Sunday, October 19, 2008

Venues: Dana Powers House & Barn

Photo by Cameron Ingalls (check out a few more pics from this wedding here).

Beware friends, this will be a long one! Next on the list are the Dana Powers House & Barn in Nipomo. I'm pretty sure at least 18 people tried to tell me about this place, but early on in our search I read some really bad reviews about a Victorian house in this area, so whenever anyone would try to bring it up, I'd just disregard it immediately. That was until we met with Katie DiSimone (photographer) and she told us about the Barn attached to the Dana Powers House, and explained that there were 2 different Victorian houses. And bless her heart for clarifying, cuz this place is awesome!

So, first things first--there are actually 2 separate venues on this property--the Dana Powers House and the Dana Powers Barn. You can rent one, or you can rent both and have your ceremony on the lawn at the house and reception at the barn. We haven't been looking into Victorian houses much--most are smack dab in the middle of town, just off a busy street where everybody walking by can see you (no thanks). However, after seeing this one, I totally loved it, so I've included photos of the house portion here too. Side note: Nena was actually attending a wedding at the house the same day we visited, so we had a good idea of how everything looked with tables/chairs set. You can see all the DP House photos we took here.

Now, on to our true purpose for the visit: The Barn! Here are our thoughts:
  • Cost: Definitely at the high-end of our range, but there are a lot of things included here--everything from tables, chairs, and setup, to coffee, iced tea and lemonade. Judi seems happy to be highly involved in the planning and execution of the events held here--which is awesome, and makes sense since it's also her home.
  • The Look and Feeling: Oh-so-charming! It's a barn, but it's got just the right combination of fun with a touch of class. They still have horseshoes and a firepit, but they also have a grassy area on one side of the barn for the ceremony, and even a really nice bridal suite inside the barn for prepping.
  • Competitive Edge: I walked away feeling smitten! As far as the look and the amount of help you get here, we couldn't ask for more. Oh, and they also have this huge, beautiful, amazing Eucalyptus tree nearby (there are many, but one I loved in particular). This made me super happy because of all the time I spent out hiking at Montana de Oro while living in SLO (you drive through an awesome Eucalyptus grove to get out there).

Our overall impression: the Dana Powers Barn is currently holding the #1 spot. So, you ask, why in the heck haven't we booked it yet??!?! I know you're tired of reading about venues, but here are our reasons for hesitation (in no particular order):

  1. We realized this weekend that we're horrible decision makers. We also realized that we're not ashamed of this. The fact that it takes us so darn long to make a decision is because we're analyzers (hell, Raf gets paid to be an Analyst!) We want to identify and weigh the good, the bad and the ugly of our options. The good news: we never regret the decisions we make. Thus, I'm cool with moving at the pace of an ancient sea turtle. It also helps that I believe that everything happens for a reason--therefore, if something books up because we took too long, no worries, it wasn't meant to be our place.
  2. Time restrictions. Music has to be off by 9:30, and you need to be out by 10pm. This has been our biggest hesitation. While I don't think we have a huge party crowd, we're not keen on the idea of asking people that have traveled so far to celebrate with us to clear out by 10pm. And the ceremony here would start at 4pm, so it's not like they've all been sitting around since 1 or 2. On the other hand, Cayucos Creek is the only place we've found that will allow the party to continue into the late night hours. We've already thought of some ways to make up for the early end time--taking the after party to Mongo's (a big bar that has fun live bands) in Grover Beach, or planning a Sunday brunch or wine tour that everyone is invited to join. There are ways around it, but we're still not stoked.
  3. The barn is setup so that most of the reception activities take place inside--dinner, dancing, etc. I was really looking forward to an outdoor event, so the fact that only the ceremony and the cocktail hour (which we'll miss--and I'm very bitter about!) are outdoors kinda bums me out. I was also envisioning a family style dinner--ideally rectangle tables, close together, passed food, etc. The barn is setup with rounds surrounding the dance floor, so everyone is pretty spread out. End of the world, no--but also not what I was envisioning. On this point, I've started brainstorming ways to get people back outside to enjoy the evening outdoors--namely: dessert!

(Really) long story short, we had pretty much decided on this place until I stumbled across 2 more sites this weekend (damn it!) We're interested enough in what those have to offer that we're hesitating once again...go figure! Oh well, such is the life of poor decision makers! :) More on the 2 new options to come...

You can checkout our Picasa album of the Dana Powers Barn here.


Jordan said...

Maybe the aunties can hit up Mongo's for some partyin. just a thought. the barn is beautiful though but I'm with you on the 10 pm thing. You think we could get daryl and lisa to leave by then?

Danielle said...

i told you!! I loved that place. I knew you were trippin!

Kristen said...

Hey there, we have the same situation with the place we're getting married at...we just think we'll possibly have an after party somewhere. If you're not getting married at a hotel, it's hard to get around pesky city noise ordinances, so the party has to end earlier than you'd like. Sigh.

One thought about your indecisiveness dilemma. A friend gave me a piece of advice that -- the more I think about it -- I think is really, really helpful when planning. It isn't always a bad idea to put a cap on your searching activities. There is always going to be something out there that could have been "better," but if you keep broadening your pool, it can sometimes dilute the pleasure you take in the decision you ultimately make. You're always thinking in the back of your mind that maybe if I'd just done this, or looked there, I'd find something better. You know what your cap is. And you'll have about a 1,000 decisions to make for wedding, so just do what you can to make a decision and be happy with it, and don't constantly second guess yourself. Anywho, I'm getting off my soapbox now. Miss you!

brooke said...

Kris-I know, I know! Trust me, we are fully cutoff at this point. We're willing to consider just a couple more options mainly because one of them is a rental house, so not only do we get the "backyard wedding" vibe, but we're hoping that even if music needs to end by 10pm, that people can still hangout to visit longer since we'll be staying there that night.

Honestly, it's probably less about the "party" aspect for us, as it is about allowing quality time and space for family and friends to catchup who have traveled long distances (Poland, Colorado, Oregon, DC, Connecticut even!)

I've sent a list of questions to the rental house to consider before we make another trip. If their answers don't work for us, then no worries, our decision will be made. Just a wee bit longer, I promise! :)

Smith - lazy said...

this is no way I'm reading all this

Anonymous said...

Where did you choose to get married? It seems we looked atall the same places...but I havent been able to find "The One" yet...would love to hear about the private house you found..

brooke said...

Hey Jas! "The One" ended up being the rental house I commented about in this string. It's called the Flying Caballos Guest House, and is in San Luis, right across the street from the airport. It was PERFECT! However, the manager isn't always terribly easy to get ahold of, and I know they get booked like crazy these days, so best of luck in getting out there to check it out!!

Cary Conrady said...

You ended up at Flying Caballos huh?! Question - did you still have to have all the sound off by 9 or 10PM? How did that work out? My biggest hurdle in looking at the Central Coast venues so far has been noise restrictions. And me not wanting to cut the party short, since our family and friends would be driving up all the way from San Diego.