David has already posted a few entries about our wedding. Me…I am just getting started. We will undoubtedly cover some of the same topics — it is “our” wedding after all — but our perspectives and take-aways will vary. That, I hope, will keep this as an interesting read. Being an habitual planner and more comfortable with a framework to operate within (think paint-by-number versus etch-a-sketch), I will structure these posts so that by the time June 19, 2016 rolls around there will be the makings of a useful resource David and I (and you) can refer back to and critique. I will do these weekly. I will do these weekly.
This week’s topic: The first decision
Insight #1: There isn’t one. There is no one-size-fits-all first decision from which all others flow. There are a number of inter-related decisions that clump together for us based on our priorities: the date; the location; the guest list; the photographer; and the budget. The process was both iterative & incremental with location serving as our initial anchor. As David posted … location, location, location.
Since we are not hiring a planner (more on that in a later post), researching locations took some time. Gayweddings.com, weddingwire.com and centralcoastweddingstandard.com are all resources I used and found helpful in providing an overview. I also discovered a great shortcut to finding locations — search out a couple of wedding caterers that serve the area you are exploring. Most seem to have a list of vendors they have worked with previously and this inevitably includes a list of venues the catering company has worked too … often with links or website listings right there. Sweet! Gives you a sense of both the caterer and the venue. Plus, pictures of previous weddings are e v e r y w h e r e for you to get a sense of the location’s potential. Photographer sites are a reasonable resource for locations as well, but many do not list the location so unless you already are familiar with sites you will be frustrated.
I do not want anyone who is uncomfortable with a same-sex wedding participating in our event. Don’t want to give them my business and don’t want the stress. I announce right up front in my inquiry email or phone call that this is a same-sex wedding. Any hesitation, lack of response, or overly qualified answer and I move on. That is just me, but why support those who don’t support us? If I can’t feel a genuine connection to the people I am working with I keep looking. An ability and interest to connect is that important. David and I run Taylor Street Favors that way too – applies to customers and suppliers.
We narrowed our physical tours to 3 sites, visiting together to decide if it felt right. Our “feel right” test was (is) …though we didn’t really discuss this in advance… could we visualize ourselves and our friends comfortable there, appreciating the location for what it is, not what we might try to turn it into. If a particular location might close off options for other priorities we have [date, photographer, guests, budget], we discussed and decided whether to keep the place on the short list or replace it with another. Always looking for three options to compare.
The visits: Had a few laughs with event coordinators as they became tongue-tied during their standard tour talk-tracks, realizing too late that what she (and why is it always a she?) just said made no sense for us. Our favorite aborted tour discussion topic – bride’s dressing area. [Though definitely a room to fight over!] Good experience for them and a good opportunity for David and me too.
What is so encouraging to us is how comfortable and genuinely enthusiastic almost every professional has been, even if their brochures, contracts and talking points haven’t caught up yet. It is clear there remains a lot of opportunity for organizations like Bernadette Smith’s www.gayweddinginstitute.com to help this HUGE industry adapt its wedding terminology and perspective for same sex couples.
The decision: As David posted, a clear winner for us, though the cost took some getting used to (a budgeting post is coming next…), is Santa Margarita Ranch. Authentic, not fussy, part of California’s history, and both kid and wheelchair friendly. Take a look at David’s post with our pics or visit www.historicsantamargaritaranch.com.