Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Choosing our Reception Venue

Mr. Cupcake and I got engaged in February, and when we started talking details, we weren't 100% set on any particular date for our wedding. We knew that we preferred a Saturday evening reception, but otherwise we were fairly open to seeing what was out there.

No more than two weeks after Mr. Cupcake proposed, Mama Cupcake and I were playing hooky from work and spending the day checking out various reception site possibilities in the area. Mr. Cupcake was perfectly content with us doing the leg work and reporting back to him, and this was fine with me :-) We weren't as interested in having a city wedding as we were hoping for a more relaxed setting in the Main Line area of the Philadelphia suburbs, so that is where we began our search.

We first checked out The Radnor Hotel in Radnor, PA. Located a stone's throw from I-476, this was an ideal location for guests who will be traveling to our wedding, which is pretty much Mr. Cupcake's entire family, a portion of mine, and a good majority of our friends. It is a lovely hotel with very friendly staff, and their package was enticing. However, the more questions we asked, the more we realized that the price per head was fairly steep considering that it didn't include as much as we had hoped for, and the ballroom wasn't quite what we were looking for. It is a fairly narrow space, and I felt as if it would separate our guests from each other too much; it wasn't the open, welcoming space we were hoping for.

Our next stop was the Crowne Plaza Valley Forge Hotel in King of Prussia, PA. I was pleasantly surprised by how lovely the lobby area was, complete with a baby grand piano and some nice lounge areas. The ballroom, though, was again a bit of a disappointment; it was nice, but very plain and would take a lot of dressing up (which, of course, equals $$$). Also, the possibility of another event going on at the same time as our wedding reception made me a bit nervous. I could have tolerated the location (directly across the street from a parking deck for the King of Prussia Mall) had I loved the other details, but I just didn't think it was the right location.

Our third and final stop of the day was The Desmond Hotel in Malvern, PA. Mr. Cupcake and I had attended a wedding at The Desmond in the summer of 2004, and we had an amazing time while we were there. Not only was the wedding spectacular, but the hotel itself was charming, comfortable, and the staff was incredibly friendly and accommodating. I will admit that I had sneakily scheduled our appointment at The Desmond for the end of the day, knowing that Mama Cupcake would be impressed after having seen some other options. My plan worked ;-)

The Desmond ballroom has high ceilings, an open floor-plan, and off-white walls (meaning I wouldn't be stuck with any particular color scheme!). Outside of the ballroom is a lovely and intimate cocktail area which opens onto a covered patio, where guests would be able to mingle throughout the evening if the weather permitted. There is only one ballroom, so no other event would be happening at the same time as our wedding reception. (There is a separate conference center in the hotel, but it is located on the second floor and is completely separate from the ballroom area.) Many of the guest rooms in the hotel have four-poster beds which I love, and there is a restaurant, an authentic English pub, and multiple lounge areas throughout. It is simply perfect.

The price range for a Saturday evening reception was quite reasonable, considering that our price includes centerpieces, a cake, chair covers, and a guest room for our wedding night. If we decide to go with another florist for our centerpieces (aside from one of the three that the Desmond recommends), or another baker for our cake, we will get a certain amount deducted from each guest's total. Considering all that The Desmond has to offer, it turned out to be the best value out of the hotels we had looked at earlier in the day.

Although I know I have mentioned that I tend to have trouble with decisions, this was one of those decisions that was quite easy to make. Mr. Cupcake and I simply love this hotel, and Mama Cupcake was completely sold on it as well. I know that there may be other hidden gems in the area that would have been much more of a blank canvas for us to create our ideal wedding, but to me that would just be too many decisions to make, too many vendors to seek out, and too much stress. We felt that we could still create our ideal wedding with the help of what The Desmond has to offer us.

Convenience for our guests is also a huge priority for us. I have often heard the argument that it's "our day" and we should do whatever we want, even if it means excluding some of our guests who can't afford to be with us or can't travel as much as we'd like them to... but we are not of this mindset. Of course the day is about us, but it is also important to us to share it with those we love. Although many of our guests will be traveling to the area, this is pretty much an unavoidable factor, regardless of where we get married. We can, though, control how convenient we make things for guests once they get there. We have a block of rooms reserved at The Desmond, which will be less than $130 per night for a double room. I have stayed at less luxurious hotels for much more money in the past, so I think this is a pretty good deal. We are hoping to have a shuttle that will take guests from the hotel to the church and back, so people don't have to navigate their own way through unfamiliar territory. It is also important to us that guests don't have to travel to another hotel after the reception, since they'll be able to head right upstairs to their room.

The Desmond is really the perfect choice for us, and I look forward to sharing more of our plans with you! What experiences do you all have balancing what you want out of your wedding with what conveniences you want to offer to your guests?

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