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akw94

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Hi everyone,
My FI
and I are thinking of an outdoors wedding, possibly at a park. Has anyone done this? Here's a couple things I've been wondering... First, is it possible b/c there seem to be a lot of restrictions. The website for parks in my area say NO amplified music and NO canopies. Well, I need both b/c I want music and I want a tent in case of rain for the reception. So does that mean I just can't have it there?

Another issue for parks in my area is that they don't give permits until April.
We're thinking of a Sept. wedding and I would hate to wait that long.
Then there's other issues.
What if it's a park w/no bathrooms in the area? Again, can I not have it there or is there some sort of solution? Those portable bathrooms seem gross!
How will people feel about walking around on grass during the reception w/heels on? Would people feel weird about that? Could we not have dancing then b/c how does one dance on the grass?
Now, we are thinking a daytime wedding and a big dance floor isn't needed since that's not the thing we're going for, but still, there will be at least some dancing...bride and groom dance, other traditional dances, etc..

What do you guys think? Any other concerns I should have about this idea? Part of the reasoning is that some parks are so pretty and soooo inexpensive and I know our budget will be limited.

Thanks!!

ETA: Sorry, forgot about this before. Now this might be a really silly question but I'm clueless about this stuff, if you gals haven't already figured that out! What about the food? Can you have a whole meal catered w/no kitchen or area to prepare? Where is the food prepared? I feel like this must be possible but have yet to find someone who knows the answer.
 

FacetFire

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Have you thought about looking into a nice old home that has beautiful gardens? It would seem to solve a lot of your problems. What area are you in?
 

akw94

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FacetFire,
I am in the Chicagoland area and had hoped to do something completely outdoors, primarily just b/c that is what I would like but the cost of a park vs. an actual location to rent is a huge difference. A park permit is under $100 but any sort of rental is a minimum of $1000 and finding it that low would be very difficult in my area. What I am going to try and find is a park w/some sort of indoor facility attached. I just don''t know of any and would like to stay nearby.
But I''ve just started the search. I would like to get an understanding of the issues that go along w/an outdoor wedding to see if it''s possible.
Thanks for your suggestion!
 

akw94

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If no tips or answers about park weddings, anyone have tips on outdoor weddings.. ceremony and reception?

Thanks!
 

monarch64

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Dixie, we had a Sunday wedding--outdoor ceremony and indoor reception (although the weather was so beautiful most guests hung out on the huge patio outside) at the Oakbrook Bath and Tennis Club. It was right around $5k three years ago. I don''t know if you''re looking primarily within Chicago proper or are flexible as far as suburban venues...

I''ve heard Katherine Legge Memorial park in Hinsdale is a fantastic wedding venue. I don''t have any details, but it might be a possibility for you.

We also looked at Graue Mill, a historic sort of place, but they had no on site kitchen/food prep area and we didn''t like that aspect. I don''t really know what a caterer would do to work around that type of issue...

There are a ton of venues that offer outdoor ceremony options. Honestly, though, I feel that the venue is the part of the wedding that stands out the most, and if you really, really want an outdoor ceremony and reception you will find a way to do it no matter what. Better to do one thing fabulously than several things that don''t really stand out.
 

aljdewey

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Here''s a couple things I''ve been wondering... First, is it possible b/c there seem to be a lot of restrictions. The website for parks in my area say NO amplified music and NO canopies. Well, I need both b/c I want music and I want a tent in case of rain for the reception. So does that mean I just can''t have it there?

Another issue for parks in my area is that they don''t give permits until April.
We''re thinking of a Sept. wedding and I would hate to wait that long.
Then there''s other issues.
What if it''s a park w/no bathrooms in the area? Again, can I not have it there or is there some sort of solution? Those portable bathrooms seem gross!
How will people feel about walking around on grass during the reception w/heels on? Would people feel weird about that? Could we not have dancing then b/c how does one dance on the grass?
Now, we are thinking a daytime wedding and a big dance floor isn''t needed since that''s not the thing we''re going for, but still, there will be at least some dancing...bride and groom dance, other traditional dances, etc..

What do you guys think? Any other concerns I should have about this idea? Part of the reasoning is that some parks are so pretty and soooo inexpensive and I know our budget will be limited.

Thanks!!

ETA: Sorry, forgot about this before. Now this might be a really silly question but I''m clueless about this stuff, if you gals haven''t already figured that out! What about the food? Can you have a whole meal catered w/no kitchen or area to prepare? Where is the food prepared? I feel like this must be possible but have yet to find someone who knows the answer.
I was married in an outdoor park and had my reception on a schooner (meaning no kitchen area). There were bathrooms at the park; most have some facilities. I''d probably not select a place that didn''t have bathrooms; there are too many other options that have them.

We couldn''t use a tent in the event of rain, so I had a back-up plan in place for the ceremony if we needed it. (Easier for us because our wedding was small).
A friend of mine who had her reception in a state park did have a tent, though, and they had a dance floor put down, DJ, etc., so it can be done.

If you cannot have amplified music, perhaps you could consider a small string quartet, a violinist, an acoustic guitarist, or something similar.

Don''t worry about heels in the grass; no one had problems with it at all.

Lastly, the food. Hire a caterer that does mobile food prep. I had an even tougher challenge because the boat wouldn''t accept sterno (to keep the food warm)! My caterer had a mobile prep truck - looked like a little portable kitchen.
 

akw94

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Monarch,
It doesn''t have to be in the city, actually, I''d probably prefer the burbs due to parking, congestion, etc... I will look into the places you suggested! My ideal is somewhere like the Botanic Garden but it is just too expensive, about $4000 for the ceremony and reception.

Aljdeway, I think you''re right about the bathrooms. I guess I''m a little disappointed b/c there''s a place so close to me that is so pretty and it seemed perfect! I suppose it couldn''t be quite that easy. Why don''t parks allow tents? The thought of planning a regular place and a separate back up place sounds like so much work! I will also check state parks; I hadn''t thought of that.
When having it in a park, there''s no real way to separate yourselves from the regular park patrons, is there? Do people just sort of stay out of that area? I guess I wouldn''t want it somewhere that is crowded w/other people.
I never thought of having a dance floor put down. I''m a little torn b/c although I don''t plan on having an event w/ a lot of dancing, I wouldn''t want people to feel prevented from dancing and I do think I want the traditional dances.
I like the idea of live music a lot! That probably would be my first choice but not sure I could afford that. Also, I do think I''d want some regular songs. I have thought about doing a violinist for the ceremony though. I thought that would be very pretty.

Ah, mobile food prep!! Thanks! I didn''t even know it existed. I will definitely ask about that when starting to look for caterers.

Thanks everyone!! Any other tips?
 

monarch64

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Dixie, I just looked up Katherine Legge Memorial Park...the website with the most info is www.villageofhinsdale.org.

The rental rates are all listed and look very reasonable, definitely well below $4k. They also provide a list of licensed caterers from around that area. As far as location, it''s very easy to get to (right off I-55). I don''t know if you''re at all familiar with the area, but it''s gorgeous...


One other tip I can give you is you don''t have to get crazy with flowers when doing an outdoor ceremony. I think I spent $300-400 total on everything, mainly because when you''re outside you really don''t have to have flowers all over the place--nature will take care of it for you. I had a floral swag thing on the arch we were married under, and that was it for outdoors. Then there was my bouquet, the BM''s bouquets, boutennieres, and mom''s corsages. My mother did silk arrangements for the tables inside, and the petals the flower girls scattered were minimal cost, I don''t even remember how much they were so cheap. Oh, you might have to rent an aisle runner if you want one. I chose not to, and it was fine...I think my venue wanted upwards of $100 just for the runner and I was looking for ways to cut costs. I had a train and wore heels, and although I did "sink" in a few places while taking pictures on the grounds, my train wasn''t damaged or stained.

My best advice is to just start visiting venues and asking questions. I think we researched first, then saw maybe 8 different sites after we''d narrowed down places that we knew wouldn''t fulfill our priorities. Just remember when you''re visiting an outdoor possibility in January or February that it will look quite different in September, lol! Ask to see pics of past events while you''re there.
 

akw94

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Thanks for that website, although it took me awhile to figure out where the park info. was.
I left a message for the person so that I can get a brochure. The cost sounds good and I''m interested to see what it looks like. I couldn''t access the floor plan but I like that the reservation comes w/tables, etc... But I couldn''t find info. on just the park, only on the lodge so I may drive by one of these days soon. I''m definitely putting that on my list.
I completely agree about flowers. That''s another reason why outdoors sounds great to me. I am not a fan of over decorating and have thought about simple centerpieces w/glass bowls and floating flowers and floating candles and few other decorations.
Good idea about viewing pics of past events. My mom was telling me about a rose garden in Evanston and I wondered how different it probably looks now and my imagination is limited!

Thanks Monarch!
 

monarch64

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Dixie, you are quite welcome! Isn''t this a fun process?!

I thought of some other options today...

Galena, IL--there are quite a few venues there that offer outdoor ceremonies, and it''s not super far away from the city. If you google Galena you should come up with all kinds of B&B''s, wedding related things, etc.

Meson Sabika in Naperville--a beautiful old mansion/tapas restaurant. I''ve been there a handful of times and it''s charming but very elegant. They also offer outdoor ceremonies and on site receptions. Not sure about pricing, but their website does state that they will have a new outdoor setup that will seat up to 300 guests by April 2007, so I''m guessing it will be gorgeous.

Starved Rock Lodge in Utica--another park location. Again, not sure of pricing, but all you have to do is call and inquire or email them through the website and they''ll set up a proposal for you based on your number of guests, time of day, etc.

The Katherine Legge site does have quite a few pics on it...right underneath where you click on the FAQ''s, etc, there is another "new pics" line you might want to look at. And honestly the ultimate advantage to that location IMO is the very upscale Hinsdale location. It''s literally right across the street from 5+million dollar homes. Very woodsy, very elegant.
 

akw94

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Monarch,
I will look into Galena and I know Starved Rock would be gorgeous but they''re a bit further than I''d like. Since I will have a bunch of out of town guests, I''d rather stay closeby, if possible.
The photos of the Katherine Legge park are great! I completely missed them yesterday. I couldn''t figure out though if renting the actual lodge is the same as renting the park. Some of the pics are outdoors, so is that just the park or still considered the lodge? I wish the person would call me back! It also says there are caterer''s fees and I don''t really understand that. Is that their caterer or fees to have my own? So many questions!!!
I''ll check out the Naperville place but I bet it won''t be cheap.. it just sounds expensive! I have to get that binder ready so I can keep my notes organized, rather than on little scraps of paper around my office.


Thanks again! You''ve been a great help so far!!
 

akw94

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Monarch,
I went to the Meson Sabika website and spoke to an event coordinator. I love this place! It is definitely top on my list. Cost is reasonable. You don''t have to pay for location, only food and they have a great selection, and I love tapas!
I''m excited!! They have an outdoor patio for the reception w/a 60 person max so that means I''d have to fine tine the guest list.
It''s definitely one of my favorite places so far!!
 

monarch64

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Dixie, I would think if you''re renting the whole lodge you will have use of grounds immediately surrounding it. That park is quite large, I would guess 20 acres or so.

The catering fee thing...it looks like you have to pay a fee to bring in caterers if they are not on the list of licensed caterers. You would have to see what was cheaper, using one of their "licensed" caterers even though they might charge crazy prices, or finding your own caterer, and paying the fee to the park.
 

monarch64

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Date: 12/28/2006 4:43:16 PM
Author: dixie94
Monarch,
I went to the Meson Sabika website and spoke to an event coordinator. I love this place! It is definitely top on my list. Cost is reasonable. You don''t have to pay for location, only food and they have a great selection, and I love tapas!
I''m excited!! They have an outdoor patio for the reception w/a 60 person max so that means I''d have to fine tine the guest list.
It''s definitely one of my favorite places so far!!
Oops, I just saw your post! I''m glad you liked it. You should take FI there soon and check it out! They have the best sangria, both red and white...and the atmosphere is just really cool. Naperville is a great city for your OOT''rs as well, lots to do and plenty of nice accomodations.
 

akw94

Brilliant_Rock
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I''m feeling a bit down b/c already I''m having guestlist issues. In order to use Meson Sabika, we can have a max. of 60 guests and that is family and the bridal party, if all people were to come. It would be very hard for me to not have friends there to celebrate on this day. But cost-wise, I probably need a place w/a limited guest list.
So I''m not sure what to do now; I thought I''d found the perfect place. I''m still planning to visit it though and try to find a couple other possibilities too.
Cutting the guest list is hard!
 

monarch64

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Aw, sorry to hear that Dixie. So if I may ask, what does your guest list look like so far? More than 100, 125-150, ....etc.? If I have a number in mind here maybe I can be of better service, lol.


I didn''t realize M.S. only had room for 60--that sucks! However, don''t rule it out altogether...one friend of mine in this area had her bachelorette party dinner there for about 20 guests and we had a fabulous time, so there is another possibility ( I know you''re concentrating mainly on wedding venues, but keep things like this place in the back of your mind for other events as well, especially if you find another venue in the area for your wedding.) I could swear that their website said they were undergoing some construction for a larger party that would be finished in ''07 but maybe I read it wrong.

Anyway...did you look at Oakbrook Bath and Tennis Club at all? I think the site is www.oakbrook.org or something.... That''s where we got married with the outdoor ceremony on a Sunday afternoon to make it financially feasible, and I think alll in all we totaled $5k for plated dinner, open bar even during dinner, and we brought our own cake ( a lady in DH''s office does wedding cakes as a side job...she charged us a whopping $100 for a 3 tiered cake that fed 100 people!) We did have to pay a cutting fee, but I can''t remember what it worked out to. Oh, and we nixed the champagne toast they would''ve charged us for and let people just toast with whatever they had in front of them, which worked out just fine.

Without getting grossly offensive, may I ask what your ballpark budget is?
I know earlier or on another thread you mentioned $4k was not do-able without you and FI going into debt or charging some things, or whatever. I think we started out thinking we''d be able to do what we wanted with a couple grand and it just didn''t work out that way. I mean, you could do it for that, but honestly you''ll either be getting married at some craphole on the southside, or cutting your guest list drastically...to be frank. Sorry if I''m being completely crass, just trying to help! I hope I don''t make you uncomfortable...if you don''t answer specifically I''ll knwo I''ve overstepped some bounds and will definitely understand.

 

akw94

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Monarch,
I don''t mind the questions! In fact, I think you''ve been more help than all of my family put together! Btw, we drove to Katherine Legge park this weekend. It was already dark.. boy does it get dark fast! Anyway, it is very pretty out there! Those homes around there are gorgeous.. wish it was lighter so I could really see. The lodge looks very quaint and cute, there was a party inside so we couldn''t go in. The outside park area is very pretty; I love all the trees. I do wonder though how the area where the ceremony is gets separated from the rest of the park. If everything is outdoors, are you still being charged the rental rates? However, w/a little more talking from my FI, he''d prefer indoors so I think I will compromise and do ceremony outdoors and reception indoors. I think.
I have a feeling my budget will be about $5000. I know that is tiny but I think the rest will be on my FI and I and there''s little there to take from. I do have a family friend who will be the photographer so that saves a lot. If the location is under $1000 or just use a place that charges for food and not location, I think it will work.
My guestlist is approx. 50-80 people. So Meson Sabika has the outdoor area at 60 max. which I think is too small and 100 minimum for the pavillion. So I''m not knocking it off the list yet but I have a feeling 60 will be tough. I think 75 max. would be perfect! It''s hard b/c I have a lot of out of town guests and until we get rsvp''s back, I don''t know who will come but we can''t wait on a location until then.


I haven''t looked at Oakbrook yet. I have a number of places on a list (at home
) to call which I got from some google search.. who knows if any of them will work. The Katherine Legge lady will be back in the office Wednesday so I''m hoping to get some q''s answered. It really looked pretty from what I could see of the inside.
I also think that us doing lunch will cut down on some costs b/c I don''t think we need an open bar.
Does the lady still do wedding cakes? If so, I would love her info. I haven''t even started that process but are looking for something simple and tasty!
I have a bunch of pics already.
I also plan to do invitations myself (well, the design anyway and then maybe print at Kinko''s or somewhere like that). Same for save-the-dates. I''m considering doing flowers myself b/c I saw this beautiful bouqet of tulips, just wrapped in a green ribbon of some sort. So simple and pretty and seems easy enough to put together. Not sure yet though.

So those are some of my thoughts. Hope that helped a bit. Btw, feel free to ask whatever! I really do appreciate all the help.
 

monarch64

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Dixie, so cool to hear you went to look at KL! Yes, it's too bad it gets dark so quickly, but at least you got sort of a feel as far as the location of the park...Without having been to a wedding there, I can't really answer how they separate an all outdoors wedding from the lodge, either. I wonder if they even allow you to have the venue without the lodge? I would think it'd be just as expensive to bring in your own food, cake, etc. plus a tent in lieu of renting the lodge itself as well as the outdoor ceremony site? Hopefully the coordinator of events there gets back to you soon and can answer that question for you. Either way it would be a lovely venue.

As far as Meson Sebika: Argh, don't you hate the minimum/maximums? Don't get frustrated yet...you will run into that with a lot of places. None of them want to lose money...they all want to maximize space/dollars, unfortunately. I guess you can't blame them, they are running a business after all. Again, if you get the chance, definitely go out there for a visit!

I just asked DH if the lady who did our cake still does them...he said he'll ask her when he's in the office tomorrow. I should add that she was a guest at our wedding and obviously part of his office staff so that may have contributed to the awesomely sweet low price of $100, but I would do anything for a fellow PS'r and would be more than happy to try charming her into a sweet deal for you!

Invitations can be really costly...I highly recommend DIY'ing them! My aunt is a big rubber-stamp fanatic and did ours for free. Actually they were her wedding gift to us--what a financial and time-saving gift, though. They turned out very nicely, and she did our programs as well, all to pretty much our exact specifications. So DIY away, Dixie. Another great way to cut corners.

Flowers--the only thing I can say about DIY flowers is do you really want to deal with fresh flowers and getting them together a day or two before the big event? That would be a good time to delegate or recruit someone in your bridal party or close family to do it for you. I had thought of doing that too, but honestly did not end up having time. One of the gals on PS had DIY silk flowers that she made up way ahead of time...they were beautiful and it made sense for her wedding... Also, tulips are gorgeous but not in season in September, so you might be looking at extra cost there. If you could find an in-season flower and reasonably priced ribbon, get timing coordinated so you could oversee bouquets and such being put together, it might work out well for you, though. Otherwise, I would just keep a budget of at least $500 (on the high side) in mind for a minimalistic, outdoor ceremony look provided by a florist. Heck, even Sam's Club or Jewel or Dominick's do wedding flowers (even cakes, lol), so there's always that option, although you're still looking at $300-500.

It's so fun "trying" to help you! I am rooting for you and really hoping you can have the wedding of your dreams!
ETA: and $5k is NOT tiny!
 

akw94

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Well, I finally spoke w/the woman at KL. She really wasn''t that friendly. I was a bit disappointed and kinda taken aback. But I''d hate to rule it out just b/c of her so it''s still on my list, just not quite as high after talking w/her. She said that there''s 4 hours for the reception which includes clean-up so that''s really 3-3.5 hrs. Any addtl hour is $200. That seems a bit much to me. Then, I''d have to rent my own chairs for the ceremony b/c nothing inside the lodge comes outside the lodge. I couldn''t really understand where lodge grounds stop and the park begins but it''s not sectioned off. You have to rent the whole bldg on a weekend. Hmm... can''t think of more right now but all in all, not high on my list at the moment. By the time I pick somewhere, who knows what will happen though.
I also spoke to people at other places, Silver Lake, Chateau Bu-sche and Oakbrook CC which has a lot of meal options. Some a la carte options are pretty cheap! They don''t include the cake, decorations, wine, etc.. but I bet getting that stuff separately is still less expensive. I am going to make a chart of places so that I can thoroughly compare.

I still want to visit MS. It''s not off my list but I have a bad feeling it will be soon. I really liked it though! So not sure, have to decide if I like it enough to cut the guest list. I just wish I knew who was coming NOW so that I would know if it would work. That''s frustrating!

I completely understand if your cake lady doesn''t charge the same price! I just figure, the more referrals from people, the better. Then I have a more complete list to choose from. I like having options!

I''m hoping the invitations aren''t too hard. I''m not worrying about that quite yet though. Location and date first!!

I don''t know if I really want to deal w/flowers myself. Good question! I do agree that it would be great if I could get others to help w/that. Silk flowers is a great idea but not my preference. I do think that it would be doable if I have friends set up to help but only with that guarantee. I think what I want is fairly simple which is why it seems like it''d be easy. But boy could I be wrong about this! I do want flowers that are in season so thanks for the tip about tulips. I don''t want to incur extra cost for out of season flowers, especially when I don''t have a specific flower that I am dying to have. I have heard Costco has great flowers too so I was going to check them out also.

Thanks again!
 

akw94

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Woops, I just realized I spoke to someone at Old Orchard CC NOT Oakbrook. So all that I was saying before was in reference to Old orchard.
Off to check on Oakbrook now!
 

monarch64

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Dixie, sorry to hear the KL lady was not so friendly.
Good thing there are lots of other options out in the burbs! At least you have more information now, and you can always request a tour sometime if you decide it''s still an option.

Watch out for those hidden costs as far as bringing in your own cake, liquor, etc. Some places will tell you "no problem, bring your own" and then when you look at the contract they''ll inform you of the cake cutting/serving fee, wine corking fee, etc. So be sure to ask about that also when you''re talking to places about what you can do yourself. These places will mainly do whatever it takes to make using their caterers more appealing to work with than sourcing your own things, or so was the case when we were weighing all the options.
 

IrishAngel7982

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Hi Dixie~
I just saw that you''re looking for something in the Chicagoland area...have you checked out the Garfield Park Conservatory? My cousin had her reception there a couple years ago and it was nice...there''s plenty of room for an outdoor ceremony (if your''e still entertaining that option) and the room she rented had a nice large outdoor patio area. The website says the renter needs to be a resident of the city...I''m not sure where you live but it may be worth taking a look at. Good luck!
http://www.garfield-conservatory.org/room_rental_information.htm
 

akw94

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Monarch, I will definitely read all contracts thoroughly before signing! I try to remember to ask everyone I speak w/if there are any additional costs but I wouldn''t be surprised if they try to throw some in.
I went to two locations this weekend: Silver Lake CC and Chateau Bu-Sche? I like the first and what I like most about them is that they truly are willing to accomodate my wishes. I didn''t realize there was so much negotiating w/all this stuff. They cut the ceremony cost in half, gave me other meal options other than the package, gave me a lower price on a kids meal, etc... Every time I talk to them, I like it more and more. Plus, they have an outdoor ceremony site and the area is very pretty so there''d be picture taking opportunities. The second place wasn''t as great but not totally off the list yet.
I''m hoping to visit MS this weekend and maybe Oakbrook if I talk to someone there first.

IrishAngel, thanks for the Garfield Park suggestion. Actually, a friend of mine is planning her wedding there. I hadn''t considered it due to its location. I did check it out though after you mentioned it and regardless, it is a bit out of my budget. For just location, it''s too much. I''d still have to pay the catering fees.

So I am still in search of the perfect location. I''m worried that it''s Meson Sabika and I''ll be forced to cut the guest list to only family and just a couple friends. Tough decisions!
 
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