Since we are having our wedding in Florida, the first thing most people expect is:
Image via Gulf Beach Weddings
A beach wedding.
I always knew I wanted my ceremony to be in a Catholic church, but I never really pictured myself having a beach reception. I am not into shells and sand dollars. I certainly could not swing a “nautical” theme. That’s just not what I was going for. Where was the whimsy? Where could I hang my lights?
When Mr. Squirrel and I started looking for a venue, we were targeting those with a garden type feel to it. (In a perfect world, we would get married in the middle of the woods, but Tampa is a little lacking in the forest department.)
Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg, Florida
Sunken Gardens is absolutely gorgeous! It is a huge botanical garden with lush foliage and a crazy mix of plants, trees, vines, and flowers.
Wedding at Sunken Gardens / Image via Stephanie A Smith Photography
Sunken Gardens / Image via Jason Angelini Photography
I was in love! I could really see our vision coming to life here! Literally anywhere we walked, we would be surrounded by trees and flowers! Imagine the photo-ops…dang.
Unfortunately, things were too good to be true, there were a few issues with this venue:
- Location: It was VERY far away from the church we are parishioners at. (It had the potential to take 45 minutes to and hour to get from church to reception thanks to Tampa Bay traffic.)
- We required an indoor space as a back-up. Tampa has some crazy summer thunderstorms! We will probably be OK in May, but I needed peace of mind! This venue has an indoor space, but there is absolutely nothing special about it.
- AND THE KICKER…to have the reception outside, there was a size limit. Since we anticipate having around 120 guests, we were well over that limit! That meant we could take beautiful pictures outside, but the reception would have to be inside.
Boo, talk about toying with my emotions…
**OK, fine—we could have paid for a very expensive tent to have the reception outside (a requirement for our number of guests), but what’s the point of a tent if we have this beautiful background?**
Then, at the previously mentioned bridal expo, we were talking to man who has a lights company, and when I was describing the wedding vision to him, he highly recommended this next venue.
The Sunset Beach House
As the name describes, it is basically a big house right on the beach.
The view from the house / Image by Sunset Beach House
I don’t know what came over me. Remember how I said I wasn’t interested in a beach wedding? Then why was I considering a beach wedding? Bridal brain. It was a beautiful venue and our families could have stayed in the beach house for the weekend (or full week). It was a great idea in theory, but just not for us.
This would be an awesome location for someone who is looking for a small destination wedding and wants their guests to have a private place to stay all weekend.
Back to the drawing board…
I scoured the web looking at any venue that wasn’t a hotel. I was driving myself crazy, because I knew what I wanted and I wasn’t going to give up until I found it.
I was in a new city, with no family, a few work friends, and no recommendations for a venue. Blah. All I wanted to do was send out my bridesmaid boxes, but I really wanted to lock in a date (and by default: venue) first.
So what’s a girl to do? Stay tuned and you’ll find out!