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Bridezilla Campout: A night spent sleeping on city property for the perfect wedding venue

Categories: News

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The bridezillas were peaceful at first. So were the groomzillas, the maids-of-honor, the moms, the grandmas and, in at least one case, a man who volunteered to sleep outside the behemoth Wellington Webb municipal building so his mother's hairdresser could get the wedding date of her dreams. But it didn't stay peaceful forever.

Not in an Occupy Denver sort of way, mind you. Instead of pepper spray and cops in riot gear, there were exaggerated eye rolls and city employees with clipboards. And no tents. (Although there was one inflatable mattress.)

But let's start at the beginning. Full disclosure: I was one of those bridezillas freezing her 'zilla off for a chance at a cheap wedding venue. The city has two choice ones: the City Park Pavilion and the Washington Park Boathouse. Both are way less expensive than your average hotel ballroom and you can bring your own food and booze, which is good news for your wallet and bad news for your friend who likes to bake and owes you a favor.

There's one catch, however. The city operates on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 7 a.m. on a very specific date: today. So if you want to get married on a Saturday in June, July, August or September, you better be willing to line up the night before.

My fiancé and I arrived at the Webb building at 8 p.m. last night. We thought we'd be wicked early; the city's facilities coordinator, a very nice man who is undoubtedly having a very stressful day, had told us to get there by 3 a.m. to be safe. We decided to overachieve, however -- and it turns out we weren't the only ones. By the time we arrived, bundled in hats and mittens and toting camp chairs, there were sixteen people ahead of us.

The gathering, which for our purposes we're calling Bridezilla Campout 2011, had the friendly, we're-all-in-this-together feeling of an office picnic or a disaster that's not that disastrous. No one really wanted to be there, but we had to be, so we decided to make the best of it. Someone brought around a bowl of Halloween candy. Someone else busted out a portable game of cornhole. There was pizza-ordering, chit-chat and coffee-sharing.

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Early on in the long, long night.
Upon taking our place in line, we were approached by Stephen Partridge, an outgoing fellow who had officially designated himself the unofficial date-taker. Each time a new party arrived, he opened his red Moleskine notebook and took down their venue and date. That way, he could tell each newcomer whether someone ahead of them was planning to book that same combination -- a task that was born of his own curiosity.

"I wanted to know where I stood," he said. (He was thirteenth in line.) "To stand here for fourteen hours and not know if I was going to get my date was going to drive me crazy."

September 8 seemed to be the most-wanted date. Unfortunately, it had been claimed by the second person in line, a man named Ted Shannon who'd arrived at 3:30 p.m. with a sleeping bag, an iPad and a sandwich. He was one of the few loners in the crowd; his fiancée was home, tucking his son -- a pint-sized Optimus Prime who was forced to surrender some of his trick-or-treating candy to "the Halloween ghost," a.k.a Shannon -- into bed.

"My friends think I'm nuts for sitting out all night," he said.

"But my really good friends are like, 'Yeah! Get it, Ted!'"



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19 comments
Cornholio
Cornholio

Wow.  There's only one place I can turn to where I you can almost guarantee that 'cornhole' will be used in a sentence at least once per day.  Thank you Westword, you never let me down.

Monicafields2006
Monicafields2006

Love it was totally there and everything you wrote brings back crazy,funny and irritating memories, I didnt  know that sept 8th was the most wanted dates because thats the date I wanted... go figure. I did get a back up day and so excited about it I was number 61 in line and was there at 3:00! Its over now and  thanks for writing the articale it was so exact. I will be printing this out and put it in my wedding scrap book... "we were there" :)

Quesetion
Quesetion

So, did you get the date you wanted or what? I need resolution.

Laschoon
Laschoon

I went to Parks and Rec. at about 8:20AM and found this chaos. I had no idea it was so insane. Luckily I wanted Cheesman (which is a perfectly nice venue with an awesome history) and so, even though I had to take a number (I was 113 and when I got there and they were on 56) and wait (which I did from my office across the street) I didn't have much competition. If anyone reads any of this from Parks and Rec, please take my suggestion-- different lines for different parks. Let them be bridezillas over the two most desirable parks, but let those of us who want the less traditional places get in and out. It's silly to waste a day when you know you are there with probably about ten other people who want the same venue as you...

Matt
Matt

Seriously, in what possible way is this news? You used the momentum of Occupy Denver to get people interested in a story that is absolutely meaningless.

DIYWeddingPlanner
DIYWeddingPlanner

Really?  City Park and Washington Park?  I'd agree that they win out for the most tired venues in Denver.  If you missed out, consider yourself lucky.

The Cheesman Park Pavilion and The Molkery a/k/a The Montclair Civic Building, rock!  Both venues kick the crap out of Wash Park and City Park in both style and intimacy, not to mention historical significance.  Both are cheaper too.  And the Molkery has a wrap-around porch and comes with it's own playground, close enough for safety but far enough to keep the kids away from your drunk Uncle Norman.

Kelsey W.
Kelsey W.

This is definitely one of the most terrifying things I've ever read. (As is the word "cornhole-playing-est.") I hope this story makes it into a vow or a speech of some sort.

Zilla
Zilla

..."momentum of Occupy Denver"

Thanks for the laugh. OD is deflating faster and faster. One more good riot and its done, imo.

If Denver really wanted to get these people out of there they would prevent them from serving food there, after that all the homeless people that man this movement would leave because it would no longer be a "free lunch" and not worth it.

Jay
Jay

Montclair and Cheesman do rock but they are smaller and Cheesman is a great place for a wedding but not so great for a reception.  Don't hate on Denver's other parks that have wonderful gardens and good spots for a party. 

Harrumph
Harrumph

Better check your etiquette book regarding what is "rude."  For example, this is rude:  I hope your wedding sucks because you chose a shitty venue.

DIYWeddingPlanner
DIYWeddingPlanner

Hogwash.  They're both about the same size as City and Wash Park, but their allowable numbers of attendees are smaller, but not much smaller.  And Cheesman can accomodate a nice reception on both the pavilion and the gardens behind it.  Not hating on other parks, just stating that those two are "tired" because they are.

Nope
Nope

Cheesman park is nowhere near the same size as City Park -- it's almost 1/4 the size -- same for the venue itself. the bandstand and garden at Cheesman Park are much smaller than than comparable venues at City Park. Finally, you get much more privacy at City Park than you do at Cheesman Park due to the layout alone.

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