It's not quite the same as tying the knot at a traditional wedding venue.

By Laura Miller
March 04, 2021
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For years couples viewed getting married at home is a quaint, dream-like idea. Now, in the age of COVID-19, it may be more of a necessity—depending on your state's reopening plan and gathering guidelines, traditional wedding venues, even for a small, intimate group of people, might not be an option. Luckily, tying the knot in your own (or your parents') backyard is a beautiful, meaningful way to solidify your relationship. If you're planning an at-home gathering, keep the following tips in mind for celebration success.

wedding garden ceremony with beige backdrop and florals
Credit: Jenny Soi

The Guest Count

Even in a perfect world, hosting a wedding with 10 guests is much different than a wedding with 100 guests. Now, more than every before, you'll want to think about scaling back your guest list for an at-home wedding as a way to keep it safer for everyone involved. You'll also want to think about your own space limitations. Are you planning a gathering in your small, tree-lined backyard? You might only be able to accommodate a handful of guests safely. On the other hand, if your grandmother is loaning out her sprawling backyard, it might be possible to invite a dozen or more guests and still have ample room for everyone to spread out.

Jennifer Roche, senior event manager at Whitney Events, agrees. "How big of a tent can your lawn fit?" she asks. "And, realistically, how many guests can you actually fit around your home's property?"

Save More, Spend More

Many couples believe that having a wedding at home allows them to save quite a bit of money, but that isn't always the case, says Sarah Kee, wedding and event planner at Keestone Events. "There can be a lot of money saved by doing your wedding at home and skipping out on venue rental fees," she explained. "However, you pay in other areas and have to answer questions that a venue will usually have covered." For instance, the number of bathrooms is always a huge concern. Depending on how many people you invite, your home's own plumbing might not be a realistic option, so you may need to rent portable restrooms. What about the rest of your necessary rentals? Many venues supply the furniture needed for both the ceremony and the reception, and many set up the chairs and tables for no charge. At a very minimum, the couple should consider the rental fees associated with tables, chairs, dinnerware, and glassware.

Will there be sufficient parking? If so, consider hiring a valet service to keep things organized, and if not, perhaps a few shuttle vans would be the perfect option to transport your guests from your home to a designated place. Cleaning also needs to be done at the end of the evening, and you want to consider hiring a crew to handle this so you won't have to spend your wedding night washing dishes and taking out trash.

A Backup Weather Plan

Weather is unpredictable, and though it's easy to plan a beautiful outdoor wedding, most traditional venues also require another plan in the event of rain or other bad weather. If you get married at home, you must think of your own plan B; furthermore, is there room in the budget for that plan? There should be an efficient way of moving your guests, as well as the rest of your ceremony and reception, should the unthinkable happen.

Insurance and Permits

An event can't legally happen without insurance and permits, and for good reason! Proper permits and insurance are essential in ensuring the safety of both you and your guests. Before you begin to plan the fun stuff, do your research on what's required for your city and town, including the service of alcohol and any noise ordinances regarding amplified sound.

Vendors

Good vendors can make or break a wedding, so it's important to find ones that have experience with at-home events. Kee says, "When having your wedding at a venue, you are also paying for the experience of the staff there. Should any issue arise, the venue's team will typically have already seen something similar happen and be quick to react. Having an at-home wedding is usually the opposite. In order to ensure things run as smoothly as possible, you'll want to hire a strong vendor team that has familiarity running weddings from a private property and take their advice into consideration."

With a little research and a lot of planning, getting married at home can be a thoughtful, personal choice that you'll fondly remember forever.

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