The First Wedding Decision We Made

When Mr. Manatee and I first started talking about we wanted for our wedding, I had a few reasonably clear ideas, but a lot of fuzzy desires too. Manatee was adamant about only two things.

  1. That we get married in a church.
  2. That there be an open bar!

I thought these were awesome terms, so we began planning! Our first priority when it came to decisions, like most other couples, was for our venue. The venue pretty much sets the tone for the whole wedding, and I feel it’s the detail all other details are planned around.

Living in Arlington and Mansfield most of my conscious life, I’d occasionally drive past a huge house with a beautiful courtyard garden and twinkling lights. I always thought it looked like something out of a movie. One day I drove past and realized it was a restaurant and hotel, with a banner across the front advertising brunch. I filed it away in my brain and commented wistfully to whoever was in the car with me at the time that I was going to stay there one day. Soon after we got engaged, I drove past it again and a bell rang in my head. I circled it several times, checking it out. They probably thought I was casing the place. Not too long after, during a venue search on The Knot, I spotted it! I had no idea it hosted weddings! I was on this idea like white on rice, and soon enough I was exchanging emails with the wedding coordinator. I was immediately smitten. The Sanford House was reasonably priced, had rooms for our guests (although only 12), and was unbelievably beautiful.


Images via The Blooming Bride / Photo by Bella Pop Photography


For some reason, a few days before putting a deposit down, I started getting cold feet. Had I looked at enough places? Was I making the right decision? Manatee didn’t have any clear ideas about what he wanted for reception space, but when we went to visit it, he loved it too. The Sanford House was slightly above our price range, but at that point we didn’t have much of an idea about budget. They did, however, have amazing per-person prices on Manatee’s open-bar demand. The courtyard held up to 250 people, was less than a mile away from our university, and it was gorgeous! Our reception would be outside, and because of our June 1st wedding date, we were concerned. However, the courtyard was almost completely shaded due to all the huge trees surrounding it. The cons were as follows:

  1. An expensive rain plan ($1,000 dollars for a tent!). We also weren’t in love with the tent when we saw it set up for another wedding.
  2. We had to use their caterer (that we hadn’t tried yet).
  3. Slightly above price range.
  4. Outdoors in potentially sweltering weather.

I floundered for a little while, and checked out a few other options.

Was it love at first sight for your venue? Did you end up checking a few others before taking the plunge?


Miss Manatee

Fort Worth, TX
Wedding Date:
June 2013
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  1. otter Bee
    otter 1321 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:00 pm

    Definitely ended up talking to quite a few before we made appointments, then we only saw 2 in person. The first one we toured is who we chose. 🙂

  2. Member
    texasaggiemom 595 posts, Busy bee @ 2:20 pm

    OMG – the Manatees are also Mavericks! I work on your university campus – cannot wait to follow your planning process and to see how things turn out with Sanford House.

  3. Member
    kaw2be 790 posts, Busy bee @ 2:36 pm

    We definitely went to 8 venues and ours was number 5. We went to a few more after visiting ours and it just confirmed our choice that we were making the right decision.

  4. scepter Bee
    scepter 333 posts, Helper bee @ 2:36 pm

    Love this venue – I drive past it all the time!

  5. Member
    LisaL1984 106 posts, Blushing bee @ 2:48 pm

    Woohoo another Arlington bride here! I went to the Sanford House for a wedding this past April and it was Goooorgeous! I definitely think it’s a great venue.

  6. mspony Bee
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 3:25 pm

    Your venue is gorgeous, I can see why you would fall in love with it immediately!

  7. panda Bee
    Mrs. Panda 1359 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:26 pm

    your venue is really really pretty. I love the grounds! we also were a bit hesitant to book our venue because of the catering thing. We actually didn’t book until we tried their catering, and luckily for us, it’s tasty.

  8. Member
    ChicagoDreamer 509 posts, Busy bee @ 8:53 pm

    I am head over heels in this choice!

  9. Guest Icon Guest
    HopefullyRomantic, Guest @ 11:40 pm

    I feel like you’re me but the southern version so I can completely relate on your worries because I have battled them myself. I chose the first place we went to, after research by myself of course, and booked it without trying the food. Plus its an outdoor venue in mid july… I think if its what you want and your happy with it that mood will be passed along your guests! Plus who couldn’t have a good time with an open bar?

  10. Member
    jacofblues 1468 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:57 pm

    I had love at first sight for my venue yet we had seen about 5 or 6 other venues before that! I think the place looks gorgeous, but its perfectly normal to have doubts!

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