To backtrack just a bit, during that week when we were sticking to Plan A, I got one of the sweetest and most generous phone calls of my life. Mike & Mindy Grimes, two of my favorite people on the planet, called me (on a three-way call so that they could both talk) to offer us The Basement as a potential wedding venue. The Basement is a wonderful music venue (underneath Grimey's Record Shop), and it's definitely one of our special places. I thanked them both so much and said I hoped that we wouldn't need to take them up on their offer.
So after I got off the phone with Paul the caterer, fourteen days before the wedding, we sat on the couch in a daze and started to brainstorm Plan B. The Basement was easily at the top of that list. We tried to picture it, the party we'd originally planned, transplanted to this (admittedly small) venue, and it just could almost work. We talked through the possibilities: ceremony on the porch, dinner in the parking lot, dancing on the patio. Casey and Trent drove straight over there to give us an estimate of the size of the parking lot. It seemed like enough room. I called Grimey and he said we could make this happen, that we'd meet on Monday and go through the details.
I called an emergency summit at Shan's house the next day (on her birthday, bless you, Shan...) and all the best ladies gathered around to brainstorm. Everyone left with newly assigned duties and the hope that we were going to pull this plan off. There were some details that were going to be a stretch, for sure. We'd have to hire parking shuttles and try to find a nearby parking lot to borrow for the evening. There would no longer be a traditional processional; most likely we'd just walk down the fire escape from the back door of the record shop. Space was going to be tight for the dessert buffet and the bars. We kept reasoning, people will be understanding, they'll be forgiving if it isn't very convenient or graceful.
Sunday night I went to bed feeling overwhelmed but hopeful. Monday afternoon I met with Mike at the Basement, and it was clear that we had an uphill battle ahead of us. I measured the parking lot and it was just never, ever going to fit 240 guests seated family style. We tossed around ideas for bistro tables or benches. Maybe some tables could go in the (gravel) alley? I started to realize how much of our original vision for the wedding would fall by the wayside if we had the party here. I went back to work after taking some pictures of the parking lot and pretty much fell apart.
I've said that between 4 pm that day and 11 am the next morning was my worst time of the entire wedding-planning process. I was despondent. If someone had poked me gently in the shoulder I would have burst into tears. I was trying so hard to not be a drama queen, to not waste a generously offered last-minute venue when that was what we needed most. That night we went bowling with our Emma league and I tried to shake off my big black cloud, kept telling myself that we'd work it out, that whatever we ended up doing, it would be okay. But in my heart I knew, if someone had told us a year ago that we'd pay $20,000 for a crowded buffet wedding in a parking lot, we'd have walked away.