The most stressful period about wedding planning for me was the very beginning when we were trying to figure out dates, guest count, reception venue, ceremony venue, wedding party, dresses, suits, honeymoon, etc. But, once you've figured out your budget, try to stick to it as much as you can. I realized early on, there are things I have no idea how much they cost, but a tool like theknot.com will help with rough estimates.
Now that the budget is set, it's time to select a date and venue! I know, you already have your date selected, but really some venues may not be available. The date and venue are really one item that needs to be figured out together, which brings us to tip #2 - finding a venue for the date. Looking back, I thought finding a venue, for a specific date, was the most stressful task. Your guest count needs to be considered and to also be able to hold a ceremony and reception was also not easy to find. I knew I wanted an outdoor wedding, so I googled for weeks, hashed out dates, considered the budget and found 1 possible venue. Then, I realized I wanted a garden and after surfing and calling around, 3 weeks later, after considering a few others, we finally settled on Ouisie's Table. It is the perfect spot. Not only did it have a outdoor garden for the ceremony, but it also was a very charming restaurant for the reception. They also have great food, can hold up to 200+, and they provided vendors and had an in-house florist, baker for the cake, an events coordinator that will help with a lot of the planning. If you need additional contacts for a live band, photographers, musicians, djs, etc, they also have. Although, I did find my own photographer and dj, it's nice to have the resources.
So I realized through all of this, I really love one stop shops. It is so convenient and if you're on a fairly short time line like we were, it's so helpful and such a relief! I might be paying a little bit more for the in-house florist and cake, but in the end, it was minimial for the benefit of allowing the venue to handle it.
Beautiful isn't it? Ok come back and visit for my next tip on weighing options and tradeoffs.
Also, other places I considered but due to unavailability and some other uncoordinateable details, we bypassed...but for someone else, they would be the perfect spot.
Tiny Boxwood's - beautiful, my most favorite, but guest count was 85, and they were booked for 2013.
Houston Zoo - I saw pictures of a wedding done here and it was gorgeous! But, due to the season, they would have festive lights in the trees, no ceremony accomodations, plus they had a $5000 rental fee on top of the typical fees.
Veranda - loved this spot initially, but then realized I really wanted a garden surround. Veranda is a semi-outdoor venue. I've seen really nice weddings done here as well. And they provide a free room for the couple.