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

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Q & A: Renting Out the Reception Site

I know I've answered this question before, but I feel compelled to address it again. Our choice to rent out an entire Bed & Breakfast and invite our friends to stay with us for the entire weekend really shaped the nature of our wedding.

Reader's Question: When you chose your venue and booked the entire thing, did you pay for all of your guests' rooms? Or did you guys ask them to pay for themselves?

I sometimes wonder what Matt and I would have spent more money on if our budget had been more than $2,000. I worry that we would have invested in tablecloths (instead of using vintage sheets from the Goodwill) or that we would have made more cloth napkins in a cute, coordinated fabric. I use the word "worry" to describe these additional purchases because they would have done nothing to improve our wedding.

If we did have more than $2,000 to spend on our wedding, I hope we would have used it to cover the cost of our guests' hotel rooms, as a way to thank them for making the trip to share in our celebration of love and commitment.

Although we weren't able to cover the cost of their lodging, we did manage to find a very inexpensive Bed & Breakfast off the beaten path outside of Estes Park, Colorado. We were able to rent out the whole thing (approximately 40 beds spread out over several cabins and a main house) for $750 a night. We charged everyone $25-$35 per night (for Friday and Saturday), depending on the type of accommodations they were requesting. We set the price higher than the actual per person rate because we weren't sure how many people would choose to stay on site with us in shared accommodations.

Fortunately, we ended up with more people than we expected, which meant that we had money left over. We used it to pay the innkeepers $50/hour to heat up the food we prepared, keep it stocked, and clear it away at the end of the reception. We also used the extra money to cover lodging for a few people who went above and beyond to help us out.

In order to collect the money, we asked one of our most meticulous and outgoing friends to be the Pay Master. We made a form for her, and she went about collecting money from everyone. She started at the Friday night Welcome Picnic and continued through the goodbye breakfast on Sunday. She said she actually enjoyed the task because it meant that she was forced to meet every single person.

Renting out an entire Bed and Breakfast allowed us to have a free location for our Friday Night Welcome Picnic, a kitchen to self-cater our reception, a place to hold our wedding reception, and free communal breakfasts every morning. Although we sacrificed some aesthetic beauty (the cabins were a bit old, and the entire place is smothered in stuffed moose toys), we ended up having the best experience and we stayed within our budget. The innkeepers were the most amazingly helpful people who let us borrow so many of their resources. I didn't think we would ever be able to find something in Colorado, in the mountains, in the summer, with only seven months of planning, but we searched off the beaten path and made it work.

Wishing you the very best!

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Unknown said...


I'm done planning my wedding, but I have an "off-the-beaten-path" question. These little out of the way, and away from the crowd places are really the only kind of place I like to stay. But how on Earth do you find them? Can you give us some of your searching tips? Thanks!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Heather! For our wedding, I spent a lot of time searching for "family reunion" locations in Google. For vacations, I go to Trip Advisor, type in towns outside my main destination, and voila! I can usually find great B&Bs. Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

To keep cost down for my wedding I've chosen a great venue that is so affordable and cute. I plan on renting a hall which will cost me only $500 to rent on Saturday. Then there is a $125 fee for the representative who has to be on site at a certain hour. There also is a $350 security deposit that can be refundable. Basically, I'm saving a ton of money buy having my wedding reception at this place. Where I live it gets cold at night and foggy as well. So it makes sense for me to have my reception indoors. What is so cool about the place that I want to rent is that they provide me with tables, chairs, plates, etc. So I'm saving even more money! That is so exciting to me.

My goal is to having a beautiful DIY wedding on a budget! So far, I found the perfect little hall to hold my reception. I'm super excited! :)

Melissa said...

We're planning a similar wedding adventure. I rediscovered a campsite I used to visit waaaaaaaay back during my GirlScout days. Turns out, you can rent a whole cluster of cabins that fit over 100 people for a reduced rate. We're going to enjoy a camping weekend with our more outdoorsy guests, and set up a large lodge on site for the actual ceremony.

The cost also includes bartending services and linen rentals. Sweet deal :)

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