15 Apr 2013

Wedding blog: venues

At a certain point in wedding planning you hit an impasse until a venue can be confirmed.  Guest lists, food, wine, music, table settings, food, wine, amenities that are available, logistics for visiting guests and  the ceremony and of course most important the food and wine budget.  

My girl had found three venues for us to look at yesterday, there were four, but after further consideration it would have been safer, and classier to have it in a barn, or a bordello or a foxhole in Syria.  
So we gathered the bridal party, myself and took a trip over the hill into homeland of my girl. I say her homeland, it was where she was born, but I suspect her spiritual homeland would be one of the great style and art capitals of the world; New York, London, Paris, , Rome or Edinburgh.   
Once there we met up with the mother and father of the bride who provided a lovely lunch and fortification and we all left to visit the first venue.

To protect all concerned I will not be naming names of the venues or the people we spoke to.

Venue number one

It was a spectacular day in the Wairarapa and it was a pleasant start to our itinerary to have the sun out as we drove through the New Zealand countryside.  To get to Venue one we had to travel down this twisty turny drive along a metal road to arrive at a sun drenched vineyard and orchard. ‘Hello’ I thought ‘this is a bit of us’.   
We rounded a bend to see a large modern building that looked very nice. We parked and disembarked and we were met by the woman that ran the venue. I shall call her Mrs Bucket, pronounced ‘Bouquet.’
Now I understand that the wedding is all about the bride, it is her day and all that, but given I am paying for half of it, and it is my wedding to that she could have least humoured me with some eye contact! But no she spent the time name dropping and talking to everyone but me.  Fine I thought so be it.  I knew that my girl isn’t going to make a decision without me being comfortable with it so I will just see where this goes.

It went to a garage.  
Not an actual garage you understand, there weren’t any cars in it. But it was one of those Lockwood prefab sorts of things. Half of it had been turned into a marquee, and the other part was an entry/bar/kitchen area. 
I guess the theme was “rustic” inside. I would call it cramped. It had wooden beams   added on in a complicated bid to stun and capture the overly tall.  
I was completely underwhelmed and to be honest simply stopped listening to Mrs Bucket.  To be fair it is a summer venue, and outside was wicked with trees, and gardens, and I can imagine those trees looking fantastic with lights all through them. But we are having a winter wedding so everything that was wonderful about the venue would be lost.  Also we want candles and that plastic marquee sheeting would probably catch fire and then we would all die of consumption.  
The girls thought it was cold, and while it is autumn, it was still very warm outside. This boded ill for the ladies.

So venue one was out.

Venue two

After being fortified with a wine we visited the second venue.  We were met by a lovely lady whom I will call ‘Shelly’  because she spells cheers, as  cheerz.
Yes I am confusing the actress with the character.
The second venue was a practical and shall I say aesthetically functionary. But Shelly was friendly, professional and obviously experienced. She answered our questions and had information available. She listened to us and had answers.  While there was a limited aesthetic to the venue, it was as the chief bridesmaid put it “a blank canvas”.  We had the freedom to make the venue what we wanted it to be.  Also this venue had many logistical advantages.  
The downside was that while they said BYO, they didn’t mean it. I had come up with the idea of supplying the wine ourselves.  I belong to many wine clubs and mailing lists and they have great deals on quality wines. $25-$10 if you buy a case.  I thought that we could save $$ and our guests would have great wines to try. But at $10 a corkage per bottle it seemed pointless.  But this concession was certainly not a deal breaker.

Venue two was a definite maybe.

Venue number three.

Much happier we descended on the third venue. As we walked up the drive to this amazing estate, I was blown away by the architecture and the sheer beauty of the building. It was awesome. As we went inside I felt like I was in Downton Abby. Rich dark wood, chandeliers wonderful. It was everything I thought my girl  wanted. I then started to wonder the banks to rob vs. likelihood of getting caught   before the wedding.  
We sat down with the couple, let’s call them the Royals, that ran the venue and they talked us through what they offer. Instantly we hit problems.  My lady asked when she could come and set up the venue, and was basically told that she couldn’t.

Also no BYO, they are a licenced venue and there wines are very competitive at $30 a bottle.  Now I am not sure who they think they are competing with? But this is not a race I think I can afford to enter.  As they discussed various catering options I stared Mr Royal in the eye and silently did some maths.

$30 a bottle, most of my friends enjoy a couple, and it’s a wedding, so 30 x 3 carry that by the guests = eleventy million dollars! 
Then Mr Royal said that they do not encourage excessive drinking. That’s good, I thought as I think I can only afford one glass of wine between two guests. Then we asked about music. We are just going to have an ipod. Good gracious no, the venue is best suited for live music. They know this lovely singer, she is a treat and they use her all the time. No one dances to music on an ipod.  I wanted to ask “Does she know any Coldplay? How is she at Of Monsters and Men then?” but I was on my best behaviour as I didn’t want to ruin our chances with the venue.

We then had a tour of the venue and we left.
My girl then confessed that she thought it was ok, but she was worried that she would lose control over her wedding, and have to concede too much. She was really unhappy. But if I really liked it then we have the venue there.
And that right there ladies and gentlemen sums up the woman I am going to marry. Despite her concerns, and worries and basically unhappiness with the venue and its operators she would agree to it if my heart was set on it.

Now it was potentially the perfect aesthetic choice for us, however if we were offer Versailles at a reasonable rate and she was unhappy I wouldn’t take it.  (even though it would have probably had cheaper wine).Concessions have to be made, sure, but we have to be happy, she has to be happy. If my girl wanted a reception involving kegs in a barn I’d say yes, if that made her happy. (Thankfully she is exceptionally stylish.)  My bride to be wants to be her own wedding planner, she wants to plan and create her wedding. I am exceptionally lucky that she genuinely respects my opinion and insists on any decision being a joint one.  Venue three would not make her happy so they are off the island.
For me when the Royals said, oh we would have to have this singer, and they would do the table decorations, I was nodding but in my mind I was just dismissing them. Our wedding, our choices. Don’t like that then we shall take our sixpence somewhere else.

As you can surmise we went with option two.  And that done, the wedding locomotive is off again!

Toot toot! And bye-ee.


  1. I'm enjoying reading about your wedding preparations. It's a tricky one when it comes to venue though. My sis is getting married in the wairarapa later this year -she is hiring a house about a block from the main centre of Martinborough. She has to organise the marquee/catering/music etc but it's all under her control as opposed to going through a venue. Food for thought?

  2. Before choosing wedding venues you should take advice from people around you.

  3. Great dear! you really choose wonderful venue for your wedding. I will share this blog post with my friends. So that we will visit this venue.

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