Friday, September 17, 2010

High-fives and Hugs

After striking out at so many venues, we started to question if we'd ever find a place to get married. Location is the all-important decision that determines so much: date, attire, food, colors... on and on. If we caved on location, would our wedding still reflect us? And what else would we have to settle for?

Bridesmaid R and I discussed the pros/cons of the many venues. Nothing was clicking. We were running out of viable options. She had seen photos of a friend's wedding at this gorgeous venue, but couldn't remember the name of it. I'd forgotten about it in a week's time, but she followed through (beseechingly emailed the bride) and recommended I check it out. Okay, many well intentioned friends and associates have recommended venues/vendors and none of them panned out. Things were about to turn around!

The mysterious venue was revealed to be... the Greenville Country Club. A country club? Really... ? Country clubs weren't even on the list because, aside from the issue of membership, they felt too stuffy and cookie-cutter or were outrageously expensive. Finding a few images online, GCC seemed to be part of the latter group. There were no expectations that we could afford it based on these pictures.

Front entrance and rear lawn with tented patio - source

To make sure we weren't setting ourselves up for heartbreak, we reviewed the wedding package before scheduling an appointment. Prices seemed reasonable. Only a visit would confirm if the space would work. I scheduled our third Wednesday wedding appointment in a row and kept my fingers crossed. Thank goodness the wait was only a few days - we were on pins and needles until then!

As real estate agents, we geek out on architectural details. The Greenville Country Club, built in 1915, is a chock full of them.

Our venue

When we arrived at GCC for our Wedding Wednesday tour, Mr. P's eyes went right to the slate roof tiles the size of flagstone pavers. Massive.

We were very impressed with the old duPont mansion's architecture and classy, yet quirky style. The circular driveway opens into the "cozy" wood-paneled two-story foyer with ginormous fireplace that (somehow) imparts restrained elegance. So far so good!

Foyer and main hall

We toured the public spaces that would be available for our event: foyer, living room, sunroom, upstairs dressing rooms, terrace with tent (at no extra cost), garden, lawns and free valet parking. Our favorite area was the formal garden divided into quadrants by slate pavers and boxwood hedges. The highlight of this space is the climbing white hydrangea that covers the entire exterior of the sunroom. It's half secret garden and half refined Greenville mansion. Oh yeah, we are SO getting married here.

Living room

The terrace, where we'd like to have dinner, is connected to the garden via a flagstone patio. A separate patio area is ideal for pre and post-ceremony cocktails. Dancing would be inside the wood paneled living room with an intricately carved wood fireplace. The sunroom connects the living room to the outside patio, making it a central location for a bar.

Mr. P and I exchanged furtive glances several times, nodding and smiling, to confirm that this was it! We phoned my parents and his mom that evening to say we'd found our venue. Photos were emailed over with the caveat that it's mid-March so the garden wasn't anywhere near lush.

Boxwood garden

Fast forward a few weeks later when his mom was in town and we popped into GCC to show her around (with our catering manager's okay). A lovely surprise awaited us - another couple was getting married later that day so the gardens and living room were set up - no visualization necessary! We slipped away for a private moment on the terrace to take it all in. We high-fived and hugged as it sunk in that this would be our wedding site. Wow, what a weight has been lifted.

Sunroom exterior with dormant hydrangea vines

The next logical decision was "When?" Remember the climbing white hydrangeas? No, okay visualize with me! They produce big, white puffballs all over the sunroom facade from the last week of May into the second week of June. If we were going to have garden vows, let's do it with that beautiful backdrop. One June Saturday remained that coincided with the blooms so we booked it on the spot. Now this arbitrary date will forever have a greater significance!

June 2011 it is.

(All personal photos unless otherwise noted.)

How many licks did it take to get to the center of your venue search? Did the date choose you?

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