Choosing the right venue for our wedding was a tough decision! Wherever you choose to get married really sets the tone for the day, and it's important to make sure the location checks all your boxes in terms of what you want. We wanted a venue that could host both our ceremony and reception, with a space to get ready, hotels nearby, and of course, great locations for photos ! An all-inclusive venue wasn't at the top of our list, but we knew it could make the planning process easier, so we looked for that as an option, too.
When we first started looking at venues, we didn't really have a set budget. We wanted to see what some of these venues offered, what their pricing looked like, and go from there. We almost imagined it would help us create a budget. You would think that being such an integral part of the wedding industry would have prepared me for the cost of getting married, but I'm happy to say that planning a wedding has really opened my eyes to what my couples go through to make their wedding day the day they have always dreamed of!
We knew we were leaning towards more of a rustic venue, but we didn't want a country-themed wedding. Our vision for our wedding was something out of a Southern Weddings magazine - classic, timeless, and elegant, with a beautiful southern backdrop!
Our first stop was Cross Creek Ranch in Dover. Cross Creek Ranch is an all-inclusive venue just outside of Tampa that caters to couples looking for a rustic-chic vibe for their wedding. They have a variety of ceremony locations to choose from, including the most beautiful open-air chapel. The chapel can also be used as a backup location should it rain on your wedding day, but keep in mind, there is an additional fee attached. The reception area was a beautiful barn with endless possibilities. Cross Creek Ranch is also an all-inclusive venue, meaning the cost of the entire wedding is wrapped up into one bill, and the entire venue team works together to make your dreams a reality. We loved the venue, but after sitting down with the team to discuss their various packages and costs, we realized it was going to be way over our budget, and we decided to keep looking for the perfect wedding venue.
We checked out a few other wedding venues in Tampa from the comfort of our own couch, because y'all, wedding planning is exhausting and time consuming! A few of the ones up for consideration were:
Covington Farm in Dade City. This was literally one of the most gorgeous wedding venues I have ever laid my eyes on. It was like something out of a Nicholas Sparks movie. Big, beautiful oak trees, a huge lake that boasts some of the most beautiful old Florida sunsets you'll ever see, and the most grandiose white barn are just a few of the many wonderful things about this venue! The owners, Barbara and Bud, are two of the nicest people I have ever met, and I was so thankful to speak with them for a few minutes during a shoot there not too long ago! Unfortunately for us, Covington Farm was a bit too far out of our budget, and a bit larger than what we really needed, but I'm so grateful that I get to recommend this venue to some of my couples!
The Lange Farm - aka Stonebridge Weddings & Events - was one of my favorite venues, and I thought for sure we would end up booking our wedding there, but we felt that it was a little too upscale for what we wanted, and was a little bit out of our budget. They offer so many options for your ceremony and reception, and the photo locations are endless! I'm just dying to shoot a wedding there!
Waller Ranch was another barn venue in Dade City that really piqued my interest. It's a huge open barn (with air conditioning, because Florida!) and a really great clean slate to make your wedding exactly what you want. It was just a little too large for us.
If you grew up in Central Florida, you might remember taking a field trip to old McMickey's Farm as a kid. Turns out, they built a wedding venue! The Barn at Crescent Lake is a beautiful red bar in located in Odessa. It's so quaint, and really gives off some country rustic vibes. It didn't really fit the aesthetic of our wedding, but it might for yours!
We discovered so many quaint little barn wedding venues in and around the Tampa area, but none of them seemed to quite fit the bill. I remember showing Josh a beautiful all-white barn venue that was kind of in the middle of nowhere, and he didn't seem super interested in it. Being the good listener that I am, I booked a venue tour the next week.
The Orange Blossom Barn is seriously the cutest venue I have ever laid eyes on, and their packages are incredibly reasonable! Their all-inclusive package, called the Happily Ever After, includes the venue itself for your ceremony and reception, x-back vineyard chairs and farmhouse tables for 150 guests, all of your tableware (plates, glasses, and silverware) a photographer, florist, and DJ!
We knew we didn't need the included photographer, and we chose to hire our own florist and DJ, so we met with the owners, Casey & David Norwood, and they created a custom package to fit our needs for our wedding. We included the upgraded x-back vineyard chairs (my big splurge for the day because I think they are gorgeous!) as well as the farmhouse tables and tableware, and the venue itself also includes a quaint cocktail hour space, a beautiful ceremony arch under gorgeous oak trees, a super cute air-conditioned bridal suite, a fire pit, lawn games, and a wooden bar area. There are some other super-fun elements we're incorporating into our decor that I don't want to give away just yet, but I'm so excited to make the space ours for the big day!
Ultimately, your wedding venue should be a reflection of what you envision for your wedding day! Be sure and read up on some of the questions you should ask potential venues (How many people can they accommodate? What is their cancellation policy? What is their backup plan in case of rain? How long will you have the space on your wedding day? Are there any restrictions as far as decorations go, such as candles, sparkler exits, etc?) There are so many articles out there with guides on what to ask, those are just a few of the big ones!
Brides, I would love to hear about your wedding venue search! What venues did you love, and which venue did you end up booking? I am just loving this planning process so much, and I hope my tips help!
I'll be spotlighting our photographer soon, so come back and read more!