It’s been nearly four months since my fiancé proposed. I’ve finally gotten used to calling him that (rather than my boyfriend) and I’ve skimmed Pinterest more than I ever have.

When people ask when and where the big day is, we give general responses: June 2017 in Colorado. It’s not possible to give more details. We don’t know them.

And it’s not because we haven’t talked about it or explored our options. Ever since the day after he popped the question, we have been researching and scouting.

I never thought I would be the bride who was picky about choosing a venue. I always thought I would be happy with a church, a backyard, a park… really anywhere. After all, a wedding is a dream wedding because of the meaning– the fact that I found a man I want to spend the rest of my life with–not the precise location.

Yet when analyzing every component of a venue, it doesn’t seem so simple. Balancing a budget with a place that will accommodate out-of-town guests in a beautiful location, while having all of the friends and family we want to share the special day with, is actually very complicated.

We have hopped between wanting a small wedding that is more relaxed and affordable to wanting to share the day with more guests to still wanting a Colorado feel…and yes, the thought of eloping even crossed my mind because, heck, these massive parties are EXPENSIVE.

A wedding is special because of its meaning, but it is also a one-time occurrence. Part of me says not to worry about the details because all that matters is the groom and the start of our lives together. Another part of me says that it is a very special day so why undermine the chance to celebrate with all of the important people in our lives.

Yes, we have done our share of searching and thinking and cycling through “decisions.”

So I am here to give some “kind-of” advice to any brides out there in the process of finding a venue for her big day

1. It is okay to be confused. When speaking with my sister who is getting married in a month, she told me that she had also questioned if eloping was the best option. I have a feeling that at one point all brides get overwhelmed by the decisions, the price tags, and the options out there. Unless you have grown up knowing where you wanted to celebrate your special day, you will most likely hit the wedding venue sites: the knot, the wire, weddingspot, etc, and realize there are many more options than ever necessary. Confused? It’s okay.

2. Keep an open mind. My fiancé and I have looked into options I never would have considered. Heck, we have even looked into VRBO options and asked the owners if we could host a reception in their backyard. There are ways to keep weddings affordable if you expand your creativity. In addition, movies and stories tell us that when you see the venue your heart jumps and you know it’s the one. Finding a venue is not like finding a prince charming, and let’s be honest, finding prince charming is most likely not like that either.

3. Prioritize each piece of the event. You will most likely not find a venue that suits all of your hopes and dreams. Hence, you need to recognize which pieces are most important to you: location, sticking to your budget, the number of guests, the food options, whether it is indoor/outdoor, etc. If you find several spots that accommodate a few of your priorities, you are in luck!

4. Don’t be discouraged. I had to keep telling myself this. My fiancé and I are 90% sure we found our venue yesterday, but it took a lot of tours and hours of contemplation before finally crossing paths with one that suits nearly all of our dreams for the day. A venue is a big part of a wedding, but in reality, there is so much more. Planning a wedding begins once you choose the venue. You get to hand-craft decorations, send save-the-dates, browse Pinterest for more DIY ideas. You get to invite people who mean the world to you, you get to taste test food and make more decisions. And in the end, you are one step closer to saying “I do” to a man who you adore.

Find hope in this process–amidst the millions of venue options, the tons of questions, and all of the societal expectations.

I can honestly say I am excited to confirm plans with the venue we chose, but I also know that because we have chosen an “unexpected” location for our venue, some friends and family may question our choice.

This brings me to the last tip: Do what YOU want and what you feel comfortable with. Of course we all want to please our guests and have the wedding that other people save on Pinterest. However, when it comes to this special day in your life, you get to make the shots. Don’t let others influence the way you feel about the “spot.”

Good luck! And enjoy the process. Venue hunting is crazy…and sometimes even fun 😉

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