When friends and family first saw us after the news broke, the first thing they want to see is the shiny hardware, and the second thing they do is ask when the big date is. Well...we don't know. Although we have an idea of when we want to get hitched, it's not entirely up to us. Most of it has to do with the venue. There are a few limiting factors: availability, cost, and capacity. Many places get booked up more than a year in advance, so it takes a lot of work to come up with alternatives. Fortunately, I'm not one to have some grand vision of some fairy-tale wedding (too expensive and frou-frou for my blood). As long as the place is affordable yet pretty, not old and stuff, and is flexible enough to handle catering and entertainment, that's fine by me. Given how much the venue alone costs, I first looked to public parks and facilities. There are a few beautiful gardens and arboretums in the area. Some of them do have very good prices, though the hours for ceremonies are often limited (wanna get up early for a wedding taking place somewhere beetween 7 to 9 a.m.? How about literally chilling in the sunless garden after 6:00 p.m.?), liability insurance is required, and there may be limited electrical outlets (which puts a damper on the entertainment part of the party). Some community centers in affluent areas sound pretty decent as reception locations without breaking the bank. I then looked at museums, since I've always been into the more modern, urban, and minimalist style. The ones I've looked into so far strike out on account of capacity (can't hold as many people as we'd like to invite), costs, or potential complications for the catering staff. We then looked at the online brochures for hotels and country clubs, which have varying price ranges, flexibility regarding outside caterers and alcohol, and fees here and there. Some of the private venues, while more expensive than public spaces, can actually be fairly reasonable. In the course of my search, I came across a blog that is fairly helpful: My Quest for an Affordable, Unique Wedding Venue. There is a lot of information on a number of venues gleaned from emails from venue operators in the Southern California to prospective renters. This handles a lot of the initial legwork for me. Let the arduous task of driving around town to check out venues begin...

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