It’s been two months since Matt and I got engaged. Even though the day after he popped the question we were moving my entire life half way across the country, questions immediately started flying from everyone. “When are you getting married?” “Where will you have the wedding?” “What colors are you thinking of?” Umm…seriously?
Despite urgently needing to unpack and find a job and get used to my new Midwestern life, Matt and I stressed to get these questions answered so people would calm down for a little while.
When are we getting married?
I’ve been set on a September wedding since our anniversary is already in September and fall has the best colors and weather. September 2013 seemed far enough away that we would have plenty of time to plan (laughable!). Matt is an actuary and has two exams each year, one in May and one in October. The earlier in September we could get married the better so he has time to get into test mode and focus come October. However, we kept our dates flexible based on venues since location was more important than the date. Telling people September 2013 seemed to sooth people’s curiosity enough for a while.
Where are we getting married?
Oh. My. Lord. This was SO stressful!
It made sense to have a wedding in Wisconsin because that was where we were going to be living and a lot of Matt’s family live there. Additionally, my family is in Minnesota and he also has family in Michigan so those sides could meet in the middle. I also have friends and family from all over the country so it wouldn’t really matter where they had to fly to, but Milwaukee is one of the cheapest airports to fly into/out of. Sounds simple enough, right?
But. I never wanted to get married in Wisconsin. Ever.
The only parts of Wisconsin I’m familiar with is the tiny town I live in (absolutely not!), the drive from Minnesota to Matt’s family’s house (all farm fields-again, absolutely not!), and the city Matt’s family lives in (still small and full of chain restaurants and stores). Not only did I have to learn to love living in Wisconsin, which has been very difficult so far, I had to plan our once-in-a-lifetime wedding there too? Was someone trying to slowly and painfully torture me?
Now, I’ve never needed a fancy wedding. Nothing about me or Matt has ever been over the top and our wedding wasn’t going to be an exception. However, I did not need to pay thousands of dollars to tell everyone how I feel about Matt in some stereotypical, generic, ballroom with tacky carpet from the 80’s and conference room chairs.
When I was able to pull myself out of the throes of despair, I turned to my buddy, Google, to get an idea of the prettiest areas Wisconsin has to offer. And it turns out, there are gorgeous places I’ve never heard of. Areas like Lake Geneva or the Heidel House in Green Lake helped me picture a Wisconsin wedding and it didn’t seem so bad.
Then I started e-mailing places to get price estimates and availability for next September. And my idea of a nice wedding in Wisconsin came crashing down immediately – as if I wasn’t stressed and emotional enough from life’s changes. Prices were completely ridiculous for a one-day event and so far beyond our budget so we were back to square one.
That tacky hotel ballroom was looking a lot more likely. I started contemplating a court-house wedding. But since having our friends and family there is our number one priority, I pulled myself together, again, and kept Googling – when I wasn’t Googling for jobs.
Then one day I stumbled upon the Neenah Riverwalk Holiday Inn. I never wanted my wedding in a venue based on a Ludacris song but I happened to see some pictures before I continued my search and I was intrigued. It actually looked kinda pretty and Neenah is Matt’s hometown so that area would be convenient for a lot of aspects of planning. I shot them an e-mail for availability and pricing and continued Googling venues all afternoon.
When Matt got home from work, I gave him the run down of my results and mentioned that I was especially curious about one in Neenah. I showed him the Riverwalk where we had been a few times and he goes, “You know where that is, right?” I sure did and it was the cutest area of WI I’ve seen so far. He was shocked that I was being agreeable for such a simple place. Believe me, I was too.
And then we got a relatively quick response from them and our jaws dropped before we started to smile. These prices were actually doable. And wow, this price is REALLY inclusive. We could actually come in under budget and not have to sacrifice important venue aspects (ya know, like alcohol). And they had a few dates available next September. Let’s go see it next weekend!
We continued researching all possible reception venues and found a few sites to visit in the Neenah area. That weekend we stayed with Matt’s parents and they came with us to take a look around. The Neenah Riverwalk was first. Yes, it’s a stereotypical ballroom, however the carpet had recently been replaced with a more modern look and the colors actually matched our colors. The dance floor was expandable, there was plenty of room for guests and it was located in a hotel so guests don’t have to worry about places to stay and we don’t have to pay for a shuttle to a local hotel. It seemed pretty great for what we needed. And there’s free beer for everyone.
We looked at another venue that afternoon and it was nice. Ultimately though, it was more expensive and not near a hotel, so not exactly nice enough for the extra cost.
We exhausted Google that week making sure we weren’t settling on the first place we looked at. It turns out, nowhere else was going to give us as good of a deal as the Riverwalk and it’s a great area to take photos as well.
They were available September 7th, 21st or 28th and we chose the 7th to give Matt plenty of time to study post-wedding for his test. So a week later we hopped back over to the Neenah Riverwalk Holiday Inn and plopped down a deposit! Fortunately, my mom was able to come with us to get a tour of the venue and area too!
We don’t have a place picked out for the wedding ceremony yet but we’ve started looking and it’s easier now that we have the location has been picked out. Either way, September 7, 2013 in Neenah, WI – It’s happening!
What colors are you going to use?
I’ve always wanted fall colors to go with a September wedding. Not exactly original but whatever, they’re pretty. Back when I ran the New York Half Marathon, I needed something for my brain to think about while running 3 hours straight so I thought about wedding colors. As much as I love pink, I refused to let my bridesmaids be Pepto Bismal Fairies. You’re welcome, everyone. Then I thought about Navy and how flattering that color is for pretty much everyone and how classic it looks. But then the men couldn’t wear black tuxes because I didn’t want to look like the cover of the Backstreet Boy’s album “Black and Blue”. Tan? Grey? Dark or lite grey? White? I had no idea but I wasn’t even engaged so I didn’t stress.
The weekend before I moved to Wisconsin, I bought a picture from a street vendor of Central Park in the fall. It had the prettiest fall colors with little pops of bright purple. I threw Navy out the window and was set on those colors and the bridesmaids wearing purple.
Within a week of being engaged, I quickly realized that our friends were getting married the month before us and had the exact same color bridesmaid dresses. Oops.
To avoid any drama whatsoever, I quickly went back to my original plan of Navy. After searching Pinterest, Matt and I agreed the men would wear Tan suits, white shirts and matching Navy ties. The girls would wear nude heels/shoes. And fall colors would still go nicely for flowers. Perfect. Done. Relatively painless.
There’s the basics for ya! Tune in next week for another installment of Wedding Wednesday – How I asked my bridesmaids 🙂