Why Have a Wedding At Home?
Weddings have rebounded from the slump of the Covid-19 pandemic in a big way. The cost of the average wedding grew from roughly $20,000 in 2020 to more than $29,000 in 2022. Inflation is driving wedding expenses even higher in 2023, and overall costs are expected to grow.
Booking a venue typically requires a large portion of the wedding budget, so couples are increasingly turning to at-home weddings to keep expenses low. With smart planning and budgeting, you can save money by throwing your wedding at home.
Table of Contents
What To Consider When Having a Wedding at Home
Planning a wedding can be an exhausting process, and having the wedding at home can take some of that stress off your plate. With that said, there are still many factors to consider when planning an at-home event.
1. Guest List and Capacity Considerations
Regardless of the venue, the number of guests directly affects wedding costs. Hosting a wedding at home can help minimize expenses, but only if you also keep your guest list in check. Consider hosting a more intimate celebration of 100 guests or less to cut per-person costs.
Capacity considerations will likely also factor into how many guests you should invite. The average banquet hall can accommodate plenty of chairs, tables, and a dance floor, whereas most residential homes offer less free space. Take care to avoid overcrowding your guests.
2. Logistics and Planning
Wedding planners are popular among couples who need help arranging their big day, but they can cost a pretty penny. On average, a wedding planner will cost you around $2,000 — which is a big chunk of the budget for some couples. If you prefer to save on the cost of hiring a planner, consider sharing your plans with your partner or a trusted friend or family member for a second set of eyes and ears.
3. Preparing the Outdoor and Indoor Areas for Guests
Backyard weddings can be especially unique for their casual vibe but require careful preparation of the outdoor space. Make sure to plan adequate outdoor lighting as part of your decor if your reception will take place at night. Schedule mowing and/or landscaping services in advance.
Be sure to place enough receptacles for used dishes and waste bins around the grounds for guests to clean up after themselves and minimize trash left out during the reception. Consider renting portable restrooms for guests to avoid constant traffic in and out of the house.
4. Permits and Neighbors
Hosting a large wedding at your home may require permits related to noise, fire code, or health code regulations in your city. You should consider notifying your homeowners association (if applicable) and local city officials to make sure your event is in compliance.
On a personal level, you should be proactive with your neighbors in advance of your big day. Depending on how well you know your neighbors, you might invite them to the wedding or at least notify them ahead of the event. You should provide your contact information for any concerns.
5. Hiring Professional Vendors
Many people let their wedding coordinator handle the hiring of any professional vendors they might need, but couples on a budget may want to deal directly with the vendors to cut costs. Commonly used vendors include caterers, bartenders, musicians, and photographers.
Keep in mind that you may encounter additional challenges when it comes to hiring professional vendors for a backyard wedding. For example, you may need to account for extra kitchen and prep space for caterers in your home or rent a generator to ensure everyone has power outside.
6. Safety Precautions and Backup Plans for Inclement Weather
A backup plan is critical for a backyard wedding, especially if you live in an especially temperamental climate or plan your wedding in the hottest or coldest month of the year. Always include in your invite a way for guests to stay updated on alternate weather plans if needed.
You should carefully plan your seating areas away from direct sunlight or under cover if there is a chance of rain. You might also consider renting a tent to provide cover and shade, portable air conditioners, fans, or heaters as needed.
7. Sleeping Arrangements
Accommodating wedding guests from out of town can be a costly but worthwhile expense for those willing to travel to your big day. Obviously, if you have the means and the space to host guests overnight in your own home, this option is most affordable.
Most couples must look elsewhere to accommodate out-of-town guests at their wedding. Hotels sometimes offer discounts for clusters of rooms or suites, specifically for group events. Another option is to ask close friends and family to share hosting duties wherever they can.
8. Cleaning and Restoration
The time and resources needed to clean up after even the smallest of backyard weddings might surprise you. If you are unsure, better to overcompensate than underestimate the number of trash bins you need to place around the grounds at your wedding.
While encouraging guests to clean up after themselves as they go during the event is important, fully restoring your home to its pre-wedding state may still require a comprehensive deep clean. Consider allocating some of the money you saved for a professional cleaning.
How Much Money Can You Save By Having a Backyard Wedding?
Wedding costs can vary wildly since every couple has different preferences and priorities. While you can find wedding venues for more affordable rates, the average wedding venue will run you around $11,000. Backyard weddings in total can cost anywhere between $4,000 and $15,000, depending on unique considerations.
For example, hosting a wedding on private property may be cheaper on its face than a public venue, but you must secure the necessary permits and insurance yourself. Additionally, couples may still choose to hire a wedding planner, caterers, and vendors for their backyard wedding, which can easily overshadow savings awarded to them in the first place.
Insurance Considerations for Backyard Weddings
Assuming you comply with the terms of your policy at all times, your existing homeowners insurance plan should cover your wedding. Specifically, a policy must include third-party liability and personal property coverages to accommodate a wedding in a backyard.
Third-party liability coverage protects you from being sued or held legally responsible if a wedding guest is injured on your property or causes damages during your event. Personal property coverage protects your home and belongings from theft or damage at the wedding. You may also need to consider additional party alcohol liability insurance if you plan to serve alcohol.