Getting married at home has become much more common in the time of COVID. It’s safer, ususally easier, and definitely less expensive than going to a wedding venue.
Even before COVID, for couples who have been together for a long time, own a house, or want an intimate wedding, getting married at home was an appealing option.
You and your guests feel comfortable in your home. You might have the ceremony inside in your favorite room and the reception outside where guests have more space to roam.
An at-home wedding gives you a chance to have many of the frills of a wedding in a bigger venue, on a smaller scale.
Here are some items to consider if you want to get married at your home:
Do I need an officiant if I’m getting married at home?
Of course! To make the marriage legal, you need an officiant. More than that, having a ceremony that is professionally created for you will make your wedding day special. (In Pennsylvania, it is possible for couples to self-unite, which is an option for at-home weddings, too.)
- One couple asked their friend, a Celebrant, to conduct the wedding. This friend had introduced the brides to each other 20+ years ago.
- Another couple worked with their rabbi to conduct the wedding at home, enabling them to bring their connection to their synagogue into their home.
- A third couple has moved their wedding date multiple times due to the coronavirus and decided they wanted to have a mini-ceremony with just their immediate family. Home was the right spot for them.
Is our home ready for a wedding?
When you look around your house, do you have enough space to hold the number of guests you want to invite? Do the rooms need a new coat of paint? Do the carpets need to be cleaned? Can you have the wedding outdoors?
- One couple decided to renovate their guest bathroom in time for the wedding. A risky venture, and one that added expense to the wedding. However, they enjoyed the design process and their guests welcomed the updated facilities.
- Another couple didn’t have enough room in their own backyard, but their neighbors did and were willing let them get married there.
How many guests do we want to invite?
Some couples invite only their immediate family and a few friends when they marry at home. For other couples, or for couples with a lot of space, inviting a larger guest list might be in order. Given health and safety concerns, you might want to have a small ceremony now, and a larger celebration when it’s safer, later.
- A few years ago, one couple invited over 100 guests to their at-home wedding. The ceremony and reception were held outdoors, with a tent on the deck in case of rain. Their guests had been in their home many times and the wedding added to their happy memories of the home.
- Another couple, pre-COVID, squeezed their 36 guests into their den. Cozy and intimate, if a bit cramped.
- Another couple invited only two friends and a guitarist to witness their wedding, along with their two miniature daschunds, of course.
Should we have the at-home wedding catered?
If you can afford to, sure, have someone cater your wedding. Even if you and your spouse are chefs, you will want your wedding day to be about sharing your love with each other and your guests rather than ensuring that the food is cooked through.
Should we have a wedding cake?
Absolutely! Your caterer might do wedding cakes. Or, if you’ve always wanted to have a cake that captures your relationship, now’s the time.
What should we do about our beloved dog/cat/ferret during the wedding?
In most cases, it is best to have your pets kept safe in a room or an off-site location during the wedding. No matter how well trained a pet is, having people in their home may make them skittish. If your pet has always been part of every celebration you’ve had, consider including the pet in the ceremony, then moving the pet somewhere else during the reception.
- One couple with two dogs chose to keep them upstairs during the wedding and talked about how important the dogs were to the couple during the ceremony.
- Another couple hired a pet minder to allow the dog to be at the ceremony, but not the responsibility of the marrying couple.
Should we have a photographer or videographer at our at-home wedding?
Definitely. No matter how many of your guests say they’ll take photos and share them, it’s likely that you won’t get the photos you want this way. Especially if you’re having a very intimate wedding, you can have some beautiful shots that you wouldn’t be able to get or have time for in a more formal setting.
- One couple chose not to have a professional photographer, relying instead on their nephews to take photos and film the wedding. The film came out well, the photos not so much. Many of the friends and relatives who attended were not in the pictures.
- Another couple had full-on makeup done and a professional photographer for a wedding in their living room.
How can we ensure that our older relatives from farther away can attend our wedding?
- To bring the guests to you in person, one couple hired a bus that picked their relatives up at two locations, brought them to the wedding, then took them home. The cost was less then having the relatives stay in a hotel and ensured that everyone arrived on time and made it home safely.
- Now that we’ve lived through the COVID-19 time, most couples include their guests via Zoom or other video service in their wedding. Your videographer might be able to help you set this up. As an officiant, I can incorporate these family members or friends in the wedding ceremony. Let’s talk about this.
An at-home wedding is the most intimate way of incorporating your friends and family into your life as a married couple. Throughout your years together, your guests will remember being at your home and will continue to feel the special bond you created. When your home becomes your “wedding venue”, you deepen your connection to each other and to your home.