New York, we love you, but you’re bringing us down. Why does quoting “to have and to hold” with just a modicum of style to your dear one have to be so, well, dear? It’s gotten so bad that even well-heeled socialites are hot-heeling it to rural destinations.
“If you have $200,000 to spend on a wedding in Manhattan, you get nowhere,” said Alyssa Pettinato, the wedding planner behind high-end NYC events company Alinato, who has been witnessing the trend among her clientele. “But if you spend that in, say, Oklahoma, you can have a baller wedding. So people are getting out of the city and going to basically the middle of nowhere and just having a banger.”
A six-figure wedding budget in flyover country can translate to the equivalent of a $1 million splash-out in NYC. Exhibit A: Last year, actress Sophia Bush wed entrepreneur and investor Grant Hughes. They had a Vogue wedding, not in Beverly Hills, not in the Hamptons, not in Italy (although the duo did become affianced on Lake Como) — but in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“The venue took a lot of people by surprise,” said Pettinato. “It looked like they were at a chateau in France, but it was the Philbrook Museum of Art. One of my clients asked us to reach out because she loved the vibe, and I’m like, ‘It’s totally out of your budget.’ But it was only $6,000 to rent the gardens. It was super doable.”
So what can you do with all those savings? Go wild with the food and book a top toque. Spend big on booze. Have a rehearsal dinner for half your wedding party. Get spectacular and hire acrobats that perform with fire, a psychic reader and a sketching artist. (We just can’t promise Vogue will shoot it.)
Below are three NYC alternatives that allow you to take your wedding from bargain basement to big shot.
Music City has become the bachelorette party capital of America, but increasingly couples are discovering they can get married there, too — or at least nearby. Mint Springs Farm in Nolensville, Tennessee (a 30-minute drive to Nashville’s Broadway honky tonks), is a 40-acre farm and all-inclusive venue. Most importantly, the farm has a capacity of 240 guests, a bridal suite, a groom’s loft, a ceremony pavilion and the all-important, uber-trendy reception (aka party) barn.
The venue can provide a planner, live music, a DJ, catering — you name it. Want a sparkler send off? No fuss; This is easy Southern living.
“It looks like a picturesque ranch, and to get married on-site with 100 people, you can have a super luxurious wedding for under $40,000,” Pettinato said, noting that you could go big there with a budget of $60,000 to $70,000.
Summer night’s dream
For a more elegant, upscale vibe that still smells of whiskey, head to Legare Waring House in Charleston, South Carolina. You’ll wed in this indoor-outdoor property under moss-draped oaks surrounding manicured gardens and a home dating to the 1840s in South Carolina’s first permanent settlement, Charles Towne Landing.
A booking gives you access to the house and grounds, plus bride and groom quarters, a catering kitchen, a vendor parking area and an oft-forgot luxury: an on-site dumpster.
Because the historic site is operated by the state, the fee is just $8,000 for a Saturday in peak season. With a $50,000 budget, you can have a wedding that would have set you back well into the six figures, at say, Oheka Castle on Long Island.
The property requires a licensed and insured planner to book, and they don’t allow fun things like sparklers. Boo.
Work of art
Since the Sophia Bush exposure, the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa has become more competitive to book, but it’s still a great deal for a New Yorker who wants to go big on a medium-sized budget.
A villa built in 1927 by an oil tycoon, the museum was opened in 1939, and today you can book it for just $10,000 (as opposed to $30,000 for a place like 74Wythe in Brooklyn).
For 100 people to have a stunning day with “not a lot of compromises,” expect to pay around $80,000, according to Pettinato, but the venue can host up to 500.
The venue requires a wedding planner to book and has limited on-site equipment and seating. A con: The museum doesn’t allow fireworks, sparklers or live animals.
Now, what are you supposed to spend all those venue cost savings on?