Affordable wedding in the Boston area?
August 28, 2018 5:02 AM   Subscribe

My partner and I are getting married next year and having two receptions- one in Melbourne, Australia (where we live) and one in the Boston, MA area (where I'm from). We are all booked in for Melbourne but I've been struggling to find something in Boston that is within our budget- around $10K for about 80 people. Any suggestions? Unconventional is fine and doesn't need to be super fancy. A restaurant or a venue that does their own food would score points for convenience, but I suppose we could hire caterers if needed.
posted by emd3737 to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Depends on the kind of thing you're looking for, but I got married a couple of years ago at ONCE in Somerville, MA (event space run by a professional chef and her staff) and it cost me $3K for a bare-bones 100 person event. I say "bare bones" because we did a taco bar (we paid) and rock show (we entertained, plus some friends) with cash bar (not an open bar) and did our decor mainly DIY with some venue assistance. They can (and do) put more elaborate/formal weddings there, so for $10K I reckon you could have a lovely plated meal, hire a great band or DJ, and have an open bar. It's a quirky/funky/alternative spot, and you'd probably want to check out photos of other weddings there and pay a visit before booking, but I've recommended them a number of times and folks have always been happy. Congratulations!
posted by pammeke at 5:19 AM on August 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

Does it have to be in Boston proper or is there some acceptable range in the Boston area (e.g. The Cape)?

What month will it be?
posted by lowtide at 5:20 AM on August 28, 2018

Month would be May 2019- so I am aware availability might be an issue. Cape is too far but greater Boston area (within 20 miles) would be ok. Thanks, all!
posted by emd3737 at 5:31 AM on August 28, 2018

I had some friends who got married at the Cambridge Community Center. It was a very particular type of wedding (a very dressed up gym, they brought in everything) but it was incredibly affordable, local and fit their values.
posted by jessamyn at 5:48 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I used to host dinner events fairly regularly at the Exchange Conference Center on the waterfront. It's a beautiful space, right on the water, and they do their own catering. Never had a problem with them.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:24 AM on August 28, 2018

A few spots to explore, primarily on the Left side of the Charles. I'm not current on the costs for all, but most are off the beaten path, wedding wise.

Artistic: Artists for Humanity, Cambridge Multicultural Center, Adolphus Busch Hall
Restaurant/Brewery: Aeronaut, Loyal Nine, Harvest, Flatbread Pizza & Bowling (candlepin, Somerville)
Odd ball: District Hall, Larz Anderson Car Museum, Community Rowing
Outdoorsy: Mass Audubon Habitat (Belmont), Charles River Boat Tours (fun!), Friendly Crossways (Harvard, MA)
'Old Boston' and probably more expensive than the above: Gore Place, Codman Estate, Lyman Estate
posted by cocoagirl at 6:30 AM on August 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Maybe these are a little too far based on your '20 miles from Boston' but I would highly suggest Fruitlands in Harvard as a venue, as well as the Nashoba Winery in Bolton, just based on the excellent scenery. Fruitlands has a good cafe - I can't vouch for how that translates to their catering. Despite the distance they are both easily reachable via Rt 2, which is usually a nice drive on the weekends....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:44 AM on August 28, 2018

My wedding reception was at the Wellesley College Club. I am not sure if you have to be a member, but it's worth inquiring. They do their own catering.

A colleague had her reception at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester. Looks like you'd have to hire caterers for that, but they provide a list of recommended ones.
posted by dywypi at 6:54 AM on August 28, 2018

ONCE in Somerville, MA

I would be careful with this suggestion at this point in time - they recently closed for several months to "rethink their strategy." They did reopen a week or two ago, but if I were planning a wedding reception I wouldn't plan on them being around next spring based on what I've heard in the local restaurant news.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:57 AM on August 28, 2018 [5 favorites]

We got married at the Garden in the Woods in Framingham. The venue was absolutely lovely (if you like wildflowers and hiking trails), and easy to book. You bring in your own caterers, so you can control the costs there.
posted by libraryhead at 7:02 AM on August 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

My wife and I got married at Alden and Harlow a couple years ago. From our experience looking for a venue, the killer for your budget, if you want to do a restaurant buyout or a partial buyout, will be alcohol. Some venues do different tiers to help people control costs, some, like Alden and Harlow, do all-in.

Having done a restaurant buy-out for a wedding, I'd happily do it again. Two years later and we still have friends tell us that it was one of the more fun weddings they'd ever been to.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 7:12 AM on August 28, 2018

I went to a friend's wedding this past May at the Washburn Pavilion at the Museum of Science, which seems like it could be in your budget depending on your food/drink package (Wolfgang Puck Catering). The location was convenient, the riverfront views were nice, and everyone had a fun time on the dance floor.
posted by eyeball at 7:52 AM on August 28, 2018

We got married at Oleana in Cambridge in May, which has great food and a gorgeous garden. They'd fit within your budget, but they may be too small - about 54 people max.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 8:02 AM on August 28, 2018

Peabody Essex Museum in Salem?
posted by zizzle at 8:05 AM on August 28, 2018

Just attended a Boston boat wedding on the Seaport Elite that sounds similar. ~100 people on the ship and we had a blast.
posted by matrixclown at 8:41 AM on August 28, 2018

Ten or 15 years ago a friend of mine got married at a house near but not on the Cape. They held the ceremony in the side yard, then we had drinks alongside a rowboat full of ice holding oysters & shrimp on the front lawn, and then dinner & dancing in the back yard. They had about the same size group as you, and it remains one of the best weddings I have ever attended.

The families had stayed the night before in the house, I believe; I forget where the happy couple went that night. In your case, you all could stay in the same place, I suppose.

posted by wenestvedt at 10:06 AM on August 28, 2018

Somerville Armory! It's a quirky building, and a little out of the way, but not too too far from public transit (if that's a concern) and has a reasonable amount of parking (again, if that's a concern). You'd have to bring in your own food, though.

Other fun options that I haven't seen mentioned: the Charles River Museum of Industry, Night Shift Brewery, and the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture (PDF link).

Some things to consider that would make it easier to make solid recommendations: do you need the venue to be close to public transit, or to have lots of parking space? Is it important for it to be within walking distance of accommodations? How do you feel about outdoor space/contingency planning for foul weather?
posted by quatsch at 12:57 PM on August 28, 2018

Adolphus Busch Hall (formerly the European section of the Harvard art museums) might be nice; it includes garden and terrace access. $5K for the rental leaves $5K for everything else. I would be surprised if they couldn't accommodate 80 people, but I don't know for sure.
posted by praemunire at 2:06 PM on August 28, 2018

On Game Grumps Arin Hanson offered a tip that if you get married at a museum or similar institution you can then potentially write it off as a donation on your taxes. I've never tried this myself but it could be worth looking into. Maybe it would give you the chance to spend a bit more, with the understanding that it'd "pay off" later... plus you'd be helping a museum!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:34 PM on August 28, 2018

Two lovely spaces for weddings I've attended recently: the Concord Scout House and the Arlington Town Hall.
posted by nonane at 12:40 PM on August 31, 2018

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