As you search for information about having an at-home wedding, you’ll find a plethora of articles that will simply advise you NOT TO DO IT. It’s big and scary undertaking, afterall, and, wow, it’s a lot of work. They’re only partly right (the work thing) but that shouldn’t dissuade you from planning that cozy and intimate (or grand gala) wedding you want. There are many, many factors take into account when planning an at-home wedding. It’s not for everyone, of course, but how can you be sure it’s for you?
We’ve put together a list of considerations for you and your beloved to ponder to help you decide if having a wedding at home is something you really want – and the the resources – to do.
The first and, really, the most important considerations are centered around your location.
1. Do you have enough physical space to set up a ceremony and reception area? – Ceremony seating requires about 36 square inches of space per person, not including the aisles. – Reception seating, at 60” round tables, requires 15 square feet of space per table to allow room for guests and chairs.
2. Is your house easy to find by your guests? Can they get there by public transportation? Do they need to drive?
3. Is there ample parking on the street or in the immediate neighborhood?
4. Is there sufficient access to the house/yard by caterers, rental companies, or other vendors?
5. Do you have enough restrooms to comfortably serve your guests? (This is a big one. Don’t skimp on restrooms!) – Rule of thumb: Under 50 guests, 2 restrooms are sufficient. 50 – 100 guests, 3 restrooms are needed. – Will you be able to rent portable restrooms for the wedding ($50 – $125 per day for a portable toilet)? – If so, do you have space for place the portables that doesn’t interfere with your ceremony or reception space? NO ONE wants to sit near a public toilet. Ever.
6. Do you have enough electrical outlets for lights, sound system, caterering?
7. Is your space guest-friendly? – Do you have ample shade and a nice lawn? – Are there any walking hazards like broken cement walkways, gopher holes in the lawn? – Is it safe to sit, eat, and lounge on your furniture? – Do you have enough seating? – Is your space child-proof? – Do you have places to store coats, gifts, and drunk guests?
8. Do you have pets? It’s probably best if you take them off-site to a professional pet sitter for a big event. All of the hubbub of a large party can be painfully stressful to pets. Stressed out pets are at danger for non-normal behaviours (biting, scratching, incessant barking). Plus, guests may have allergies to pet dander or fear of dogs/cats/snakes/goldfish.
9. If you need to do some fix-up work before you can have the wedding, can you do it on-time and on-budget? – How major are the repairs? Will you DIY or have it contracted out to a pro? – Do you have a plan if something goes wrong? (And, you just KNOW it will.) Things like late product delivery, slow contractors, inclement weather all produce delays and problems.
10. Are you comfortable with a large number of people romping through your private space? Do you have a plan to keep out looky-loos from pilfering through your medicine cabinet or unmentionables drawer?
11. What’s the bug situation at your house? Bees and wasps are particularly worrisome because of allergic reactions to stings. How about those darned mosquitos? Fire ants? Citronella candles are generally not enough to keep away pesky pests (at least in my yard, they’re not). How are you going to protect your guests and keep them comfy?
12. Do you get along with your neighbors? Are they going to freak if you have a large party? Is someone else on your street having a big event that day? (June, for example, is prime Father’s Day and graduation party season.)
1. Does your city require a special event permit for gatherings over a certain amount of attendees? Can you afford the fee(s)? – Some cities have limits on the hours of operation – The number of parked cars may be limited on your street or you may be required to hire a valet service – Do you need a permit for alcoholic beverages served? – What are the noise restrictions?
2. Do you rent or own the house? (Or does the host rent or own?) – Some rental agreements prohibit large gatherings on the rental property. – Does the homeowner’s insurance cover parties and events in case of personal injury? – Does the homeowner’s insurance cover property damage/loss?
1. Are your vendors experienced at at-home weddings? This sounds kinda silly, but at-homes require different skills than big venue events.
2. Special considerations for caterers – Do they have space to prep, serve, and clean? – Are there sufficient electrical outlets? – Are they licensed to serve in a non-commercial kitchen space? – Do they require special permits from the city or health dept. Who pays for it – you or them? – Do they require that you have extra event insurance? – If you’re having a buffet-style meal, is there adequate space? Is it shady or protected from the elements? – Do you have enough garbage and recycling bins? – Are they providing alcohol? Any special permits for that?
3. Special considerations for music/djs/dancing – Is there enough space to set up a music station or bandstand? – Do you need a special permit for music? – Do you know what your local noise laws are? Does the DJ? – Are there sufficient electrical outlets? – Is there space for a dance floor? Who sets it up/breaks it down?
4. Special considerations for rental equipment – Does your budget allow for rentals? – You’ll need tables and chairs for guests – You’ll need a cake table, a guestbook table, a bar area, and buffet tables if you’re doing that. – When do they deliver? – How long is the rental period? Is there a minimum # of days? (It’s usually 2 day minimum, fyi.) – Do you need to clean the rentals before they’re returned? – Who returns the rentals? Will they pick-up? – Are you having a tent? – Who sets it up/breaks it down? – Does it need special equipment to assemble?
1. Set up and break down. Do you have reliable helpers for prep and clean up? You really don’t want to be in charge of this on your wedding day. Or do you? (Control freak!)
2. You’re going to need to have a bunch of extra toiletries, towels, and toilet paper on hand. Add that to your budget.
3. How are you going to decorate? – If you have a lovely garden, you won’t have to do a lot. What will be in bloom? Will the trees be turning color? – If you’re bringing in decor for the day-of, what’s your budget for that? What, exactly, do you need? (Lighting? Plants? Tents?)
4. What’s your Plan B? – What if it rains? – What if it’s ungodly hot? – Freak snow storm? – Tornado? – House fire?
5. How much are you planning to DIY? – Do you have the time, patience, and resources to do all of those DIY projects and tasks? – Do you have reliable – and I do mean RELIABLE – helpers? (Flakey people don’t suddenly turn into angels just because it’s your weddin’.) – How far in advance can you start the DIY projects? – The top 2 things NOT to DIY for an at-home wedding: – Food (safety, time and kitchen constraints) – Elaborate decorations and florals (time and storage contraints) – Major construction or rennovations
This is not a complete list, by any means. We’re delighted to include member suggestions and tips.