Hosting a wedding at home could save you the time and expense of securing a venue for your celebration. However, couples will still have the requisite details to attend to prior to the big day, as well as the individual items that tend to come packaged with a reception venue. Options to consider include finding a caterer, florist, band or deejay; as well as renting a tent, securing parking for guests, handling traffic flow through your property and more.
Courtney Baker and her husband Todd, who decided to tie the knot at Courtney’s parents’ home in Fairfax County, opted to hire a wedding planner, Ayran Kanter of Eventscapes, to help them stage the perfect event. She “was a life saver with everything,” says Courtney. “We knew that if we did have the wedding at home, my mom and dad didn’t want to have to worry about any of the big issues on the day of.”
She and Todd chose to hold their ceremony in front of the house under a small tent. “We didn’t want it divided up into the bride’s side and the groom’s side,” says Courtney, but rather they chose to be married in the round. Since it was June and the garden was in bloom, the only flowers needed for the ceremony were bouquets and boutonnieres. “It was great to be outside, and there were so many flowers in bloom,” she recalls.
After the ceremony, guests were ushered along the path to the rear of the house for a cocktail hour by the pool. Kanter helped keep the crowd flowing—and remembered to send waiters in search of the bride and groom to be sure they had plenty to eat and drink while mingling with family and friends. In the back yard, they rented a larger tent for the reception. If you are planning an evening wedding, you will need lighting in the tent and, depending on the time of year, fans or heaters will make a big difference in the comfort level of your guests.
Having a wedding planner at home made the Bakers’ event run smoothly. She was on-site to monitor the tent arrival and set up, to make sure it had the proper lights and fans and to supervise other deliveries. This freed up the family to attend to the rehearsal dinner, miscellaneous appointments and other events that fill up the days prior to the big event.
“Parking was a big issue,” says Courtney. “We finally settled on having most people park at a central location like a hotel, and had a shuttle bus move them back and forth.”
It’s also important to think about the neighbors and issues of noise. The Bakers had spoken to their immediate neighbors, but with the property stretching out several acres over woods, they hadn’t thought to contact those who live on the other side of the trees. “Just as the band was about to start their last set at 11:50, the police came crashing through the woods!” laughs Courtney, noting in hindsight they probably should have considered how far the noise might carry.
As with any major outdoor event, it’s always a good idea to expect the unexpected. Courtney advises that wedding hosts call their utility company before the big day and “make sure you know where your gas, sewer and water lines are.” At one point the tent came close to puncturing a gas line and the fire department was called in—thankfully not during the actual ceremony or reception.
Despite all the possible complications, having a wedding at home, in a familiar setting, can be a buffer to stress. Courtney was able to take advantage of down time during the weekend. “I could kick off my shoes, shoot pool and hang out with our friends,” she recalls.
One of the nicest aspects about a wedding at home, however, is that it is already a special place for you—and one that you revisit frequently. “When we come to visit my parents, we pull up in the driveway and my husband and I have a little moment of ‘Aw, we were married here.’”
Amy Snyder is a Washington, DC area wedding photographer.
Bride Courtney Baker enjoys a moment in her parents’
A clear roof and sparkling lights give a romantic glow to
an evening reception, even inside the tent.
A cake by Andrea Webster captures the natural, spring feel
of the wedding.
The bride was able to share the day with the “first love of my
life,” Felix, who she adopted in college.