Wedding Wednesday: Finding a Venue

Today’s post is the absurd story of trying to find a wedding venue.

Let me preface first by saying that I struggled to decide what sort of wedding I wanted. You’ll see this play out as I recount the different episodes of wedding planning. This struggle started the moment we started searching for a venue – which was a week after the engagement.

Did I want a big splash of a wedding? Did I want a tiny intimate wedding with a handful of people? Did I want a normal-ish wedding? Did I want to majorly DIY my wedding? What did I want my wedding to feel like?

My family and fiance were looking to me to find out what kind of wedding I wanted, so that we could all come to a decision and move forward. I wanted a tiny backyard wedding of 30 people one moment and a big wedding of everyone I know the next. Eventually I settled on a vision, but that didn’t happen until after we had decided a venue.

Back to the story.

Researching venues in Calgary was one of the most annoying parts of this entire journey. The only information guaranteed to be available online was the name of the venue, the location, and pictures. Some venues didn’t even list how many people the space could accomodate.

Trying to find a venue that you could either bring your own caterer to or one that had a halal South Asian menu available was a nightmare. Many venues DID, in fact, offer a halal South Asian menu or a partnership with a restaurant, but did not advertise this information or make it readily available anywhere. As a result, we dismissed many venues in the beginning and felt hopelessly lost about what venues were available to us.

Later I found out that I had to go through the painful process of indicating interest and chatting back and forth as if I had every intention of booking the venue for a while before I could find out whether a halal South Asian menu was available. This was a tiring, annoying, and entirely stupid process to have to go through.

Finding a venue became more of a asking through our network issue. We asked around among friends for venues where they had attended/hosted large events with a halal South Asian menu.

We explored community halls, which often had terrible websites, bad photographs, and slow responses.

We explored venues recommended on Reddit, Twitter, and in Facebook groups.

Our criteria wasn’t particularly intense, in fact, I thought it was a pretty run of the mill criteria:

  1. A venue that could accommodate 200 – 250 people.
  2. Halal South Asian Food (or the option to bring in our own caterer)
  3. Doesn’t have an ugly exterior
  4. Isn’t in a random industrial area
  5. Is pretty and airy inside
  6. Not insanely expensive
  7. Not so overused by the community that everyone has been to it 700 times

There was one particular venue that I kept dismissing but which kept coming up again. There were perhaps only 2 or 3 photos online of it that I could find – and they didn’t look that great. The information on the website was sparse and didn’t inspire much confidence, and I assumed it would be pretty expensive anyway.

Mom had heard quite a few good things about it though, so she decided to reach out to one of the sales people there and make an appointment. I was busy with work (and frankly, uninterested in the venue), so Mom and Arshian (my brother) went to go see it one afternoon.

They both came home and agreed that it was the most promising venue they had seen yet. This was saying a lot, because so far, collectively we had only liked one venue which ended up being extremely outside our budget (I’ll freely admit, that I was usually the one to break consensus and hate on most of the venues we saw). So I was intrigued. They insisted I go see it that very week.

I switched a few things around to make it to the appointment and off we went. The outside was nice – it was a little unconventional as far as a wedding venue went, but then, I like unconventional. The entrance made me raise an eyebrow but I was still keeping an open mind. The venue itself was on the second floor, so we went up the stairs.

We walked up to the second floor and there was this hallway. I loved this hallway. It was bright, airy, and I loved the ceiling. But I was still skeptical.

So we went into the actual hall, and there it was. It was large, with high ceilings with wood beams, and floor to ceiling windows. The whole room was like a breath of fresh air.

Mind you, I still kept resisting this space because I still had no idea what kind of wedding I wanted. So I fought my family on it quite a bit at first.

But eventually the venue won me over. I saw it again, and I realized that whatever kind of wedding I wanted, it would be possible in this space. It was light, airy, and open. That’s always a good thing. It fit comfortably into our budget and they had two catering options for halal South Asian food.

So two months after the engagement, we settled on a date and venue. The biggest piece of the wedding had been taken care of: the location.

There would still be ten million other things to do. But in that moment, it felt good to have taken care of this one thing.

And now, I love that venue. I think it’s perfect for what I want. And I appreciate that it’s not a traditional banquet hall.

But it wouldn’t have happened if my Mom had not explored the option, and if she and my brother had not gone and checked it out. So this is proof (right from the get go) that one cannot plan a wedding alone – nor would I want to. 🙂

You can find all the wedding related posts in the Wedding category.