Goood morning, friends. I fear I may have blogged myself right into a corner here with this whole cliffhanger situation. It seems that I implied that I had something interesting to say rather than the truth, which was that I just you know, stopped writing and went to bed. Spoiler alert: this whole story is actually super boring.
Oh well, onward!
Previously on Lost:
Jack was smug, Hurley ate a large jar of ranch dressing, Sawyer called someone by a cute nickname and Liz continued to freak out about her impending wedding.
In early November, Brian and I took a quick jaunt down to Pennsylvania to check out some venues. How did we find these venues, you ask? A little thing called the internet. Look it up! On…the internet.
Before Brian and I were even engaged, I created a secret Google doc titled “Shameful” where I listed wedding venues in New York and PA, with hyperlinks to their websites.
Is this insane? OBVIOUSLY.
But I was primed and ready the moment we got engaged and didn’t have to waste any of my precious time so you can just judge on all you want, Judge Reinhold.
A bit of actually helpful advice I can offer to anyone who might someday plan a wedding is to have an idea of your basic framework – how and when and where do you envision your wedding? The ultimate #firstworldproblem is that there are SO VERY MANY options available, so to be able to narrow your choices down without wasting all of your free time is immensely helpful. For us, this meant, of course, REGULAR CLASSY. Any venue that was over our budget or not available in our preferred time frame, we didn’t even bother visiting. Why get attached?
This means we passed up on the most amazing barn where my friend is getting married this May – it is part of a Pennsylvania German history museum and you can ride around in an antique carriage and have actual historical re-enactors at your reception! But alas, they were booked for all of 2014.
It is pointless to dwell on what might have been but…would any of you be interested in dressing in maybe Colonial garb and passing out hors d’oeuvres for a few hours on the evening of August 16? Just, you know, hypothetically.
Another bit of actual advice (I should write a self-help book!) is to seek help of your personal network. In addition to the best wedding planner ever, Bebe Ho, President and CEO of the famed event management firm Schmoopster, Bernie and Beans, Inc, who was all too eager to scout out locations on behalf of her long distance clients, we also sought the wisdom of local friends and family (special shout-out to cousins Angie & Lisa, Aunt Lena & pal Jamie!) who gave us lots and lots of advice and ideas and to those people we are (sincerely!) grateful.
Isn’t it amazing how long and long and LONG I can make a story?!
We packed a whole lotta visits into two days in Pennsylvania – we looked at venues spanning the map. Ballrooms, barns, a private room in a restaurant that also had a weird gift shop selling soap and homemade beef jerky, a winery, an art gallery/music space/recording studio/cafe (turned out this place had a bit of an identity problem), a music school, you name it, we probably looked at it.
I put wayyy to much mental energy into agonizing over what to wear while venue hunting. I needed a perfect outfit that conveyed that I was there for business (the love business!) and that I was a serious, sophisticated lady but not SO sophisticated as to appear wealthy and risk them quoting me the fancy person price instead of what I’m more in the market for, which is bargain basement deals. But a sophisticated bargain basement…like Nordstrom Rack!
I went with the shocking and unexpected combo of jeans, boots and…wait for it…yep, a cardigan. I am nothing if not a creature of habit. Surprise twist, though, they were some on-trend ankle boots so I think I pulled off the Nordstrom Rack look pretty, pretttty well.
My priorities? Oh, they’re in order.
Standout moments from our hunt included:
- The vendor sporting the supple leather vest who spent his entire pitch talking about ways we could make our event “cheaper.” Bro, let me give you an unsolicited tip: there are ways to convey that you offer a sound financial value without actually saying “cheap” eleventy five times.
- The caterer who nearly sent me onto a long rant about gender stereotypes when he made mention of bringing lager to the groom and pinot grigio to the bride. Bro, let me give YOU and unsolicited tip: don’t assume that ladies only drink white wine, OK mon frere? I mean, I DO drink white wine but I don’t appreciate being pigenholed.
Good gravy I am annoying.
- The relatively smug Irish dude (proprietor of said art gallery/music space/recording studio/cafe )who was way too into name-dropping bands he’s seen and puffing his “hip” image…and his lithe young assistant who was CAHLEARLY digging his schtick. And possibly getting up on his something that rhymes with schtick … IF you know what I mean. (What I mean is, I’m pretty sure they were hitting it. Doing it. Knowing one another in a biblical manner. Scandale!)
- The chicken ceasar salad I had during our lunch break. This has little to do with the story but I just really, really love ceasar salad.
If loving cesar is wrong…I don’t wanna be right.
- And … getting sincere again here…the pleasant and exciting surprise of falling in love with the venue we thought we’d like the least!
Enter: The Hamilton Club!
Does this joint scream REGULAR CLASSY or what?!
The Hamilton Club is a private social club right in downtown Lancaster that, on paper, was everything we said we didn’t want. We imagined ourselves somewhere industrial or rustic or otherwise “nontraditional.” The phrase “we’re so not ballroom people” was thrown around no less than 78 times. The Hamilton Club seemed stuffy and old and boring. But it was surprisingly affordable for the relative formality of the space and Wedding Planner Schmoopaloop totally loved it so we begrudgingly agreed to give it a looksee.
We soon ate our “no ballrooms ever!” hats. Or we ate crow. What do people eat when they say something and then are proven wrong? Their words? Whatever it is, we ate it ALL. The space had everything we didn’t know we wanted – it feels like being inside someone’s cool old mansion with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. They have more than enough room to accommodate an on-site ceremony, a separate upstairs area for a cocktail hour, an organized and efficient on-site coordinator, private rooms for getting ready, a highly regarded caterer and all (mostly!) within our budget. Plus, it’s right downtown so guests can walk from the nearby hotel, saving us from having to sort out any sort of shuttle situation. Cha chingity ching ching!
The coordinator initially struck us as a little too formal and traditional, but the more we told her about the low-key, festive event we envisioned, she instantly got what we were throwing down. She understood that we are working on a shoestring and has been flexible in finding ways to stretch our money a long long way. They had our preferred date available and after a few weeks of back and forth emailing on menus and a few other financial details (see previous entry for emotional state of Liz Ho during this time period) we locked ‘er in.
And that is the whole tale. I told you it was a pretty boring story!
Boring or no, there are at least a dozen morals here including Don’t Wear Leather Vests, Be Less Obvious About The Fact That You’re Boning Your Boss, Start Wedding Planning Years Before You are Engaged, Turn To Friends and Family for Help, You Can Never Go Wrong With a Cardigan, Listen to Your Mom’s Great Ideas, Stop Freaking Out About Everything All The Time Life Always Works Out You Crazy Maniac and, most importantly: Be Open Minded. We ended up doing the total opposite of what we always imagined and we could not be more excited. You may have an idea of what you want (I’ll use wedding planning as an example but this moral applies to all of LIFE) in your head, only to see it in person and find it is too small or smells weird or is haunted by the ghost of an old hobo clown.
‘Tis possible that what you thought you’d hate, you’d love. And visa versa.
And, in that vein, also think about your priorities. If, for you, the ambiance and feel of the venue is the most important then maybe it’s not the place to compromise, to go from industrial to ballroom without looking back. For us, what is most important is bringing our peeps together. There were plenty of funkier, hipper venues out there but they were so beyond our budget, we would have had to cut our guest list more than we already have (a topic which causes me such daily anxiety, I’m almost always on the verge of barfing) and what’s the point of having a sexy, trendy, brick-walled, wood-beamed room if you can’t fill it with all the people you love?
LIFE! Full of lessons and surprises. What a world, what a world.
So that’s the latest on the old wedding sitcheroo. GOOD TIMES!
Thanks, as always, for reading this nonsense. I promise I’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming of food spills and uncomfortable social interactions lickety split.
See ya later!
xoxoxo Liz Ho