And so the wedding planning begins.

I told myself I’d wait until after the holidays to really start thinking about it. “I want to savor my engagement,” I replied to anyone who asked about a date and location.

But when I talked with friends, it felt like I was in an echo chamber of anxiety.

“Venues book up so fast!”

“You better set a budget!”

All the questions stressed me out and turned this seemingly manageable task into a gargantuan one. So I have been spending my free time doing online research on venues.

On the wish list:

A nice ceremony space or someplace close to the church.

No ballrooms, unless it doesn’t look like ballroom.

Tents are OK, but we’d prefer the reception be indoors so weather isn’t a factor.

The place can’t feel like a wedding factory.

Wanted: unexpected, modern or scenic spaces. Not wanted: Anything that feels cliche.

Reasonably priced.

It’s a lot to navigate, especially considering many venues don’t list prices on their websites. And there is a wide range of what comes included in the bottom line price. Linens? Chairs? Food? A wedding coordinator? A tent?