Plan my wedding!

Help plan my wedding!!

So I am looking for creative ideas on weddings. My fiancé and I are planning on getting married next summer since that is our down time for work, and I don’t want to do the standard wedding fare. I am looking to be a little bit different.

Here are the stipulations and random bits of information.

  • We are planning on about 50 guests.
  • We are not rich but my fiancé’s family has offered money, and that in combination with our savings we can afford something decent without going into debt.
  • I refuse to spend hundreds of dollars on a dress I will wear once, even though my Mother has offered to buy it, I just can’t do it.
  • Fiancé does not want to spend a huge amount on a wedding (and me too)
  • Both of our families will be traveling, some from across the country so I feel the need to feed them a proper dinner.
  • Our house is in no way big enough to host such an event.
  • We both work in theatre and can get free use of lighting and sound gear and folks to run it free of charge
  • We don’t want to get married in a theatre (would you want to get married in your office)
  • We are not religious so a church is not necessary.
  • Our families can drink, oh my can they drink……
  • Our busiest time for work is Sept-June so planning a wedding in the off season would be crazy.

So I guess what I am asking is, what have you enjoyed from weddings that you have gone too?
What was good or bad about yours?
What did you want to do but couldn’t?

I want to get married at the zoo and the whole thing is reasonable except for the wine costs, I am having issues with spending more on the wine than the food. Is that unreasonable?

I’m not married but I’ve been to some really interesting weddings.

For hors d’oeuvres while we were mingling and drinking there was a sushi chef that was hired. I don’t know how you guys feel about sushi but its my FAVORITE. At the same time, its performance art pretty much. The guests all had fun watching him make it fresh. THis guy in particular was apparantly used to putting on a performance and was doing it with quite a flair.

Have it in a museum! If my long term SO and I get married we have sorta sniffed out the Chicago Institute of Art or one of the history museums there. They totally allow for private events at those places.

You’re going to have to spend more on booze. Everyone I know is always more excited about the open bar at weddings than the food.

Everyone loves a chocolate fountain

Love Love Love Sushi

Very interesting Idea.

I have already asked the largest museum in the city if they did weddings and it was a no go. I could try some of the smaller ones.

I had it all planned out. There was a Greek exhibit on and we know of a fantastic Greek restaurant that occasionally does weddings and we wanted to go to Greece for the honeymoon.

The museum said no.
The restaurant was too small.
We still may go to Greece.

It sounds like you want something informal. Save money on the dress by not buying at a bridal shop. A nice dress from the evening wear section of a department store; or look for something in a consignment shop. You work at a theater, maybe borrow a costume that you like?

See if there is a B&B in your area where you can have both ceremony and recpetion. If you book on an “off” day (not Saturday) you may be able to get a deal. See about being able to bring in your own liquor. That can cut the price down dramatically. With so few people invited, maybe only serve beer/wine or have a do-it-yourself bar so you don’t need to pay a bartender. Also consider a morning ceremony followed by a brunch reception. Ususally less expensive and you can get away with not serving a lot of alcohol.

Another option is having the ceremony in a public park and the reception at a local restaurant.

Start looking for venues now. Summer is a popular time for weddings and things get booked fast.


On a beach.

Everyone must bring their fishing poles.

Oh, yeah. Everyone must be naked.

You’ll save on the food and clothes so you can spend it on the drink.


Try the local planetarium, if yours allows rentals. The sound is usually great, and you can get all kinds of cool going in the dome as background. Ours even allows you to have a caterer.

One of the offspring married at a winery. It was a lovely and while they were required to order a certain number of cases of wine, it was a deal when you looked at the wine/site rental combined. I sprang for a couple of kegs of beer because a number of family members prefer it to wine.

It was in the mountains and there was a chance of deer among the vines. Is that close enough for a zoo?

I think it’s okay if the wine costs more than the food (hey, I’d probably seek that out), but if you’re not nuts about the zoo for that reason, you could check around for other “open to the public” institutions in your area – parks, boats, historic homes, historical societies, weird museums. I was helping a friend look at places for her wedding, and I found this excellent old farmhouse that was operated like a farm museum WITH A PETTING ZOO and I still think it’s a tragedy she didn’t use it. In addition to the petting zoo, it was also a very pretty, rustic setting. One thing to keep in mind (that you may have already noticed at the zoo) is that many have restrictions on which caterers you can use, because they really do need to be confident that the caterer will come in and respect the facility.

Am I remembering correctly that you’re located in Calgary? I can give you some Calgary-specific referrals, if you’d like.

Good things from weddings I’ve been to -

  • Short ceremony.
  • Dance with good dance music. People want to get up and cut a rug after a few drinks.
  • Open bar with tip jar. We had this at our wedding, and it went wonderfully. People stuck a $20 in the jar and drank all night; other people had free pop all night. We probably broke even on the bar doing this, and that was better than we had expected. This also allowed us to get a simple liquor license for our community hall reception, instead of the more complicated, charging-for-booze license.
  • Buffet-style dinners seem to work the best.
  • Seat spouses with the wedding party. It’s always a drag to be separated from your spouse at an event like this.
  • Consider a hotel reception. Those guys do this hundreds of times a year, and they are very, very good at it.

Bad things from weddings I’ve been to -

  • Way too many speeches, presentations, slide shows, powerpoint presentations, etc. Toast to the bride, toast to the groom, toast to the families, toast to the guests, and get on with the festivities.
  • A cailigh dance (I don’t think that’s spelled right) - anyway, don’t do this. We were at one on Friday, and it totally killed the party. Ideally, you want a compromise between what you think would be cool, and what your guests would enjoy. This couple kinda forgot that nobody knows how to dance celtic dances in Calgary. If they had done the cailigh stuff for a while, then just started dancing regularly, that would have been much better.
  • Pictures at more than one location. This was a major pain in the ass, as the entire wedding party (and some family) had to traipse all over Calgary.
  • Receiving lines are a hassle. That’s pretty much up to you, though. Some people want to make sure they talk to all of their guests.

I think you should stick to your idea about not paying way too much for a dress - check out things like the Sears catalogue, and look online (I got my bridesmaid dress online, and it was lovely), check all the dress shops when they have all their fancy dresses in for Christmas and grad. You can get a perfectly beautiful dress that doesn’t have to be $1000+. Once you get your hair all purtied up and toss a bunch of accessories on, you’re looking pretty fancy.

And chocolate fountains really do kick ass. :smiley:

ETA: I think the biggest mistake people make is going too fancy for everything because it’s YOUR SPECIAL DAY. Really, the best weddings I’ve been to have just been good parties. That’s all people are looking for.

My oldest son and his bride wanted to demonstrate their love of life – a real, affordable life – so their whole wedding was sort of “home-made.” One thing I really got a kick out of was their “wedding cake.” Molly had me make a three-tier wooden platform on which parchment paper was lain and fudge brownies were layered. Jason (who is a chef) made the brownies, and they served the HUGE brownies with ice cream. It was completely them! I got to eat one brownie (Razorette closely monitored my sugar intake the rest of the weekend) but it was the best “wedding cake” I’ve ever had.

I recently saw online a photo of a happy couple with tiers of cupcakes, and I’ve heard of couples locally who do similar things with banana nut bread (she captured his heart with the confection) and interlocking rings of bundt cakes (the bundt cake has special meaning to the German agricultural community hereabouts.)

Don’t know if that gives you any ideas, but have fun!

We are using a local Aquarium (we are sooo excited about it!). They are a very good value – full-service and for an extra bonus, they provide onsite childcare supervised by a staff educator. They only do inhouse catering but I’ve heard good things (and they are affiliated with a local vineyard who provides wine). Oh, and a portion of the cost goes to marine rescue!

They offered to seat my parents in front of the pirahnas, but the private sealion show was a no-go. :smiley:

One of the coolest weddings I’ve ever been to was a Jewish/Pagan wedding held outside in a picnic area, a secluded clearing with a firepit in Sunnybrook Park, Toronto. The Happy Couple jumped across the fire hand-in-hand to symbolise their entry into married life. :slight_smile:

Former events planner here.

  1. Expect to spend more on alcohol than on food if you are in an arts/cultural institution. It’s their caterer. It’s (more than likely) their liquor license. It’s (at least partly, though they will probably ask you to provide a statement from your insurer listing them as an “additional insured” for the date(s) of he event and prep) their liability if anything bad and alcohol-related happens.

  2. I always say this and nobody goes for it, but here goes – a morning wedding. It’s cool, and rain is less likely in the morning (most places). No one will suffer-cate in a reception tent (if you go that route) in the morning. Brunch is cheaper than dinner. People are willing to be more self-serve for brunch (a brunch buffet is festive, a dinner buffet can be perceived as kind of a drag). There’s only so much just about anyone can drink before noon, and it can be only champagne. Dress can be more casual; you can wear something cool and pretty and (if you want) flowers in your hair, and just make it a party. Dancing is optional verging on seriously unnecessary. Kids can attend if you want to invite them and they probably won’t be total little pills because it is still their “good” time of day, and kids like breakfast/brunch more than they like dinnerr (generally). Lots of times, you can get better rates on facilities for a daytime event, too. And Sunday is a great time for a brunch event and a lot of little museums, wineries, etc. are closed to the public and available for events at this time of the week. And you get to the airport and out of town for your honeymoon before the red-eye.

  3. Do the big family dinner the night before, just with family, and have friends join in for the wedding the next day.

  4. Shop without pre-conceived notions. If you’re not trying to match some imagined ideal, you’ll be more flexible to accept great deals on great stuff.

  5. You might try going in to talk to florist without mentioning that it’s for your wedding. Being in theatre, you could talk (lie) about bouquets for performers (instead of bride/bridesmaids), buttoniers for (theater) ushers, and bar arrangments for intermission – and see what kind of prices you are quoted. Betcha they’ll differ favorably from the pants-you bridal pricing.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what occurs to me just now.

The greatest wedding I went to had little teeny chinese take-out boxes filled with various different kinds of noodles, rices, dishes, etc., served with chopsticks or forks/spoons. The serving sizes were small, so you would get several different kinds. Very, very easy to mingle and talk with your little box all closed, then pop it open and hold and eat. Tons of other food too, those just really made an impression. It was great. They also had their own beer brewed for the occasion (which was quite tasty). It was in a bizarre art studio, with weird art all over the place. I mean, ALL over. The floors, the walls, hanging from the ceiling. . .

What made it so great was that it was sooooo them.

Ways to cut down costs–

Don’t have a lot of bridesmaids. Have one witness each to sign the marriage license. You don’t need more than that, and your friends will love you for not forcing them to spend all that money.

Have your husband buy a suit that looks great on him and that he’ll wear again to formal occasions instead of renting an expensive and uncomfortable tuxedo.

Get your shoes at Payless. If you’re wearing a floor-length dress, no one will see your feet anyway.

If you don’t need a DJ, skip it. I find them cheesy and they often just play what they like, not what you like. We programmed out iPod to play the songs we wanted and hooked it up to the sound system and it worked fine.

Target has wedding dresses for under $100, designed by Isaac Mizrahi. If these had come out in time, I’d have gotten one for my wedding.

Can you get bouquets of flowers from the local farmer’s market the morning of your wedding instead of paying a fortune at the florist?

I’m not married, but when it was time for my first communion, my mother was kind’a surprised to find out that I was dreading the notion of a “Ciderella dress” - I was pleasantly surprised that she was perfectly happy not stuffing me into one. Instead of a confection of multilayered tulle and a dozen pins to hold the mini veil in place, I got a cream-colored longish summer dress with a bit of “Richelieu” lace at the hems (it isn’t so much lacework as holes cut out). It was about 1/10 the cost and I wore it for several years, until my hips went and remembered I’m female.

Morning weddings are usually cheaper and definitely better if there’s kids. If you’re going to get any food that’s “not the usual wedding menu,” mention it to people in advance - the only way I don’t eat fish is in sushi!

This is what we did and it worked out just great. It was held at a nice lodge on top of a mountain at a ski resort. Had to ride the gondola up.

Just champagne? Don’t forget the Bloody Marys.

You both work in theater?

Suggestion number one - documentary film.
Find (or hire) someone to start now. Interviews with each of you, with the mothers and the fathers, friends, co-workers. As the date approaches, scenes with people you are trying to contact for location and food. Film it all - on a good quality digital camera, it is easier to edit down thousands of hours into one good film. Film it all the way through the ceremony, the party and even the honeymoon.

If you are filming a documentary, often you will find opportunities open that might not normally be there - people like to do things on film for fun or business reasons. The owner of the petting zoo might like the free publicity - or the owner of the African restaurant might like to plug his menu and come up with some wild food selections.

Interview random people on the street for interesting locations to be married and stories of great wedding they have been to in real life.

Shoot footage of possible locations, good and bad.

The whole process wouldn’t cost much (digital doesn’t require film, just recharge those batteries) and other than some creative editing at the end, it would be fairly easy to accomplish.

And who knows - maybe you will win a prize at Sundance!

(P.S. Be sure to put me in the credits.)

I’m planning my wedding on budget right now. We’re getting married on January 5th. My advise, thus far:

  • Finding a place for a 50 to 60 guest reception wasn’t easy. Most of the places that we looked at didn’t want to talk to you unless you had at least 100 guests

  • David’s Bridal is evil. Accept that. Everyone I know that has gotten married hasn’t had anything nice to say about them. They are less evil for bride’s maid dresses, but still evil. 100 dollars for a plain tulle veil, get over yourself …

  • I’m a size 16 (short and stocky) and I got my dress from Lane Bryant. It was 120 dollars and only needed 25 dollars worth of alterations. I love it. We are making my veil, I have websites if you are interested.

  • We are doing our own hair and makeup also. Lucky me and my bride’s maids have beautiful curly hair so we really aren’t doing much, other than lots of gel.

  • We are doing our own flowers. Costco is your fried, great roses at a great price. We’ve already done trial runs and I love the look of them.

  • See if in your state someone get marry you that isn’t an official or clergy. In Massachusetts, anyone can marry you, they just need to fill out some paperwork and perhaps pay a small fee. If you have a friend or loved one that you can envision doing this, it saves loads of time trying to find a decent officiant that doesn’t use sock puppets.

  • We aren’t serving alcohol, except for the toast. My fiancee doesn’t drink so we chose not to. This also caused issues with some of the places that we looked at.

  • Expend the most effort finding a caterer that you like, it makes all the difference.

Please feel free to email me if you’re in the Boston area, as I would be glad to give you a list of who we talked to. We are also writing our own ceremony, if you are interested in that, but it’s not done yet.

I’m planning a wedding too and I’ve found a lot of good ideas over at Indie Bride. It’s a good site for brides who are looking to escape the confines of the Wedding Industrial Complex (WIC).

Other suggestions not yet mentioned:

–Find a venue that will let you bring in your own liquor. Most traditional wedding venues mark up alcohol by a staggering percentage.

–Many venues and vendors will give you a discount for getting married on a day other than Saturday, or in the winter off-season.

–Do-it-yourself invitations are very simple and inexpensive. All you need is some cardstock and a good printer.

–Utilize your friends talents as musicians/readers/jugglers in lieu of wedding gifts.

Basically you just have to decide what’s most important to you, spend accordingly and let all the other crap go. Don’t start reading wedding magzines or they will brainwash you into believing you need to spend the GNP of a small country in order for your guests to have a good time.