Mr. C and I are getting married at Cloverleaf Farm a relatively new venue that has only hosted a few weddings thus far. Actually, their very first wedding was just in November, but we booked them in August before they had even finished renovating the property. There was a lot of work to be done—a barn to clean up and repair, painting in the house, a bar to be built. We booked them on good faith that by May most of the major projects would be completed.
Well, our good faith and patience paid off! We visited the property just last week and I was blown away the beauty of the property. We arrived at 6:00 pm, around the time we will be getting married in a few weeks, and the light was absolutely gorgeous. All the rustic, rolling fields and pecan trees behind the property were aglow with the golden hues of the setting sun. I’m not usually a very weepy person, but I actually started to tear up looking out over the field where we are getting married in a few short weeks. The barn has been renovated with cafe lights and rustic chandeliers strung from the ceiling. The coordinator directed me towards their blog with even more gorgeous photos from their recent April weddings. You can see them on the property website under their photos section, if you are interested. I am just so excited to be getting married at this venue!
I took a few photos with my phone that I wanted to share, since I really didn’t have many photos of the venue to share when I first posted about it last fall. You can read about how we chose Cloverleaf in the venue entry. I was trying to capture that lovely golden hour just as the sun is setting.
When we left off, we had found three venues that we loved, but none of them worked out. So, we started over and narrowed it down to two potential venues—not our first choices, but maybe better. (That happens sometimes!)
I’m going to spoil this post and just let you know that this story has a happy ending!
Announcing…Luttrell Lodge at the Pleasant Ridge Camp & Retreat Center, the location for our laid-back family wedding. It’s perfect!
We toured the lodge and I took pictures—unfortunately, the quality is so, so awful that I won’t post them and ruin your impression of our venue, since it’s really very nice. Instead, here’s a few more pictures from the website. Trust me, it’s better this way.
…of wedding planning, that is.
The logical way to start would be simply picking a date and place, but when you begin planning your wedding less than seven months (yes, we have a short engagement!) before you get married, you unfortunately have to tentatively decide on a date—and then try to find a venue that works.
For example, the venue I truly thought would be ours:
It’s beautiful, yes, but it’s also in a park with a ton of meaning to Mr. Lemur and I. We first stumbled across this park while geocaching after a Christmas shopping trip. We returned less than three months later for our one-year “dating anniversary.” We came back again several times before ending up here the day we got engaged—proposal story spoiler alert!
After we’d fully ruled out White Chapel for our ceremony, I was given the go-ahead to contact the wedding coordinator at a church just down the road from our venue, First United Methodist Church of Arlington (what a mouthful!). The first woman we dealt with was unreasonably stingy with information. Because of our long engagement, we told her we wanted to become involved in the church we chose to be married in and become members. She was a little older and very suspicious of our motives for membership. It was true that we had heard members paid a lower fee, but we also were earnest in our desire to join the church!
Regardless. This church could not be more perfect in my eyes. It is literally two blocks away from our reception venue, historic, and Methodist, like us! This church was the perfect size, and gorgeous.
One thing we both thought fascinating about this church was that it was built in 1907, and it has tragically burned down since then not once, but twice! The church never gave up hope, and was always rebuilt on the same foundation. I thought this was an amazing metaphor for marriage!
Photo by Simple Moments
Do you guys remember when I shared that we had finally found our dream venue? Well, since my photos weren’t of top notch quality (since iPhone plus rain does not equal pretty pictures), I decided that before I can move forward with more of our planning details, I had to share photos that would do our venue some justice.
If you’ve been thinking that it seems like I was doing most of the venue research, well… you’d be right! Which is why it’s so funny that in the end, Mr. Whale found the perfect venue! As is often the case with many things in life, I went from thinking, “We’ll never find a venue!” to “Yay! I love this venue!” in an instant.
During his first attempt at venue research, my usually-reluctant-to-contact-people fiance found a venue, e-mailed them (without even mentioning it to me), heard back from them, and forwarded me the information. The first thing that had me was the line, “Our catering starts at $15 per person.” (!!!!!!!! What?!?!?! That’s awesome.) And then of course I had to see some pictures.
Image by Abraham Yang Photography
We both loved the mountains in the background. And the reception area is in a renovated barn on the same property. It’s kind of rustic and decorated with Christmas lights. You can see all of it in this video.
Once we decided that we wanted to get married in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I put my supreme Googling skills to work. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to visit any venues for several months, but I wanted to have a good idea of what was available. Plus, we knew that when we visited, we would only have a day or two at the most to visit places. So we wanted to have it narrowed down to our favorites.
As I mentioned before, our first priority was having a ceremony with a beautiful view, like this:
Image by Tall + Small Photography
We kind of figured that if we’re going to have a destination wedding, it needs to have something that neither of our home towns could offer. I started doing Google image searches on “Blue Ridge Mountain Weddings.” And wow, there are so many jaw-droppingly gorgeous venues in the mountains.
Even though we’ve already booked most of our “big” stuff, I think it’s helpful to reflect on how we actually came to our decisions. So, our first BIG decision was the venue. Because, obviously we couldn’t have a date without the venue.
Before we started looking, we talked about what was most important to us. We decided that our absolute number one priority was having a beautiful ceremony location.
Can I brag about my guy just a little bit here? I love him so much. When I asked him what was more important to him about our wedding, he said (without any prompting) he wanted to ceremony to be amazing. He said he doesn’t care if the reception is in a run down community center, but he wants the ceremony to be incredible. (Isn’t that sweet? He’s more romantic than me. It’s awesome.)
Clearly, I wasn’t opposed to having a spectacular ceremony, so the ceremony site became the focus of our search. Luckily for us, we had very similar visions of where we would like to get married. Neither of us wanted a church wedding (I have always sworn that I will not have green church carpet in my wedding photos!). And we love the idea of an outdoor wedding with a spectacular view. We both started dreaming about a fantastic wedding on a cliff overlooking the mountains or the ocean.
Image by Alex Schoenfelt
Despite the fact that Mr. Manatee had very clear intentions of being married in a church, he didn’t really have any specifications of which church. Spoiler alert: This was the first time his mother and I had ever actually butt heads over anything. She wanted us to get hitched in a gorgeous church in his hometown (Southlake) that they attended on occasion, and I had my eye on a church about two blocks down from our reception location. Both of these churches were Methodist, but that’s pretty much where the comparison stops. Always eager to keep the peace between Manatee-In-Law and I, I usually would have just agreed to use White Chapel. However.
|SL White Chapel|
There were several roadblocks between us and wedded bliss at White Chapel.
1. The DFW Connector
If you missed it—here’s Part I of my Philadelphia vendor review. As a reminder, there are four ratings:
…and everything is based on experience / opinions from me and Mr. Turkey (info on timing for booking vendors can be found here).
STATIONERY: Two Paperdolls
|Full paper suite|
Nicole was my point of contact throughout my time working with Two Paperdolls. She was incredible to work with and the designers were so responsive to feedback. They also just “got it.” I went in with sketches on paper and ideas and they brought it to life in a way that I definitely could not.
When choosing our venue, we considered a lot of things: location, scenery, what they had to offer, and how we felt there. One thing we didn’t really consider? The rain back-up plan.
An outdoor ceremony was important to us: we didn’t want to get married in a church, and other non-church indoor venues didn’t feel very “wedding-y” to us. Plus, we both like spending time outside when it’s nice out. But. What happens if it’s not so nice out? When we picked our venue we were in denial that the weather on our wedding day could be anything other than perfect, but now that we’re drawing ever closer, it’s starting to sink in that it could be pouring, muddy, and awful on our wedding day.
The wedding party will be under the cover of the pavilion during the ceremony. But our guests will be out in the open, with nothing to shield them from the elements. Keeping the ceremony outdoors during inclement weather is definitely not an option.
We’ll be nice and dry under there…while our guests get soaked in chairs on either side of the aisle / Personal photo
Hive, I’m just going to be straight with you: I really hate our venue’s rain back-up plan.
Very Highly Recommended
These vendors went above and beyond anything we would have expected.
Fine Invitations (Paper goods)- Including invitation package, programs and our place cards. We were so happy with all of our paper goods and they were incredibly flexible. We may have procrastinated a little with our program and in the end they stayed back and Mr. Teaspoon collected them the evening before the wedding.
As you probably know, Mr. Mole and I are having a pretty small wedding. There will be about twenty people in Vegas, including us. Even our hometown party is going to be small. With our current number of RSVPs, we are looking at fifty-something guests. We are looking forward to having these small, intimate events.
These small, intimate events won’t feature any dancing: no first dance, no father-daughter dance, no mother-son dance, no chicken dance, no line dances. Well, I guess I have to qualify this statement a bit. We won’t be preventing people from dancing a la Footloose, but we aren’t going to be doing much to encourage it. It’s just not us or the vibe we are going for.
Inevitably, when reading about other weddings that don’t schedule in a specific time for dancing, I notice a couple of main concerns from guests:
1. The wedding won’t be any fun.
Early on in our planning process, I told myself that some of the little details about our wedding would only be noticed by me and a handful of others. I was convinced that most people just see “wedding” at a wedding and don’t really notice the details. I was okay with that. It also gave me freedom to ignore a few things that I could see myself making really complicated. Mr. Mink actually changed my mind about one of those things a few weeks ago.
Last month, we went to the wedding of a colleague at a local vineyard. It was a beautiful day. It was my first time attending a wedding since starting to plan my own, which is an interesting experience. On our way home that night, Mr. Mink commented on the napkins. He thought it was nice that the bride brought in napkins in one of the wedding colors. We had been planning on using the very nice, standard linens at our venue, but Mr. Mink suggested we look into getting napkins in one of our colors. That seemed simple enough.
This is where things get kind of interesting.
Bridesmaid Erica’s wedding was last month, and we did our bridal party shots in Washington DC’s Union Station. It was great. We traipsed all over the place, taking photos on escalators, in stairwells, in front of the architecture outdoors–everywhere. It was lots of fun, and her photographer got some KILLER shots. It also got me thinking… where would be some good Pittsburgh locales for OUR bridal party to demonstrate their smile-with-your-eyes skills?
Unlike Bridesmaid Erica and her husband, we’re not going to have a first look in order to take photos before the ceremony. I totally get why the first look is a good option–it allowed us to go to Union Station, after all!–but I’ve realized that I’m really a traditionalist about this. For whatever reason, I just feel really strongly that I don’t want to see Mr. Octopus until I’m walking down the aisle. That does mean that we won’t have a huge window of time for photos, though, so I’ve been thinking about some places that we can hit up quickly.