My adventures in venue booking, Part 1

Booking the venue must be the biggest piece of the wedding planning puzzle. It’s just as well we have to do it upfront in the wedding planning timeline, while our momentum is somewhat fresh. Now that I’ve done it, set up our wedsite, and emailed everyone the link, I feel like I’ve been rushing and now I get a reprieve. For a moment in there, it was getting confusing and pressurey.What I’ve learnt so far is that it really, REALLY helps to do your thinking before you’re in the midst of actually making the choices, because it’s really easy to lose your perspective about what you need, what you want, and what you think you want.

So the way to go about venue finding is this: 1. Set your parameters, 2. Attempt to find places that fit these parameters. 3. Either find no places fitting criteria, and panic, or find multiple places fitting criteria, and experience the anxiety of too much choice. 4. Adjust paremeters accordingly, either tightening or relaxing. 5. Book it and feel grateful this process is over.

How it went for us is that first we decided it needs to be in Southeast Asia. And then we were like, tropical island beach party, hell yeah! Cue visions of a perfect day at the beach that happens to be kicked off with a marriage ceremony. And then followed up by dancing on the sand round a bonfire. That’s basically a life long fantasy right there.

After investigating the nearest beach holiday places to us, and toying breifly with the Philippines (so affordable!), we figured out that it needs to be on the island of Bintan, purely because it’s the one easiest to get to from Singapore. Practicality won out. I feel bad enough asking everyone to come here in the first place, and getting them to travel on to Malaysia or Philippines or Bali, all half day excursions/flights at best, was too much. Bintan is only 45 minutes away by ferry!

So the parameters tightened: it had to be on this island. At this point, I was still thinking about maybe finding a holiday beach house to rent, one that’s right next to the sand, and having our wedding be an awesome beachy house party. If we had a kitchen, we could cater the stupid thing ourselves! Turns out though, that’s not how holidaying works in this part of the world. There aren’t holiday towns with holiday houses. There are resorts. You know, where the wealthier expats can play on constructed beaches, safely secluded from the actual day to day life of the locals. Sigh, I have my philsophical disagreements for sure. Anyway, so things really narrowed down now, because there are only a few resorts on Bintan.

After weeding out the ones that don’t do events, or are way too pricey, we were left with just two options. This is the juncture in wedding planning where you start to freak out that the criteria you’ve established can’t be met with the budget you have. What if both of these options turned out to be too much? The rubber was about to hit the road. Enquiries were emailed.

The first venue wrote back saying Yep! No worries! $90 per person, plus tax and tips. And also that doesn’t include drinks. And then I went Noooo! My dreams, they die! Also this venue emailed me a video clip of a wedding they’d hosted, and it was all waiters walking around with trays, and fancy tables and chairs, and people wearing formal clothes, and no actual beach fun-having.

I realised I needed to make both venues understand that we didn’t want your typical fancypants Asian wedding, so I requested in person meetings with both so that I could say No seriously, Don’t even think of this as a wedding. It’s really just a casual beach party, with not even that many people. I was getting really worried they wouldn’t be able to go low enough, so I was really aiming to sell the whole no-big-deal-ness of it all.

OMG CLIFF HANGER. Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!

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