Tag Archives: the Dumbo Loft

Our Affordable BK Wedding

I got married. A while ago.

This blog has been sorely neglected. It started as a planning tool for me, but, as we got closer to our wedding and as hubs got more involved, we used a lot more google docs and our free wedding website and shared bookmarks for the planning, and much less with this blog.

We didn’t do the best job in the world tracking our expenses, but I do feel comfortable saying that our total wedding cost came in under $5,000, which is a feat for 100+ guests within the five boroughs. Since I’m no longer planning or reviewing various options, I will probably not update this blog with any sense of urgency, but it does still exist, I am still around, and I do have information about some things that I looked into. So if you feel like asking, please do go ahead and comment with questions or contact me directly, and I will post about it.

In very broad strokes, we saved a lot of money in these ways:

  • Venue: We went with the Dumbo Loft. Chris, their events guy, was a pleasure to deal with. They offered their own rentals, which were totally reasonable, and, though prices for Saturdays went up over the course of our lengthy engagement, the cost for a Sunday event remained $2,400 through 2011. I had some communications with the people at the Green Building following my initial review way back. They’ve really revamped the place. My impression is that they are great to deal with, have done away with their weird old rules, and it looks like an amazing place, but the cost has gone up with all of the changes, and it ultimately rang in at nearly double the venue we went with.
  • Potluck. We did it. It worked. If you are thinking about doing it and fear that there won’t be enough food, fear not. There was so much food. It was amazing. We did a little map suggesting places to purchase things for out-of-towners with no kitchens, and we delegated some bulk food things. We included a page on our free website with a google form for the things we wanted. I can expand on all of this later if anyone desires.
  • Disposables. Instead of renting dishes, we went with biodegradable disposables. Not the classiest, but nobody seemed to mind. I was gifted with lots of mason jars from a friend’s wedding, which I painted with a little slash of chalkboard paint to personalize, and we used those as glasses and favors (though people forgot to take them home and I am, in turn, passing them on to another wedding party this month). But we had biodegradable cups at the ready as back-up, and they were fine and were put to good use.
  • Decor — I delegated! I put a couple of friends in charge of doing the tables. I purchased some vintage sheets to use as runners. My friend found table cloths for like $50 total on eBay, and they basically gathered little veggies (my suggestion – it was fall) and candle-holders and baskets and various things that they had on hand and made ’em all pretty. Kind of like potlucking.
  • Drinks — OK, so we were given wine. We got lucky there. But our plan before that was to get a few cases of the 10 under $10 from Astor wines. We got kegs through a bar that we frequent, which I think got us wholesale prices. My husband insisted on two kegs, but we would have been fine with one. We had two cocktails prepared (again, one was a wedding present from friends who brought the booze for that drink and assembled it there. I provided booze for the other, but friends mixed it up) and a bunch of drinks that the in-laws picked up at CostCo.
  • Ceremony — I wrote it. My stepfather got himself ordained and officiated. I loved writing the ceremony so much that I thought about getting myself ordained and registered as an officiant so I could keep writing weddings. Is that weird? I might still do it. It felt good to have something that was personalized all the way through and deeply authentic to us.
Surely I am forgetting some other things that saved us money. And there are more details on all of the above. The bottom line is that we went with an affordable venue, and we asked for people to pitch in and help rather than purchase presents. I will say that I am the kind of person who loves weddings and loves being on the flipside of these requests. One of my old BFFs and I spent days preparing a sweets table for another friend’s wedding earlier in the summer (from whence the jars came), because we grew up in the same community, and it was a labor of love. I made a wedding cake (again, collaboratively) this spring because I love a baking challenge and wanted to do it. I love all that stuff, so I felt comfortable making it a part of my own wedding. One of the best compliments I got on the wedding (or in general) was when a guest told me that she thinks of me as a good hostess, someone who loves cooking and feeding and taking care of people so much, and that it was nice that I gave people the opportunity to do that for me. I was blown away.
That said, I had a ton of anxiety about asking for so much help and asking others to perform such labors of love for me. I had a lot of pangs about growing up in a close-knit community and potlucking every single week of my childhood but no longer living in the same town as those people and feeling a lack of community here in the city that I could rely on in that way. But you know what? I asked anyway, and people showed up for us more generously and profoundly and beautifully than I could have hoped. Those people from my childhood schlepped decorations and garden-grown flowers and food to the city in cars. Family members rented apartments instead of hotel rooms in part so they could cook and prep. And newer friends, people I became close to in recent years or some only in recent months, offered crock-pots and bulk cooking and set-up. I was concerned, going in, that I didn’t have a ton of friends like myself in terms of wanting to take on large-scale cooking projects, but it was amazing how much community came out of the woodwork. Just amazing. If we can do it, you can do it.
If you want any more details on any of the above, or if you want to know what we did about x,y, or z, anything I’ve totally omitted from this post, feel free to comment or to drop me a line using this form, which will send me an email rather than posting publicly. I like sharing ideas.

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Venue #2: The Dumbo Loft

When I started to look at wedding venues earlier this year, I sent a bunch of emails to a handful of places that piqued my interest. Chris at The Dumbo Loft was the first to respond to my email, and his response was the most comprehensive. Having now visited the space and met Chris, my impression is that he is a pleasure to work with. He is straightforward with answers to questions, and he gave us the sense that the space would be accommodating and flexible while still having clearly established practices (compared to, say, the first venue we saw, where flexibility was definitely an option, but the carefree approach of the venue came across as flaky).

Location: The Dumbo Loft is located at 155 Water Street, at the corner of Pearl and Water, in Dumbo. The entrance faces out onto the little green (that would be painted green, not grass) triangle just next to the Manhattan Bridge.

Quality of Space: This is a pretty bare-bones space. It’s got some nice, wood floors, heavy beams (of which I am a fan), exposed brick walls. One wall has some kind of metal siding that I definitely don’t love, but others might. It is a raw space, and the possibilities for styling it are infinite, but it doesn’t have a ton of personality in its own right. Basically, it’s a 2800 square foot room broken up by some beams. There is a “kitchen” area that is separate from the main room (I put quotes around kitchen, because it’s pretty much just a microwave and some seating), which is where the bathrooms are. Some people might see the separation between these spaces as a drawback, but I think we could make some great creative use of the separate space — it might be a great spot for a photo booth, guest book signing, etc.

As far as the size of the space goes, Chris said that the room can typically accommodate 144 people for a seated dinner or 250 for a standing reception.

Cost: We were quoted a price of $3,000 for a Saturday event or $2,400 for any other day of the week for a wedding in 2011.

What’s Included: This cost includes use of the space until 1am, as well as access to their professional sound system, which can be accessed by a DJ or hooked up to an iPod. There are 2 bartops included with the space, which can be moved around, as well as the optional use of a coat rack. They also have additional furniture for rent at a very reasonable cost — $2 per chair (not the prettiest folding chairs in the world, but, again, affordable!) and $10 per table (either long tables or round tables).

Catering Requirements: The Dumbo Loft is open to whatever caterer you’d like to use. They do require that caterers be insured (this is pretty standard), and Chris gave us a list of suggestions, but the message was really “these are some caterers that have done a great job here,” as opposed to “these are out preferred vendors.”

Bathroom Situation: There are 2 unisex bathrooms off the kitchen area. They are working on putting some more bathrooms in the basement, which could be used for events, but the timeline is pretty unclear on these.

What You Wouldn’t Know from Their Website: I wasn’t totally sure what floor the loft was on from the website. It’s on the first floor. No sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, though those views are mere steps away. It is also important to note that, while this venue is nestled in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, the sound insulation is excellent. Also, when Chris first emailed, he mentioned that security would be required, but this is their standard event language. Security is not typically required for weddings.

This Venue is Great for You if: This venue is great for anyone seeking an affordable raw space in a fairly central location. We were initially looking for a place that would work for both ceremony and reception, but the sparsity of the space didn’t really make me want to have the ceremony itself in that location. At this point, we are very much leaning toward a reception at The Dumbo Loft following a ceremony in Prospect Park (Hello, $25 permit!). We are thinking about Prospect Park, because we love the idea of showing our guests different sides of Brooklyn and because we love, love, love that park, but those who do not wish to schlep all over town could look into a permit for the Brooklyn Bridge Park, which has the advantages of being beautiful, offering stunning views of the city, and being approximately three minutes from The Dumbo Loft on foot. All in all, I am a fan.

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