We have a site! My mother visited the Mavris Event Center today to sign a contract for July 4 of next summer.
This is a huge relief, because now all the pressure is off. We have a date, we have a place, and we can go on making other arrangements, much more slowly.
Maybe we (I) worried a bit too much - but dates seem to fill up fast. Our "small family wedding" will probably have 200 guests, so we're kind of limited in our choice of spaces, especially since we really didn't want a chain-hotel ballroom.
Mavris has its drawbacks - it's a bit more than we'd hoped to spend, and it's right next to the railroad tracks and the heliport. (On the other hand, this could be cool - while it's a bit loud outside, the owner says the engineers and pilots will wave as they go by.) It is, however, a delightfully easy place to be. The owner will pretty much do as much or as little as we want him to, and we have the facility for the whole day so we'll have plenty of time to do what we want. We were really impressed when we were there visiting as they were setting up for a reception, and his daughter reported that the caterer (who was NOT on his approved list) didn't know how to set the tables. He was very adamant that the idiot-caterer not be permitted to bother the bride. I have a feeling I'll really appreciate that sensibility next summer.
So here's what it looks like (these pictures are stolen from the Mavris webpage, because somebody forgot to bring her camera on the site-hunting tour). It's a 19th-century grocery depot, later a plumbing warehouse, which the current owner (Mr. Mavris) converted into an event space. There are three levels of big, open space, and he has almost anything we could possibly want to rent. (The railroad tracks are to the left of this picture. There's an underpass, so our guests won't be delayed by trains.)
Inside, it doesn't look much like a warehouse anymore. This seems to be the starting point for decoration, and I doubt we'll need to do much more. No renting a dance floor here - everything is lovely hardwood. The "Groom's Room" on the third floor is frighteningly nice, equipped with a pool table and a big-screen TV. I may have to choose bridesmaids who are big enough to drag Aaron downstairs, should he forget about the ceremony.
But here is what really sold us on the place - the garden. This is off the second level of the building (with the railroad tracks and heliport just beyond the fence). It's not a huge garden, but a bit of green space downtown is nice, especially on a warm summer night. And there's a lovely view of the city skyline.
And see that building on the right, with the blue band around it? That's where they shoot off the 4th of July fireworks. Around 9:30 - right in the middle of our reception. If I were doing the spare-no-expense wedding (or any other event, really) of my dreams, there would be fireworks. It's so cool that the city will provide them for us!