The 3 Essentials

Once we had an idea of a general guest count and theme, it was time to set a date and pick a venue.

I know you aren’t supposed to choose a date before your venue. However, we originally planned to have our wedding on my grandparents property so I didn’t do it intentionally.

So while still planning my wedding at my grandparents, I chose the next necessary thing. A photographer.

Let me take a minute to point out that Wedding Wire, Thumbtack The Knot and Reddit have been my main resources throughout this planning process.

Everyone knows a photographer or two but I wanted my friends and family to be able to enjoy the wedding so I didn’t want to go that route.

My first suggestion. Make sure you like their style. Do you want soft, romantic images or bold bright and fun? If you don’t like their work, why bother?

Every photographer has their own style and prices vary  widely. Just be sure to see prior work and read reviews. I’ve heard stories of brides ending up with only 5 pictures from their big day, or even worse, none at all!

After a ton of research and price comparisons we ended up choosing Becka and Jonathan with ENV Photography

They are both awesome. I cannot recommend them enough! Becka and I have similar personalities when it comes to planning and preparation so it was awesome to talk to someone who understood what I wanted and even had more suggestions to take it further (and didn’t judge me for planning two years out like most people had been). We can’t wait to see them again on wedding day! 

2nd suggestion (tied for first) – Do NOT skimp on your photographer. Seriously. IF there is ONE thing you splurge on. This. The photos are what you have forever so make sure they are what YOU want. (Also, your  kids are going to love seeing them some day)

So as I began the planning process (looking into DJs, Tent Rentals, Food, Generators) I realized how much more effort and money it would cost to pull off what we wanted in such a remote location. If you have the time & money – I say go for it!

Back to the drawing board.  I started my venue search and emailed probably 15 – 20 venue. About half were available for the date we wanted.

THIS is something I want to point out. I had an almost 2 year long engagement and people kept telling me I was crazy. 50% of the venues I was interested were already booked when I asked.

You can make that decision for yourself but I say, it’s NEVER too early.

I would say we ended up visiting about 7 venues throughout Ohio  and it came down to two options:

Cheers Chalet  in Lancaster, OH – BEAUTIFUL!! I highly recommend if you have a smaller guest list than we do. There are so many possibilities for this venue and the owner is super cool.  Very throughout website too.

Hickory Lakes in Pickerington, OH – I’m not even going to link to their website because it hasn’t been updated since 2003 or something.

When we headed here, I told my fiancé I doubted we would choose it because I couldn’t really see much from their site and when we first pulled in I just saw the shelter and picnic tables.  – Wow was I wrong! They have a few different locations on the grounds. We chose the Oswego Lodge.  It can fit almost 400 comfortably and theres an option for indoor or outdoor by the lake. A great bonus for this venue is the indoor/outdoor fireplace!

Another tip – Don’t judge only by what’s online. There is so much information in a venue contract you’ll definitely want a copy before you are set on a venue.

Once you go meet with the owners or event coordinator you will find out a ton more information you’ll need to consider while planning such as:

  • Alcohol requirements (Allowed, Do they purchase, do you?)
  • List of Preferred vendors (Our venue allowed us to choose from a list of 7, Cheers required you to use them, this is something you MUST consider, especially when it comes to budget)
  • Equipment (Whats included, Where can you rent from?)
  •  A LOT MORE!!!!!!

Anyway, as I mentioned, we went with Hickory Lakes. They were about the same price wise, size was a bit of an issue but not huge. It ultimately came down to the fact that Hickory Lakes atmosphere fit the carnival theme.  I’ll have to get some pics the next time were in to show you guys.

That’s enough for now.  Date. Venue and Photographer. You’re 3 necessities to get going.



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