Sunday, June 28, 2009

Where's the party?

Although Jesse and Whitney at Our Labor of Love were at the top of my must-book-for-wedding list, we actually nailed down the reception venue first. That was another relatively painless undertaking. Here's how I did it, in five easy steps:
  1. Purchase a local wedding magazine. (If there's one for your area. Wait, who am I kidding?) I used The Knot Georgia and Brides Atlanta.
  2. Flip to the handy venue index at the back: this will tell you what venues can accommodate how many people, if they allow outside caterers, and a ballpark estimate of how much it will cost you. Narrow the field based on capacity and location.
  3. Go online and look at photos on venue websites. Check local wedding blogs, Yelp, and other review sites for a different perspective.
  4. Contact the venue and set up an appointment to see the space. When you meet with the site manager in person, you'll get their standard materials and get to ask all the questions you want.
  5. Compare, contrast... book!
My fiance and I only visited two sites. We axed a lot of lovely venues (ie: Rhodes Hall) from the get-go due to the number of people we were thinking we'd need to accommodate (200). We first looked at the Biltmore ballrooms -- they always look so elegant in photographs, and they're in midtown, which I like. When we got there, though, we decided that the space was a little too formal for our wedding. We also would be pushing the limit on comfort by trying to cram that many people and a dance floor in there, and we weren't particularly interested in paying for everyone to park in the on-site deck.

With the Biltmore out, we turned to another property within the same events group: the Foundry at Puritan Mill. This is much more of a blank slate -- it's an old soap factory on the westside of Downtown Atlanta, and it's one of those adaptive reuse projects that has retained its warehousey, industrial feel with exposed brick, beams, and a concrete floor. It's basically one huge room that can be divided up with these big sheer panels -- a nice juxtaposition of hard and soft, utilitarian and romantic. There's only one event space, so no other parties will be going on around ours. I'll go into more detail on our plans for the space later on (once we figure them out), but I will say that we loved that everyone will be in one big room together all night, that it's very private, and that parking comes free. Bonus!

Next up in the already-done series: catering! Stay tuned...
[photos from novareevents.com]

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