Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Venue Hunt, Part III: To the Mountains We Go

Remember three months ago when I mentioned we'd found a wedding venue? Remember how I'm the worst at updating? Oh, but remember how I love you and I am really, really happy that you're interested in reading about the little things in my life that mean nothing but mean the world all at once?

Ahem. Picking up where we last left off...

Several weeks after beginning our venue hunt for our summer 2014 wedding, I made Jonathan sit down for a serious heart-to-heart with me. As I mentioned before, things started to go off the rails in unexpected ways, and I realized that putting myself (and therefore: us) in a stressful place was not what I wanted for our wedding.

I know. This is starting to seem really dramatic. Like, how difficult can finding a venue really be, and on top of that, why would I let myself get so worked up about it so quickly after getting engaged -- and so far away from my actual wedding date?!

The truth is: we're picky people, but in most areas, our tastes are very simple. Having a wedding that was overly complicated and stressful was not something we wanted. The thought of eloping to a favorite location (Seattle, near the water perhaps) was more appealing than most of the options we were finding, but we were adamant that we find something where our close friends and family who could come would be able to come.

So we sat down and discussed what our ideal wedding would look like. Here's a smattering of ideas and phrases that kept popping up (and were eventually solidified) during our talk:

  • We'd rather elope than spend a dime on something for which we'd have to settle
  • The feeling of a small, intimate, casual, and fun wedding, but without the super small guest list
  • "Backyard wedding"
  • The ceremony, reception, or both venue locations should be quintessentially "Northern California"
  • Golf courses, country clubs, and wineries were still out of the question
  • Focus on "local" and simple options, so that we can keep costs down with flowers, food, decor...
  • Being somewhere that allows us to keep the party going until at least 11 PM or midnight is ideal
  • We need to love the location enough that even if only 20 people come, we'll still be excited about it

With a very quick realization that no one we know has a backyard suitable for the kind of wedding we'd want (one where the neighbors won't start complaining come 10 PM), I immediately took to Google.

Oh, Google. My trusty-yet-fickle friend.

I looked for several days straight, and for the life of me I couldn't tell you the search terms I was using. It was similar to a Buzzfeed black hole, where you're sucked from one link to another to another to another, but instead of GIFs of kittens and TV show personalities, it was overpriced California mansions, industrial lofts, and outdoor toilet rentals.

Inevitably, I found myself here: Here Comes the Bride venue search. Armed with the following filters (Northern California, Private Estate, garden views, and 100 people), I was given a list of options.

I started with the towns/cities I already knew. Nothing I liked. Eventually I moved on to the more obscure ones that were around the Bay Area. Nothing I could afford. Finally, the very last one that I selected (because who the hell under 50-years-old has heard of Graeagle?!), I knew I'd found the one.

This is The Twenty Mile House. It's situated on 200 acres of pine trees, hiking trails, river bed, and train tracks in Cromberg, CA -- just outside of Graeagle, an hour and a half north of Lake Tahoe, nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

It's everything I ever wanted. What's better? Jonathan loved it too.

The Web site has all the juicy details about price, vendors, etc. so I won't bore you with that now. (Eventually, once this silliness is all over, I'll come back with a budget breakdown for anyone who is interested in this particular venue.) All you need to know is that this is a "green" venue, and it partners with all local vendors who specialize in eco-friendly goodies.

Back in April, my parent's offered to drive up to Cromberg and check it all out for us. They met with Kevin, the owner, and asked him a million and one questions that I had prepared for them. They came back from the trip smitten as could be, and my mother (notoriously difficult to please or get excited about things) thought it was the absolute perfect choice for us.

So within a week, Jonathan and I signed a contract... on a place we hadn't even seen in person.

I admit, it was nerve-wracking.

My nerves might have been the thing that kept me from updating about the venue until now. I knew we'd made the right choice, but having never seen the place in person made me feel as though I couldn't really justify it.

Luckily, last month while I was waiting for my lovely best friend to give birth (more on that later), my mother and I took a day trip up there to look around, check out nearby Graeagle, and watch a wedding get set up on the property. I took pictures, but they're all on my mother's phone. So I'll just say this:

I'm elated, I'm excited, I'm itching for this wedding to finally get here already, and I simply could not be more satisfied. This location is heaven on earth, it smells like summer camp (pine trees!), and it's secluded, quiet, and under the stars.

The next 10 months can't go by soon enough.

** All images above are from this stunning Twenty Mile House wedding by Kris Holland Photography. Check it out and gawk. It's okay; no one is watching.


  1. This post made me cry. THIS IS WHERE YOU'RE GETTING MARRIED. I'm so happy.

  2. I have to admit I'm freakishly excited about your wedding details and am so glad you finally updated! It looks like a great venue and I LOVE that it's "quintessentially" northern Californian!

  3. It looks absolutely beautiful, Stacy!! How exciting for you guys!

  4. I can't wait to visit this location. It's going to be incredible, and it'll be fantastic to see how you and Jonathan make it "your own."

    So happy this search is over, and you can now focus on the fun part: DRESS SHOPPING!

  5. I LOVE ALL OF THIS. I want all of the details, all the time.