For couples who are looking for alternatives to large, formal, expensive weddings, an at-home wedding can provide a unique, affordable and meaningful setting. According to wedding expert and bestselling author, Sharon Naylor, whether it’s your own home or the home of a relative or friend, there are plenty of good reasons for a homemade wedding.
When you plan an at-home wedding from ceremony through reception, you can save thousands of dollars since you won’t be renting a venue or two, plus the cost of transportation necessary to shuttle you and/or your guests to various locations.
Another benefit to an at-home wedding is the freedom to create the day exactly as you want. This type of wedding allows for greater control over the experience, how you stage it, and when you have it. Understandably, many venues have strict guidelines in terms of what you can and can’t do on their premises plus many require you to use their caterers.
Besides money, you can save an enormous amount of time on searching for possible venues and being subject to their available dates. Also, you don’t have to wait the usual 12 – 18 months between the time you decide to wed and the wedding. Popular wedding venues can be booked a year in advance, sometimes 2 years or more.
An at-home wedding can also create a more relaxed, intimate environment for family and friends, especially if the guest list is relatively small. A home naturally personalizes the event and provides an intimacy that a larger, commercial venue simply cannot create. And a familiar environment can add nostalgia and romance; plus you’re creating memories that the house will hold for as long as it stands.
With this type of private venue, you have the flexibility of choosing unique options to the traditional wedding ceremony structure, for example a reception brunch or dessert and champagne only reception are two popular alternatives. Or a more casual celebration staged around a pool can be fun for summer weddings.
There are many upsides to an at-home wedding and, with a little planning, you can mitigate potential inconveniences and obstacles with much more ease, and create the wedding of your dreams.
Some useful planning tips include:
Choose a theme: Whether it’s casual, romantic or has an ethnic feel, the theme you choose will inform all your choices and set the tone for the event.
Decorations: Depending on your at-home site, you may be able to keep decorations to a minimum especially if there is a garden or pool setting. If possible, use a few fresh cut flowers from the garden. You can also use available decorations like candles and vases, decorations you already have at home. Invite friends and family to participate and get creative! The cost of floral arrangements and decorations can really add up and may not be necessary.
Outdoor activities: Unless you’re in Hawaii, you’ll want to consider renting a tent. There are many choices these days that include various sizes and features such as clear ceilings for star gazing, modular dance platforms and ways for configuring them to accommodate more or less air flow.
Music: There are several options to hiring a band. If possible, use an available sound system and downloading sets of music onto an iPod that can be organized according to different stages of the wedding, for example: music to match the theme of the ceremony followed by jazz or softer music for cocktail hour or dinner followed by a dance set.
Table settings: You’ll probably need to rent extra dishes, glasses, tables, linens and chairs. Select a rental service that can deliver and pick up.
Catering: Ask around for referrals and interview several catering companies. Let them know it’s an at-home wedding and ask for advice based on your theme, seasonal menu items and their own experiences with at home events. Aside from the food, another important thing to take into consideration is the kitchen space. Invite your caterer to the home in advance of the big day to assess the workspace. Your caterers will need the proper equipment and tools to do their part and help ensure your wedding day is a complete success.
– Keep pitchers of water and cool (non-alcoholic) drinks on the tables to ease traffic in and out of the kitchen.
– Designate a room in the house where child guests can play under adult supervision. Consider hiring a sitter for a few hours.
– Lock doors to rooms you want guests to avoid or hang decorative ‘private’ signs on them.
– Place homemade signs indicating bathroom locations to make them easy to find for guests.
– Stock the bathroom with plenty of tissue and paper hand towels.
– If it’s a hot day, turn on the air conditioner a few hours before guests arrive.
– To make sure there’s plenty of ice on hand, borrow or rent a portable freezer.
Having an expertly equipped kitchen is a great way to start building a home — and a life — together. Consider adding a kitchen appliance upgrade to your wedding ‘wish list’. Visit Atherton Appliance & Kitchens and BSC Culinary online for lots of great ideas!
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