It’s very fitting that I’m doing a wedding post today because today marks the *Half-Year-Anniversary* of my big day 🙂
Happy 6 months Steve!
Today I figured I’d write about choosing the venue for the reception – which apparently is one of the most daunting tasks when it comes to wedding planning. I am so glad we had a year & a half to plan our wedding because it took us a WHILE to find the perfect venue. For one, we were both still in school… a solid 2 hours away from where we were getting married, so we had to pack a lot of venue visits into weekend trips home. Secondly, we didn’t have a clear budget to work off of, which makes it really difficult when pricing things out. Anyways – we must have looked at about 2304895 venues before finally making a decision.
I’ll go through some of the places we considered, since going through all of them would take forever. And I’ll offer some of my own thoughts looking back.
1. Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium –
Pros: This was the most unique venue I could think of. I love animals, I love aquariums, I loved the idea that guests could walk around and take pictures and see the entire aquarium as part of my reception. It would give the kids at my reception something to do other than dance. I LOVED this option.
Cons: Being that it’s an aquarium, it kind of smelled like fish. It was also on the smaller side. The pricing was also confusing mainly because alcohol wasn’t included – so we’d have to buy our own – and I have not the slightest idea how much alcohol to buy for 150 people.
2. LeMont, Mt. Washington
Pros: See above picture. I’m obsessed with Pittsburgh.
Cons: As you can imagine, this place was fairly pricey. And by fairly, I mean it was expensive.
3. DiSalvo’s Station, Latrobe
Pros: This is an old train station converted into a restaurant, so it has so much history & charm. The tunnel entrance was gorgeous, the inside was adorable, there was a downstairs cigar lounge, and it was reasonably priced. This was actually our #1 choice until…
Cons: We went to pretty much seal the deal & go over details with the venue’s wedding coordinator… and the man was the most un-professional, annoying, condescending idiot I have ever spoken to. I couldn’t imagine working with him at all. Honestly, if they would have had a better coordinator, I would have had my reception here.
4. Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory
Pros: See above picture. This was the most amazing / stunning / beautiful place i have ever seen. It’s an old Cathedral converted into a banquet hall. Imagine the beauty of old Catholic Cathedrals & then imagine them offering a winter wedding deal where they decorate everything in blues & white & have an actual snow machine sprinkling snow from above. This was my ultimate dream venue.
Cons: It was super, super expensive. It was downtown Pittsburgh, it was gorgeous, and I’m pretty sure they had no issues getting people to book this site, so they weren’t really negotiable on price. I could have booked it anyways, but then I would have had to make a lot of sacrifices elsewhere…
5. Syria Shriners Hall
Pros: This was my mom’s favorite venue. It was quite the grand hall with the high ceilings and the world’s largest chandelier. The staff was very friendly and accommodating and the price was very reasonable.
Cons: While my mom loved the look, I thought it looked straight out of Aladdin. It was just a little too middle-eastern for me. I wanted something more contemporary.
6. Lakeview, Greensburg
Pros: This place was very affordable, and close to home.
Cons: The “lakeview” they speak of is a view of a very green-ish lake, so that wasn’t impressive. And for some reason, they put up a miniature statue of liberty next to the lake as a 9-11 Memorial… and who the hell wants a life-size fake statue of liberty in their wedding pictures? We also heard some negative reviews.
7. Stratigo’s Banquet Center
Before I get into the pro’s & con’s… I’d like to say that I REFUSED to look at Stratigo’s as a venue for the longest time. Like it wasn’t even an option (I’ll explain below). Once again, I was so wrong.
Pros: The food was excellent. The staff was professional, friendly, helpful, accommodating, personable, & friendly. The venue was beautiful. They offered a 30% discount for my “winter” wedding. It was close to home / to the church. All of the DJ’s / photographers / bakeries were very familiar with the venue and the set-up. There were flat-screen TV’s in the bathroom. Their menu options were extensive. They provided the alcohol.
Cons: It wasn’t close to hotels (for the guest’s sake). And… I had my high school prom there. Dun Dun Dun. This was the reason I refused to look at this place. Prom. With my ex. Not exactly what I pictured for my wedding. (Although it looked so totally different for my wedding, that it didn’t even cross my mind when it came down to it)
- Location. Just like in real estate, the closer you are to a major city, the more expensive it will be. I would have LOVED to be downtown, but in the end, it wasn’t worth sacrificing on the small things to be in the city.
- Staff. I didn’t consider how important the staff would be when it came to the venue – but trust me, you want people at your venue to accommodate your every wish – no matter how big or small. It can make a huge difference.
- Cost. Your venue will most likely the majority of your budget. But you want to make sure you leave enough room for all the little details that creep up at the end. I could have picked my dream location in the city – but I probably would have had to make a playlist on my iPod instead of getting a DJ.
- Food. People are traveling & likely paying a lot of money to come to your wedding. The least you can do is pick a place that offers GREAT food.
- Alcohol. It was nice not to have to worry about providing my own alcohol because with my luck, we would have ran out half-way through and been screwed since PA liquor stores close at 9. The open bar was key. Plus we paid by the head, not the bottle, so there were no surprises at the end of the night.
Hopefully this was helpful! Especially to any Pittsburgh brides 🙂
And just to keep up with my work-outs….
Friday’s Workout: Swim
- Warm-up: 200 SKIPS [200 each of Swim, Kick, IM, Pull, Swim]
- 4 x 200 Pull on 3:00 [1st 200 – Sprint last 50. 2nd 200 – Sprint 3rd 50. 3rd 200 – Sprint 2nd 50. 4th 200 – Sprint 1st 50]
- 100 [50 easy, 25 scull, 25 swim]
- 200 Fast
- 5 x [100 Pull on 1:30, 50 Sprint on 1:00 – trying to touch between 35 & 40 sec]
- 150 Cool-down
- Total: 3050 yards