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When my brother and sister-in-law were planning their New York wedding, they spent marathon weekends scouting potential venues, 10 at a time.  Armed with a multi-page checklist, they left no gazebo unturned.   They locked down a site, DJ and photographer before news of their engagement had time to reach the cousins.  And that manic intensity is what led them, ultimately, to calling off the wedding.  Kidding!  No, it’s how they crafted their flawless dream wedding at The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

Photo by Daniel Krieger

Nice, right?

Now, over on the left coast, you have me, Dave and Viv.

During the 11 months that we’ve been engaged, we’ve seen three venues.  Scheduling site visits around naps, mealtimes and bedtimes (not to mention The New England Patriots) admittedly limits our scope.  But do not pity us.  While young Viv may be a hindrance to efficiency, her keen eye for both form and function more than compensates.  She’s like our own mini wedding planner (MWP).  Here’s what we’ve learned from MWP so far:

1. Customer service counts!

While we toured a golf resort in Ojai, the wait staff provided a kiddie cup of water and an artful array of banana slices.   MWP approved.   Clearly, this establishment knew a thing or two about pleasing the customer.  Unfortunately, it was a bit outside our budget (must be all those free bananas), plus Dave said he’d rather not get married on a golf course.  I don’t know if that’s because he doesn’t play golf, or because he fears someone will blurt out “Noonan!” during the vows.  Moving on.

2. Layout matters!

At our next site, in Manhattan Beach, I had Viv strapped to my front in an Ergo baby carrier, so what I immediately noticed was that the venue had a lot of stairs.  Too many.   Not only did a full flight separate the dining room from the ballroom, but the bride (that’s me!) would have to descend stairs to the ceremony.  As I huffed, puffed and teetered through the tour, I figured that hefting an 18 pound baby was a good proxy for wearing a binding floor length gown and sky high stilettos on the big day.  MWP veto.

3. But can they handle emergencies?

At a 1920s home in Palos Verdes, Dave and I met with the wedding coordinator while MWP frolicked on the empty dance floor.  We were relying on the old parenting adage, “you can’t fall off the floor” — except somehow, Viv managed to bonk her head on it.  The gracious coordinator proffered an ice pack quickly and apologized unnecessarily.  I liked that.  The bride is always right, even when she’s brought her baby and is failing to watch her.   But Viv’s dance floor misadventure called attention to the venue’s one flaw – no furniture in the ballroom means the old people can’t watch the young people dance.  Probably a no go for us, as we have lots of old people and we still believe we are young people.

The search continues, but Mini Wedding Planner has been so helpful, it’s a wonder my brother and sister-in-law were able to do it all on their own.   If you know any engaged couples who have the misfortune of being childless, MWP is available on a consulting basis and her hourly rates are very reasonable.


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