The appeal of an at home wedding is clear: being close to those you love and a setting that means everything to you can make the day so much more intimate and special. Many assume that the wedding will be easy and fancy-free because it is at your home, and there are certain contexts where that is true.
Before planning an at-home wedding, think about the look and feel you’re going for and whether you are prepared to handle the logistics to get you there. Here’s some help in looking at the pros and cons of an at home wedding vs a wedding venue. If you opt for an at-home wedding, you will probably hear from your guests that it was one of the most creative, community-building, and beautiful ceremonies they’ve ever attended.
Cautions With Backyard Weddings
The Home: If you live in a two-bedroom flat, the scope of your at-home wedding will have to be much different from a wedding in a romantic villa isolated in the countryside. Once you know you want an at-home wedding, start asking yourself questions about the bathrooms, the kitchen, the open spaces in and outside the home, parking options, the natural features of the yard (highly sloped yards work poorly for tables and chairs). This isn’t to discourage you; this simply makes you recognise what kinds of rentals might be helpful to make the wedding perfect.
The Neighbours: If you wait until the last minute to mention to your neighbours that you are having an at home wedding, you may find yourself with conflict on your hands. From the beginning, think about how you want to ensure that the neighbours are satisfied and not irritated at the party. Talk to them at least a month in advance, tell them your plan for parking the cars for all your guests, as well as a hard stop to any loud outdoor music. If they express concerns, listen to them carefully and attempt to address them; if all else fails, many people find that just inviting the 2-3 neighbours that are closest to the wedding can get them to either join the party or head out of town for the weekend.
The Guests: An at-home wedding of 10 of your closest family will require a very different level of logistics than a party for 300; start early on the size of your guest list and put names to those abstract numbers (when shooting for 50 guests, many couples find that there are already 80 people on their ‘must invite’ list!). Once you know your numbers, remember that not everyone will be able to come but you should probably have a contingency plan if most of your guests say yes.
The Preparation, Set-Up, and Tear-Down: Caterers, table and chair hire, and marquee hire all need space, time, and often people to lift, carry, and set-up items. Make sure that every vendor contract you work with clearly states what is included as far as set-up and clean-up are concerned. For everything that isn’t included, from throwing the tablecloths over the tables to taking out the trash, make sure you hire friends-of-friends or young cousins or someone to be in charge of every deed. Many family members will help out on the day of, but for your peace of mind, assign those tasks so you don’t worry whether they will go undone.
Things To Plan For
- Plan to check zoning and noise ordinances to ensure that you aren’t violating a rule by having your party in this way and in your home.
- Set aside part of the budget to make your backyard or home “your own,” since decorations are often combined with a venue fee and you really want to put your personal touch on this ceremony and reception.
- Look into unconventional options for your catering, given that you likely don’t have a professional kitchen in your home. Some couples hire food trucks for the day, while others DIY their meals by preparing, for instance, a taco bar that has many components that can be prepared over the course of a couple of days and refrigerated.
- You might get rain even if your area never seems to get rain, and it might be blazing hot; putting a hold on a marquee will be well worth the expense in mental ease. Make sure you find one that will accommodate all your guests while fitting in the space you have for it.
- Use the location to your advantage; if you have a sloped yard, for instance, find a way for all your guests to be able to see you, but make sure you have a flat place for tables after the ceremony. Consider how you will transition anything between ceremony and reception in your space.
5 Wonderful At Home Wedding Ideas
- Entertain your guests while you get pictures taken or transition from ceremony to reception by putting out large lawn games; you can decorate wooden games with your wedding colours, and they become part of the decor.
- If the wedding is fairly casual or you will stick with passed appetizers, consider cocktail tables to accommodate a larger crowd, with just a few chairs around the yard for those who wish to sit instead of just mingling; cover them in beautiful cloths for a dreamy backyard look.
- You are in charge of your own flowers and greenery, so see what you can glean from your own garden in addition to getting some loose flowers and vines to decorate around the yard.
- Double up your decor with wedding favours by potting small plants and decorating the tables with them; invite your guests to take one home at the end of the night as a thank-you for their attendance.
- Find an all-in-one party hire that will help you find the perfect tables, chairs, and marquee, as well as any catering equipment, sound systems, or dance floors you may need. Working with a reliable party hire will ensure that you don’t forget anything you need and makes the process of set-up and tear-down easier.
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