Saturday, March 24, 2012

This must be the place...

After we decided that Austin was the city we wanted to get married in, I embarked on a mission to find the right location.   Though we didn't know too much about what we wanted, one thing I knew for sure - we are not ballroom people.  No beige walls, hotel carpet, or uplighting necessary.

Ixnay on the allroombay.
Image via / photo by Ars Magna Studio

If we were gonna do this thing in Texas, I wanted it to feel like Texas. Mr. C and I also agreed we wanted the ceremony and reception to be held in the same place, and I was hoping for an outdoor ceremony.  After much internet research and finding some locations that had available dates in the fall, I decided to visit four locations in Austin:

Cedar Bend - This beautiful tucked-away house on the outskirts of Austin had a lovely yard with a pretty ceremony site, great property, and a rustic feel.  The proprietor, Jillian, was sweet as could be, and she and her husband were the first to get married here a few years ago.  They also offer all-inclusive packages including florals Jillian does herself!  The space seemed to me like it would be great for 100-150, but with 150 or more, some tables would wind up being outside the covered locations.  Rain plan = renting a tent.  Since we didn't really know how many guests we'd be expecting, but we were thinking right around 150, that was something to think about.  In addition, the tables would be outside - no air conditioning or heating if it the weather is too hot or too cold.

Image via Cedar Bend Events / Photo bPaige Newton Photography

Image via Cedar Bend Events / Photo by JWG Photography

Vintage Villas: Though I thought I would love the lake-side location of this venue, when I saw it, it all felt a bit too wedding-ish for me.  I know that sounds ridiculous - I mean, we're planning a wedding, here!  But do you know what I mean?  Maybe it wasn't "rustic" enough for the feel I was looking for?   Hmm.  Also, the location just didn't wow me like I thought it would.  Our guests would also have been divided into two rooms that were quite separate, and I really wanted everyone to be all together.

Image via / photo by Ku Photography

Image via / photo by Urban Grey Photography

Pecan Grove (formerly known as the Salt Lick Pavilion): Pecan Grove is just down the road from the Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, about 40 minutes from downtown Austin.  The ceremony would be held under a grove of pecan trees, and the reception (with famous Salt Lick BBQ!) inside a glassed-in wooden pavilion.   We saw a rehearsal underway while we were there, and the unique layout and "aisle" made the site seemed rustic, comfortable, and pretty.

Image via / photo by Elizabeth Jayne

Image via / photo by Studio 563

Three Points Ranch:  The last venue we saw before we left town, this ranch is out in the middle of nowhere.  Literally.  Dirt roads and trees, brush, and rock everywhere - such an experience getting there!  The locations were beautiful, and the owner, Sally, was just adorable.  She had built this place as a home to retire in, and then she decided to start having events there, and living in one of the fleet of Airstreams that sit on the property!  Not an all-inclusive site, we'd have to find caterers, rentals (tables, chairs, etc) and all that stuff.  And the ceremony and reception would again both be outside, but the idea of a night under twinkling lights, in the middle of ranch land in Texas, sure was enticing...

Image via / photo by Nessa K Photography

Image via / photo by Nessa K Photography
At the end of the trip, it came down to a few things, in no particular order: easy accessibility for our guests, close enough to Austin that they could have fun downtown and also attend the wedding, reasonable costs, and easy to work with/plan from way up here in NYC.  Vintage Villas just wasn't what we were looking for, and Three Points Ranch, while beautiful, would have presented a big challenge to coordinate from afar with all the components we'd have to manage (plus it was quite far away from downtown Austin).  So, that narrowed us down to Cedar Bend and Pecan Grove.

Once I got home to NYC I talked with Mr. C about those two options.  And we chose....

Pecan Grove!  The site coordinator, Ashley, was super on top of things and seemed like a great girl to work with.  I loved both the ceremony site and the pavilion itself, and they had a few changes lined up for the winter to make it all even better.  The food couldn't be beat, and the location would be comfortable for us no matter how many guests we wound up with.  We would have to figure out some transportation options, but we were okay with that being part of the deal.  And with Austin being a destination for us and so many of our guests, we figured why not give them something to talk about after attending our Texas wedding?!  A meal of famous Salt Lick BBQ is an experience everyone should have!

I called Ashley as soon as we decided, and we locked in our date in late September.  Not quite October, but close enough...a September bride I would be!

How did you choose your wedding venue?  Was anything too "wedding-y" for you?  Did the guest experience factor heavily into your decision?

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