Wedding Venue Shopping – Round 1

Kevin and I are currently driving through the middle of nowhere Missouri/Iowa on our way back to Des Moines. We traveled to St. Louis this weekend to look at wedding venues…we’d say it went “okay.”

We made three appointments and I’d say I had high hopes that two of the three would be great venues. But now that we’re driving back, we could find things wrong with each venue. They just didn’t seem to be “the one.” I don’t even know if there’s supposed to be “the one” when it comes to a venue…I just assumed there would be.

The first place we looked at was near downtown St. Louis, a few blocks away from SLU’s campus in St. Louis’ “midtown” district (I didn’t even know STL had a ‘midtown’ until now). It was easy to get to off the highway and there were quite a few hotels nearby (important for our many out-of-town guests).

The inside was absolutely beautiful.

(NEO on Locust)

This loft venue was by far my favorite. The brick walls, old cement floors and 360 (including the bathrooms!) views of downtown St. Louis were spectacular. I can only imagine what it looks like at night, all set up with tables, chairs and the dimmed lights/uplighting that is included.

The Arch!

While I love the look and feel (when I walked in, I kept saying, “wow!”), the bar expense (which must be contracted through them) is rather expensive and a lot more than we were wanting to pay (and having an open bar is important to Kevin and I). The good thing is that we have a large variety of caterers to choose from and we’re confident we’d find one we like.

After checking out the first option, we headed over to Broadway Oyster Bar near Busch Stadium! Ahhhh this made me happy to be home. 🙂

I love my city.

Kevin and I had never been to Broadway Oyster Bar, but my parents and grandparents (who went with us) had. We were excited to try it!

Everyone ordered something different (except for my mom and I) off their seafood-with-a-cajun-flair menu. Mom and I got the fish tacos that came with red beans and rice. The rice was spicy but so good and the tacos were fantastic, but huge! I could only eat one. It didn’t help that I stole bites of Kevin’s “BBQ shrimp,” which is actually not traditional BBQ shrimp. The shrimp were cooked in a cajun “bbq” broth that is thickened and almost soup-like. I think I’d get that next time if we went back.

I also had a Purple Haze brew from the Abita Brewing Co. in Louisiana. Very fitting!

After stuffing ourselves (what else is new?), we went to the next venue. The second venue option was in Spanish Lake, MO (I know, I know, not the very best of neighborhoods) but it was right by the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. I thought I was going to absolutely love it, but when we started adding up all the costs (tent, chairs, tables, dance floor, lights, bathrooms (yes, bathrooms!), side tent for catering (because there’s no kitchen), etc., etc.) it just didn’t seem like it would work.

Also, there is NO back-up location for rain. Not gonna chance that one. After all, I’m engaged to a meteorologist and I’m sure he’s secretly wishing for tornados on our wedding day.  

The location is absolutely beautiful (though it would be difficult for our guests to get to – it’s a ways away from the highway), but it just wouldn’t work logistically, though I always imagined getting married or having our reception near water….

The estate also had a farm side (separate venues) which is where they kept the barn, which was awesome and very Pinteresty.

(Kuhs Estate and Farm)

But this was the upstairs and the only way up was through a small set of old, not-reliable stairs. Many of our older guests would not be able to get up there and would be stuck downstairs (and the downstairs is where the kept the horses, which means my friend Kristina would basically die from allergies.;) (I had to throw that in there, T.) 😉

Also, this was a legit working farm. Kevin and I are definitely outdoorsy people, but I’m not so sure we’d consider ourselves country by any means. We would be dodging chickens, horses, baby goats (which were adorable), cats and pigs all night. Although Kev did make friends with ‘Babe’ the pig while we were there!

In the end, it was beautiful and wonderful, but we just don’t think it would work out for us.

The last venue we saw was in St. Charles on Main Street, which would be a fantastic location for out-of-town guests (and wedding pictures because it’s right by the river!).

(Foundry Art Centre)

The venue was nice, but I just didn’t think it was anything special. It was a long and narrow room, which I think is a little awkward. There was a stage, but since the room is long and narrow, I’d feel bad for the people in the very back. What would we put on the stage? The wedding party? The DJ? Would it look stupid to leave the stage empty? All those questions ran in my head while we were there and I just couldn’t picture it very well.

Don’t worry – it’s currently under construction. It wouldn’t normally look like this.

Oh, but after we were done viewing, we THEN decided to ask if they have any Saturdays available in Sept. or Oct. Assuming they’d have a couple, we were shocked to find out they were ALL BOOKED UP. I swear, some people must like long engagements, or they’re crazy and book the day after they get engaged. (I’m a little bitter about this one, sorry guys.) But they’ll call us “should anything open up.” Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Overall, we felt like it wasn’t a success. I’m not sure if we both assumed we’d be signing contracts and writing down payments, but we are driving back feeling a little lost and confused.

We’re also a little frustrated because we do not believe our wedding budget is small (it’s definitely under the ‘national average,’ but I still think it’s a lot of money…though anything is a lot of money to this recent college grad) yet we’re still running into the problem of things being out of our budget (for instance, the alcohol alone in the first venue!). I mean, I could use this wedding money and towards a new car or towards a down payment on a house…it makes me sick how much the wedding industry makes! And it’s hard for brides and grooms to find something reasonable because these venues, caterers, photographers, etc. know they can get away with ridiculous prices. Hmph…need to just get over that one, I guess, huh?

At this point, we’re going to do some more research and see if we can find any other options and then send my parents on a mad hunt to tour them before they’re all booked!

Even though we didn’t lock down a venue or a date, this weekend wasn’t a total loss! After all, I got to spend a whole 24 hours with my awesome parents!

🙂 Totally worth it.

Now this week will be spent preparing for Katie and Jake’s big day in Boston! I can’t believe they’re getting married a week from today! I’m so excited for both of them and incredibly honored to be a part of it all. Kevin and I leave on Thursday to spend Friday in Boston with friends before the festivities begin Saturday!

I can’t wait for Katie to see some of the things I made! I made ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ signs for the back of their chairs at the reception and I think they’re going to turn out great once they’re all done. On Friday night, my dear friend Jess came over and helped me with the big craft of making a ‘just married’ sign for their getaway car. I honestly could not have done it without Jess’ help (thank you again!) and I can’t wait to show a step-by-step tutorial (we took pictures, naturally), but I want it to be a surprise for Katie and Jake so I’ll only be able to share a sneak peek picture for now!

That’s all for now! I better get back to paying attention to the roads…we’re driving through some storms (and you know Kevin’s excited). 🙂

*Update: we made it home safely just in case you were wondering!*

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14 thoughts on “Wedding Venue Shopping – Round 1

  1. The one in St. Charles kinda looks like the inside of a prison to me! Or at least what I’d imagine it would look like, haha! My reception was inside the City Museum, I dunno if you’ve looked into that, but we really liked it. Good luck with everything!

  2. Hello!  My fiance and I are exploring venues for our wedding as well.  I LOVED the first venue you have pictures of.  With the brick walls and cement floors?  Could you tell me the name of the place?  I’d love to check it out.  Thanks!!

    • Hi there, Tess! Thanks for reading! The loft venue is Neo on Locust (http://www.neostl.com/). We LOVED the feel of the venue – the loft holds up to 500 people! The reason we decided against going with that one is the cost of the alcohol – having an open bar is very important to us and we just couldn’t fathom spending that much money on booze alone. Best of luck to you with your planning!!

      • Thanks! I sent a friend the link to your blog and she figured it was Neo. We checked it out this weekend, but I didn’t get the warm and fuzzies from them. So, the search continues! Did you ever fiend a place? Saint Louis University rents out some interesting spaces. We also looked at a neat art gallery in alton that was very reasonable. Let me know if you need the links!

        • The lady who is in charge isn’t a “warm and fuzzy” type of person to me, but the space is gorgeous! Yep, we are getting married in New Town St. Charles at their Event Tent (newtowneventplanning.com). The tent holds up to 350 people and the space is gorgeous! I was surprised at how big it looked – I thought it would feel closed-in, but it’s really tall and the windows overlooking the water make it really pretty.

          We emailed/looked into probably 40 venues, so let me know if you guys can’t find anything. I’m happy to email my master list over to give more ideas!

    • Yes, we checked out them…and nearly every venue in St. Louis! Gorgeous venue(s), but out of our price range for the number of people we’re inviting (250+!).

    • Hi Stacey, thanks for stopping by! We actually found our venue a few days after I wrote that post. Thanks for your suggestion, though!

  3. I came across your blog while searching for “barn wedding venues in St. Louis”. Kuhs Farm was at the top of my list until I realized you had to pay for bathrooms! I’m planning from Dallas and have no idea how I’m going to take the rustic country style I love here and put into something there!

    • Hi Suzanna, I KNOW! That was one of our biggest complaints about Kuhs Farm was the lack of bathroom. I completely understand how frustrating it is to plan from far away – I’m in the same boat! Have you checked any wineries that are just outside of St. Louis? I know a lot of them have the country/rustic feel you may be looking for. Good luck and congrats!

  4. As a newly engaged person looking for a wedding venue, in St. Louis, on a budget, and for 250+ guests this blog was amazing! Thank you for sharing your journey. Reading this blog helped me realized I am not the only one finding venues that are ridiculously priced.

    • Hi Brandi! First of all, congrats!!! I completely understand how frustrating it can be – you’re NOT the only one! I hope that you guys find something great!

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