This post kicks off my participation in “Wedding Wednesday” link-ups in the blogging world. I want to document parts of our wedding planning process without turning this into a full blown wedding blog, so I’ll just be picking a few Wednesdays throughout the year to share our progress.
First up is the selection of our reception venue! We knew we wanted to hold the ceremony at our church, so we only needed to find a place for the reception. Thankfully, there are a ton of options in the Lehigh Valley. Narrowing it down was a bit more difficult. We were looking for a place with a rustic feel, simple not fancy, that would fit within our budget.
The hardest part was emailing every single venue to ask for their current pricing. Why not just post it on your website?? It was agonizing waiting for each place to respond. Thankfully, we eventually heard back from everyone and selected 5-6 venues to visit.
The Hanover Ballroom
What a marketing scheme! This ballroom is located within a Best Western and we had no idea until the day before our visit haha. They maintain a completely separate website that is much classier than you’d expect from a Best Western. Admittedly, once we realized where we were going we set our expectations a bit lower.
However, the space was actually pretty and they seem to do a great job with weddings they’ve held in the past. It also had the benefits of a bar on site for an after-party and rooms at either the Best Western or Hampton Inn right next door. No shuttle required.
Our biggest issue was the actual room – a ballroom with no windows and no rustic accents (my fault for thinking this was even a viable option). It also smelled of smoke when we visited, but we were assured they were replacing all the wallpaper and carpeting this summer. There was also a minimum spend (not including tax) that was higher than we expected. Overall, it was a helpful first visit, but not the space for us.
Trout Lake Retreat
The second scheduled tour was at Trout Lake Retreat in the Poconos. We were quite impressed when we pulled into the parking lot. A gorgeous lodge and cabins sat next to a pristine lake and was surrounded by forest. The terrific first impression continued as we began speaking with our tour guide. He was down to earth, funny, and willing to accommodate any of our ideas. His wife and him own the retreat and he explained that they try to be as straightforward as possible with their couples and want them to be at ease about making this decision. There are no absurd up-charges or hidden fees. Certainly a philosophy we appreciated.
Plus, we couldn’t get enough of the the view offered by the full wall of doors in the main lodge and loved the wooden beams and barn doors inside. Plus, the food was well-priced and there was no additional rental fee or minimum spend requirement.
After our visit, we couldn’t stop talking about how much we loved this venue and cancelled all but one of our other tours. We had decided. Trout Lake was our place!
Blue Mountain Ski Resort
Just to be certain, I convinced Jay to visit one other venue – Blue Mountain Ski Resort. They had similar pricing and I was hoping to find out if the room was as gorgeous in person as it looked in pictures. So, two days after our Trout Lake decision, we were standing on a mountain looking at another amazing view.
The wedding coordinator, Meg, was friendly yet clearly professional as she started showing us around. She tried to sing the praises of the second most popular room on property, but once we saw our Vista Room there was no comparison. 3/4 of the walls were covered in windows that overlooked the mountain and valley below. It was breathtaking. The room itself was also gorgeous, with wooden beams, chandeliers, and stone work around the bar. We knew we wouldn’t need any extra decorations, thus saving us some money.
After the tour, we sat down and discussed pricing and food options. Surprisingly, the buffet option (our favorite style of service) was reasonably priced and included taxes, rental fees, and gratuities. We also would be assigned a day-of coordinator who would be available throughout the reception to direct guests, answer questions, and solve any problems that arose. The only catch was a minimum guest count of 125. Luckily we would have been close to that number anyway, so it wasn’t a stretch for us.
On our way back home, I tried to get Jay’s opinion first (I adored this place, but didn’t want to influence him). He sighed and said he had gone in expecting to dislike it and just confirm that Trout Lake was the best spot. However, the view, pricing, and Meg’s enthusiasm reluctantly made him change his mind. Yesss! Plus, this location was 20 minutes closer to our church, making it easier for everyone to drive there. We knew this was truly the perfect place for our reception : )
Check back in two weeks for my next Wedding Wednesday post – Finding our Photographer!