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After getting engaged in July, wedding planning was temporarily put on hold to accommodate the big move to DC. After all was settled I began thinking about colors and invitations (the fun stuff), but mostly concentrated on the location since that would determine all other decisions. I knew choosing a location was going to be hard from 900 miles away, but I was not prepared for how hard it actually was.

Initially, I wanted to do it at a vacation rental house near the beach somewhere along the Florida panhandle. My best friend, Sarah, did this back in 2009 and not only did she save a ton of money, but her pictures were AMAZING and it was one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever been to. I thumbed through hundreds (literally) of vacation rental listings, sending my mom and my future mother-in-law all over the area and driving my fiance crazy, only to come back empty handed. I even flew down to Florida to go to a few places myself with no luck. Nothing fit, nor could any place compare to the one Sarah had. It was perfect for that type of wedding!

Vacation House Wedding

Photo by Catherine Taylor of Woodland Fields Photography

Resorting back to holding the wedding at a venue that actually hosts and coordinates weddings, I was even more disheartened at all the sticker shock I endured. “How does anyone do this?”, I kept asking. How does anyone afford weddings that average $35,000 (quote for the venue at Carillon Beach)?! At another place in Rosemary Beach, Florida that I really loved, just renting the venue for one night was $3,900 and included nothing. I’m on a budget here, people! Beautiful, but just not feasible:

Beach Walkover at Carillon Beach

Beach Walkover at Carillon Beach

Meeting Hall at Carillon Beach

Meeting House at Carillon Beach

Rosemary Beach Town Hall

Rosemary Beach Town Hall

Rosemary Beach Town Hall Side Lawn

Rosemary Beach Town Hall Side Lawn

I just recently went back home again in another attempt to locate a venue and decided to not only be a little more open-minded, but to also go back to what I really wanted the wedding to look like. Since the way I typically describe the theme is rustic, southern elegance, I knew I needed to focus on that. I want canopy oak trees with mason jars and bistro lights, and I want my bouquets to have cotton in them. Why on earth was I looking near the beach? And why on earth did I never think of the one place in Florida that is known for its canopy oak trees…the place I lived for 9 years? Tallahassee!
Finally, the search is over and the date has been set! June 30, 2012 is when happily ever after begins!

Southwood House

Historic Southwood Plantation House

If I could offer any advice to a bride in the same boat, I’d say to just keep an open mind and don’t get caught up in one type of venue. I hyper-focused on the rental house idea and wouldn’t let myself think outside of that tiny box. Also, try not to kill all the people who keep saying, “It’ll all work out. Once you find the venue, everything else will start falling into place.”