What I Learned From Planning My Own Outdoor Tented Wedding
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
I figured I'd do a separate post on what I learned from throwing my own tented wedding because I learned a whole lot!
I touched on some of it in my Chicago Wedding blog post but figured I'd deep dive into more details here.
So if you don't know, we had a destination wedding a month before our Chicago tented wedding. What shocked me the most was that this tented wedding was 80% more work than the Punta Cana wedding. All I had to do for the Punta wedding was send photos and hope it looked like them which Thank God that it did. In my head, my 'wedding' was in Punta Cana since that was where we'd first walk down an aisle, and Colin wouldn't see me until the ceremony, but that was really just a fun time compared to the work I had to do in Chicago. I worked on getting all my vendors (scouring thumbtack and google to get the best prices) and then for months I was just kinking out all the small details. I had to find a tent company, caterers, dance floor, tables, chairs, tablecloths, sweets, cake, dj, bar, bartender, alcohol, shot glasses, etc.
We decided to get our own bartender and alcohol and that was a feat. If that's even how you spell it. We were going to go with our caterers and have them supply all that but their package (for the brands of alcohol) was too expensive and didn't make sense. It was brands like Gordons which I haven't even heard of and to upgrade was an arm and a leg. So instead, I bought all my own alcohol (two compact cars worth) and we drove it to my cousins house (where the reception was going to be.) I did an online wedding alcohol calculator to figure how much of everything I needed. I went overkill but better to have more than not enough.Thank God my cousin had some sort of wagon because it would've been that much tougher than it was to transport for the car, into the house. (and then don't forget we need to then transport it in to the coolers a day before the wedding.. I'll get there) Yeah it was just a lot of work. We got the alcohol from a local liquor store that allowed me to return any non opened bottles and chasers which hallelujah because we returned $1000 worth and only spent $1000 on the alcohol for 140 guests. My mom did make like 20 cytrynowka bottles which is similar to a limoncello but its really homemade lemon honey vodka. We had one at each table and also a plum vodka at each table that she made. Maybe that's why the bar wasn't going empty? But from the house to the place where the bar was going to be was at least maybe 100 feet so we had to carry cases and handles outside back and forth, back and forth. And it was just 3 guys and me. Thanks again for Colins brother helping and my cousin Scotty! Then I thought about needing ice... so I researched apps that I can have ice delivered and ended up using Shipt and had it delivered at like 3PM the day of and the cocktail hour was starting at 5PM. It was good timing but then we ran out of ice. My day of coordinator couldn't come so she sent two of her coworkers. They helped by driving to get more ice and we eventually needed more tonic water. That's what went the most, tonic water and vodka. Taking a mental note on that for future parties. When we arrived to the reception, everyone was eating the hourderves but I didn't realize we didn't have a garbage can by the bar so make sure to have one in that area. I also figured the caterors would just give water to the guests at each seat which they were doing but everyone asked for water at the bar which i did not think about. Taking a mental note on that as well... otherwise it all was better than Gordons and we had whiteclaws, rose, patron, titos, etc- so it was a win! Lot of work- but a win!
I was putting all my decor in bins and got them all ready to take to my cousins house on Thursday, 2 days before the wedding. We didn't really lay anything out because we had to wait for the tables and tablecloths to get there Friday. But we did have to hang lights on the trees which was so tough haahah and then these faux flowers on the trees too. I have EVERYTHING listed in my wedding blog post of all the decor I brought (and every I DIY'd here) so go there for that! Friday we had to lay out all the votive candles, table numbers, bar utensils, lay out the glasses on the bar tables, all the alcohol, etc. I could have waited for the coordinators to do that Saturday since they got there at noon but I wanted to make sure we wouldn't run out of time. We spent probably 5 hours on Thursday setting up, 5 hours Friday, and 3 hours Sunday cleaning up.
I only booked a day of coordinator because I'm pretty organized other wise and didn't need help planning the event. I wanted a coordinator there to help with the bar, and setting up the last minute decor before we all arrived from the church. They were very helpful with the bar (getting more ice and tonic water) but because of that they forgot to remind me to do the garter and bouquet toss.
I do wish I asked more people to come help me set up and clean up. I only had my mom, dad, colin and me on Thursday.
Friday was me, colin, colins aunt, brother, my cousin Scotty, and my mom. Sunday was (thankfully I learned by now) Scotty, colins brother, my brother, my cousin beata, colin and I. It would've been easier with more people for sure or even hire some big guys to carry stuff haha.
So yes we had to go back the day after the wdding to pick up stuff and make sure it wasn't a disaster there (it was my cousins house after all.) My aunt said she picked some stuff up and cleaned a bit the night of when everyone left but the bar was still packed of alcohol in the coolers and tables had all the candles, table numbers, flowers, glasses, etc when we got there Sunday. We took off all the tablecloths, and emptied the bar, took off the lights, grabbed all the garbage cans and brought them to the front of the house. Lot of man power on this day. A garbage can full of beer bottles is HEAVY. Our caterers also left all the leftover food for us and that was like 1 month of lunches for us haha so we had to put so much back in my car, all of that plus $1000 worth of alcohol, decorations, etc. We had 3 cars full.
The food was awesome! I loved that we got to keep all the leftovers because the meatballs were so dang good! haha. The only issue was when we got there for cocktail hour, the chairs were moved around to a previous seating chart I sent and not the new updated one. That was annoying to worry about but they got it fixed.
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ENTIRE PHOTO GALLERY AND DETAILS HERE ON BOTH WEDDINGS:
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