At WM Events, our planners and designers have produced hundreds of events, including weddings from large to small. So when three of our own got engaged recently, we couldn’t wait to see how each of them would fashion their own “big day.” We’re going to go through the process with Leigh, Tigest, and Olivia step by step to learn what it’s like to plan for yourself what you are an expert at planning for others. 

First up, venues. What’s important and how do you choose just one when you’ve seen just about everything? 

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Q: What was important to you in choosing a venue?

Leigh: I didn’t want to have to go anywhere between the ceremony and the reception or have to flip a space during the cocktail hour. I was interested in great parking (event planner mind) and a lot of flexibility to bring in a variety of vendors. A space that offered the possibility of being outside without having to rely on the weather for an outdoor wedding was a bonus.

Tigest: I’m Ethiopian, and I knew I wanted to bring in outside catering. Some spaces either charge a lot for that or don’t allow it at all, so that was an important factor for me. 

Olivia: Since my wedding is in Spain, where my fiancé Jordi’s family lives, it was important to find a location near them but also one where my close friends can stay. We wanted a space that was traditionally Spanish, including an outdoor option (with a tent in case of rain) and an easy parking situation was important to us. We loved the idea of being in a beautiful Spanish courtyard.


Q: How many venues did your visit or tour?

Leigh: NONE! Unless you count the hundreds I’ve seen in my 12 years as an event planner.

Tigest: We visited three spaces.

Olivia: Zero since our venue is in Spain, but we FaceTimed the venue manager, and Jordi’s brother went to see it.


Q: What wisdom can you share having been through this process as a bride rather than a planner? 

Leigh: I know a lot more weddings are happening this year than normal from the backlog of the COVID virus halting everyone’s plans. So getting the venue secured early was extremely important. I also think it’s helpful to choose a location nearby that is convenient for a quick visit or surprise walkthrough, say when your mom is in town for the weekend.

Tigest: There are some really nice spaces in Atlanta, and they all offer something different. When shopping around, read everything in the sales packet to see what is included with the rental. If you know what you are getting, you can avoid surprises along the way.  

Olivia: Obviously looking at the venue would have been ideal, but generally I would advise people to be aware of the food & beverage options, noise ordinances, and where the power is. Walk through the plan of your entire day in that space, and make sure it works with your vision. Being in the spaces that I show to clients gives me more confidence than I have in one that’s across the ocean. I second guessed a lot more and kept searching and searching, whereas in Atlanta I am much more familiar with the venues.


Q: How did you make your final decision and which venue did you choose? 

Leigh: Georgia Railroad Freight Depot

I’ve wanted to get married at the Freight Depot since we planned an event there in 2014! I love the historic significance of it to the city of Atlanta. Considering that Atlanta is only here today because the city was the “terminus” of multiple railroads lines, the Freight Depot is central to the development of the city. Also, Kirk, my fiancé is from Columbus, Georgia, on the western side of the state and I’m from Augusta, a nearly identical city on the eastern side of the state. I think it’s super cool that we met in the middle in Atlanta. And because we met creating street art, there’s a graffiti-tie in with trains that seems serendipitous. I also love the fact that the Freight Depot is about 8 blocks from my house!

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Tigest: Biltmore Ballrooms

When I entered the event planning world, I took a certification course at Emory that required a capstone project. I chose this venue to create a mock event at Biltmore Ballrooms. I thought it was the most beautiful space I had ever seen and dreamed of one day getting married there. Now I am!  

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Olivia: Villa Milagro in Valencia, Spain.

My relationship with my fiancé has been very tied to nature from the beginning, so renting a villa in the middle of an orange field in the mountains was a perfect fit for us.

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