From permits to port-a-potties, pretty backyard weddings require more than meets the eye.

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Michelle Lyerly Photography

There’s something comfortably intimate yet stately about saying “I do” in your own domain. Whether you’ve been dreaming of walking out the front door in a white dress since you were little or fell in love with the idea of celebrating at home while watching Father of the Bride, we’re not here to break the illusion. However, we do want to make sure you have all of the facts. Hosting your wedding at home allows for more personal touches, but it also requires a lot more preparation than just picking the ballroom downtown. Brides who wed at home will never regret saying their vows in such a sentimental space. You just have to be willing to properly prepare your home before you can host nearly everyone you know on your own lawn.

1. Be realistic about your space.

Is your guest list 300-people deep, but your yard is only a several hundred square feet? You’ve got a problem. The average home isn’t equipped with enough space for a normal to large-scale wedding. You may have to cut your guest list or consider other venue options. Even if your childhood home is on a sprawling estate, you still have to consider how much indoor space is available. If it starts to pour, there has to be somewhere for your guests to take shelter.

2. Home and lawn repairs will be added to your wedding to-dos.

The broken doorknob and leaky faucet issues that your parents have put off for the past few years are now of major importance. If you’re hosting the whole affair outdoors, you’ll want to create a landscaping plan as well. Not only do you need to prepare for your home and lawn to be on display, but you also want to make sure any design choices you make in the garden match your event aesthetic and overall layout needs. Most importantly, you need to plan ahead so that any time consuming home updates can be taken care of long before you’re worrying about the final details. Planning ahead will also ensure any newly placed plants have a chance to fill out as well. 

3. The amount of rentals you need may be mindboggling.  

Everything from dinnerware, linens, and silverware to barware, bathrooms, and tents will have to be rented. Though it is a lot to coordinate and the cost of your selections may add up, it offers you the chance to completely customize your design.

4. Even the slightest hills will make things hard.

Even ground is a must when it comes to planning the perfect outdoor affair. Consult with your tent company to determine what parts of your lawn are level enough to lay a dance floor directly on the ground. Florists and caterers need to know the lay of the land as well to ensure any floral arrangements and musical equipment won’t come toppling down.

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5. Get ready for a vendor home invasion.

Your wedding vendors, especially your planner, will need to come by more frequently than you think. Caterers will need to peek at the kitchen to ensure it’s large enough to prepare the menu and coordinators need to determine exactly how the event flow will work for your home blueprint.

6. Your officiant may not be on board.

Many home weddings feature a family member or close friend at the head of the alter. Some religious leaders aren’t able to perform ceremonies away from their place of worship. If a religious wedding is important to you, be sure to check into it first thing.

7. There is such a thing as a pretty port-a-potty these days.

No matter how many bathrooms are inside, outdoor weddings at home require extra toilets. Account for at least one bathroom for every 35 guests, and keep in mind that your guests will need a place to freshen up as well (especially if you’re outside in the summer). Luckily for today’s brides, luxury port-a-potty options are available with everything from heated sink water and lighting to air-conditioning.

8. You may need a generator.

Depending on the amount of power your using for your Big Day, you may need an additional power source. Between string lights, bathrooms, and band equipment, you may be surprised by how many moving parts need a place to plug in.

9. Check into insurance and permit requirements.

It is possible that you’ll need wedding insurance in addition to your home owner’s coverage to be all set for your event. You also need to consider any permits your area requires. Be prepared for everything from noise ordnances to parking permits. Be neighborly and give homes nearby a heads up on what’s happening next door as well to avoid any unnecessary noise complaints.

10. There’s no place like home.

Sure there’s a lot of preparation that goes into hosting your wedding at home, but don’t let it scare you. No number of decorations can take the place of your home as the backdrop of your Big Day if that’s your dream. Once you’re putting that white dress on in your childhood room, it will hit you that all of that planning is about to be more than worth it.

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