For some couples the idea of all attention focused on them makes them want to run. For others, they don't want a big formal to-do as the celebration of the wedding. In this case one great option is to host the reception, or maybe even the wedding itself, at a private residence.
Recently we worked with this amazing couple who had their wedding reception at the parents' house in Maine. It was a gorgeous setting right near Nubble Lighthouse, and worked perfectly for the relaxed lobster bake feel the couple wanted!
Whenever the wedding ceremony or reception is held at a private home, however, there are issues that inevitably come up. The reason they are bound to arise is that the location was not designed to host a wedding reception! While it sounds silly, it's true. Rather than rule out the option, we have some advice on how to alleviate some of the ails in order to make the space work for you. (All photos are just quick snapshots I grabbed with my phone. Professional photos to come from Shane's Maine Photography!)
|View from the top of the informal vibe!|
Different rooms will mean it's hard for guests to be gathered in one spot. Therefore many of the formalities of a traditional wedding (first dance, champagne toast, etc) can leave guests feeling left out rather than part of the special day. The setting lends itself to a relaxed atmosphere, so rather than fight it, embrace the comfortable and fun feel.
And if anything big is happening, make sure it's happening where everyone can see it. For example, toss the bouquet from a balcony into the yard where all the guests are gathered.
2. Match the number of guests to the space available
Maximum capacity is not the ideal in a private home reception. The right number of guests is the amount that can move comfortably through the house without feeling squished. It's also really important to consider bathrooms the number of bathrooms in the house. While having access to plumbing is definitely a plus when compared to some outdoor venues, too many guests can overwhelm the facilities. Consider that the guests will be at the house for some amount of time near 5 hours. They'll want to move around and explore without feeling crowded.
3. Pick one focal area
People gather around three things: food, alcohol, and other people. When planning the reception try to pick one big open area to focus decorations on. This will draw people to the space and keep the event social and entertaining for all.
|Drinks and a candy bar helped to spread people out throughout the day.|
We might even suggest lawn games should the space allow. It will get different people interacting in a fun way, as well as spread them out!
4. Be very clear about what is off limits
As the location's main function is most likely someones house, there are going to be things that are private or have been moved out of the way. This last weekend we used simple privacy signs, and then locked the one door behind which we were hiding many personal belongings.
5. Hire a caterer and bartender
|Fun personalized drink holders were |
available for all guests!
While this may seem like a no brainer, hiring both a caterer and bartender will allow everyone to sit back and enjoy much more. While it may seem like a cute idea to have your Dad grilling for everyone and Aunt Sue pouring drinks, it puts a lot of strain on everyone involved in background details.
Consider it as a backyard barbeque on steriods. Everything is more rushed with more pressure and it will lose the relaxed feel very quickly. And hiring a bartender will release you of liability when it comes to overserving. People are likely to drink more especially at a private home in a relaxed atmosphere. (Speaking of, have LOTS of bottles of water available!)
The house is going to take a hit. I recommend buying double of what you think you need, as you will eventually go through it anyway if you don't on the day. Bathrooms will need restocking, guests will spill, dishes will amass. Just be prepared to wake up on Sunday with quite the to do list.