Venues, venues, venues…!

January 28, 2009 at 8:23 PM (Laura's Wedding) (, , )

So on Monday, Jim and I took the crew (my mother, my sister, and Jim’s mother) to see some potential venues. We were feeling pretty flexible about venues when we started. The only real opinions we had were: we’d like the ceremony and reception to be at the same place- it just makes things so much less stressful in that there’s no having to coordinate two venues and no need to travel between them on the day of the wedding, and we are pretty sure we don’t want a traditional church wedding as neither of us have a church or priest that we are particularly fond of, so we’d feel more comfortable at a more secular venue…we think… 😉 (don’t hold us to that as we may change our minds at any moment!)

We began at The Belmont Mansion:
Belmont Mansion

The Belmont mansion is an historical site…the website doesn’t have very many pictures so it was very difficult to visualize where the ceremony would take place so we had to go in person to even get a sense for the place. It’s located on Belmont campus- so dodging students was a must as we drove there to find… No Parking! There was a tour going on so their few parking spaces were completely filled. The mansion staff provided us with guest passes to park on the round about in front of the mansion to avoid being towed. We found the mansion to be disappointing, in all honesty. The staff were largely unhelpful and conveyed the impression that they could care less if we wanted to get married there or not. That may be a result of the popularity of that venue-they didn’t need our business- a popularity which was surprising given the lack of flexibility in ceremony/reception options-they told us exactly where the ceremony would take place (no choices)- and it was in front of a series of windows that face the back of another building! The room is long and rectangular with pillars, so we knew right away that the reception would be difficult if we wanted dancing… and we do!There is a lovely staircase

Belmont Staircase

Belmont Staircase

(which is apparently unstable- there can only be a few people on it at a time) for the bride to walk down from the bride room. The bridal prep room itself, we never saw as they did not take us up there to see it- but we were told that it was a small, spare room with no bathroom. Conversely, the groom’s prep room is downstairs just off the ceremony room- with a bathroom because “grooms have a tendency to throw up more than brides” and it was conveniently near the backdoor “in case he wants to run away.” I’m sure the staff member that we spoke to intended this to be funny, but we found them to be largely inappropriate and crass especially as they were said in front of the groom and his mother! So, all in all- not a good experience! We will not be getting married at the Belmont Mansion! Check! 🙂 Hey, it’s a useful thing to know- you have to check places off as definite no’s on your way to finding the venue that is right for you. On the up side, we learned more about what we wanted from a venue- namely: flexibility/options, more room for dancing, and helpful/friendly staff to work with!

The next stop was through a company called Nashville Event Space and they have several locations that they offer along with an event coordinator to work with you and all of the vendors that you’ll inevitably need.

3rd aVenue

3rd aVenue

First, we went to 3rd aVenue– conveniently on 3rd avenue south, it’s has a quiet, rather unnoticeable exterior, but the interior is great! There are three levels- the main floor is all warm wood and semi-industrial fixtures. It’s a blank canvas for you work your magic on in any way you can imagine. There’s a stage at one end (for a band?) and plenty of dancing space if you want it (We do! We do!!).

3rd aVenue Loft

3rd aVenue Loft

The top level is a loft from which you can over look the goings on on the main floor- so a nice quiet(er) place a retreat to for cooling off, chatting, mingling- all the things you want to be able to do when you’re not making the rounds or getting your dance on. There is a basement as well- a cool place a chill out and have cocktails while the main room is flipped from ceremony to reception or just another retreat for people to cool off and chat. The “green” room is located down there as well- a funky good-sized room for pre-wedding prep and relaxation with a semi-secret staircase back up to the main floor for a dramatic entrance!

3rd aVenue

3rd aVenue

What we loved about this venue was it’s flexibility and comfortable. We felt that there was a comfortable place for all of our guests regardless of their age or entertainment inclinations- the 80 year old grandparents can settle on couches to be near the action but still comfortable, the guys can retreat to the loft to do their male bonding rituals, extended family can meet around bistro tables and catch up on family news while they munch on whatever treats we decide on… 🙂 The only question we have about this venue currently is about catering. All of the catering for Nashville Event Space is provided by Chef’s Market. We have no idea what their food is like. They do have a cafe’ in Goodlettsville, so we’re planning a trip to go try them out and see if they are worthy!! 🙂

The last stop on Monday was another Nashville Event Space- The Sound Stage.

Sound Stage

Sound Stage

Reportedly, lots of local big name music stars like to rehearse and record there as there is a professional-quality stage and music system. Admittedly, an odd choice for a wedding venue- I don’t think they’ve ever done one there before, but it’s a really nice room. Of course it is just in a big warehouse on a miscellanious side street, so not a pretty venue from the outside, but that could just make the impact of the inside that much greater! It’s a blank canvas as well- a large black room, unfortunately carpeted so we would have to rent a dance floor for the reception- but the acoustics would be amazing and we could do some really interesting things with light to liven the place up.

Sound Stage

Sound Stage

The down sides are that there are no retreats for people who may not be that in to the music- there’s no getting away from it in that room. It’s something to think about, but the comfort of our guests is very important to us, so that may be a deal-breaker.

What we loved about the Nashville Event Spaces was that they were very flexible, welcoming and seemed genuinely excited to work with us- we never once felt like they were rushing us out or unwilling to consider doing things differently. They said several times that they would be as much or as little involved as we wanted them to be- they were happy to help with anything we wanted them to- that was a relief- you really got the sense that they cared about making sure that you were getting what you wanted.

At the end of the day- we were drained…who wouldn’t be? We had a lot of new information to consider and discuss, but we made good progress on defining our wants and needs for a venue, but we didn’t leave feeling that “Oh, yes! This is it!” that you always hope for. We would be happy, we think, at the 3rd aVenue location- but we have to confirm that the food is up to our standards first! We’ll let you know how that goes!

Wish me luck!

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