Wedding Planner Abbey Nims Shares Her Planning Journey: Finding a Venue
By Abbey Nims
Today, our topic is wedding venues! A venue is typically the first vendor you book (that or your wedding planner!) because a venue can completely change the vibe of the event. If you are going for a woodsy, outdoor, LOTR wonderland, but the only venue that is available on the date you chose is an indoor ballroom, you are going to have to do a lot of DIY or floral work to achieve the look that you want.
This is the look Jeremy and I are going for . . .
I chose to not go with a formal color palette, and just go for “Spring” as the colors. I feel like this allows me a little more wiggle room when I’m choosing decor. If it isn’t the perfect shade of yellow, or green, that’s okay! Because it doesn’t have to be. This means I won’t have to pay extra for custom versions of things to make sure they all match. (Which means saving $$$)
As for the “VIBE” I’m going for a kind of a Spring English Garden Party. Sophisticated and elegant. But, casual and un-fussy.
Now, finding a venue to match this, especially in the PNW, is fairly easy. The difficult part has been finding it on a budget. My first thought was Airbnb. But, recently, Airbnb changed their terms to no longer allow parties. Because of this, most listings state “No events or parties” or something along the lines of a big fine if there is anyone on the property that isn’t listed in the booking information. This makes it a little hard to host 50 people at a rental, and whatever repercussions happen are totally not worth ruining your wedding for. Sometimes you can talk to the host and ask permission (especially if you are eloping or celebrating with under 10 people!) We found an Airbnb that we really loved. But, after reaching out, discovered that they only allow 20 guests on the property at a time. So, that was out.
Next, I moved onto public parks. Again, the PNW has no shortage of parks. So, this took a while. I started looking at surrounding county websites and seeing what park reservations they had available. Lots didn’t really require reservations which is nice for our budget. However, that means that any tables or covered areas are first come first served, which is a little risky for your wedding day. Unless you send Uncle Dan to the park at sunrise to hang out all day, which definitely crossed my mind.
Of course the beach is an option. Or a friend’s backyard. But neither of those are really our style. And we don't want to put that kind of burden on our friends or family.
This brought me to The Historic Overlook House. Owned by Portland Parks & Recreation, The Overlook House was built in 1928 for The Raven Family. The beautiful brick and stucco Tudor home sits on over an acre of gardens extensively cultivated by Mrs. Raven while she was in residence. When Mr. Raven passed away in 1931, Mrs. Raven sold the house to the City of Portland for the sum of $1.00 to provide a community center for her beloved neighborhood.
The grounds of this house are absolutely beautiful, and I actually coordinated a wedding there last summer. So, I already know that the volunteer staff there is delightful.
Jeremy and I toured the space together two weeks ago and it was absolutely beautiful. There is so much space in the yard, and the daffodils were blooming! We are crossing our fingers and toes that the weather next year is much sunnier than this year. There is space inside for the ceremony which means a built-in rain plan. And I don’t have the budget for tent rental, so that is a huge plus, too!
The best part? It’s under $1,000 to rent it. AND it includes tables, chairs, and a full kitchen.
Now, if you know me, you know I love a good spreadsheet. I have one made for our entire wedding, of course. For our venues, I wanted to create something that I could fill in on the fly. I had all my questions written out on my iPad so I could fill them out as we toured each venue. Then when I got home, I’d input everything right into the spreadsheet. These questions allowed me to accurately see all the information in one place and made our decision so much easier.
These are my basic venue questions that I take to EVERY venue tour. With my clients and on my own.
- What is the rental fee?
- What is included with the rental?
- How long is the rental period?
- Is there space for both the ceremony and reception?
- Will you need to flip the room?
- Is there an added fee for a room flip?
- Does the venue provide linens?
- Does the venue provide catering?
- Does the venue require liability insurance?
It is important to ask what is included in the rental, such as tables and chairs, because if they aren’t included you will have to rent them. (In the Portland Area, a single farm table is about $110.) This can be a HUGE added cost. Liability insurance is also something to watch out for. Depending on where you live, it’s usually around $100-$200. Not huge. But, in a $5k budget, that’s still a decent chunk.
Now, we’ve talked about the budget, we’ve talked about dresses, I’ve found my VENUE! Next week, check back for wedding websites and registries!