Blythe's Wedding Diary, Part II

Everyone has a different idea of where to start planning a wedding, and no one is shy about sharing it. One friend told me every part of the day should complement my dress—I panicked just imagining a party for 200 that depended solely on my (limited) fashion sense. My dad suggested we start with a live band and an open bar and let the rest take care of itself (this turned out to be excellent advice). A recently married friend suggested figuring out a guest list and then finding a hall that fit it, or choosing a place we loved and only inviting the guests it could accommodate. Start with a budget, some said. Or a date. Or a season. We were overwhelmed before we’d even begun.

[sidebar]So we started with a town: the suburb I grew up in, to be exact. His Long Island-based family tells us how excited they are to see the “farmlands of Pennsylvania,” where I grew up (I think they’ll be disappointed: I’m from the suburbs of Philadelphia). The Presbyterian church where I was confirmed—and that my parents still attend—was built in the 1800s; its exposed beams, stunning stained glass, and raised slate altar are even more beautiful at Christmas, with towering trees covered in white lights at the front, rows of poinsettias on every flat space, and iron candelabras with white tapers at the end of each pew. We imagined a candlelit evening ceremony that guests would enter at the end of a path lined with luminaries, rich colors and fabrics draped everywhere, and comfort foods perfect for a cold winter’s night.

For the reception, we wound up at a country club built around the same time as the church, in a ballroom with a polished wood floor (it turns out I have an intense dislike for banquet hall carpet). Our adjoining cocktail rooms host oriental carpets and plush seating, every room has a fireplace, and we’ll dance under a two-story vaulted ceiling, painted with an elaborate, antique mural. It’s in the budget (yes, we figured one out before we started looking), it’s near hotels, it fits most of our guest list (but forces us to trim a little)—and best of all, it works with any kind of dress.