Venue Viewing Virgins

The ball is rolling. We bit the bullet and viewed our first venue this week. We’ve had a particular venue in our heads for a few weeks and I was determined to see that one and know how we felt after a viewing before confirming any more.

The venue was Hinterlands, an event space in the Baltic area of Liverpool and the sister venue of Constellations. Its selling point is its industrial feel and blank canvas aesthetic. You can do to it what you like. The warehouse vibe is exactly what we’re going for.

How do you choose the way your wedding should look? This brings us to…

WEDDING GUY-LEMMA 3: WHAT DOES A SAME-SEX WEDDING LOOK LIKE?

Who knows? Shouldn’t everyone’s wedding look different anyway? No one wants their wedding photos to look like a carbon copy of their friends’ or relative’s big day… same staircase, different dress. So we go to any length to find that exciting venue for photo backdrops, to make interesting table decoration choices. Basically we do our best to out-do the last wedding we attended by correcting the mistakes others made… it’s like a preemptive “Don’t Tell the Bride”

We haven’t actually attended many gay weddings in the past but that doesn’t mean we can’t preempt and use what we’ve learnt from the straights. Our visual can be just as unique as any other but not because of the fact we’re two men. It’ll be different because we’ll make it uniquely us.

Gay doesn’t have a designated aesthetic; we don’t have to wear crop tops and hot pants and everyone doesn’t have to come wearing colours of the rainbow. Though if that is your choice feel free. Just like there’s no rule for what a straight wedding should look like. There are straight weddings with the bride in control that end up looking like a drag brunch thrown by Liberace, with feathers and jewels and more campery than a night out down Old Compton Street.

The difference we are finding is that by removing the lady in the long white dress, the picture is altered and a lot of venues are already styled to accommodate a white dress being photographed with their white chiffon wall hangings in the background. I think Liam still secretly fears I might turn up in one such white gown. No hun, not this day, I’d only wear a wedding gown if I could go backless and I’m not at my target weight.

We started talking about barns originally, which led Liam to suggest something a bit more unusual and more industrial. Jackpot. We realised we both love the idea of the industrial setting: exposed brickwork, vaulted ceilings and rustic decor. A rough and ready setting to make beautiful with the things in it, decorations and table settings. That’s right up our street!

Liam suggested Camp & Furnace, which is a contender, but I have a bit of a thing about club venue toilets so I shall have to do my best Kim Woodburn inspection of them. We looked at Constellations too but sadly they are closing in March cos Fat Joe (Anderson) loves clearing plots of land to build more housing. (I don’t actually know if that building project has anything to do with Fat Joe but he’s getting the blame anyway!)

But most people don’t know that hidden in the heart of the Baltic is Constellations’ sister venue: Hinterlands. As I’ve said its a blank canvas, a monochromatic warehouse space with splashes of greenery growing in strategic places to add natural colour without paint. I love the space.

There are 4 main areas:

  • The entrance space with bleachers of integrated seating that doubles as a large display staircase
  • The mezzanine level with domed ceiling, its own bar and a wall of greenery seating up to 80 comfortably as a potential ceremony space
  • The main event hall which is huge enough to house Dolly Parton’s wig collection or James Corden’s ego, but not both at the same time. This open space boasts another large bar, toilets (very clean, I checked!), vaulted ceilings, overlooking gallery, original concrete warehouse floor and crisp white walls – it is a great opportunity to decorate a room however you like.
  • The Eclipse Theatre, a blackout venue seating up to 150 for ceremonies and capable of hosting up to 300 for a concert style gig (I’m not sure I’ve remembered that right :/ sorry!). This room is lit with festoons, fairy lights and up lighters to give a really alternative feel to a ceremony or an intimate feel for a party. It has another bar and yet more toilets.

The venue has everything and the staff are really helpful and excited about weddings so it’s definitely on the shortlist. We have two main reservations right now though…

1. The price is pretty standard for a wedding venue, but as it’s an event space not a full package venue catering comes as a separate contract with another supplier so there will be the added cost of contracting another company. The isn’t the benefit of the reductions you usually get in the likes of the hotel packages where venue and food come in one deal. For clarity, Hinterlands have Relish Catering based on site who are the recommended caterers and any other companies can be brought in at the cost of a kitchen buyout as is pretty standard across all venues. The perk of Hinterlands being a blank canvas also means a lot of decor would be needed to bring our vision to life which needs to be factored into the overall budget. None of this is enough to scratch it off the list but it’s a matter for consideration in budget planning. We have to remember we’re likely to have up to 150 day guests and most likely in excess of 200 in the evening!!!

2. We haven’t seen anywhere else yet. It would be remiss to settle on the first venue we view. Yes, I wanted to view Hinterlands before anything else but that’d be like settling for the first pair of shoes you try on without considering the shop next door might do the same shoes for half the price and throw in a spare pair of laces. The prince tried Cinderella’s shoe on all the maidens in the land before meeting his bride. I always wondered why he didn’t just look at their faces to recognise the girl he’d danced for hours with. To be fair he might have had a few jägerbombs and couldn’t remember… And yes – this shoe analogy has spiralled out of control.

This is in no way a diss of the venue… we love the venue and our wedding would be amazing there! The hesitation is a greater consideration: one about budgeting and planning and it’s about finding a balance between the aesthetic and the practicality of entertaining in large quantities.

So to summarise, Hinterlands has made a strong pencil mark on the shortlist and we’re making plans to view a few more places to make an informed decision. Our venue cherry has been popped, now I need a fag and a lie down.

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