…and closer to just heading to the courthouse here for our wedding. We’ve looked into parks, community centers, school gyms, you name it. If you can think of it, we’ve looked there. No one we know anywhere has a backyard large enough for even 15 people. The only places large enough within our range won’t work. Cody’s atheist and I’m agnostic, and churches don’t welcome our kind.
The cheapest places we found were both right by the beach, and my dream reception is on or right by a beach. I love the ocean. The websites said they held enough people. The site for Chase Palm says it seats 96, and Casa Las Palmas is supposed to seat 50. Our guest list is at about 78, so we’d have to cut it a bit for CPL, but beggars can’t be choosers. When we saw these places in person, I felt my excitement deflate. CP might seat 96 if packed wall to wall. I don’t see how CLP could seat 50 considering it’s smaller than our apartment! These places would seat maybe 25 people comfortably if there’s to be any room to move. Maybe 25. Since choosing between friends would be impossible, after his parents and their SOs, and his brother and brother’s family, we’d have to resort to a lottery for the remaining seats.
I knew it was a bad idea to see the original place I wanted, this place locals call “the bathhouse.” Unfortunately it was perfect in every way. Size, decor, it overlooked the beach and ocean!! But it’s $1,300 more than our total budget – still very cheap to rent as far as venues go, but more than we can afford. It’s hard to believe these are community buildings with how much they cost.
We looked into parks too. WTF, people!! $3,400 to hold a wedding at a public park?! Plus $2,000,000 in insurance with the parks listed as an additional insured, but also, since the parks are public, anyone is allowed? So if some kids play around and one breaks a leg, we’re liable as the policy holders. NO. I don’t fucking think so!! Oh, and on top of the arm-and-a-leg, the cost of renting big party tents is in the thousands, plus hauling in tables and chairs, and all else.
Community centers and halls were no better. Aside from any alcohol present meaning the event is shut down and deposit forfeited, they were also surprisingly expensive for us. How can community centers run in the thousands? For a part of a building that still allows other people to do stuff? If I’m paying thousands to rent a space, I don’t want strangers to be able to walk into my reception. Sorry, but I don’t.
I looked into the school gyms. Aside from them looking like typical gyms with bleachers and basketball hoops and the mascot painted many feet high on the walls, it would be okay, if we can rent one. I know Cody doesn’t want to have a wedding in the same gym where he went to assemblies in high schools, and that he feels a wedding would be out of place in a place where casual high school dances were awkward, so I suggested a sports theme. He wouldn’t even answer that.
I looked into areas far outside out area, like Modesto and Merced. I don’t blame him one single bit for hating this idea more than anything. Not only are these towns several hours away and would require every single person we know to travel, but these towns are disgustingly filthy. If ever there were towns that needed a good scrubbing and cleaning, these are the towns. I was unfortunate enough to live there 13 years, and there’s no amount of money in this world high enough to get me to live there again. But the venues are dirt cheap. Sure, it’s because the people living there are dirt poor and they’re nothing fancy, but they’re still cheap, and we wouldn’t have to resort to a lottery for the guest list.
The last option we’re given thought to is having the wedding where we want it, then taking everyone to an inexpensive restaurant. Not quite McDonald’s, but not Outback either. Since we can’t tell people they each have $X to spend, we’d have to be sure that wherever it was, that there’s little risk of the bill going over what we can afford to spend, with the gratuity automatically added in at every place for parties over eight people. Are there even any decent restaurants where food can’t be more than $15 per person?
So far it seems like out options right now are:
Go with one of the small buildings and hold the lottery
Have the wedding in the Central Valley somewhere
Gym (we still need to try talking the school into renting to us)
Going to a local courthouse and just getting it done with
The way we had planned to do this was to rent CLP or CP and self-cater. We really like the idea of a pasta bar, with different pastas, sauces, add-ins, salad, and garlic bread. Simple, something pretty much everyone loves, and not at all expensive. The cake was going to be made by me, the dress and flowers by me too, and I’d do my own make up and hair. We were going to make simple centerpieces for the tables. The tables and chairs are included in the cost for CPL, CP, and the bathhouse. For music, we were going to set up an iPod. We weren’t planning on photography. No way we could even dream of that. I know this is extremely important to most people, but we were just going to rely on guests sharing their pictures. Invitations were to be designed and printed by us. Favors were going to be mini chocolate pies made by me. So already what we had planned was nothing fancy and we were going to do almost everything ourselves, and there aren’t really any expenses to cut, if any. The date we picked was even a Sunday, when rental costs are less! Even without pictures, this was going to be a stretch, but we would be able to do it.
So it kills me that it’s still proving to be impossible for us. That venue that would be perfect would push us over our budget by about 150%!! Yes, yes, I know, our budget is laughably modest. Most people have help offered, but none has been forthcoming for us. I’ve got no close family worth a damn (dad dead, mom an alcoholic, a brother who doesn’t acknowledge my existence), and Cody’s already contributed to his prior wedding. So there’s no where help will come from. I’ve told him do not ask. If anyone wanted to help, they’d offer. No one’s under the impression we can afford much of a wedding. If no help is willingly offered, then there’s no help to be had. I don’t want anyone put on the spot and feel they have to help or feel embarrassed by saying no.
Cody’s dad is supposed to be looking into the cost of a venue he saw. Chances are it’s one I’ve looked at, and chances are it’s going to be over our budget too. But Cody wants to hear back from him before deciding what we should do. Since I can guarantee, without a doubt, it’s going to be too much (I’ve seriously scoured the whole area within a 75-mile radius)…
We will likely ultimately just head to the courthouse here in the next few weeks. We’ll be lucky if his parents and their SOs can make it, but we also wouldn’t have to worry so much about a restaurant bill that is more than we have saved. We can use baby money and save again later.
Right now, if something happens to me and I can’t make my own decisions, the state becomes my default guardian. I don’t want the state making medical decisions for me, especially not with my complex medical history. And if I’m going to die, I can’t handle the thought that Cody wouldn’t be allowed to be with me as he is a legal stranger.
I am very sad that we won’t get to have things like that moment of first seeing each other down the aisle, the teary vows, first kiss, first dance, memories of a beautiful day when our loved ones all gathered, but what can we do? Nothing. Money doesn’t appear out of thin air. If we can’t afford it and help isn’t willingly offered, then we can’t have it. It’s more important for us to be married than to wait a few years and have a beautiful wedding then.
So come Monday, when he hears from his dad, whichever is later (I need to try the school gym), if the place his dad is looking into is too expensive for us (and I know it will be, without a doubt) and the school won’t let us have the gym, then he will be telling them straight up that a wedding is just not something we can afford, and that in the net few weeks, whenever he has a weekday off, that we’re just going to go to the courthouse here and get it done. Far from ideal, but if we can’t do anything else, then we can’t. Simple as that.