Every so often, we talk to someone at the beginning of their planning process who mentions that they’re thinking of having a wedding at home to save costs. This always brings to mind two very different moments in the 1991 film Father of the Bride with Steve Martin. If a low budget wedding at home is what you want, then you and Mr. Banks probably have the same picture in your head.
However, once we finish planning said wedding at home, we usually end up somewhere closer to Annie and Nina’s vision of the Banks-MacKenzie wedding:
How does a wedding at home become so logistically involved and expensive? A big part of this is vision. When you’re picturing your wedding at home, what do you see? Are you thinking of seating for 100 people, with a full meal and dancing? Or are you picturing a simple standing ceremony with some cake and punch afterward? If the first idea is closer to your vision, you may actually end up saving money at a venue or hotel. Why? Here are some of the aspects to consider that may need to be brought into your home to subsidize the existing infrastructure.
- Tables and chairs: Renting tables and chairs for all of your guests to be seated can be expensive, especially if you’re looking at a specialty table (like a farm table).
- Linens and placesettings: And then you need to rent or buy or make the tablecloths for every table, plus decide on china versus plastic for your dishes.
- Dance floor: You’ll want a flat, level concrete area that can be used for your dance floor. If that’s not something you have, you’re probably going to want to bring a dance floor in to make sure your guests don’t fall while trying to get down.
- Tent: Unless you have a very large house (or a very small guest list), your back up option in case of bad weather is going to be a tent. With flooring. Tents can cost more than a venue does to rent, depending on the size and style!
- Electrical: Does your home have enough outdoor lighting in the right places so that guests can see once it gets dark? And enough electrical to allow a DJ or a band to play for the evening?
- Toilets: Does your home have enough easily accessible commodes for all guests?
- Trash: Can the caterer take it all with them at the end of the night, or are you stuck with 20 bags of trash and one residential can?
- Kitchen: The caterer will need an onsite prep area, which can range in elaborateness from a couple of extra tables to outdoor kitchens. In addition, if they’re cooking live on site, they make require a tent.
- Climate Control: Here in Texas, you really never know what the weather is going to be like on your wedding day. This means being prepared with fans, swamp coolers, heaters, you name it, just in case it’s not as nice as you hoped it would be for your big day.
- Parking: Where can people park? Does it make more sense to use a valet or a shuttle service from a nearby church or commercial lot?
The value of having a traditional wedding venue, even one with lots of outdoor options, is that a venue is prepared for all of these eventualities and can walk you through potential costs up front, so that you know exactly what you’re getting into before you sign the contract. They’re experienced and ready to make your wedding day gorgeous no matter what! That being said, if your heart is set on a wedding at home, know that you may be building your own venue to accommodate your dreams, and budget accordingly!