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I never understood why people didn’t like feeling like they were “in a fishbowl” – you know, when someone feels like they’re being stared at and judged. It sounds strange, but I actually used to crave attention. I grew up a theater kid, taking voice and piano lessons, auditioning for musicals and performing in plays. I loved being looked at and fawned over. I dared people to judge me because, secretly, I knew I was the best. (What a little jerk!)

Since I got engaged, though, attention isn’t really the friend I thought it was. At first it was kind of cool – people calling to congratulate us, give us their best, and offer their help. I’ve always heard that brides-to-be get to be the center of attention for a while, and I thought I was prepared.

Well, surprise! I wasn’t. Which is really interesting, because I guess I always assumed that I’d love being the talk of the family. The nonstop questions, well-intentioned-but-not-always-welcome suggestions, and ring-ogling that I’ve been facing over the past few weeks has already begun to wear on me. The questions, especially, have really been driving me up a wall lately. Who will the bridesmaids be? Will you wear white or ivory? Where’s the reception? I can’t answer all of these things just yet! I just want to take things a day at a time. That reception question is something I’ve begun thinking about a lot lately, though. We thought about setting the wedding date for next September (I like fall foliage, Tim likes the mild weather), but in the end we decided that we’re going to stick with our original thought – a May wedding. Our inspired reasons for this decision are as follows:

1. September is a whole year away! We don’t wanna wait that long!

2. Winter is too soon, and May is a slightly cheaper wedding month than June.

3. The sooner we can combine funds and share insurance, the better.

Hey, sometimes you have to be a little practical. Even the most romantic couple in the world needs money to buy those roses with. And let’s face it – coughing up a lung because you don’t have health insurance isn’t exactly sexy.

So, since we chose May, we really need to get on the ball. It’s only six months away!

Before we were engaged (all of two months ago), Tim and I discussed what our perfect wedding would be like. We both had the same vision: small, fun, simple, and inexpensive. Not at a “wedding factory,” like so many couples opt for. Maybe a backyard barbecue with just family and a few close friends, a tent rental, and an iPod with all our favorite songs for dancing.

As it turns out, that will never happen. First of all, whose backyard? My parents just laughed when I brought the idea to their attention, and Tim’s parents didn’t exactly jump for joy at the thought of tons of people tearing up their yard. Scratch backyard barbecue. Then we counted our family members up, and we were floored. Between the both of us, we would have to invite a minimum of 100 people. Apparently, we both come from enormous families! Where was all that food going to come from? Scratch small…and inexpensive. The wedding factory thing suddenly started sounding like a good idea.

We still don’t want something typical, though. I’ve had a bit of time to research local places online (The Knot.com and Hudson Valley Weddings.com were useful resources), and I found a few possibilities. I haven’t gone to see them yet, but here’s what I’m thinking so far.

Millbrook Vineyards and Winery – Millbrook , NY

I saw this online, and it sounds really cool. We’d get the whole upper level of a barn to ourselves, and it has a huge, beautiful window overlooking the vineyards. It’s also pretty rustic looking, so we’d get to really make the room’s décor ours – which I would love to do. I’m definitely a do-it-yourself kind of girl, and Millbrook kind of tickles that side of my personality. The prices are reasonable, too — $200 per hour, which is nice. No caterer included, but that’s easy enough to find.

Locust Grove, the Samuel Morse Estate – Poughkeepsie, NY

I grew up right around the corner from Locust Grove, and have been there so many times. The grounds are beautiful, and it’s nice and close to my parents’ house. I never knew, though, that they rent out one of their buildings for special occasions! They also have a big window, and the room that they use for weddings looks gorgeous. I’m going to meet with someone next week to discuss pricing . . . I’d really love to have the reception here.

The Garden Cathay Resort – Wallkill, NY

I’ve never heard of this venue before, but I really like the look of it. It’s all Asian gardens outside, and the entranceway is pretty and inviting. It’s also family-owned, which makes me think that they put more care into their catered events than other places. There’s also overnight accommodations available at a discount, which is nice, and – hooray! – catering is included in their prices. They range from $40/person to around $80/person, which sounds pretty reasonable as far as Hudson Valley prices go. I also found a few more interesting locations, including The Bear Mountain Inn (the main lodge is currently closed for renovations, but a few of the smaller ones are still open), West Park Winery and Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz. I’m going to collect more info and visit these places over the weekend. Hopefully it’ll go well.

I’ll be reporting back on my findings next week. Wish me luck!

-Laura =)

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