Monday, March 7, 2011

Varied Venues: The search continues...

Let's go back in time about 1 week, and talk about the three wedding venues my cousin and I visited that I never wrote about.  I told you guys at the time that I was already having doubts and thinking about canceling my appointments, but we did in fact go through with them.  We ended up having a nice day driving through Virginia wine county, eating lunch at a cute deli with slooooow service, and getting no closer to finding "the one."

Bluemont Vineyard:

When I first thought about having a vineyard wedding, Bluemont is the place that came to mind.  M and I have been here many, many times and always enjoy hanging out on their patio, splitting a bottle of wine with my cousin and her husband, and admiring the absolutely gorgeous view:

With an elevation of 951 feet, Bluemont can easily boast the best views in Loudon County [source]
They have a dedicated event space called The Stable which is practically made for weddings, and when we visited, was undergoing renovations to add a bridal suite and front portico.  I had some concerns though, like the distance from hotels (about 30 minutes), the twisty windy roads that our guests would have to navigate to get there, and, of course, the price.  The site fee was steep, and Bluemont has an exclusive catering contract which meant that we couldn't shop around for a cheaper caterer to offset that fee.  Sadly, the more we looked the more we fell out of love - the ceremony spot wasn't quite as picturesque as I was hoping for (though some brides have dressed it up nicely) and was practically on top of the reception hall.  Plus, they had a minimal backup plan in case of inclement weather, which is something I worry about more and more.
In the end, I think I realized it was not for us, although I do encourage any NoVA bride to check it out for a vineyard wedding.
Ceremony Site
Front porch for cocktail hour
Inside The Stable reception hall
Stoneleigh Golf Club
I was attracted to Stoneleigh because it offered the rustic, vineyard setting with all the amenities of a country club.  The Club itself was gorgeous - rambling stone walls, tiny bridges for photo ops, creeping vines - but the wedding area wasn't as appealing.  First off, the reception site was tented on a concrete topM and I are leaning away from tented receptions because we know how unpredictable the weather in May is, and don't want strong winds or rain ruining our reception.  Concrete instead of grass was preferable, but still not exactly what we wanted.  In addition, the venue had no backup plan in case of rain during the ceremony, which was held in a grassy field directly adjacent to the reception tent.  We also didn't like how close the two areas were, feeling like our guests might get distracted during the ceremony by caterer set up or feel like there wasn't any place to go while we were out taking our gorgeously scenic wedding pictures. 

Ceremonies are held in the corner of the courtyard
Adjacent reception site (with tent down for winter)
Overall, I just didn't get a great impression from this venue, and we moved on.

Bowling Green Country Club
Our last stop was Bowling Green in Front Royal.  A bit of a hike from the airport for our out of town guests, but with nearby hotels and a very affordable price tag.  We were shown two reception sites and their dedicated outdoor ceremony location:

Lovely, no?
The first ballroom was huge and oh-so-very 80s.  Think gilt everything and run down carpet.  I won't bother posting pics, because we moved on very quickly.   The second ballroom was equally large, but had been updated within the last 10 years so it was a bit more modern.

Set up for a company party with a 1920s French theme.  Ooh la la.
Still, it had a very "ballroom" feel, while I was hoping for something a little more rustic.  We sat down to talk to their coordinator and he explained in detail their catering menu, flexible setup policy, back-up rain plans, and every other question we had.  I'll admit, he would have been a dream to work with, but when we found out that they were already booked for our preferred weekend (Memorial Day) I took it as a sign that it wasn't meant to be.

In the end, the trip went as I expected - good exposure to new sites, and I learned a lot from the questions my cousin (who was married 3 years ago) asked, but still, no real winner.  My dream location would have to wait until the following weekend...  but you only have to wait until the next post.  :)

*All pictures are personal photos unless otherwise stated
Varied Venues: See all Posts

Varied Venues: How to not find a perfect wedding venue


  1. Ah, satiated. But then you leave me with a cliffhanger! NOOO!

  2. The stable place looks nice and it does remind me of a Winery...i went to many of them in Napa Valley