Saturday, December 13, 2008

Location, location, location.

Photo Credit: Kevin Hale

Turns out finding a location isn't so easy or quick. It's more of a process.

I (re)faced the Internet armed with a list of ideas that both Jake and I had come up with, in terms of what we visualized for our wedding location. Which, by the way, is something I highly recommend to anyone in the beginning planning stages. Luckily, Jake and I see eye to eye on most issues, but you can always count on some surprises once you sit down and really hash out your very personal ideas for a very joint project.

For example, Jake was slightly alarmed to discover that I envisioned flowers--lots and lots of flowers--at our wedding. He didn't think I was that "girlie." I, on the other hand, was amazed to learn that Jake was not entirely sold on someplace that only had picnic tables to offer for seating. I guess I had overestimated his rustic side. In the end, Jake walked away a little bit more comfortable with the picnic table setting, and I left the brainstorming session realizing that, unless I wanted my wedding to take place at a florist's shop, I may have let my imagination run a bit too wild. Not to mention the expense of the "Re-creation of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens" look I had unwittingly envisioned.

We had both agreed that a park, garden, or backyard* would be an ideal setting for our wedding.

On our wish list was:

Outdoor Setting.

Naturally beautiful location, not one needing to be "dressed up" to be pretty.

Spacious, not cramped or claustrophobic. Com
fortable. Lots of open grass, trees, etc. Enough space for children to feel comfortable (and hopefully reduce parents' stress).

Down to earth, not showy or over the top.

Relatively private or somehow sectioned off for intimacy.

Someplace that offered shelter (or enough room for a tent) in case of rain.

Easy access for guests.
We know our invitees will include disabled individuals and small children.

Somewhere meaningful to us, preferably somewhere we have already been together and enjoyed.

And on our list of things we wished to avoid:

Not so big that it would swallow up our smallish size wedding.

Not enclosed. No four-walled rooms

No unreasonable, hard and fast rules enforced at the location, which would significantly limit us. We want flexibility to do things our way.

NOT expensive.

Not somewhere which forces us to use only one caterer / florist / photographer, etc. We want to avoid that boring "chicken or fish"mentality and steer clear from some of the (Bland! Overpriced!) wedding food we have encountered at other weddings. We love food! We also don't want to be stuck buying flowers from one vendor or having to use the location's one and only photographer.
These were our initial basic ideas. At this point, we couldn't get more specific because we had not yet decided other aspects of the wedding which naturally tied into determining what types of locations would work for us. For instance, we didn't have a great sense of how many guests we were inviting (excluding the one time we had a bit too much wine and made a "joke" wedding list which included the sweet, chatty parking attendants at the parking garage next door, and our favorite green grocer). The number of people attending would obviously affect our location options (size). Likewise, we hadn't even determined if we were going to provide a meal or snacks; have it catered or make the food ourselves (I know, I know. But it can be done).

One thing I am learning, is that many of our choices about a seemingly isolated issue (i.e. food) restrict or permit choices in other areas (i.e. does the location have barbecues in case we cook our own food or does it require catering?). So in part, there is no avoiding thinking about a whole lot of parts of the wedding at once, which can be overwhelming. But that doesn't mean that you can't (or shouldn't) focus on them one at a time, in manageable chunks, to avoid feeling out of control.

Incorporating the lessons thus learned, and applying the "don't even mention the word wedding" rule, we now had quite a few keywords to google:

Now I was getting somewhere!

The results inspired me and provided me with many ideas I had not yet considered. The first search returned all kinds of interesting sites to check out. Some were links to articles, such as how to throw successful and fun outdoor parties, ripe with cute little ideas. Others led to blogs with thoughtful tips on issues to consider when having a party outdoors. These resources proved very helpful for me in the early stages of brainstorming locations.

There were even links to flickr showing images from outdoor events (these were not that useful at this point, but reminded me that I should check flickr at some point for photos of decorations and settings I liked). Still other results led me to sites suggesting a multitude of great questions to ask myself before deciding on a location. I would never have thought of these on my own, so I really appreciated benefiting from someone else's experience and advice.

The second search also generated worthwhile results, even linking me to something as simple as a list of parks in the area. There were also many examples of public and private events that took place in various outdoor setting in the City, generating even more ideas for Jake and I.

The third search was the most specific and this is where we got into the nitty gritty of some of the possibilities of holding outdoor events. The most useful for my purposes, was a basic link to the Parks & Recreation website. A few clicks later, and I was smack dab in the midst of how the heck one goes about getting married in a New York City park. Bingo!

Much of what my searches returned were advertisements for event planners, vendors, several for-profit services, and pages that were clearly designed with the Organized Wedding Mafia in mind. I simply ignored those and went on my merry way to other, more useful links! No problem.

Ahhhh. At last, google and I were working in harmony. And all it took was a little reflection on my part. And the process continues...I will now compare the new information I acquired with Jake (who is doing his own research using various search terms and will share his results), discuss our findings, and then its back to the Internet drawing board for more specifics. No printing things out on paper yet (we always try to save paper whenever possible), but lots of bookmarking. And, though I can't vouch for them personally, a few of my friends have successfully used this free bookmarking service to compile a long list of their favorite pages, accessible on the Web anywhere, anytime.

Happy clicking!

*More on that topic in a future post.

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