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[Photo: Blueberry Photography]

For the longest time (as in long before DL and I got officially engaged), I was in love with the Montclair Women’s Cultural Arts Club in Oakland. It was my super secret dream wedding venue. In fact, I made it a point to not tell anyone where my dream venue was because I didn’t want anyone in my circles to “take” my venue. I was that dead set on having our ceremony and a light reception there.

Cut to a few months ago when I finally worked out our wedding budget – this was when I realized that my dream venue was going to cost an arm and a leg on top of our Chinese banquet and everything else we needed to pay for. It was a sad, sad day.

So after looking and looking, I short listed the Berkeley City Club. This is a historic hotel built by Julia Morgan (the famous architect who built Hearst Castle and a bunch of other famous buildings throughout the SF Bay Area). Although it’s just a couple blocks away from UC Berkeley, it is quietly secluded from all the crazy college kids. In fact, many of my college friends had no idea that this place existed even though they had walked past it so many times.

Long story short, here’s what I fell in love with:

  • Its history, beautiful architecture and antique furnishings gave it an awesome vintage vibe.
  • The event coordinators were great to work with – super responsive and accommodating.
  • There was a ton of space where guests could walk around and hang out.
  • It was available on the date we wanted.
  • As a UCB alumni (who’s a paid member of the alumni association), we’d get a 30% discount off the venue rental – this is the factor that nearly sealed the deal for me. Since I paid for my alumni membership, I’ve been trying to find one “perk” to take advantage of. It would have been awesome if this would have been it.

With all of these pros, I was ready to put down a deposit and sign the contract…..but something didn’t feel right about the total cost of booking this venue. Say, didn’t I have an awesome discount? Well, yes. However, this discount didn’t include food (there’s a rather large minimum for Saturday events) and parking arrangements (a necessity since this is Berkeley we’re talking about). While we could have accommodated these extra costs, I didn’t really want to allocate the money for it. For one thing, I didn’t want to serve a lot of food after the ceremony because of all the food we’re having at the reception. IMO it would majorly suck of people were too full to eat dinner.

So instead of booking it right away like I had planned, we decided to slow down and look at some of our other options….to be continued.