Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Picking a place to paaaaar-taaaaay

For better or for worse, Johnstown and the surrounding areas only have a handful of venues that matched what we were looking for, either in aesthetics, driving distance for our guests, or size to handle the crowd we're expecting, making our reception research quite manageable.  When all was said and done, we had three realistic possibilities, all sprinkled around Johnstown.  I contacted all three sites and got some basic information about the facilities and their wedding services.  Here's the run-down:

Venue 1: Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center, downtown Johnstown

This location would definitely be large enough for our expected guest list (and then some), plus it's got a healthy dose of nostalgia since it also hosted the Snow Cones' high school proms.  Unfortunately, downtown Johnstown isn't the best location for outdoor photos, as it's cement as far as the eye can see, and the Center offers big, empty, sterile spaces that would require a lot of time and effort to really jazz up.

Venue 2: Sunnehanna Country Club, Westmont neighborhood of Johnstown

This venue has a great setting for outdoor photos, and is quite familiar to my family, as we've been members for 20+ years.  Unfortunately, the ballroom would just fit our guest list, the decor isn't necessarily my favorite, and some could argue that it has a typically pretentious country club air about it. 
Venue 3: The Living and Learning Center at Pitt-Johnstown, Richland neighborhood of Johnstown

Image via UPJ Geology

This is the only venue on our short list that allowed us to bring in our own alcohol, which could save some bucks, and it's super close to our guests' hotel rooms.  It's not uber-conveniently located in relation to our ceremony location, and it feels very manufactured banquet-y instead of personalized reception-y (if that makes any sense).  

After a bit of deliberation, we decided to actually go visit Sunnehanna Country Club.  Even though Mr. Snow Cone and I had been to Sunnehanna about a bajillion times beforehand, I demanded requested that we go do an official walk-through, you know, with our "wedding eyes" on (Hey, I figure you only get to be a bride once... which means you only get to look at potential reception venues as a bride-to-be once.  I wanted to do this up right.  So sue me.).  Thankfully, he and my parents both "get" me and my need to plan this wedding the way a wedding "should" be planned, so the four of us traipsed off to Sunnehanna to take a gander... you know, an official gander.

Once we got to Sunnehanna, we met with Denise, the club's wedding and event coordinator.  She was super energetic, enthusiastic, interested, involved, creative, open-minded, accommodating, and the list goes on and on.  I don't think she uttered the word "no" a single time during the meeting.  We brianstormed menu, decor, layout, and scheduling options for the big night, and I really felt like she was hearing as opposed to listening, and she was eager to help us to create an awesome reception.

I have no doubt that Sunnehanna is the right spot for our reception.  Just looking at pictures like these makes me want to grab a pen and starting writing down ideas for our own party:

All 3 above images via Sunnehanna Country Club

Mr. Snow Cone and I left that meeting, discussed Sunnehanna for about 3 minutes, and decided it was the right location for us.  I guess what it all boils down to is that we felt very... taken care of at Sunnehanna.  It didn't seem like a big money-making operation; instead, it seemed like a venue that was genuinely invested in helping you create the reception you truly want.  

Did you find your winning reception venue on the first try?  Or did it take a bit more work?

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