So here it was, Tuesday morning, May 11, eleven days before our wedding. In eleven days, 240 people were going to be ready to celebrate and dine and boogie with us, and damned if I knew where we could make that happen.
Then at work, Kelli IMs me and I can tell she's feeling me out. Was I going to cry if anyone else tried to make vaguely encouraging suggestions about the wedding venue situation? Yes. Yes I was. She sends me a link to a blog post on Ashley's Bride Guide, a local wedding site. It's an article about local event venues with availabilities during the next few weeks, for any weddings that had been displaced by the flood. Mostly the places mentioned in this post are barns in Franklin, nothing we'd really be interested in, but then, in one of the comments, a mother-of-the-bride is talking about her daughter's wedding, which was originally scheduled for the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall on May 22 (that poor girl. My heart goes out to you, whoever you are...). The mom says they've looked at three places as possible alternatives: the Parthenon, the Opera building, and Houston Station. She says that Jeff with Houston Station was wonderfully helpful and supportive even though they ended up going with the Parthenon. I quickly googled Houston Station and was flabbergasted. My heart was pounding when I called Jeff to ask how soon we could come take a look. Emily and I went over there right after lunch and I was completely smitten.
Houston Station is a renovated hosiery factory, located near the Fugitive Art studios, between the baseball park and the fairgrounds. I had no idea this place existed until that morning. They only finished their renovations and started hosting events in October. It is HUGE. We would be able to comfortably transport our entire wedding (ceremony, popcorn hour AND reception) into this space just as we'd planned without having to change a single thing. Basically it was everything we'd hoped the Farmers' Market would be, except with nicer bathrooms, a bridal suite and valet parking. Exposed brick, hardwood floors, burlap lining the interior walls, a long wall full of French doors opening out onto a terrace just a few yards from the railroad tracks.
Emily and I sat down with Jeff after walking around and talked through details. It was pretty clear that everything was going to work perfectly, but we still hadn't talked price. He showed me a ballpark quote that was three times what we had been scheduled to pay at the original venues. My heart just about collapsed. I went back to the office and wrote out an email response to the price quote in which I basically begged, pleaded, wallowed and beseeched Jeff to take less than half of his named price. I have never been comfortable with bargaining but with this wedding I apparently had no qualms about offering an insultingly low fee to vendors who I respected and was dying to work with. And it was totally working! After a particularly heartracing bout of phone tag (remember, my phone wasn't ringing this whole time, just voicemail alerts), Jeff, after checking with his business partners, said YES.
Austin and I (okay, plus a smallish entourage of Shan, Casey, Trent, Brandes, Bethany, Anna and Tracy) went back the next day, Wednesday, so Austin could see the place (okay, I wasn't very well going to broker a contract without his approval) and so we could sign on the dotted line. Everyone was so excited and encouraged about this new plan, and so were we. I left the venue with an endless To Do list and boundless energy. I was a woman possessed. Ten days out, and we had a wedding to plan!