Indoor vs. Outdoor Weddings

Dealing with natural elements
can pose a planning challenge

Choosing the right location
can make all the difference

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(February 2013) – While the traditional wedding ceremony has always taken place inside a church, a great alternative for couples wanting to break the mold is to hold their wedding outside. But there are many things to take into consideration before tying the knot in front of a sunset backdrop.

Yew Dell Gardens Castle

Photo provided

The castle at Yew Dell Gardens in
Crestwood, Ky., provides a storybook
backdrop to an outdoor wedding.

Once the date has been set, a couple can begin considering their venue options. Many places may book up fast, especially if it is a facility that holds public events throughout the year. Booking the facility well in advance is always a good rule of thumb.
The Lanier Mansion State Historic Site in Madison, Ind., is so popular that weddings are “booked for 2014 already,” said Gerry Reilly, Site Manager. The historic site averages about 10 weddings a year.
“The biggest draw here at the Lanier Mansion is the setting and view of the house,” Reilly said. “The view is the most elegant in Madison.”
Several different spaces can be rented on an hourly rate. The South Lawn is the most popular spot, said Reilly. It affords the best view of the house, but is also the most expensive spot. The hourly fee before 5 p.m. is $125; after 5 p.m. the cost is $150.
There is a three-hour minimum for each booked event. This allows for one hour of setup, one hour for the event and one hour for cleanup. A required guaranteed deposit of $50 will reserve the area, date and time. The fee will be deducted from the final total amount.
“All we rent is the site,” Reilly said. The couple is responsible for tents, chairs, tables, etc.

Rachel Buckler

Photo courtesy of Our Ampersand Photography

Rachel Buckler chose to have
her wedding in a rock garden
at Creasey Mahan Nature
Preserve in Goshen, Ky.

He said the site is a favored choice of many couples because “if you are having a big wedding, there are not many sites locally that can handle over 200 people.”
The Riverboat Inn & Suites is another popular local outdoor wedding venue. Located on the Ohio River near the foot of the Milton-Madison Bridge, the Riverboat Inn offers six acres for outdoor events such as weddings.
Owner Kathie Petkovic said the property has many amenities for couples planning outdoor nuptials. An 80x20 foot piece of the property is floored (concreted), she said, in addition to containing decks, waterfalls and electricity for lights or bands.
Couples “get married under tents, by the waterfall, at the riverside and near the city’s paddlewheel,” said Petkovic, originally from Chicago. She said an average of six outdoor weddings are held on the grounds each year.
Bathroom facilities are near, tables and chairs are provided, and her business holds a liquor license. She also provides a bridal suite at the Inn where the bridal party can prepare for the big day.

Wedding tent

Photo provided

Outdoor weddings are ideal for
large events that require lots
of room to accommodate a crowd.
Tented dining areas provide a sense
of openness and natural beauty.

“If you’re young and on a budget, the front lawn is perfect for a wedding,” Petkovic said. Children are safe to play on the lawn while their parents mingle with other adults. The space “is very flexible.”
The property can accommodate large weddings and big receptions as well. “The area can hold as many as you want,” she said.
When the wedding is over, many times “families rent our condos so they can be together,” said Petkovic. “Much like Richwood Plantation (in Milton, Ky.,), we have rooms the guests can rent.”
Sam Snyder, owner of Richwood Plantation Bed & Breakfast in Milton said couples can “get the entire estate for the weekend.” The circa 1803 plantation home has 13 guest rooms for immediate family members and friends. It is available for weekend rental only from 3 p.m. Friday until noon Sunday.
“The uniqueness of the plantation setting,” is what draws couples to Richwood, said Snyder. He has a mix of local and out-of-town couples booking the spot, which hosts approximately 25 to 30 weddings a year. Like the Lanier Mansion, Richwood Plantation is already booked into 2014 for weddings.
He requires couples to have a backup plan in case of rain. This consists of holding their wedding inside the plantation, which can accommodate up to 120 guests. For outdoor weddings, up to 400 guests are permitted on the grounds.
Couples must provide all amenities, including bringing their own liquor, because Trimble County is a dry county, said Snyder.
Couples can get married at many different outdoor locations at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve in Goshen, Ky. “Our two-acre Woodland Garden is a perfectly beautiful spot for an outdoor wedding,” said Tavia Cathcart Brown, executive director of the nature preserve. The area has two arched bridges over a stream and is surrounded by native wildflowers and ferns.
Some other favorite spots on the 170-acre preserve are along the wild cherry tree-lined Mahan Lane, under one of many arbors, near a gazebo, or next to the 200-year old Mahan Manor. “Some bridal parties prefer a grand tent, and our facility easily accommodates this in our flat and open grassy fields,” said Brown.
She always recommends a tent for outside weddings if there is to be more than 50 people to provide a more spacious environment. Brown said it is also important to consider lighting if the wedding is to be held in the evening.
“It is good for the couple to consider renting a microphone and speaker system so guests can hear the ceremony.” The preserve requests that environmentally friendly options be used, such as using flower petals or certain bird seeds instead of rice.
Rental fees are based on number of attending guests. Fees include a selected location on the grounds and use of the Field House for an eight hour period. Fees begin at $750 for up to 50 guests and increase to $2,000 for 101-200 guests. If more guests are expected, couples must contact the preserve for a special quote.
Brown has heard no complaints from couples married at the preserve. “Having a naturally beautiful outdoor setting often relaxes the wedding party and sets the tone for a meaningful and memorable occasion for all. Couples who choose to be married in an outdoor setting like ours tend to enjoy the outdoors and want to share this with their guests.”
Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Crestwood, Ky., is a favorite spot for many couples. “We average about 20 large weddings and receptions, and many small ceremonies that do not hold their receptions at Yew Dell,” said Jackie Gulbe, Wedding and Rental Coordinator for Yew Dell Botanical Gardens.
She said it is best for couples to book the space early, especially for larger weddings. “We generally book weddings a year in advance,” said Gulbe. “Choice dates are booked early. Saturday evenings seem to be the preferred day of the week. If a couple can be flexible with days, then they usually might have a few more options.”
She encourages couples to consider the time of year and time of day when planning their wedding. “Generally, mid-summer weddings are later in the day since it usually cools down in the evenings and spring and fall weddings are earlier, as sunset is earlier.”
Another thing to consider is the available space, said Gulbe. Couples must decide if the wedding and reception can be held at the same site, or if they will need to move guests to another location following the ceremony.
Couples can basically hold their ceremony wherever they choose at Yew Dell, with only a few exceptions. “The majority have their weddings on the event lawn near the spectacular holly alley. The castle and Gheens Barn are also popular spots,” she said.
“We are the ultimate outdoor facility.” Gulbe said. “The beauty of the grounds takes a lot of pressure off of the couple to create a feel or look because there is already such an amazing ambiance.” Guests are welcome to explore 34 acres of gardens and take in all of the natural features.
The rental fee is $4,200 with two exceptions: cost for the premium month of June is $4,550 and rental for August is $3,900. The fee allows a couple two hours for rehearsal (usually the night before), and access to the entire grounds and all buildings (except the office area) for eight hours (which includes set-up, event and clean-up time).
A staff person remains on site for the rehearsal, set-up and event. This person is available to drive a golf cart to transport guests who need assistance.
“We also do smaller scale, simple wedding ceremonies and renewal of vows which often taking place during the week or earlier in the day on weekends,” Gulbe said. Rental fees vary and are generally considerably lower depending on what is involved. No matter the size of the wedding, ample free parking is available for guests at Yew Dell.
Like many of the owners of outside wedding venues, Gulbe advises couples to have a backup plan in the event of inclement weather. She also suggested having a wedding planner if budget allows or assigning someone not in the wedding party to be in charge of decisions that might have to be made if a question or issue were to arise.
Gulbe said “the comment we hear often from the mother of the bride after the event is over is that, ‘Evenings at Yew Dell are magical.’ ” Added to this is the fact that the bride and her attendants can dress in the Castle, “A perfect place for their fairytale to begin.”

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