I began this series with "Are Backyard Weddings a Fabulous Idea...or What?" providing a general overview of some of the needs and realistic expectations associated with home weddings. Let's get a little more specific and talk parking and progeny.
Most homes do not have a key advantage held by houses of worship, hotels, country clubs, and banquet halls. They don't have parking lots!
Immediately is the right time to cultivate good relations with the neighbors. The host should notify everyone nearby regarding the date and time and how many cars to expect. Some neighbors may offer the use of their driveway for guest parking so as not to clog neighborhood streets. It couldn't hurt to ask!
If this happens, I recommend telling specific guests where to park. For example, "Uncle Bob, our neighbors have graciously offered their driveway for parking. When you come to our wedding, please park in the driveway at 125 Main Street."
Make sure the wedding professionals, such as photographer, caterer, officiant, etc. have a convenient reserved place to park and inform them ahead of time what to expect. An exceptionally courteous and helpful touch would be to put out cones with signage for them.
Informing the neighbors has other advantages besides managing parking. If neighbors are aware of a wedding in advance they may refrain from mowing their lawn or bring a noisy dog inside for the duration of the ceremony.
Kids are adorable, delightful, whiny, sweet, fussy, precious, precocious...and completely and totally unpredictable at weddings. Their regular personality may or may not be what they present to the world during what amounts to a high-anxiety whirlwind of activity way outside their normal routine. Some will adapt admirably...just don't count on it.
Of course, this depends upon their age, gender, temperament, and role in the wedding. Are they the couple's own off-spring? Is the house their own home or somewhere unfamiliar? Are they guests or participating as ring bearers or flower girls?
If children will be present, particularly infants and preschoolers, absolutely take their basic needs into account. Nap and feeding schedules may suit some ceremony times better than others depending upon the children's ages. Sleepy, fatigued, hungry children are monsters! Though truth be told sleepy, fatigued, hungry adults may not be any better.
Cakes are children magnets. If the wedding cake is where small hands can reach it, small hands will reach it. I have seen this happen at not one, not two, but three home weddings. If no one is watching the children, trouble is on the horizon. You can bet on it!
Make certain someone is designated to supervise the kids. They are very often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of a home wedding unless someone is specifically charged with the task of their supervision. Choose someone who has an easy rapport with children, but the authority to keep their exuberance within appropriate boundaries.
If friends and family are going to be too distracted by the wedding, seriously consider hiring a babysitter or professional child care service that specializes in these types of events. I once changed a diaper while wearing my ministerial robes because no one else noticed a toddler with his drawers dragging the floor. And it was one of THOSE diapers.
Proper childcare and supervision is vital to achieving the objective of an "as-flawless-as-humanly-possible" home wedding. Do not underestimate its importance.
Bottom Left: Image Courtesy of Simply In Love Photography
Above Right: Image Courtesy of Matt Shumate Photography, Spokane, WA