How do we pick our wedding location?
June 29, 2009 6:17 PM   Subscribe

We both live in New York. His family lives here and he was born/raised here. My family is in Michigan where I was born/raised. I've been here two years. We're talking about getting married. How do we pick where to get married? We'd like to get married in a Catholic church.

Our concerns are that obviously one of our families is going to have to do some major traveling to get to the other's part of the country.

We don't want the wedding to be lopsided with a mess-load of people showing up from the family who lives by wherever we pick with like, five people showing up from the traveling side.

It would be quite a bit cheaper to marry in Michigan not only because prices are lower there but because I have connections with a photographer and DJ.

Also, having spent my first 23 years of life there... I am very familiar with venues and vendors near my hometown. Whereas I don't have any experience with any potential reception sites etc. around here.

BUT ... we do live in NY. So as far as meeting with vendors - we could do that at our leisure rather than try to cram everything into one trip back to Michigan. And it would definitely be easier to complete all of the requirements for marrying in a church close to home for us.


*Alternately... we HAVE thought about possibly trying to pull something off between our two hometowns. Somewhere in PA probably. That way no one's family has to make a huge trip but everyone would have to do a little traveling. But most people shot down this idea.
posted by mittenbex to Human Relations (23 answers total)

I think i would create a list of the people on each side that you absolutely want to be there. Now look at it and see who could actually afford to come if you hold it in each place....choose the one that works for the most of your most honored guests. And please knock yourselves finding discounts for all the travelers.

s., who with her partner will be missing the wedding of two dear friends next month because they wanted to be married in Costa Rica, and we can't afford it. It really really sucks not to be there.
posted by rexruff at 6:34 PM on June 29, 2009

Unless there are many, many more NYers going to the wedding, I would vote for Michigan. Not only will the wedding be cheaper for you, but it will also be cheaper for guests who have to travel (assuming you are thinking of a place near a major airport).

Other things to consider are whether you have support in Michigan to do some of the planning legwork while you are in NY.

Keep in mind that the wedding 'cultures' in NY are vastly different than those in Michigan. Receptions in NY typically have a cocktail hour with lots of food (often at stations), followed the 'real' reception with music, dancing, and more food. Guests in NY frequently give cash or checks rather than material gifts -- there's an unwritten 'pay for your dinner' rule in NY, where guests typically give the couple an amount of money expected to cover the cost of having them at the wedding. If you haven't been to a NY wedding before, it can be a bit jarring, and it does seem a bit more materialistic than a typical midwest wedding.
posted by i love cheese at 6:47 PM on June 29, 2009

Since getting married in the Church is important to you, it may be more meaningful to marry in the parish where one or the other of you has a strong connection to the church or a particular celebrant. And I believe you can arrange to take pre-Cana classes in the parish where you live, even if you are getting married in a different place - you would just need to arrange that beforehand with the pastors of both parishes. My friend was married in the Poconos by the priest who baptized her, but was living in Massachusetts while planning the wedding. I know she and her fiance didn't have to come to PA for pre-Cana counseling.
posted by chihiro at 7:00 PM on June 29, 2009

Are either of your parents chipping in? IF one side is and the other isn't, consider that city over the other.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:42 PM on June 29, 2009

Do either of you have elderly grandparents who might not make the trip? I know my sister was married in her now-husband's home town and my grandmother wasn't well enough to travel, so she missed it. It still bothers both of them. If there is a dear relative who is in poor health, or on dialysis (that was why my grandmother couldn't come- that sort of thing has to be done on a schedule, and getting a seat in an out of town center is next to impossible) try having it near them.

Also... i love cheese, I had no idea that was a NY thing. I just figured most weddings were like that! (and I'm in Buffalo, not NYC) Good to know!
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:15 PM on June 29, 2009

oh- another thing... planning a wedding in an area you don't live is a HUGE pain in the ass. Something to keep in mind. You'll have to do tastings with caterers, a lot of bakers don't have their full books online (and you'll want to go in person anyways since they'll have decorated display cakes so you can confirm the work is really theirs), that sort of thing. So if you do decide on Michigan it may not be that much cheaper for you since you can anticipate having to go out there at least a couple times while in the planning phase of things.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:18 PM on June 29, 2009

The tradition is that the wedding is located where convenient for the bride's family... because traditionally the bride's family paid for all/most of the wedding. As this latter part is no longer necessarily true, the new rule of thumb seems to be "wherever most convenient for the people paying for most of it," whether that be the bride's family, the groom's family, or the happy couple.

The problem with picking a "middle ground" location is that everyone has to travel, and no one gets to operate on their home turf, as it were, pretty much negating the advantages that come with being in one place for any length of time. Do it in Michigan you can access your family's network, same for New York and his family, but having it somewhere else precludes either.

On balance though, Michigan is going to be ridiculously cheaper than doing something in New York, even if you did exactly the same things in terms of food, beverages, etc. Taxes alone are 2.375% higher in NYC than in Michigan, and that doesn't even account for the fact that things are just generally cheaper everywhere that isn't New York. You'll either be able to spend a lot less or do a lot more--and quite possibly both--by having it in Michigan. Even allowing for one or two trips home to plan, you're probably still going to come out ahead.
posted by valkyryn at 8:36 PM on June 29, 2009

I wouldn't worry too much about people not showing up because they have to travel. In this day and age that's fairly common and if you give the traveling family plenty of notice, they'll show. I had a wedding where everyone had to travel and we still had pretty good turn out. Really, it was people who had small children or economic barriers that had the most trouble making it.
posted by bananafish at 8:41 PM on June 29, 2009

Guests in NY frequently give cash or checks rather than material gifts -- there's an unwritten 'pay for your dinner' rule in NY, where guests typically give the couple an amount of money expected to cover the cost of having them at the wedding. If you haven't been to a NY wedding before, it can be a bit jarring, and it does seem a bit more materialistic than a typical midwest wedding.

wtf? that's not a new york city thing, that's a staten island/long island/new jersey thing, some would say an italian thing. a lot of the rest of us find it extremely tacky. i've never been to a wedding like this and don't know anyone who would even consider do it.
posted by lia at 9:11 PM on June 29, 2009

We'd like to get married in a Catholic church.

It is not uncommon for a parish to require that you be an established member before you can be married in their church. You should call and check.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:47 PM on June 29, 2009

The wedding is going to be lopsided with one side traveling no matter what, because you have family in two hometowns. My wedding location was easier to decide because my husband and I live in NYC and both of our families live in different states. Everyone had to travel to NYC. What we did was arrange travel discounts with hotels and airlines, used miles to fly a handful of essential family/friends to the wedding, and helped everyone coordinate travel plans.

It will be cheaper to get married in Michigan, but more of a pain from a planning standpoint. You will need to do a lot of remote planning, and it may require multiple trips for tastings, etc. You can do some things here, like dress and tux fittings, but all of the other vendor arrangements will need a great deal of planning and coordination. I tend to lean towards whatever is easier for the couple, because the planning can become a giant pain in the ass. So, if I were you, I'd go for NY, unless you can get a lot of help on the ground from siblings or other family back in Michigan. And then help your Michigan family and friends coordinate their travel.
posted by bedhead at 9:48 PM on June 29, 2009

We had family and friends scattered about; we got married where we live. This was easier for some people, harder for others, but the last thing I would want with geeneral wedding planning/hassle/drama is being remote from managing all the big-ticket stuff (venue, reception, etc).
posted by rodgerd at 10:31 PM on June 29, 2009

Guests in NY frequently give cash or checks rather than material gifts -- there's an unwritten 'pay for your dinner' rule in NY, where guests typically give the couple an amount of money expected to cover the cost of having them at the wedding.

I lived in NYC for years and the only time I saw this happen was when Henry Hill got married in "Goodfellas."

What is true, however, is that everything is more expensive in New York. While flying out to Michigan might be more expensive for your NYC guests, having the wedding in MI might enable you to invite more people.

A good friend of mine who was born and raised in Connecticut had her wedding out in SF, where she and her now-husband live. A few months after the wedding, they had a reception in CT for East Coast peeps like me who couldn't make it to the official ceremony. They had a relatively small wedding, and so having a reception after the fact was also an alternative to having a larger wedding (it may have been more economical as well). This approach might take some of the pressure off of you and your fiance to chose between the two prospective locations.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 1:02 AM on June 30, 2009

The OP said she lives in NY, not NYC. Even if she lives in NYC, there are plenty of inexpensive places to get married in NY state outside of the city. That said, I'm sure MI is much cheaper.

As for the distance issue, my wife and I planned our wedding in NYC despite living for most of the year in DC. We were greatly aided by the fact that we wound up hiring a wedding planner. I never thought I'd be the sort to have a planner, but it was a HUGE boon. So if you decide on an MI wedding and have the money to spare, getting a planner will help you big-time with all the arrangements.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:11 AM on June 30, 2009

We had to choose between California and Scotland.
SELF LINK AHEAD: and I wrote a blog post about it

tldr version:
1) Who did we want to attend?
2) When did we want to get married?
3) Do we feel a connection to the area?

Also, Steve_at_Linwood is entirely correct and that's something you should definitely check. You might be able to get married at the church you had your baptism/confirmation/first communion even if you are not a regular member now.

good luck!!
posted by like_neon at 3:32 AM on June 30, 2009

I'm going to say NY. You live there, his family is there, and presumably since it's where both of you live, it's also where most of your friends are. That just leaves your family, who presumably would travel to Timbuktu to attend your wedding. In other words, NY is the easiest option for the most people.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:40 AM on June 30, 2009

Response by poster: To clarify... we live on Long Island.

And really, I don't have a lot of friends here. 99% of them are still in Michigan or the Chicago-area.
posted by mittenbex at 5:36 AM on June 30, 2009

Talk to both your priests. The Church administration may have a bearing on where this wedding may be held, if it's to be in a church. I know of two people who couldn't get married at the church the wife had been attending her entire life, because she lived just outside the parish lines. She was really upset about it.
posted by Citrus at 6:26 AM on June 30, 2009

Can you do a travelling wedding of sorts? I've thought about doing something like this--get married at the courthouse or somewhere simple with a very small ceremony (or eloping in Vegas or something), then have a reception in each place. You could renew your vows in front of both sets of relatives, then have a party.

It's expensive, but you can do double-duty with a lot of things like dress, decorations, and favors, and no one feels slighted. On the other hand, since you're not actually having a wedding, you might find that prices are slightly cheaper for catering and venues--a lot of places jack up their prices specifically for wedding, but this wouldn't be one. This also works well if you have (like I do) sides of one family that you don't want under one roof.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:36 AM on June 30, 2009

Best answer: How is this even a question? Michigan, obviously. What self-respecting Michigander would want to deal with those tacky, overly-decorated reception palaces on Long Island? Well, I'll admit, maybe there are less tacky places, but OMG, those places stick out. (says a Michigander who has lived on Long Island). Besides, you know his family would benefit from a healthy dose of Midwest. (The fact the opposite is likely true is immaterial, since the bride is from Michigan).
posted by Goofyy at 7:40 AM on June 30, 2009

I am also from Michigan, and have been living in New York for five years. We are planning to have the reception here in NYC next year, and my mother has already been cautioning people back home that the ceremony will be in New York. So far they have all enthusiastically responded, "We'd LOVE to go to New York!"--which was a pleasant surprise. It could be different if you have a lot of elderly relatives, but don't be quick to assume people won't want to travel. Michigan makes tons more sense financially, but unfortunately for my savings account I feel much more connected to NYC now and am excited to share that with my friends and family from home.
posted by heliotrope at 10:23 AM on June 30, 2009

"the reception" being my own wedding reception... oops.
posted by heliotrope at 10:24 AM on June 30, 2009

Response by poster: thanks everyone. you have given us some good points to consider. :]
posted by mittenbex at 9:52 AM on July 1, 2009

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