The Venue Search: Lucky Number…?

So, we have looked at a total of fourteen wedding venues over the last month. What we thought we would like, we really disliked. What looked iffy online, turned out to be beautiful in person. If anything, this entire search has been fascinating look into the importance of flexible business practices, superior venue maintenance, and incredible customer service, all covered with twinkle lights and the possibility of chair bows.

These things are insanely expensive. Seriously, I could think of so many more things on which to spend money…Pie, bourbon, capybara encounters…

Here is a list of every venue we have seen thus far:

  1. All inclusive wedding venue in the middle of tech industry central, vague Italian theme with possibility of fireworks. Truly did not expect to like it, and somewhat fell in love with its eclectic yet entirely neutral décor.
  2. A massive art gallery in the middle of a metropolitan city, in the arts section surrounded by new build luxury apartments and condemned/abandoned lots. Colorful street murals, colorful locals, possibility of finding human poop in public art display.
  3. Small, gorgeous botanical garden with historic buildings and views of desert. Site of our second date. Amazing. Expensive. Still amazing. Still way too expensive as would have to sell unborn children to pay for open bar at reception.
  4. Renovated historical building venue space and artist lofts on other side of metropolitan city, located between the police station, the courthouse, and the county jail. Huge cavernous spaces made of brick open to the sky and slightly terrifying elevators. Would need to import oak tree sized decorations to make place seem kind of homey. Used to be the site of large raves.
  5. At first glance, lovely 1920s home with palatial, classic gardens. At second glace, slightly decaying old home with serious lawn maintenance issues and a featured scum-filled mosquito pond for pictures. Additional feature of feral cats in bamboo forest. Would have liked to learn more, but staff so spastic they essentially locked us out of the ballroom and never offered us any information…OR CANAPES.
  6. Old orchard in the middle of nowhere with a cocktail barn full of chandeliers and a huge back patio. With the serious lack of restrooms, figure many bushes have been peed upon by drunken wedding parties. Reminds Pastry of his Midwestern roots and reminds me of my grandfather’s house in Colorado where I used to listen to the rain hit the tin roof of the barn. Lots of sparkle lights.
  7. Historic landmark of house converted into intimate concert venue with midcentury furnishings, professional lighting design, and the ability to bring in your own alcohol. Unmovable concert seating takes up majority of reception space and, upon seeing the back patio, I realized I had combined two different historical houses in my mind to create the perfect place…which was sadly, not this reality.
  8. Ultra-modern event space near a semi-hip historical downtown, multiple rooms all decked out in white and crystals. They served a mean cucumber martini (I approve), and fed us lots of carbohydrates even though majority of attendee brides looked like they had not had a carb in a year. No green anywhere. Seriously question if we are these kind of people, and simultaneously feel too cool and not cool enough for venue.
  9. Massive old estate way far north near the mountains, nestled in old orange groves. Great Gatsby themed wedding here would trump them all. Astoundingly awesome customer service and attention to detail. Any wedding here would be gorgeous and classy. Unfortunately, we really are not all that classy.
  10. Brand new rustic/ modern venue at base of large mountain, closest landmarks literally a ghost town and an abandoned tire shop. Got nail in tire actually on trip to venue and had a moment in which I had to go buy a bag of flaming hot Cheetos while Pastry tried to fix tire in gas station parking lot. Venue a nice mix of modern and rustic with the best view in the area. Only possible hotel is additional 10 miles away from town. Might lose guests in desert or hills. Venue actually provides security “in case anyone wanders off into the desert” (subtext to likely die).
  11. Massive museum far north of town featuring music related everything. Toured on a family day and got to witness many lost children, crying toddlers, and exhausted looking parents. Even though this is entirely in my wheelhouse, completely overwhelmed by collections. Venue is fancy performance stage which to me just feels like yet another concert. This place would make the wedding seem like a music gig to me, one that we were paying instead of them paying me to perform. 
  12. Hidden garden right next to freeway built by former gardener over 30 years. It’s like TGIF Friday’s, Rain Forrest Café and a Mexican furniture store had a baby with a tropical garden. Completely bizarre and wonderful. As a venue, we worried we might actually lose guests among the giant chairs and random elephant statues. Too many drinks might also equal falling into a fountain or fighting a monkey totem.
  13. Super modern venue with fountains, patios, and two stories of blank spaces overlooking a beautiful, green park. Park is a special place to us both as when we started talking about this whole marriage adventure, we decided to go look at engagement rings. We went to appointment at a custom ring store and were stood up by the jeweler. So, we decided to make the best of the day, went to the local farmer’s market, grabbed iced coffees, and sat in the flower garden talking about all the things we want to do in our lives together. We then saw ducklings in a fountain, and Pastry got a semi-mortifying video of me squeaking in dog hearing range of how much I love baby ducks. Venue is directly across from that bench where we sat, and the city rents out the park for ceremonies.
  14. A large zoo toured on the hottest day of the year thus far. Saw many GIANT jackrabbits rustling in bushes, and literally no zoo animals beyond a couple birds. Possibility of reception in giant African tents (with sparkle lights). Venue tour possibly one of the sweatiest moments in my entire life.

“Whatcha lookin’ at, punk?” says the world’s largest jackrabbit. “I judge your appetizer and color scheme choices.” 

And, today, we picked one. Any bets on the final winner?

Extra picture: Just because they are super cute.


Veni, Vidi, Vici Vendors and Venders

I came. I saw, I conquered…especially the open bar and cheese plates at a venue open house.

Vender Pastry upon seeing the above sign, “The attention to detail certainly inspires confidence…”

Venders? But, shouldn’t it be vendors?

Well, turns out…

Vendor: 1585-1595; from Anglo-French from Latin venditor.

Vender: 1590-1600; vend+er the word “vend” originating from Latin vendere.


1. A person who sells something.

The New Yorker weirdly uses the -er version in their always bizarre house style. “Vender” has been used only 17 times outside of The New Yorker according to the Corpus of Contemporary American English. Meanwhile, “vendor” has been used over 2,000 times. However, though the -or spelling is more common in American English, technically they are both correct.

So, this venue is perhaps full of New Yorker enthusiasts, Italian speakers, or just questionable spellers. Being as I think the family owners ARE from New York AND are Italian, I’m going to bet it’s all three. But, really mostly the latter dubious spellers issue.

The Venue Search: “It’s Perfect…Pity That We Will Have to Sell Our Future Unborn Children for an Open Bar”

Yesterday our parents met for the first time. Nothing quite like coffee, eggs, and growing up semi-wild in the country stories whilst in a gorgeous locale to bring together parental units from as far across a political divide as possible. Whilst eating breakfast enchiladas under an old pecan tree as everyone else regaled with stories of “…and, then the hornet nest broke apart” or “surprise scorpions are the worst,” I was struck by how this improbable hodgepodge of people were my family. And, I was very, very happy. And, how as a group, we would be superior at apparently fending off assorted bugs and arthropods.

I googled “scorpion wearing a tiny hat.” This hat with a not so tiny scorpion is a second best option. Possible rehearsal dinner headwear? Also, unfulfilled niche for tiny scorpion hats out there. Just sayin’.

The parental unit breakfast location was also a possible venue choice being as it is a working organic farm featuring numerous restaurants and outdoor locations perfect for parties. It’s wonderful. And, by wonderful, I mean one of my favorite places to which I have ever been on this whole earth. But, as we live someplace that tends to extreme weather, sudden monsoons, lightning storms, pop-up dust storms which make the sky red, heat so hot you might as well melt and die, those pesky “surprise scorpions”, the gamble on the one day a year or so from now having perfect weather is a gamble we are not willing to take. Plus, there is the opportunity to step in duck poop at said locale, and duck poop is gross.

The only instance of semi-cute duck poop.

Next onward to an expensive locale perched on the side of a mountain! Pastry and I have moved on to sharing one brain so as we were driving downtown I was thinking, “Hey, maybe we should go look at…” as he turned the corner to head up the hill to said venue. We also them remarked at the exact same time about the perfect penis shaped cactus near the welcome sign. Same brain sometimes. (Other times, like when inquiring about why there is a trowel, car polisher disc, decrepit fish tank filter, and a zombie card game all sitting on the same object in our garage, not so much.) This swanky venue mostly just stirred within us massive pool envy and a discussion about the blandness of hotel ballrooms. We took a selfie (alas not with the cactus), planned a theoretical staycation, and left for the next option a bit sweaty and hot from tromping up the hill in a desert summer.

There are some really bizarre stock photos of women and cacti. Should you want to go down this dark hole of the internet, please make sure to turn on Safe Search. Fair warning.

Next venue on the docket was the botanical gardens, the scene of our second date. Circa 16 months ago, Pastry and I met up at the gardens to watch the sunset and tour an artist installation in the dark. He brought a portable chess set which we never played as we spent most of our time sitting next to a fountain in those canvas butterfly chairs which are inevitably difficult from which to extract yourself with much grace. We went out for beers and burritos later after which we had the most awkward first kiss ever.

Great date, great venue. Our first venue stop at the gardens was an open air pavilion with rustic lanterns surrounded by desert wildflowers. As I’m a classical musician and a good portion of wedding guests are also musicians (who may be performing), acoustics of the venue are pretty important. Now, I am not a singer who is anxious to prove I can sing, warbling at any opportunity in a resonant space, so singing in public at the drop of a hat is not quite my thing (this policy really depends on the amount of liquor imbibed though). But, I sang.  Specifically a French piece about watching the sun set over the fields at the end of a very good day. And, it was wonderful and magical as we stood in the center together. And, then a bunch of tropical shirt wearing tourists from Portland rolled up to ask about the singing and grill us about wedding plans as I had apparently attracted a crowd on the other side of the wall of flowers.

Without going into great detail, we looked at several other venue options at the gardens. It is all amazingly beautiful and very us. Essentially, it is a great fit and all of it made my heart race in anticipation.

 And, then we looked at the alcohol pricing.

This look is what our future unborn child will look like when they find out that we had to sell them to the highest bidder in order to pay for the open bar at our wedding.

We could put a downpayment on a (very small) house (okay, maybe more like a fancy shed) with the amount of money it would cost to have an open bar. Ruling out the future profit of selling our unborn child in order to pay for just the bar, here are some other things we could buy instead of paying for an open bar with well drinks (premium liquor prices are not even considering) at the botanic gardens:

Around 8 to 10 years of seeing this cute, giant rodent face or well drinks for 115 people? Tough call.

So, we worked on our Weighted Decision Matrix of Nuptial Planning. The gardens are still in the running, but have taken a significant numerical hit in the “Booze Options” criteria rating. Besides, maybe we really need 294 pounds of crab legs and/or 454 containers of clarified butter instead.

The Venue Search: “Flexible…But with the Possibility of Human Excrement”

Today Pastry and I began the great wedding venue search. Thus, we have added our own new third definitions to the x and y factors of yore.

X-Confusion Abounds.

X Factor

  1. a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome
  2. a noteworthy special talent or quality
  3. Any venue with the possibility of fireworks and a reasonable open bar cost which does not require the sale of a gently used kidney (Irony?)

Y Factor

  1. a widely used technique measuring the gain and noise temperature of an amplifier
  2. Showing you or someone else’s feelings by the amount of Ys at the end of a “hey” in a text message (via
  3. the “WHY WE SHOULD NOT GO WITH THIS VENUE” factor of wedding planning (via The Pastry/Cucumber Consortium for Nuptial Planning Excellence)

We went to two very different locales, a more traditional renovated home venue at which the Pastry’s older brother had been married circa fifteen years prior and an avant-garde, flexible gallery space in the middle of a major metropolitan city. One venue included an outdoor fireplace, overgrown gardens, twinkle lighting in all the pecan trees, and the possibility for fireworks. The other venue included a very large white space, a small art gallery with a total of four seats, and the possibility of seeing a drugged out person literally shitting in the middle of a public art display outside the gates.

Please take a moment to ponder which venue may have made the decision matrix cut.

Hint: It was not the venue featuring a piece of dried poop next to a massive mural of Krishna. It was dried, slightly aged poop, but it was still obviously human poop just hanging out in public, in the middle of an interactive art display, next to a park, in broad daylight, directly next to an expensive venue. While staring at said excrement, we paused to ponder whether Pastry’s nice Midwestern family would enjoy this locale and then decided my hardened, more urban family would probably just step over the leavings, jaunting across the street to get a food truck street taco while Instagraming said poop-display with the hashtag #PublicPoop.

Beyond all that, the whole fireworks thing at the first venue is pretty exciting. But, all you or we are going to really remember from this day is…poop.

Invitation idea should we go with venue option number two?