TME Tips: 5 Things You Should NEVER DIY - Part Four: The Venue

We've come to part four of our "DIY? Oh No you don't!" Series.  Today we're going to discuss the venue.  Ok, so this one is probably not really a *NEVER* but it is a warning.  I may catch a bit of flack for this - but I honestly want every bride to know what goes into using raw venues - like a private home, park or backyard.  I know NJ wedding venues can be expensive (don't even get me started on NYC weddings!!), but going this route isn't always less so.  It can involve a lot more than you'd expect.  And so we begin with... Five Things You Should NEVER DIY - Number Four: Your Wedding Venue

So picture this- you're searching for the ideal space for your big day.  You're not seeing exactly what you're looking for, and the pricing you're running into is giving you agita.  Being the savvy DIY-er that you are, you start thinking about what's available to you. You remember that your family has a great house in the country or access to a big open field or insert empty space here.  You consider the idea of maybe having your wedding in one of these spaces, and fall in love with the idea.  You start imagining the day - your guests driving up and everyone dancing the night away under the stars... it all sounds very romantic, and with NO rental fee!!

While it is a savings on the rental, there are many other expenses and logistical considerations to keep in mind.  This is definitely not the kind of wedding you can stroll into and expect to just fall together.

Ok let's go over the potential issues (and this is by no means an exhaustive list):

  1. Timing - You're going to need a lot more time to set up than would be needed for a wedding in a banquet hall or hotel- it's going to be an early day for sure.  If you're marrying in the morning, set up will need to be done at least the day/night before.
  2. Parking - Is there enough space to park everyone's car?  Do you need a permit to do so?
  3. Permits - Gatherings of certain sizes, in parks, in private homes and other properties often need inspections and permits from the city they are being held in.  Look into this issue early to avoid potential delays and a potentially illegal event!
  4. Tenting - If you're planning an outdoor soiree, plan on needing a tent.  Tents often need permits (see above!).
  5. Bathrooms - In a family home consider the restroom issue - someone will have to go at some point during the day.  You need to have adequate facilities for everyone - the rule of thumb is one per every 35 guests.  This will likely require renting a few.
  6. Rentals - Open spaces mean you need to literally create something from nothing- so plan on renting chairs, tables, possibly a stage, catering items, linens, glassware, dishes, flatware, and more.  This can get VERY pricey.
  7. Deliveries - If you've chosen a big open field, how will your vendors get to the area, and get their stuff out afterwards?  You don't want a 12 piece band trekking up a hill with all their equipment, or your baker trying to deliver a cake over a mile of muddy terrain!  You need easy access.

All of the above can lead to loads of bridal stress - the last thing you need to be worried about in the few days before your wedding is whether or not you have enough toilet paper for the guests! If you think you can handle the intricacies, here's how to get it done:

  • If you do want to go this route, the first thing you should do is hire a professional wedding coordinator who is familiar with working with this kind of space and planning this type of wedding.
  • Run the numbers- if you're going this route to save money, make sure you are actually doing so. All of the extras can add up fast.
  • Let your vendors know the stakes ahead of time- they may need to make contingencies.
  • Know your absolute upper limit for guests and DO NOT invite more than your space can handle.
  • Have a plan B and plan C available for weather and differing guest counts.  Your coordinator can help with that.

Now don't get me wrong- this is definitely doable, but it takes a lot of planning.  For some it may be worth it, but for many, not so much.  What do you think?

Keep Celebrating and Happy Planning!