Thursday, March 19, 2015

By the Scruff of the Neck (Part 3)

The third installments of this month's series of how applying three simple principles can help one overcome trying situations isn't nearly as earth-shattering as the two previous posts, but it was stressful none-the-less.

Event: Finding a new wedding venue six months before the wedding
Age at the Time: 34

In one's day-to-day life six months is often some impossibly future date that rarely needs much consideration.  In the wedding world though, six months is practically tomorrow and needing to change one's venue "that close" to go-time can pose many challenges.

Rick (my now-husband) and I had wanted to get married at an Ashram that his father had helped found 50 years prior.  It simply made sense since we were planning a Hindu-style ceremony.  There would have been a lot of restrictions imposed (very limited alcohol, limited occupancy of the space, etc.) but we were willing to work with all that.

As planning progressed though, the relationship with the planning board grew increasingly cold and rigid.  They were becoming inexplicably less willing to work with us, imposing more fees, never quite getting a written contract together, demanding numbers of guests who'd be staying the night on-site (even though formal invitations weren't being sent out for another few months) and over-all growing less and less welcoming of the idea of hosting our wedding on their grounds even though there's a wedding there at least once or twice a year.

After a very frustrating meeting with the coordinator they had assigned to us (whom we'd never met before or since despite her assurances that she was well acquainted with the planning board, many of whom we know personally), we finally cut ties and chose to look for another place to hold our wedding.

1) Don't play the victim
No hard feelings, we still love the Ashram and still visit as frequently as we're able.
Would I have preferred they just tell us straight up from the beginning that they didn't want to host our wedding? Yes. We would have thanked them and moved on, saving us a fair amount of headache of finding a new place and informing all our guests that they'd be traveling elsewhere for the big day.

(In case you're curious, the issue apparently came down to money.  They weren't comfortable charging us the amount they would have needed to compensate for not being able to rent the space for some other more profitable event)

2) Keep calm and vigilant
Where was this fabled "elsewhere" going to be though?
The possibilities were overwhelming even within our limited price range and criteria of:
~Preferred outdoor ceremony
~Reception on-site
~Electricity and means of cooking food
~Parking and restrooms to accommodate our 100+ guestlist

Obviously it needed to be in easy driving distance for Rick & I.
Bonus if it was easy driving distance for the rest of our guests and close to an airport or two.

The biggest stipulation I put on finding a new location was that I didn't want to change the date of October 4th.  We had already sent out the save-the-date cards and I didn't want to confuse people by giving them a new location and day to show up.  I liked our date, and I wanted a fall wedding without getting too close to Halloween.
I decided I'd use the date to help narrow down our options.

3) Do what you can and then let go 
There were a lot of late nights on the phone with my planner friend, surfing the web, looking at state parks, Elks Lodges, historical sites and the like.

Nothing really felt right though.

Driving to work one morning I was suddenly struck by the idea that we could do the wedding at Howe Caverns.  It'd be perfect: being a tourist location, they're well-equipped for large quantities of people.  They're located right off a major highway that most of our guests were well-familiar with.  They have on-site food service, lodging and they are used to hosting weddings.

I called them up and asked if our date was available.
It was!

The price also ended up being right within our budget.
We had a new wedding venue!

Though a little slow to start, Howe was wonderful to work with.
Not only were they happy to work with us, they seemed eager to.  I think having an unusual wedding ceremony in a "safe" place like Howe Caverns helped put our guests at ease as well.  Many of the local folks had been to Howe in their childhood and had fond memories of the place.
Having it at the Ashram would have been an added level of "unknown" that likely would have made people uncomfortable and less able to have fun.

Our wedding was lovely, the food at the reception was great and everyone had a good time.

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