You’re engaged, you’ve purchased your wedding bands, and now you’ve got to choose a place to host your wedding. After scouring the internet, you eventually realize that no venue you can find has the same charm, appeal, and nostalgia as your own family home.
If that sounds like you, it’s no problem! You can have your wedding in your home quite easily. In fact, preparing to host a wedding in your home may be a lot simpler than preparing a rented venue. You also don’t have to worry about paying a deposit up-front, or about losing money if the perfect outdoor venue gets rained out at the last moment.
From making essential home repairs to setting up the yard, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about having a wedding in your home.
First Things First: Supplying Power
Obviously every wedding needs electrical services in order to be pulled off: you’ve got food prep equipment, sound equipment and possibly a DJ booth, and if you’re outdoors in the summer you might need air conditioner units for the tent. But you’re probably thinking that your home’s electrical system is all you need. Sadly, you’d be wrong: the vast majority of homes aren’t capable of supplying that much power.
Not to worry: thanks to standby generators, you can have all the electricity you need and more, without worrying about blowing a fuse or losing power at the house. A power outage can completely decimate an otherwise well-planned wedding in your home, so make plans to buy or rent a heavy-duty generator in time for the big day.
Preparing for Cleanup
Next to generators, another aspect of home weddings that people tend to overlook is the sheer amount of garbage will be left from the event. The average wedding has a guest list of 136 people, and even if yours is smaller, it’s easy to underestimate how much trash a large group like that can leave behind.
That being said, you should specifically plan for how you’ll manage cleanup after the event. Most likely your “cleanup crew” will consist of a couple of friends and immediate family, but it would be wise to ask a few people ahead of time if you’d like them to volunteer following the event. And don’t forget to have a decent-sized dumpster and several large trash cans brought to your home.
Any time you have more than 20 guests over at once, you should not rely on your home bathrooms. That kind of arrangement is certain to end in chaos. Instead, you’ll want to rent at least a couple of portable restrooms before you have your wedding in your home.
If you’re cringing at the thought of ugly blue porta-potties in your backyard, don’t worry: there are much more fitting options available. A restroom trailer might be your best option, as some come with exciting features that will blend in with the wedding decorations, such as red carpet or full-length mirrors. They’re still outdoor restrooms, but at least they have class. Call around to different event organizers in your area to find out what’s available to you.
Space for the Ceremony
You probably have a crystal clear vision of what your big day will look like, maybe all the way down to the tiniest detail. But rather than simply assume everything will make sense where you envision it, it’s important to measure and sketch it out beforehand.
Where do you want to say your vows? Where will the chairs for the ceremony be facing? Do you want it to be an open-air ceremony? If so, will you be taking your chances with the weather? You might want to rent a tent, especially if you have too many guests to fit into your house should it become necessary for everyone to find shelter. You might even consider getting residential fencing installed to help guests know where the yard — and the festivities — begins and ends.
Once you know what you want, compare it to your guest list and find out how much room you actually have to work with. You may have to modify your plan based on what you’re working with, but it’s far better to get this out of the way now than to be disappointed on your big day.
Providing Air Flow
Any time you start an expensive project, there are places where you should splurge and places where you can afford to tighten your budget. When it comes to weddings and air conditioning, it’s a good idea to splurge. A lack of air flow and cool air can make people incredibly uncomfortable at best, and even lead to overheating and fainting at worst.
Similar to arranging for extra power and restrooms, it’s important to think about providing effective air flow for your guests. If most of your wedding will be taking place outdoors, you should have plenty of electric fans placed around at the very least. If there’s going to be a tent, you can get small air conditioner units to keep the inside cool. Of course, if you actually have a large enough house to host your wedding in your home, be sure and call your local HVAC services to make sure your air conditioner is in good working order.
Local Event Permits
Depending on where your home is, there may be restrictions on things like how long an outdoor event can last, how many visitors you can have at one time, and how loud you’re all allowed to be. Obviously if you live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, this isn’t something you’ll have to worry about, at least aside from notifying the landlord if you rent your property. But if you live within city limits or are part of a homeowner’s association, there might be limits on what you’re allowed to do.
To find out, check with your city officials to find out what limitations exist that govern large events hosted at private homes. There might be some paperwork to fill out, but don’t let that scare you — the secretary at your city hall or HOA headquarters will probably be able to tell you what to do.
It’s helpful to keep in mind that, even if you rented an entire venue to avoid these restrictions, there would still be rules to follow: fire codes, health regulations, and noise ordinances for example. Sadly, no matter where you go, you can’t avoid all rules altogether. But you can at least make sure you aren’t breaking any obvious ones.
When it comes to planning your dinner and catering, your guest count is the single biggest variable. If you plan on inviting 50 people or more and your favorite caterer needs to finish preparing the meal in your house, your kitchen probably won’t be big enough for them to work. Your best bet in this case would be to hire a restaurant that delivers ready-made food. There might also be a local food truck that would provide the dinner for your wedding.
If your guests are expecting there to be alcoholic drinks available, you can hire a bartending service, call a mobile bar, or simply stock up on beer and wine yourself at your local liquor store.
As a side note, another thing you need to be aware of is any allergies or dietary restrictions of your guests. While most people with food allergies know how to work around traditional menu selections, it’s still a good idea to make sure you specifically accommodate them, especially if they’re important family members. This is an especially appropriate gesture when you’re hosting your wedding in your home, where people naturally expect hosts to be treat them warmly.
Don’t Forget Your Neighbors
Any time you host a big event, make renovations on your house, or do something else that typically causes a lot of noise, it’s always best to notify your neighbors. Not only is this simply the polite thing to do, but it can also help you out when your event begins: an angry neighbor can make things really difficult for you. They could even go so far as to call the police if they think you’re disturbing the peace. You can help prevent these feelings in advance by getting your neighbors on your side. All it takes is letting them know what’s going on well in advance. Once you let them know what’s going on, not only will it give them time to prepare for the commotion, but they’ll probably be very happy and supportive for you. After all, getting married is an exciting ordeal, even for those not directly involved.
When you alert your neighbors to your plans to host a wedding in your home, you should ask if they have any concerns you could help alleviate for them. They may want a schedule of events so they’ll know when the music and dancing will start. Noise might startle their pets or they may have young children who can’t sleep with loud disturbances outside, so they may choose to spend a night away. One way or another, you can be sure they’ll be grateful to you for letting them know what to expect. You might consider giving them a piece of cake or a small gift after the ceremony, to maintain goodwill with your neighbors afterwards.
Maximize Your Home’s Curb Appeal
Curb appeal isn’t something you would normally think about unless you’re trying to sell your home, but in this case your home is the setting for your big day. It’s important to have it looking its best.
You can make the exterior of your house more appealing with minimal effort by painting the front door, adding a wreath of dried flowers, and placing a few flower pots on your porch. You should think about hiring a landscaper to clean up your lawn, and maybe add a few shrubs or flowering plants. While the majority of your wedding decorations will likely be in the backyard and inside, you could add a few to the front yard to mark the occasion and make your house stand out. You might also hire a contractor to repair any cracks in your front steps or walkway. Don’t forget to make sure your house number is easily visible from the road.
Make Small Renovations to the Backyard
The front of your house definitely needs to look its best, but chances are the interior and backyard will see more activity. Before setting up the decorations, have a look around and make sure there aren’t any last-minute repairs or alterations that could make everything go more smoothly. You might even hire a contractor who specializes in custom decks to make adjustments to your patio, or even install a new deck entirely, especially if yours is getting old.
As a side note, have you considered using your garage for extra indoor space? Besides cleaning up the garage, you might want to invest in garage door screens to maximize air flow without letting in a bunch of flies. You’ll be enjoying the perfect wedding in your home before you know it.
Get the Home and Kitchen Ready
Unless you have an easy way to get from the front walkway to the backyard around the house, your guests will probably need to walk through the house to get to the backyard. If that’s the case, you’ll want to treat the entire home like it’s all one venue, and that you’re going to use it all at some point during your event. After all, that’s kind of what makes it a wedding in your home.
A place that people often overlook when preparing for guests is the front entryway. That’s ironic, because while the entire house should really be looking its best in time for the guests to arrive, the entryway makes the first impression. Make sure you thoroughly clean it and decorate it nicely, with all the flooring, paint, and woodwork in good repair.
From the entryway, there should be a clear, clean path from the front door to the backyard where the festivities will be taking place. You should also ensure that bathrooms are easy to find, just in case, and that they’re well-organized and sparkling clean.
Finally, your kitchen should probably receive the most attention, at least if you’re going to use it for preparing the dinner. It wouldn’t hurt to hire kitchen remodelers to get it looking its best, with new paint, improved countertops, and maybe even updated appliances. If your family was planning on updating the kitchen sometime soon anyway, you can hit two birds with one stone by doing it before the big wedding.
Don’t Forget Wedding Insurance
Just because you’re hosting your wedding in your home doesn’t mean you can afford to skip buying wedding insurance. You may not be renting a venue, but you’ll still be investing in suits, gowns, flowers, catering, sound and event equipment, and maybe limo service, depending on your plans. Any one of those things could go wrong at the last second, from ending up with a wrong-sized suit to accidentally breaking expensive sound equipment, leading to significant unexpected costs. By purchasing wedding insurance in advance, you’ll ensure that, if something does go wrong, you’ll be covered for unexpected expenses.
There’s a lot that goes into planning an entire wedding, and that doesn’t change just because you’re hosting it at your home. But by thinking of everything in advance, communicating with everyone involved, and doing your due diligence, it can easily become a day to remember.