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The Search for the Perfect Venue

February 25, 2010

Finding a venue was one of the most challenging parts of planning the wedding. I really wanted a vineyard setting, and with a guest list of about 200 people, it limited us a lot. My dream would have been a Napa wedding, but Napa comes with a hefty price tag. It’s also very hard to find a winery setting with enough space for an indoor reception for 200, and I  wanted an indoor reception in case the weather didn’t cooperate. After hours of searching on herecomestheguide.com and Yelp, we narrowed it down to 5 possible venues. Three of them were wineries, and they all happened to be in the Pleasanton/Livermore area, which is conveniently located in between our parents’ houses. Apparently, it’s the new up-and-coming wine country, and it’s much more affordable than Napa. Here were the wineries we checked out:

  • Palm Event Center (Pleasanton): Palm Event Center is located right next to Mitchell Katz winery, and it features rustic wine barrel decor and a beautiful palm lined entrance. One thing that struck me about the place is how all-inclusive everything was – it comes with catering, linens, an in-house DOC (for a small charge)…sounded great to our overwhelmed Jelly ears! This was the first venue we visited, and Mr. Jelly fell in love with it right away. I loved it too, but needed to shop around more before committing to a venue.

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  • Casa Real (Pleasanton): Casa Real is owned by the same people as Palm Event Center, so they’ve got the same kind of all-inclusiveness going on (Score!). It’s not as secluded because it is closer to an intersection, but it’s a bit newer and gorgeous both inside and out. I loved both the outdoor courtyard and the indoor Amber Room for the ceremony, and just the general luxe Mediterranean feel of the place.

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  • Garre Winery (Livermore): I absolutely LOVED the beautiful heritage oak tree that serves as the backdrop to the ceremony at this venue. I didn’t really like the idea of having our reception in a tent, however, so we nixed this venue pretty early on.

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In addition to those wineries, we also considered a couple San Francisco venues:

  • St. Francis Yacht Club (SF): Mr. Jelly’s dad had a connection there who could sponsor our wedding (it’s members only). We went and visited and it’s a very nice venue, with breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge. We thought about how much all of our out-of-town guests would love the view and location in the City. But something just didn’t feel right. We’re not really “yacht” types, and I felt like I would be giving up my dream of having a winery wedding if we went with this option.

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  • Marines Memorial Club (SF): We visited this venue because we heard it was fairly affordable and we thought it could be a nice nod to Mr. Jelly’s military service. Upon visiting, however, we just didn’t feel like it was “us.” It’s very ballroom-y, which works for some, but I never really envisioned a ballroom wedding. Again, this just solidified that what we really wanted was a winery wedding.

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In the end, we decided on Casa Real! Mr. Jelly and I were torn between Casa Real and the Palm Event Center, so we decided to flip a coin. Seriously. But when the coin told me Palm Event Center, I started making arguments for why I liked Casa Real more. That’s how I knew what I really wanted (good trick, eh?). Mr. Jelly was happy to oblige. Here is some more eye-candy from our lovely venue!

Courtyard ceremony. We will be having our ceremony outside, weather permitting! (Source)

A closer look at the Sun Garden. (Source)

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, we could always hold the ceremony indoors. (Source)

The Grand Salon – the main reception room. (Source)

Did you have a hard time finding the perfect venue? Were you torn between two venues, like me?

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