Home is Where the Heart Is
Celebrate love where you live with an intimate backyard wedding
When your home is your castle, you don’t need to venture anywhere else to exchange vows. Whether a grand estate, a sprawling ranch or a cozy cottage, you can host an elegant wedding at home in familiar surroundings.
“Home weddings have a personal touch,” says Krystel Tien, owner of Couture Events. “We love to do backyard weddings; they’re really intimate and wonderful. We’ve had a couple host their wedding at the new home where they were starting their future together, or they’ll choose the home where the bride or groom grew up.”
All weddings require hours of planning and carefully crafted details that lead up to a perfect day for the bride and groom, even more so for one hosted at home.
“You have to think of all the little things, like getting ready for a ball,” says Julie Edwards, wedding planner/stylist for Simply Regal Events & Florals. “You can have a high-class event at your house; it all comes down to logistics and planning.”
For weddings larger than 50 to 100 people, you’ll want to hire a wedding planner to pull the event together and make the big day run smoothly. He or she will help you visualize the wedding layout and how to manage the flow of guests in your home. Ideally, you want to create separate outdoor areas for the ceremony, a cocktail hour and the reception/dining room.
“For the ceremony, you want to have a focal point such as an arch, gazebo or other feature in your yard. It could be two trees or even one tree,” Julie says. “Many homeowners think an area is too small for the ceremony, but you’d be surprised. Measure a row of chairs and see how many chairs you can fit there.
“You also need a space for the bride to get ready, where she will be hidden from the guests and the groom. And don’t forget to make sure the groom has his own area to get ready, either off-site or in a separate area.”
The bride can walk down the aisle using an existing walkway, but if you need to create a path, Krystel recommends using small stones, pavers or another surface so the bride’s heels won’t sink into the ground.
The timing of the ceremony is important too. In warm weather, provide enough shade for guests and make sure they aren’t seated looking directly into the sun. You can rent fans, heaters, umbrellas and potted shade trees for more comfort.
“You should always have a Plan B because of weather,” Julie says. “Make sure you have a party rental company come out well beforehand to provide you with a quote for a marquee or tent. They can also provide vital help with wedding layout.”
After the ceremony, move guests to a separate spot with a bartending station where they can mix and mingle. Guests primarily can stand, but Julie recommends setting up a few tables and chairs for elderly guests.
For the reception, Krystel likes to set up a tent to create a separate, intimate setting for dining and dancing. “You want to cover the dance floor if there is any humidity, because it can get slippery from the dew,” she cautions.
Julie offers another option: “Consider boarding the pool over for an instant dance floor.”
One perk to having a wedding at home is that you can hire any caterer you want, versus having to use the kitchen or caterer of a specific venue such as a hotel.
“You can get the crème de la crème,” Julie says. “Top-quality caterers and chefs will bring full-size ovens and set up their own equipment.
“But don’t just think about what caterer you want,” she adds. “You need to think logistically if the caterer has electricity and water, if there are obstacles in the way of serving food and if they have a private staging area and entrance.”
Choose a reception site as close as possible to the caterer and transfer the chairs from the wedding ceremony to the dining area during the cocktail hour.
Don’t forget to enhance the focal points in your exterior landscaping to create an ideal wedding backdrop. Julie recommends making changes to your yard at least one year prior if you need to plant shade trees, shrubs and crawling vines to hide unsightly views. Plant annuals in the same color scheme as the wedding colors one to two weeks before.
“For example, if it’s a purple-and-silver-themed wedding, you can plant purple delphiniums, dusty miller, lamb’s ears and ‘Silver Mist’ licorice plants to fill in any dead spots,” she says. “This is not a regular party; this is a wedding. Splash out on flowers, splash out on plants. People always say flowers die, but the flowers set the whole mood of the event, and they will live on forever in the photographs.”