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Home, Sweet Home // At-Home Weddings

interior of large tent at wedding reception

You’ve chosen the date and now it’s time to pick your wedding venue.  But a wedding event in a glamorous ballroom or fancy hotel was never in your dreams. You’ve always imagined holding your wedding right at home in your own backyard.

bride having makeup professionally applied in front of window

Wedding events held at home, whether it be for only the ceremony, just the reception or both, have some really terrific advantages over weddings held at an established wedding locale.  But honestly, it usually necessitates earlier and more careful planning than a traditional wedding held at a venue.  We thought we’d share just few thoughts on backyard weddings and some tips for planning them!

long tables with small centerpieces inside wedding tent

Unique and Personalized

At-home weddings definitely have some perks.  If you’re someone who makes a practice of thinking outside the box, an at-home wedding really might be the perfect choice for you. A wedding held in your own backyard gives you greater license to take an unconventional approach to your wedding. You can get away with all sorts of fun, but nontraditional things at your wedding without them seeming out of place at all.  

Things such as having a short and sweet brunch wedding, skipping the big, white wedding gown in favor of a colorful cocktail dress or showcasing a unique (or extreme) theme are all practically made for an at-home wedding.  You can also comfortably omit some of the traditional formalities that you or your partner just aren't into, perhaps the first dance or the cake cutting.  And if formal isn’t your thing, an outdoor, at-home wedding really has an inherent casual and carefree air.

close up of daisies in a field

Investment in Your Property

You can also save a little money (possibly) by holding your wedding at your home vs. booking a traditional venue.  But seriously consider spending a portion of any saved money on home improvement projects that will make your event safer, more practical and more pleasing to the eye.  Careful investments in property upgrades will also prove to be money wisely spent because of the opportunity to add curb appeal and instant equity in your home. 

bride and groom underneath portico at private estate wedding

More importantly, property improvements will continue to provide you years of enjoyment, far beyond the date of your wedding.  So instead of investing a small fortune in wedding floral centerpieces that are gone at the end of the day, plant bright perennials and lush evergreens in new, freshly mulched, permanent flower beds! 

Expect to invest in wedding home improvement projects such as overhauling your home’s landscaping and hardscaping, fixing any loose or damaged fixtures, fencing and railings, removing any tripping hazards and updating/expanding your lighting fixtures. You might possibly even want to have your house painted, replace worn or damaged siding or have that long overdue new roof installed.

bride and groom kissing outside on wedding day
large white tent with several peaks for wedding reception

What else do you need to know?  Lots!  Here are just some tips to help get you started in making your at-home wedding a huge success:

Make sure that you have the space available and all logistics covered:

  1. Plan your guest list realistically based on your accessible space.  You don’t want to overcrowd your guests. This unfortunately means you'll probably have to seriously downsize your list of wedding invitations.  Be sure to make it clear to guests that it will be an outdoor, at-home wedding so they can dress appropriately and consider wearing more comfortable shoes.

  2. Rent a tent for the event.  In most cases, this is a must-do.  If budget allows, rent a full floor for your tent to make it easier for guests to walk around the tables and especially, to dance.  If not, at least rent enough flooring for the dance area.  Your party rental company will help you determine the tent size you'll need, as well as the tables, chairs and possible configurations. And be sure to rent removable tent walls in the event of inclement weather.

  3. Add lighting and power if necessary.  Consider hiring a lighting professional to assess your lighting needs for your tent and property and to provide the proper amount of lighting to keep your wedding beautiful and most importantly, safe.  Find out if you’ll need to rent a generator as well or purchase additional, heavy gauge extension cables.  Seek advice from a licensed electrician for all electrical concerns.

  4. If you're having a spring or summer wedding, rent large fans or AC units to keep guests cool in the heat.  And have at least one conveniently located water station to keep them hydrated, too.  Be sure to have heaters if your wedding is in the cooler weather.

  5. Keep guests out of your home.  Some couples do choose to hold a small wedding indoors, but it’s far less stressful (even if your home has the space available) to restrict wedding guests to the outdoors.

  6. Be sure to rent portable restrooms. This is especially important if your property has a septic tank, as it won’t be able to handle a large wedding’s worth of guests!  We highly suggest splurging for the deluxe restrooms that have ample space and are beautifully appointed with running water sinks, modern countertops, lighted mirrors and even decorative woodwork details.

cold water stations at outdoor wedding ceremony or eception

Check with your city or township for local ordinances.  Your town probably has restrictions on noise and parking, meaning you may need to lower the volume and end your reception earlier than you originally anticipated.  Some townships even prohibit the use of any amplified music at all.  In addition, you might need to have your guests park at a nearby lot (with permission) and have a shuttle service hired to bring guests to and from your home.

If your ceremony will also be held at home, book your officiant early and describe your wedding.  Many members of the clergy have restrictions that might not allow them to officiate your wedding ceremony if it’s held outside of their place of worship.

Warn the neighbors.  It’s simply the courteous thing to do, and if possible, consider sending an invitation to those with which you have a closer relationship.  At the minimum, drop off a small gift such as a bottle of wine or a gift card to soften any anticipated blows.  Plus, you’ll want to make sure you’re safeguarding your own wedding event, too!  Imagine if you planned your outdoor wedding for the same day your neighbor scheduled several large oak trees to be cut down!

Treat your yard for insects and try to minimize common allergens.  Hire a pro to eliminate mosquitoes and ticks on your lawn.  It would also be a very nice gesture to keep a supply of over-the-counter allergy medications in a secure place in the portable restrooms for friends and family members with seasonal allergies.

large white tent being set up on the wedding day
vintage car parked outside family home on wedding day with white tent nearby

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to delegate tasks to be sure everything is ordered, picked up, finished, decorated, etc. in time for the wedding.  Call upon your friends and family members to offer ideas and to help you get it all done.

Best yet, seriously consider hiring a wedding coordinator who has experience with at-home wedding events.  There’s a lot more nitty-gritty details involved in pulling together a wedding event on your own property than we’ve listed here in this post!  An experienced event planner will know everything from the best local caterer to hire for a backyard wedding to how to best compliment your home's existing features. They know what usually works and what doesn't.

Your at-home wedding is a once in a lifetime event for you, so you can’t be expected to know all the ins and outs.  A professional, experienced wedding planner has the skills and knowledge needed to help create the at-home wedding of your dreams with you.

bride putting on her shoes on wedding morning

Take a look at three at-home weddings where everything was certainly done right!  Sarah and Jeff prepared for their wedding day, experienced their exciting first look and held their fantastic reception at Sarah’s parents’ beautiful residence in the Hamptons.  

bride and her bridesmaids laughing on the wedding day

Roxanne and Philip’s fantastic reception at Roxanne’s family’s home included so many beautiful traditions as they blended two cultures and two families that day.  

bride and groom in horse drawn carriage on the wedding day

And Samantha and Christian held their wedding reception at Samantha’s family’s gorgeous Pennsylvania estate, and even included a special horse and buggy ride around the property!


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