Upon announcing their engagement, most couples are immediately asked the same question: “Have you set a date?” It seems the when is the most important thing on everyone’s minds. But in my case, no one was asking when; everyone was wondering where.
I am originally from Michigan. My fiancé, Eric, is originally from Kansas. When we met (thanks to a good friend and the magic of Gmail) I was living in Michigan and he was living in Houston, TX. A month after our first date in Houston, I found a job and an apartment there, and we started dating.
As we’ve built our life together, we’ve had to deal with the fact that our family and closest friends are no less than 11 hours away by car and a day’s worth of travel by plane. It sucks. But what I’m realizing is this is the case for more and more young couples. And that makes the “where” question very difficult to answer when it comes time for wedding planning.
So where do you get married when every place is a destination for you and/or the majority of your guests? Here’s how we figured it out.
First, we determined that we wanted a winter wedding. And not just winter time. Like…snow winter. Cold winter. Bride in a white fur coat winter. That immediately eliminated Texas as an option, which made sense anyway. As relatively recent transplants, we are least close to the people we know in Texas. If we didn’t get married in Texas, we could bring our percentage of traveling guests from 99 percent of people in attendance down to something like 80 percent. Progress!
So we started looking at venues in Michigan and Kansas, but we were a bit disappointed by what we found. First of all, it doesn’t snow in Kansas nearly as much as I thought it would. The likelihood that we’d have a snowy wedding in the Sunflower State was really low. All right, then. Sorry, Kansas. This was going to be easy! We began looking at venues in Michigan. And then we started asking, “Oh my God, why are all wedding venue websites in Michigan so terrible?!”
Because they were. Every last one of them appeared to be created in 1998 and not really updated since. It was hard to believe that any of these venues would “get” what a modern, web-savvy young couple would want for their wedding. Because we’d be planning everything long-distance, it was really important to find a venue and connected vendors who really understood where we were coming from, as we wouldn’t have the ability to meet with, say, twenty different DJs until we found one who understood that under no circumstances are they allowed to play “The Cha-Cha-Slide,” “The Hustle,” or any other song in which the lyrics tell you the dance moves. We wanted details straight off of Pinterest, and yet we were emailing them at their @aol.com email address accounts. It didn’t bode well.
At this point, we started to consider another option: if everyone was going to have to travel for the wedding, why not ask them to travel someplace awesome? How about a destination winter wedding to a luxe ski resort? Snow would practically be guaranteed, and they’d be used to working with couples who were planning from a distance. We started looking at winter weddings online and discovered that most of them were held at one of a few resorts Colorado or Utah. And they. Were. Gorgeous.
So we got all the info. The menus. The photos. The sales pitch. And it seemed like we were just missing each one being the perfect venue. (The difference between a 60-person wedding and a 65-person wedding would be like…$10,000, no joke. That’s how we eliminated our favorite option in Colorado. And Utah’s liquor rules were just no fun for anyone.)
After a few meltdowns between Eric and me over the guest list — the way we debated whether we had to invite distant relatives at the cost of approximately $2000 per relative, you would have thought we were two tributes in The Hunger Games — we eliminated all of our Colorado and Utah options. So we went back to the drawing board, and back to my home state. And eventually, we stumbled upon the Homestead Resort in northern Michigan. It had been named the most beautiful place on earth by Good Morning America in 2011. It had snow. It had a ton of lovely venue options at the right price points. The menu made our mouths water. And my entire family and most of my friends, even those who had moved away, could get there by car.
So I emailed them. And in the response email, I noticed the saleswoman’s email signature had a link to follow the Homestead on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
We’d officially found our venue! Well, OK, that’s not entirely true — but we were officially cautiously optimistic at that point! I mean, a gorgeous winter resort that had everything we were looking for in terms of the venue and the accommodations that was also affordable, handled tons of couples planning from a distance, and actually knew what a photo booth is? It seemed too good to be true. We exchanged a ton of emails and, after confirming with trusted Michigan friends who had been there, and asking all the questions of the venue we could think to ask — and knowing that we were probably definitely missing something important — we sent off our deposit!
So now we have the where and then when (February 2014!) and I keep telling myself it’s all going to be easy-peasy from here on out! (My plan is to tell myself that every step of the way in the hopes that eventually, it will be true.)
Guest Post by Rachel Wilkerson Rachel Wilkerson is a writer and community manager living in sin in Houston, TX. She also happens to be planning her wedding! You can see more of her writing her brand-new blog The House Always Wins. Follow her on twitter @RachelGettingIt
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