Budget Bride: Three City-Owned Places to Rock an Affordable Reception

January 28 2010, 11:22 AM
As any bride-to-be knows, the first question everyone asks the recently engaged is, "So, do you have a date?" I don't know how a person goes about selecting a date. I like weekends, and I like warm weather, but I've never cared about July 17 versus July 24. So we began the process by looking for venues and inquiring about the dates available. We sought non-traditional wedding venues and found some great options managed by Denver Parks and Recreation. The Montclair Civic Center (aka the Molkery) The looks: I'm still surprised I had never seen the Molkery before. Its structure, with its wrap-around decks, reminds me of an old Southern mansion. Denver bought the historic structure in 1911, and it's currently the oldest community center in the city. It sits right next to Montclair Park, and there's a small parking lot. Another bonus: It comes with tables and chairs. Also, Jim Johnson, the event coordinator for Denver Parks and Rec, says you can get a permit for the adjacent park, meaning you can have the ceremony nearby and keep the whole area private. Downside: If we had fewer guests, or didn't insist on inviting our friend's awesome but very large band, we might have locked down the Molkery. But alas, this remodeled historic site only holds 60 guests. Price range: $100/hour for evenings and weekends; $50/hr for weekdays. The City Park Pavilion and Bandshell The looks: The Bandshell is stunning against Ferril Lake. I got caught up in the idea of having a band up there and dancing barefoot all night in a J.Crew dress on the lawn. The nearby Pavilion holds 300, with an outdoor patio that can accommodate 100 more. Downside: Both venues are rented separately, and we don't have enough guests to fill the Pavilion, but we have too many to crowd under the Bandshell if it rains. For those who want to tie the knot in the nearby Sopris Gardens, there is a separate rental for that area, as well. Cost range: The Pavilion is $600 per event with alcohol, $350 without.  The Bandshell is $260 per event, with an hourly rate if $9.25 for electricity use. The Boathouse at Wash Park The looks: The Boathouse's views couldn't be better. It's right on Smith Lake, and the entire structure is open-air. The venue holds 150, and the nearby flower gardens can make for a convenient and pretty ceremony location. Downside: The bathrooms aren't pretty. But, they're getting an upgrade with the remodel, which starts this fall and is projected to be finished in mid-June 2011. Cost range: $350 without booze, $600 with. Note: These venues are popular for booking all types of events, so if you're a bride with a firm date in mind, it's probably good to plan a year ahead. You can plan for 2011 by heading to the Parks Permit Office, on the 2nd floor of the Webb Building at 201 W. Colfax Ave., on Monday, November 1, 2010 and submitting an application. Johnson says this is when many of the Saturdays and Sundays for the year are booked.