From top, left: The site of our ceremony at Blackacre, straw bale seating via
Martha Stewart Weddings, Blackacre map.
We're hosting our wedding and reception at Blackacre State Nature Preserve in our hometown of Louisville, KY. Blackacre is a 300 acre secret tucked away on a single gravel lane, smack dab in the middle of expressways, strip malls and parking lots. But once you turn onto that tree-lined road, it's as if you're 50 miles outside of city limits. There are rolling pastures, grasslands, forests and frog ponds, nature trails and barnyard animals. Our ceremony will happen behind an old double-crib Appalachian style barn, sandwiched between a field of goats and a historic farmhouse.
This may come as a shock, but there will be no dancing or booze at the actual reception. I promise you, we don't hate fun. The truth is, we're just not into it. Instead of an evening event, we're hosting the wedding at two o'clock, followed by a picnic catered by our favorite restaurant. We'd rather take advantage of our beautiful venue by encouraging guests to pet the goats, stroll around the homestead or take a short hike on the bluebird trail. We don't drink very much, and the cost of liability insurance to provide alcohol on a nature preserve just wasn't worth it. If anyone wants to get get down like that after the reception, guests may follow us over to our hotel's incredibly rad bar for a very informal after-party (as in no reservations, cash bar). At first, I worried that our guests wouldn't enjoy themselves. Don't people look forward to getting gussied up, getting drunk off their ass and shamelessly getting loose to Love Shack? Maybe some do, but I suspect that by inviting only our nearest and dearest, it ensures that they'll be there to celebrate the love we've found. What better way to celebrate than with activities that reflect us? If we weren't totally stoked about a particular tradition, we just gave it the boot.
Our venue was the second largest wedding expense, but because it is a beautiful scenic farm, we were able to save money in other areas. For example, instead of renting chairs for our ceremony, our guests will be sitting on bales of straw, covered with colorful mini quilts sewn by our crafty friend, Heather. This way, the straw can be recycled as food for the goats. We negotiated with the farmer, and he agreed to order the type of bales suitable for his livestock. We also have access to the venue's 8 10 ft. picnic tables for the reception. Since the place is already so gorgeous and interesting, we're spending less on decorations.
Although I've never planned a wedding before, I've coordinated corporate events for the last four years and I've learned that networking can get you everywhere. If you're into the outdoorsy wedding, you could always ask around and see who has connections to a family farm, rural property, garden or big backyard. Also, look for places that include seating, or don't call for much added drama, as far as decor goes. To save money, you may have to be clever and think outside the wedding box. Our original idea was to rent out a few cabins in a state park, and have the wedding in the forest!