The Historic Post Office is one of my new FAVORITE wedding venues in the Hampton Roads area! It’s so gorgeous outside (all the heart eyes for the teal blue window panes and gorgeous architecture), but the inside…ya’ll!! It literally takes my breath away! I’m so grateful that when it opened last year, Kelsey stepped up and became the venue manager there. She was once a wedding planner, and understands the need for happy mediums between gorgeous details, and well thought out logistics! I’m BEYOND excited to have her on the blog today chatting all about picking the perfect wedding venue!! Enjoy it, and check out some gorgeous images of the venue, and the gorgeous shoot I got to work on with her, and a fabulous crew of wedding pros! Thanks so much for stopping by, Kelsey!!

How-To-Pick-Your-Dream-Wedding-Venue-Kelsey-Leeper-Historic-Post-Office-Hampton-Virginia

Your partner has finally popped the question and now…you’re officially engaged! Congratulations! Besides feeling a sense of surreal delight, you probably also feel a sense of overwhelming frustration because now that the engagement has finally happened- you don’t know where to begin in the process of planning a wedding. Well, let me make things a little easier for you: start with the budget.

The budget puts everything in perspective and eliminates a lot of options for you, making it easier to narrow down your choices by shortening the list. Once the budget has been established, the next big step is (and in my opinion, the most important one) choosing the perfect venue to host your special day! Begin with this question: where does it make the most sense to have my wedding? Choose a location that is easily accessible for your significant guests. It is also important to choose an area with needed amenities like lodging, restaurants, and activities for guests who might be traveling from out of town. Once the general area is decided upon, begin researching local venues on sources like TheKnot.com. Remember, shorten the list of venues by only looking at venues within your budget!

Historic-Post-Office-Wedding-Inspiration

Historic-Post-Office-Wedding-Inspiration

Once you have a list of 8-10 venues established, begin shortening the list by removing venues that do not have big items on your “wish list”. Your wish list should be made up of things like outdoor/indoor space, ceremony and reception space, occupancy number, a bridal suite, handicap accessibility, catering requirements, etc. Anything else that you find very important to you and your partner, add it to your “wish list” and put your “must haves” at the top of the list!

The deep research begins once you have a solid list of 3-6 venues established. Now, it is time to bust out the phone or the computer and begin reaching out to the venues for more information. BE READY to ask questions. You can find a lot of information about venues by visiting their websites or by giving them a quick call over the phone. Begin collecting all of the information you need in an organized chart so that the venues can be easily compared. Out of your 3-6 venues; choose about 3 to make touring appointments for. These are your TOP choices and offer things that are vital to you and your partner.

Historic-Post-Office-Wedding-Inspiration

When touring venues, be prepared with additional questions to ask the manager. Also, spend time just roaming around the area envisioning your perfect day being held right at that spot. If it’s easy to envision and feels “right”- then it might just be YOUR venue. Once all of the logistics fall into place, let your heart make the final call.

Don’t make searching for a venue stressful or frustrating. Follow these steps and save time to enjoy your engagement with your partner! Also, please use the comparison chart I developed for my brides!

  1. Establish a budget
  2. Eliminate venues that are way out of the budgeted amount
  3. Chose an area/general location
  4. Eliminate venues that are not in that general location
  5. Decide on several “must haves” and put them at the top of your wish list
  6. Eliminate venues that cannot provide the “must have” accommodations you need
  7. Only tour your top 3 venues that match your budget, location and “must haves” from your wish list. Make sure to ask plenty of questions and create a comparison chart when visiting venues.
  8. Let your heart make the final decision because you have already eliminated choices that are logistically not compliable with your wedding!

Historic-Post-Office-Wedding-Inspiration

Historic-Post-Office-Wedding-Inspiration

(Couple’s portraits and venue pictures were taken by Chelsea Anderson Photography)

Kelsey-Venue-Manager-Hisotric-Post-Office-Hampton-Roads-Wedding-Venue

Hi, friends! My name is Kelsey and I am a full-time wedding/event creative here on the beautiful Peninsula of Virginia. I began “adulting” when I first got a full-time job as a middle school science teacher but I soon found myself longing for a change in career paths. I caught the planning bug after organizing my own wedding in 2014 and soon began my own event coordinating business in 2015, Kelsey Ann Events LLC. After a year and a half of teaching and planning weddings on the side- I was ready for another major change in my life- I wanted to get into the wedding and event industry full-time. I contemplated taking my small business to new levels but then I stumbled upon the opportunity of a lifetime in Hampton, VA. I soon became the venue manager for a brand new event and wedding venue called The Historic Post Office and my dream of entering the wedding industry full-time became a reality. Being the venue manager for this building has challenged me in so many new ways but has brought me to a new level of happiness. When I am not in downtown Hampton, you can find me in my quaint home in Gloucester with my loving husband, two cats, and a new puppy. All in all, I’m just a girl who has a deep appreciation for Kate Middleton, pinstripes, ginormous blooms, pretty things and the rare lazy days with my loved ones.

Connect with Kelsey!

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baby-nora-is-here

They say it’ll be easier the second time around right? Well whoever said that…may have been stretching the truth a little bit. Nora’s pregnancy was…an interesting one. Josh says it’s because girls are hard, but I refused to believe it and still do. After all, James was difficult in his own way, especially after a unicorn pregnancy until several scares at the very last minute (Read his birth story, here). I guess he was just ready to come out (and that’s true James-form to this day…”My way or the highway.”). But Nora’s pregnancy was certainly different. Morning sickness was through the roof the entire 9 months, fatigue was at an all-time high making it very difficult to complete even the simplest tasks, the pregnancy became high risk as I became very anemic halfway through, I was put on bedrest on and off throughout the pregnancy, and at one point, the doctor’s were even concerned about her heart. Despite my hope to have a vaginal birth with her, the doctors strongly advised a C-section half-way through the pregnancy to keep both mom and baby safe, as I was higher risk. That decision made feel me sad and helpless, no doubt, but I submitted, and we went with the plan. Thank God everything turned out okay, and we’re so grateful, but I will say that Nora’s pregnancy represented a difficult season for me. On top of that, James was about to turn two, and he was becoming more and more active, expressive, and individualistic than ever (cue the EXPLOSIVE temper tantrums ya’ll…). I never knew I could be so tired! Keeping up with a toddler while growing a human, running a full-time business, AND trying to deal with Anemia to boot, it was tough! Nevertheless, her presence was a gift, and a major light…God’s light…in my life in what seemed like a very difficult time. I counted down the days until my baby girl, Nora, would arrive and I still remember that day like it was yesterday.

April 10, 2017…Gameday. 4 am…The alarm went off and I woke up with Josh to prepare for the adventure ahead. Our bags were already packed,  and headed out the door, full of excitement with a hint of anxiety. My sister, Hannah, flew all the way from California to wish us well and keep James for the entirety of our hospital stay (so grateful for you Hannah!). We arrived at the hospital and headed upstairs to the Labor and Delivery Unit to check in. This time around it wasn’t nearly as stressful as we had gone through a C-section with James, and for the most part, I knew what to expect. Josh and I felt so calm and so hopeful that our baby girl would arrive safely. After some quick paperwork, we were whisked back to the holding area where they prepped me for surgery. Before we knew it, some of the family had arrived. Josh’s mom, my Aunt Chloe, and my dad all showed up to wait with us until it was time to get ready for surgery. They were encouraging and prayed over us. Before we knew it the doctor came in to get me. Dr. King, our OB this time around, was so funny and encouraging, and we trusted him 100% to take care of me and baby Nora. They rolled me back into surgery and left Josh to get ready.

I got into the OR and suddenly had flashbacks to nurses running around and the doctor exclaiming “We need to get this baby out NOW,” during James’ emergency C-section 2 years ago. But things we so different this time. The nurses were so calm, music was playing, people were smiling, and even Dr. King was dancing and singing. The anesthesiologist gave me a Spinal, my entire body went numb, and before we knew it, surgery had started. Shortly after the procedure began, they brought Josh into the room, and he sat next to me. He held my hand and sat with me while Dr. King was hard at work bringing our baby girl into the world, cracking jokes, and singing along to the Anthony Hamilton track in the background. After about 15 minutes of cutting and pulling…my beautiful baby girl emerged…with a head full of hair! Well, that was certainly a surprise! They took her over to the weighing station and cleaned her up a tiny bit so that Josh could hold her. They brought her over to him and when I saw her my eyes lit up. She was the most beautiful little baby in the whole wide world (besides James of course :-D)! All was well, or so at least we thought. They soon told us our little baby girl was having a lot of trouble breathing and would need to be observed a bit before they could release her to us in the recovery room. Once they finished up the surgery, they wheeled me back to the recovery room, and Josh went to give the exciting news, and announce her name, to the family. After he returned we received news that no parent ever wants to hear, “Your baby is going to need to stay in the NICU…”. She was still struggling to breathe After what seemed like forever in the recovery unit, and a few uterine massages (trust me, these are anything BUT actual massages), I was taken back to the room where we would remain for the rest of our hospital stay. At this point, the family had made its way to the room and the congratulations came pouring in. It was official… our family was officially complete.

Josh made his way back to the NICU to see our baby and report back on how our little one was doing and of course take pictures. He returned a few minutes later with a bit of a sad look on his face and explained she was okay but hooked up to tons of tubing and equipment. It’s tough to see your child breathing through a tube…trust me. More family came by to visit, wondering where the baby was and we had to let them know she was in the NICU. Our family was understanding and supportive which helped ease my mind a bit but as you all can imagine, the worry was in full effect.

After some promising reports of potentially getting her the next morning, our hopes were dashed a bit when we were told that our little one would be in the NICU for a few days. A few days?! Yet another thing no parent ever wants to hear. Even though I was still recovering from major surgery, I was determined to see my baby! I pleaded to go see her in the NICU and after some convincing, I was able to get wheelchaired down to the NICU with Josh to see my precious little girl. Sure enough, they wheeled me down and parked me right next to the cart she was laying in. She was surely a feisty little one…you can guess where she got that from :-). Everyone in the NICU was astonished at just how much hair she had. It was a silky, black “hat” of hair! The doctors allowed me to hold her for the first time, and to say it was magical is a complete understatement. Even with all the tubing, she was perfect. My heart was so full, and my soul was complete. After spending some time with her I went back to the room for some well-needed rest.

The next day, an answered prayer came our way–her tubing was out, and she was starting to breathe on her own. They allowed me to nurse her for the first time, and let me tell you…it was magical. I had a VERY difficult breastfeeding journey with James, but Nora just latched. And of course, I instantly started crying. Throughout the day, she continued to get better and the doctors assured us that she would be in our arms permanently in a couple days! After about three days of nerve-racking waiting to get our baby girl, and countless trips back and forth to visit her, and nurse her in all hours of the day and night, they finally released her to us from the NICU. The staff of the NICU were wonderful and took great care of our little princess. We were so grateful for their diligence to ensure Nora could return to us a healthy little baby girl. We were even more grateful to have her for ourselves.

That moment when James met Nora for the first time…yes…I cried!!

And there it is, the story of us. The Lord completed our family with the “joyful light” that is Nora. We can’t imagine our world without her in it. Our lives will never be the same, and we never want them to be.

All professional photos were taken by the lovely Chelsea Anderson Photography.

Don’t worry…a separate post with our full Newborn Session is coming soon! You don’t want to miss it, ya’ll!

For more Confessions of A First Time Mama posts, Click HERE!

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