How to Have an At-Home Wedding (That Doesn't Cost a Fortune)
Let's face it: weddings are expensive, and one of the most expensive items on a wedding list is the venue. So why not choose a home for the occasion? With some careful planning, an at-home wedding provides the opportunity to interact with your guests on a more intimate level and help everyone enjoy the day. It could be your home, mom's home, or perhaps a close friend's home. What will be remembered is how fun and relaxed it all was, and how special everyone felt to be part of seeing you and yours make a commitment to each other in front of family and special friends.
Here are a few things to consider when planning a wedding at home.
The Wedding Guest List and Invitations
The guest list and invitations to your wedding are directly related to the capacity of your venue.
When creating your guest list, keep in mind the number of people your home or yard will comfortably accommodate. If necessary, plan on moving some furniture into unused rooms. If the wedding ceremony and reception are being held in the same location, you may need to trim the guest list. Contact a wedding rental company to get an idea of how many guests your space would accommodate with tables and chairs.
Instead of printed formal invitations, create your own using a favorite picture or use one of the many websites with free templates. You could also take the picture to a local photoshop and create a postcard invitation.
Seating & Eating Accommodations
Rent an Event Tent and Seating
Consider renting an event tent. If rain clouds appear, you will be less anxious, and even a sunny day can get uncomfortable if it is too hot. Remember to provide seating and tables for eating. Make arrangements for these at the same time as the tent.
Decorating For Your At-Home Wedding
Keep decorations as simple as possible.
Battery Operated Lighting
Floating candles in clear glass vases can light up the evening. Battery operated string lights are great for stringing between trees or placing in clear bowls without the hassle of planning for electrical outlets.
Live Flowers and Greenery
Buy pre-planted containers of flowers and greenery at your local nursery or big box store. Many of these come in very nice containers. If it’s a friend’s home you can gift these to the homeowner as a thank you gift.
Food and Drinks
When it comes to food for an at-home wedding, again simplicity is key. With some thoughtful planning, some caring friends, and the array of gourmet offerings available today at your local grocery store, it can be a do-it-yourself affair, so to speak.
Consider asking friends to help with the food preparation or hire some students from a culinary class at a local school.
Hors d’oeuvres, Sides, and Main Dish
Hors d’oeuvres can be cold (think cocktail shrimp) or heated in a few minutes (mini quiche anyone?). Buy the main entrée from a favorite local restaurant and add a mix of cold salads to complement the dish.
Find a bakery that can make plain cupcakes or small petit-fours. Sprinkle the cupcakes with sugar or sprinkles. An added bonus, these eliminate the need for another plate and fork.
Refreshments can be a selection of special non-alcoholic drinks and a favorite sangria or wine to toast the bride and groom.
Entertainment for an at-home wedding does not have to be an all-out affair.
If your guests know each other well, have background music that is not loud or intrusive so conversations can be heard. Outdoor speakers have come a long way in both cost and sound quality.
Conversation starters are a great way to have people interact. Place a bowl of ideas at the entrance or at each plate. This will get your guests talking and entertaining themselves.
Provide an area where guests can have their picture taken. One great idea is to hang a large open frame from a tree and snap a picture of guests within the frame. Provide some props to add a little fun to the picture taking.
Parking and Other Considerations
Parking and Consider Neighbors
Nothing can ruin a great wedding better than getting a complaint from the neighbors about traffic congestion or noise. Avoid this pitfall by inviting the neighbors or, if this is not an option, at least let them know that there will be more traffic on the street on your special day, preferably along with a nice bottle of wine or box of candy. Another option can be to make arrangements for offsite parking with a nearby church or business and chauffeur your guests to the site.
Check with local law enforcement or homeowners association to be certain you are complying with all rules and regulations. Most communities have a cut off time for large gatherings.
If your wedding is for a large gathering, rent portable restrooms. They have come a long way in terms of looks, some are very upscale.
The Day is Finally Here!
An at-home wedding offers a great deal of flexibility for having the wedding you always envisioned, but be prepared to spend more time planning and getting the details finalized before the festivities begin. You need to be organized and have a group of friends and relatives who are eager to help. You may want to hire a wedding consultant to provide some guidance and help with the planning. Whatever you decide, be sure to make as many decisions early on and get a lot of the prep work done before the day so your wedding day will be a truly joyous occasion.