When it comes to wedding planning everybody has their own way of approaching this beast of a job, most magazines/blogs say that the first thing you need to do is create a budget. Followed by deciding on the number of people to invite, picking a date etc. etc. Admittedly Kristian and I haven't come up with a budget yet, other then "as inexpensive as possible". A large reason for this is because we don't know how much money he'll be making once his starts his commission-based job. Since we will paying for a majority of this shindig that will definitely play a big role in how much we can spend.
In the meantime I've decided to start getting some pricing together so that we can see what to expect. Since we live in one of the more expensive areas of the country trying to plan a budget friendly wedding is not going to be easy. The largest chunk of the budget will go towards our venue/catering. Most magazines say that's a good 50% of the budget. Since most of the places I've found have site fees, it doesn't seem to make a difference (initially) as to how many guests are invited. Some of the more fancy sites even require a minimum amount spent on food/drinks...this is total bullshit in my opinion.
I've contacted a few places already and started getting pricing which has caused me to want to shed a few tears and consider eloping however I know that with a little creativity and some scrimping in other areas that aren't as important to me like invitations and flowers we can hopefully make this work.
The one thing I'm pretty sure of is that we will have a church ceremony followed by a reception elsewhere. Even though it's usually cheaper and much easier to hold both the ceremony and reception in one location I've always envisioned myself getting married in a church. This is kind of surprising considering that neither I nor Kristian are very religious. But to me a wedding is a religious event and it just feels right for me to have it in a church. I also love the idea of getting married outside by the water or in a beautiful garden but the unpredicibility of the weather and the added stress of worrying about rain isn't worth it to me.
The funny thing about the few reception sites I've contacted so far is that they are all very different from each other. One of the things I do want is a place with either easy, direct access to some outdoor area or at least a lot of windows to give the feel of being outside. I think this may make up for my fear of planning an outdoor wedding. So far some of the spots I'm looking at are:
Top of the Town in Arlington VA- http://www.topofthetown.net/
This venue overlooks DC and apparently has a view that is to die for. I think it would be great to overlook the city and get the feel of having a "DC wedding". I showed Kristian the website of this place and he really liked it as well.
Meadowlark Botanical Garden in Falls Church VA- http://www.nvrpa.org/parks/meadowlark/
I love the idea of getting married surrounded by tress and flowers and since there are so many windows looking out we wouldn't need as much decor on the inside of the Atrium. This is one of the more popular spots in the area to get married and therefore one of the pricier spots. However one of my friends sister is the event coordinator there so I'm hoping maybe she can help me out.
Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa in MD- http://www.chesapeakebeachresortspa.com/
The great thing about this place is that it overlooks the water and all the boats. Kristian loves the water and I think this would be a spot that he would really enjoy. It's a bit out of the way (about an hour drive from NoVA) but from what I can tell the pricing isn't too bad.
Old Town Hall in Fairfax, VA
This location definitely seems to be the most affordable so far and is located right down the street from where I live now. It's in the old Town Hall building (hence the name). I've only seen it from the outside and it looks really cute. I've even driven by and seen wedding parties going in.
I still need to go visit all of these places in person as well as continue to look into other (cheaper) venue options. I also still need to find a church that is willing to marry non members and isn't located too far from whatever reception site we decide on...oh yeah and make sure both places have openings on the same day! It's a good thing I do project management on a day to day basis and deal with coordinating vendors and schedules because it's going to come in handy!