Part I – Considering An “At Home” Wedding?

While a large, glamorous venue makes an exciting wedding location there’s something especially intimate when you gather your family and friends to witness and celebrate your vows at your own home or another private residence. And, of course, hosting your wedding in a private home means that you’ll have everything just your way. Plus, the location may have special meaning to you. With that said, don’t presume that an at home wedding will save you money. In fact, it may be the most costly venue because you will likely have to acquire and/or hire everything you need.

Don’t forget that you’ll also have drawbacks to consider when planning an at home wedding, such as the limitations on the number of guests you can invite, limited food service and restroom facilities, your entertainment options and the inconvenience and strain your wedding will have on the owner of the home.

Let’s begin with the benefits you gain when you choose to have an at home wedding. First, you can work with any imaginable theme and opt to have your wedding be as formal or casual as you wish. Second, because big, formal and impersonal venues can make some people uncomfortable, a wedding hosted in a private home will generally put your guests at ease. Even if you ask everyone to dress in formal attire, the mere absence of excessive wait staff and other stuffy personnel will relax your guests so they can better enjoy your wedding. Informal seating on couches, loveseats and small table and chair settings also work to tell your guests that they should make themselves at home.

Of course the biggest advantage of hosting your wedding in a home means that you’ll move beyond the constrained options of a commercial venue and be free to choose linens, china, decorations and a menu that make you truly happy. While it may be easier to simply go along with the offerings a venue has available you’ll likely be limited creatively in planning the wedding of your dreams. Better yet, you’ll also find that you’re in a position to arrange for the precise food and beverage choices you want to serve. Essentially, a private home ceremony and celebration provides the best opportunity for your groom and you to produce a wedding that truly reflects your personalities.

Yes, hosting a wedding in a private home can be a wonderful idea but there are real disadvantages you have to consider. Perhaps the most critical factor is that the size of the home may restrict the number of guests you can ask to be with you on your wedding day. Although they’ll have maximum occupancy restrictions, most commercial venues will be capable of seating far more guests than even the most elaborate house – unless your home has substantial outdoor space. As a result, hosting your wedding in a private home may not be a feasible option if you have a large family and want to invite many friends. If, however, you desire a small occasion then being wed at a private home may be your best choice.

The size of the home can also impact your catering and entertainment plans. A small kitchen may likely mean that you must work with a caterer who can prepare all of the food offsite, which may limit what you can serve. And you’ll need to alert the neighbors in advance about live entertainment, including being prepared to curtail it altogether at some point in the evening. You’ll also need to take time out as the big day approaches to be sure the homeowner isn’t stressed out by the demands of readying the house – and you’ll want to confirm that the house and grounds are clean and in good order. Of course, if you’re working with a wedding planner such details will fall to them.

Next week, Part II will address the primary logistical considerations you’ll deal with when hosting an At Home Wedding.