Yesterday my partner and I went scouting wedding locations. We both really want to be outside for the ritual. My partner is always happiest when running around in the woods (wearing as little as possible), and natural/wild spaces are sacred to both of us. Besides, I cannot imagine wanting to wear shoes for the wedding.
Some good friends of ours have offered their land as a location, and as much as we love their land and their vibe, we are worried about logistics. They don't have a toilet that flushes "normally" on their property, the parking would require a bit of creativity, and even if we did it in their most accessible field, there would still be something of a walk over uneven ground for attendees and I can think of at least one relative who may or may not be able to traverse that kind of terrain. Also, the rain plan would be a bit of a toss up, though M says he has been wanting to build a shelter and this would be a great excuse to do it.
Instead, we are thinking the facilities at one of the large local parks would be a good idea. They have thousands of beautiful acres that I grew up visiting, and my partner and I have gone for a number of hikes there and really enjoy it. They also have 11 picnic shelters available for reservations, all of them clearly numbered with good signage off of one particular park entrance. So today we went to suss them out and see how their energy feels.
We started by driving all the way to the back, looking for the most privacy. About half the shelters are on the banks of the river, with flat flood plain around them. Number 11 at the very back seemed to be the biggest, with a dozen large picnic tables, half sheltered and half open, about 15 feet from the water. Surprisingly, though, it didn't seem terribly private, probably because it was so large with so much flat, open space around it. We kept poking around and really like #6, which is also close to the river. Its shelter is made of mortared stone, has 5 picnic tables that seat 10-12 each, plus one more table that can be moved under the roof and another half dozen tables in the open. There is also a much smaller shelter right next to it, across a small round field that seems perfect for the ritual circle. The smaller shelter goes with the larger one, we think, and could be a priestess space or something. There are swings to keep any kids in attendance occupied and they have blocked off the road so that there is no through traffic. The parking is reasonable, though the bathrooms are a bit of a hike or will require a very short drive.
We also have a second choice picked out, and then two others that will do, just in case. The phone line for making reservations opens for the year on Tuesday, and apparently there is a good bit of demand, so we want to get them made first thing. It is also cheap, only $50 for a whole day (a half day would require too much running around, I think), plus maybe a deposit, depending.
On the one hand, the park seems a bit impersonal, but I think it is a) an already formally available space, easy to set up without much prep work like a whole-house deep clean, b) has parking c) has room under a roof in case of rain d) has available bathrooms e) has flat outdoor space for ritual circle f) is in mostly wild space (and bonus g) is near the river!).
We may run back over there today just to take another look around and get a feel for a couple of smaller shelters that were in use so we couldn't tour them before. I don't know. They have fireplaces, whereas the ones we picked don't, though with a May wedding we aren't sure we need fire. Then again, fire is always good.
And as for our friends' land that they offered, well, we think we might go play there the day AFTER the wedding, when playing naked in the woods will be more appropriate. (Gets a little awkward, the whole being naked among the trees thing, when your conservative parents are taking pictures for posterity, I must say.)