Wedding Diaries: The One with the Perfect Venue

January 14, 2015

The very first item on our wedding “To Do” list (after celebrating with lots of champagne) was to create a guest list. While this will change and shift a million times before the wedding, you really cannot book anything without it. Our magic number ended up at 150. (Even though we wanted “intimate” at least 60 from that list are from Sam’s immediate-ish family so we had to go a big bigger.)

*** Feel free to use this template I created to help form your guest list: Sample Guest List

With that information we were ready to book a venue! My dream venue I mentioned in last week’s post was El Capitan, a beautiful campground resort near Santa Barbara. Since it was completely booked we began searching for anything similar in Southern California. The time of year when we would get married did not matter to us, but we knew we wanted to get married outside. Sam and I are both very connected to nature and want our wedding to reflect that.

Enter Bailey’s Palomar Resort. We found it in a humble google search for somewhere (anywhere) to host our guests for an entire weekend. And it became something more. At Bailey’s we get to create an experience for the people we love the most- like summer camp for adults! For 4 days and 3 nights we will get to celebrate our marriage- how cool is that?!


Bailey’s Palomar Resort is a 60-acre, private mountain resort on Palomar Mountain – just outside of San Diego. This historic property was once the township of the city of Palomar, CA and was established 125 years ago by the Bailey family. To this day, the Bailey Family continues to own and operate the resort as a retreat and event center. The accommodations include an old inn, cabins and luxury tents, and there is a lake for fishing, hiking trails and no cell service. I CAN’T WAIT.


(The above photos were not taken by me. Credit goes to Tyler Branch, Matthew Morgan, Stuck with Pins, and …google?)

When we told our family about our venue, the general reaction was “HUH??” While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is very “us” and that is more important than worrying about pushing my grandma a bit out of her comfort zone (sorry, Grandma 😉 ) But we had to remember it is OUR wedding after all.

So here is some step-by-step advice to other brides trying to find a venue:

  1. Make a first draft guest list. Then cut, don’t add.
  2. Know your budget & stick to it. A venue will end up being anywhere from 30%- 60% of your budget. (For us it was on the lower end because it doesn’t include anything! We are bringing in tables, food, etc.)
  3. Figure out what is most important to you. For example: Getting married outside? Or in your home church? Having a big dance floor? Privacy? Bringing in your own caterer? The season? Alcohol? Ceremony and reception in the same place? … Then pick three.
  4. Think outside the box. If you want a ceremony in the middle of a zoo or on the beach in Mexico, make it happen!
  5. Don’t commit to “the one” right away. Look at different venues you liked online (remembering you may not like them as much in person) and crunch the numbers on your favorites.
  6. Choose a venue and then a date based on what they have available. That way you are not falling in love with a place that isn’t available on your randomly chosen May 16th.
  7. STOP LOOKING and be happy with what you have.

Good luck! And check back next Wednesday for more of my wedding planning blabberings.