Friday, February 13, 2009


The House of Paine

When Robin and I started scouting around for reception locations we checked out The Barker Tavern in Scituate, the BU Castle in Boston, and Stonehurst, The Robert Treat Paine Estate in Waltham.

The Barker Tavern was a nice enough space but it felt too much like a hall to us. The one thing it really had going for it was that it was situated on a bay and had a lighthouse close by. Everything else was OK, but we certainly didn’t fall in love with the place.

Now I really liked the BU Castle. Robin and I both went to school at BU and we always talked about getting married at the Castle. The reception area itself was pretty small and the prices were all a bit out of our range but I was willing to cough up the extra dough to have the wedding at a place that actually meant something to both of us.

And then there was the Paine Estate. Stonehurst. We fell in love with that place the moment we laid eyes on it. The exterior was powerful and rustic, the main hall was everything we’ve ever wanted in a house, and all of the little side rooms had their own sense of charm and comfort. Stonehurst had one major thing going against it, however: its price tag was way out of our site fee budget.

But there were several bonuses that came with the site that allowed us to shave money elsewhere. The big money saver was the fact that we could bring in our own food and booze. Most sites we were looking at forced you to use a certain caterer and prices tended to start at $80 per person for the bare minimum. Forget cake and coffee and booze. We managed to look around and found an affordable caterer we like and now our food, booze, and dessert costs are close to half of what we expected to pay.

Another benefit of getting married at Stonehurst is that we don’t have to pay extra for a chapel – we get married at the site. We’ll be outdoors and in front of a beautiful dogwood tree. We save money on flowers, we save money on site fees, and, thanks to a Massachusetts law that lets anyone be a Justice of the Peace for a day for $25, we save money on the officiant as well.

And then there are the decoration and flowers necessary to make Stonehurst look aesthetically pleasing. You flipped through the pictures above – as you can see we’ll be saving money in that area, as well. Robin will talk more about that (that's a harpist article and a flower article she owes us, now).

So, yeah, our site fee was way out of budget. But it forced us to be frugal and imaginative with all of the other costs and now we’re at the point where we’re actually saving money by getting married in a place that’s flexible on everything. And the whole wedding’s going to have our own little creative spin on it, as well. I guess the take-away here is to look at the big picture. Sometimes putting more money down upfront will save you some bucks in the long wrong.

And that’s wedding planning recession style, right there.

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