The day we got engaged, we actually went to look at a venue that was PERFECT. It was the San Francisco City Club, which used to be the social rooms for the Pacific Stock Exchange.
|The Building Lobby|
It was designed in a lavish Art Deco style, and very quickly became, quite literally, the Platonic ideal of all venues in our mind. It wouldn't take much decorating, would feel like our guests had stepped back in time, and was exactly what we had wanted without even knowing it existed. However, it turned out that it wouldn't work for our budget. Because it was the first place we looked, we weren't prepared to factor in service fees, tax, and alcohol into base prices, and it sounded like on a week day it would have been reasonably priced for us! Once we started adding everything up though, we realized that even if we could make it work on our budget, after food and venue fees we would have very little left over, and would probably end up going over budget, something we absolutely do not want to do.
|Diego Rivera Mural|
We looked at a lot of options within Sonoma County as well, trying to see if we had missed something. We moved away from looking at wineries, which weren't really our style, and started focusing on trying to find hotels or event centers that had a classic look that would lend themselves to the Art Deco theme. Most of the places we saw were very "California/ Mission/ Modern", in true Wine Country fashion. Nine brides out of ten at work tell me they are doing a rustic-vintage-country theme, and I am beginning to see why. Other than wineries, our venue choices were barns, fields, gardens, and a handful of hotels.
We did seriously consider a couple of spaces up here, including the local Hyatt. The Hyatt would have been really convenient for guests, and they had an absolutely beautiful venue space with a huge outdoor fireplace.
|The larger, nicer room... But the smaller one had the same wall color/ carpet/ light fixtures, etc...|
Madrona Manor was another venue we took a peek at that was beautiful, but not our style. It is a lovely old Victorian house painted yellow surrounded by gardens. It would have suited itself to a garden theme really well, but John and I didn't see any opportunity to bring any glamour into the mix. Unfortunately we didn't take any pictures of this venue... But if you're considering a Wine Country wedding, it was beautiful and worth looking at! It just wasn't a good fit for us.
The Sonoma Fairmont was my favorite venue that we looked at our way, although it was even more expensive than San Francisco City Club. It was an old California Mission Revival style hotel with a large social lobby, impeccable grounds, and little villas of clustered guestrooms, something you could imagine existing in 1930's Old Hollywood, but it still wasn't the style we ideally wanted. They had a meeting room in the main hotel buiding as well as a tent on the grounds that they use for wedding receptions.
|Reception room all set up for a meeting|
|The empty tent|
Well, there are the highlights from the first few venues we looked at... There were a few other stops around Sonoma County, but these were the most noteworthy! Next up, I'll be posting about our adventures in the South Bay, East Bay, and Sacramento, before telling you where we finally booked. Until then!