Hosting your evening celebration at home is becoming increasingly popular as brides and grooms search for innovative ways of saving money on their weddings whilst maintaining quality, style and beauty. At home receptions are highly personal, intimate and relaxed affairs, as long as you have the time and space to pull them off, they can be a delightful experience. If you have a small guest list then you’re fine, but if you would like to invite everyone you’ve ever known then you need to consider if your home will be big enough to accommodate everyone. If you’re lucky enough to have a large house or a very spacious garden, or if a close friend or family member does, then you’re probably going to be ok. If you live on a farm then an at home reception will be perfect!
As you can imagine there are quite a few issues to consider when planning this type of event and the term ‘labour of love’ comes to mind whenever I think of at home wedding receptions. Without the assistance of a venue’s experienced and well-connected event or wedding planning team, all of the planning and coordination tasks will fall to you, your groom and your near and dear. This can seem like a heavy burden but with some very careful planning, some serious effort on your part, and my advice you can plan a gorgeous and highly personal wedding reception right in your back yard!
Decoration and facilities:
Perhaps the very best thing about having your wedding reception at home is the ultimate flexibility you have with regards to decoration. Venues are sometimes a little strict regarding what you can and cannot do in terms of decoration and flowers for your wedding, but at home the only limitations are your imagination and your budget! That being said, don’t go too over the top as you may end up spending the money you would have saved by hosting your wedding at home!
Personally I believe that the best way of hosting an at home wedding reception is to restrict it to the garden. If you have enough space I urge you to consider hiring a heated marquee, large tent or Indian canopy to keep your guests warm and dry as you simply cannot rely on the British weather to behave itself. The company who hires out the marquee to you will be able to advise you on the best way to go about keeping your guests warm and comfortable, even after sunset when it becomes chilly.
Providing your guests with toilet facilities is another important issue which must be addressed. These days you don’t need to subject your guests to festival-style plastic loos, as you can now hire luxury portable loos which come complete with chrome fittings, wooden interiors and running water. Before you book a company to provide loos just make sure that they will also supply an attendant to maintain them throughout the evening.
Organising transport for your guests to and from your home is essential as I’m sure your neighbours will not appreciate their driveways being blocked by other people’s cars. Obviously if you live on a country estate or farm you don’t need to worry about this, however most people would do well to organise for a coach or pretty vintage bus to collect their guests from their houses and to transport them to your home. If your guests live in quite a few different areas, consider asking them to collect themselves at a small number of pre-arranged locations where the coach can pick them up. Don’t forget to also include plenty of taxi numbers with your wedding invitations and in a pile at your reception so that your guests can get home.
If you have a few people coming from far away and need to find spaces for their cars you could always ask your friendly neighbours if it’s possible for those people to park on their drive ways. You will be surprised how many people will say yes when they find out it’s for your wedding!
Catering an at home wedding reception can be a little tricky, especially if you have a small kitchen with very little room to manoeuvre. There are two main options here which you may like to consider. The first is to request that your guests bring something homemade and yummy along with them and lay the food out on large tables for everyone to share buffet-style. This is great if you have a cold room, larder or a large fridge to store the food in until it’s ready to serve, but not so great if you’re really pushed for space. The second option is to hire a mobile catering company who will take care of everything for you in their own portable kitchen. Obviously this second option will be more expensive; however it will be far less stressful as the catering company will take care of everything from the cooking of the food to the washing up!
Holding your wedding reception at home is accessible to anyone so long as they have enough room and facilities to keep their guests entertained, warm and comfortable. Perhaps the biggest concern related to at home receptions is the noise and how the neighbours will react. If you can’t invite your closest neighbours due to space concerns (or if you simply don’t know or like them), then be courteous and pop a note through their door a week or two before the wedding letting them know what is going to happen. Very few people will have an issue with a bit of noise if it’s for a good cause, and if they do object kindly suggest that they pop over for a cup of tea and a chat so that you can allay their fears and concerns. If someone is just being awkward for the sake of it they probably won’t even turn up for a chat, in which case you can consider their objection nullified.
A word on pets:
It’s so lovely to be able to include your much loved pets in your wedding day celebrations! However, you need to bear in mind that dogs and cats can often become distressed if they see a lots of strangers milling around their previously quiet home. Add to this the noise created by merry people, blaring music, and the often overenthusiastic affection shown by little children, and you can have one stressed out pooch or kitty cat on your hands. The best way to deal with this is to provide your pets with an ‘escape zone’ where they can hide when it all gets too much. This could be as simple as a cardboard box lay on its side and containing a few soft pillows, their bedding, some toys and some fresh water. Be sure to leave the room dark, close the curtains and keep the door slightly open so your pets can come and go as they please. Encourage your guests not to enter that room and ask any children in attendance to be gentle and quiet whenever your pet decide to make an appearance.
Remember not to leave small children alone with a dog or cat. Even if you trust your animals completely it’s best to keep a watchful eye on them just in case.
The big clean up:
Once your big day is over you will be left with more than happy memories and a hangover if you’ve chosen to host your wedding reception at home! I suggest that you consider hiring a professional cleaning company to deal with the mess the next morning, especially if you’re due to fly off on your honeymoon. Being faced with a massive cleaning mission is not what I would consider to be a romantic start to your life as a married couple. Do feel free to delegate the supervision of the clean-up to a trusted family member.