Backyard Bash

// by Virginia Chamlee

Weddings at home come with their own unique set of challenges. Here are the questions to ask before committing to an important event under your own roof.

Do you need to invest in anything special? The costs of an at-home wedding can add up quickly. That’s because pretty much everything—flatware, dishes, glasses, furniture—has to be rented. Chelsie Bragg Pierce, co-owner of CK Designs, says that rented restrooms and generators are also worthy investments. “Even in a private residence, you’ll want to get a restroom trailer. They’re nicer than a standard port-a-potty, so guests will be more comfortable, though they usually require access to water and a generator.”

Do you have enough parking? Chances are, the typical house won’t come with enough space for parking, in which case a valet service or a shuttle will need to be hired. “If you get a shuttle, you’ll have to find a parking lot where guests can arrive and leave their cars to be picked up,” says Bragg Pierce.

Do you need a special permit? Having a wedding in the yard of a private residence doesn’t require a permit, though some of the vendors might. “The permit requirements for tents vary,” says Bragg Pierce, “so be sure to check with the tent company about permitting requirements. You’ll also want to ensure your bartending service has liquor liabilities.” Bragg Pierce adds that event liability insurance for at least a million dollars in coverage (which should run between $150 and $175) is a smart idea.

Have your wedding vendors seen the property? While many caterers will just drop off already-cooked meals, or appetizers in hot-boxes, some will need access to a kitchen. Others might just need a prep spot. “When you’re looking for a caterer, you’ll want to let them know the wedding will be in a house, and think about having a clear area where they could prep before the event.”

Do you need to invite your neighbors? It’s unnecessary to invite neighbors, says Bragg Pierce (unless they happen to be great family friends), but it is very important to alert them of the impending nuptials. “If it’s a situation where cars could be blocking the street, you’ll want to let them know. Otherwise, you might have to deal with cops on your wedding day.”

Do you have a Plan B? Bragg Pierce knows firsthand the challenges that brides can confront during an at-home wedding—she and her husband got married in her parents’ backyard, on the St. Johns River. “Wind was more of an issue than we were anticipating,” she says, adding that she would advise brides have a plan in place in case the weather turns out to be uncooperative.

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