Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You Had Me At "Sleeps 18"

My venue search was long and I left no.stone.unturned. For realsies. You should see my "venue" folder under my bookmarks. Anyhoo, the search began well before the Mister even proposed, and by the time he became involved I had already developed a spreadsheet with all of the contenders. Not knowing exactly what the Mister would want, I included everything from beach-front locales, to mountain cabins, to Palm Springs hotels, to public parks in our town and neighboring cities. Then, with one fell swoop, most of the list was axed when we finally had our first real discussion about what kind of wedding we wanted, and the Mister said, with certainty in his voice, "I want to get married in the mountains." I was ecstatic, since getting married in the mountains was my original vision of our wedding. I even had us stay at a resort at Lake Arrowhead for our last anniversary to secretly scope out the place. The mountains to which I am referring, for all of you non-southern Californians, are the San Bernardino Mountains, which separate the eastern part of the Los Angeles basin from the vast desert that lies to the north.

Isn't it purdy?

So I began crossing venues off my spreadsheet, only to realize that my mountain selections were lacking, to say the least. The ubiquitous wedding websites didn't really include many mountain locations, so I had to really get creative with my searching. Luckily, with some diligent Googling, I found the Mountain Lakes Wedding Association's website, which had a list of mountain venues. What a godsend! We researched all of the venues listed on the site, and after eliminating the ones that were out of our budget, or were too small for our guest list, we trekked up the mountains to start our site visits.

For the real contenders, we scheduled actual visits, for others we just did covert snooping operations. We started in Big Bear and the general consensus was that the drive was too long for our guests, most of whom will be coming from out of state. Having to fly in and then drive 2+ hours to Big Bear was just too much. Hell, we didn't even want to have to drive that far! Plus, none of the venues gave us that "this is it" feeling. So we made our way to Lake Arrowhead, which is also in the mountains, but is much closer than Big Bear. There was one front runner in the Lake Arrowhead venues, and it was the only one we bothered to schedule a visit - the Hidden Creek Lodge.

We pulled up to the front office and waited for the wedding coordinator to show up for our appointment. We decided to sit outside because it was so nice out. 15+ minutes later, she still wasn't there. I was tired, a little carsick, and getting pissed off. No bueno. I was seriously considering leaving, but walked back in to the office instead to see where the hell she was. The girl manning the front counter saw me and said in one breath"ohmygod, I completely forgot to tell her you were here." The wedding coordinator came out, all apologetic, and took us over to the lodge. Within two minutes, we knew this was where we wanted to get married. I mean, how could you pass this up?

The lodge sleeps 18 comfortably, and when you rent the lodge for your wedding it includes those accommodations for one night. Score! Plus you can add on an extra night for their regular "non-wedding" rental rate, so we did. We'll be going checking in Friday afternoon, giving us plenty of time to set up and do a rehearsal (if we decided to do one, that is) and make Saturday much less rushed. We've invited our closest friends to stay with us in the lodge for both nights. We check out Sunday morning. What I love the most is that it gives us the freedom to let our wedding be less tightly scheduled and more organic.

Most women talk about their dream dress, but I've always been more of a dream venue type of girl. What about you? How did you find your venue?

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