Photo: Amanda Crean
Planning a wedding is soooo much fun! Choosing the food, the decorations, the music, the dress … every time you tick something off your wedding checklist, you’ll be one step closer to the big day.
But before you can plan out all of the nitty-gritty details, you’ll have to decide where you’re getting married.
Beaches, barns, ballrooms, lavish estates … there are all sorts of amazing venues to choose from.
But there’s venue that can make your day even more special:
We know a lot of brides out there are thinking about planning an at-home wedding because of the uncertainty of the coronavirus. Well guess what, your home wedding can still be the dream wedding you were hoping for!
Maybe you want to host a small, intimate wedding indoors. Maybe you have a backyard big enough to fit 200 guests. Either way, having a wedding at home is a surefire way to make your celebration one of a kind.
Ready to start planning? Here’s how to have a wedding at home.
Hire an Officiant
Aside from you and your spouse-to-be, there are technically only two things you need to get married: a marriage license and an officiant.
As long as you already have your marriage license in hand, an officiant can sign the papers and make your marriage legal. You don’t even have to say vows if you don’t want to.
All the law requires is the signatures of the couple and the officiant on the marriage license. Saying vows and walking down the aisle are traditions, but legally, they’re not necessary.
Want to make your at-home wedding even more intimate? Have a friend or family member perform the ceremony for you!
Get Ready to Rent
Photo: I Heart My Groom
Lots of couples think that having a wedding at home will save them money. But the truth is, it can be just as expensive as renting a venue.
Okay, so you’ll save money on renting the physical space, but you’ll still need to rent all sorts of other things (and they add up quickly).
You’ll need to rent tables, chairs, dishes, glassware, and utensils. You’ll want to rent a dance floor and, unless you want people in and out of the house all day, you’ll also need to rent some port-a-potties or restroom trailers.
On top of that, you’ll need to hire a wait staff, bartenders, and a clean-up crew.
When you rent a venue, all of those things come with it. Having a wedding at home means you’ll need to rent all of those things yourself.
Looking to have an intimate at-home wedding on a budget? It can be done! The fewer guests you invite, the less you’ll need to rent and the less you’ll spend.
We don’t suggest skimping on the tent rental or the catering, but you could easily replace a DJ with a pre-loaded playlist, mix up your own batches of signature cocktails, and enlist a few bridesmaids or groomsmen to help with the cleanup!
Looking for bridesmaids dresses?
Head to a Bella Bridesmaids location near you!
Choose Your Spaces Wisely
Depending on the size of your home (and how many people you invite), you’ll need to get creative with how you use your interior space.
Consider turning your kitchen into a bar. Think about making your living room or dining room your ceremony space. That way, you can reserve your entire backyard for the reception.
Venues, especially smaller ones, often have rooms that serve multiple purposes. In a hotel venue, the staff might transform the ceremony space into a reception space during the cocktail hour.
That's easy to do when your guests are eating hor d'oeuvres in another room and there's a 30-person staff to move furniture around. But in your home, it isn’t that easy.
Rather than trying to flip spaces for different purposes, it’s best to create a different space for each element of the day.
Whichever spaces you decide to use, make sure you take care of any painting, remodeling, or landscaping well in advance of the big day.
Light It Up
Photo: Bella Nashville/Hayley Paige
If you want great photos, you’ll need great lighting, and most backyards aren’t equipped with it. You’ll need to rent lights, and you’ll also want to hire an electrician to make sure that your power supply can handle all of the lighting you plan to add.
Depending on how many lights you bring into the space, you may also need to bring in a few generators or have an electrician hook up additional power sources outside. The last thing you want is for the power to go out in the middle of your wedding party!
Plan It Like You Would Any Other Wedding
Having a wedding at home requires just as much planning as any other wedding, even if you intend to celebrate on a smaller scale.
You’ll still need to find a caterer, hire a DJ or a band, find a photographer, and hire a florist. Just because your celebration is happening at home doesn’t mean you can’t have all of the traditional elements in place.
And if it’s in your budget, it can be extremely helpful to hire a wedding planner. They can be a huge help, especially when it comes to coordinating wedding vendors and rentals.
Prepare for Bad Weather
You just never know what Mother Nature may throw your way. If you’re having an outdoor wedding, rent a tent in case you have bad weather.
There are all different types of rental tents available. Make sure you get one that’s big enough to hold everyone on your guest list plus the tables, chairs, dance floor, and bar.
If you’re planning a small, intimate gathering, your backup plan may be to have the entire event indoors. We love that idea, just make sure you have a designated space inside that’s ready for use in case the rain starts pouring down at the last minute.
And don’t forget to think about bugs. Just because the sun is shining and the weather is beautiful doesn’t mean you’re totally off the hook. Those creepy crawlers will find a way in … they always do!
Hire an exterminator ahead of time to prevent pests such as ticks and mosquitoes from ruining the day.
Related: 7 Backyard Wedding Ideas for an Unforgettable Night
The more people you intend to invite, the more you should think about getting additional insurance.
Traditional homeowner’s insurance policies offer limited coverage if a guest gets injured on your property. For your wedding day, take out an extra liability insurance policy for added coverage, especially if you want your guests to drink and dance.
Say Your I Dos Virtually
If you were planning a spring or summer wedding that’s been put on hold due to the pandemic, we feel for you. But guess what the pandemic can’t ruin? True love!
If you want to get married sooner than later but don’t want to turn your entire home into a wedding venue, you don’t have to. In some states, you and your beloved can get married online.
With a virtual ceremony, you can officially tie the knot at home and have your wedding reception at a later date. Just schedule your reception a year from now and turn it into a one-year anniversary party instead!
Whether you were planning a rustic celebration in a barn, a romantic wedding on the beach, or a fairytale wedding in a grand estate, you can still achieve that vibe at home.
And the way to do it is by choosing bridesmaid dresses that are true to your original vision. Go rustic, romantic, or beachy … your bridal party will look amazing no matter where the wedding is!
Need to postpone your wedding? Read our full guide on How to Postpone a Wedding.
Remember, a change of venue doesn’t have to mean a change of all of your plans.
Having a wedding at home is no easy feat, but it can be done.
And one thing is for sure:
If you have a wedding at home, people will remember it.
When you’ve been to dozens of weddings like we have, all the beaches, barns, and ballrooms start to blur together. But have a wedding at home, and you can be sure that it will be a memorable one!