When you’re planning your wedding, one of the biggest hurdles is finding the perfect location for the ceremony and reception. Many couples conclude there’s no place like home for their special day. After all, what could be more personal than exchanging vows in your very own backyard?
Insurance for Hosting a Wedding
First things first: To be on the safe side, check your liability coverage to see if it includes insurance for hosting weddings or other events on your property; this is also known as special event insurance. As with anything, it’s always good to have a plan in place in case something unexpected happens. These policies might cost less than you think, and coverage typically includes:
- A higher liability limit than that of a typical home insurance policy
- Damage to the wedding venue (i.e., your home and backyard)
- Injuries to third parties (i.e., guests and vendors)
- Damage to rented equipment
- Damage to wedding cake, flowers, decorations and wedding gifts
- Costs associated with cancelling your wedding
How large will your guest list be? More importantly, how many people can your home reasonably accommodate? Do you have a spot for both the ceremony and the reception? Many homes and backyards are not large enough to host 50-100 people at once, so brainstorm creative seating arrangements in order to make sure your guests will have room to move and enjoy the day.
You might be wondering if you need a permit for a backyard wedding. Every city and county has different requirements when it comes to residents hosting events on private property, so it’s wise to look into these rules ahead of time, especially as permits can sometimes take awhile to process. A few instances where you might need a permit include:
- Live music and/or noise ordinances
- Portable bathroom facilities
- Serving or selling alcohol
- Setting up a tent or other structure
Rather than relying on street parking, you may want to contract with a local lot and hire a valet to assist. Talk to your neighbors and let them know that they might experience higher traffic on the day of the event, or even consider asking if they might be willing to allow guests to park in their driveways.
Prep Your Yard
The great thing about holding a wedding in your backyard? You can use your own landscaping to create the perfect backdrop. Think about where and when the ceremony is to be held, then add plants that will flower during that time of year. Consider adding wildflowers in a variety of colors — you can use the same flowers in your bouquet. While you execute your landscaping plan, consider adding plants that deter bugs, like rosemary and lavender. You can also have an exterminator spray your property 48 hours before guests arrive.
Make sure your home is photo ready! Take the opportunity before your big day to make the home updates you have been dreaming of. Paint the walls, upgrade the flooring and fix the faucet in the sink. Also, power-wash the siding and patio, and touch up any outdoor paint that looks faded or worn.
You can definitely save big on the venue expenses and related wedding costs by hosting your wedding at home, but don’t forget to include rentals in your budget. You will likely need to rent things like a large-capacity tent, tables, chairs, linens, tableware and a dance floor so you can dance the night away.
Though it’s an additional cost, hiring a food caterer takes a lot of the work out of a backyard wedding. Decide if you will be serving finger foods or a full meal, have a food station or a buffet line. The caterer will want to know about your desired set up, as well as kitchen prep space. Be realistic about your home’s capacity for preparing a meal for everyone that attends.
Hire an Officiant
When choosing who will perform the ceremony, discuss your location with your officiant ahead of time. Many religious officials can’t perform ceremonies outside of their place of worship, which could factor into who you choose for the at-home wedding ceremonial duties.
Personalize the Ceremony
A wedding at home may feel less formal than if it were held at another venue. Think of ways to personalize, like asking guests to take candid photos to share them with you in lieu of hiring a photographer; or incorporate your pet into the ceremony. Without venue restrictions, you have a bit more freedom to make the day personal to you.
Schedule a Cleaning Crew
You have enough to do to prepare for the wedding; don’t add cleaning to the list. Hire a professional to give your home a thorough clean a week before the event, as well as a crew to return after your wedding to assist with post-event clean up.
When you have microphones, music and lighting planned, your outdoor power supply may need a boost. Talk to an electrician and consider renting a power generator to keep up with electrical needs.