In my last post, I recounted the heartbreaks I incurred through venue searching. First I had to just say no to a downtown Chicago loft wedding, and then I had to say sayonara to the suburban version of an urban loft wedding. At this point, I was quite literally out of options.
This is my “at my wits end” face.
I went back to the drawing board (or the Google Docs, if we’re being literal) and revamped my list. I started looking at hotel ballrooms and banquet halls, even ones that hadn’t been updated since the ’90s, even ones that had a marquee near the road saying “Congrats Kurt and Trudy.” I looked at country clubs, museums, outdoor/tent receptions, even restaurants. I looked at expensive places and cheap places, places that considered bread and butter to be one of the courses in their five-course meal package, places that included a single carnation on each table as the centerpiece, and places that would throw in a chocolate fountain for free, just for me (but don’t tell anyone). I looked at places near my house, near Mr. Unicycle’s parents’ house, near the airport, near my office, and beyond—pretty much a 15-mile radius from as far southeast as Chicago to as far northwest as this place.
Screen capture from Bing Maps
This shows approximations of where a bunch of venues I considered were located. But they’re not exact. I literally just stuck a pin on different towns.
My Google Doc had about 20 venues in it, and that’s not including the super-expensive/amazing ones I nixed in my last post. I ended up actually visiting about 18 of them, and by the end of it I was so sick of hearing about butler-passed hors d’oeuvres and toasting flutes that I was ready to elope. And here’s a tip, wedding industry: stop using the word “exquisite.” Every venue I saw had an “exquisite package” and they all promised to make my wedding into an “exquisite celebration.” Of course, their idea of “exquisite” was horrible geometric-patterned carpet, cheesy uplighting, and draping on the head table. Gag me with a knife, banquet halls.
Image via Ireland’s Wedding Planner Blog
This is what I think of when I think of an exquisite wedding. I so need this.
That’s not to say that I think weddings in banquet halls are complete cheese (not enough to put on a sandwich at least). But the places I looked at seemed like they hadn’t changed much in the past 20 years. I felt like I’d have to wear puffy sleeves if I held my wedding there. Let’s just say these venues probably still haven’t been introduced to Mason jar centerpieces and mustaches on sticks.
Image via Daily Mail Online
But they’ve probably seen this dress before.
At the end of my venue visits, Mr. Unicycle and I narrowed it down to our top three contenders: Mission Hills Golf Club, Poplar Creek Country Club, and Seasons of Long Grove. As you can see if you Google mapped them, none of these are even remotely close to each other.
We made a pros and cons list for each venue, assigning each pro a positive value and each con a negative value according to how important/detrimental each was to us. Then we let Google Docs do its thang and tell us which venue to pick. Here’s a sampling of what our list looked like:
Mission Hills: they’d let us decorate to our hearts’ desire, they didn’t host any other events at the same time, and they had an outdoor cocktail hour setup. The cons: It was the most expensive of our top three and the farthest from the church, plus Mr. Unicycle thought it looked kind of like a supper club.
Image from Mission Hills
Poplar Creek: They had the best looking room of the three with a balcony that guests could use, and they were also the cheapest. They also had a really sweet outdoor cocktail hour area that was brand new. The cons: They had other events going on at the same time, and we’re not allowed to hang anything from the walls (if we wanted to hang stuff from the ceilings, we had to let them do it and pay a fee). Plus, the package was only for five hours instead of the standard six.
Image wedding mapper
Seasons of Long Grove: Long Grove is a whimsical, historic village full of great photo ops, and I thought our guests would love the idea of attending a wedding there. Plus they had amazing food (that they let us taste fo’ free when we visited), the coordinator was super nice, and—the best part!!–Chiavari chairs were the standard! The cons: I didn’t really like the look of the room for our wedding. It was a very cute room and it would be perfect for a wedding shower or a more vintage-y wedding. But it was the exact opposite of my original urban loft idea. We also would have to have the dance floor outside, which means the old folks would probably all stay inside in the air conditioning.
Image from Seasons of Long Grove
So which one did we pick?
…wait for it…
…wait for it…
Image via The Demotivators
Poplar Creek Country Club (which has now changed its name to Bridges of Poplar Creek)!!!
Here are some more pics I took at our second visit:
To be completely honest, I’m not crazy about the carpeting, but I really like how simple the rest of the decor is, and the outdoor cocktail hour area is so cute (yeah, Astroturf!). So how did we reconcile all of the cons on our list for Poplar Creek?
- We asked them if they could extend the five-hour package to six hours…fo’ free. And they said yes. Can somebody please get me an easy button because THAT WAS EASY.
- I’m not really that concerned with other events going on at the same time as ours. I believe there is only one other party room, and it’s on the first floor (ours is on the second–woohoo!). Plus, we get the outdoor cocktail hour area, and the other room is smaller so it probably wouldn’t be as loud/busy/important as our event. (Bridezeeeeella alert…)
- I thought long and hard (teehee) about what I really wanted to hang from the walls and realized it wasn’t a complete necessity. We’re going to make a freestanding backdrop for our photo booth and candy buffet, we’ll probably take advantage of their ceiling-hanging service (and, sigh, pay the damn fee), and we’ll just hang all of the bunting/Martha poms/other poufy wedding goodness from the tables or balcony railing.
What are some things that you didn’t originally like about your venue? Did you work around them or did you just suck it up?