We traveled a total of 1,900 miles this weekend for a grand total stay of 32 hours. The reason? Nailing down a wedding date and reserving a venue! For any of you out there that are in a relationship with someone who works shifts (police officers, firemen, doctors, nurses, factory workers, ems, retail workers…. you name it) you know that getting time off around the holidays can be a challenge. The cop miraculously got off for Christmas this year. I have no idea how he did it. But he did and we are not complaining! But that ultimately meant that he has no additional time off during the months of November, December and January. Last week he stayed in Savannah to work while I traveled home to Buffalo for Thanksgiving. Which was ok… Compromise right?
The only trouble with his ‘no-days-off’ status is that we wanted to book our wedding venue before the new year. Though our wedding date will not be until Summer of 2016, things seem to book up fast in Buffalo (my hometown). When I called ahead I realized my first choice venue was already booked through May 2016, I realized we had work to do fast. Eek! So we made moves to vet our venue a.) before all of the Thanksgiving-Christmas engagements booked up (this is the busy season for proposals as we all know) and b.) before my parents and grandparents fly south to spend January and February in Hilton Head Island. Essentially the choices were find a time to book in December or wait until next March.
We flew to Buffalo Saturday morning and then back to Savannah late last night – for a grand total of 32 hours in Buffalo dedicated to vetting our venue. It was exhausting – but worth it! We were able to look at 4 different venue options, 2 different rehearsal dinner spaces, 3 hotels for out of town guests and 3 churches. Phew.
The Hotel at the Lafayette – Marquis Room
I absolutely love this hotel. The Hotel Lafayette was recently renovated from a total state of disrepair. The hotel in its prime was considered one of the 15 finest hotels in the country. It was designed by the first professional woman architect in the United States, Louise Blanchard Bethune. Lafayette Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in August 2010. Rocco Termini, a developer in Buffalo, took on the restoration project in 2011 and brought the Hotel back to its glory days.
I love the Hotel Lafayette not only because of its history but because it is truly a unique space. It has also brought life back into Buffalo’s downtown area, housing not only wedding spaces but hotel rooms, restaurants, bars, a floral shop and a cake shop within its structure.
The Marquis Room is located on the lower level and is run by a restaurant group called Acqua. It is the epitome of what you would call a grand ballroom. Sophisticated but understated. The room is light and airy, with large curved windows and neutral walls. The space is large enough to hold our 250-275 guests and the decor can be fitted to any wedding style. I was a little disappointed because the room was not set up for a wedding on Saturday, in fact it looked awful when we came to see it (dirty floors, sparse furniture, giant banner hanging across the back wall for the upcoming evening). But I did my best to imagine the hotel in all of its glory for the big day.
The Hotel at the Lafayette – The Greenhouse Room
The Greenhouse Room is located on the upper level of the Lafayette Hotel. It still has the benefit of being housed in my favorite hotel in Buffalo, but it has an overall different feel than the Marquis Room. The Greenhouse room features hand scraped wood floors, exposed brick walls and open air venting. The decor of the room is rustic but industrial…. more of a loft feel with vintage touches mixed in. It boasts a private courtyard that would be great to have during a summer wedding. The courtyard is very picturesque with vintage lights strung across the sky. It would be wonderful space for a slightly more casual affair. This room was beautiful and had a great vibe, but we worried that with a live band and 200-250 guests it may be too small for us.
Asbury Hall, Babeville
Asbury Hall, or Babeville as it’s known, is a unique venue nestled in the heart of downtown. It’s location is perfect – midway between the church and the hotels we would reserve for our out of town guests. Asbury Hall is a former church that was restored by musician Ani DiFranco. It is now used for weddings and musical events. The space can actually host a full out concert, which makes it the best place for our live band by far. I’ve heard absolutely wonderful things about the wedding planner at Asbury Hall. He has held the position for a few years now and seems to be extremely attentive and helpful (which is exactly what you want for a wedding). Babeville is a great space, but has a very particular artsy look. The cop and I loved the space, especially the speak easy bar in the lower level that can be used for an after party.
The Statler – The Terrace Room
The Statler is another beautifully renovated hotel in downtown Buffalo. I haven’t been as emotionally attached to the renovations of the Statler, but I can appreciate its grandeur. Statler City has a great location – directly across the street from City Hall and much closer to the hotels I’d plan to reserve for our out of town guests (twp of the options would be in walking distance). The Terrace Room has a gilded ornate style – think gold light fixtures, dark drapes and black marble floors. When we went to the Statler I was not expecting to like it at all – but we were blown away. The room was magnificent and they even had a beautiful bridal suite adjacent to the ballroom for our wedding party’s private use. Along the back of the room is an elevated area which would be great for a band or the bar. And at the end of the hall to both the right and the left are balconies that look out on City Hall. It would be beautiful at night all lit up. The venue is also located within a block or two from the hotels we like most. There are also a variety of restaurants, coffee shops and bars within a few block radius.
Now that all is said and done, we need to take some time and make a decision! I have no idea how we are going to narrow things down – each space is completely unique! The cop and I plan to sit down this evening and make a list of pros and cons for each location using the information we learned at our meetings. Stay tuned tomorrow for a list of Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue.