I always wanted a backyard wedding, like my parents and other family members had. I wanted something low-key, personal, and simple. I want the feeling of a casual summer afternoon in which hugs are passed around freely. Unfortunately, we don't have an adequate backyard. Our compromise is that we're trying for the backyard wedding feeling. And that decision has shaped so many of our vendor decisions as we try to work with small businesses and artists we respect, keep things local, to keep the event in our "emotional backyard," at least.
But right now, it's hard. Right now, I want to wave my magic wedding want and make everything just happen effortlessly so I can focus on the ceremony and on whatever details I deem fun-worthy. Right now I don't want to worry about finding affordable friend-artist-vendors or worry about how my decisions impact the morning-time logistics and feeling of the day. At no point in my description of the day's "feeling" did I imagine how it would feel to run around managing DIY and vendor issues and getting dressed in a fluorescent-lit bathroom and doing my makeup in a crowded Rec Center Green Room. Because, even with the amazing efforts of our Coordinator Sweet Emilia Jane, I get the sense that our wedding day will not exactly follow the "typical" bride timeline and may include some nutso logistics. And it will definitely include a bathroom with fluorescent lights and a crowded Green Room for "bridal" prep time. And groom prep time, for that matter, since there's no where else to get ready and no hotels nearby. And that's the price we pay for paying much less of a price on this wedding stuff and for having the freedom to craft a completely unique day with the perfect vendors for us (and our budget).
But this whole experience also has me thinking that unique is overrated, at least a bit. Because for people whose wedding day feeling-goal is "I really could care less about the details and I'm going to scream if someone asks me about flowers and all I want is to spend time at the salon with my mom and bffs and get married, for crissake" then maybe, just maybe, an all-in-one banquet hall or hotel package is the right way to go. They're certainly sanity saving. And can even save you money (I'm not saying they're cheap, but once you bump our of that $10K budget category, you're not too far off. ). And not all of them have bad carpet. Some are even very pretty and reasonable affordable. Yes, pretty, affordable and simple. Hurrah.
Calamigos Equestrian (more affordable than Calamigos Malibu)
Happy Trails Catering (photo courtesy of Andrew Kitchen Photography/NMG Photography/Harthen Studios)
The more independent-minded wedding world seems to have a problem with package weddings but, after nearly three weeks of being unable to get in touch with my perspective venue (or any other low-cost venues around town, for that matter) I can see the STRONG allure of an all-in-one option. Sure, you lose the personalization of choosing your own caterer, florist and rental company. You can't get married in the woods with a parade of your closest friends twirling ribbons and puppets. It feels more apparent that 1000 brides have been married here before you and will be married here after, so you're obviously just one of many. Yes, we're all just one of many sets of couples getting married, but it will be more apparent your wedding day isn't 100% super duper unique if you get married at a location that caters to weddings, especially those that appear to be more "traditional." But who the eff cares? It's going to be personal the moment you look into each others' eyes. And maybe there was a really good reason so many thousands of couples got married here before you? Namely the pretty, affordable, and simple nature of these all-inclusive spots.
What's the feeling you want to hold onto? Is it zen? Then maybe a low-budget DIY super crafty wedding (read: potential logistical nightmare) isn't for you. Maybe a unique setting with 87 restrictions and the complications of managing the rentals delivery/pick up, decor, catering set-up, generator, and tent isn't quite for you. Maybe you don't want to tear your hair out when you discover that rentals are going to cost you $3000 (that's just for tables, chairs, plates, glasses, linens, silverware, and serving equipment. I know.) So maybe, just maybe, an all-inclusive venue might be a very workable plan after all.
So, for all you smartypants people who went with an all-inclusive venue, hats off to you. Today, I admit that I envy your logistical foresight your ability to spend the morning with you mom and bffs getting pretty and drinking wine. And I envy your months before the wedding, when you're not fretting about deliveries and pickups and hiring extra cleanup staff in case you don't feel like running around at 11pm. I think we've given your all-in-one wisdom a bad rep here in "indie" wedding land. Because frankly, I'm trying to chase that laid back feeling right now, and it's just not working. So, from here on out, I'm done judging the "uniqueness" of your wedding or venue. Because I have more important things to worry about, like how I'm going to achieve a backyard "feeling" at my unique venue when laid-back is the furthest thing from my mind.