After getting engaged it feels like there are a million and one things that you need to do… look for wedding venues, secure the date, pick a dress, pick bridesmaids dresses, pick colors, flowers, groomsmen attire, pick the wedding party, pick the style of the wedding, pick, pick, pick there are a ton a decisions to make and the list goes on and on. I personally think determining the venue is one of the most important decisions to make early on. The venue can help determine and streamline the other decisions you have to make. It also determines your date based on availability and it can typically determine the style, attire and many other factors of the wedding. Choosing a venue doesn’t just mean where the reception will be held, it also means figuring out where you will actually walk down the aisle, all of these are factors into the logistics of the big day.
I must admit (as I think this is very abnormal in today’s Pinterest inspired world) I did not start planning or thinking about the details of my wedding day until after Michael proposed. I had no idea where I wanted the venue to be, the colors or any of that stuff. You’d think after 6 years of being together and with my love of stationary and event planning that I would’ve had a secret binder locked away with all of these details, but I didn’t and I am really happy that I went into the planning with an open mind.
Because I was practically a blank canvas when it came to the venue, it really left it wide open for a plethora of options, which can be good and bad, especially when you are planning a wedding 300 miles away. Luckily, I am pretty blessed with a kick-ass mom who is always there for me; she is my rock, my mentor, my friend and my go-to in life. And yes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, we happen to be a lot alike in our OCD tendencies : ) Which has proven to be very helpful during the planning process.
UPS got it right with their “We love logistics” commercial because planning a wedding is all about the logistics! You have to have a starting point and figure out what the logistics will be like to give yourself a reasonable parameter. We minimized the number of places we looked at by keeping it within the radius of my parent’s church. Sure we could’ve broadened the scope of venues and taken a look at some of the iconic places in South Florida like the Biltmore, Deering Estate, the Mandarin Oriental or the Breakers but they just seemed too far to travel. So why waste the time looking at venues that I am sure I would’ve loved but didn’t make sense logistically?
In an effort to keep us sane we limited the search to places between Ft. Lauderdale Beach and Boca Raton. My parent’s church is out west in Parkland and we didn’t want people to have to travel more than 30 minutes to the reception. We checked out quite a few places and putting the money/cost of each of these venues aside, here are some of my thoughts strictly on the places:
Parkland Golf & Country Club
- Just 5 minutes from the church
- Beautiful grounds, gorgeous clubhouse, loved the arched wooden doorways and stone finishes
- Clubhouse overlooks the golf course
- Pretty outdoor area for the cocktail hour
- The ballroom – it had green and red carpet, yellow/tan walls with pictures hanging around the room – it felt like such a lackluster when we made our way into the ballroom, especially with the grand entrance of the country club.
I loved so much of the Parkland Golf & Country Club, but couldn’t get over the ballroom, where we would be spending most of our time. My dad put it into great perspective “5 minutes to drive through the grounds and 5 hours in the clubhouse, what do you think people will remember more?”
The Ritz Carlton Ft. Lauderdale Beach
- Stunning ballroom with gorgeous Swarski chandeliers, mirrors on the wall, neutral tones to work with any style
- Terrace across from ballroom overlooking the beach for the cocktail hour
- On Ft. Lauderdale Beach, great for out of town guests who may want to make a vacation out of the weekend
- Downtown Ft. Lauderdale Beach – the outdoor terrace that overlooks the beach would no doubt be the runway for drunk people walking up and down the strip (most likely during the cocktail hour) since A1A is between the beach and the hotel
- It was also a bit further of a drive from the church than we would’ve liked
Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach
- Beautiful hotel (it’s actually my favorite hotel in Ft. Lauderdale Beach)
- Great rooms for guests with multiple bedroom rooms and kitchens and the honeymoon suite had a great view
- Lots to do for out-of-town guests since you are in the heart of Ft. Lauderdale Beach
- Ballroom had no view of the ocean (if you’re going to make the drive from the church down to Ft. Lauderdale Beach I expect a view!)
After checking out a few ballrooms, I started to feel like they were a lackluster in comparison to the hotel and the location, most of them didn’t do anything for me. But the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort were in the process of building an outdoor terrace just beyond the pool on floors 5 and 6, it looked like it would have been beautiful and provides the view I was looking for, but it would also mean an outdoor reception, which I didn’t want (I just don’t trust the Florida weather!)
Boca Raton Resort
- Iconic hotel in Boca Raton with an interesting background (it was built in the 1920s by Addison Mizner – which I now realize built most of Boca)
- Beautiful resort on the inter coastal
- The main room has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the inter costal/Lake Boca
- Not too far from the church
- Too ornate for my taste with gold and burgundy accents and décor
- Too busy (guests from the hotel could’ve walked right through/pass the area designated for the cocktail hour
- Could be one of multiple brides having a wedding that day
Boca Raton Beach Resort
- Located right on the beach
- Modern, sleek, elegant designs
- Amazing chandelier
- Room had an adjacent outdoor area for the cocktail area that overlooked the ocean
- Too modern for my taste with stark white designs, it lost some of the charm that the other places provided with the architecture and design
The Addison in Boca Raton
- 5 diamonds for their service and food
- Separate venue, not attached to a hotel
- The architecture and design is very similar to the Boca Raton Resort (built by the same guy – Addison Mizner!)
- Charming, rustic, contemporary feel in the main room
- The main room is two stories, with the second floor having a balcony that overlooks the first floor with a wine cellar look and feel
- Beautiful courtyard area for the cocktail hour with a hundred year old oak tree and fountain
- They also have a secondary room that would be used for the cocktail hour if the weather didn’t cooperate (and I would not be at all disappointed with plan b if it rained – that’s how pretty the room is!) it also had floor to ceiling windows overlooking the courtyard
- The one negative item we had when looking at The Addison was the lacking grand entrance, but my dad’s comments from the Parkland Golf & Country Club was once again applicable: “5 minutes to drive through the grounds and 5 hours in the venue, what do you think people will remember more?”
If you can’t guess which venue I picked, it was The Addison with it’s charming meets modern elegant design. Every time I go back I fall more in love with the space! I love everything about the venue, the courtyard, the main room, the exposed wood, the travertine tiles, it is all so beautiful. Since I grew up in the area, there are a few people who have attended or had their wedding there and I’ve heard nothing but raving reviews about the venue and the food.
I also really love my point of contact at The Addison and I think this is very important. She is constantly providing us tips and tricks, sending us links to the latest trends, letting us know of an upcoming sale and is a pleasure to work with. So far, it has been a great experience!
Have you had a wedding at any of these places? What did you like most about it? What didn’t you like?