Step One: The Venue

I found my dream venue before I was even engaged. The Northwest Baptist Seminary in Tacoma, Washington was perfect. My sister and matron of honor, Ranelle, found it for me. It’s right on the water, has an outdoor and indoor venue (Washington weather in June is iffy at best). It was within my budget and when I emailed them, I found out my date was open!

… but there was one major drawback. Recently, Northwest Baptist Seminary had merged with Corban University, becoming the Corban School of Theology. and since Corban is in Oregon, they were looking to sell the Washington property. They had the date open, but didn’t know if they would have the property still in June.


That started months of anxious waiting for me. If you haven’t heard, everything about your wedding depends on your location. From who caters (some places require you to use certain caterers) to the style your dress should be (outdoor beach location? more flowing and carefree. Grand Church? more traditional and elegant) depends on the venue!

I waited to hear from their property manager about the fate of my venue. Would they have it? Would they not? I was freaking out. Every time my poor fiancée would bring up our wedding, I would nearly bite his head off. “I do not want to talk about it,” I’d say. Leaving him to think that I was regretting the whole saying-yes-to-his-proposal thing. In October, I was at a mission conference for YMI and the school had representatives there. I sent my brother-in-law on a reconnaissance mission. He asked the people if they thought the property would be sold. The girl replied that it might. “They have people coming in and out all the time looking at the property.”

That was the last straw. Even if they didn’t sell the property, I decided it was better for my sanity and the relationship between my fiancée and I if I looked for other options.

Now, finding a venue proposed several challenges:

1. I have a tight budget. I can’t afford a super swanky place with valet parking.

2. My fiancée and I have a large guest list. We’re planning on 200 people attending our wedding. It’s surprising, but there are not that many places that can fit that large number of people.

3. I wanted to get married in Tacoma. It’s where the ministry I work for is headquartered and a middle ground between my family who lives in Puyallup and John’s family who lives in Poulsbo.

4. My Christian faith is super important to me. I’m a missionary! And I wanted my brother-in-law to perform the ceremony. But a lot of churches are very picky about who they let perform ceremonies (as they should be, I understand) but I didn’t want my brother-in-law to have to jump through a bunch of hoops to marry my fiancée and me.

So I googled, Baptist Churches in Tacoma. Brian, the b-in-l, is an ordained Southern Baptist Minister, so I figured he’d have the least problems with a baptist church. I found Urban Grace Church.

The website was intriguing, the building beautiful, the location perfect, and the price, in my range. I showed my sister, who also looked at the place. We were liking it more and more. As a church, they believe in embracing their downtown location, and caring for the needs of an urban population. They open their doors to the homeless, the arts, the vibrant life of the city. They looked great. except their website had no pictures of the sanctuary. Did they have terrible lighting? ugly pews?

So my parents went and saw the place. They showed me pictures and it was beautiful. and the reception space was great.

But they were told that no dancing would be allowed.


I wanted dancing at my reception. and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice that. Looked like I was on the hunt again.

However, my lovely fiancée called the church, spoke with the building manager who told him that my parents had been misinformed by the young man showing them around. Dancing was allowed! Now Urban Grace was back on the table and in a big way.

Two weeks later we booked it!

Suddenly, I was cheerful, excited, willing to talk about the wedding again. My fiancée was happy, sharing his fears from my introverted nature earlier. I laughed at him. It was never about you. I was just stressed about the venue. But I vowed to myself to not make him feel that way again… we’ll see how that goes.

Step One: The Venue, Check! June 18th, Urban Grace Church, Tacoma, Washington- Stiffler-Velasquez Wedding is happening. : )

3 thoughts on “Step One: The Venue

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