DIY Wedding – Finding a Venue

By Molly Kimball of elephantbeads ♥♥♥
It is never easy to pull all the different components together for one of the most important events in your life – and one of the biggest parties you’ll ever throw! A few weeks ago, Elise, owner of the VintageCarolina shop on Etsy, sent the following message to other members of the DTeam:

My daughter got engaged on Valentine’s Day so now I am looking for a “venue.” I stayed on the internet until 1:30 am last nite… I’m usually sound asleep by 10 pm. Things are so dang expensive. I need an idea. The wedding will be in upstate SC so I am going to try the art museum and the history museum which both are nice and do rent out …a mere few thousand apiece and then you need a caterer…Who is it that has the peacocks? I need to buy feathers.

Being the DTeam, the responses were many – some funny, and many helpful. Here are the highlights, in case they are helpful to others who are facing a similar challenge:

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JudysDesigns says
Elise – I’m the one who has peacocks. What do you need?

Elizabeth C from lizbethsgarden says
Congrats to your daughter, Elise. If your daughter attends or works at a university, sometimes you can rent university venues much more cheaply. I got married in my university chapel (we were students) & they charged only the standard fee for renting a university facility — $25 for a morning. This was not decades ago. 🙂

Lexan from CrimsonMosquito says
Carolina – Congrats to your daughter! Maybe an aquarium (you can rent out the NC aquariums here for events, so fun). I agree that it is so expensive to find a venue, thus the reason we will probably just run off for a weekend and elope : P

Elise says
Lizbeth – good idea on the University venue. I am getting depressed about the costs on the venues. I hate all the dang tv shows on weddings, I am not going into debt for this. All these shows give everyone such unrealistic expectations.

Judys- my daughter is thinking about a peacock theme (why I don’t know) when I got married your only theme was your color..mine was hot pink which was pretty wild in the olden day.

I have a gorgeous cathedral length mantilla I want her to wear. It was mucho expensive…but noooo-o. she wants something different to make her look like a princess I guess. 

JudysDesigns says
Carolina – I still think you can have a gorgeous wedding for less $$. I know my niece is on a budget for hers and the items I’ve seen so far are beautiful. You’d never know; she shopped carefully and watched for bargains. 


I have feathers so let me know what she needs, whether it is for bouquets and need to be long stemmed or attached to head pieces, etc and I’ll count up what I have and send you pics. If it is after June/July, they will drop their current train during this time (about 200 feathers per train). 

fiberpuppy says 
Congrats and good Luck Carolina.

Remember never to say the word “wedding” or the price goes up by 5. Call it a family union ceremony or something.

I was lucky being the only girl. Honestly, I have no idea what my wedding cost. My dad wouldn’t tell me. All I cared about was getting married near the ocean. I would have gone for a BBQ on the beach. My mom fell in love with an Inn on the Northern Cal coast and that was that. I had no choice of caterer etc as it was a package deal. I think I got to pick the napkin color and what kind of beer.

Oh yeah I did get to choose my wedding dress ($60 at the Gunne Sax outlet) and the band (Bluegrass).

But some cost saving ideas. Any friends arrange flowers? I did the flowers for my SIL wedding. And they did look fine if I do say so myself. Daughter may not like it but here they have boutiques for used wedding dresses. Not everyone keeps everything so she may be able to get last year’s latest latest.

For venue, what about your yard? Sounds like you have a gorgeous wraparound porch that’s just itching for company. You’d have to rent tents, but that’s way less than renting a hall/garden/museum. 

Elise says
Judys, she is going to get married in about a year so collect the feathers and save some for me. I think she is going to use them in flowers.

There are lots of ways to save on everything about a wedding, she doesn’t want a wedding cake for one thing. It is the darn venue. I called for a quote on our favorite one today. $9000 for 100 people, add $2000 if we have wine. That is ridiculous. I am definitely in the wrong business! 

fiberpuppy says 

OK Serial posting about Carolina’s daughter’s wedding. Maybe you should go about it another way and set a budget (and perhaps list of must invite relatives) and let daughter decide what’s important. Perhaps she’d rather have the locale be spectacular but the dress be a hand-me-down. Or maybe she wants to do it up but less folks can attend. It’s actually a good learning lesson for starting a family as we all know you have to juggle multiple priorities.

Elizabeth C from lizbethsgarden says
We spent $1000 plus a cake — my mom bought the cake for us. We paid for everything else ourselves — most of the money went on my dress & his suit. And (for reasons besides cost) we had no photographer and friends & family took the pics.

Molly Kimball from ElephantBeads says

Elizabeth – My wedding was like yours, very low budget but fantastic memories! We had a friend make the bouquet; her sister found a great Celtic music group at the University who played for 3 hours for very little; we had another friend take the pics; and we got married in our back yard. My dad and my sister in law were primarily responsible for decorating the back yard, and they did a fabulous job! Most of the money went to the caterer – and I found a very simple $300 dress.

JudysDesigns says
Goodness but the rates seem high for weddings. I hope my daughter waits for me to save $$ or she elopes. LOL. The feathers are pretty in bouquets. My friend used them in a corsage and boutonniere for the kids for prom. I saw the pictures and they were beautiful

Jenny R from BlackMagicStudio says 

I’m still thinking about wedding costs. Luckily, we know so many people that there’s somebody to do just about everything. I have a friend who used to make wedding cakes. She and I have both done floral arrangements. Ryan and both his brothers are photographers, so they’ll take turns in being groomsmen and photographers at each other’s wedding. Ryan’s best friend has also done the music for smaller events, and I would prefer to have him do ours (because I’m not a fan of DJs) but I have a feeling he’ll be busy as the best man. 

Stephanie from SassyBelleWares says

Carolina, is your daughter set on a big wedding? Maybe a destination wedding would work? That is what we did. I never wanted a huge typical wedding. I completely understand that that is the dream of most girls but I always thought it was a huge waste of money. I figured if my parents were paying for something they may as well get a vacation out of it! We got married in Antigua and I have no regrets with our choice! Everyone had a fun time and there was absolutely no stress!

Meghan W from MegsCrochetJewels says

Elise: Congrats on your daughters engagement!! So exciting!! We got married at a State Park…. Richard. B. Russel…. Neighbors with SC. You may look into that if outdoors is an option. Even if it’s not some State Parks or Historical sites have some really awesome buildings. We also considered the Botanical Gardens.

I think we spent about 2000 and that includes D.J., Photographer (family friend) cake (my aunt is a baker) dress, venue, flowers, decor…. everything. But it is funny how as a bride you obsess over every tiny detail and then when it is all over you realize none of that was important. If i could do it again I would do things differently. Probably spend less than 500. One thing I will say is tell her to think about how her dress will look in photos. A lot of those tiny beaded details will never even be noticed in the pics. OH and we didn’t have a caterer… we had potluck sides and the guys grilled chicken 🙂

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Asked a few days ago about the progress she and her daughter have made in their search for a venue, Elise had this to say:

The search for a wedding venue has been surprisingly traumatic with my daughter crying more than once and my tossing and turning in bed. I found a lovely venue in an historic home that is a fab deal but was “not her style”. Then she located a much more expensive venue (think “Tara”) rather inconveniently located. More tears. I am trying to stick to a budget and explained that if the venue is half the budget there will be no money for a dress. The Southern Belle in me refuses to invite folks to a wedding and not serve good food.

Along the way my only daughter reminded me that all her life she has been reasonable and non-demanding about her requests so seems like this once she should get her dream wedding. So true and this adds to my guilt. She was never a teen diva about clothing.

Low and behold we have had a happy ending. She and fiancé have offered to pay the extra amount so they can have their dream venue. I believe they are taking the money from the funds they had saved for their honeymoon. Although they are on a very limited income, I am proud to find that they had already saved this money and hope they will be able to “re-save” it or postpone the spectacular honeymoon they had envisioned.

We are both relieved to get this behind us as it has put a damper on what should have been an exciting time. Now we are both happy and excited to begin moving forward. We are thinking of ways to save money doing things like printing our own invitations, making favors and table decorations. I think this part will be fun!

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4 Comments

  1. I'm excited to see how the Peacock themed DIY wedding turns out!

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  2. Can't wait to see how this turns out!

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  3. It's fun to see the dialogue in one place. The team has some fabulous ideas and ways to save and have a beautiful, memorable wedding. With costs what they are these days, it pays to be creative.

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  4. I’m glad we’ve captured these ideas for possible future needs! Great ideas here!

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