Ok, so after narrowing down some of my criteria for selecting a venue, it was time to hit the pavement, so to speak!
After some discussion with Justin, we decided that we wanted to include the beach in some way, whether it would be to have the ceremony on the beach itself, or to simply find a venue that is nearby/on the beach. Since many of my guests (and some of his as well) will be coming from out of town, we knew that the individuals attending our wedding would be eager to hit the sand and surf during their time in Florida. I mean, how can you take a trip to Florida and NOT go to the beach? That would surely be a crime, no?
Ok...so what are the options then!?!? My heart starts to sink....slightly...because intrinsically I knew from the start that beach weddings in FL = expensive (at times). Boooooo.
Option 1 – Honeymoon Island State Park
They do hold wedding ceremonies at the beach where we met...but knowing me...realistically this might not seem to be my dream location, although it was the location where our love story began! Even though there would be special meaning behind having a wedding at Honeymoon Island, there might be more downsides than up. I have seen ceremonies taking place on the beach there, amidst the tourists, annnnd I know that I would be the Bridezilla attempting to shoo them away! Not to mention the public restrooms on the beach? The horror! I cringe to go into them when I'm scrubby and sweaty from the beach. Could I seriously expect my guests (and MYSELF) to use those when they are dressed in wedding attire? Not cool. In the end...budget friendly? Yes. Dream location? Certainly not.
Option 2 – Hilton Clearwater Beach
Hmmm could this be an option? The hotel is located smack dab in the center of the Clearwater Beach strip. So...on the beach? Check. Wedding options on the beach? Check. I loved the thought that my guests could stay at the same hotel where the wedding and reception take place, how convenient! So, I got into contact with the catering manager for some more information, then promptly thought I’d think twice about it…
They offer different dinner/hors d’ouevres/bar packages…and they started at a pretty high number in my opinion. And, there was not much room for flexibility. You pretty much pick from a set menu, and the ceremony, dinner, and reception take place in a regulated time frame…the hotel has it down to a science. Although I think that having some sense of order in this process is great, I wasn’t so sure if I enjoyed not having flexibility on my menu, etc. Scrap this venue? Eh, probably.
Option 3 – Nova 535
Thinking I should be realistic, I decided to also take a look into somewhere other than the beach, just to see if something amazing caught my eye. One of my friends from high school recently had their reception at a venue in St. Petersburg, Nova 535...and I clearly photo stalked them on Facebook. It is an art gallery with brick walls, wooden floor…very modern…very much a blank slate for you to decorate as you see fit. Very very cool…this has possibilities, right? I love the wood floor for dancing, and they even have a spotlight that they shine on you and your husband for your first dance, how fun!
Hm…although a very beautiful setting, it definitely has nothing to do with the beach…which kind of defeated our original ideas. And, I'd have to rent tables, chairs, linens, potentially hire a caterer, the whole shebang. My head began to hurt, as well as my checkbook, at the thought. Even if the venue itself didn't cost much to rent, I'd be adding exorbitant costs for everything else. Boooooo.
***Sigh*** So, with a sense of defeat, I decided to continue the search at a later time…surely the perfect venue was out there for us, it had yet to be discovered though!
Stay tuned for Part 3…