The venue (aka: WHAT IF IT RAINS?????? WRING YOUR HANDS AND GRAB A SAUSAGE!!!)
Note: I am going to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert this evening and have a trial shift at a new job tomorrow all day, so I have pre-scheduled this post and tomorrow’s. Comments might take a while to get an approval/reply.
I looked at a lot of venues. One thing no-one mentioned about planning a wedding is the sheer amount of time you’ll spend looking at crap you’ll never have. I felt like I’d had several weddings by the time mine rolled around. Reading other people’s weddings, particularly on Offbeat Bride, was a big thing I spent my time on. They have some of the most beautiful and unique weddings on there, and I don’t regret the time I spent looking; it didn’t mean I was going to change my plan, but I felt it was definitely important to look into alternatives and second guess myself just to be sure that I was getting the wedding I wanted rather than the wedding that was easy, cheap, least stressful, or any other independent factors.
The nicest venues I looked at were Gray’s Court Hotel and The Hospitium, in St Mary’s Abbey. We actually wanted to hire the gardens, but you can’t do that, apparently, and because the whole place is classed as a public park, the gates would get locked at 5pm which would have been a serious party killer.
I didn’t want the package on offer, however, because I didn’t really want a “bespoke wedding service” where someone else selected caterers, entertainment, etc and let me choose who sat where. There were no vegan friendly caterers in my city, and my future-husband-to-be had vetoed El Piano because he hates their food. A package wedding wasn’t remotely appealing, so the need to have control of my own wedding (and to not feel pressured into expensive extras) took me elsewhere, although the pictures of the inside were beautiful. Also I wanted it to all happen outdoors, and I got the feeling they were geared more towards indoor weddings.
The stress on finding a venue was compounded by a LOT of relatives at Christmas (like, two weeks after we set a date, six months before the wedding) who kept asking question after question after question. We ended up divulging the vaguely held plans we didn’t really want to discuss and the structure of the conversation went something like this:
“Laura’s wedding was in a really nice place. Where are you having yours?”
“Well, we’re going to have the legal bit in a registry office because we’ve already booked it. Then we’re having a big party somewhere, but we haven’t quite decided yet.”
“What about hiring a hotel? There’s some really nice ones in your area!”
“We didn’t really want a hotel, they’re so corporate and impersonal.”
“They’re not all expensive! You can get packages starting from £3000.”
“Our budget is £500. But that’s not the point…”
“We always said we would help pay for your wedding. We have £3000 saved for your wedding so you don’t have to settle for something you might regret.”
“Thanks, but we want to do it ourselves. But that’s not the point, we really don’t want a hotel.”
“But you won’t be able to have a wedding for that amount. Sometimes it looks like things are cheap but in reality when you add the costs up it’s quite expensive.”
“We were thinking of taking a LOT of the cost out of it by having it outside.”
More crickets chirping.
“But… but what if it rains?”
“Um… We haven’t really looked into it yet.”
These conversations went on and on, round and round in circles. I will dish about how I dealt with this constant erosion of my confidence in my vision of our wedding day in a later article, because it deserves an article of its own.
Anyway, I really didn’t care if it rained. But I recognised that some guests might care. Namely the ones raising the most objections during the planning phase. So I started to research solutions.
First was the suggestion by a well meaning relative to hire a bus and have the party on the bus. I was so desperate to stop the constant questioning on and on and on with the underlying implied judgement, that I ignored the fact that I get profoundly bus sick on the best of days and emailed two bus companies for quotes. I’m really glad that one was trippin’ on their pricing structure (who in their right mind pays £5,000 for a day’s bus hire???? Oh that’s right, I mentioned the word wedding) and the other never got back to me. I didn’t follow it up. Instead I stopped answering my phone and I moved on with my research.
I saw a lot of suggestions online for gazebos, so I looked into them. The ones you buy from places all cost over £100 and it’s not like we would ever use a gazebo again. We’re not really gazebo people. So I looked into hiring one. They also cost over £100 to hire. And during the research, I realised that if we’re not gazebo people in our everyday life, then why would we want to change to being pro-gazebo for our wedding?? This might sound trivial, but when you’re spending one fifth of your budget on something, it’s got to be right.
So I was back to “what if it rains?” It echoed round and round in my head and haunted me for weeks. I’d been thinking a beach wedding but the rain conundrum really threw me.
My next thought was that we could maybe get a tent of some description. We might not be gazebo people, but we have occasionally been known to stay in a tent. Since we’d dismissed the beach as being too far away at this point, we settled on Rowntree Park as it had good opening hours and was near a lot of non-park public open space, so even if it closed there was a plan B.
We went to Go Outdoors and looked for tents. There were some nice ones that were a good size, and we nearly spent a couple of hundred on a big party sized tent that we could do some serious camping in at a later date. The problems were that you’re not allowed to pitch tents in public parks, and the tents were ridiculously heavy (like, 40lb). In the end, we changed our mind and didn’t bother.
I have to say a big thank you to Vince and Ali for sharing their amazing story on the internet, about how they got married in the rain and had an awesome time, which gave me the confidence to go ahead with our wedding outdoors regardless of whether it rained or shone. I wish I’d found this amazing article before all the months of drama (although there’s a bit of the “it’s in the last place you look” going on here), because once I’d found it, I knew exactly what to do if it rained – and it was what had been in my heart all along and had the confidence to press on.
So I went to the Pound Shop and bought all their zebra print umbrellas. They only had seven, I figured the people who gave a damn could share or bring their own. Total cost: £7. I also added a note on the wedding invites telling people this was an outdoor wedding, and that if they were the type of people to get upset by rain, to bring a coat or something just in case.
And THAT’s what to do if it rains on your outdoor wedding.
I think the real problem here was that people were throwing their selfish problems at me and I was taking them on board and trying to ensure everybody was looked after and catered for and not feeling left out, because I knew that, even though my wedding was going to be under £500 and minimalist and vegan, it was also going to be well-mannered and polite. That would have been fine except the same people then found something else and something else and something else to criticize. When I realised this was MY wedding day not theirs, it took a lot of the stress out of wedding planning and I started to find my own opinions and listen to them regardless of what other people were saying.
Also: It didn’t rain. I was slightly disappointed after I got totally psyched about rain wedding pics.