How to Plan an Affordable At Home Wedding: Creating a Personal and Memorable Celebration

Firstly, I feel honored and excited to share my experience and insights on planning an at home wedding. My husband, Jeremy, and I had a truly memorable celebration that was both affordable and intimate. In...

wedding guests outside at a reception

Firstly, I feel honored and excited to share my experience and insights on planning an at home wedding. My husband, Jeremy, and I had a truly memorable celebration that was both affordable and intimate. In this article, I'll provide you with some tips and tricks that worked for us, along with some amusing anecdotes along the way.

Before we begin, I'd like to mention that this was actually our second wedding. We had already experienced the grandeur of a traditional wedding, complete with a lavish venue and extravagant decorations. However, for our second time exchanging vows, we wanted something more personal and meaningful. We decided to celebrate our love in the comfort of our own home, surrounded by our closest family and friends.

throwing an at-home wedding

Jeremy and I had spent the summer prior to our wedding remodeling our historical house which was built in 1929. It became our sanctuary, the perfect place to call home. This made the decision to have our wedding in our own space even more natural and fitting.

How to Plan an Affordable At Home Wedding

If you're considering an at home wedding, the first thing to take into account is your space. Our home was cozy, only 1,500 square feet, so we made sure to open up every room for our guests to mingle and relax in. We had around 30 people for the ceremony, and in the evening, we opened up the house for a reception where guests could come and go as they pleased. At times, it did feel like a tight squeeze with around 60 guests, but it added to the cozy atmosphere.

Another option to consider is using the home of a close friend or family member, if they're open to the idea. I have friends who got married in their parent's beautiful backyard. Just make sure to have an indoor alternative in case the weather becomes unpredictable.

The great advantage of having an at home wedding is the flexibility it offers to prepare in advance. However, I must admit that procrastination got the best of me. Learn from my experience and make sure to tackle all the necessary preparations with ample time to spare!

Clean House

One of the essential tasks for an at home wedding is to ensure your house is spotless. I highly recommend hiring a professional cleaning company to deep clean your home at least a week before the wedding. Trust me, there is nothing romantic about mopping spilled liquor off your wood floors the morning after your wedding.

Our modest home and the location for our wedding

Decorations

In addition to a clean house, creating a festive atmosphere through lighting and decoration is key. We filled our home with tea lights, strategically placed twinkle lights under furniture, used lamps instead of overhead lighting, and hung white lanterns from the ceilings. To add a touch of nature, we bought inexpensive wildflowers from a local grocer and placed them in vintage vases around the house. My only regret is not setting up the decorations earlier. We waited until the morning of the wedding, causing unnecessary stress.

Food, Catering, and Alcohol

While we had a tight budget, we knew that providing good food for our guests was crucial. We aimed for a classy house party vibe, allowing guests to help themselves to food and drinks as they pleased.

  • The Spread: My sister expertly arranged finger foods bought from our local grocery store on a mix of vintage china at various heights. The presentation made even a can of mixed nuts look fantastic.
  • The BBQ: It may sound ironic, considering we are now both vegetarians, but we decided to have a fancy BBQ for our wedding. It was convenient to order a certain amount of meat and sides for the number of guests. Everything came in trays, and everyone could help themselves buffet-style.
  • The Cake: A talented friend of ours gifted us with beautiful cupcakes for our wedding. It was the perfect touch - not overly fancy and in line with the casual and relaxed atmosphere we wanted to create.
  • The Alcohol: We provided beer, large bottles of wine, and pitchers of sweet tea vodka for our guests to enjoy.

Happy couple and wedding guests

Photography

For our wedding, we decided to go against the traditional route of hiring a professional photographer. Instead, we scheduled a separate photoshoot just for the two of us a few weekends before the wedding. We handed out Polaroid cameras to our friends on the actual wedding day, allowing them to capture the candid moments. This created a more relaxed and party-like atmosphere, rather than a formal and posed event. However, having the wedding in your own home gives you the flexibility to schedule professional photoshoots in advance, if desired.

The Ceremony

When planning an at home wedding, you may encounter some unique logistical challenges. For instance, we had to navigate the process of getting my sideshow performer brother ordained to legally perform the ceremony and have it recognized by the state. It involved paperwork and precise timing. However, if you have religious beliefs, you may need to find a minister or someone of a similar role willing to perform the ceremony in your home.

Happy bride and groom

The Perfectly Imperfect Wedding: What Went Right and What Went Wrong

Allow me to share some highlights and amusing anecdotes from our wedding day:

  • We had amazing help from friends and family: Delegating tasks is crucial when planning a wedding. My sister and sister-in-law organized the food, my brother and cousin hung paper lanterns, and my best friend decorated the mantle with bell jars and tea lights. Don't try to take everything on yourself; accept help and embrace the support.
  • Our guests showed up early: Since it was at our own home, some guests arrived up to an hour early. It was a bit embarrassing that we hadn't finished all the preparations, but it taught us the importance of completing all the decorating beforehand.
  • A freak snowstorm: Our wedding was planned for March 28, and we had envisioned a beautiful outdoor ceremony on our back deck. However, a sudden snowstorm forced us to quickly change our plans and hold the ceremony in our cozy living room.
  • We never rehearsed: It would have been helpful to have a run-through of the ceremony to iron out any logistics or timing issues, but we completely neglected this step.
  • Our cat stole the show: During a heartfelt reading by my sister, our cat decided it was the perfect time to groom himself in front of everyone. It was hilarious but slightly distracting. If you have pets, it may be best to have them boarded for the day.
  • The guest book: We used the chalkboard wall in my office as a unique guest book. It turned out to be a lot of fun for our guests.
  • Decorations catching fire: We learned the hard way that putting too many tea lights in a glass jar is not the best idea. Luckily, we managed to put out the fires quickly.
  • Staying on budget: Our entire wedding cost us $2,250, thanks to the generosity of our talented friends, heirloom rings, an affordable dress, and our free venue.
  • A bit too much partying: The combination of a casual house party atmosphere and ample alcohol led to some guests getting a little too intoxicated and causing bathroom-related mishaps. It made for some awkward moments in our small historical home with only one bathroom, but looking back, it's a funny story to share.

Happy couple surrounded by guests

In conclusion, having an at home wedding created an exceptionally personal and special experience for us. It allowed us to celebrate our love within our own space, surrounded by loved ones. However, remember that planning any wedding can become stressful, even if you aim for a casual affair. My advice is to go with the flow and focus on the reason for the celebration. It is often the imperfections that make a wedding uniquely yours.

Photos: Calin Peters (first photo), friends, family, and Simon Hurst Photography in Oklahoma City.

So, if you're considering an at home wedding, embrace the intimacy, creativity, and personal touch it can bring. Cherish the unique memories you'll create as you embark on this special journey.

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