Where, oh where, is the party at?

Although the ceremony sight is usually the first thing on the list to decide on and book (love The Knot for month-by-month checklists!), I happened to look into reception sights first. In my little town there are only a few options for a reception: someone's house, the church, Community Center, an old grange building, the old armory, and a local hotel. I also had to consider that I had budgeted $1000 for renting the sight (also a convenient tool on The Knot).

A personal residence was out because that is a lot of stress for that household; especially since this could not be done at either of my parents' houses. It would inevitably be up to other close friend or family member, and I want these folks to have fun not worry all day about the state of their home/ property! As far as a budget is concerned, having a personal residence for a reception can get expensive. May whether is hard to predict, so a tent would be a must. In addition, you have to rent (or purchase) the tables and chairs, linens, and other staples of many other rentable sights.

The church was out merely due to size, as was the grange building and hotel. Past receptions held at these sights emphasized the need for more space in mid- to large-sized weddings (guest list is not secured as of yet, but we're getting there- it has been impossible to get lists from my parents and future in-laws. If anyone has suggestions for assuaging this issue, post as a comment below).

We are left with the Community Center (CC) and the old armory building, now fondly known as the "Event Center" (EC). The decision between these two venues was difficult. The CC would cost $175 up front for the whole day of the event, with the option to pay another $100 for each additional day needed to set up and tear down. We wanted a day for each. The total initial outlay would come to $375. The draw here was that a) it fell far below my budget b) the deposit for the kitchen would be returned if no damage was incurred, putting the actual cost at $300 for the three days! Of course, this price point makes this venue almost impossible to turn down, but there were a few drawbacks. It would take a multitude of decorations to turn this senior-center-by-day into a reception-by-night. More decorations means more money, and it may eliminate the savings for booking the sight. In the end, even with the decorations, I felt it would still scream "senior center cafeteria!" Although not completely eliminated, the CC was now in the "if we have to" pile. I knew I could make it work, I was just worried about the logistics of making it work.

From the minute I called the coordinator for the EC, I knew this was the place I wanted. I hadn't even seen it yet! She had so much enthusiasm and ideas; it was refreshing to know someone else might be excited for my wedding. She showed me the sight. The first thing I noticed was the character it had without any decorations. It also had a large room you could use for getting ready, or for a quick pep-talk from the MOH if needed. The kitchen (twice the size of the CC) is included in the rental fee, and there are two very large bathrooms right off the main reception room. Getting to the price, it quickly became apparent it would be more than the CC, but I may have already been sold. The rental for the day of the event was $300 with a $100 additional cost to serve alcohol. For each day added (either before or after) the cost to rent the building would only be $100. Originally, I thought the day of the event and a day to tear down would be sufficient: $500. My mother, told me to spend the extra to eliminate the stress of having to coordinate someone to set up the day of the wedding. So, the final cost of renting the EC would be $600.

Days of deliberating passed; I love pro/con lists. The final decision fell on the EC for several reasons: a) still $400 below budget b) much less required decorating= more savings c) larger, more accommodating space d) friendlier management (important since you may be dealing with them frequently in the planning process) e) less restrictions on decorations and food service and, most importantly, f) I felt more comfortable at the EC.

Total cost of wedding: $600



Gen said...

Suggestions for nailing down the guest lists... we had that issue too because both my side and Leif's extended family was/is quite large. SO I gave both mothers a dead line. They had to have names and CORRECT mailing addresses by a certain date. I then stressed, no name & address = no invite, no kidding. There were minimal "last minute" changes that way. Plus you'll get a lot of "well these are my friends and they'd really like to come." I suggest, listening to them and saying all guests will be considered. Then trimming the hedges so to speak. :) It's your day, remember that. I hope this helps. PLEASE- give me a shout if you need help, ideas, suggestions, and even sanity checks! :) Love you my dear cousin! xo