Finding the Right Venue

So we were engaged! The ENORMOUS task of planning a wedding lay ahead of us. Part of me was thrilled to start doing something after pinning wedding ideas for so long, but it was also kind of scary. I had never planned a wedding before. I had never even been a part of a wedding before (besides doing music).  I didn’t really know the ins-and-outs of planning a wedding, so I did what any good student would do—I checked out some books from the library.

They weren’t particularly helpful but it was fun to read through wedding books and get some ideas. Truth be told, I didn’t actually have a specific vision for the wedding. I am crafty and I had some ideas but nothing was fully sketched. The wedding was a blank canvas and I was eager to start painting on it.

First things first: THE VENUE.

I spent most of my time Internet shopping for the right venue, skimming through reviews and searching for prices. I looked at several different places online but was scared away by the prices. VENUES ARE EXPENSIVE.

I mostly was looking at barns and outdoor venues. I had always dreamed of getting married in our pasture at my parents house, but parking was an issue. It wasn’t practical.

So I looked at area barns, but the places were either too small or too expensive. B and I even thought about getting married at the fair, where we spent most of our childhood together. But we weren’t sold on the idea.

So I started looking at fields. Random fields as I was driving back and forth from college. My dream started to develop. I envisioned a tent just plopped down in a field, hay bails and candles (inspired by Pinterest). Though if you have experience with hay or any knowledge of hay, hay bails and candles are not really a good idea.

Alas I didn’t know anyone with a giant field that was willing to put a tent on it, so that idea was scratched. 

I felt the weight of time on my shoulders. Most people plan wedding years in advanced. Dates book fast. I was afraid we would have nowhere to go.

I had stumbled upon this lodge online. It immediately intrigued me, because it was in the Valley. For those of you who don’t know, Ohio has a national park. I had spent a lot of my childhood hiking, biking, exploring and volunteering in the valley and I was looking to find a place that had meaning. This seemed to be just the place.

So I emailed Happy Days Lodge, got some information, and put their open house on my calendar. I was excited to go look at the place in person, hoping that it could be THE PLACE.

My parents and I were still off. They were concerned that B wouldn’t be able to support me and that I wouldn’t finish college. I was off at school, so I hadn’t seen my parents in awhile and I wasn’t sure that they were going to support us, but I invited my mom to the open house.

So that day was soon upon us and I drove to B’s house and we drove to the lodge. My mom was meeting us there. I was nervous. I wasn’t sure how the evening was going to unfold.

You see, I’m a talk-about-anything-and-everything kind of girl. Always have been. I don’t have any secrets—pretty much an open book. My family doesn’t roll that way.  Things aren’t always hashed out and laid in the open. So although I knew my parents concerns I didn’t know where they stood.

I was so nervous, sitting in the parking lot waiting for my mom. It had been raining all day and the sun had finally come out; a golden sun. A beautiful October evening.

My mom arrived, hugged each of us and talked about the day’s events as we headed into the lodge. (Still uncertain of what she really thought).

There were a few couples there, walking around talking quietly amongst themselves. I found the woman I had emailed and asked if she could show us around. She gave us a tour of the place, the porch, the reception hall and the nooks and crannies all the while our wedding unfolded.

It wasn’t a magical event, not a Disney moment. I was too anxious about finding a venue and too weary about what my parents thought and were they stood to find this to be an enchanting moment. But I was sold.

I loved the place, so did B. It was beautiful. It was perfect. Just right the size, just the right atmosphere, just the right location, just the right feel. I was in love and then soon on a mission to book a date. Brittany had left us to talk amongst ourselves. Everyone really liked it, including my mom so I quickly asked Brittany (our soon-to-be coordinator) what dates were available for the summer of 2014, which was only 8 months away.


So we explored different options (different options, who knew you could get married on other days). We thought about A Friday evening wedding. But people would be coming from work and maybe wouldn’t be able to make it on time, or would have to take off work. We thought about a Sunday wedding. But people from out of town would have to leave early to go back home and people would be coming from church.

To be honest neither idea seemed like a good one. I never expected not to get married on a Saturday, because everyone got married on a Saturday.

But we felt called to get married that summer and Sundays seemed better, so we looked at Sundays in August and Brittany put us down for AUGUST 10, 2014 and the date was set.

Things were still tense. Still didn’t know where my parents stood. We still felt alone, but we had a date. It was on the calendar and I felt so relieved.

B and I got in the car and headed back to his house, talking about the evening’s events, how we were feeling, what we were thinking, and off in the distance ahead of us were… two rainbows lit up by that October sun. TWO. If that’s not a sign I don’t know what is.

I heard God telling us, it will be ok, trust in me and I will lead you. This all has a purpose, in the end it will all be ok. He gave us hope, peace and strength. That night we drove away with a renewed joy.

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I love a good plain t-shirt, pizza, snuggling with my dog and hanging out with my husband. My mission? To speak truth and grace to help encourage other women to know they are never alone.

I'm Sarah Jean.

I’m the girl who came to realize the freedom in not being the author of my story.

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A mid-western girl who learned the freedom in letting go of my plans and walking in His. My goal is to encourage others on that path and point them to Him.

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