“I-do” at home! How to Plan an at-Home Wedding.
Last Updated: May 5, 2021
- Your Guests
- The lay of the land, a.k.a how much space you have
- Overall Requirements, Permits, and Neighborhood Courtesy
- Day-of Activities
- Space Prep
- Entertainment, Placements, Functions, Comfort, and Flow
- Catering / Food
- Decor & Lighting
- Work with pro/s
Having your wedding at your home can make it the most memorable for you and also very cost-effective. It can save some money, but at the same time, it comes with its own logistical challenges.
Here are guidelines to help you plan a perfect wedding day at your home.
1. Your Guests
Having your wedding at your home shows the level of intimacy of your wedding.
It will be a great idea to be genuine and realistic; invite only the friends and relatives who are exceptionally close to you. Of course, you will also have to consider how many people your home can hold.
Deciding about the guest count and the wedding set-up will help you move forward with planning and getting more into the details/logistics of your at-home wedding.
The number of guests and choice of wedding set-up will help you decide on a budget and how to use it accordingly.
** PRO TIP: Consider creating a website where your guests can check details like parking, timings/day-of timeline, and all other details that they might ask you about. If you have the website, you can direct them there, making everybody’s life much easier.
2. The lay of the land, a.k.a how much space you have
Maximizing the square footage of your house is entirely up to you.
Would you like to do your ceremony in the backyard (don’t forget to check the weather!)? And have dinner inside?
If you are working with a caterer, is there enough kitchen space to prep the food? Or maybe they can take up space in the backyard and build a prep tent?
Which space are you considering holding the cocktail hour in? Perhaps the receiving area in your house?
Will you consider having a tent set up in your backyard- this is a great idea regardless of the season. How about considering picnic-style entertaining so your guests can cozy up and set a very laid-back feel?
You can use the entire space of your house for the wedding. You can arrange a wedding ceremony in your living area or rooftop, cocktail hours in the kitchen, reception in the backyard, and an after-party in the poolside area.
Don’t forget to reserve one room as a dressing room/getting ready space, where there is enough light for your makeup and photoshoot.
When considering space, this also means that you will need to assess your parking needs. Do you have enough parking space? Or should you consider perhaps a valet service? Or you can also suggest your guests consider using Uber – to and from your house.
** PRO TIP: Set markers or signs in your house where your guests cannot cross. I.e., bedrooms, basement, etc.
3. Overall Requirements, Permits, and Neighborhood Courtesy
If you plan on serving alcohol, ensure to get the necessary permits to do so, as well as maybe consider purchasing wedding insurance.
Same as if you have vendors like the DJ, the decor, lighting, kitchen; basically any vendor that will need to plugin for power to execute, means you will have to consider and probably purchase extra power sources to support these.
Neighborhood courtesy also falls under overall requirements, as you might have to send notice to your neighbors that you are holding your wedding so they know what to expect.
Depending on the neighborhood you are in, talk to your local representative and discuss other clearances and/or permits you will need to get married at home successfully.
Your local event and wedding consultants can also help you with putting details like this together.
If you are also planning in a middle of a pandemic, check local health guidelines and government-mandated restrictions to ensure that your event complies.
4. Day-of Activities
Plan out your day from getting ready to the ceremony, dinner, and until the end of the night.
Making a day-of timeline and clearly communicating this to your guests will minimize any confusion; lots of people talking/asking things, wandering around, not knowing how to entertain themselves, etc.
Work with a day-of coordinator or even an emcee to help you with crowd control and assist you in solving any challenges that might arise.
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5. Space Prep
A.k.a, getting the space ready for your wedding!
You can hire cleaning services BEFORE and AFTER your wedding to ensure your home is ready for the wedding and back to its great shape after the wedding.
If you are planning to maximize your outdoor space and avoid a lot of foot traffic inside the house, you can rent out lounge furniture and cocktail tables; as well as have entertainment out in your backyard to help keep your guests where you want them to be- which is outside, in the backyard.
Set up bins where they can throw garbage. Set up stations to get their utensils or anything they can need like; napkins, water, etc.
** PRO TIP: Have signs all over your space to help guests know where things are, as well as navigate better.
The number of people you will have in your house will be more than your usual gathering (most likely!)
Having your washrooms ready to handle that traffic will help lineups! As well as sending your guests to other washrooms that you won’t want them to go to anyways- i.e., your bedroom washroom.
Elegant portable washrooms like this can also be a great option if you have the outdoor space to hold them.
** PRO TIP: Have signs and maps all over the house for guests to be able to navigate around much easier.
7. Entertainment, Placements, Functions, Comfort, and Flow
Where you place your bar, stations, entertainment, and other activities will determine your guests’ flow.
If you can do 2 bars on both ends instead of just one bar, this will help with crowd control and avoid lineups.
If you have entertainment and/or other performers coming, consider elevating them on a stage or platform. This way, everyone can get a better view of them.
A live trio that your guests can enjoy and even sing along with will get the vibe of the party, and it will almost make you and your guests feel like it is not “just” an “at-home” wedding.
Planning your entertainment strategically will keep your guests engaged and having fun.
Hiring a busser/runner and a bartender/server will be a great asset for your day. They can pick up dishes and keep your guests comfortably seated (or standing!) without looking around where to put things.
These elements are closely related to each other, and how you plan the other will affect the other heavily.
Giving your guests comfortable seating, level walking ground area, access to washroom easily, heaters if it will be a little chilly, bug sprays/candles, etc., will set the tone of your wedding. Read more about backyard wedding planning here.
You want them to remember your wedding and not how long they waited to use the washroom.
** PRO TIP: Having an emcee or a wedding coordinator announce activities will help gather your guests. On the same note, when the night is almost over, and it’s time to wrap up, they can also announce that, avoiding any lingering guests when you already really want to rest.
8. Catering / Food
As previously mentioned, unless you have the broad space to handle the prep, you can opt to keep your menu pretty standard for easy prep.
You can also choose a cocktail-style set-up where there is no need for a full dinner set-up and a table spread, which will save you lots of space and allow your guests to mingle with everyone else.
9. Decor & Lighting
With how to plan at-home weddings, you can choose almost any theme you could dream of. You don’t have to change everything in your house just for one day.
All you need is to add some flowers, fairy lights in the backyard, balloons, etc., to make the place look beautiful.
You can always use renting as an option for other things like tables, chairs, and cutlery.
Lighting will also help with setting the tone and also almost changing up the feel of your house. Adding spotlights and some change of wall colors with lighting effects will give your home a different feel.
** PRO TIP: You can rent a storage space for a month and move furniture or pieces in your house that you won’t want to risk breaking.
To open up your house, you can also temporarily move the necessary furniture into storage.
10. Work with pro/s
If you are working with vendors, ensure to ask them if they have done at-home weddings. Having this experience will make it easier for them to troubleshoot and call should a major challenge come up.
Working and speaking to a wedding event planner or consultant will help you step back and see the big picture.
Wedding planners and consultants can help you put together your ideas and vision, work it around your budget, and get into all the details and steps necessary to ensure your wedding’s success!
There you are! How to Plan an at-Home Wedding!