Jacqueline and Jared have shared about the overseas proposal, festive engagement party, and starting to take the guest list plunge, but today they’re covering an even bigger topic: choosing the perfect venue! Turns out when expectation meets budget reality, those venue dreams can still come true.
Some people have dreamed about their own wedding for their whole lives, some parents have dreamt of their child’s wedding since they were little, and some have never thought about it at all! All of those are totally fine, but I (Jacqueline) have been really into weddings for my whole life! When it came to dreaming about my wedding from probably the age of 7, there were only two words that mattered. Castle Hill. It was my dream, and undoubtedly a farfetched one…but when you dream, dream big, right?!
We began our search for the venue just days after our engagement, and one thing we knew for sure, is that we did not want to make ANY decisions about the wedding (besides the date) until we chose the venue first. I am not sure if this is really the suggested way of going about finding your venue, but it really worked for us! To be honest, we did not even set a budget until we looked around at options and got a feel of what we could get for our money. And to be even more honest, I am absolutely terrible at budgeting anyways and didn’t make that the biggest priority in my planning, so let’s hope that doesn’t come back to bite us in the butt.
We did, however, have a specific set of criteria and questions to ask the venues when we were checking them out and I made a spreadsheet to keep track of the information. Some were more important than others, and I highly suggest you have in your mind what you know what your priorities are going into the search. I marked ours with an asterisk for you to see, but what was most important to me could be, and probably should be, different than what is important to you. I also made sure to get a list of the extra perks or the disadvantages of the venues to compare, a lot of these came from reading reviews.
- Setting (country club, waterfront, hotel, ect.)
- Bridal dressing room*
- Ceremony site
- Rehearsal offered
- Inside option
- Outside option
- Back up plan for rain*
- Parking for guests
- Hire your own caterer
- BYOB option/ Bar price*
- Linens included
- Catering price (if catering was through the venue)
- Extra Fees
- Onsite accommodations
- Set up/Breakdown included*
I started by making a list of places that I wanted to look at and gathered as much information online as I could and then emailed to get a brochure or any additional information that was not provided on their website. We ended up narrowing it down to 5 that I wanted to go visit, but by this time, I was already starting to get more of a sense of what I really wanted as far as the vibes of the wedding. We might have not had an exact budget, but I knew that Castle Hill was in fact too far out of reach. So we continued with our search!
When we came up to Rhode Island for our engagement party in November I made an appointment with Karen at Blithewold Mansion to do a tour. And as far as I was concerned, that was it! I was ready to book it right then! However, there was some convincing to do before I could lock it in, Jared was not completely sold. Why? WEDDINGS ARE EXPENSIVE, GUYS!! I knew what I wanted and I fell in love with the venue, it hit every check mark that I wanted and I didn’t really have to settle for anything venue-wise. However, if we were going to follow through with it, we knew we would have to find other places to give and take and sacrifice on other elements. We could make it work, but it would be pushing the limits and definitely more than Jared wanted to spend. What I loved about Castle Hill, was that it could be a wedding on the water, and you could have that amazing Newport feel, but didn’t necessarily have to be a nautical themed wedding, and the tent is a blank canvas for nothing but your own personality and creativity. Nevermind the fact that Castle Hill is just generally beautiful, there were other elements to Castle Hill beside that it was on the ocean, and that’s what I felt at Blithewold PLUS MORE!
We ended up not even going to tour any other places, I just knew that nowhere else could compare and Jared really knew how much I loved it so he gave the final go-ahead! I was SO RELIEVED to book the venue and lock in our date two years before the wedding I felt like I had won the lottery. To my surprise, it was already booked up very quickly and if we did not lock it in, it probably would not have been available.
For anybody that does not know what Blithewold is, or has never been there, the only word that comes to my mind right away is “romantic”. It is a dreamy mansion on a huge lawn that leads right to the ocean. There are secret gardens all along the property, with a bamboo garden, stone bridges, rose gardens, everything that would make the perfect romantic Rhode Island wedding. We actually toured it in November so we didn’t even get to see how truly beautiful it is with all of the flowers blooming until the following year! We will be getting married in their garden, having a cocktail hour on the terrace and the lawn, and having the reception in the tent on their property.
Overall, as far as my experience has been, as long as you get creative with the give and take of budgets and venues – finding what your priorities truly are in the planning process, you should be able to get pretty close to exactly what you want! It might “just be a day” to some people and everybody has their own opinions when it comes to planning and what is worth it and what isn’t, and that’s a whole conversation for another day! But the only thing that matters is what you and your fiancé think (while keeping the guests comfort in mind), and we think it’s going to be a damn good venue; we can’t wait to see if you agree!
– The Future Schumers
P.S. If you saw our Insta story the other day, you might be wondering which photo Jacqueline and Jared choose to have turned into a custom Painting from Paint Your Life. Stay tunes for the big revel in their next blog post! Hint: the photo is from somewhere close by!