Adventures in Wedding Venues: Thinking outside the Church

So there is a funny aspect of weddings in Panama City. Venues are limited to say the least. For the wedding, people usually marry in their church or on the beach. For the reception there are only a few choices. And if you don't want to spend an exorbitant amount on the venue price, even less options.

As for the church, I grew up at Holy Nativity Episcopal. Its where I went to school until middle school (5th grade was as high as it went back in the day), and its where I went to church, and still do whenever I am home on a weekend. I was active in the youth group and my parents are still active as ushers and choir. (Mom sings - Dad is COMPLETELY tone deaf!) [Oddball side thought: We call my mother the Momma Duck, and yet when she goe to choir practice we say that she is Squawking. Why in the world don't we say that she's quacking??] I am a confirmed Episcopalian and Adam is by default. Like many others who attend Episcopal services, he was raised Catholic, grew up enough to question the teaching, and decided that he didn't agree. Old Joke: Episcopal is like Catholic-lite - all the service, none of the guilt! :) Anyway, we knew we wanted to get married by Fr. Steve, the priest at Holy Nativity.

That does not mean, however that we wanted to marry in the church. Holy Nat is great, really, but when they built the church, someone had the "bright idea" of making it modern. Its wood, but sort of whitewashed. There is stained glass, but it looks out of place and wouldn't be seen in any pictures. There is a choir loft (from which this photo was taken), but the acoustics are not great and they choir can't be there and hear the organ/piano, so they don't use it. Its a nice enough place, but a bit blah for our tastes. I've seen it all dolled up for celebrations and weddings, its just not "us". There are some beautiful churches in Panama City, but I feel a little fake moving my wedding and priest to another church for aesthetic reasons. So we started thinking outside the church.

One of the popular trends for weddings right now is to have them in a cool museum or art gallery. I love that idea! one problem.... did I mention that this is going to be in Panama City? Notosmuch with cool museums or art galleries with fun or modern aesthetics. There are some great art galleries, but they are hole in the wall places normally.

How amazing is this wedding? Its in the Chinese Rotunda section of a history museum in PA! (Image courtesy: Wedding Bee - Ms Candy Corn) In that same museum is a reception hall that is within the Egyptian Mummy section!! Check out the blog post credited above from Ms Candy Corn for more venue porn / pictures. ;)

Next idea: Garden weddings are beautiful! And talk about saving on the florist bill - who decorates a garden!? Unfortunately, all the gardens in the area are a bit English. The Queen could have tea and be very happy that the roses aren't mixed with the tulips, and certainly not associating with any of those crazy tropical flowers!! Of course, its the tropical flowers I love. I saw one garden wedding picture (that I cannot find again for the life of me, so if anyone knows which picture I am talking about, and where to find it, please tell me) where the hedges made a low maze path that the guests stood in. These paths all focused in on one open area where the marriage occurred. It was beautiful and everyone had a good view! If I remember from the blog, the couple actually did the ceremony progressively in a circle so at some point they were facing every one of their guests. What a fun idea and great way to really make your guests feel included!

Now enter the idea that made me hate my newest sister-in-law. (Mind you, I don't hate her at all, but I would have been happier had she not pointed this out to me!) Marry in the backyard of the house I grew up in. When we moved to Panama City, everything was dirt cheap. My parents bought a lot on the water and built a beautiful house for not that much. Its the house I grew up in and what will forever be the building form of "home" to me. The backyard has a pool and a gazebo in the trees! Just past the pool the land slopes down to a flat backyard that extends to the beach and the water. Because of the sharp angle of the hill, my parents built stairs into the far left side. Everything left of the stairs is garden and trees. My mother is a master gardener and her flowers spill over the side of their territory and edge out onto the stairs. To the right of the stairs is the green slope, and the flat expanse. Further to the right are more oak trees. (We have huge oak trees - this is the south.) I wish I had pictures to show you. My parents bedroom was on the first floor, at the far left side of the house. So they had what my newest SIL pointed out to be the perfect set up. I could use my parents room and bathroom for the ready room for all the girls, and then come out their sliding glass door which leads right to the beautiful stairs that go down the backyard and then through the chairs we set up on the flat grass and right up to Adam, standing right under the huge oak tree limbs. We could have the cocktail hour up by the pool while we take photos and the flat grass is reconfigured into the dinner and dancing set up. I love it. It is my dream wedding in a beautiful place I know intimately. One problem. My parents sold the house and moved into a condo 2 years ago. I could literally cry right now thinking about it. I mentioned this to my mom once not too long ago, she said she's look into in in-case the new owners would be willing to take their kids to Disney for a week or so. She never brought it up again related to the wedding. She did however say that the new owners had gutted our house and it was totally different. This tells me 2 things. 1 - that I am pretty sure she asked and was told no. 2 - That she was heartbroken about the house too. She's an interior designer who designed every inch of that house from her heart (except my room: You know how the son of the preacher is the most amoral kid? Right - I'm the daughter of the interior designed - I hate things that match.)

Ok - I didn't intend for this to be a two part post, but this is getting awfully long! Next up - I review the options for combined wedding and reception locations.

Oh yeah - wacky and wonderful aspect about wedding in hometown with priest we know, Fr Steve loves to sing Karaoke!! He was the lead singer for a band before he went to seminary so he's actually really good. And he's going to sing "Mustang Sally" at the reception!! God, sometimes I love being from a small town. :) Anyone else have a celebrant adding in their wacky traits?