The DIY Guide to Planning a Sensational Home Wedding

The DIY Guide to Planning a Sensational Home Wedding

As of April 2021, couples-to-be eager for a wedding had to whittle down their guest lists to only thirty people. While some couples found this a hardship, others adored the prospect of throwing a "micro wedding." As we enter 2023, it seems the home wedding is a charming, intimate concept that's here to stay.

With that said, hosting your wedding at home comes with its own set of unique challenges. You'll need to consider everything from where to pose for wedding photos to how to feed the masses. While your familiar, unconventional venue may save you some money, it takes a lot of planning to curate a gorgeous event in your own back garden.

We've created this home wedding planning guide to help you put together the classiest event possible in your own stomping grounds. We'll include tips on setting the scene, gathering decor, hosting an at-home wedding breakfast, and hiring the best wedding band for the job. You won't miss a single detail when planning for your big day.

Explore our guide to planning the best at-home wedding without breaking a sweat.

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Step One: Define the Location

You've already determined your location: your home (or the home of a close friend or family member). Though you may feel you know the venue inside and out, it's time to start thinking of your space in a new light. Generic halls and party venues may be impersonal, but unlike homes, they exist to host events.

With that in mind, you will likely need to make changes to transform your domicile into Wedding HQ. Here are the top things to consider when you're hosting a wedding at home.

Consider Transportation Solutions

The first mistake many couples make when planning a backyard wedding is a failure to consider parking. If you live in a city or small community, will there be enough space for guests' cars?

Will all the nearby parking be legal? If not, you might wish to include a card with your invitations directing guests to a nearby car park. It's helpful to share information about ride-share options, public transport, and taxi services for any guests staying in hotels.

Will your wedding ceremony take place at home, or will you hold it at a local place of worship? If your home is in England or Wales, you'll need to apply to the council for special permission to hold a ceremony at your home. Otherwise, you'll need to tie the knot at a venue with an official marriage license.

If you're splitting your venue, you'll want to be sure that guests have a way to get from the ceremony space to the reception without causing a traffic jam. Some couples ask guests to park near the ceremony venue and hire a coach to ferry people back and forth.

Alternatively, get married at a registry office before your reception and hold an unofficial ceremony on site.

Garden wedding ceremony

Understand Your Occupancy Level

Due to safety laws, professional venues know how many guests can safely occupy the space. While you may have thrown dinner parties, you may not know how many people can comfortably dine, dance, mingle, and drink in your home. Don't forget that all those people need a chair, and most party planners suggest having more seating than guests to ensure everyone can mix and mingle easily.

As a rule, a home wedding is a more intimate affair. Large properties with outdoor space may be able to accommodate a longer guest list. It can be helpful to create a "must invite" list and a "like to invite" list before deciding who will make the cut.

Ask Permission, Not Forgiveness

A home wedding often takes place in a neighbourhood, meaning your neighbours will have a front-row seat to your nuptials. Music, parking, loud guests, and party lighting are disruptions, and homeowners nearby deserve to know about the event in advance.

Ideally, you'll be able to invite the neighbours or have them over for a drink or two near the end of the party. If that isn't possible, you might inform them of the wedding with a kind note and a token of gratitude for their understanding. A nice bottle of wine goes a long way toward calming the waters, especially if you don't have a strong relationship with the families next door.

Furthermore, you'll want to make the neighbours aware if you're having a backyard ceremony and will need quiet at a designated time. If you ask nicely, they may be able to send the noisy children to the park for the afternoon so you can say your vows in peace.

When in doubt, be transparent, kind, and inclusive.

bride and groom in rain

Plan for Poor Weather

If you've chosen to host your wedding at home because you've got a large, gorgeous garden, keep an eye on the weather. British weather is notoriously fussy, and you don't want your wedding to become a washout. Because of vendors and scheduling, setting a rain date for a wedding is challenging, so you'll need to have a backup plan in mind.

The simplest solution is to hire a marquee or tipi for the event. Many companies will assemble and disassemble gorgeous, customizable tents with all the amenities you could want.

It's wise to have a carton of rain ponchos on hand to hand out to guests in the event of a sudden shower (particularly members of the wedding party who may have had their hair and makeup professionally done). Keep some large golf umbrellas nearby if guests need to move from the tent to the house or washrooms.

It's always better to have a plan in place that you don't need than to get caught in the rain on your wedding day!

Reserve a Quiet Space

A wedding is a busy, emotional day, even if it's taking place in a comfortable and familiar place. It often demands a few wardrobe changes, and you may need time and space to figure out a corset or a bustle. Many brides bring in a team of hairstylists and makeup artists to help the wedding party get ready on site.

With that in mind, you'll want to reserve at least one quiet space (other than a restroom) where guests are not allowed. A bedroom or guestroom with an adjoining washroom is usually a safe bet. It should be quiet and removed so a frazzled groom or overwhelmed bride can step away to decompress without getting mobbed by gushing relatives.

Consider it a bridal or couples suite, and limit access to close members of the wedding party. You will be grateful for the forethought once the festivities begin.

wedding tent at home

Step Two: Set the Scene

Everyone is going to get dressed up for your wedding day. Why shouldn't your home get to look its best? It takes a keen eye to transform a familiar, functional space into a wedding venue worthy of a once-in-a-lifetime party.

With a few thoughtful considerations, homes or gardens of any size can become stunning backdrops for wedding day bliss.

A Backdrop for Your Memories

Many couples-to-be have two posed photoshoots for their wedding: one for the couple at a beautiful or personal location and one on-site at the venue with their entire wedding party in tow. The wedding day photos tend to become treasured heirlooms. After all, everyone is wearing their wedding best—and you'll want your home to look great, too.

Decide where you'd like to pose for your wedding day photos in advance. You know the best spots in your home and can encourage your photographers to make the best artistic choices. You can stage a few spaces with "props" from your relationship.

The best part of holding a wedding at a personal location is that even mundane spaces have extra meaning. Consider incorporating a meaningful tree on the property, a childhood bedroom, or the site of a personal memory together.

Wedding edison bulbs

Decor Galore

You chose to host your wedding at your home because it's a meaningful, visually attractive space. With that in mind, you shouldn't need to add too much to elevate your home venue. Decide on a colour scheme and build your event around your personalized palette to create a sense of cohesion.

A few small, simple touches can add flair to any space. Remember that the venue is your home, and you'll have to go back to living there the next day!

Consider incorporating the following decorations, which are easy to set up and take down:

  • Lanterns or fairy lights
  • Floral centrepieces
  • Simple buntings or banners
  • Balloons or balloon sculptures

You can rent most of the large decorative items, such as tables, chairs, and even tablecloths and place settings. Many companies can help you set up event lighting, including uplighting, disco balls, or theatrical lighting for an outdoor dance floor. The right ambience can ensure beauty and function, as your guests can dance the night away in a well-lit space.

You can elevate outdoor spaces by bringing the indoors outside. Create a few cosy niches using furniture like couches or armchairs. You can also create functional outdoor party spaces by setting up a firepit that is sure to come alive at night.

wedding catering

Step Three: The Food of Love

No matter where you hold your wedding, your guests need to eat. Professional venues have industrial kitchens on site. Depending on the size of your guest list (and your home kitchen), you may need to find another solution to ensure nobody goes hungry.

Here's how to handle dining when planning a wedding at home.

Don't Be a Hero

Our best bit of advice is to know when to hold and know when to fold. Unless you're having a small, intimate wedding, your kitchen probably isn't the right size to handle feeding your entire guest list. Professional caterers can ensure that the food at your event is hot, fresh, and copious enough for a crowd.

Caterers work on weddings frequently and can help advise you regarding timing and quantities. They will deliver and set up all you need for a casual wedding breakfast buffet or grazing area. You'll need to hire waitstaff if you'd prefer a sit-down dinner with multiple courses.

If you have the space, you might also consider using food trucks for your cocktail hour. Today, you can hire trucks offering nearly any cuisine. They are an easy option for a more casual outdoor wedding with street access.

Don't Forget the Drinks

The key to a successful garden wedding is an open bar. A BYOB policy is also effective for a casual event. If you set up a cash bar, you'll need an alcohol license, which can get complicated, so keep it simple.

Many couples stock a few coolers with store-bought drinks from the local shops and allow guests to help themselves. You can elevate your offerings by including a cart full of glassware or fancy garnishes. To class things up, include punch or sangria in a fancy hotel-inspired dispenser or punch bowl.

Make sure to include something for sober, teetotal, or underage guests. Soft drinks are delicious and inexpensive. You can even offer guests fancy fruit-infused water or a mocktail dispenser.

Something Simple and Sweet

You'll want to end the night with something sweet, which is much easier to DIY than a wedding breakfast feast. You can cut and serve any size wedding cake in your kitchen, so you shouldn't need extra help or equipment to get the job done.

Viennese tables are a popular addition to contemporary weddings at any location. They are essentially all-you-can-eat dessert buffets full of an aesthetic assortment of stunning offerings. They are part decor, part activity, and part sweet surprise.

Order a selection of favourites from local patisseries, chocolatiers, and sweet shops, and arrange everything to your liking.

Other fun options include serving midnight milk and cookies, hiring a candy floss machine, or offering a "decorate your own cupcake" station.

Step Four: Wedding Entertainment

There can be no wedding without music. The best wedding performers set the scene, generate ambience, raise energy, and get the crowd on their feet. Even a simple wedding becomes an elevated affair when you have the right tunes to set the vibe and create the sense of atmosphere you desire.

It can be hard to transition guests from one part of the party to another in a small venue like a home. Music can do the work for you. Let the setlist dictate the timing and mood of your evening, and allow your talented, professional wedding band to take the lead.

Music Upon Arrival

Many of your guests will have been to your home before. You'll need a way to make a familiar place feel magical. Setting the scene with arrival music will make guests feel like they're entering someplace entirely new.

A small ensemble or soloist is appropriate for arrivals. Your ideal performer will depend on whether you hold the event indoors or outdoors.

A professional pianist can welcome guests by playing subdued pop repertoire on your family piano. They'll look at home playing in your living room. You can also add a touch of whimsy by asking them to play in your outdoor space.

A string quartet can greet the masses with Top 40 hits in the style of Bridgerton. You can also raise the energy by hiring a jazzy soloist, such as an acoustic guitar player or trumpeter. Guests love arriving to the sound of a harpist, which can make any party feel like a black tie affair.

The Sound of Your Perfect Ceremony

Musicians add a sense of liveliness to your wedding ceremony. Rather than walking down the aisle to stale tracks, have an ensemble perform live. Their vital energy will add a sense of resonance and ephemerality to a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

You can incorporate your arrival musician into your ceremony or hire a new ensemble to signal the transition. Some of our customer favourites include:

A ceremony musician will often perform between three to four songs at your event. They'll play your processional, the signing of the registers (if you're not having the official ceremony in advance), and your recessional.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Many couples choose to hire a band for the dinner and drinks reception.

The drinks reception or cocktail hour typically follows the ceremony. A change in style will signal to your guests that it's time to let loose and relax. This moment is the perfect opportunity to bring in an upbeat performer, such as a lively acoustic act or a versatile wedding singer.

Likewise, many couples enjoy hiring a band to play for about two hours during the wedding meal itself. Dining music is particularly effective during a more casual feast, with guests getting up and down to help themselves from a buffet or grazing table. Guests who finish early may choose to dance or mingle without any awkward silences.

Light up the Dance Floor

The evening reception demands a high-energy DJ or function band to keep spirits high. By the final hours of your wedding, guests will be full from the wedding breakfast and likely somewhat tipsy after helping themselves to drinks. It's the perfect time to hit the dance floor and set new memories into motion.

Some of our most popular offerings for your reception include:

  • A postmodern jukebox-inspired jazz ensemble
  • A cover band from your favourite decade
  • A modern chart band
  • A string ensemble with a pop repertoire
  • A professional DJ to spin hits until midnight
  • A festival or folk band to help you dance the night away
  • A laid-back indie band for relaxing festival vibes

All the wedding bands here at Bands For Hire are professional performers with advanced musical training. They know how to read a room and feed off a crowd. Our acts come dressed to impress to match your wedding style.

You may want to provide your band with a gazebo, outdoor stage, or other covered space to perform at your home wedding. Many couples rent a dance floor to encourage their guests to dance the night away.

Always keep local noise ordinances and neighbours in mind when scheduling an evening performance, especially if you plan to party into the small hours.

Step Five: Clean Up

Your wedding is a dream come true, but it can transform into a nightmare if you wake up to find a mess the next day. You can plan for success by incorporating well-labelled bins for trash and recycling in easily accessible locations. The more convenient it is to clean up, the more likely your guests will be to oblige.

When possible, choose materials that don't require any extra cleanup. Instead of glitter or paper confetti, consider an option such as bubbles, dried flower petals, or birdseed.

If you're using a vendor that offers breakdown services, take advantage. That will be one less thing for you to do when the party's over.

If you're overwhelmed, there's no shame in rounding up a crew of friends to help you tidy in exchange for a wedding brunch. Don't be afraid to hire help if you lack time between your wedding and honeymoon departure. A professional cleaning crew is a functional wedding gift, and you'll love coming back to a clean home after your trip.

bride and groom

Curate the Perfect Home Wedding

Your wedding is one of the most significant events of your life, and you deserve to feel comfortable and confident throughout the celebration. For many couples, a beautiful home wedding is the best way to balance cost, nostalgia, and convenience. With these tips, you'll throw an emotional backyard bash that your loved ones will never forget.

Can you imagine holding your first dance under the fairy lights in your own gorgeous garden? You'll need a phenomenal, professional wedding band to help you make wedding magic. Reach out to Bands For Hire so we can match you with the perfect performers for the home wedding of your dreams.