Helpful Tips for Hosting a Wedding at Your Home (or Someone Else's Home!)
It’s so easy to become lured into hosting a wedding at your home or at the home of a family member or friend. The ambiance is one that holds meaning to you, and there’s also the notion that it might be far less expensive. The latter is kind of a myth, by the way, but the former holds all of its merits.
Keep in mind that many of the variables will depend on the size of your guest list. If you're having a super intimate affair, not all of these concerns may apply. Let’s dive in!
Things to Keep in Mind When Hosting a Wedding at Home
1. UP YOUR BUDGET:
The number one thing to have in mind is a wedding at home could cost more than one hosted at a venue. This is because you will need to make sure to have all of the conveniences of a traditional venue (think: lighting, tenting, restrooms, and parking) available for your guests. As long as you’re on board, keep reading!
2. SURVEY YOUR PROPERTY:
Tents are key for at-home weddings if you want a backup plan in case of rain. You’ll want to research professional companies in your area where you can rent one. Don’t hesitate to ask a pro to visit the home that will host your celebration to make sure the ground where the tent will be placed is level. Then…
3. RENT A TENT:
Renting a tent does have additional costs associated with it, but your wedding day is, in fact, the time to have a rain plan in place, and that includes having a tent. Is a tent suitable for a hurricane? Not quite. But, it will protect everyone should light to heavy rain decide to fall. Plus, a tent also serves as a welcome respite on hot days, and it creates a designated area for guests to enjoy dinner and dancing.
4. OBTAIN A PERMIT:
Many townships won’t allow a larger scale event to occur without a permit. This sounds far scarier than the reality! The process typically involves contacting your township’s office, revealing you’re planning to host a wedding at the address, and filing for a permit. In nearly all cases, the permit will be seamlessly approved. Filing is key though. No one wants to get in trouble for hosting an event that was not approved prior to the event’s date!
5. DECIDE ON THE ESSENTIALS:
A wedding requires more of everything at your home, particularly parking, power, lighting, and restrooms. Guests need to arrive to your wedding, and that means additional cars. So, have a parking plan in place. Asking to use shopping center parking lots or parks is always an idea! Power is also important to keep in mind for vendors who are using electrical equipment onsite, such as caterers. Your DJ or band will also need power for their equipment, so make sure you have ample outlets available. Otherwise, you'll likely need backup power in the form of generators.
Lighting is important for obvious reasons (sight is great!), but you’ll want to think beyond lighting your tent. Can guests see to walk to the tent? Can guests see to find their cars at the end of the night? If you’re answering “no”, you likely need to rent additional lighting. Finally, restrooms! Because you’re likely inviting far more people to your home or the home of someone else for your wedding than a family barbecue, you may want to invest in restrooms. It’s not a glamorous rental, but it will keep the home’s bathrooms from experiencing overuse and you won’t have to clean the home’s interior afterward.
Get Inspired: Browse Backyard Weddings on a Budget
6. INFORM & INVITE YOUR NEIGHBORS:
Weddings illicit heightened noise, which is understandable and fun for those in attendance. But, the additional noise won’t be welcomed by neighbors who aren’t in the know about your event. As you’re making plans to host your wedding at home, inform the neighbors of your plans. You’re definitely not seeking approval (the decision is between you, your partner, your families, and your township!), but knowledge is key. If you feel so inclined, most people who are guests at a wedding don’t complain about additional noise because they’re immersed in it. So, invite the neighbors!
7. INSTALL EARLY:
When a wedding is hosted at a venue, nearly all of the setup occurs on the day of the wedding. However, that’s rarely the case for weddings hosted at homes. Tenting, lighting, and power will all be prepped and installed several days in advance of your wedding (sometimes they’re installed 3-4 days before your wedding). An early install is never a bad thing, but you will want to make sure someone is home to oversee the process.
8. LOCK YOUR HOME:
We’re certain all of your guests are trustworthy, but we recommend locking the home prior to the start of your wedding. All of the fun and celebration is likely occurring in the backyard, and you’ll have all of the essentials outside. So, there isn’t a reason for anyone to step inside the house. To keep everyone together and in the same location, lock the home and keep the keys with a go-to individual just in case there is a reason to go inside.
9. RESPECT ORDINANCES:
When you file for your permit to host your wedding at home, the permit will likely state your town’s sound ordinance. That’s the time when all loud noise (in this case, music) needs to come to a close. Most ordinances require noise to cease by 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., so respect the timing. If you don’t respect the ordinance, the police may be called, and they will likely ask everything to stop. No one wants that to be how their wedding comes to a close!
10. UNDERSTAND YOUR LOCATION:
Realize you’re hosting your wedding at home, so once the party ends there will definitely be cleanup that needs to happen. The grass won’t look quite the same, delivery trucks may drive on your property, and there may be other minor repairs that need to happen. None of that is insurmountable, but it’s important to realize this is likely the highest guest count the home has ever experienced, which is great. However, you also need to pair that with the realization that your home and exterior property might take some time to recover.
BONUS: PLACE SOMEONE IN CHARGE:
Hiring a month of or day or coordinator is a great idea no matter where you host your wedding, but they prove their helpfulness very quickly during at-home weddings. It’s great to have a go-to, especially because there are so many pieces to the puzzle that are being brought in. If you don’t go the planner route, appoint someone trustworthy to be in charge, whether that’s a bridesmaid, groomsman, family member, or the home’s owner. All of your vendors will have questions, and it’s important for you and your partner to not be answering them so you can truly enjoy the experience of getting married (relatively) stress-free.
Are you hosting your wedding at home? What are you keeping in mind? Do you have any additional questions? Chime in, in the comments below!
Editor's note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more resources for planning a pandemic wedding here.