The Stress-Free Checklist for Getting Married At Home (Part 2)
This is part 2 of a 3-part series. Click here to read part 1 and part 3, or download the ebook, The Stress-Free Checklist for Getting Married At Home.
✖ Prepare to bring in rentals
Depending on how high-end your preferences are, the cost of rentals and bringing in items that might otherwise be included in a more traditional venue can really offset the savings of not having to pay a venue fee. The things you’ll have to rent include elements you may have never considered, including flatware, dishes, glasses for water, glasses for different types of alcohol, linens, tables, chairs, décor, garbage cans, A/V equipment, a dance floor, a bar front, and more.
Pay the rental company for delivery and pick up if you can to eliminate the hassle of having to pick up and return the items yourselves, but also make sure the rentals are being dropped off in plenty of time for the setup to take place well before the wedding (and expect that the setup will take longer than you think).
If the rental company will come to your home beforehand and map everything out for you, even better, since you will have an exact blueprint of what-goes-where for the big day.
✖ Be ready for the setting-up process to take a small army
It might seem fairly straightforward to get a wedding tableau executed to your vision, but for both weddings that took place at our home, it took a multitude of family members, bridal parties, and wedding coordinators working hard in the hot sun the day before the wedding to get all the tables, chairs, benches and décor set up where it needed to go. Make sure you have enough help and aren’t just planning on you and your fiancé knocking it out on your own.
✖ Rent additional restrooms
One of the most shocking factors for me was that, regardless of how many restrooms you already have on-site, you really do need to rent portable ones as well (they have nice ones that aren’t horrible). The reasons for that are that the stakes are just too high for what could go wrong if you have a plumbing issue on wedding day. Depending on the size of your wedding, your home plumbing may not be equipped for the volume of usage it will see in one day from your guests. And even if it is, things can still go wrong.
The day *after* my friend Stacey’s wedding at our Farmhouse, our plumbing completely backed up, causing sewage to fill into our bathtub. It required our yard to be dug up so the blockage could be cut out from the pipe. The culprit? Years of root growth that had slowly taken over the inside of the pipes. It had nothing to do with the wedding directly – these things just happen. We got lucky that our plumbing disaster missed wedding day but just a bit, but even if we hadn’t, the bride took our advice and rented high-end portable toilets for her guests to use.
✖ Be extra clear on how to get there and where to park
We live in an era of total reliance on map apps, but depending on the area, they have been known to fail us at times. Make sure and test your home venue address in all applicable map apps and ask friends to do the same. If there’s a similar-sounding address in another nearby town, make sure your guests are aware not to go there. Give them landmarks to look for, and perhaps even a picture of the house so those who have never been there can locate it easily. And be sure to explain in your invitation what the parking expectations should be (i.e. valet on site, park elsewhere and be picked up by a party bus, find street parking in the neighborhood but avoid Elm street since it’s street sweeping day, etc.)
✖ Talk to the neighbors
Two or three weeks before the wedding, I recommend taking a walk around the neighborhood to pass out flyers with information about the big day, talking to your neighbors in person when you can. Let them know that you apologize in advance for any noise and impacted parking in the neighborhood on wedding day. Provide them with your phone number to contact you if they have any questions beforehand, and your wedding planner’s number to contact with any issues on wedding day. Hear them out if there are any concerns, and try to find out if there are any other events being planned that day that will cause additional parking or noise-related issues during your wedding. As an example, the flyer that we handed out before our wedding is shown here (click to enlarge):
✖ Find a nearby wedding photo area
Between the ceremony and the reception, couples often will want to fit in a scenic photo shoot to commemorate the day. You should definitely take some posed shots in picturesque locations inside the house and on the property itself, but in order to have a full photo shoot in private, you will need to scope out a photo-ready location near your home wedding site that will give you the dramatic or magical backdrop you are looking for. We found a picturesque walking trail just a mile from our house that offered the fairy tale images we wanted, but don’t feel like you have to do all the legwork yourself.
Ask your photographer to look out in advance for nearby photo spots as well – ours recommended a side-of-the-road spot we never would have noticed ourselves, but that resulted in some of our favorite images. Think of nearby parks, fields, beaches, gardens, museums, interesting buildings, or even gritty urban areas that you can dash out and take portraits in front of, and ideally get back to your guests in no more than an hour after the ceremony ends.
✖ Complete your marriage license application after the ceremony
Right after the ceremony, take a moment to sign your marriage license, and ask your witnesses and officiant sign it as well (have it marked in advance with notes showing who signs where to avoid any confusion). Give the signed document to your officiant in a pre-addressed, stamped envelope to mail for you to the county clerk recorder. This goes for any wedding, at home or not, but it’s an important detail that can easily be missed in the shuffle of a wedding at home.
✖ Plan ceremony-to-reception transition logistics
Depending on how you are utilizing your rental furniture, the logistics involved in the transition from the ceremony to the reception will need to be thought out in advance and delegated to someone. Are you reusing the same location and bringing in additional tables? Are you moving the ceremony chairs over to the reception area? Are you bringing over the floral displays from one space to another? Ask your wedding planner or a few people you trust to own these tasks, as you will be off taking pictures during this time.
✖ Put your musicians in the shade
If you are incorporating live music into your wedding, know that bands like to be set up in a shady location on a warm day. Be aware of this now so that when you’re planning your space, your layout won’t have to be reflowed last-minute to accommodate your musicians’ needs.
Click here for Part 3 of this series!