Today is such a fun day for me – I’m so happy to finally share the first of many wedding posts here on Mollie Moore! It’s been nearly 3 months since Connor and I got engaged, but I really wanted to wrap my head around this whole wedding planning process before I began to share tips or advice. Being the first in our families to get married means that we’re all going into this with zero experience! I still have a lot to learn over the next 8 months, and I’m excited to bring you all along on this new journey.
When we first got engaged, we initially wanted to take a few weeks to just enjoy that special time. It was the holiday season, and things were already really busy – adding wedding planning into the mix just didn’t seam feasible. However, one of the biggest pieces of advice we received from friends and family was to lock down a venue and date ASAP. Especially living in NYC, the demand for wedding venues is extremely high. We decided to take their advice, and two weeks later we were touring venues.
FINDING A VENUE
The first step for us (and probably many newly engaged couples) was heading to Google to get a feel for what’s out there. Connor and I initially thought we wanted to get married in New Jersey, so that was our jumping off point. As we started researching NJ venues, we found several sites available to couples that help with the planning process, and offer tools and services to ensure you find your perfect venue. WeddingWire really stood out to us because you can scroll through a venue’s capacity, pricing, and availability all in one spot. You can even read real reviews from couples who got married there, which was so helpful!
As we were scrolling through what felt like hundreds of venues, we realized there are a few key things to consider as you begin to narrow down your options. One of the biggest factors that will effect where you choose to get married is the size of your wedding. While I’m not saying you need to have a curated guest list right away, you do need to sit down with your fiancé and your families to have a realistic talk about the number of guests you expect to have. Another important thing to consider when searching for a venue is where you want your ceremony. Will it be at the same venue as your reception? Do you want it to be outdoors? As you begin to weed out locations based on these variables (WeddingWire makes it incredible easy to filter out the venues that won’t work), the last thing to consider is aesthetics. We’re lucky in that we both have very similar tastes when it comes to weddings – we’ve been to enough together to know exactly what we DON’T want, even though we weren’t 100% sure on what we did want. This made the process of elimination that much easier for us, and we narrowed it down to our 3 favorite venues.
Okay, now I’m going to be totally honest with you guys – our day of tours was a huge reality check for us. While we had narrowed down our options based on guest size and aesthetics, we hadn’t really taken cost into consideration. Thanks to WeddingWire we were aware of the ballpark pricing, but that’s usually just a jumping off point. We quickly realized that things like an open bar, a DJ, and even lighting all come at an extra cost. And don’t even get me started on the cost of flowers! Connor and I will be paying for our wedding ourselves, and by the end of our tour day all we could see was $$$. This is such a sensitive subject for any engaged couple, and everybody has a budget that works for them. Going on the tours was eye-opening, and it was definitely a necessary part of the planning process for us. Seeing the cost of these huge 150+ person weddings made us realize that it wasn’t the route we wanted to go down. Sometimes you have to see what doesn’t work before you can find what works.
Later that week I went to dinner with my friends Steph and Hannah, and vented to them about how terrible our tours had been. I think I even seriously mentioned elopement HA – Connor and I were that frustrated! It just so happened that Hannah was currently in the process of helping another friend plan a small wedding here in NYC, and she had already done a ton of research on intimate city venues. She knew what my style was, and offered to share a list of places she thought might be a good fit for us. Later that night she sent over a list of adorable restaurants that were not only in our budget, but were exactly the vibe we had been looking for! I immediately searched them all on WeddingWire to read through the reviews and check out some photos. It didn’t take long before we knew which place was the one for us. I honestly got goosebumps when I saw the photos online! I immediately called the restaurant and scheduled a tour for the next day – and the rest is history.
CHOOSING A DATE
Once we (finally) found our venue, the next step was choosing the date. I was really nervous they would be booked up for all of 2018 – when we toured the larger venues in New Jersey, the earliest we could get in was spring 2019! I’ve always wanted a fall wedding, so having to consider spring was something I was having a hard time with. As luck would have it, they had 2 openings left for 2018, the first being in July, and the second being October 27th. We couldn’t believe it! Not only had we found the wedding venue of our dreams, but they had the most perfect fall date available too. We confirmed right away, and we couldn’t be more excited to exchange our vows at this sweet little space in Brooklyn called Frankie’s 457!
- Have an open and honest conversation with your fiancé and your families about the wedding budget. It may be awkward, but everyone needs to feel comfortable with the final number, especially if your parents will be footing the bill. You need to know exactly how much they can contribute!
- Spend some time browsing on sites like WeddingWire to get a feel for what’s out there. It really helps to see what you can expect!
- Decide what’s more important to you – the venue or the date. While Connor and I were very lucky, it isn’t always possible to have your dream venue be available on your dream date. You need to decide where you’re willing to concede.
- DON’T SRESS. It’s way too easy to get caught up in the costs and the expectations – it’s enough to drive a girl nuts (hence, the talk of elopement)! Things have a way of working out exactly the way they’re supposed to, so just have faith in the process and remember why you’re doing all of this in the first place. It isn’t about venues, or dates, or guest lists. It’s about marring your best friend, and that’s what really matters!
Loving these wedding venue tips? Click here now for more of our wedding journey!
*** A special thank you to WeddingWire for partnering on this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. ***