How We Picked Our Wedding Venue

Travis and I went up to Suncadia to look at our top two venues, and instead of driving up for a little day trip (it is about 90 minutes away from Seattle) we decided to turn it into a little one-night getaway. We stayed at The Lodge and this is what I wore to dinner the night before we toured The Inn and Swiftwater Cellars. Dinner was phenomenal; if you live anywhere near the Cascade Mountains, make a trip to Suncadia. Go ice skating or golfing (depending on the season), go hiking through the miles and miles of trails, and enjoy the insanely beautiful landscape all around you. And while you're at it, have a great meal at the lodge or Swiftwater. Both restaurants totally wowed us.

Anyway, a couple of you have sent me emails asking about how we picked Swiftwater, so I thought I'd share our process. After reading lots of wedding resources, this is not the way everyone does it, but just what worked for us.

1. Build A Guest List.
After Travis and I first got engaged in Hawaii, we spent a little bit of the time on the flight home to jot down our wedding list. It quickly grew to almost 250, and since both of us have always wanted a smaller wedding, we had to spend a few weeks cutting people out. We got down to 150, so I knew we'd need a venue that held 130+ people. 

2. Determine a Budget.
My parents are footing the bulk of the bill for the wedding, so I sent over some resources to them about how budgets work for weddings. There are some great budget breakdowns that give approximate percentages for each category, and I wanted my parents to have that perspective when determining how much money we'd be able to spend. This one ended up being really helpful for them. 

3. Outline the Must Haves.
For Travis and I, there are a few things we really care about for our wedding. We spent about 15 minutes outlining these items, and it very quickly narrowed down where we should start to look for venues. Our list looked something like this:
 - snow (this helped us pick a date - more about that in another post)
- a "destination" venue
- our closest friends and family
- lots of good music and food/drinks to keep the party going

4. Visit Only the Top Few. 
One of the best pieces of advice I got about picking the venue was to do as much of the research I could before actually touring venues, and to limit my tours to just a couple. Luckily for us, we quickly narrowed it down to the Suncadia property, and so we were able to tour both of them in the same day and make our decision almost immediately. I had seen a winter wedding at Swiftwater and was already falling in love with it, but decided to still tour the other venues at the Suncadia Inn and Lodge, and I'm glad I did so that I could compare them.

5. Sign a Contract.
Touring Swiftwater Cellars, we both immediately knew it would be our venue. They split the ceremony, cocktail, and reception into three separate spaces, meaning there's a nice flow to the evening. The winery is gorgeous and has lots of rustic elements, which was a requirement to go with some of my elegant themes I want to include. The mountains and golf course surrounding the venue will allow for some spectacular photos. The venue includes catering, which helps with logistics and cost. We loved the wedding coordinator for the venue and had seen her written up in wedding articles as a great ally. The budget fit. The venue could hold our whole guest list. Overall, it was perfect. Most importantly, it just felt right. Walking through the venue I was sure it was ours, and when Travis and I went upstairs to taste a bit of the wine and have lunch, I could tell he felt sure too. We signed the contract about a week later (after clarifying/negotiating on just a couple of elements).

Again, this is just what worked for us, not what works for everyone. Any questions? Advice? Bored with wedding talk already? Let me know in the comments!

Boots: Sam Edelman (if you haven't bought these yet, go do it!)
Black Jeans: Urban Outfitters
Tee: Nordstrom Rack (similar)
Cardigan: LOFT

And yes, this is the same shirt from yesterday's post. I wore it with the Madewell cardigan and blue jeans on the drive up and then changed into black jeans and a black cardigan for dinner.

More to come tomorrow!

Posted on January 22, 2014 .