Getting married in a private home can be an attractive option whether the couples is on a budget or has unlimited resources. They may want to be married in the home in which one of them grew up, the first house they bought together, the cousin's house where they met on a blind date, or the friend's house with the gorgeous backyard on the river.
While it can be a cost effective way to have a gorgeous wedding, you are pretty much on your own unless you hire a professional to handle all of the details for you. Some people opt for home weddings because they want to minimize the stress of wedding planning only to find they have taken on much more work than they anticipated.
I do recommend hiring wedding professionals as they can be worth their cost in stress-relief alone. Private homes are not designed to be event venues and wedding professionals can use their experience and expertise to make the appropriate adaptions to convert the home into a suitable spot for a wedding.
Couples on a tight budget may not have that luxury, so I can offer a bit of advance for those going the Do-It-Yourself route. I'll start with general advice and get a little more specific in Parts 2 and 3.
First of all, I have never officiated a home wedding that started on time. They all start late, often significantly so! This is the one exception I think is appropriate when conveying a "false time" on a wedding invitation. If the ceremony is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. tell the guests "the festivities" begin at 1:30. Even when sending formal invitations, guests are much more casual about arriving on time for a home wedding.
The typical pre-ceremony chaos also seems to be somehow magically magnified at a private home. Getting people organized and ready to begin is just flat out more difficult at home than at a church, hotel, or country club. The phrase "herding cats" springs to mind.
Since private homes are not designed as event spaces, you will need to make some accommodations to transform a house into a wedding venue. Renting extra seating, a tent, and/or outdoor space heaters or fans depending upon the weather might be a good idea.
Most definitely consult with the town or city government to find out if any permits or insurance are required. Whether insurance is a requirement or not, get some! The home owner should immediately hop on the phone and obtain an event rider on their homeowners policy.
Take the time to walk through the property a few times and look at it with several perspectives in mind. Are there hazards for small children who may be present? Is it accessible to guests with mobility issues? Will there be any electrical or plumbing issues for the number of guests expected to attend? Will parking in some areas restrict easy access to the home? Is there a pool that would pose a problem for children and non-swimmers? Are there scrubby areas or yard debris that may attract unwanted indigenous creatures? Should the yard be sprayed for mosquitoes and other biting insects before the wedding? Consider the guests comfort and safety!
This may seem obvious, but I have experienced a few weddings where this was overlooked. A clean house is a better wedding venue. But who wants to clean house on the day of their wedding? Come to think of it, who wants to clean house period. Consider hiring a cleaning service to prepare the house or ask friends and relatives for their help. If getting married in their own home, the couple really do not want to add to their anxiety with concern for the state of the home or have to scrub toilets thirty minutes before the guests are due to arrive.
Part 2: Parking and Progeny
Rev. Ann Fuller
The commentary on this blog is my own opinion developed over years of officiating a wide range of wedding sizes and styles. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.