It’s My Wedding, And I’ll Cry If I Want To…
About a week after returning from Spain, I had overcome the jet lag, gotten used to calling Harley my fiancà©, and told our engagement story about 163548 times. It was such an exciting time, and we were grateful for the support we received, but I have to admit that I considered changing the voice mail greeting on my phone to “how we got engaged” more than once that week! It wasn’t until a meeting at work the following week, when I saw a friend from another department, that I got the most authentic response from a recent bride. The conversation went a little like this…
Christa: “Is that new?!” (pointing at my ring)
Me: “It is!!!”
Christa: “Oh my gosh, congratulations! When’s the big day?!”
Me: “We’re not sure yet. My sister is getting married in May, so we’re trying not to do too much planning before then…we’ll probably just lock down the venue.”
Christa: “Just remember, all the tears you cry while planning your wedding will all be worth it the day after.”
Although I was caught off guard because I was in engagement bliss and hadn’t started the planning process yet, I completely understand now that we’re five months in. Luckily the only tears so far were associated with the stress of deciding on the where and when of our wedding, and we can now laugh about it and share the details of our dream venue!
Dawn + Harley’s engagement story — you can read all about it here
Let The Planning Begin!
As I mentioned in the conversation with my colleague, Harley and I got engaged about two and a half months before my sister and new brother-in-law’s wedding. Since I was still in full “Maid of Honor Mode” and wanted to let them have their time to shine, we decided to only focus on the main attraction until after their wedding…the venue.
Of course, being a normal bride (or at least one who was paranoid about having her favorite vendors book up), there may have been a few exceptions…like when my wedding dress basically fell into my lap months before I even planned on shopping for one. I will happily blog about that experience in a future post!
Operation: Find A Kosher Hotel Venue
Writing this blog on the heels of a camping trip for work in the Florida Keys IN THE SUMMER, I can honestly say I’d be perfectly happy with any venue that has air conditioning. Fortunately, I was not deprived of cold air or water when searching for venues, so my standards were a bit higher. Harley and I agreed from the start that we wanted both the ceremony and reception to take place in a hotel for a number of reasons:
- About three quarters of our guest list is made up of out-of-towners, ranging from various parts of Florida to different countries, so we would definitely have to coordinate transportation if we didn’t go with a hotel.
- I love the idea of waking up at the venue the morning of the wedding, as well as ending the night there.
- Our guests who take advantage of the open bar can safely stumble up to their rooms at the end of the night; and
- There will be 15 girls getting ready for the wedding together, so a nice, comfy Bridal Suite is a must!
Initially, Harley and I were set on having a Kosher wedding. We both grew up in completely Kosher households rich with Jewish tradition and eat Kosher-Style outside of the home. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that it would be unbelievably expensive and would greatly limit our hotel venue options. As much as we researched, we could only find three hotels with Kosher kitchens in all of Palm Beach County. Two of the options cost FOUR TIMES the price per person as the venue we ended up selecting and the third option was the one that helped me understand the previously mentioned “tears warning.”
Harley was ready to sign on the dotted line at the last venue due to its very reasonable price for Kosher catering (even though it couldn’t be promised that all the food would be served hot if we had over 150 guests), and I had my first bridal breakdown explaining that we shouldn’t leave our venue saying “that was reasonable,” but rather, “I can’t believe we’re getting married here…let’s pop some champagne!!”
Fabulous kosher catering by Food Story. Image: Blake Ezra Photography
This was the feeling we both had when leaving our final venue, The Delray Beach Marriott. Our options expanded once we came to the conclusion that we were not going to be able to have a fully Kosher wedding, and we would finally be able to research and visit some fantastic venues which wouldn’t completely break the bank or shrink our guest list.
I scoured The Knot and Wedding Wire reading reviews and favoriting venues, only to meet with one Event Manager before booking our wedding. We basically knew we wanted to get married at the Delray Beach Marriott, and I even “interviewed” a friend about her experience there as a bride the night before our meeting. She reassured me that their wedding experience was incredible and that the value this hotel provides is beyond compare. Just from this one vendor, we can now put giant check marks in the boxes next to ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, chiavari chairs to match our color scheme, upgraded linens, catering, an open bar, a champagne toast, a gorgeous bridal suite with a balcony for “first look” photos, and even a set of Swarovski (my favorite!) champagne flutes to keep as a souvenir of our wedding.
One a side note, Harley is very happy that these now don’t have to take up space on our Wedding Registry! A wedding cake is also included in the package, but we will be ordering a Kosher Parve cake instead in order to honor our Kosher traditions. The hotel is also being extremely respectful of our guests who do fully keep Kosher and is gracious enough to bring in Glatt Kosher meals for those handful of guests.
Finding a wedding date that suited us all
The date was another tricky situation. With three family members getting married in 2016, we definitely knew we wanted to have a 2017 wedding and decided summer would be ideal. We had a short window for getting married in the summer due to the school schedules of our youngest Wedding Party members, the “Three Weeks” mourning period on the Jewish calendar when weddings cannot be held, wanting to have a nice-sized honeymoon before my work’s “black-out vacation dates” in August, and of course, the venue’s availability.
We also knew that we wanted to get married on a Sunday because we didn’t want to wait for Shabbat to end late Saturday night before beginning the wedding. (Icing on the cake for brides on a budget: Many venues offer a discount for weddings that are not held on a Saturday!) We ended up with two possible dates: July 2nd and July 9th.
Although July 2nd was the original date we wanted because it will be our four-year anniversary, we quickly learned that it had some flaws. That “Not on a Saturday Discount” I just mentioned? It’s off the table for a holiday weekend wedding, which was a pretty big deal for us. Other obstacles for this date included that out-of-town guests would not be able to extend the discounted wedding block rate into the 4th of July week, and my career field’s national conference ends the same day and occurs around the same time every year. Needless to say, this date wasn’t sounding too great to us anymore.
The only issue with July 9th is that it’s my mom’s birthday! Although I wasn’t originally too thrilled with the idea of getting married on her birthday, I realized it really was the best option. She was perfectly fine with it, and we promised to make her 2016 birthday extra special since we’re stealing it next year! We kept our promise, taking her for a stay-cation at the venue this year with my sister and brother-in-law, and were treated like royalty throughout the entire stay. Within five minutes of checking into our suite there was a knock on our door. Our amazing Event Manager had sent up a wine and cheese platter, along with a hand-written birthday card on stationary that had portrait of the hotel on it. We even got to see the ballroom set up for a wedding and experience the energy that exudes through the hotel during such an exciting event.
After our incredible stay, we could not be more sure that we made the right choice when selecting the Delray Beach Marriott as our venue for what will be the most memorable day of our lives!
Dawn will be marrying Harley on 9th July 2017 at the Delray Beach Marriott in South Florida, USA.