Hi belles! Our friend and former Southern Weddings intern Jessica Clinch is the newest gal to take you through her wedding process here on the blog! Jessica will be blogging for us once a month until her wedding in May. In case you missed her introductory post, be sure to check it out here! — Emily
One of the very first things Zack and I talked about after getting engaged was where we wanted to get married. Both the city and the type of venue were up for grabs, as I am from Winston-Salem, NC and he is from right outside Knoxville, TN. When we got engaged, he was living in Knoxville and I was living in Nashville, but we knew I would soon be moving to Knoxville, too. So, we had a few options on where to get married!
While I love Winston-Salem and cherish it as my hometown, I’ve never envisioned getting married there. The two of us have made only a few memories in Winston-Salem, and Tennessee felt more like our home. Deciding between Nashville and Knoxville, however, was a little challenging. Nashville has so many beautiful wedding venues, and is such a fun Southern city – somewhere I knew our friends would love to visit! However, Knoxville also has a wide variety of gorgeous venues. The fact that it would be our home both during and after our engagement really sealed the deal for us. We loved the idea of being able to plan all of the details with local vendors, instead of needing to travel to Nashville or Winston-Salem for venue tours and vendor meetings.
After deciding on the city, it was time to brainstorm wedding venues! I had always envisioned a church ceremony and an outdoor garden reception. Zack and I come from different religious backgrounds, and we really wanted to be respectful of both of our families. So, we gave it a lot of thought and decided that having our wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue would be the best option for us. Knowing that, we needed to look at venues that had plenty of space for us to accommodate the different aspects of our wedding day.
One of the first venues that caught my eye was Crescent Bend (above). The formal Italian garden behind the main house is one of the most stunning things I’ve ever laid eyes on! The view of the river from the gardens is also breathtaking. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that a gorgeous view and beautiful gardens do come at a high price point, which was outside the budget we allocated for our venue.
The next venue we considered was The Bleak House. I loved the fact that it is a confederate memorial hall; it has a lot of rich history and gorgeous architectural details. It also has a stunning arbor walkway that leads to a garden, something I had been hoping for. However, the garden was mostly greenery with very few actual flowers, so not quite the picture I had in my head.
We then looked at The Historic Southern Railway Station, kind of by accident! We had been searching for vineyards in Knoxville, but quickly found they are hard to come by. However, the railway station is a part of Blue Slip Winery, and we love our wine! The interior of the Station is breathtaking. The Southern Ballroom has beautiful high ceilings and rich wood paneling, a pretty combination of my feminine style and Zack’s masculine taste. But, the only outdoor option was a platform next to the train station. It lacked greenery, something I couldn’t overlook.
After striking out with our first few options, we decided to think outside the box. Zack loves golfing, and he had the wonderful idea of looking at golf courses for our venue. I loved that idea–a golf course would provide us with the greenery I really wanted, as well as a rain back-up plan in the form of a club house or country club.
The first golf course we toured was Wind River. Zack and I absolutely fell in love when we stepped onto the property! The rolling greens are so gorgeous, the lake view is spectacular, and the country club is made of the most beautiful stone. We thought it was the one, but after speaking with our planners, we realized a few logistical details that would push the venue outside of our budget. The area behind the country club, where we had envisioned our reception, is mostly greenery with a little bit of concrete, meaning that we would need to bring in flooring to go under our tent, a fairly pricey thing to do. Wind River is also a 45-minute drive from downtown Knoxville, making it slightly inconvenient for our guests who will likely be staying in hotels closer to town. While we loved the venue, we had to be cautious about our budget and our guests’ comfort and convenience. So, we looked for other golf courses closer to town!
Bridesmaid photo by JoPhoto
Zack has played in golf tournaments at Gettysvue Golf and Country Club before, and remembered loving the course. While we were smitten by Wind River, after taking a tour, we truly fell in love with Gettysvue! It has the most spectacular view of the mountains, so we are hoping (if Mother Nature plays nice!) to have our ceremony outside at the top of the hill. I can envision it, and it’s stunning!
It also has a beautiful indoor ballroom, which will be the perfect setting for our dinner and possibly more if it does rain. A rain back-up plan was definitely a top priority! And the biggest factor that we love is that the carport area, which is right in front of the rolling green golf course, is the perfect flat spot for dancing, a bar, and a soft-seated lounge. No flooring needed under the tent! Gettysvue is within our budget, absolutely gorgeous, close to town for our guests, and Zack has played there before – making it truly special and personal for us!
While I envisioned one thing for our wedding ceremony and reception before we started in on venue tours, I am so happy with the different, more personal direction we decided to take. I really love that our venue is such a part of Zack’s personality and lifestyle, while some of the other wedding details are more reflective of my personality and ultra feminine style. I can’t wait to see how our amazing wedding planners transform it with all of our design details and an abundance of flowers! If you can’t get married in a garden, bring the garden to your venue – right?!
Friends, I’d love to hear: did you have a venue vision in mind before taking tours? And if so, did that change throughout your planning process, or did you go with your original idea? What helped you make your decision?