6 Lesser Known At-Home Wedding Mistakes

By Cathleen Freedman

We welcome the rise of at-home weddings. Personal, sentimental, and charming- they are simply wonderful. At-home weddings possess a guise of being easy, and while they certainly can be, there are many factors one might miss while planning the big day. Today, we turn to East Coast wedding planning company Mavinhouse Events for insight on how to avoid six lesser-known at-home wedding mistakes.

Overlooking Tricky Parking Situations

If you have trouble backing out of the driveway before your daily commute, think about what the parking situation will be like on your wedding day! “Most homes can’t accommodate several cars- never mind catering vans, tent delivery trucks, or portable bathrooms,” the planners of Mavinhouse Events highlight. “Some even have entryways that may cause complications for large delivery trucks. It’s a great idea to make an action plan for where vendors can drop off and then park after unloading.”

Avoid this logistical headache by accounting for parking now. “Contacting the local police department is a great place to start,” they suggest. “They’ll be able to help identify areas for guests to park i.e. school, town hall, hotel, or even a church. Depending on how far it is from the home, coordinating a shuttle bus or a golf cart pick-up is a convenient way to get guests to and from the lot.”

Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Rigby

Skipping Seating 

At-home weddings are intimate, which is exactly why you might think there’s no need for a seating chart. But Mavinhouse Events strongly encourages you use those calligraphic escort cards. “Not only does it make your life easier, but it also allows the guests to simply find their seat and continue the flow of the event without interruption or feelings of awkwardness.”

Speaking of flow and avoiding general confusion, the planners of Mavinhouse Events add that you should “be sure to create some ‘reserved’ signage or paper to tape to the first few rows for family members. Many wedding guests don’t realize the first two rows are typically designated for family and can create an awkward moment after the MOB walks down the aisle and doesn’t have a place to sit!” Yes, please—let’s avoid those uncomfortable scenarios…

Photo: Courtesy of Meredith Heuer

Neglecting Rental Needs

At-home weddings seem so DIY, but they actually take a village of vendors and rentals. “Hosting a wedding at a private home often means building the ‘venue’ from the ground up. While you may have a beautiful kitchen for the caterer to use for the evening, you’ll most likely have to partner with a local rental company to rent tables, chairs, etc,” the planners of Mavinhouse Events mention. “It’s a good idea to plan for 10-15% overage in quantities for rentals just in case any items come damaged, worn, or stained. If you’re working with a planner or caterer who has previous private home wedding experience—which we highly recommend—they’ll be able to guide you through the rental process to make sure you don’t miss anything but also help maintain the overall design aesthetic when setting up the tent.” For more information on wedding tents, check out this OTM article.

“You’ll also need to consider generators, AV, lighting, and access to water and electricity. The number of *dedicated* circuits you need to pull off your event is important to figure out. We always recommend hiring one of the staffers from the electric or generator company as well as the tent company to remain on-site throughout the event to ensure there are no interruptions to the celebration and to mitigate challenges that could arise—like a passing storm or power overload.” We’re jotting all of this down!

Overlooking the Timeline

“One of the most critical mistakes lies in the timeline before and after your wedding celebration,” they say. “Setting up and breaking down are essential to the overall success of your at-home wedding, but they happen in a deliberate sequence. There’s an organized flow that must be followed while setting up; from the dance floor, AV and lighting, to the tent, tables and chairs. Having a structured timeline of load-in, setup, and breakdown times is key. It will come in handy especially towards the end of the night so vendors can swiftly pack up without getting in the way of one another—for example, if the florist came to break down the live wall but the bar in front of it hadn’t been broken down yet.” All of the planners at Mavinhouse Events urge, “Don’t skip this step!”

Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Rigby

Forgetting about the Outdoor Aesthetic

“Contact a landscaping company 9-12 months out if you plan on doing any extensive work on your property,” the planners of Mavinhouse Events recommend. “We suggest having the landscaping company consult with your tent company if you’ll need to do any lawn grading to create a level area for the reception space.”

While you’re calling landscaping companies, loop in your florist. “It’s also nice to have your landscaper work with your florist if you plan on planting any seasonal blooms to make sure that everything will be an extension of the design plan, rather than clash.”

On another al-fresco note, “Don’t forget about pest control, either. While having bug spray and wipes available for after sunset is nice, it’s also recommended to spray the property line the week of the wedding with a pesticide-free insecticide if you live in a particularly buggy area.”

Photo: Courtesy of Meredith Heuer

Underestimating the Budget

One of the ultimate deceptions of at-home weddings? Thinking it will be cheap and easy. Sorry, George Banks, that’s not necessarily the case. “In actuality, weddings at your home require a lot of planning and usually end up costing more than if you were to choose a traditional wedding venue,” the planners of Mavinhouse Events say. “Everything from linens, china, tables, chairs, to the salt and pepper shakers have to be brought in. Tents and dance floors need to be erected and catering kitchens need to be built out.”

But deep breaths! “If you are thinking of hosting a wedding at home—don’t panic! We suggest talking to the experts before any plans have been set. Hire a planner as soon as possible, so they can build a team of vendors that can seamlessly execute your wedding. A site visit is highly recommended as a starting point to ensure that everything you want to do can be done.”

“Private home weddings are very special and will bring your family many great memories for years to come. As the homeowner, you will have plenty to organize yourself (i.e all those last-minute home projects that will pop up!) Let your planner and team of professionals bring all of your wedding plans to light!”

We hope you took notes for your at-home wedding. Thank you to the planners of Mavinhouse Events for your insight! Follow along on Instagram @mavinhouse_events or their website.