How to Throw a Home Wedding Ceremony

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Weddings can be staggeringly expensive, and sometimes finding the right location for a wedding can be frustrating. For that reason, as well as for sentimental reasons, a lot of couples are opting to hold part or all of their wedding at home or in the home of a family member. While planning such an event can be overwhelming, it doesn't have to be.

Things You'll Need

  • Plants, greenery and/or flowers
  • Archway, tent or gazebo area
  • Seating for wedding guests
  • Wedding-planning books
  • Miscellaneous wedding and/or reception equipment and supplies, such as candelabras, bridal cloth, praydieu, heating elements, refrigerators and drink fountains

Initial Planning

  • Determine which parts of the wedding will be held inside or outside. Will the ceremony be held inside, with the reception held outside or vice versa? Will the ceremony and reception both be held in the same location? Will the reception be held somewhere else altogether? What type of reception is planned? All of these decisions will have an impact on how your home space is utilized.

  • Establish the size of the wedding guest list. This will have a major impact on your overall home-wedding plans.

  • Decide on the length of the wedding ceremony. If it is to be short and sweet, then you may not have to provide seating for all of the wedding guests; just for those who require it for health reasons. This will help you to maximize your available space as well as cut rental costs. If, however, you plan a more lengthy ceremony, then you must have enough space for guest seating, whether the event is held inside or outside of your home.

  • Make certain that you have enough space for the wedding as planned. An experienced wedding or party planner can help you determine how to best use your available space, as well as how many guests it can hold. If you can't afford the expense of hiring a professional planner, go to the library and do your own research with wedding-planning books. These, too, can help you capitalize best on the space that you have available.

  • Determine where guests will park for the event. You may need to make arrangements with neighbors to allow for parking in front of their homes, or make arrangements with a nearby parking lot to allow parking for the event and provide shuttle service to and from that area.

  • Decide where the bride and her party and the groom and his party can change and prepare for the ceremony. Note: A bedroom or large powder-room area is good for this purpose.

  • Decide how the wedding party will make its entrance into the central wedding area.

Outdoor Planning

  • Choose an outside wedding if your garden or yard is the perfect place for such an event and the weather is amenable. If you don't already have a garden in place, you may have time to plant one designed to fit the wedding theme. Another option is to use temporary plants and flowers that you can strategically place exactly where you want them for the event. Afterward, they can be returned or distributed among wedding guests. Even good-quality silk plants and flowers, if arranged properly, can create the perfect mood for an outdoor wedding.

  • Decide how the bride and groom "altar" will be staged in the yard area. If you already have the perfect archway, gazebo or tent under which the bride and groom can stand for the ceremony, then you are set. If you don't, you might opt to build your own or rent a wedding archway from a florist or rental agency. You can make your own altar area with strategically placed plants and flowers. After mapping out the altar area, you will know how much yard space remains for the wedding guests, reception space, food and drink area, gift area and anything else that may be a planned part of the wedding event.

  • Draw out a diagram of how the yard space will be used. Determine exactly where the guest seating will be placed (if applicable). Decide where the reception be will be held (if applicable).

  • Determine all of the equipment and supplies required for the outside event, where they can be obtained and their cost (if applicable). You may wish to use an bridal cloth for the bride to walk on as she makes her entrance. You may wish to place candelabras throughout the space if the event is happening in the evening. If the bride and groom want to kneel during the ceremony, you will need to provide a praydieu for that purpose. Most, if not all, of these items can usually be rented both through a florist that traditionally does weddings as well as most party-rental places.

  • Rent or borrow other items you may need. You'll probably need extra tables for food, drinks and gifts. You may require a drink fountain for punch, or portable refrigerators for items that require cooling. You may need portable burners for foods that require heating. You may need electricity for special lighting. All of this must be taken into consideration in planning the event.

  • Map out an alternate plan for the ceremony in the event of inclement weather.

Indoor Planning

  • Choose an inside wedding if you have an appropriate space for such an event.

  • Decide how to stage the bride and groom "altar" inside your home. Perhaps you have a perfect archway between two rooms where the couple can stand for the actual ceremony. Maybe you have a blank wall on the end of one large room that could be easily staged for the bride and groom altar. You can, of course, also build your own wedding archway, or rent one from a florist or rental agency. The options are almost endless and only require a bit of creativity.

  • Determine much room space remains for the wedding guests, the reception area, the food and drink staging area, the gift area, and any other planned parts of the wedding event.

  • Draw out a diagram of how your home's space will be used. Determine exactly where the guest seating will be placed (if applicable). Decide where the reception will be held (if applicable).

  • Determine all of the equipment and supplies required for the inside event, where they can be obtained, and their cost (if applicable). Things you may need include: a bridal cloth for the bride to walk on as she makes her entrance, candelabras, floral arrangements and a praydieu. Most of these items can usually be rented both through a florist that traditionally does weddings as well as most party-rental places. You may require special equipment as well, such as additional refrigerators or portable burners to keep foods hot or cold.

Final Steps

  • Remain flexible enough to change plans as necessary in order to meet the wedding's requirements. In other words, if you have determined that you have enough yard space for the wedding ceremony but not enough for the reception, then change the location for the reception itself. Perhaps you can open part or all of the inside of your home for wedding-guest spill over. Another option is to rent a separate space for the reception, such as a community center, town hall or restaurant (if a sit-down dinner is planned).

  • Make arrangements for any plants, flowers or greenery necessary to decorate the area being used for the wedding and reception. A local florist or landscaping agency can help you with this step.

  • Make arrangements for miscellaneous wedding equipment such as candelabras, a praydieu, a wedding arch or anything else that is a necessary part of the planned event. Both florists that handle weddings and party planners generally rent all of the equipment required.

  • Make arrangements for any food or drink requirements for which you are in charge. Local catering companies can be helpful in establishing a menu and determining the amount of food and drink required for the number of guests attending, the type of event and the time of day.

  • Arrange for linens, tableware, serviceware, supplies and equipment necessary to stage and properly present the food and drink for the wedding reception. This can be done with your own linens, borrowed items or rented equipment as necessary.

  • Coordinate all of the equipment and supply rental, flowers and floral arrangements, food and tableware to make certain that everything is in place on time the day of the wedding. Make certain enough help is available during the event.

  • Stay on top of the event to make certain that everything flows smoothly. Be available to answer questions and solve problems throughout the event.

  • Arrange for clean-up after the wedding, and make certain all borrowed or rented items are returned.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plan everything around the bride's color scheme and the wedding "theme," if one has been established.
  • Pay attention to detail.
  • Add extra little touches wherever possible to make the event even more special.
  • Coordinate everything with the bride or her assigned planner.
  • Have more than one alternative plan in the event that something doesn't work as originally outlined.
  • Don't forget about the groom and his family in make the wedding plans.
  • Don't allow guests to park in the neighborhood without prior approval of your neighbors, home-owners' association, and city or town.

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