My sister-in-law got married this past May on her fiancé's family farm, and she asked me early on in their engagement if I would help plan it. Seeing as I had hosted my own wedding in the middle of a field I definitely had some tips for planning a wedding in a non-traditional venue space (my absolute favorite!). While her and her fiancé came up with the overall design concept and aesthetic for the event, I helped with a lot of the logistics, troubleshooting, and day-off coordination. Being in the wedding party as well ensured that our organization had to be on-point in order to execute each aspect of the day.
Venue: Private family farm // Floral: Blume Events // Photographer: Kimberly Jarman // Bride & Bridesmaid Dresses: Allure from Wedding Belles Bridal Boutique // Caterer: Robert's Catering // Bakery: Robert's Catering // Rentals: PRO EM // DJ: Got You Covered
So what exactly is a non-traditional venue? While there are plenty of ways to define the term, simply put it is a space that is not typically marketed towards weddings and often times will require you to bring in everything yourself. A good place to start when considering hosting your wedding in this type of environment is to begin thinking of locations that are meaningful to you, places you love, or simply a spot that inspires you - then go from there. While the sky really is the limit, some ideas can include schools, backyards, fields, private estates, galleries, lofts, museums, anywhere in nature, public parks, and so on.
To someone who lacks experience throwing parties in a non-traditional setting, there can be a lot of hidden costs and a lot of additional planning involved. But what you will end up with is a completely unique event! Below are some of my top tips to help you begin the process:
- Ask a lot of questions, then ask some more. When walking through potential wedding locations ask as many questions that you need to in order to understand what will be required of you to host your event there. Some non-traditional spaces have held weddings on their property before and should be able to give you the run-down. But in situations where you will be the first, be sure to reach out to as many people as you can. You do not want to select a venue without knowing exactly what you will need to bring in.
- Do your research. Permits, noise ordinances, and parking are good places to start. Look in to the possible city or county permits you may need for items such as food, alcohol, structures, and other general party or wedding permits. Just as important is being knowledgable of the local noise ordinance so you are able to stay within the limits (no ones wants a party to unexpetedly end early). And lastly, be sure to understand the logistics behind parking and transportation for guests.
- Know the additional costs involved. Often times couples are initially drawn to the concept of a non-traditional wedding because of the low up front costs, only to be met by unexpected expenses along the way. The key is to be aware of these potential expenses and how they align with your overall budget prior to selecting your venue. Depending on what your venue does or does not supply for you, things your may need to acquire can include event insurance, rentals, a generator, lighting, additional space for your caterer, a tent for weather purposes, and restrooms. Keep in mind this is only a general list and does not take in account specialty rentals items that will help bring your event design together.
- Pretend you are a guest. Once you understand the layout of your potential wedding venue, put yourself in your guests' shoes and mentally walk through your wedding day. From arrival to departure what will your guests be doing? How will they get from ceremony to cocktail hour to reception? What should they be wearing? What will they see? How will the leave at the end of the evening? Doing this type of visual exercise will not only give you a better understanding of the flow of your event, but it will also help you troubleshoot any potential problems.
- Hire a wedding planner. You saw this one coming from a mile away. But in all seriousness hiring an experienced professional will help you navigate everything mentioned above, and in doing so allow you to enjoy the process rather than get burnt out from it. Hosting a wedding in a non-traditional space is a ton of FUN, but there is also plenty of confusion that comes along with it. A wedding planner is sure to help you in the process!
I hope these tips are useful to you as you begin planning for your non-traditional event space! Weddings that pose logistical challenges are what my planning and designing dreams are made of, so if you find yourself in need of help or simply have questions about hosting your wedding in a non-traditional venue feel free to reach out!