Eric’s Blog Episode 13 – The Backyard is Out, the Mill Room is In!

A funny thing happened along the way to the wedding of our dreams. Making the backyard workable for both the wedding and the reception turned out to be a huge production.

First, everyone told us that we needed to rent a giant tent to protect us from the elements. Faye and I felt strongly (I felt REALLY strongly) that I didn’t want to get married inside a tent. What is the point of getting married in a backyard if you can’t see the backyard?

To avoid this, we would need to put the reception tent in the lot behind Faye’s parents’ garage/barn, leaving the backyard open for the ceremony. This was okay in theory, but the lot is more like a clearing in the woods, complete with mosquitoes camping out for their very own “reception dinner.”

Have I ever mentioned that Faye’s artisan foodie sister raises bees for honey? No? Weird, I usually start most of my conversations with that tidbit. Well, she does and she houses them in that same backyard, behind the barn. Bees are lovely, I have been carefully taught. “If you don’t bother them, they wont bother you.” But I have a feeling that 140 people dancing to loud music with flowers and leftover food lying all about would qualify as bothering the bees.

We needed sides to our tent, which once again meant that we would be outside without actually seeing the outside. Sure, there was mesh siding available – but mesh must be made of gold or leprechaun hair, because it costs almost as much as the tent.

Flooring! If we wanted people to be able to walk in heels we would need flooring – because the condensation that would occur once night fell would make for a fun bloopers show. Ah, I can see it now, my very small mother and her friends rolling ever so gently down the hill.

Ay Carumba, the list went on and on, from figuring out a staging area for the caterer and a not-too-disgusting port-a-potty rental option, to lighting and parking. A backyard reception started to feel like building a house from scratch.

We started peeking around for alternatives for the reception location. And one happy day we found an amazing loft space in a former mill factory in a nearby town. One pass through the place (and a meeting with the terrific owner of the building) and we had ourselves an instant competitor.

The battle was on – our dream backyard wedding versus a more reasonable and still-charming choice. Faye and I would take turns trying to talk the other into one of the options. We would waffle like an Eggo (sorry – my wedding brain is getting tired). Her parents didn’t want to push us in one direction or the other, and we thought we were never going to be able to choose. And then, on one fateful visit to Faye’s house, her father came up with a tool to help solve the problem. He called it the “Decision Matrix,” and he had just learned it at a workshop for construction managers to help their clients make decisions about a new home.

It’s kind of a brilliant tool that gives both emotion and realism a place in the decision.

Here is how it worked.

1. We divided the reception into the following categories.

• Cost
• Driving between ceremony and reception
• Lodging near the reception
• Weather stress
• Meaingfulness of the location
• Atmosphere/scenery/ambience
• Bugs
• Bathrooms
• Ease of parking/security
• Ease of decoration
• Setup and control of lighting
• Parental stress
• Preparation of site – degree of difficulty
• Bride/groom stress

Each one got a score for the backyard and the loft space.

2. We then weighted each category for its importance.

We used a super-fancy formula (Score x Importance of the category) to get a grand total for each location.

The Decision Matrix

The loft space won by a landslide. We all felt a swirl of emotions. We were happy and sad. Happy to have a made such a big decision – sad that we had a made such a big decision. That’s just the way this whole wedding thing seems to work.

At least my mom and her friends most likely will stay upright. And that, my friends, is a win.

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