Over the weekend, the Washington Post Real Estate section had a great article about hosting weddings at home with lots of insightful thoughts on the topic by some of the area’s finest wedding planners. I wanted to discuss some of the points made in the article and add my advice from our experiences planning backyard weddings in Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland.
- Tenting. The couple in the article did not have a tent. Granted, they said the weather cooperated. But what if it didn’t? Since they had a fairly small guest count (about 60 people) and might have been able to squeeze everyone inside the house (I don’t know what their inclement weather plan was), but what if you had over 100 guests? Very few people can host that many inside a house. No tent is not a good idea.
- Catering. The article did not mention the couple’s catering choice but you will also need to consider where the catering staff will be preparing your food. For one of our clients, we actually needed to set up a small catering tent next to the main tent for dinner and then using the homeowner’s garage for staging the cocktail hour food. To use the house’s kitchen, while spacious, would not have worked. The distances were too great where the servers would have had to walk pretty far on ground that was nowhere near flat. Not fast and not safe.
- Bathrooms. Given the smaller guest count, I can see how the couple in article went without renting toilets. But honestly, if I had over 100 guests, I would not want them trouncing through my house messing up all the bathrooms. At one of our at home weddings, the home was on a farm and the sewage system would not have been able to handle 180 guests. Best to rent toilets even if it’s just 1 stall for men and 1 stall for women. The last thing you want to overflowing sewage. Ewww!
- Parking. At another one of our at home weddings, our clients lived in a suburban community. There was no street parking and only a driveway for the home owners. There was nowhere for their 150 guests to park. To solve this, they rented the parking lot of a nearby church (within 1 mile) and provided a shuttle bus from the parking to the house. At some homes, there is plenty space for parking but make sure that: a) the area is flat, b) that it is a reasonable walking distance for the guests and that the path is well lit, and c) that you are OK killing the grass that the cars will be parked on.
- Lighting. I am referring to lighting outside of the tent. The last few at home weddings we coordinated, the grounds were pitch black after dark. There were no existing landscape lighting on the properties. Think about it from your guests’ perspective. Make sure that the paths to and from the parking area and bathrooms are well lit. This is a safety issue. The last thing you want is somebody twisting their ankles or falling and hurting themselves (especially after some drinking).
Finally, the first thing you should do when considering an at home wedding using a tent is to consult a tent company. You may have an idea where you want your tent but one site visit from a tent company will tell you the best location. Don’t do anything else first because the placement of the tent can affect many subsequent decisions.
Feel free to contact us if you have need assistance with planning your at home wedding! — Vicky