Just this week I had two clients so thrilled with their ceremony location they “just had to have the whole party there.” And then spoke the dreaded sentence - ”It’ll be so much cheaper to just get a tent and do the party right there.”
And that sentence begins my official role as party pooper. Here are the top 5 discussions we inevitably have about outdoor wedding receptions.
- “What do you mean a tent wedding is more expensive? We just want it simple in our backyard – nothing fancy.” Yes. We know you want a simple backyard wedding but you still are hosting a party. You need to think like a hostess and take care of your guests. You will need to provide them creature comforts – seating, some climate control, bathrooms, food, drink, lighting, stable footing. You are expecting a temporary structure to be set up just for you, in your special location, on you special day, at your special time – what about that situation should make it less expensive?
- “Well no we don’t have a back up location. It’s summertime - we’ll just hope for the best.”I don’t even know where to begin on this one. For most of us, this is our one opportunity to wear the expensive dress, buy the expensive cake, have all of our friends and family actually dedicate their time and energy to help us celebrate our very special day. But for some reason, most clients do not think the occasion worthy of a back up plan.
- “Couldn’t we just rent a bunch of umbrellas for the tables in case it rains?”I don’t know about everywhere else in the country, but here in South Dakota - rain doesn’t behave. It doesn’t come straight down, it doesn’t bend around umbrellas, it doesn’t avoid or hover over chairs because you are getting married. And of course, it rarely comes without wind. So you can imagine the end result.
- “We aren’t having a traditional reception so we don’t need tables/chairs for everyone at once – they’ll come in a few at a time.” No. No they won’t. People are creatures of habit. This isn’t your high school graduation -they will not flow in and out throughout the day because they have a ton of other weddings to go to. You have invited people to be a part of your special day. They have travelled, brought a gift, dressed up and driven out to your special location to watch the ceremony. Most of them have gone to a number of other weddings. They have an expectation of behavior: to watch the ceremony, grab a table to visit and eat, watch the photo ops, eat cake, dance, leave. They did not take a head count. They do not know there aren’t enough tables and chairs for everyone. They do not expect to eat, then get up and stand the rest of the time.
- “What do you mean we need porta potties? We have a bathroom in our house.”True, you do have a bathroom in your house. On average, a toilet in a 4 person home gets flushed 18 times/day. Now imagine 100 people using that same toilet in one day. Then add alcohol. Am I guaranteeing the toilet will back up or break? No. But do you want your wedding to be the test?
As a bride, you plan for months, working on the best reception to give your friends and family. So if you plan to do it outdoors and you want it to be memorable (in a good way) be a hostess first. Budget for the worst case scenario – which may mean you have to cut back on the party favors or the cocktail hour. But consider this: your guests will remember having to run for their lives in a thunderstorm a lot longer than they will remember the wine glass with your wedding date etched on it. Especially since the wine glass favors will be quickly abondoned at the tables in the mad dash for cover.