Hello, ladies + gents! You’ve waited patiently enough: I’m back with another wedding planning update! This time I thought I’d tell you about our ceremony and reception locations.
Contrary to popular belief, I was not the girl who had her wedding planned down to the last detail years in advance (I love weddings in general, not my wedding, specifically!). In fact, there were always just two things I knew:
1. I wanted to be married in September.
2. I wanted to be married in Connecticut.
Happily, John enjoys the month of September, as well, and he just so happens to also hail from the fine state of Connecticut.
Though it took weeks of frantic searching to find a reception venue (more on that below), our ceremony spot came together quite easily. We knew we wanted to be married in a church, and we knew we wanted our pastor from North Carolina to be able to lead the service. We ruled out both of our childhood churches fairly quickly (mine doesn’t have a center aisle, his is not the most scenic, and neither of us are that connected to the current pastors), which left one obvious answer: the Memorial Chapel at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London.
A few reasons why we love the CGA Chapel:
1. The Chapel welcomes visiting clergy, meaning there were very few obstacles to the pastor from our church in North Carolina performing the service.
2. It’s in a spot central to many of the reception locations we were considering, and only about 15 minutes away from the location we finally landed on.
3. My Dad is retired Coast Guard and taught at the Academy for 25+ years, so I have very happy memories associated with the base.
4. It is gorgeous!
Love that blue and all that gorgeous light!
With our ceremony spot secured, we put our heads back down and plowed on with the reception venue search. Ready for another list? Here’s what we were looking for:
1. A spot that was scenic, by the water, and able to be tented.
2. A venue without excessive restrictions or requirements (including but not limited to noise ordinances, lists of vendors from which you’re required to choose, and overly restrictive time schedules).
3. Somewhere that was not terribly expensive. Since we planned to tent and knew our “infrastructure” costs would not end with the site fee, we didn’t want to pay excessively for just a pretty spot of land.
WELL. I think it’s safe to say that we looked at most typical venues in southeastern Connecticut, and some atypical ones as well. Harkness, the Branford House, Jonathan Edwards Winery, Saltwater Farm, the Inn at Mystic, Florence Griswold, the Mystic Seaport, Lower Farm… oh yes, we looked at them all and then some, and came up empty, whether because of cost, space, date availability, or a combination thereof. (If you’re planning a wedding in Connecticut and are interested in all the details, you can check out the posts I wrote on my personal blog here + here.)
Yes, friends, we finally got so desperate that John literally sat down and began scrolling along the Connecticut coastline in Google Maps, calling out “Here’s a piece of lawn! Here’s a piece of lawn!” And you know what? It actually worked! One of the pieces of lawn he stumbled upon happened to be the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and that, my dears, is where we will be holding our reception. In their Sunken Garden, to be specific. I had never once considered this venue before John found it, but now I can’t imagined celebrating anywhere else!
Pictures? Of course! Here’s the stone wall of the garden, with water view beyond:
Keep in mind that poor Connecticut suffered serious damage from Ms Irene a week or so before these photos were taken, so hopefully all these trees will have leaves next year!
Below: The view of the garden from one corner. There will be mowed grass and a tent here next September!
Next door to the garden is the porch of the Yellow House, where we might hold cocktail hour (minus the picnic tables, obvs).
Here’s the view from down below, looking back up toward the house and garden.
Stick a softly glowing Sperry tent in there and you’ll have our wedding. Maybe something like this?
So there you have it: our ceremony and reception venues! What do you think?
Tell me: Did you have a hard time finding your spots to celebrate, or was it the easiest part of the whole process?
Up next: I think maybe we should talk about my first two dress shopping trips — what do you think? They were pretty fun!
In case you missed a post…
I introduce the happy couple
All photos personal except final, which is from the Sperry website