Finding A Wedding Venue

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I can’t believe I’m already on week 3 of my Bridal Experience Blog Series!

If you missed the last two posts, you can catch up here.
Week 1: How I Asked My Maids + DIY Tutorial
Week 2: The Two Most Important Words of Wedding Planning

Now that you’re all caught up, I’m excited to share with you my experience in searching for a perfect wedding venue!

I have to say wedding venue hunting is one of the most exhausting parts of wedding planning! So much driving, so much searching, googling, calling, emailing. It’s hard! If you’re looking for your wedding venue right now and are feeling a bit discouraged, just know you’re not alone, and once you get this part figured out, the rest is mostly downhill from here!

Growing up, I never sat and imagined how my wedding would be. I never looked through bridal magazines and envisioned a wedding gown. I had photographed weddings for seven years before I even started thinking about my own! It wasn’t until Justin and I started talking about a timeline (when we would get engaged and when we wanted to be married by) that I thought, “Oh my gosh, I have to start thinking about planning!” Lucky for me, half of my research was already done with all of the weddings I have been to and all of the amazing vendors I knew and loved! As I started venue searching, I knew for sure I wanted to get married somewhere I had never photographed before. I knew if I had worked at a venue prior to my own wedding, I would have work memories tied to that special place, and it just wouldn’t feel as dreamy to me.

One of my past clients and friends Erica had mentioned during her venue search that she really wanted to find a beautiful chapel for her ceremony. She almost settled on one, but she and her then-fiancé Justin chose not to for a few logistical reasons. She later showed me photos, and I was in love! It was then that I started gravitating towards the idea of a beautiful indoor chapel ceremony.

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This photo isn’t mine; I found it on google when I was wedding
planning, and I wish I knew who took it, so I could credit them!

I went to visit Crossline Community Church, where this gorgeous lakeside wedding chapel sits. I loved that it had a sense of classic and organic that I loved and it also incorporated the modern, clean lines that Justin loves. I fell in love.

And then we started talking about our guest list and what kind of reception we would have. We could not find a reception venue we loved within a short driving distance from this beautiful church. We almost considered doing a cute little dessert reception on the patio here (I loved that idea!), but a lot of our family wanted to eat dinner and dance, and we did too, so we continued looking.

I finally made myself a list of things to look for, which helped guide me through my search!

1. Chapel Ceremony Venue Preferred
2. Reception Venue Within 15 Minutes Driving Time
3. Both Must Hold 175 Guests (We invited 200 and expected about 160. 135 ended up making it!)

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Photo above by Maria Longhi

Around the same time, my photographer friend Maria Longhi had just been published on Style Me Pretty with this beautiful wedding chapel. I was smitten! I started looking into wedding reception venues nearby. I’m thankful for websites with vendor guides like The Knot, Style Me Pretty, and Wedding Chicks (just to name a few of my favorites).

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We ended up visiting multiple venues that I found online, but the one we fell in love with was The Wyndham Hotel in Irvine (which we found on The Knot, by the way)!

A few reasons I loved this place:
1. It had a modern feel, which I knew Justin would like.
2. The catering manager was always quick to email back and kept in touch with me, which made me feel like he cared about my business! Customer service is always big to me.
3. It was only 12 minutes from our favorite chapel location Corona Del Mar Community Church.
4. They included everything, which meant less stress for us: tables, chairs, linens, dance floor, catering, bar. What a relief!
5. They were in the process of remodeling and had scheduled to finish eight months before my wedding. I know that remodeling pretty much never goes as planned and always takes longer than expected, but eight months to spare meant we were good to go! It also meant we had our reception in a pretty much brand new looking venue with some introductory booking rates. Score!

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I never imagined celebrating my wedding in a hotel, but it turned out to be perfect! The guest rooms were newly remodeled and comfy! So many of our guests walked right upstairs after the reception and stayed in their own hotel rooms. It was also next door to a few other great hotel options for those who preferred different brands. This convenience really added to the experience for a lot of us, and if you read my last post on identifying priorities, this was number one for us! We loved how everything turned out and couldn’t be happier with our venue choices.

Next week I am sharing about my vendor search! Can’t wait to talk about that process and give some tips I picked up along the way!

Vendor Credits:
Ceremony Venue: Corona Del Mar Community Church
Ceremony Music: Marck McKay, Lindsey Cargill, Jullian Hernandez
Officiant: Steve Salomon
Reception Venue: The Wyndham Hotel Irvine
My Wedding Photos: Rachel Jay of France Photographers
Day-of Coordination: KC Designs
Styling, Florals, Calligraphy: Carla Kayes Floral Design
Bridal Hair: Jessie Kenney
Bridal Makeup: Raeleen B. & Co.
Groom’s Hair: Erin Heck
Tuxedos: Friar Tux
Bridesmaid Gowns: Rent The Runway
Custom Wedding Gown: Jennifer Sitchler of Eden Couture
Cake: Have Your Cake and Eat It
Cupcakes: Kiandra Chun
Donuts!: Krispy Kreme
DJ: Daniel Caban
Cinematography: Nearly North Visuals

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