Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Guest Post: Last Minute Changes Create Lasting Memories

By Amy J. Hursey

My husband and I faced multiple challenges when we were planning our wedding. We got married on a Wednesday (09-09-09) which created its own challenge, but I think one of the biggest challenges we had to deal with was changing the reception venue less than one month away from the date.

We had planned to have the reception immediately following the ceremony at a small bar/restaurant that is owned by a family member. It was perfect because we could order the food there, a bar was already there and it was less than a mile from the church. We sent out the invitations with all of the information included, directions, etc.

Less than one month from the day of our wedding, we decided that it would be better for many reasons to move the reception. That left us scrambling to find someplace new. The stress of finding a new location, on a week night, less than 30 days away very nearly caused us to cancel the wedding.

I was desperate! Remembering what I had learned from reading websites such as 2000 Dollar Wedding and Offbeat Bride, I decided what was important to me, then I asked some close friends and family members for help, and I thought WAY outside of the box about what to do.

All that was important to me was to have a location, not too far away, that was VERY inexpensive because this cost wasn’t budgeted for, where my dearest friends and family members could gather together, to have a meal, have some fun, and celebrate with us.

Keeping that in mind, I went to talk to Bill, the owner of a local bar. This bar is known for its rowdy customers and for not being terribly clean. There were 3 motorcycles parked in that room, a Christmas tree was standing and there were live chickens in a cage on the patio.

Nervous about it, this is what I learned: Bill was more than happy to let us have the reception in his large back room and patio area. Wednesday nights were slow for him anyway. He was not offended when I asked if I could come in the day before and clean the room, the patio and the restrooms. He said I could use anything I wanted and do anything I wanted and bring in what ever food items I needed to. He provided us with tables chairs, extension cords, let us run a tab at the bar, didn’t bat an eye when we put staples in his ceiling, offered to help us with everything, even offered to close the bar so no one else would come in. He moved the motorcycles and the chickens disappeared (I didn’t ask where they were). And the best part, he did not charge us one penny to use the place. When we asked about a DJ, he offered us the house DJ for the bargain basement price of $100 for 4 hours of play time. He even cut us a deal on the bar tab at the end of the night- $100 for ALL of our drinks.

The change of plans was done though phone calls and e-mails, we had delicious food catered in from a grocery store 1 mile away, friends and family members spent the day before cleaning and decorating with me and it all worked out. You’d be amazed at what some white Christmas lights, some balloons and yards and yards of tulle can do to transform a room!

When our guests heard where we were having our reception they sincerely thought I had lost my mind. My husband summed it up perfectly when he told me “Baby, if someone doesn’t want to celebrate with us because of where it's at, or the day of the week, they aren’t the kind of people we want there anyway.” He was right. Even if I had an unlimited budget I wouldn’t want it any other way.

So yeah, we had our reception in a bar. It was cheap and people were relaxed and enjoyed themselves. Yes, there were some drunk patrons there that we didn’t know. They wished us well and put money towards our bar tab. Yes, there was a dog with newborn puppies behind the bar. It was cute and we like dogs. The weather was perfect and people enjoyed the patio. At the end of the night, we were married to each other, we celebrated with people we love and we weren’t broke from having to pay for all of the unplanned things. It may not have been perfect, but it was perfect for us.

If I had gotten all caught up in the WIC and what a wedding reception was “supposed” to be it would not have been that way. I might not have gotten to see my mom and dad kissing and posing for pictures. Mom died just a few months later and that picture is precious. We might not have met some new friends and we might have been way more stressed out and with a whole lot less money in my bank account because of it.

When you truly shake off all the glitter from what’s going on and think about what does matter, and you stop stressing about the table linens and perfectly tied bows on the favors, all of the little things fall aside, and make room for what will become your favorite memories.

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Holley said...

Good post! I cant imagine having changed venues so late in the game, but i totally would if that was what had felt right.
P.S. We totally got married on the same date. I cant count how many times people said "On A Wednesday??"
Sure did save me a ton of money though!!

Heather said...

This sounds like one of the awesomest wedding receptions ever.

sarah said...

love this! you go girl :)

amanda said...


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