The first major hurdle of my wedding planning marathon was finding a venue (well, aside from the type-of-wedding hurdle, the budget hurdle, etc). My fiancé and I probably consider ourselves an offbeat couple without explicitly stating it. He's been mentally planning his full-throttle, geek-themed wedding since he was wee. And I took forever to be ready for the institution of marriage.
We live in the great destination wedding state of Vermont. As such, I think we both pictured a small, rustic wedding, capturing the beauty that is everywhere around us, with no formal trappings, but filled with authenticity, fun, and loved ones.
For some people, the small, at-home wedding that is built from the ground up makes sense. Unfortunately for us, that wasn't an option — we live in a second-story condo. Our families live either a plane ride, or at least a full day's drive, away. With as much stress as I felt about trying to coordinate a wedding where I live, I couldn't imagine the idea of coordinating a wedding multiple states away.
We looked into the more bare-bones venues. Vermont has some lovely state parks. It started off looking good, but those spaces add up, too, especially when you're looking at bringing in caterers, getting comfort-seeking aunts and uncles to enjoy themselves on picnic benches, shutting down the music at sunset, and hotel rooms that are at least a half-hour away. If you want to put a price on your time, and especially if you consider the cost of the stress, even those simple places become surprisingly expensive.
We have visited small inns, and we have toured barns with beautiful ponds and fields. We learned about tent rental. And table rental. Linen rental. And don't forget about food, and something to eat it off of. We're not even thinking about thinking about décor or flowers yet; all we want is the basics of a place to be that captures the spirit of our lives and hopefully keeps out the [chill of a brisk autumn day or blistering sun of an equally-as-likely, freakishly-warm autumn day] so our guests can be comfortable.
Yes, my fiancé is exceptionally eager to carry his share of the wedding planning load, but between all of the factors (don't forget about making sure there's a hotel nearby for out-of-town guests!), it was spiralling out of control quickly. There was no way I'd be able to have my hands on all of those pots without having an absolutely miserable wedding planning experience. Period. I carry enough stress home from my job, and I believe firmly in self-care, so this new part-time job of coordinating a small circus was NOT in the cards.
Enter a popular ski resort/wedding destination. Oh, your venue fee includes tables, chairs, linens, napkins, dishware, flatware, bar set up, shuttles, parking, and coordination services? You have an onsite spa/salon? What, you have a bazillion rooms that people can rent with a discount, and I DON'T EVEN HAVE TO RESERVE A BLOCK? Your prices are more reasonable than somewhere (albeit more “mom and pop”) closer, with fewer amenities, and with less available nearby to keep my adorable three year-old niece busy in her down-time! (Did someone mention water park?)
Yes. A thousand times, yes!
In my mind, part of being an Offbeat Bride involves not really caring if we have super-unique table linens or the most original, down-tempo venue.
We got the feel of Vermont. We still have our barn (and maybe a pond!), we have some modern comforts, our uncles have the chance for some pre-ceremony golf, and I have a HUGE amount of stress off my shoulders. And of course we have the mountain views!
I can't lie; part of me has struggled with the fact that I am not completely being a build-it-yourself “budget bride” like I had anticipated I would be. I'm letting myself splurge on a little luxury — the luxury of not having to fret about every little detail and allowing people who know what they're doing take the reins. Even though there will be plenty of opportunities for personal creativity in the ceremony, garb, décor, and atmosphere… I still feel a little bit like a sell-out. I feel like I'm havinga cookie cutter wedding.
But, no! That's not the moral of the story. The moral of the story is that sometimes accepting the traditional is a key part of being non-traditional. You're not holding to what your personal crew of “everyone” would expect, but you're doing what's right for you to make for a day that you and everyone you've chosen to be around you can enjoy.
And you'll have enough hair left on your head after the planning to do something pretty with it on the big day!