At-Home Wedding Checklist

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Home weddings offer the perfect setting to share a warm, intimate celebration with family and friends. Unlike working with an off-site venue, however, you'll be responsible for every little party detail. A home wedding checklist helps insure your event will be fun and stress free.

Getting Started

The first items on your home wedding checklist involve making sure a wedding is actually feasible for your property. Before going any further, you'll need to confirm:

  • Legality: Find out if your town has a limit for how many people you're allowed to have in your home, and whether you'll need any special permits or inspections to make this celebration legal.
  • Space: Do you have enough room in your home or yard for all your guests?
  • Officiant: Before committing to a home wedding, check with your priest, rabbi, minister or other officiant to be sure he or she can come to your home. Some officiants may not be allowed to perform weddings outside of their houses of worship.

Once you're sure you can host a wedding, you're ready for the next early steps:

  • Pick a date: With a home wedding you won't have to wait a year as you would at most venues, however you'll want to allow at least a few months for all your planning and preparation.
  • Make up a guest list: Take time to make sure you've included everyone you want to share in this special day, to the extent that they can all fit inside your home or yard.
  • Prepare and send invitations: Try to get your invitations in the mail six to eight weeks before the wedding date. For guests who may need to book airline tickets, send out invitations at least two months in advance.

Outsmarting the Weather

Most homes aren't large enough for an entire wedding party, which is why many home wedding receptions take place outdoors. If you're planning to have all or even some of your party in your yard, you'll have to work with Mother Nature to give your guests a beautiful and comfortable party environment:

  • Rent a tent to protect your guests from rain and strong, hot sun.
  • For a blooming paradise, plan ahead. Fertilize your lawn and plant flowers early, so they'll be at peak on the wedding day.
  • The day before your wedding, trim and edge your lawn and tame any unruly weed growth.

Turning Your Home into a Wedding Venue

You'll want your friends and family to experience all the comforts of a professional party venue at your home. These measures will help transform your home into a true wedding venue:

  • Rent chairs, tables and table linens: Unless you're having a very small party, you'll need the additional seating and dining accommodations.
  • Bring in dishes, silver, barware and napkins: Either rent quality table service or use high-end disposables, depending on how formal your wedding is, so you're not stuck washing dishes afterward.
  • Plan your menu: If you hire a caterer, you won't have to worry about cooking and he or she will probably also take care of your dishes and other table setting needs. If you decide to do your own cooking, be very organized, shop as early as is practical and prepare as much as you can ahead of time so you can still enjoy the festivities. Don't forget to find out if any of your guests have special dietary needs, and be sure to include a gorgeous wedding cake.
  • Bring in a bar: You'll need to order enough alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for all your guests. You may also want to hire a bartender and rent a bar.
  • Address electrical needs: Most homes can't handle the electrical needs of a large party. You'll probably need to rent a generator to insure that any grills, coolers, roasters and musical entertainment don't cause circuit overloads.
  • Bring in additional bathrooms: Most homes, even larger ones don't have enough bathrooms to accommodate a real crowd. Plan on renting a few portable toilets. Before you turn your nose up at the idea of a porta-john at a wedding, check out some of the newer models specifically designed for upscale outdoor events. They're clean, bright and actually attractive!
  • Create a party atmosphere: Don't forget to order flowers and other festive decorations such as centerpieces, aisle runners, party lights, candles and ribbons to transform your home or yard into a place of celebration. See Outdoor Lighting Ideas.

Music, Dancing and Memories

What would a wedding be without music and dancing? When it comes to music, you've got a number of options including:

  • Live music (full band, small ensemble or solo artist)
  • DJ
  • iPod and speakers with prepared selections.

Dancing in the grass may sound romantic, but in reality it usually isn't very comfortable, practical or even safe. If your celebration is outdoors, you'll probably need to rent a dance floor. Portable dance floors are available to accommodate almost any size party.

The bride and groom will want to relive their happy wedding memories over the years; so hiring a photographer and perhaps a videographer are important items to include on your home wedding checklist. In addition to hiring professionals, consider putting disposable cameras on each table so guests can take unforgettable candid shots.

Dealing with Neighbors and Parking

Before your home wedding takes place, let neighbors know about your upcoming event. Be sure they're comfortable with the extra people and noise your wedding will bring. You may even want to consider inviting a few of them to the wedding. Happy neighbors are more likely to allow your guests to use their driveways and control your parking overflow.

Cleaning Up

The final item on your home wedding checklist should be cleanup. After the excitement of a wedding, the last thing you'll want to do is deal with a huge mess. Be sure to arrange for extra garbage pickup and cleanup of your party area so you can enjoy some peaceful after-party down time.

Last Updated: July 11, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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