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Hitched: Our Wedding Venue Fell Through 20 Days Before Our Wedding

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Of all of the many things I worried about before our wedding — dreaming of accidentally getting huge, hideous chest tattoos or enduring painful silence at our karaoke reception — one thing that never occurred to me to worry about was, “What if our wedding venue falls through 20 days before our wedding date and we have to find an entirely new location at which to get married, two hundred miles away from where we live?” I should have known better.

I should have known when our whole venue cost $300 and getting basic information out of the proprietors was like pulling teeth that we were making a bad decision. I should have known that “We’re doing some remodeling throughout the next few months” would mean “On your wedding day.”

Shouldn’t I have known that? Maybe not. Maybe you can’t plan to suddenly not have a place to get married after you’ve been planning a wedding for eight months.

I thought it was a hilarious April Fool’s joke when on Sunday, we met our day-of planner, Tracy, at our venue to walk through the whole evening and she was all, “By the way, did you know the entire swimming pool here has been dug up and it’s a construction site?”

Did I know fucking what?

By this time, Hitched readers probably know that Patrick and I are having a tiki-themed wedding, specifically an “enchanted tiki wedding,” which is why we originally thought it’d be a great idea to have our nuptials at Dallas’ Fraternal Order of Eagles, a local social club and swimming pool. Enchanted tiki wedding at the swimming pool! What could be more perfect?

Certainly not “enchanted tiki wedding at the construction site.” That is not more perfect. Rebar is neither enchanted nor tiki.

On Sunday, Tracy and one of my bridesmaids walked me through the bar to the backyard, where just weeks before had stood a beautiful Olympic-sized pool complete with a glistening water cannon. Previously I’d toured the site with my parents, during which time no one there thought to mention to me that they’d be draining and digging up the entire pool and the yard would be turned into a dirt pit rimmed partly with an orange construction fence.

I stood and stared at the giant hole in the ground where the beautiful tiki pool had once been. I put on my sunglasses so nobody could see me cry. I lit a cigarette. And I let other people handle that shit.

The most important thing I learned over eight months of wedding planning is that sometimes it’s okay to let other people take the reins. Delegating duties out to people who have different talents or schedules can take a load off a stressed bride, and lots of times, people are happy to help.

So what I did right then was delegate dealing with our venue to everyone who was not named Andrea Grimes, because I didn’t want to become the lead in a daily newspaper story the next day: “An Austin woman, 28, was booked for misdemeanor assault 20 days before her wedding.”

Right then, I figured my talent was going to be sitting the fuck down, and everybody else’s talent could be dealing with it.

The most frustrating part was that our venue didn’t really care that they had completely screwed us over by not informing us of their huge remodeling plans — they’re not a traditional wedding venue, and it’s no problem for them if nobody ever books a wedding there ever again.

That’s how I learned the second most important lesson of wedding planning: sometimes, paying for the real thing is totally worth it. When we booked the F.O.E, Patrick and I thought we were getting a great deal with an unusual venue. What we got was an unreliable bunch of folks who were difficult to get answers from and who were totally un-invested in helping us throw a great party. We tried repeatedly to ignore those things and look on the bright side, until we were looking at a pit in the ground.

What could we do? We had 50 people flying in from out of state who’d already booked flights and hotel rooms. We were 20 days from our wedding! There was no moving it. We couldn’t get married at a construction site. It was time for action stations.

With Tracy’s help — and a day-of planner is yet another financial investment I am so relieved we made, seriously, don’t try to go without one if you can help it — we spent the whole of Sunday afternoon calling, e-mailing, Facebooking and Tweeting everyone we knew who worked at or owned a bar, gallery or music venue in Dallas. And we got quick calls and e-mails back from accommodating, motivated people ready and willing to help us out in a pinch.

It was a total 180 from the apathetic treatment we’d gotten at our previous venue. Dealing with event professionals from the beginning would have saved me one of the most stressful and maddening experiences of my life.

In the end, we were able to book of our favorite Dallas bars — Club Dada, if you live in town you need to be seeing shows there every week — and now we’re going to get married in an enchanted tiki rock club wedding.
So I’m definitely no longer worried about the karaoke reception.

Contact the author of this post at Andrea.Grimes@Gmail.com.

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