Wedding venue, houses

We signed a contract for our wedding venue last Thursday, so we now officially have a place and a date!

Last weekend we actually looked at three places, thanks to some last-minute searching and emailing. In addition to the planned stop at the Children’s museum, we also took a look at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association and the Wyndham Grand downtown.

Our first stop was the PAA, and we liked it so much that it made the rest of the day rather anticlimactic. The venue itself was gorgeous, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the food. But their prices are also remarkably cheap (relatively speaking, anyway). And they have a bowling alley in the basement you can rent out.

Next up was the Children’s museum. It was pretty much what I expected as far as the rental spaces. The rest of the museum was a little disappointing though… it was my first time there, and while there were a lot of interesting things, it wasn’t anything that I would see holding the attention of wedding guests for an extended period of time. The best part was the third-floor water exhibits, but that would be expensive to rent (would probably have to do the whole museum) as well as a bad idea (formal wear + water = unhappiness). So it was nice, but not as nice as the PAA with bowling option.

Finally was the Wyndham Grand. It was certainly a beautiful venue (especially the ballrooms surrounded by glass), but it was quite expensive and also felt very hotel-y. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when you’re comparing it to other (cheaper) places, it just doesn’t feel very special. But Ashley was certainly friendly and very accommodating of our 24-hour-notice request to tour the place (which ended up being during a busy all-day Indian wedding, no less), so it had that going for it. (We were more interested in the smaller first-floor rooms due to size and cost, but they really didn’t feel special at all… just generic meeting space that could be set up for food and people.)

But overall, I think the bowling sealed the deal for the PAA. I had been concerned about people that didn’t like board games having things to do during the reception. Bowling fixes that, and their rental rate was also very fair.

At this point, we’re also close to signing the photographer (have the contract with me right now, actually) and are working on the officiant. Once those big three are done, it’ll be time to continue on with the more fun and awesome parts of planning.

I think our budget at this point has become “whatever it ends up costing”. We’re definitely going to be over $22,000 and will likely exceed $25,000 depending on how many people come. I think that also gives us the dubious honor of spending more on our wedding than anyone we know. I suppose we’re fortunate in that we can afford whatever ends up happening, and it’s really just a once-in-a-lifetime event. But it still feels wrong to me to be spending the cost of two cars on one evening of festivities. Meh?
I think the main unexpected cost is turning out to be the alcohol. Pennsylvania already has expensive alcohol, and the markup from the venue-provided-only alcohol is fairly substantial. I suppose we could always look into doing a “dry” reception (I know that a lot of people coming don’t drink at all), but there’d be a bunch of really disappointed people as well. (We could’ve saved a few thousand by going with a venue that allowed DIY alcohol and bringing it, but the only one that allowed that that we’d been looking at was the Children’s museum.)

We also saw another couple of houses last week. The first one was a huge disappointment… looked beautiful outside, and looked nice when you walked in the front door. But it became apparent as you walked around that they had just done a lot of last-minute patching work to make the place seem nice. The second floor was also terrible (thin, worn-down wood floors, broken light switches) and the basement was a disaster. And they wanted $400,000 for it. We were joking that we’d probably pay $150-$200k given the amount of work it would require, but I don’t think we would actually want to do as much work as would be necessary.

The second was very interesting. The first floor had been redone as an open floor plan, and as such only had two rooms. But it just didn’t work very well with the layout of the door and stairs, and also the design ended up making the place look more industrial or businessy than homey. The second floor wasn’t much better either… dark, rather old looking, and small. Our agent pointed out that a lot of the workmanship was also subpar. And they wanted $390,000 for it. So, yeah.

The house hunt continues. At least wedding plans are starting to take shape.

My photojournal has also been updated through the end of September. Just because.

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