Park Wedding

humblegyrlOctober 4, 2007

So we're thinking about having the ceremony and reception at the park. There is a pavilion there that will seat 150 people, so there will be more than enough space for our guests.

I'm actually thinking about buying dinnerware sets instead of plastic/styrofoam/paper, because I hate to create that much waste (plus I love the idea of building my dish cabinet...teehee).

Here's what I'm wondering... should I skimp on renting chairs and such and just hold the ceremony/reception under the pavilion or would it just be too awkward to have people sitting at the tables where they'd eventually be eating? They'll be sitting at picnic tables, so I'm hoping with real dishes and good centerpieces, tablecloths, etc it might be doable. Think we can pull it off?

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It's hard to answer your questions without knowing approximately how many people you expect. I would give very different answers for 20 than for 100.

Actually, I think it would seem stranger to sit, during the ceremony, at a table already set for a meal. People might have a hard time understanding that that is what you expect. But it sounds like you are planning a very casual event, so I think that if you feel everyone will be able to see and hear well from the tables, you could do it.

If your budget permits, though, I would go for renting the chairs for the ceremony. That way everyone will be close together and be able to hear and see well, and you will feel them close to you, not watching from tables.

While you are at the rental place, look at dishes, flatware, linens, and glasses, too. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that the cost is not much more than buying decent disposables. Please don't buy styrofoam even if you do get disposables; it is an environmental nightmare (which you indicate you care about) and anyway not nice enough for such an important occasion as your wedding! Get recyclable plastic if you don't rent, borrow, or buy dishes. You also mentioned buying dishes to build your own collection. Again, depending on how many people are you expecting, do you really want THAT many extra dishes to store? Another nice advantage of renting is that you return everything dirty to the company; if you buy your own, someone is going to have to collect and wash them all. If you are talking about 30 people, no big deal, but 100 would be!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 3:15PM
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I agree with Gellchom. I have had weddings where the guests were seated at tables during the ceremony, sort of dinner theater style, but the tables were round and they contained only the centerpiece, no dishware. If you are using the typical park picnic tables with attached benches, then I would try to rent chairs if possible. If the ceremony will be short, it is also common for the guests to stand. You might provide enough chairs for the parents, grandparents, and other older, pregnant, or otherwise health-compromised guests to sit.

If you plan to have 150 guests, dishware for that many would take up a huge amount of cupboard space to store, so you may want to check into renting at least a portion of it.

One thing you might want to do before you purchase or rent dishware is check with your parks department to find out if they have any restrictions on what can be brought in. In my area, both the city and state parks ban glass of any kind, including water goblets, as well as wine and beer bottles. We are also restricted from having any alcoholic beverages, including beer and wine, within 250 feet of the river. That means that some shelters in a park can serve beer or wine and others can't.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 3:29PM
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Thank you for your responses! We don't plan to have 150 guests. The pavilion is just so beautiful and spacious. The invite list may be 100, but the actual # of people showing up will probably be closer to 50.

The main reason why I wanted to skimp on the chairs is because I feel that would pile on the stress by adding time for setup/cleanup and I would feel obligated to decorate them as well.

Thank you for reminding me about park restrictions. AFAIK, there were none listed, but I will call and make sure... esp considering the shelter is somewhat close to the river.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 3:54PM
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You could do buffet style, and then the tables can be ready (even if people sit at them) but not necessarily set for the dinner.

You shouldn't feel obligated to decorate the chairs, esp not at a park. You might talk to a rental place or two, and see what sorts of setup services they can offer, etc., so you're making your decision with all information.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 4:03PM
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Buffet style.. yes, why didn't I think of that? I also was thinking that setting up the picnic tables instead of chairs would give our wedding something unique to set us apart from the others. Here is what the shelter looks like:

Any decorating tips you can add would be fabulous!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 4:11PM
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Lovely setting! When's the wedding?
Are you planning on using the park's tables? or will you rent or carry some in? Will they be those attached tables and benches? Or something elas.
Could the benches be set up in "pews" and you hire or commandeer a crew to move them to the tables after the ceremony?
I am all for having your own dishes and never using the disposable stuff.... Go for it!!
You can buy Corelle at an outlet for $1.00 per piece....that's about twice the price of gool disposable....and you have it for years! Places like Sam;s sell cheap stainless meant for a cafe for very little....and again you have it forever.
If you are estimating 100 guests, that would be about $150 for plates and flatware....and another $100 for mugs/cups.
I give you permission to rent glasses though!!
If you can find a deal on fabric, you can cover the tables and benches and have a very "decorated" look.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 7:55PM
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someone at another website said they could buy glasses at Ikea for the same price as rentals (though of course you'd need to wash them).

You could also keep only as much as you wanted of your supplies, and sell the rest over Craigslist or give them to an organization (local VFW hall, church, etc.)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 11:57AM
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"Another nice advantage of renting is that you return everything dirty to the company."

Every china rental place I know of requires that everything be returned rinsed clean. Then they run it through a commercial dishwasher to degrease and sterilize them before sending them out again.

Check first with the rental place so there is no misunderstanding.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 4:13AM
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I suggest that you go to the park a few Saturdays and see other parties. I used to do parties in the park for kids and have gone to family BBQs etc., as well as wedding parties, but never for 50-75 people.
. I would not have anything breakable if that pavilion is concrete which they often are. The reason most parks don't like breakable glass is that kids run around barefoot in parks and glasses can break elsewhere than right at your pavilion--people walk around with glasses.
I have used good quality plastic plates and plastic stemmed goblets and have taken them home to be reused. That way if some get thrown away--or broken its no big problem. Smart & Final carries some plastic plates that look like glass and wash up well in the dishwasher. Its easier to use, and stack when dirty.
I do have enough real champagne glasses to serve 100 but wouldn't use them at the park because (among other reasons)when we are through using them, they go back in the partitioned box, and if they are wet or dirty then you have ruined the box.
The best thing to remember is that you are the bride and are not going to be doing the clean up--so make it easy for the helpers. I have catered a friend's wedding in my garden and helped with one in a park. Keep it simple.
It is easier doing this in somebody's backyard. Have you checked to see if thats possible? I really haven't seen a wedding in the park for that many people. I can imagine problems keeping food warm or cold, and getting everyone seated and served. Buffet style is good, we went to one where they used a firepit to keep the BBQ food warm & reheat as well.
Also with the park, you are going to have to move all of the equipment, chairs,, etc. out of the park when your party leaves. Thats not so easy. It requires a truck and help (who have been partying and are somewhat dressed up.)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 8:24PM
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I attended a wedding such as you described (and it was lovely). During the ceremony itself, the guests stood around the couple as they took their vows. But that was much smaller than 150--more like 50 people.

With so many, it seems to make sense to have them sit at their tables.

Remember that having a wedding that is warm, personal, and gracious is much more important than the structure.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 10:39AM
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A good caterer can set up the area, provide dinnerware, cook, serve and clean up. Try to locate a local restraurant like a BBQ place. They usually do picnic catering

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 12:01PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

You don't mention if the structure is open or enclosed. If it is open at the sides, make sure that it would still be suitable in inclement weather or have a contingency plan in place.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 11:14AM
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Think about your neighbors at such a wedding. Are you going to be doing your wedding during the 10 year old's birthday at the next picnic site? or during the bachelor party at the next site? Do you want to book the closer sites too in order to control the atmosphere? I like the idea of the bride walking down to a floral bower to say her vows rather than a picnic table area. Would that be possible right next to the pavillion? Good luck to you in your planning. I imagine the parks department will have many regulations that will guide your planning.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 4:48PM
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