How To Plan A Wedding At Home
Due to the pandemic, many couples have had to pare down their guest lists to stay within-group mandates while some venues have yet to reopen to the public. As a result, some couples are choosing to bring their nuptials home and host their wedding from the comfort of their property.
While a venue is already intended to accommodate large groups of people, everyone’s home is different, and it can take a bit of extra work to produce an event. Of course, the beauty of at-home celebrations is the opportunity to see it as a blank slate for design inspiration.
Janice Carnevale, the author of The Elegant At-Home Wedding, explains: “Weddings at home face the unique challenge of usually having no infrastructure to accommodate your guests. You have to think of so many things beyond the wedding tent: placement of bathrooms and generators, where guests will park, how to keep your guests safe while they walk around the property after dark, how to keep guests comfortable in your climate, and how to appropriately prepare for rain without unnecessarily blowing the clients’ budget.”
Here are the top considerations to keep in mind when planning clients’ weddings in their homes.
Since major venues have hosted countless events onsite, their teams have a full understanding of all the property parameters. However, with at-home celebrations, the whole event team will need to get the lay of the land before making plans.
Jennifer Borgh, the owner of Borghinvilla Wedding Venue, confirms: “Doing several site tours ahead of time with the vendors can usually eliminate most of the challenges. Each vendor can point out any issues that might need addressing before the big day.”
In particular, load-in and load-out of large fixtures can be incredibly tricky at homes with limited space for parking and storage.
“Unlike venue spaces, where there is often a loading dock or specific load-in space, homes (and homeowners) do not necessarily have experience with multiple large vehicles arriving and departing from their property,” shares Morgan Montgomery, CPCE, CMP, co-owner of Paisley & Jade. “When delivering to a residence, our team has to pay special attention to trees, gates, and traffic flow.”
Since the average home doesn’t have built-in lighting as venues do, it may require a bit of extra work to get the event space lit up — particularly for photography purposes.
“Lighting can be a major problem area in the background,” states photographer Jenny DeMarco. “Most couples think about bringing in lighting for the main scene of what is happening, but don’t think about the background, which can be a dark black void.”
DeMarco suggests: “A very easy and inexpensive fix is to rent wireless LED uplights. Sprinkle these around in the background, either uplighting a fence line or in the trees. This will give a bit of ambient light in the background and will drastically change the photography outcome.”
Between lighting, catering, and DJs, events use a surprising amount of power to keep the party going. While venues are already wired to accommodate these needs, you’ll likely need to bring in some outside power sources for an at-home wedding.
“Most residential houses are only wired to power the home,” says Kristin Wilson, owner, and CEO of Our DJ Rocks. “We started asking couples upfront what their dream setup looks like and then ask them directly about power sources and generators.”
Wilson recommends looking at local companies that handle utilities and power for tradeshows and events, sharing: “Unlike a residential power company, they can bring power in and drop what is needed for your DJ, rentals company, caterer, lighting company, etc.”
Working Sans Layout
While most venues have floorplans at the ready-for event teams to plan layouts, most people don’t know their house and yard’s specific measurements. Luckily with Allseated, at-home wedding floorplan layouts can still be accomplished in an accurate and organized fashion, just like a typical venue experience. For backyard and outdoor spaces, providing Allseated with an image from Google earth will allow the floorplans team to create the scaled floorplan layout. Alternatively, you can always create a custom floorplan in Allseated for the event. This will allow planners, vendors, and clients to design the floorplan, place tables, arrange the seating chart, and utilize the physical distance tool to ensure the layout meets requirements.
Laura Maddox, owner of Magnolia Celebrates elaborates: “No one has a layout of the space, so you often are creating your floorplans from scratch. We take for granted how much usable space a venue has. Living space has a lot of ‘pretty space’ that’s beautiful to the eye, but not necessarily usable for an event. It’s always helpful to know how much power they have available and what the drainage situation is wherever the event will take place.”
Of course, these weddings are moving to clients’ homes because of COVID-19 concerns, so it’s essential to take the same safety measures regardless of where the event is located.
“Make a plan A, B, and C,” encourages Nora Sheils, co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and founder of Bridal Bliss. “Most at-home weddings depend on utilizing some outdoor space. Prep for rain or heat, as well as COVID mandates for your area. COVID mandates in itself add quite a bit of complexity. Beyond that, some floorplans or outdoor landscaping require a little creativity to fit it all in. However, if you have acreage to work with, the world is your oyster!”
Jamie Chang, owner and destination wedding planner for Mango Muse Events adds: “If you’re having an indoor wedding at your home, you want to do what you can to reduce the number of high touch areas. Prop your door(s) open during busy times so that people can come in and out without having to touch the door. Put away or shift any furniture or belongings that would impede a vendor or guest entrance, exit, or flow of the event. And for areas that will inevitably be high-touch like a bathroom or kitchen, have lots of soap, hand sanitizer, one-use paper towels or hand towels and cleaning supplies for people to wipe down handles and knobs.”
There’s no denying the fact that at-home weddings are an entirely different beast from those held at event venues. Yet, “[…]it is also incredibly special,” assures Katherine Healy-Brown, owner of Clover Events. “It is a more comforting, relaxed, and intimate environment. You can feel that energy radiate from the couple to their families to their guests. It’s like you are being invited backstage to the VIP section of your favorite show. An experience you will never forget.”
While they might take a bit of extra preparation and labor, but ultimately, it’s an extremely rewarding experience for wedding professionals to be a part of such intimate and tight-knit celebrations.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.