We wanted our wedding to be close to home and somewhere that we would feel comfortable and not like timid guests. My rowing team’s clubhouse is only a few blocks from our home and we added our wedding to the list of social celebrations held at the club.
Since I have been a member for almost 8 years, with the club becoming my extended family, I have seen the building decorated for dances, weddings, birthday parties, and holiday parties, so I could envision the parts we needed to pay more or less attention to when crafting decorations.
Being a key holder of the venue enabled us to survey, take exact measurements, play furniture Tetris, show catering staff around, or undertake any other form of pre-wedding planning that is made easier when actually standing in the venue. This all made it feel safe, known, familiar and reduced the stress of an external venue possibly telling us how we could or could not decorate. It also meant that our bunting was made to the perfect length! The hall evokes a barn in some of its rustic-ness and a Thanksgiving Barn wedding is what we would have gone for if we had access to one. In reality, it came together so well that we did.
We asked around the council about hiring extra tables and chairs and was told that we could borrow them because we were local. If you need chairs or tables for a function, it is probably worth calling your local village hall or council office to see if they hire or lend them to locals.
Interestingly, this is probably one of the first stages of wedding planning where my foreignness was apparent to me through its seamless join with my daily lived reality. Most of the time living and working in Scotland I forget that I am technically in a ‘foreign’ country. I am not treated as foreign in my work interactions, but often in my leisure time if undertaking a new activity or going somewhere new. Speaking to the council and being accepted as a local (because not only could I talk about local events and experiences, I was now -in the eyes of wider society- ‘marrying’ a local. No matter that Honey is far less ‘local’ in many ways to the area than I am! Celebrating with a wedding has brought validity to our Civil Partnership in the eyes of casual strangers and my status as foreigner is smoothed out in their eyes as well when they learn that my wife is Scottish.
Returning to the consideration of a local venue, the final benefit was that we could drop off the borrowed chairs and tables several days early, set up the night before and not worry about coming back to clean until the next day.
Holding our wedding in our neighbourhood simplified, de-stressed and emotionally enriched the process for us.