If you’re like most engaged couples planning a wedding in 2021, your plans have likely been thrown in the air a number of times as a result of the unforeseen circumstances brought on by the pandemic. It’s no surprise if you’ve had to drastically downsize your guest count, rearrange your planning timeline, and practically reimagine your entire wedding day.
Even though vaccine distribution is currently underway, the future is still flooded with unknowns, especially in regards to planning large-scale events such as weddings. For this reason, many couples who are still planning to get married within the next calendar year are opting for more intimate gatherings and their own home as the most suitable venue option.
Meet the Expert
This decision is not always an easy one for brides and grooms, notes New York City wedding planner and founder of Ang Weddings & Events, Tzo Ai Ang. “Many couples have been looking forward to getting married at a gorgeous venue surrounded by their family and friends for years or even decades,” she says. “It isn't easy to have the dream wedding that you envisioned crumble in front of your eyes due to something so unimaginable, like a pandemic.”
What’s more: Choosing to have a wedding at home is a decision that is unique for every couple. “As in many things in life, all homes are not created equal,” says Andrew Roby, D.C.-based wedding planner and founder of Andrew Roby Events. “Not every couple has acres of land that would easily serve their wedding needs, and even those with adequate space still face challenges such as yards not being leveled or filled with trees.”
No matter the size, location, or décor of your home, one thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that absolutely any home wedding can be special, intimate, and unique. “The guests attending are the couple's very closest family and friends, so the quality and strength of those relationships is very powerful,” notes Lang. “They may be the only couple who get married at that home and, if the home is where one of them grew up, it can hold extra meaning.”
Here, wedding professionals share their best-kept tips for how to successfully pull off an at-home wedding in 2021.
Hire a Team of Top-Notch Vendors
Even though your home wedding may be on a smaller scale in terms of the guest list, budget, and design, it’s a wise idea to carry on with your plans to hire top-notch vendors who know how to get the job done. Smaller and intimate weddings often require more dazzling than large-scale events at massive venues designed to host weddings, notes Roby.
“Guests do not want to feel as if they are not being taken care of and that your home wedding should have been at a venue with staff,” he says. “Have enough staff on site to consider every touchpoint from restrooms to seating to refills and it’ll transform the feel of your wedding.”
Highlight the Property’s Best Focal Points
Wedding planner Lisa Costin of A Charming Fete recommends taking a high-level look at your home property to determine the best ways to work with the existing environment. “Whether it’s a grand foyer with a spiral staircase, beautifully manicured gardens, a lavish pool area that’s perfect for cocktail hour and floating blooms, a sprawling lawn fit for a dining tent and live band, or a hundred-year-old tree that could be beautifully adorned with fresh floral, each home offers unique and special opportunities,” she says.
Embrace Your Time at Home
Just as you would at a wedding venue, Costin recommends making use of all areas of your home that are afforded to you. One great idea she has is to transform one of the rooms into a bridal getting-ready suite. “Change the drapes, add fresh flowers and a mimosa bar and create a beautiful space for your pre-ceremony photos,” she says.
Repurpose Family Furniture
Another way Ang recommends paying homage to your home in a personalized way is by using a special table at the ceremony area instead of renting a table and linen. “You could incorporate your family china, glassware, or candlesticks into the table décor,” she says. “These little touches make the wedding design more personal and special.”
Of course, you can also copy this idea for your reception by moving a table, chest, or bookcase from your home and turning it into a stunning escort card display, guest book table, or bar.
Incorporate Personal Touches
Since home weddings tend to be smaller in size, Ang suggests adding some personalized elements throughout, such as leaving a handwritten note on each place setting for your guests to read as they sit down for dinner. “This is hard to do for a 200-plus person wedding, but when you have 30 people in your backyard, it might actually be achievable!” she says.
Elevate the Experience
An at-home wedding may afford you a greater budget for certain elements of your wedding day that you hadn’t originally planned. “For example, you could work with your caterer on creating a tasting menu with wine pairings, add a whisky tasting experience after dinner or even hire live musicians in place of a DJ,” suggests Ang. “Other ways to elevate the experience include having a firepit set up after dinner where guests can roast their own s'mores or ordering blankets with each guest's initials as a way to keep warm outdoors and take home as a keepsake.”
Utilize Indoor Space
While we typically think of backyard weddings at home, inviting guests inside will make everyone feel welcome—and will give you the option of a rain plan if you need it. “Think about the entrance point for guests and flow, create a special entrance to the wedding whether it’s a floral lined or bistro lit path to the backyard or an elegant entry through a floral arch at the front door with a beautifully stacked champagne tower in the foyer," Costin advises.
Don't Forget Your Exit Plan
Just because you're hosting your wedding at your home, doesn’t deprive you of the chance to relish in a traditional send-off as newlyweds, notes Roby.
“The last thing you want to do is be the couple aimlessly walking around your home trying to figure out how to end your wedding experience with guests,” he says. “Have fireworks, sparklers, confetti cannons, you name it, but allow your sendoff to have the same level of energy as you would when ringing in a new year.” In addition to creating a true “end” to your wedding, this type of send-off helps solidify all of the fun your guests had at your wedding.