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Should I go for the first venue? It's a church hall... (XP)

Is it silly to want to go with the only place I've seen just to be done with it?

My SO would like to get married in his home church, and he believes we can use the attached church hall.  We haven't spoken to the minister yet, but his family is pretty active in that church.

If we find out we can use it, on an acceptable date, would it be crazy to just stop looking?

My mom is adamantly against a "church basement" wedding (it's a big open room, not underground!), but I just don't want to start shopping golf courses and get sucked into a fancier wedding than we want because I'm sure they will be prettier!  I almost don't want to know what else is out there.  Mom is insisting on paying, but I would like for us to do it on our own, so the budget is undetermined.

But if we have to bring in a caterer anyway (maybe), would the price difference even be a lot in your experience? 

How long did it take you to find a venue?

And does anyone do a church hall anymore??

BTW, this is a suburb/small town in a not great area, and it's not local for me or my family, so there will be time constraints shopping around.

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Re: Should I go for the first venue? It's a church hall... (XP)

  • emmaaaemmaaa North Carolina mod
    Moderator 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary
    It was very important to FI and I to get married in the church he grew up in. However, we wanted our reception to have the ability to be a little more "fun", ie alcohol and being rowdy. So we are using the church for the ceremony and are using a different venue only a few miles away.

    If the church hall will host the type of reception you want, then why not? I've been to many wedding that have a reception in the Fellowship Hall and they all were lovely. I do suggest you at least view the space first.

    As far as the amount of time it took us to find our venue? The church was automatic really. We looked at one other place for the reception before booking our current venue. I think it was a total time of 1 month.

    luckya23
  • photokittyphotokitty where I want to be mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited June 2014
    We only looked at one venue. I don't think it is crazy if it 1) fits your budget and 2) fits all the guests you want to invite.

    Yes, people still use church halls. My sister and 2 cousins both used different church halls. All were full receptions with dancing and drinking. The church hall had a much lower rental fee than other places. If you can chose your own caterer you can often safe significantly versus using a venue that requires one caterer or in house catering. 

    If you mom is paying she does get a say. If you decide to let her have a say and she wants something else that is more costly I would have her pay the deposit and sign the contract so she is legally on the hook. Otherwise I would pick what we could afford and want, and ignore mom.

    ETA - I'm Catholic. My sister and 2 cousins all used Catholic church halls for their receptions.
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    luckya23
  • Thanks @emmaaa!  I've never been to, or even heard of someone, having a church hall wedding, maybe because my family is Catholic?

    SO and I would almost rather skip the reception part altogether, it's more a family affair (big families though!), and likely an afternoon dealio.  Not big partiers :-)

    My mom is the opposite though!

    I guess it partially comes down to how much say we're going to let her have...

    I have been to the hall, and it wasn't bad...

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  • sarahuflsarahufl New York member
    Tenth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I looked at 2 venues. Took the first one. I knew I liked it and wanted to stop looking.

    I also hate choices, so I knew if I kept looking, I would get paralyzed by the decision and freak out about it. So I just took the first one.
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  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited June 2014
    The church halls where I grew up are still popular wedding reception places.    It should be noted we are Catholic and at least in DE the church halls have built in bars, stages and plenty of room for dancing.  

    Price wise they are a deal.   Sure some places have a wow factor when you walk it.  But IME, after about 3 minutes no one gives a shit anymore.  All they care about is socializing with their family and friends.    Seriously, location rarely a factor on if a party is good or not.  It's the guests, food, maybe beverages and entertainment (not necessarily dancing, but appropriate music for the setting). 


    ETA - I should add how the guests are hosted to the list.   You be at the most beautiful venue in the world, but if the guests are not treated right it will not be a good party.  

    We also booked our first place.     

    It should be noted that if your parents are paying, then you need respect their wishes of looking at other places.    He who pays has a say.






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  • pinkcow13pinkcow13 The Concrete Jungle member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    We looked at 8 venues. We chose the last place we went to. We kinda knew it was the one when we went, and stopped looking at other places. I think it took us about a month and a half. 

    Your venue is lovely! If you really want to get married there, go for it. You and FI can pay for it on your own, that way your mom won't get a say. 
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  • InkdancerInkdancer The Shire member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    I did a lot of research online, but the only venue we visited in person was the one we chose.

    If it feels right, it feels right.

    I think your mom just doesn't want you to settle for something you don't want because it's cheaper. If this truly makes you happy (and it does look like it could turn out quite pretty with the right decor) then go for it!
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  • sarawifenowsarawifenow Denver, baby! member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    FI and I booked the first venue we visited. We just fell in love and wanted to secure our date and time, so, no, I don't think it would be weird to book the first place you've seen.
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    luckya23
  • ShallowSeasShallowSeas Indianapolis, IN member
    Sixth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited June 2014
    We only looked at one venue. We looked at several online but only one in person. FI and I did not want to get married in a church, not due to any religious beliefs (we're both Christian and attend church regularly) but that's just not what we wanted. For us, it made more sense financially to have the wedding and reception in one location who also caters.

    Originally, FI and I wanted an outdoor wedding and an indoor reception.  We couldn't find a place that had both indoor and outdoor areas available and it would've been too expensive for us to rent two separate places, so we chose a ballroom on the second floor of a historic restaurant downtown.  Its beautiful and perfect for us. We booked it a week after we were engaged.
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  • beachyone15beachyone15 TEXAS (the home of my exes) member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary First Answer
    We are getting married at our church and having the reception at a golf club. You are likely right about a golf club costing more in the long run. Even though we have a lot of items included, we still have to hit an "event minimum".

    I think your venue is great!


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    luckya23
  • JCbride2015JCbride2015 Dirty Jerz member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    Kelani23 said:

    Thanks @emmaaa!  I've never been to, or even heard of someone, having a church hall wedding, maybe because my family is Catholic?

    SO and I would almost rather skip the reception part altogether, it's more a family affair (big families though!), and likely an afternoon dealio.  Not big partiers :-)

    My mom is the opposite though!

    I guess it partially comes down to how much say we're going to let her have...

    I have been to the hall, and it wasn't bad...

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    This is much better than I thought when you said "church hall."  The high ceiling and windows are really nice.  If they will host the kind of reception you want, they are in your price range, and they can fit all your guests-- do it!

    I would spend a little time comparing prices on outside caterers vs. all-inclusive venues (like a restaurant) before you book.  How much effort will you have to use to decorate this hall before your wedding?  Who will set up and serve the food?  Who will set up and clean up?  Remember you should not ask your guests/ wedding party to do these things, although if they offer you may accept.  If nobody offers to help, you might want to hire some high school kids and a DOC to help with those things.

    It sounds like you and your Fi want a low-key reception, while your mom wants a big to-do.  Set a precedent with your mom that this is your wedding, you are paying, and you make the decisions.  If you'd like, maybe your mom would enjoy helping decorate the hall or otherwise helping out.  But don't give her too much say if you think she'll be pushy.

    My last suggestion is that there is middle ground between a completely DIY reception (like a church or community hall), and a blow-out golf course wedding.  If your wedding is small enough, you might enjoy going to a nice restaurant for brunch or lunch.  We live right near NYC and had a brunch engagement party for 75 people for about $25/pp (including drinks), so it was pretty affordable and could have easily been adapted for a wedding.  Don't let your mom boss you around, and don't choose something just to get her off your back.  Find something you love.  Good luck!
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    luckya23
  • As to the difference in price between outside caterer and all inclusive venue...  I think it will come down to what you are looking for as far as food goes and the number of people.  I am also in a smaller (ish) town, no where near a big city.  We are planning on around 125 people.  FI is atheist and wanted ceremony and reception all in one place, so I priced out hotels, golf courses, etc, in the area.  

    The cheapest venue I found that allowed outside catering was $500 to rent the place.  Outside catering, including linen, silverware, glassware, dinnerware, and bar rental put us about $2000 less than the minimum of the all inclusive place we liked the best (which pricing out the meal/bar option we wanted put us right at the minimum).  

    Then we had to factor in all of the work the cheaper option would require.  My BFF got married in the cheaper venue and it took us all day the Friday before to decorate the reception and ceremony space.  We also had to set up all the ceremony chairs ourselves the day of the ceremony (outside, and reception was inside), as well as take them all down after the ceremony for the rental company to pick up.  After the reception, we all stayed to clean everything up because everything had to be out that night.  It was a LOT of hot, sweaty work even though we had a bunch of people helping.  At the end of the night we were all exhausted from the previous day and the excitement of the wedding, but we were there for a couple more hours to clean up.

    The all inclusive venue sets everything up for us AND cleans everything up afterward.  We drop off the centerpieces, favors, decorations, etc, the morning of the wedding and pick up the boxed up stuff the day after the wedding.  They set up and tear down the ceremony chairs for us.  Not having my friends and family have to work like dogs for two days to pull my wedding off was well worth the extra money.

    There were also some other incidentals that were saved not going with the cheaper option.  The chairs at the cheaper venue were mismatched, ripped, old folding chairs and banquet chairs.  I would have had to spring for chair covers and sashes at that venue.  The banquet chairs at the all inclusive venue are nice enough that I opted not to cover them, saving money that had been budgeted for it.  The all inclusive venue's outside ceremony space is also nicely landscaped with a new gazebo that acts as the altar, so no outside ceremony decorations are needed.  The cheaper venue didn't have the nice landscaping, and therefore needed some decoration to spruce it up and make it more "wedding appropriate."  A DOC is included in the all inclusive venue, and I would have needed to hire one at the cheaper venue (that means pay the friend of a friend's mom who was DOC for my BFF, not a huge amount, but another expense).

    Keep in mind your overall budget and things you would like to include.  Even though the more all inclusive venue cost more on its face, I actually would have spent either the same amount or more on the cheaper venue once I factored in everything else that would have been required.  Not to mention all the time and labor that was saved by going with a venue that will do all the work for me.  
    luckya23
  • SBminiSBmini member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    Kelani23 said:

    Thanks @emmaaa!  I've never been to, or even heard of someone, having a church hall wedding, maybe because my family is Catholic?

    SO and I would almost rather skip the reception part altogether, it's more a family affair (big families though!), and likely an afternoon dealio.  Not big partiers :-)

    My mom is the opposite though!

    I guess it partially comes down to how much say we're going to let her have...

    I have been to the hall, and it wasn't bad...

    I'm going to stop you right here. This is YOUR wedding- and you get ALL of the say. Well, most of the say. If you are doing things that are bad etiquette, then other people have a right to step in and educate you- but you get to pick things like the time, day and location. 

    If you take your mom's money, you need to set up ground rules for that money ASAP. What does your mom think the money means, what do you think the money means. Does your mom have any strings? What are those strings? What is the budget. Etc. Because the last thing you want is to have your mom be paying then pull stuff like "I refuse to pay for the rest of your dress if you pick that venue" or "I'm paying so I get to decide what the invitations say" and yes, I speak from experience because those are two examples of things that happened to me with the money my mom gave me, after she told me that she would be 'hands off' and let me 'make all the decisions'.

    That hall is cute. It is quaint, and charming. You could decorate it nicely and have the afternoon reception you want no problem. And the benefit is that it will be way less expensive than a big evening wedding. Oh- and bringing your own caterer is great! You get the food you like and often times it is cheaper because the caterers have competition. 
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    luckya23
  • @photokitty: Mom would be fine with signing the contract - she wants to feel like "The Decider" anyway! lol

    It's just hard bc I've only been engaged for a few days, and she's been talking down my wedding ideas to anyone who will listen already.  Frustrating!!  Another reason I'd like it to be over with so we don't go back and forth for months and lose out on summer dates.

    @sarahufl:  Totally get it, I have decision paralysis too! 

    @lyndausvi: Thanks for the reality check that people get over the room they are in!  Mom also says that nobody wants to go to a wedding without alcohol... I say good, eliminate yourself from my guest list, since my mom's relatives are about 40% at this point! ;-)

    @pinkcow13: It seems like you are in NYC, so you must have had a lot more options too, so narrowing down to 8 was probably a task!  And thank you, I do like it for our "vibe"!  Back yard would have been ideal too, but the logistics of weather and seating just seemed like more hassle than it was worth. 

    @Inkdancer: My mom knows I will always go with a simple, cheaper option... She is concerned I think about herself looking cheap!  I don't think she realizes how many couples pay for their own weddings these days.  A big elaborate party is just NOT ME.  (Nor my fiance, btw)

    @SaraBrideSoon:  A good date is the exact thing that I want, ASAP!

    @severmilli12:  Wow, within a week!  I've had this place sort of in mind since SO declared over a month ago that his own church was important to him, and I didn't think I would care about getting it done right away, but I do want to have a date all of a sudden!  Plus I have a weird numbers fascination, so I want to make sure one of the acceptable ones is available :-P 

    @beachyone15: I had forgotten about minimums!  Right now the guest list is at I think 110, but that was only what I could remember off the top of my head, so no ILs or parental input.  75% will have to travel though, so I expect a huge decline rate.  My sister ended up not meeting her minimum at a golf club and they had to add an extra dessert to make up the money.

    Thanks @JCbride2015!  I do not know exactly how many ppl can fit in this hall either, so that will be something to ask/consider of course!  I don't know if we could do a restaurant with a preliminary guest list of 110... do you?  Even though I expect a ton of declines, I obviously wouldn't want to consider acceptances a disaster! lol

    I don't know about the decorating/catering "work" - I wouldn't mind doing SOME, but that is one of my mom's biggest things about the place - she wants all-inclusive so you just basically go to a couple meetings and they do everything else.  It sounds great to me in theory also, but you pay for that!!  I assume a caterer typically cleans up their own stuff?  One that I was looking at even included linens, but no plates/silverware.

    It's a lot to think about for sure!

    My mom is completely overbearing, I actually put off my own engagement to keep her at bay :-P  Now that I have my ring though, there's no more hiding our intentions! lol  Anyway, thanks for the encouragement with her, I'm going to need a lot of it in the upcoming months I think! :-P

    Was your brunch at a restaurant?  I am at a disadvantage not knowing the area at all unfortunately, though his family might have some more useful suggestions when we make it up there. 

    @NikkiJay3333: Good points to think about!  I suspect the guest list will be close to 125, but I don't really expect more than 75ish maybe?  That will probably make it more difficult to meet a minimum?  You're probably right that it should come down to hard numbers, with labor factored in, but maybe I'm just not far enough along in thinking about it to know. 

    The biggest decision will be - do I allow my parents to shell out all this money for something I don't even really want??  Then they "get a say" and it feels like it all gets out of control from there.  SO and I can't afford, don't want to afford, and don't want to attend a big ostentatious thing that my mom will want to throw.  I don't think my parents can afford it either, to be honest, but they want to match my sister's wedding "to be fair."  

    @SBMini: My mom's strings are basically that she insists on paying for everything, and this is basically her wedding, her way.  I planned a wedding with her before (but broke off the engagement), so I have no doubt this is the way it would be.

    Maybe I'm just in a newly engaged glow, but I think this is such an opportunity with my fiance to plan things, practice budgeting (we don't live together, so haven't mixed money), and just generally bring us closer - - or even bring out the differences if that's the way things really are, which I should find out now!

    I want to include mom in my planning, but I don't want it to be like last time - my mom and I planned that wedding, and my fiance had very little say. 

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  • ShallowSeasShallowSeas Indianapolis, IN member
    Sixth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited June 2014
    @Kelani23 Yeah, it was pretty quick  but we live in a big city where most brides start booking a year out.  Even at 9 months out, the date we originally wanted was already booked so we went for the weekend after.

    ETA: I can sort of relate to the number fascination thing. I'm not a fan of odd numbers.  I wouldn't NOT choose a date just because its an odd number, but I'd prefer an even number for whatever reason haha. I don't even know why. Luckily, the 6th was open which is a nice even number.
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  • JCbride2015JCbride2015 Dirty Jerz member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    @Kelani23 Yep, our brunch was at a restaurant.  Many restaurants around here (big city) have private rooms that can hold up to about 100ish people.  You may have luck at a large restaurant, or you can try a smaller, traditional wedding venue.  Many venues will reduce their minimum numbers for Friday, Sunday, or afternoon weddings.

    Stay strong with your mom.  This is your wedding!
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  • pinkcow13pinkcow13 The Concrete Jungle member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Yup, NYC and it was definitely a task! Once we decided our budget, I researched a ton of places, and once I had a list discussed it with FI we agreed on which ones to visit. We totally love our venue so we're super happy with the choice. 
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  • SBminiSBmini member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    Based on what you said about your mom, I think you absolutely should pay for this wedding yourself! Make it what you want, not what your mom wants. And if you want an afternoon reception by all means, have an afternoon reception!

    To answer your original question- I research/contacted about 50 places. Actually toured about seven. Most of the places I contacted were already booked about a year out. My wedding was on April 26th, which was the first official day of wedding season. I thought it would be early enough that it would be OK, but nope. Ended up lucking out with a fantastic venue combination, but it was hard to find. 
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  • @severmilli: I'm the opposite, I don't like even numbers!

    My lucky number is 23, so I like to use that if I can in all cases... in fact the only way I console myself that the house I bought is #6, is that it is 2x3! lol

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  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited June 2014
    Is this a Catholic church you are being married in?  If it is not, you do realize that your marriage will not be recognized by the Catholic church, and you will be unable to participate in the sacrament of the mass (communion)?
    Most protestant churches forbid alcohol, and many do not allow dancing.  Check with the church to find out.
    I had a church hall reception, and it was lovely.  I'm with you!  The less fuss and money spent, the better!  There are "church ladies" that will have tips on decorating.  Ask the church secretary.  She will know who they are!
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  • No, @CMGragain, it is a Methodist church, and we know that drinking is certainly not allowed, but unsure about dancing.  I'm not planning on a DJ or anything, so I don't think it would bother me too much either way. 

    I haven't been back to Catholic church since I was a kid, so I'm not concerned about that aspect, but thanks!  My sister didn't get married in the Catholic church either, and her H is protestant, and I think it did contribute to her having a heck of a time getting my nephew baptized, but I wouldn't be concerned about that either... If anything, our children would be Methodist.

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  • I am Methodist.  We take EVERYBODY!  Dancing used to be forbidden, but ask the minister or church secretary if you want it. Things have changed, and are continuing to change.  Have a lovely wedding!
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  • emmaaaemmaaa North Carolina mod
    Moderator 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary
    I am Methodist also. I think dancing will vary by church, but my church will allow dancing. Obviously no alcohol.

  • UPDATE!!

    I called and reserved the church and hall for a year from today - 6/27/15!!

    Dancing is also allowed ;-)

    OMG do I really have a date already????!!!

    The pastor said he needs to meet with us in the fall, and then we need to do 2 or 3 counseling sessions, and those are the only requirements!

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