Tag Archives: planning

Wedding No. 2: Boca Grande, Florida

24 Jul

Andrew pulled off the most amazing proposal on the small island of Gasparilla, in a town called Boca Grande.  His family has been going to Boca Grande for vacation for four generations, so it’s a special and meaningful place.  Not to mention that it’s gorgeous, and I for one would love to get married in a gorgeous, meaningful, special place.

Boca Grande Beach Club

The major player on Boca Grande is the Gasparilla Inn & Club.  It’s a gorgeous, “old Florida” style inn, surrounded by quaint, cozy cottages and a pristine golf course.  There are several places to get married at the Inn, including the golf course, the croquet lawn, in the main dining room, and at the Beach Club, located a couple of blocks away at the shore.  We got engaged on the beach right next to the Beach Club.  It has cheerful yellow umbrellas, panoramic views of the Gulf, and delicious rum drinks with fruit garnishes.  Fun place for a wedding, right?

Gasparilla Inn

I contacted Sharon, the Catering Manager at the Inn, and she helpfully provided me with a price list.  I won’t share their prices on here since they do not list them publically, especially as they are the nicest people and I don’t want to make them mad.  But I will tell you that the Beach Club is has a fee that is equal to about one fifth of the total budget we had originally discussed, and then a food and beverage minimum that is double that.  So all together, that would have taken up about 60% our total budget.  Doable.  With service charge and tax, it would be more like 73% of the budget.  We didn’t need those decorations anyway.

The key would be to keep the food and beverage total as close to the minimum as possible.  The Gasparilla Inn has a wide selection of buffet and seated menus available, as well as canapes, action stations, etc.  They also offer bar service by the hour, key for our particular guests, who have been known to consume remarkable quantities of alcohol.

I calculated that with the following basic inclusions: a canape buffet including coconut shrimp, salmon tartare, among other delicious offerings, barbecue buffet dinner with brisket, snapper, pulled pork and fried chicken and tons of fancy comfort food sides, and a full bar; we could have a wedding with 70 people.  Wow, I thought, we could actually pull this off!  If I don’t put any money into decor, my dress, invitations and other printing, any extras, we could have a fairly large wedding at a luxury location with our very average budget.

We started putting our list together.  We each put our own family and friends down separately, with a third list for mutual friends.  We got to 275.  And that was being conservative!  Even if each of us only invited 40 people (with the assumption that 5 from each list would not come) we would only be able to invite our immediate families, grandparents, close aunts, uncles and cousins, and NO FRIENDS.  I just couldn’t imagine getting married in this paradise with not even one of my friends there!  And I couldn’t not invite the family that is closest to me.

So we had to give up the Boca Grande dream wedding.  I had gotten attached too!

Want to see some gorgeous pictures from a bride who got to have her dream wedding at the Gasparilla Inn & Club?  Check them out on the Style Me Pretty blog!

Wait, no, this one might be my favorite!  This wedding looks so FUN.  The bride grew up vacationing in BG too, so you know she is totally taking advantage of how fun and laid back and special it is there.  I am so freaking jealous.


Wedding No. 1: Scotland

20 Jul

Technically, I did not plan this wedding after we got engaged.  Scotland is a dream vacation for both Andrew and me (though he’s already been), so when it was clear that we were on the path to marriage, we fantasized about a small, family wedding in Scotland.

NOT this:

No offense if this is your dress

No offense if this is your dress...

We were thinking a touch more restrained.  Scotland is famous for running off to get married.  In the mid 18th century, restrictive English matrimonial law led to the increase of English couples eloping across the Scottish border, where the age of consent was much younger.  Towns along the border, particularly Gretna Green, became the “drive-through wedding chapels” of the day.  Not so romantic, you may think.   The thing is, I love Scotland, and so does Andrew, so why not elope there rather than Vegas?

One thing Scotland has in abundunce: old houses, castles, towers, cottages, farmhouses, and inns.  And it seems like all of them are “for hire” for any kind of event or lodging you would need for a destination wedding.  In fact, you could randomly pick a part of the country, drop your finger on the map, and find at least 3 lovely places to stay for a weekend and get married.

Being practical (obviously, right?  I was planning a wedding thousands of miles from my home when I wasn’t even engaged yet.  The height of practicality!), I chose an area near Edinburgh, which allowed for minimal travel time and maximized our celebration time.   Searching the internet, I found the perfect place to get married in Scotland.

Winton House

Winton House.  It’s gorgeous.  It’s the home of Sir Francis Ogilvy, and sits on 2,000 acres.  It’s only 30 minutes from Edinburgh, so people aren’t traveling for a day to and from the international airport (and wasting all their vacation time in a car or on a train!)  The main house accommodates up to 16 people, and there are two additional places to stay on the property: Wintonhill Farmhouse and Winton Cottage, which hold up to 26 additional people.

GORGEOUS.  Right?  The two small houses are “self-catering”, which is a seemingly technical term in British hospitality jargon for “has its own kitchen”.  Presumably the rooms up at the big house are more like hotel rooms, so probably cost more.  However, I figured out based on their rates, and the time of year I was thinking (August and September), that we could rent both houses for a three day weekend, and have both our immediate families with us.  We could put any overflow and friends and ourselves in some or all of the 8 rooms at the main house, and easily cover those rooms in our budget as well.

You can get married in one of the gorgeous rooms in the main house, or in the garden, and then have a seated dinner and dancing after.  Including airfare, care hire, taxes, gratuities, plus all the stuff you’d need for any wedding – dress, accessories, tuxedos, flowers, invitations (though less 40 probably), and any other more casual events we might provide, I think this wedding could have been pulled off for less than $20,000.  (That being said, I did not get a quote from the Winton House, so possibly their prices are exorbitant.  But based on the rental for the cottage and farmhouse, it doesn’t seem that way.)

Downsides for this wedding?  Probably very few of our friends could have come, and many of our family members.  It would be a lot to ask from our family members who might feel obligated to come, including siblings.  Even if we paid for the lodging for a weekend, they would have to get plane tickets and car rentals, not to mention take vacation days at work.

So.  No Scottish wedding for us.

Planning 5 Weddings

19 Jul

After Andrew proposed, I made some blithe comment about not worrying about our wedding until my sister got married in September, 5 months later.

Clearly I am delusional.

I must have been suffering from temporary insanity, or the kind of total lack of self-knowledge that turns people into hypocrites.  You see, I would like to be the kind of person who is totally calm and clear-headed about wedding planning.  I don’t want to turn into the type of crazy woman who turns a deranged eye to the cameras on “Bridezillas” screaming, “It’s MYYYYYYY DAY!!”  I hate those people.  And I will try to avoid that level of crazy.

The fact remains, however, that I am an event planner by trade, and it would be extremely out-of-character for me to let an exciting event like a wedding go unplanned for nearly HALF a YEAR.  So no cool, calm and collected for me.  I jumped into wedding planning feet-first, ordering books, buying magazines, and reading the internet.

I realized something quickly though.  I have not really been a person who has always known exactly what I want for my wedding.  I could see us getting married in all different venues, times of year, and with all different sizes of wedding.  I realized the hardest part of planning a wedding was picking which wedding to plan.  (Well, and paying for it.)

Andrew was no help!  He says he planned the proposal (and, let’s face it, it was awesome), so I was in charge of the wedding.  I suspected that as time passed, there would be some things that we would all be surprised that Andrew had an opinion on, but until he was faced with a specific choice, he didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted either.

So I’ve planned 5 weddings, one after the other, abandoning each until we finally found the right one.  Not technically planned all the way through, have to go cancel contracts with vendors level of planning.  But you know what I mean, right?

And I could have gone through with each and every one of these weddings, but for one or two missing elements.  Most often, it was striking the right balance of budget to number of people invited.

Let’s say that Andrew and I figured that our budget was $25,000 (not our actual budget, but close to the Knot’s average amount spent on weddings.  And, well, pretty close to our budget too.)  We realized that that would get us a really nice wedding with 30 guests in Scotland to a relaxed party for more that 200 in Texas.  And we couldn’t make up our minds about which we wanted.

So over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share some of the weddings I planned.  Maybe someone else can use the information to actually have one of the weddings of my dreams!