. in our minds.
During our exhaustive tours of the Main Line and Philadelphia that consumed the next month, I began to worry the F.U.E.L. House would be snapped up by someone else. The nagging fear of losing out on the perfect location prompted us to complete the paperwork, reserving a piece of Philadelphia history for our wedding day.
Is your reception venue a departure from the one you always imagined?