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Best places to plan a wedding on a budget

Goldies 2007: Critics' Picks

Best Places to Plan a Wedding on a Budget

By Paul Davis

Back in January, Metro Santa Cruz revealed that the average cost of a Santa Cruz wedding was $36, 830. If you're a Bridezilla type, that's chump change, but if you're like many at the marryin' age in Santa Cruz, those customer service or social work jobs aren't bringing in half that amount in an entire year. How to commemorate your special day on a budget? Here are some suggestions compiled from Metro Santa Cruz's close network of cash-strapped marryin' social workers and coffee-slinging customer service workers.

City Hall

A perennial favorite, a City Hall wedding still connotes a shotgun arrangement to some, and there are few prenuptial preparations less romantic than going through a security checkpoint. Still, it's cheap, easy, and straightforward--and you can save those bills to throw a truly terrific party afterward.

Someone's Back Yard

Believe it or not, there are a bare handful of folks who can afford a house with a back yard in Santa Cruz, and in some cases they're willing to rent their private verdant grove out to you on your special day for a low price. These folks are out there--a little bit of word of mouth and a couple hours of online searching will do the trick.

The Beach at Sundown

It's casual, and unlikely to be private, but is there really anything quite as majestic and memorable as tying the knot on the incredible coastline? An hour before sundown, as the sunbathers and their children are leaving, with a close group of family and friends, it's elegant, understated and magnificent all at once.

Bocci Cellar

Our favorite tucked-away corner for games of bocci ball and libations is available for rent, at a remarkably reasonable rate--tie the knot and enjoy an athletic and down-home reception afterward.

Vista Delaveaga Park

Skip the pricey state parks, which will run you nearly as much as a white wedding when all is said and done, and opt for renting out a campsite at a country park. Lackadaisical park rangers are always a risk--you're not going to get hand and foot service from a disgruntled city worker--but they may be kind enough to put a flower in a vase in the public restroom to add a certain rarefied air to the proceedings. Remember that terrific party mentioned above? This may be the place to throw it.

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