Welcome to the second installment of my new series, which gives the groom's perspective on planning a wedding!  If you missed the first one, click here to get caught up.  Today is all about finding that perfect place where everything else will take place.  That's right, here's the tale of how we found our wedding venue.

Much like the ring, this is something Robyn had been looking into well before our engagement was a reality.  Don't get me wrong, I was there when she wanted to share something with me; but I kept from getting too serious about looking for a venue until I knew that a proposal was in the near future.

I often find myself in a state of "don't get your hopes up"-type thinking; and, unfortunately, that attitude transferred to venue-shopping.  Early on in the process, Robyn showed me the Web site for Della Terra Mountain Chateau in Estes Park.  The location made a lot of sense, since we love to head up to Estes Park for quick romantic getaways as often as possible.  Plus, the photos of the venue itself were incredible.  But, as I mentioned before, all I could think was "It's too nice.  We'll never be able to afford that.  Don't get your hopes up."

Regardless of cost, I felt like I had a responsibility to do my due diligence and give several venues some attention.  We considered a few other places, from the Curtis hotel in Denver to the Tapestry House in Fort Collins.  I'll admit that I even briefly thought about the Agave Room above the Rio Grande restaurant in Fort Collins.  What can I say?  I like Mexican food!

As luck (or fate) would have it, the first of these venues we were able to tour was Della Terra.  I did my best to bury my ignorant cynicism about cost and tour the place with an open mind.  As soon as we walked in the door, I knew the bar was about to be set pretty damn high.

The first thing I noticed: the Web site was not misleading at all.  It portrayed an amazing venue because Della Terra is an amazing venue.  I didn't feel the disillusionment I expected to feel from seeing everything in person, compared to seeing the pictures.  It really is an amazing place.

The second thing I realized: this place is versatile.  There are several different spaces to work with, depending on whether we prefer outdoors or indoors.  We were also assured that if we were scheduled for an outdoor ceremony, and the weather turned bad, the indoor space could be ready to use in half an hour, tops.  I couldn't believe it!

Overall, Robyn and I knew we would have a very successful wedding at this place.  Then we sat down to go over pricing with our tour guide.  I clenched my teeth as I looked at the pricing breakdown, and then my worries immediately subsided.

It turns out that the cost to rent this venue is less than a third of what we thought it would be, owing to the fact that we want to get married on a weekday in March, and not a weekend in June or July.

Oh...did I mention they have a man-cave?  Yeah, they have a freakin' man-cave! A home theater on the lower level, complete with a giant projector screen and reclining leather sofas.  So my groomsmen and I can trow our tuxes on, and then play video games and watch movies in the hours leading up to the wedding, while the ladies are still getting ready.  Epic.  (See it here)

We left that day knowing that we wanted this place for our wedding.  But I, spoil-sport that I can be, still wanted to at least do some research on the other venues we were thinking about.

In one way or another, none of the other venues could measure up.  One place would have too many catering restrictions, while another wouldn't have the look we wanted, and another would want a lot of money for not nearly as many amenities.  And none of them had a man-cave!

We took one more tour of Della Terra a week later, armed with new questions and comparisons, and we still loved it.  So that's that: Robyn and I are getting married at Della Terra Mountain Chateau next year!