The Right Place
Venues. Venues cost a lot of money, y’all. Money, what is money? It is a tool, a tool that helps make a lot of things in life easier. It makes finding food, finding shelter, finding water easier.
Beyond that, it is something that starts to create strange pressures and weird impulses. I NEED those denim spring sandals. Or. They’re wedding was so nice, they must have spent so much on each guest, I need to do that too. Or. Man, what if these people are used to living a certain way and my wedding doesn’t live up to their standards? Or. What if they think I am a hick because I serve hot dogs and hamburgers on paper plates instead of a multi-course meal on white table cloths? Those are just a few of the insecurities I was having related to our wedding venue and money. Big, bad money.
In a world where expectations are high and every three weeks TLC puts out a new nuptial-related show, how can we all take a deep breath and let go of the standards? For me, it started with a big dose of honesty. Honesty with myself and honesty with my partner. We asked ourselves one simple and ginormous question, “What do WE want for OUR wedding?” And this was our answer:
1. We want ALL the people we love to be there.
2. We don’t want to spend a fortune, no loans for us.
3. We want the folks that want to party to be able to stay close by, no drinking and driving for our folks!
4. We want to get married somewhere pretty. In WV. In nature.
5. We want everyone that comes to feel welcome and comfortable!
So, based on that, we start our search. We look at state parks. Strict alcohol and food policies. We look at a few private inns. Way too expensive or small, though they would have been lovely. We look at a few camps and picnic shelters. I like the laid-back vibe, but the logistics could get crazy and again, strict alcohol policies. We look at renting a big house some place on a chunk of land. “No Events” policies.
This goes on for a while. I am sure that lots of folks who have already gone through this process get it, but daggone, venues are important and expensive and picky and hard.
We stall. I am running out of ideas. Sam and I are down at his folks for the weekend and I ask them if they have any suggestions. They mention a spot called Camp Splinter but the weather has been awful and we can’t take our car out the road. It doesn’t get plowed.
We leave and start the 2-hour trek back to Morgantown. On the way home, Sam suggests something that I haven’t thought of. His parent’s land. It is beautiful there. There is a creek and apple trees and raspberries and blackberries and a fire pit. The thought of it makes me excited but I am hesitant. I know that is a lot to ask of someone. Sam and I start looking up logistical things that might make it ok and not as much of a burden on his parents.
Can we rent port-a-potties? For instance. Yes. We can. Where will people stay? We could have a camp-out wedding! It could be the point of the thing. We could make invitations that let people know what they need to bring. Or, if they don’t like camping, they could stay 15 miles up the road in Summersville. What about weather? Can we rent a tent? Yes. We can.
All the questions seem to suddenly have answers. The moment we think of Sam’s folks house, everything starts to come together in our minds.
Before we can make a decision and before we ask the question, we have to check out Camp Splinter. The next time we are down at his folks we drive over and wander around. It is a beautiful spot. Two streams intersect and join the Cranberry River. Pretty trees line the big clearing where a lovely rustic bunkhouse sits. There is a fire pit and little flowers growing in the grass. But. It doesn’t feel perfect. It doesn’t feel right.
On the way back to Sam’s folks, we decide to ask. Worst they can say is no.
When we return Sam’s mom asks, “What did you think of Camp Splinter?”
And I say, “Hey Sam, your mom wants to know what we thought of Camp Splinter.” And he smiles and I say, “Well, I don’t know, logistics would be pretty tough out there. We were thinking another spot.”
“Where?” She says.
“We were thinking maybe right out here, maybe like, 100 feet that way?” I say, grinning.
“What?!” She says, her eyes all bright and lit up. Sam’s dad is smiling big.
“We know it is a lot and you can say no, but could we get married in your yard?” I ask, grinning really huge at this point.
“Yes!” Sam’s momma says in her drawl, giggling.
“Are you sure, because there will be like, 100 people here!” I say.
“Yes, of course!” she says back.
Sam’s dad adds, “That’d be alright,” Still smiling.
The moment they say yes, my heart feels so full and warm and happy. I know it is the RIGHT place. A place that is special to us, a place where we know folks that can help us with all the logistics, a place where we love the land, a place that has always felt safe and welcoming and wonderful.
I know that every venue will have its ups and downs. I know that in Sam’s parent’s yard, we are totally DIYing this thing. But, I also know that I am stoked to get started. I am stoked to have such an important and wonderful moment in such an important and wonderful place.