This is a question we get quite a lot. It is common to think that you will save money by having the wedding at home and therefore save on those pesky venue fees. Is it true? Well…..it might be if you are having a very small, intimate wedding, but oftentimes couples are surprised to find that having an at home wedding adds up quickly.
Why Does An At Home Wedding Cost So Much?
One thing to keep in mind when deciding to forego the venue and have a wedding on your personal property is that venues are very purposefully set up for events. The venue staff has thought through all of the items that you might need. They know what kind of power that your 500 feet of Italian string lights, and 12 piece band and catering food warmers will require. They have working air conditioning and heaters for that fickle late fall or early spring weather. They have fully stocked bathrooms with running water.
When you choose to have a wedding at home, you are essentially building your venue from the ground up. You’ll want to be sure you have fully thought through every single item you might need in addition to the regular wedding items. Your typical wedding items that you might need to bring into any venue may include basic rentals (tables, chairs, china, flatware, glassware, linens). Items like additional lighting, draping and flowers are aesthetic pieces that are wonderful, but not always 100% necessary to the event. However, when you are starting from scratch, there are several other essential pieces that you will need to consider.
What Additional Items Might I Need For An At Home Wedding?
You’ll want to have a reception tent for all of your guests for eating dinner, dancing etc. If a lovely evening under the stars is your dream, we still highly recommend at least having a tent on reserve as a rain back up just in case. See more about that in our video on building a rain plan here. Unless your house has lots of extra space and you don’t mind catering staff coming in and out then you may need a small additional tent for your caterer. They’ll use the space to prep food, possibly plate and then scrape plates after dinner. This tent will usually be three sided to hide all the ensuing mess from guests.
Again, if you have the space and don’t mind 100 or more of your closest friends coming in and out of your house to use the facilities, then you may not need additional bathrooms. If not, you’ll want to rent a restroom trailer for your guests to use. These have come a long way from the icky, claustrophobic (not to mention smelly) port o potties of the past. Some restroom trailers have granite countertops, air conditioning and radios. Guys, they’re nicer than my bathroom at home, for real.
You’ll definitely need lighting for your tent. String lighting usually works best for this and give the tent a nice glow without being overly bright. These can usually be dimmed for dancing later in the evening. If you have a catering tent, that will also need lights. More functional, simple can lights are fine for that space. You’ll also want a spotlight on the restroom trailer so guests can find it and then another light in the parking area, especially if the property is out of the city in a dark field or similar.
This is a biggy. You’ll need to provide power for the entire event, so normally renting a generator is the way to go. We often ask a vendor like the lighting company to provide this for us. You’ll need that guy to run all the lights, provide power for any musicians or a DJ, as well as power any onsite catering equipment.
Trash cans and bags are a detail that are so easily forgotten. But when you are building an event from the ground up you need to provide every single thing. You definitely want to make sure you have ample trash cans and bags as a four hour reception can produce quite a bit of trash by the end of the night. You can also talk to your caterer to see if they might be able to transport the trash offsite with them and dispose of it for you. If not, there are services that can come do late night pickups for a small fee.
Bugs, ugh. Most venues with outdoor spaces will try to spray often for bugs so they are not a problem during events. All that food, booze and cake sitting out for prolonged periods can attract quite a few unwanted critters. If having an event on your property, you might want to consider spraying for bugs a few days prior.
Fans/Heaters. It could be a good idea to have fans or heaters on back up from your rental company in case the weather suddenly changes.
Having your wedding at home can add such a level of intimacy and comfort to your wedding day. You also won’t have to be worry about strict decor rules or rental having to be out of the space at a certain time. Just make sure that you are well prepared for everything you need to turn your own space into your personal wedding venue! You can also see us talk about this here.