Monday, August 10, 2009

Too long

I've already been slacking on my blog posts. I blame it on having a job.

Anyway ... time for today's lunch-time update:

I'M NOT STRESSED ANYMORE! Well, not actually, but mostly because ... we found a place!

I had some very important wedding venue requirements.
1. Outside
2. Not a golf course
3. Somewhat non-traditional
4. Not ugly
5. Available for brunch

I figured it would not be too terribly difficult to find this. I underestimated the fugly factor of Phoenix though, especially while comparing the venues to my dream wedding destination: the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs.

I pseudo-grew up in Colorado Springs. When I was five, my dad (a former Air Force pilot) was whisked away for a year to a glorious South Korea base. Naturally, bringing your family was not recommended. My mom and I moved to Colorado and lived with my grandparents for the year.

To say the least, I have fond memories of Colorado. My grandparents lived at the base of Cheyenne Mountain, about a two-minute walk from the Broadmoor. Every day, my papa would take me there and we would go ice skating. I grew up watching the most beautiful weddings in the world as we walked around the resort's lake. When I was five, I couldn't even fathom wearing a dress (I was content in my oversized neon Esprit shirt and spandex shorts), but I knew that the lakeside weddings were absolutely perfect. Whenever I go to Colorado (a couple times a year), I make sure to spend a lot of time at the Broadmoor.

Unfortunately Arizona just doesn't have a beautiful backdrop of nature. Even though I've known this for a long time, I was especially reminded once looking for a venue to host my wedding.

Here's a brief rundown of what I came up with:
  • Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
A disclaimer: I'm not an art person. I spent a summer in Italy--Florence to be exact, supposedly the art center of the world?--and stepped foot in about three museums. I'm sorry! I just can't appreciate art like I know I should.

In any case, I've been in love with the museum as a ceremony/reception site ever since I found it a few months ago. It's absolutely gorgeous, but in a hip kind of way. I had thought of it after reading online that non-traditional sites like museums may be cheaper and more willing to bargain prices since weddings aren't their main money maker. Sigh, if only this was the case. Not only was PAM booked solid (with the exception of a few Friday/Sunday openings), but it was also ... wait for it ... $5,000 just to rent. Moving along.

Pros: Sophisticated, bad ass, beautiful, filled with stuff to do (if you're into art), perfect outdoor setting

Cons: My father going broke

  • Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale, AZ
I had never actually been to the Valley Ho before we met with their wedding coordinator, Dawn Peterson, on Saturday. My first impression of the place was swanky but relaxed. The Ho is definitely cool -- it's been around for a really, really long time and recently underwent $82 million in renovations. The property is simply cool (there's really no other word for it). My mom said it reminded her of a hip hangout in the '60s. The colors are bold and patterns splash the walls and carpets.

The courtyard where we'd have the wedding was pretty enough. It's a grassy area surrounded by palm trees. But the backdrop put me off--old (albeit cool and funky) hotel rooms. I can only imagine some bratty, still-drunk Scottsdale idiot puking off the side of the balcony during my beautiful mid-morning ceremony. No thanks!

The reception rooms were too receptiony. I specifically wanted an outdoor wedding so I wouldn't be surrounded by drab walls and ugly carpet. They did have an outdoor area for receptions, on the Ho's tower rooftop, which has a 360-degree view of Phoenix (it was incredible!). Unfortunately it only sat around 100 and our party will be more around 150.

Pros: funky retro feel that speaks to Josiah and I, plenty of good photo opportunities, reasonable rental price ($2,000)

Cons: limited availability, not impressed with the reception areas, high food/beverage minimum ($7,500, which would be too much for our brunch idea), a hotel and, consequently, nothing special

  • The Farm at South Mountain
A few years ago, Josiah dragged me to one of many weddings of his friends. This one in particular, Mike and Robin's, has stuck out to me over the years. My heart instantly melted when I stepped foot onto the dirt path leading up to the pecan grove. The Farm is just ... different. Sometimes I forget I'm in Arizona when I sit at the splintered picnic tables while eating lots of baked goods. I love it there and have imagined getting married here ever since attending Mike and Robin's.

Pros: the best outdoor feel I've found, only $1,200 to rent, limited availability, represents Josiah and I well, Santa Barbara catering, which has an awesome/not super exepsnive brunch menu

Cons: possibly too outdoorsy, heels sink into the grass, a fairly typical indie wedding spot, definitely prettier at night than in morning, may get too hot by end of reception

  • Tempe Center for the Arts
A fellow engaged lady Tiffany recommended this spot, noting that she was interested in getting married there, but it wasn't big enough to accommodate her 225 guests. Though I've hung out at TCA and ridden past it hundreds of times, I hadn't even thought of holding a wedding there. So, so glad she suggested it!

The arts center is literally brand new and sits on the edge of Tempe Town Lake. It has an art gallery and performance space. In general, TCA seems pretty typical but its architecture and design is totally fun and interesting. The outside features a negative edge pool that seems to disappear into the lake. The whole part of the building that faces the water is glass and it's overwhelmingly beautiful.

Turns out, TCA doesn't actually do many weddings, and the ones they have booked are in the evening. The woman actually said we could choose whenever we wanted. How. Awesome. Is. That.

The ceremony would be held on the outdoor patio that fades into the negative edge pool. The reception would be indoors in a really unconventional "ballroom." The room is an extension and juts out over the pool, and the walls are 100 percent glass. It's cool as hell.

View the whole wedding set here.

A few pictures I took for my photojournalism class.

Pros: Awesome architecture, good photo opporunities, location (downtown Tempe) that means something to Josiah and I, low rental cost of $1,600, coolest indoor reception yet, nice backdrop of the Tempe Town Lake, Santa Barbara Catering

Cons: Possibly too modern, indoor reception, less structure and help considering it isn't typically a wedding venue

The verdict:
When all was said and done, it was down to The Farm and the Tempe Center for the Arts. They both represented us in completely different ways. The Farm is a beautiful escape from the Phoenix norm. It's outdoorsy and rustic. TCA is hip and modern, perfect for two 20-somethings to tie the knot.

My parents both liked TCA better, and Josiah and I do too. While I love the rustic feel of The Farm, I think it may be just a little too much. Plus, I'm scared of my heels getting stuck in the dirt and me falling (which basically happened when I was a wedding guest). Being able to pick our date at TCA was a huge selling point. Tempe was our home for many years and really represents our relationship as we have five years' worth of memories there. Plus, the indie hipster in me likes that I'll be getting married in a truly unique and "underground," as my mom says, place.


  1. Lucky you! Both The Farm and the TCA are catered by Santa Barbara Catering Company!

    We love both venues are fantastic for weddings for different reasons.


  2. Thanks Ty! I'm excited -- the brunch menu looks DELICIOUS! Can't wait to sample :)