Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Cutting Costs and Cutting Loose: The Rise of Public Park Weddings

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Cutting Costs and Cutting Loose: The Rise of Public Park Weddings

Article excerpt

over the last decade, reality TV shows and bridal magazines have documented the lavish weddings of women they term "bridezillas." High-priced wedding planners teamed with exacting brides-to-be to design weddings according to templates that might include an exotic destination or a swanky hotel ballroom. The recent recession, however, prompted the rise of the simple, casual public park wedding. Not just about cutting costs, park weddings present couples with opportunities for expressing their individuality, celebrating the outdoors, enjoying both invited (and uninvited) guests, and giving the inner child free rein.

The Driving Factor

There's no doubt about it: Most couples who choose to get married in a park setting are driven by budget concerns. They are wary not only of the high booking fees of commercial wedding venues--but also of hidden fees and surcharges. Ariel Meadow Stallings, author of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides and publisher of the blog, explains: "As the wedding industry slowly starts moving away from the over-the-top opulence that defined many weddings in the '90s and early 00's, there's a growing number of couples ... looking outside the traditional churches and hotel ballroom templates for their weddings. These couples know that many locations that define themselves as wedding venues tack a significant "wedding tax" onto their pricing. They're looking for venues that will be honest and straightforward with them about pricing and usage, without weird hidden fees for things such as "slicing cake."


Brides and grooms who choose park venues might pay as little as $50 for a reserved pavilion area--and for that amount, they can often seat 100 or more people. Compared with traditional facilities that might charge several thousand dollars for the day's festivities, public park weddings allow couples to have beautiful, distinctive, and affordable weddings.

On Stallings's blog, brides contribute photos of highly individualized park weddings. One recent ceremony, at a historic mansion in Pennsylvania's Ridley Creek State Park, was described as a "gothic, faerie, Victorian wedding." The bride sported a faux hawk, and the groom wore a black vampire cape. The century-old trees of the park and the wainscoted interior of the historic mansion offered the couple a sort of canvas upon which to paint their fantasy nuptials. …

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