It has been a few days, my friends. I’ve had so much to share with y’all, but not the time to do it. I’ve been (and still am) on vacation! It has been nice, but still overwhelmingly busy! I left New Orleans to head to Nashville to visit with my older sister and nieces for Memorial Day weekend, then headed up to my southern Illinois home for the week to visit with the rest of my family and work on wedding planning. Last weekend, my parents, little sisters and I all drove down to New Orleans, part of us in my mom’s van and part of us in my car, to take my car to New Orleans! I’ve been without it there for the past two years! It will be nice to actually be able to go places on my own now! After staying there for the night and doing some quick shopping with my sisters, we all got into my mom’s van and headed over to Florida! Blair and my nieces headed down from Nashville too, so we are all enjoying the sand, the surf and the sun this week. In fact, I’m sitting on the balcony of our condo listening to the waves crash and enjoying the beautiful view of the ocean as I type. 🙂

Although this post isn’t to talk about the ocean (I’ll fill you in on that later). Let’s go back to last week and the busy week of wedding planning that I had.

One of the most important things when it comes to wedding planning is figuring out where you are going to hold the shindig. When it comes to our wedding, we’d thought long and hard about this. My real dream was to have a backyard wedding. Although, my backyard could use a lot of work to get it into prime wedding shape. Plus, we weren’t sure where to park people, if the yard would be too muddy at that time of year, and where would we put people if it is pouring down rain? All of those being slightly large problems when it comes to creating a low-level of stress on your wedding day. It was going to be too much work and stress to try to go that direction with the wedding. We also considered just having the ceremony there and having the reception elsewhere, but I didn’t really want people to have to drive to separate places for both. I thought it would be easier and more relaxing to hold all the festivities in one location. Plus we would still encounter the same issues of rain/mud/parking/etc. at home just for the ceremony. And have to find somewhere we liked for the reception and decorate that too.

So…we moved on to a new plan. We tried to think of any places close to home that have pretty outdoors and then indoor areas for the reception to be held. That is when it hit us. (Cue in title) Southern Illinois is slightly becoming famous for its abundance of vineyards and wineries! They would have pretty, manicured grounds outside (that someone else would be responsible for keeping in shape) and also indoor buildings and also outdoor areas that are specifically for events and special occasions! How perfect!

That idea began a string of craziness to try to head to as many of the closest wineries as we could in the few short days that I was at home. My mom, my older brother, Blake, and I all set out on this quest. We made it to 7 or 8 or so of them, all roughly within an hour or so of my house. (We barely scratched the surface of the wineries in southern IL though, the more we went to, the more of them we realized there were. I think there must be at least 30 or so in Southern Illinois!)

Of the ones that we visited, several were too small for the wedding (as far as the indoor area goes) or had pretty vineyards, but not really much more than grapevines. One we saw and liked, but it was way too over-commercialized and expensive. I wanted something a little more simple, but still pretty and with a pretty view out over the outside. Only one of the ones we saw really fit this bill and it actually happened to be the first one that we went and looked at.

Bella Terra Winery. It means “beautiful land” in Italian.

Want a tour of the place? Good. Here we go:

Here is the view as you drive up. There are rows of grapevines on the right side and pretty views over the hills on the left side. Along with a pretty white fence.

White fence and hill views.

You drive up, pass the building on the grounds and park in front of this pond.

Here is the building on the grounds. Pretty on the outside with a nice columned wrap around patio/porch.

The porch/patio on the side has a view over the pond in the back.

There is also a nice sized two part deck on the side in front of the pond.

There is also a built-in bocce ball court. Although I have no clue how to play bocce ball.

The front patio/porch is pretty big.

Looking back at the front of the building, there are pretty doors that open into the inside.

The views out the front are really pretty.

There is a white pergola with plenty of space for seating and entrance of the wedding party down the aisle directly from inside the building.

With really pretty views behind the pergola.

A view of the hills to one side.

Views of the grapevines on the other.

Walking through the grapevines is pretty too.

The grapes all neatly in pretty little rows.

The outside was exactly what I wanted. Beautiful. Loved the white fence, the views, the hills, the pergola, everything. Although everything has a few downsides. In this case, it was the smallish inside of the building and its not-so-pretty decor.

It does only seat about 120 people inside. (and we currently have many more than that on our guest list) However, it does have additional seating outside on the porches and decks, so we should be fine, unless it pours down rain. They also didn’t have our original date that we picked available. So we had to move the date to June 2, 2012, the next weekend. But as Bob pointed out, 6×2=12, so an anniversary date of 6-2-12 should be easy to remember.

Anyway, we had to act fast if we wanted to reserve the place, so after thinking it over and weighing all the options, we went for it! We reserved it and set our date for June 2, 2012! Yay! We know where we are getting married! Now it is so much easier to know that the date is officially official and we can move on to caterers, photographers, decorations and whatnot! (All of which I did talk to and research last week as well–in addition to wedding dress shopping!)

  1. Love this!!! I have never been there but it’s not far from my boyfriend’s house. I will have to check it out. 🙂


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