So...my brother got married on Sat. & I'm happy to report that it went SO great. It was on a beautiful ranch in Wyoming - some of the best things about it to me were how laid back it was, how they managed to send all of the parents and children home on a shuttle (including my daughter & mother...lol...) and how there was plenty of room in 2 cabins & room to camp so no one drove home drunk. I have to say that I wish we could have people stay at our outdoor venue. We drank & made smores around a campfire until 4 a.m. & had a blast.
Things we can learn from - lack of direction. He did have a DJ who offered direction during the reception, which was very helpful. But, when the ceremony was supposed to start we all walked out into this field & just kind of stood there. No one told us where to sit and FI & I ended up sitting with my SIL's family and having to quickly switch in between members of the bridal party walking out because my mother was sitting over there by herself. His officiant was poorly rehearsed (or maybe just nervous) & ended up having the bride repeat the groom's vows until she corrected him. The ceremony was very sweet though. Their officiant was a good friend & I thought that made it really special. They had a friend play acoustic guitar as everyone walked in & I thought that was a nice touch.
I don't know how to get around this, but we felt very segregated. My dad passed away & my family has not been very close since & a lot of them didn't attend. We had about 7 people at our family's very long table while SIL's family filled theirs with at least 2 dozen. We never did get to meet all of her aunts, etc.
All in all, I thought it was so great, and very inspiring for me because they did a lot of it themselves so I can see yes, it can be done! It also made FI & I very excited for our own wedding - seeing how happy they were and how much fun it is to have friends from all over the country come together made us really look forward to doing it ourselves next year.