Location is Everything

I think a venue can dictate a lot of wedding details from flowers to food to attire. So just two weeks after the proposal, we began the hunt for our perfect location. We had been envisioning our wedding day long before Nick got down on bended knee, and our dream day looked something like this: an intimate outdoor ceremony and a relaxed reception in early fall 2009 with about 125 guests near my hometown of York, PA.

So I did some online searches and scheduled four appointments for one weekend (that’s what happens when both the bride and groom live out of town), and we invited my parents to join us.

First stop: Cameron Estate Inn. This charming bed and breakfast was built in 1805 and is surrounded by quaint Lancaster County farms. Ceremonies can be held anywhere on the 15 acres of gardens and woods, and receptions are held in the Carriage House, which is quite elegant with pale yellow walls and hanging chandeliers. And they offer the option to reserve the 17-room mansion for your entire wedding weekend. Beautiful and appealing, but probably too fancy for our tastes. Plus you’re locked in to food and drink packages, and we wanted the freedom to create our own menu.

cameron1
{credit Cameron Estate}

Next up: Allenberry Resort and Playhouse in Boiling Springs – where my parents exchanged their vows almost 30 years ago! They were married in the intimate Boxwood Gardens, which looked lovely to us, even on a rainy October day. However, we weren’t as impressed with the out-of-date décor of the reception room options. Fortunately, my parents weren’t offended – I’m sure it was stylish in the 1970s!

allenberry
{credit Allenberry}

So it was on to Stone Mill Inn in Hallam. The interior of the 1736 stone mill has the ambiance of a colonial home with dark wood ceiling beams and Windsor chairs. We could just picture the soft glow of candles in the windowsills and a roaring fire in the fireplace. They also offer outdoor spaces, but, to me, it seemed to be more suited for a cozy winter wedding.

stonemill
{credit Stone Mill Inn}

And finally, on Sunday, we headed to Lauxmont Farms. The 1,400-acre horse farm is located on the Susquehanna River in Wrightsville and includes four different wedding sites. The Rotunda offers a stunning panorama of the farm and river, the Cobblestone Courtyard is intimate and rustic, and the Japanese Gardens is exotic. But the Sunken Gardens … oh, it took our breaths away! We fell in love the moment we walked down the stone staircase. There are three levels to the site: a 1920s poolside patio, a stone staircase that leads to a fountain under a canopy of trees, and a tented reception area that overlooks the River.

My parents looked at me, I looked at Nick, Nick smiled at me, and we all just knew!

My dad grabbed my arm and practiced walking me down the staircase, and we pictured our guests sipping drinks on the stone patio of the pool and wondering down a candlelit path for the reception. And when we heard about previous couples serving up BBQ along the river, well, we were sold!

So after falling head over heels for the site, we went inside to talk dates. I crossed my fingers (and toes and ankles) that they had something available within our timeframe. October? No. September? No. Okay, it was obvious that this was the most popular site on the farm. And then there it was – a blank box on the calendar for Friday, August 28th.

Now there are pros and cons to having a Friday evening wedding. Some guests may not be able to travel on a workday, while others may enjoy the long weekend. And, of course, I have to mention the cost difference. By choosing a Friday in August (the rates go up on September 1st) we’re paying almost half the price of a Saturday wedding in September or October!

Even Martha approves! I was ecstatic to find our venue featured in the spring issue of Martha Stewart Weddings. Here are a few shots {credit Martha Stewart Weddings}:

lauxmont1

lauxmont2

Did you experience love at first sight with your venue, too? Did you have to change your timeline to get the place you loved? Any other Friday weddings out there?