Red Pattern

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Search for a Venue: The Choices

With our wedding style in mind, the process of setting up appointments to see a few venues in the DFW area began. Other than wanting a chapel and a reception space that wasn't absolutely massive (we were thinking around 100 guests at this point), we were pretty open minded and ready to see some options. Over the course of two days, we visited all of the wedding locations we were seriously considering. Because of our crazy schedule at the time, we had to do some pretty impressive scheduling to fit them all in back to back, but we were able to see all six!

Our first stop was the Northeast Wedding Chapel in Hurst. Before the visit, I had looked the location up online, and the surroundings seemed a little too commercial to be the setting for a wedding. When we arrived at the chapel, this proved to be true - it was situated on the corner of a pretty busy intersection. However, once we were inside I was a little more impressed. The decoration was simple, but I thought it had a lot of potential. The size was good for us, and once you were inside the building you forgot about the surroundings outside. I liked that they allowed outside caterers and were okay with any vendors you wanted to bring in. They were basically a blank slate, and gave you a lot of freedom. There was also a small garden area between the chapel and reception hall where I could see a cocktail hour taking place.

Image via Northeast Wedding Chapel / Photo by Fairy Tale Photography

Next was the Piazza in the Village in Colleyville. I had the highest expectations for this location and they certainly didn't disappoint. I had already been in contact with the girl we would be meeting with and she was extremely prompt and helpful. I loved the pictures I had seen of the chapel and reception ballrooms, and, like the Northeast Chapel, I liked that both the ceremony and reception would be at the same location because many of our guests are unfamiliar with the Dallas area. As we drove up to the Piazza, I fell in love the location surrounding the chapel. It’s located within a “village” of sorts that has a florist, bakery, and some nice apartments, along with the wedding accommodations. The chapel did not disappoint. It was gorgeous, as were the courtyard and both of the ballrooms. The Piazza does their own catering and I was a little unsure about this because their food & beverage minimums are a bit pricey, but overall our entire appointment was impressive.

For the last stop of the day, we headed over to the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine.. This location didn’t have a chapel, and it was probably the least like all of the other options. During a past visit to the hotel I had noticed an area of the atrium that I thought would be beautiful for a ceremony, so I wanted to check it out. We only get to visit wedding venues once, so why not!? The Gaylord was beautiful, and all of the wedding pictures I have seen hold true to that. I will say the coordinator seemed a little unprepared and not very enthusiastic about the wedding (maybe just in comparison to the service we had received at the Piazza?) They also required we use their (expensive) catering, so again I wasn’t too sure how I felt about that.

It was tough to find a picture, but this is the area in the atrium I liked / Image via Bella Pop Photography

The next day we had 3 more appointments.  Our first stop was the Milestone. This place was a gorgeous plantation house type venue with a beautiful view, but it was FAR away - and we were already a good 30 minutes out of Dallas to begin with. Once we got over how long it took us to get there, the location was beautiful. It had a grand staircase, beautiful ceremony room, and a really nice reception hall. They also had an amazing bridal suite - it was huge! Again, their catering options were expensive and required. There were a lot of things I loved about this location, but I just couldn't seem to get over the fact that our guests would have such a long drive in an area they were so unfamiliar with.

Images via EE Photography
Next on the list was Fairytale Manor in Frisco. Our first impression was not so great – there was some terrible long-term road construction going on right in front of the location, and it really took away from the venue. They mostly have outdoor weddings, which really weren't an option for us (yes, I'm a weather-worrier), but they told us they could use the ballroom for both the ceremony and reception and just “flip” it between. I now know that many locations do this, but it didn’t sound appealing to me. I was worried about what the guests would do in between, and it just seemed like it was going to be chaotic at this particular location. The ballroom/ceremony room was pretty, but just couldn’t make up for all of the other things the location lacked for us.

Finally, we visited the Bella Donna chapel in McKinney. This was the only location that didn’t have a reception site, so I knew I would have to love it to make the decision to have the reception at a differently place. The chapel was definitely unique. It was set on a peninsula of a lake in a very nice neighborhood. The d├ęcor in the chapel was a little over the top for my taste, but it was a great size, had a lot of character, and I'm glad we took the time to check it out.

Overall, the appointments were extremely helpful and a lot of fun! Each of the locations had unique qualities and a wedding at any of them would be beautiful. We spent a lot of time following the meetings discussing what we liked and really didn’t like about the different places, and I continued to look at other places online to make sure I hadn’t found any others we needed to visit. We also did a little number crunching to compare the places that would allow outside catering versus those that wouldn't, and also took into consideration the items that were included like tables, chairs, linens and lighting.

Ultimately, one of the locations really stood out to us and we knew it was going to be the best choice. So, we went for it, and booked Piazza in the Village to be our wedding venue! 

How many different venues did you look at before you knew you had found the one? I was really surprised that we both just "knew" - even Mr. Coach couldn't stop talking about the Piazza after we left!

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