Archive for the ‘venue’ Category

The Proverbial Tatooine

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Much to Nicole’s disdain this blog thing has taken me an exorbitant amount of time to finish writing this story. Here I sit however, ready to pound out the end of our venue decision. In all seriousness though, the beginning of our story is the end.
It was a late evening in November, and Nicole and I had just returned from the theater, where we had watched Stranger Than Fiction. We took a walk around campus and ended up at Old Main Pit. I’d been planning for a while, but this night was finally the right one, the night I asked Nicole to go steady. After that day nearly 3 years ago, my life has always been an exciting one. I’m never lonely, and I see my best friend almost every day.
When we first began planning our wedding we discussed having it in Huntsville in Old Main Pit, but we were never quite serious about it. Then the wedding planning really started taking off, and the more we thought about it the more we really liked Austin Hall and the surrounding grounds. We usually get a lot of strange looks when we tell people about our venue, and an occasional scoff or something equally rude, but the location fits us.
Austin Hall is the oldest building on the SHSU campus, it has tons of history behind it, and you can read up on that at Building SHSU. It’s a very beautiful building, and that’s where we’re getting married.
I’ve included a couple of pictures here, but we have yet to find a floor plan of the place. I’ll hopefully get one soon enough to show off the space, but until then the pictures will have to suffice. The building has two floors, and we will host our ceremony and reception in the building. There’s plenty of room for ceremony guest, with lots of outside overflow available. When we start planning a reception where people will sit together and enjoy a nice meal the amount of people that fit in the building is quite limited. I don’t have fire marshal numbers or anything, but we’re working on that too. So far the wedding will allow us to have our wedding of less than 100 guests, but We’re not sure how we’re going to set the tables up to make room for more than 80 people.
While I know you’re probably thinking that we know more than 100 people, and have more than that you’d come to our wedding. The truth is you’re right. The even greater truth is, there’s just not room for every person we know. Our wedding has been limited to our closest friends and family members; it’s quite fun looking at how many people are in each of our families. I never truly realized how large mine was until I started listing names.
So there you have it folks, Austin Hall! We get to have our small, intimate wedding and plan everything ourselves. We’re enjoying the planning so far, minus a few glitches here and there, but all will work out in the end.

Venue Wars III: The 9th Circle of Hell

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I’ve been writing these in a third-person point of view, but when I arrived to this juncture I couldn’t hold back. This place deserves my full attention, and the tale is just as magnificently enthralling as the others, probably better even.

Our final destination on Friday was the distressingly poignant Arbor Pointe Event Center. It’s name alone is enough to push me away from using the place. It’s a primarily outdoor venue which meant that since it had been drizzling rain most of the week this was not the place for us to look at. Alas we went anyway. Arbor Pointe had never struck my fancy, I had decided to look at it with Nicole because her dad had heard good stuff about it. Turns out he heard the good stuff from the guy who owns it, go figure.

We arrived at Arbor Pointe at approximately 2:06 for our 2:00 appointment. While I don’t like to be late, I figured six minutes was none too shabby. We parked and decided that the best place to meet our coordinator would be in the office which had a “Open, Welcome” sign hanging in the window. We took turns flipping through their assorted photo albums and subscription bridal magazines. We rather quickly ran out of things to do in the tiny office. At 2:40 we were still sitting in the office twiddling our thumbs with no sign of life, extra terrestrial or humanoid, in sight. We made the executive decision to leave a curt no and leave. Of course my message of, “I waited 40 *explicit deleted* minutes for you. Screw Off,” which was to be lovingly scratched into the top of desk below the keyboard and to the left of the mouse pad, was not acceptable by Nicole’s standards of etiquette. She took the time to find a notepad and pen and leave a nice note explaining that we’d wasted enough time on their couch devouring their candies, and we were bouncing out. Of course that’s still much more curt than what she actually wrote down.

As we drove away from Arbor Pointe we noticed lights on in a not so adjacent building. We made the not so collective decision to stop and see if they were who we were waiting for. Parked in a fire lane, we abandoned our star ship and marched toward the unknown. As we approached pod bay doors of this new vessel we witnessed the doors open and a new life form arise. This life form will from here on out be known as Kristin. On the outside Kristin looked like a pleasant woman, smiling and ready to make nice. However on the inside it turns out she was a Vogon from the mind of Douglas Adams. Are we level now?

We wearily approached Kristin with hands at the ready for the initial handshake, though Kristin never made the gesture. Nicole introduced us, and stated that we believed our appointment was at two. Kristin’s unrelentingly unapologetic responses began now with, ” Yeah we did. I just lost track of time.” Inside I was exploding in the most livid colors one’s mind can produce. I thought to my self, “Are you kidding me? Are you *explicit deleted* aware that it’s three *explicit deleted* o’clock.” I had however set my phaser to “play-nice” and this stayed inside.

Kristin took us inside to the reception center, completely bypassing their namesake arbor. (This is an arbor by the way, ARBOR, because I had no idea that this is what these were called.) The reception hall was small, tacky and not memorable in the least. We moved on to Groom’s Room, which was dingy and featured a portrait of Henry VIII, in case you didn’t know he invented modern divorce rituals, married multiples times and then proceeded to behead more than one of his wives. So he’s a real stand-up guy to have hanging in your wedding venue. It took a lot to not mention something about this historical figure to Kristin.

Our next stop was the “Bride’s House”, AKA storage closet, this house is supposed to be dedicated to the bride on her day of joy, but it’s also where Arbor Pointe stores all of everything, including plants that were haphazardly collected across the floor, but there’s an iPod dock! Nicole and I are none too impressed with their chargers, or that if we go with even their most basic package we could use up to two, that’s right two(!), of their centerpiece decorations.

We left that building and made our way back to the office where our note was not so ambiguously placed upon Kristin’s keyboard.

I said hello to my friend the couch again, but was herded over to the uncomfortable chairs near the desk so that Kristin could conveniently lean on her elbow while she ever so excitedly described their pricing plans to us. This is another one of those all-in-one, except the booze, places, which has prices that began at a couple thousand dollars above our budget. While we had already decided to not use this place we decided to humor her, and listen a bit longer. She hurriedly went through the pricing, but made a point to explain that they were flexible when it came to the 8.25% sale tax they just so happen to charge. Again my brain writhed in pain as it was prodded like a stubborn cow. “How are you flexible with a state mandated tax?” That’s what I wanted her to explain, but didn’t ask. I figured however their flexibility was probably shadier than the Red Oaks on campus, and left well enough alone.

Before we were able to stand up and blast our way through the doors and jump back into Star Ship Kia, Kristin politely asked if we had looked anywhere else to host the wedding. Of course we said this place, this place and Bella Notte. At the sound of the first syllable of Bella her eyes lit up. I basically blocked out the next 5 minutes of conversation because she ever so delightedly regaled us with all the trash talk she could muster from her Antarctic soul about Bella Notte and their coordinators. The real gem that I took away from her digression of business was that she thinks the people at Arbor Pointe are more personal and caring, as witnessed by their ability to show up at appointments on time.

Kristin moved on to say that she thinks Bella Notte was too much like a fancy restaurant and that she’s always pictured herself getting married in Southern Gothic novel, or a chic downtown loft. I’m not sure if she’s aware of the fact that most chic downtown lofts are fancy restaurants, but I’ll let her discover that on her own. Of course this led into the fact that Arbor Pointe was rustic and secluded. (A) I don’t think Kristin is aware of what rustic means, and needs to brush up on her adjective skills. Their building quality barely falls above that of the portable buildings seen on high school campuses across America. (B) I refuse to accept that a place is secluded when it’s less than two miles from down town Round Rock, and I can see three apartment complexes from any point on the property. A 300 yard driveway is not the definition of secluded.

As soon as Kristin was done plugging her shop, we made nice faces, and left. I held my breath until we had traversed across the parking…area (?) to Kia. When the doors closed I let Colie know exactly how I felt about this place.

So that’s three down and no decision yet.

Venue Wars II: Bella…Monica's Place!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Last we left our heroes they were in the midst of battle with multiple venue queens. They had escaped the Balcones Country Club and were quickly flying up IH-35 to Round Rock, TX where the next venue was to be faced, Belle Notte on Main. Although it was a quite pleasurable place, it had too much of an out of the box feeling for our couple.

They met with one of their head coordinators, Monica. A tour of the building allows the couple to see that the “chapel” is a rather drab and horrendously brown, or maybe taupe, room. The room is only separated from the reception room by a series of curtains that are the same awful color. Okay so I’m going to take over narrating for now, and give the talking head a rest. Monica said that the curtains are meant to keep people from knowing what’s going on in the other room, but honestly I’d rather have the curtains open. The nicely constructed glass doors are there, which would allow some natural light in.

Bella Notte had two reception rooms, or technically one and a half since the other room was still under construction as we walked through. The first room was very, white. It seemed very plain to me with nothing interesting about its architecture. Granted the room was at one time a rather large storefront, but now they need to do something with it other than white paint and Roman-esque columns. The second room was themed in an entirely different manner. It had very high ceilings, and ornate ceiling tiles. The tiles are usually reserved for palaces or museums I think. I believe Colie and I both enjoyed this room much more than the other. The dark wood fixtures in the room, rather than the stark white of the other, really influenced our decisions.

As the day progressed and we lost the ability to pronounce Bella Notte, we began referring to it as Monica’s Place. This is what I imagine Monica from Friends would have called her restaurant. Moving on. Bella Notte is one of those super American all-in-one packages where they take all of the planning out of the planning of your wedding. They have food, music, a chapel, ball rooms, flowers, tables, cakes, booze-less bar, and a planner. Honestly its largest downfall came from the fact that they do everything, oh and we found the chapel to be horrendously ugly. Not to mention that their lowest priced packages began at above our budget.

Venue Wars: Deep Space Country Club

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

In a time not so long ago, in a city not very far away, three people set forth on a journey that would change the face of the Chet and Nicole Matrimonial Extravaganza forever. Our heroes traveled to three prospective points of matrimonial bliss; Balcones Country Club, Bella Notte on Main and Arbor Pointe Event Center. These are the tales of their adventures.

Balcones Country Club

The adventure begins with Nicole, Nicole’s mom, Carol, and myself blasting through North Austin in the Star Ship Kia. Our first destination was programmed for our arrival at approximately 10 a.m. We docked the car and stormed the front door of the Balcones Club House.

Balcones is the club and course that resides in Nicole’s parents’ neighborhood. It’s a well kept green spot, with a fairly large club house. Recently the club has come under the oversight of a new management company, and the club members are still waiting to see what changes may come.

15th Green
They have a nice set-up, simple ballroom area, a very large dance floor and plenty of room for the amount of people we’d like to invite. However there isn’t a specific area set aside for a ceremony, the best ceremony place they have to offer is part of their “Fountain” package which includes use of the club and a ceremony set-up on the 15th Green. This green is beautiful, and would be awesome, except we’re to be wed in November. As everyone knows meteorologists have had as much luck predicting November weather in Texas as the past fundamentalists have had in predicting the end of days. So that cancels out in plans to make our ceremony solely outdoors.

Centerpiece Example
The food options offered by the in house chef and team were pretty fantastic, not overly priced, but still a touch out of the price range we were looking for. The woman that we met with was very kind and informative. She was not pushy in any way. Honestly Erin seemed as though she actually enjoys her job, and would love to have us, but understands if we go somewhere else.

Unfortunately though, I had some preexisting issues with getting married at a country club. That kind of venue does not have the kind of connotation associated with it that I want our wedding to represent. The club house also had this distinct “retirement center” feeling when I walked inside. So for me that was one place down and two more to go.

Stay Tuned for Episode II