Going into the wedding planning process, I knew choosing a venue would be the hardest task, because I'm an architect. It was the first thing I wanted to go look at it, even though I knew I might be overly critical.Also, Erik only had plans for a brief leave when he'd be able to come home and see a few top choices, so I cast a wide net and started narrowing down the options. I knew the general "feel" I wanted to find, but a lot of different types of venues fell in that category. After a lot of deliberation we found a place a venue that hit almost all of our initial wants and will only require a little bit of problem solving on our end. Here are the ultimate items that helped make our decision:
KNOWING OUR WANTS: We were able to establish some known things about our wedding day that helped pare down the giant list of venues we started with. For example, since we knew we were going to have a spring wedding in Seattle, we ruled out all venues that were primarily outdoors. The weather is unpredictable and generally rainy here until about July and I wasn’t going to kid myself that I would luck out with the perfect 70 degree spring day. So, farms and parks generally got cut off. Also, after we put together our inspiration board, it was clear we wanted a building with history and industrial edge. There were some hotels and restaurants that made the first cut, but we knew golf courses and newer venues would be off our list. Then we narrowed it down further by price and set a couple other deal breakers, like venues that wouldn’t allow us to have a full bar. It was tough to knock out some, but as Erik told me “we can’t have 20 weddings, you have to rule something out somehow”.
SPACE: We’re inviting around 150 guests. Surprisingly, I found this to be a tricky amount of people to find a venue for. Most small/midsize venues comfortably fit about 120, but since we have a long engagement and people basically have this on their calendars already, we are expecting more than the traditional attendance percentage. I didn’t want a place that was going to feel really squished with 130 or 140 people. On the flip side, most large venues can fit 300 or more, and some of those places we visited felt pretty cavernous and we wanted to make sure our wedding feels cozy and happy. In the end, our final few venues were the ones where our guest size would be comfortably accommodated.
FLEXIBILITY: A big thing for me was flexibility on timing. I’m always disappointed when I go to a wedding, and the party just gets really rocking around 9 pm and then all of a sudden its last call, last dance and you’re thinking “now what”. On my wedding day, I might be done by 9, but I want the flexibility to make that decision or party until the wee hours. One of the criteria on my list was to try and find a place either with no curfew or a late curfew so we wouldn’t feel quite as rushed through the evening. This helped out rule out venues that required us to be cleaned up and out any earlier than midnight.
LIGHT: One of the difficulties in looking for historical industrial venues is that many of them are in older buildings without great natural daylight. Even though our ceremony is going to be in the evening, I looked up the sunset time for our wedding day, and its not until 7:30 pm. That means if we get started around 5:30, we still have 2 hours of daylight to enjoy. We ruled out a couple venues that just felt really dark and that we knew wouldn’t be great for photos.
Source: EM Fine Art
Source: Shahrzad Photography
In the end, we chose an art gallery in an up and coming older neighborhood of Seattle near the space needle (the two images above are from the gallery). We're planning to have the ceremony and the reception in the same location. The owners are fabulous and have been so great to work with. We get our choice of caterer and can provide our own bar, which should save us a good bit of money. The space is beautiful, and there are skylights to bring in great afternoon light. There is no curfew so in theory our guests can party their hearts out. Its nearby to several hotels and other amenities, and there is decent parking (which can also be a challenge in an urban setting). Locking in the venue really made things feel real – now its time to start imagining the details!