Monday, August 23, 2010

Dinner, Dancing and Dinos

In early January, I started to get anxious about securing key vendors: venue, photographer and caterer. I know vendors in our area book up often over a year in advance (and, at 17 months, we still had not set a date). The best and most reasonable vendors are likely to get snatched up quickly. I did not want our options unnecessarily narrowed by cost or availability.

The goal is to make our decisions organically and without pre-conceived notions. With that in mind, I gathered a list of possible venues ranging from Center City Philadelphia to suburban arboretums. Light brainstorming! From my original research of 60 sites, we focused on just nearby and unique. We want to showcase the best of the area and what is unique to Delaware and the Brandywine Valley. Mr. P took one look at my massive list and asked if we could choose our top 3 venues. From 60 to 3 options... to start.

First venue to explore was the Delaware Natural History Museum outside of Greenville.

(First only because their flexible schedule gave us a weekday appointment. When I get it in my head something needs to be done, I become *ahem* antsy if there are delays.)

The museum has been recently renovated into a sleek, modern space with a quirky personality (see squid below).

The online reviews have been great: flexible, professional, accommodating, etc. The last thing we'll need is to stress and not be guests at our own wedding.

Our after-hours tour felt very Night at the Museum. The Development Director pointed out possible locations for the ceremony, cocktails, dancing and dinner. This was very helpful in envisioning how we'd use the blank space. Our event would have full use of the facility so guests could wander from the African Watering Hole to the Dinosaur Hall and everything in between.


Did she say dinosaurs?! Awesomeness. As a little girl, I was obsessed with dinosaurs, not Barbies, and would proudly rattle off complicated names (compsognathus anyone?) and random facts. Naturally, the idea of cocktails with dinosaurs thrilled me! The cavernous exhibit hall could be great reception space with some artsy, modern touches (read: expensive to fill and decorate).

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

The museum is the most flexible venue in terms of attitude and use of space. The trick is finding a caterer and rentals for less than the price of a full service location. It's inexpensive to rent, has lots of parking and will offer complete privacy for our event. The biggest downside is the outdoor space is more natural/untamed -- I had my heart set on beautiful grounds. Other minor things are no open flames, caterers only have access to "prep" kitchen (no heat sources), bouncy acoustics in the main hall and everybody out by 11pm.

A motion-blurred Mr. P between Rex's teeth

Not bad for our first venue visit. If we find nothing else, we have great budget location with some personality to work with.

(all personal photos)

What type of venue did you check out first?

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