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Location, location, location!

.~* Our ceremony spot *~.
.~* Our ceremony spot *~.

Although we’ve been engaged less than 2 months, the Fiance and I have already thrown ourselves headfirst into wedding planning. In fact, I think I’ve barely seen him the past few weeks save for our trips to various venues. Even pre-engagement, Ron and I would talk about our future wedding and what we wanted it to include. We both feel that it’s not only a special day for us, but it’s also a chance to enjoy a huge party with our family and friends and provide a good time for them as well. Obviously, one of the most important first steps is finding a location for both the ceremony and reception. Ron and I have begun our venue search, going high and low. Some key points…

.~* We fell in love with the Lake Mohawk Country Club in Sparta, NJ through their website. The pictures were absolutely beautiful, showing a ceremony with the majestic lake and mountains in the background. Unfortunately, the rest of the venue told a different story. Even if we were able to look past the run down walls and 70’s decor, the service was terrible. We arrived early and the wedding coordinator was still in another meeting. He gave us a photo album to look through and sent us to the ballroom to wait. And wait. And wait. An hour later, we realized we don’t like waiting and went to return the photo album. Apparently, the man had FORGOT he sent us upstairs, choosing instead to believe that we never showed up for our appointment. First of all, what?! Secondly, you don’t call no show appointments? Last but not least, for the love of all things cheese, WHY would you TELL us you FORGOT about us? Strike 3, you’re out pal.

We hurriedly called the Park Savoy where Fiance’s friends Cat Lady and Fireman got married. In the nearly 2 years since their wedding, Fiance could not SHUT UP about how much he loved the place. Racing down route 10, we made it just in time to our last minute appointment and could not have been more pleased. The old estate has been renovated to keep its old world charm, including a beautiful library and cocktail area before exiting onto the deck and back patio. Overlooking a golf course and small lake, the scene is the epitome of “picturesque.” The reception would be held in the ballroom, with a stage for band or dj and a sweetheart table directly in front of an Italian fireplace…swoon. Besides the outstanding menu, the service and amount offered was impeccable. Sadly, the price was a tad overwhelming and we were unsure of how we would afford it, but decided to base the rest of our venue search off of it.

We looked at many more places including the Westmount Country Club in West Paterson (beautiful for a night wedding, not so much with the view of route 46 and the Holiday Inn during the day), but they refused to bend to our menu requests due to their “reputation.” Excuse you buddy, it’s not like we asked for a potluck dinner, sheesh. Another of our favorites was Nanina’s in the Park, the only real downside of which was the location (Belleville, ick) and the fact that the surrounding hotels were not up to par with our vision. The best part of our wedding is that it is being held during the day (11:30 ceremony) so that all of our guests can come back to the hotel and party by the pool. None of the hotels near Nanina’s had outdoor pools and many were just eh, mostly business type places. One of the last places we saw, Park Avenue Club in Florham Park, had ALMOST everything we were looking for. Surprisingly, I had my sights set on a rustic venue; weird because rustic I am not. I despised going to my sister’s horsebacking riding competitions due to the abundance of nature there (horse poop, flies, dirt, oh my!) so it was very strange that I was drawn to barn-type structures. Park Ave is actually a “fine dining establishment” that was converted from an old dairy barn, complete with a silo and exposed beams (basically my idea of rustic). The manager was great and had some innovative ideas about our menu (mini chocolate milkshakes anyone? Possibly a signature blueberry sangria to quench your thirst?) Unfortunately, we did not fall in love with the ceremony site (inside and kind of looked like a meeting room) or the tent which housed the actual reception (great if you could go outside, not so much if it rains).

We took Fiance’s parents Bo and Mrs. Bo to see our top 2 choices: Park Avenue Club and the Park Savoy. We went to see the Park Savoy first, expecting the same great quality with a high price tag. Lo and behold, they had changed hands and were in the process of being bought by the same owners of Nanina’s! Besides te fact that the price per head and minimum person requirement went DOWN, this also meant some exciting upgrades to the ballroom and patio, as well as being able to secure a zeppole cart (something Nanina’s had promised and we had loved)! Unable to even concentrate on Park Ave, we signed the contract the very next day, sealing the deal and making me a July 2012 bride.

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