- 5 years ago
- Wedding: July 2013
Like every other aspect of our wedding planning so far, the hunt for a wedding venue took many turns before we found the one.
Long before we were engaged (we’ve been together 7.5 years), we talked about the idea of a destination wedding – something small, just our immediate family and best friends, spending a week on a beautiful island beach. We quickly realized it was far out of our budget, and too much to ask from our friends and family (many of whom do not have a lot of money).
So, our next idea was the beautiful Berkshire mountains in Connecticut. My aunt lives there, and we go there every holiday as well as several “just because” trips throughout the year. We considered Club Getaway, a short drive from my aunt, because I had been there SO many times as a child. It, too, was far out of our budget (plus their lodging is a bit beyond “rustic” and may not be appropriate for some of our guests). Plus, we lived in central New Jersey, and my aunt’s area is 3 long hours from us.
But, we clung to the idea of the mountains – so much of my childhood was spent in the mountains, hiking, camping, canoeing, etc, and my Fiance is an avid backpacker with goals of section-hiking the entire Appalachian Trail.
We decided to check out the Poconos in PA (they are much closer to us than the Birkshires), and my family had stayed at Split Rock Resort many times over my childhood. Plus, they now had an indoor water park! So much to do, our guests would not just be attending a wedding, but embarking on a mini vacation! I hadn’t been there in over 15 years, but walking in gave me a FLOOD of nostalgia – I remembered EVERYTHING in an instant. It was amazing. But, being such a huge resort, I felt that our smallish wedding (we wanted to stay below 100 guests) would get swallowed up and we would not quite feel “special” surrounded by so many other resort-goers.
So, I hit Google for “wedding venues in the Poconos.” Soo many were large hotels with elegant ballrooms tucked away indoors. Sure, they had beautiful views from the lobby, but nearly all the ballrooms had no windows. What was the point of being in the Poconos if you could not see the mountains? I could find a beautiful windowless ballroom right here in NJ. Plus, these sorts of venues were not as private as I’d have liked; there would be other hotel guests all over.
Then we found Mountain Springs Lake Resort. It, quite literally, took my breath away. Stunning, magestic, beautiful. Part of it was a resort, where you could rent cabins on a lovely private lake that offered fishing, canoeing, and you could even go out on it in your own tiny private boat (each cabin rental CAME with a boat to take on the lake!). Then they showed us the Wedding Ceremony Site, next to a second, smaller, private lake that would have no boats or fishing guests in the background of our pictuures. I was struck speechless for the second time in about 15 minutes. The elegant reception room had gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the private lake. It was a dream come true!
Then we talked details, and everything crashed. 175 guest minimum. We could have fewer guests, they explained, but we would still need to pay for 175 guest minimum, even if there would only be 90 meals. I seriously considered expanding out guest list… But now I was treading so very far away from our original idea of a small, intimate affair.
So I decided to get my Dad’s opinion (he was helping us with some of the costs of the wedding so I wanted his approval). We drove with him to see Mountain Springs Lake as well as our favorite of the “hotel/ballroom” venues. The price difference was astounding, but, as my dad pointed out, so was my reaction to each place. He told me it was my choice, but I had to weigh whether doubling our guest list and spending so much more was really worth it. His opinion was that neither of these places would be our venue. MSL was beautiful, but the sacrifices to have our wedding here were too high.
I wanted to cry. My dad was totally right, MSL could never be the venue for the wedding we have always imagined… We’d have to double our guest list, we’d have to take out a loan (something we never wanted to do), and we’d have to cut corners in probably every other area of our wedding.
So one last ditch effort, I hit Google again. There was one venue nearby that my Fiance and I hadn’t yet visited, and it was on our way home. I had given up hope, but my dad said “Why not at least drive past it… if it’s just another hotel, we don’t need to stop, but maybe it’s something different?” So we drove past…
Stroudsmoor Country Inn, definitely something different! Driving in we realized the property is HUGE… we followed the road through the property to the beautiful Ridgecrest wedding site, which is perfectly named. A beautiful gazebo sits on a ridge overlooking breathtaking mountain views… Amazing. My dad said “you’re getting married here. This is it.” and my Fiance and I agreed!
Well, we went into the office, and as it turns out Ridgecrest ALSO has a 175 guest minimum, and they said anything smaller would make the beautiful ballroom on the cliff look empty. BUT, they have FIVE venues on site, Ridgecrest being one of the larger ones… We told them we wanted under 100, and they told us they had two venues with 85 guest minimum. They showed us Lawnhaven, which was lovely, but seemed sparse in comparison to the breathtaking mountain views of Ridgecrest.
Then they showed us Woodsgate with it’s “Woodland Chapel.” I seriously think my jaw hit the floor, and I saw the BIGGEST smile cross both my dad’s and my fiance’s faces…. IT WAS US. My backpacker/hiker fiance who has spent countless nights sleeping in the woods. Me and my dad with our family holiday hikes through the woods in my aunt’s backyard… THE WOODS. Why didn’t I think of it before? I was close with my ideas of the mountains, but never thought about the fact that what we LOVED so much about the mountains was the WOODS…!
They showed us the Woodsgate Reception room, beautiful and rustic, with stone and log walls, a beautiful spiral staircase, chandeliers made of actual branches, the beams ovehead decorated beautifully with dried grapevines… It was perfect. More perfect than lakeside Mountain Springs Lake, more perfect than Ridgecrest’s spectacular view.
Perfect because it represented US.
So here it is… Woodsgate’s “Woodland Chapel”
The “aisle” is a long cobblestone path through the woods…
I’m in LOVE.
So, Bees, how did you find your venue, and what do you love the most about it??
PS. I claim no ownership of these photos.. they are other beautiful weddings held at my venue!