There are so many benefits to hosting a wedding in the privacy of your own home: A sense of familiarity, undeniable charm, and unique sentiment makes for a day that’s original and noteworthy. Invite your loved ones into a space that holds some of your most cherished memories—as a child, an adult, or both—because nothing says love like a wedding with a “home sweet home” welcome mat. Since residences are rarely suited for events and large gatherings, private homes need considerable attention when it comes to finalizing logistics like lighting, parking, and additional rentals.
Depending on the size of your home—and that of your guest list—it’s important to consider factors like catering, landscape design, ceremony setup, and décor. For example, for larger homes built with a significant number of hosting rooms, the need for an outdoor tent might not be as necessary, whereas, for a more intimate setting, the use of a backyard tent might prove useful for added space.
Finding the balance between wanting to highlight the unique features of your humble abode and adapting the space to your unique aesthetic is something that some of the industry’s best planners, photographers, florists, and caterers have mastered. We reached out to these masters of all-things wedding to gain some insight on throwing the perfect private home bash.
Match the Florals to the Site
Sherry Spencer, partner at Southern Blooms, looked to the landscape of the bride's garden for inspiration in creating the ceremony’s stunning floral altar. “It was a very beautiful classic Virginia garden, very private and intimate,” says Spencer. "We used local magnolia greenery and hydrangea, along with pepper berries, to create arrangements and an arch that evoked the season, as well as fit naturally with the setting.”
Reserve Dressing Rooms
Eliminate the need for transportation by organizing all of your wedding prep—as well as your wedding party’s—within rooms of your home venue. Katherine McCall, event coordinator at Face Time Beauty Concierge, says, “Just like any other location, it is so important that the getting ready area has ample lighting (natural is always best), with a good space for the hair and makeup team to set up, mirrors, and access to outlets.”
Utilize the Entire Property
Make sure to embrace all indoor and outdoor elements of your venue. Lauren Chitwood, owner of Lauren Chitwood Events, recommends creating a flow throughout your home by hosting different events in a variety of different areas. “A ceremony in the garden followed by cocktails poolside is a great way to keep the flow of movement before transitioning guests to a tented space, or inside the house for dinner,” Chitwood says.
Have a Weather Plan
“Be flexible and ready for a plan B in case of rain or inclement weather,” advises Lauren Larsen, photographer at the Day, who captured this stunning sailcloth tent in the backyard of a couple’s private home. Depending on the formality of your event, choose a tent that’s as casual or refined as your day-of style and décor.
Use Spaces That Have Special Meaning
Photographer Elisa Bricker makes a point to capture areas of a residence that have special meaning to the couple tying the knot. “As a photographer, I love to tell the story of their home along with the story of their wedding day by photographing little nooks where I imagine the bride read books or the groom played, or they fell in love together along the dock or on the front lawn,” she says.
Get Creative With Your Surroundings
Embracing the uniqueness of your surroundings (no matter the venue) is a great way to make sure your wedding day vision comes to life. When creating a ceremony backdrop in the backyard of this private residence, Beth Bernstein, owner and event director at SQN Events, envisioned the willow tree as the creative focal point. “The father of the bride, an avid gardener, cut the branches into an arc shape which served as a canopy over the couple as they said their vows,” she says.
Consider a Clean-Up Crew
Laura Remmert, the owner of Laura Remmert Events, recommends that couples consider a cleaning crew to help prep their home for a weekend of guests and events. “With all of the in-and-out of the wedding party, (vendors, etc.) the house can quickly get messy,” she says. A spotless home will also guarantee that any clutter doesn’t come across in your day-of photos. Consider hiring help for clean-up after the wedding, too.
Strategize the Catering
Melissa Panico, director of sales and marketing at Taste Catering, stresses the importance of bringing in the right equipment to put on a spectacular celebration in such an intimate setting. “From a catering perspective, working in someone’s home requires a few extra steps: checking for a water source, power source, and other lighting needs as well as bringing in all of the required equipment for cooking and service,” she says, “but these events tend to be the most beautiful and meaningful events we experience.”
Bring out the China
“Using china that has been passed down for generations in your family, or holds significant meaning to your day, is the perfect way to add hints of tradition to your home celebration,” says Jenny Schneider, owner of Jenny Schneider Events. A striking addition to this table display, the blue and white chargers of this tablescape created a stunning visual to the wedding's romantic aesthetic.
Complement Your Home’s Unique Features
Showcasing the architecture of this private residence by setting up an alfresco reception space added an extra element of originality to this outdoor wedding. Lisa Gorjestani, owner of Details Event Planning, used a soft color palette and twinkle lights to accent the rustic features of the home’s barn-like foundation.
Adapt the Space to Your Needs
Make it easy for your guests, and yourself, by adapting your space to fit all of your event’s hosting needs. “Bring in power generators, restroom trailers, additional lounge seating, etc.,” advises Virginia Edelson, founder and owner of Bluebird Productions. “The last thing you want to worry about is adding additional stress on your home,” she adds.
Don’t Skimp on Entertainment Space
Keep in mind the importance of a dance floor when allocating space in your home, or on-site, for your reception. “If space indoors is an issue, creating a dance floor in an outdoor tent is a great way to ensure there’s plenty of space for dancing as well as your entertainment,” suggests Jeremy Davis, bandleader for the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra.
For couples who want to stay away from rentals, mixing chairs and other furnishings that are found within your home can add whimsy and charm to your design scheme and décor. “Eclectic chairs can look great together,” adds Amy Nichols, owner of Amy Nichols Special Events, who promotes this idea of mixing and matching for weddings in a home setting.
Stick to Your Style
Highlighting details that represent you and your spouse’s relationship is something that should be emphasized when planning a wedding at your home. It’s easy to get lost in the sentiment of your location, so Christine Viola, director of events at Exquisite Affairs Productions, encourages couples to emphasize their unique wedding vision and personal style when finalizing the details of their event, even if that strays a bit from the atmosphere of the home. “I love how this photo shows how this fun-loving couple incorporated bits of their personality into their day,” she adds.
Take Advantage of Scenic Vantage Points
If your home’s location is as special as the home itself, make sure to embrace any one-of-a-kind views throughout your ceremony or reception. Danielle Dworkowitz, owner and event designer of Creative Touch Party Design, evaluates a home—both inside and out—prior to the big day, to maximize space and pinpoint picturesque hotspots. Share these spots with your photographers and guests so they, too, can take stunning photographs.
"An irreplaceable perk of having a wedding in your own home is the intimacy that comes with it,” says Marianne Bennett, CEO of Element Music. "Your entertainment should most definitely highlight [intimacy], as well as all other elements throughout your event.” From the table layout of your reception to the personalization of your rehearsal dinner menu, each event is an opportunity to reflect the familiarity of your residential venue choice.
Craft a Grand Exit
Ending the night with a spectacular send-off is one of the best ways to cap-off such a memorable event. Just because you hosted your wedding at home doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice this extraordinary moment. “Keep in mind to leave space open either in the front, or the back of your home (no parked cars, etc.) to guarantee a seamless send-off experience,” says Cheryl Richards, owner of Cheryl Richards. “Capturing this moment is always so magical!”