Bride Carmen’s Discovery of the Perfect Backyard Venue

 In Advice, Brides Confess!

The Venue. One of the most important parts to begin wedding planning. Well, a wedding venue costs a lot of money, y’all. Money, what is money? It is a tool, a tool that helps make a lot of things in life easier. It makes finding food, finding shelter, finding water easier. Beyond that, it is something that starts to create strange pressures and weird impulses.

Finding the Perfect Backyard Venue

Big, Bad Money

I NEED those denim spring sandals. Or. Their wedding was so nice, they must have spent so much on each guest, I need to do that too. Or. Man, what if these people live a certain way and my wedding doesn’t live up to their standards? Or. What if they think I am a hick because I serve hot dogs and hamburgers on paper plates instead of a multi-course meal on white tablecloths? Those are just a few of the insecurities I was having related to our wedding venue and money.

A Dose of Honesty

In a world where expectations are high and every three weeks TLC puts out a new nuptial-related show, how can we all take a deep breath and let go of the standards? For me, it started with a big dose of honesty. Honesty with myself and honesty with my partner. We asked ourselves one simple and ginormous question, “What do WE want for OUR wedding?” And this was our answer:

  1. ALL the people we love to be there.
  2. To not spend a fortune, no loans for us.
  3. The folks that want to party to be able to stay close by, no drinking and driving for our folks!
  4. To get married somewhere pretty. In WV. In nature.
  5. Everyone that comes to feel welcome and comfortable!
Carmen Venue Truck

The Looking Begins

So, based on that, we start our search. We look at state parks. Strict alcohol and food policies. Look at a few private inns. Way too expensive or small, though they would have been lovely. See a few camps and picnic shelters. I like the laid-back vibe, but the logistics could get crazy and again, strict alcohol policies. We look at renting a big house someplace on a chunk of land. “No Events” policies.

Venue Search Fatigue

This goes on for a while. I am sure that lots of folks who have already gone through this process get it. But daggone, venues are important and expensive and picky and hard.

We stall. I am running out of ideas. Sam and I are down at his folks for the weekend and I ask them if they have any suggestions. They mention a spot called Camp Splinter but the weather has been awful and we can’t take our car out the road. It doesn’t get plowed.

Carmen Backyard Venue White Flowers

Thinking Outside The Box

We leave and start the 2-hour trek back to Morgantown. On the way home, Sam suggests something that I haven’t thought of. His parent’s land. It is beautiful there. There is a creek and apple trees and raspberries and blackberries and a fire pit. The thought of it makes me excited but I am hesitant. I know that is a lot to ask of someone. Sam and I start looking up logistical things that might make it ok. We don’t want to put a burden on his parents.

Can we rent port-a-potties? For instance. Yes. We can. Where will people stay? We could have a camp-out wedding! It could be the point of the thing. We could make invitations that let people know what they need to bring. Or, if they don’t like camping, they could stay 15 miles up the road in Summersville. What about the weather? Can we rent a tent? Yes. We can.

Final Venue Comparison

All the questions seem to suddenly have answers. The moment we think of Sam’s folk’s house, everything starts to come together in our minds.

Before we can make a decision and before we ask the question, we have to check out Camp Splinter.  The next time we are down at his folks we drive over and wander around. It is a beautiful spot. Two streams intersect and join the Cranberry River. Pretty trees line the big clearing where a lovely rustic bunkhouse sits. There is a fire pit and little flowers growing in the grass. But. It doesn’t feel perfect. It doesn’t feel right.

Carmen Backyard Venue Tree Bud

Everything Falls Into Place

On the way back to Sam’s folks, we decide to ask. Worst they can say is no.

When we return Sam’s mom asks, “What did you think of Camp Splinter?”

And I say, “Hey Sam, your mom wants to know what we thought of Camp Splinter.” Sam smiles and I say, “Well, I don’t know, logistics would be pretty tough out there. We were thinking another spot.”

“Where?” She says.

“We were thinking maybe right out here, maybe like, 100 feet that way?” I say, grinning.

“What?!” She says, her eyes all bright and lit up. Sam’s dad is smiling big.

“We know it is a lot and you can say no, but could we get married in your yard?” I ask, grinning really huge at this point.

“Yes!” Sam’s momma says in her drawl, giggling.

“Are you sure, because there will be like, 100 people here!” I say.

“Yes, of course!” she says back.

Sam’s dad adds, “That’d be alright,” Still smiling.

Our Perfect Backyard Venue

The moment they say yes, my heart feels so full and warm and happy. I know it is the RIGHT place. A place that is special to us. Where we know folks that can help us with all the logistics and we love the land. Somewhere that has always felt safe and welcoming and wonderful.

I know that every venue will have its ups and downs. In Sam’s parent’s yard, we are totally DIYing this thing. But, I also know that I am stoked to get started. I am stoked to have such an important and wonderful moment in such an important and wonderful place.

Carmen Backyard Venue Porch Swing

Contributor Bio: Carmen Bowes is a native West Virginian, a writer, a nature-lover, a traveler, and more recently, a bride! She loves her life, the people in it, and is excited about the future. Carmen’s written several features for Daytripper Magazine and has been writing for Samuel Taylor Photography since 2016. Spoiler alert, Sam is her fiancé! Check out her story of when SHE proposed to Sam!

Outside of writing, she also takes pictures and has a teaching degree she doesn’t use. On top of that, she’s a super non-traditional bride, no white dress for this gal, and she proposed to Sam. So, gear up for a different perspective, she’s here to talk the nitty-gritty of getting hitched!

What do you think of Carmen’s search for the perfect venue? Share with us in the comments.

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Showing 26 comments
  • Claire Ady

    lovely. she is my kind of woman. she’s not wasting money on what she doesn’t want for her wedding. she still got venue search fatigue, though! ah, even if you try to have a low-stress wedding you still get stressed!

    • Reply

      Weddings will always be some level of stress. You know that first hand, lol. I’m glad Carmen is sticking to what is best for her and Sam. Blowing the entire budget on a venue is never a good start.

  • Michelle

    I enjoyed this story! If I had a piece of land in our family large enough for a wedding, we would have definitely considered it for our wedding. It makes it that much more personal. Good luck to the Bride & Groom.

    • Reply

      Totally agree with you! I didn’t know anyone that could house that many people either. Although, I did only have 65 people attend my wedding after inviting 120 so I guess I could’ve swung it. My wedding was destination since most of my family were 6 hours away from WV in NJ. If I had it back in NJ our guest list would’ve skyrocketed!

  • Reply

    That’s a great way to go about it!

  • Amanda Martin

    Loved this story! I think backyard weddings can be so intimate and dreamy.

  • Steph

    Backyard weddings are the best! They may require a little more planning but totally worth it

  • Becca Wilson

    This looks like such an amazing space for a wedding. I am super partial to outdoorsy stuff when it comes to setting up weddings.

  • Sam | Away She Went

    I love this! I’ve always wanted an outdoor wedding! I wish we had a beautiful yard/property to get married at!

  • Reply

    This is so sweet! I think it will make your wedding story extra special.

  • Sharon

    What a truly wonderful place to hold a wedding. I love the idea of a simple venue that lets the land set the scenery.

  • Rachel

    I absolutely LOVE how fantastic backyard weddings look!

  • Kelsey

    What an amazing spot!

  • Misty Eilar

    I paid for my wedding myself, so I only did what I could afford and didn’t give two craps about anyone’s thoughts. It was tough though bc we were criticized on things. Just got to let it go and do you.

    • Reply

      If you are paying for it than everyone else can zip it! Plus it’s your day and if they are really there for you they don’t care about all the frills.

  • Tawnia Key (soon to be Taylor ;))

    I love it. Am I biased? Perhaps. 😉 This venue will be amazing. Our wedding will take place in our yard with a babbling brook and it’s…. free. Set the standard Carmen! Weddings aren’t about the money, they’re about the couple, family, friends. You cannot buy those things. Keep on writing girl, you’re an inspiration.

    • Reply

      Tawnia you are so sweet! I couldn’t agree more that Carmen is representing the brides out there who aren’t into putting on a show. She’s all about her and Sam’s day one that represents them and that is how it should be.

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