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Wedding: Finding the Reception Venue

Posted Nov 07 2012 7:53pm

Okay, this post is LONG.  All thoughts about the wedding were completely put on hold for the last week and a half, but after having this in my drafts for three weeks, I have to post it already!

There are so many elements to finding the venue! Location, availability, size, cost!  The availability is really the clincher.  I was hoping to sit back and enjoy the engagement for a while.  However, I just happened to call a place I had in mind and found out they were booked through November of 2013.  That ended the relaxation portion of our engagement.

Our first decision was where to have it upstate where I am from or in the city where we live and where he is from.

I contacted many venues in both locations to start.  Only 2 places in the city that got back to me in the city.  The first was so expensive, we couldn’t even consider it–I’m talking insane.  The second one was Battery Gardens .

It ended up being our first appointment.  We loved it instantly.  We loved the wedding coordinator, the space, the upper and lower level terraces, the cocktail hour space, the views.  The price was doable. Honestly, I was a little sad we liked it so much because I thought all the venues we would see would pale in comparison.

About two weekends ago, we went upstate to look at venues in the Saratoga Springs area.  I had booked four appointments, plus was considering going to Lake George to look at a few more places.

Our first stop was Longfellows .  We instantly fell in love with Gerri, the wedding coordinator who was so helpful, energetic and full of ideas. Longfellow’s itself was charming and historic, but not quite big enough for the size of our wedding. However, they cater weddings and are so willing to work with you that they were our number 1 catering choice.

Stop number two was right next door at the Saratoga National .

Elario Photography <–he has the best wedding .

This place looks like a castle from the outside.  The beautiful fall foliage certainly didn’t hurt the view of the rolling hills across the golf course below.  We really loved the decor of this place.  The foyer was just amazing with the super high ceilings and the awesome bar area.

The best part was definitely the terraces with lots of fire pits, waterfalls and pools.

The National is a popular place, it was booked through mid-November! Overall, this is a great venue–a tiny bit small for our wedding size, but workable. There were some restrictions, like not being able to use the foyer for a ceremony or cocktail hour and limitations due to weather, but I can see why this venue has become so in demand–especially with no venue fee.

Our next stop was the Hall of Springs .

This venue is located Saratoga Spa State Park down the beautiful Avenue of the Pines.  Inside it is extremely grand with beautiful marble ceilings and columns.  It has all the historic charm of Saratoga itself. The outdoor areas are gorgeous, but weather dependent.  I love that it blends nature and elegance so seamlessly and it is in a place very special to me.

The drawbacks were that it has a high venue fee. The cocktail area is also potentially small and all the marble is a little cold without $$$ lighting and decor. Lastly, if there are events in the park, you can lose access to some of the outdoor spaces.

It was amazing that Frank and my parents made it through all three venues back to back with so much stamina. Total champs.

No rest for the weary because the next day we were back at it. We stopped at a venue that didn’t make the cut (although it could be lovely for a smaller wedding) and then were onto the Canfield Casino.

This one totally one me over. The stained glass ceilings were beyond incredible and the size was perfect.  It also has the very best location, right in Congress Park and totally walkable from downtown. The cocktail hour space was really cool, but not totally are taste. Not sure if this a positive, but the Casino has its very own ghost that visited us while we were on the tour. While it has a venue fee, you can bring in any cater you wanted, which leaves lots of room for negotiation.

The downsides were foremost availability, it’s booked completely through 2013.  If the weather forced the ceremony inside, I wouldn’t really love the space. However, the outdoor space by the duck ponds is lovely.  Even if there is a lot of quacking. :)

Ultimately, our decision came down mostly to availability.  Everywhere was booked until at least mid-November when its too cold to enjoy ‘toga. While I was pretty okay with waiting until spring 2014, I wasn’t totally thrilled about the idea.  So how did we decide?  The decision was made for us when one  of the venues suddenly had a hold lift, and we decided to go for it!  The contract has not been mailed yet, so I am won’t jinx myself by revealing our choice.

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