Last Saturday, we started the search for our wedding venue. We've been pouring over magazines and websites for the past few weeks trying to determine at what venues we would like to schedule meetings. There are so many options in Nashville, but many of them look like rustic barns. While a rustic barn is beautiful, it isn't exactly the feel we want. We keep saying that we want the wedding to be modern Nashville meets timeless Paris. It is also important to us that the venue be beautiful as it is - we don't want to have to bring in tons of flowers, candles, props, etc. to make it beautiful.
The #1 choice for us that fits those criteria is Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. Last May, we took a date night out to check out the Plensa exhibit Cheekwood was hosting. We spent the evening walking the grounds, admiring the beautiful art, listening to live Spanish guitar music and just enjoying being together. We both walked away from that night feeling like Cheekwood was the place where we would eventually want to be married. There is something so romantic and peaceful about the property. It's only about 10 minutes from downtown Nashville, but it feels like a world removed from chaos and noise.
Despite all its beauty, one of our concerns with Cheekwood was budget. Would we able to afford this gorgeous property on our own? We are paying for the wedding with no help from parents or family and are adamant about not going into debt over a wedding. We are trying to walk through this entire process with slow intention and patience, being prepared to make decisions on where we can save money as dictated by a budget. Still, we felt that we had to schedule the meeting, tour the property and get the information.
We knew going into the meeting that we wanted the reception to be in the Frist Learning Center courtyard. The only drawback we could see with this choice is that we would need to pay for a separate space for the ceremony. Little did we know, the Frist Learning Center has a separate ceremony space that is included with the rental for courtyard. The ceremony space is hidden away on the other side of the building with a stunning open law and staggered stone wall. The staggered stone wall would make a perfect background for the wedding party - monochromatic and masculine, but still beautiful with touches of shrubs and wildflowers. Behind the guest seating area, the space opens up to views of the sprawling Tennessee hills. There is also a small cocktail hour space where guests could mingle before heading to the reception courtyard post ceremony. We were very excited to know that this budget friendly option existed and it started to feel like Cheekwood is a much more realistic option that we imagined.
In addition to the space itself, Cheekwood has a lot of other pros. Our preferred caterer Chef's Market is on their suggested vendor list, but you can use any caterer. All alcohol has to be provided by Cheekwood, but their bar set-up cost is very reasonable. There is plenty of space for the wedding party to get ready in close proximity to the ceremony location. There are plenty of bathrooms for guests - no porta potties needed. You get access to the grounds the entire day of ceremony for photos. The hours for vendors to get in and out are great - no need to have to rush to get everything torn down before midnight. The only con that we could find is that they don't really have any audio/visual resources. We would have to bring that in on our own, which isn't really a huge deal, but some other venues in town do have more in that department. Maybe we're romanticizing it, but the pros far outweigh the con here! We would like to say a special thanks to Taylor Guardino at Cheekwood for taking time with us and answering all our questions.
We are still doing our due diligence and checking out a few other places, but it's really going to be hard to beat Cheekwood! Stay tuned - we'll blog more on our next venue meeting soon!