An ode to a cookie cutter wedding: why a “wedding factory” works for me

Guest post by Krixee G.
Wedding cookie cutters available from Amazon.
Wedding cookie cutters available from Amazon.

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.

Did I mention that I hate event planning (type A and anxiety)?

Classy!

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!

Comments on An ode to a cookie cutter wedding: why a “wedding factory” works for me

  1. YES! Thank you for supporting a more traditional venue. You can still personalize many things at a “cookie cutter” type place.

    • Agreed! It’s amazing how much we still have to figure out details-wise, but it’s all the fun stuff!

  2. Thank you for this post! As much as I really adore looking at all the gorgeous DIY, hand crafted and well-researched items and places people have for thier weddings here on OBB, my reality is that I want someone to do it all for me! I would totally get stuck in for a friend or familys wedding and I would stay up stitching or whatever till my eyes beld for certain people, but for me, I don’t want to do it! I want to tick the boxes; yes to this, no to this, yes to this, and pay for it all in one whack, in one place and focus on the few personal items that *do* mean a lot to me. Suprisingly OBB has actually given me that attitude I think – I know what matters most to me, and what I don’t need/want to worry about. The elements that make up the day that I don’t care about so much (i.e., I don’t care about flowers, just give me some nice ones that don’t make my wallet weep) will all be taken care of and that works just lovely for me thanks.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Now that you mention it, OBB may have been an uncredited influence for me in that area, too! (and I most certainly loved every moment of putting together wedding bouquets, centerpieces, and boutonnieres in the final hour before my friend’s backyard tent wedding last year, but for me? no thanks!)

  3. Oh, I feel ya, girl. My quirky backyard bbq ideas fell apart in the face of tent and porta-potty rental questions. My quick ceremony in the Boston Public Garden? Oh, you can’t have chairs for your elderly relatives? *poof* The more research I do, the better turnkey solutions sound. Just remember, they don’t give out trophies for the most exhausted couple with the most original wedding. They really don’t. I’ve looked into that too.

  4. yes yes yes, a million times, yes! For our ceremony, we are getting the “church package” – comes with flowers, officiant, pre-planned and timed ceremony, etc. I know it can be a little controversial in these circles, not writing our own vows and all, but honestly, the idea of spending HOURS researching and hemming and hawwing over wording or whether something is too long or too short or not meaningful enough would be enough to drive me to not want to even deal with the ceremony at all. I figure, if it’s worked for thousands of couples before us, it’ll work great for us too. I’m not so “special” that the generic vows can’t be meaningful and get their job accomplished.
    Along the same lines, as OP said, my choice to do super-generic centerpieces (wine glass filled with coffee beans and tealight, DONE!) and skipping the flowers altogether lets me focus on stuff that really matters to FH, I, and our families (FOOOOODDDDD!!!!)
    But I think what is really echoed in this post, is that bottom line, the notion of “offbeat”, as applied to these types of situations, is “choose your battles”. There is no “perfect” or “ideal” wedding on a societal scale – only what is “perfect” or “ideal” for you in your situation 🙂 I think the difference implied by “offbeat” is the strength to stand tall and say: yes, I made this decision, and I am sticking to it. Whatever that decision may be.

    • Truly! And really, as long as it is celebrating the union of you and the person you love, that’s all that matters!

  5. I wanted something very like this – all inclusive, low stress. My partner and my father (i.e. Captain Checkbook) wanted the individualized experience, however, and I got outvoted. I would also note that my option would have been SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than what we’ve ended up with – build-it-yourself does not always equal budget bride.

    • That is a very good point – I think my friend’s recent bare-bones (but lovely!) DIY wedding cost her about as much as mine will! I hope the individualized experience still felt like *you* in the end!

  6. Yes, our all-inclusive venue was the best decision we ever made. It took so much pressure off of us, and there were still plenty of options to customize where we wanted to. Plus it was actually cheaper than some of the other places where you’d have to bring in all your own vendors. I don’t know how cost-effective it would have been compared to DIY options, but we knew we didn’t have the patience for that so it at least saved us our sanity 🙂 And it had just the right, cute, European garden vibe that was perfect for us.

    • I’m so glad to hear that! I love it that others have had a similar experience with it being the right choice. I’m running into areas where I’m noticing it to be more cost effective, too! And if you end up having the perfect vibe in the end, that’s all you can ask for!!

  7. I was sooo reluctant to have our wedding at a golf club but we enjoyed quite a hassle free experience. We had essentials like the handicap bathrooms, sound system, running water, on site chef, fully stocked bar, coat racks parking lot, pre wedding storage and all at no extra cost. They let us do EVERYTHING we asked for including the fire spinners. And all the fussy details I didn’t care about, like table colors… Catering director just put it together for me and said “how about this?” Big wedding venues are awesome.

    • It’s amazing how personal it can still seem without having a hand in everything! Many of the things you don’t think about are taken care of (like handicap bathrooms!), but they matter in the end. I’m glad it worked out, and it’s reassuring that I’m not the only one who went into it with some reservations!

  8. We looked at a bunch of venues that would have been more DIY. The cost of the space was always somewhat reasonable, but then the exclusive caterers would be too expensive, and we’d need to rent ALL the tables, and there was nothing included and look at all these extra fees for just letting us bring stuff, etc. etc. etc. That plus Boston being an expensive city for caterers and rentals in general meant that it was just going to be too stressful.

    In the end, we found a wedding factory type place that didn’t include everything, but included LOTS, and because we were an off-season Sunday and we were upfront as heck about our budget, we got a huge discount. Could we have done our wedding for less at a different place? Yes, but it would have been unbelievably stressful and we’d have had to keep our guest list smaller than we wanted.

    • It’s amazing how much of that “little” stuff adds up. These wedding factory type places definitely seem to know what they’re doing to keep drawing us in like they do!

  9. Having worked at a big banquet hall, I’ve seen plenty of weddings that all “looked the same.” But, to me, they never felt the same. Little things that they would do, from food choices to music or funny toasts, to big things, like the love from families and friends, made each one stand out in my mind. While I won’t say that all the couples were cool and calm (high strung people are just that), most seemed to enjoy the fact that they didn’t need to worry about the details.

    • I love that way of looking at it. And it’s true…if you think about the energy in any room when a certain group of people is there vs. a different group of people, it totally changes the experience. When you multiply the scale to wedding-sized…WOW. Each and every event would be very unique.

  10. My venue came with a coordinator (whom I joked knew more about my wedding than I did) and tables, chairs, linens, dishes, bar….almost everything, really. It was by far the most expensive part, but we didn’t have to rent anything. We had venue, caterer, our clothing, and minimal decorations that were our own. The rest came from the venue. And it was wonderfully us. I consider it offbeat, and our coordinator loved all our whacky ideas. Packages don’t necessarily mean you don’t have options =]

    • I definitely agree. The idea of trying to figure out all of the rentals was giving me a headache before I even got out of the gate. And you’re right – packages/coordinators certainly don’t necessarily mean it can’t be personal and original!

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