Inspired weddings take place in different locations -- vineyards, hotels, country clubs, social halls and parks. But the most romantic, emotional and personal weddings that I've ever seen were those at a family's home. To pull off that perfect home wedding, consider these important "Do's".
"Do" a realistic assessment of the number of guests you can entertain comfortably and use your space wisely. Select a focal point for the ceremony, such as a shady majestic tree or a water fountain for a backdrop. For the ceremony, create a meandering garden pathway using potted flowering plants to seat your guests. These plants can be used later to decorate food stations or line the dance floor.
A useful rule of thumb is that you need 10-12 square feet of open space per guest for a seated reception -- this allows for ample space between tables for walkways. Use this handy calculator. Keep in mind that you can change up the size and shape of your tables for a better fit. Long feasting tables are a good option for a narrow room or yard, and cocktail tables may do the trick in confined spaces. Wide open areas, whether in the front or the back of your home, are the blank canvas for an interesting design concept, such as tables in the shape of your initials. I like using the dining room table for dessert buffets and to showcase the wedding cake because it's protected from the elements and offers better lighting.
"Do" pay special attention to light. Consider where the sun will be during your ceremony so that you end up with a warm glow instead of blinding light. (Visit timeanddate.com to find out what time the sun will set on a given date.) And as the sun sets, décor lighting will be important for the comfort and safety of your guests, as well as the ambiance. Perimeter up-lighting illuminates plants and trees, creating the feeling of larger spaces, while directional and ambient lighting is used to draw attention to centerpieces, and to illuminate walkways and the dance floor. Existing lighting such as halogen floodlights can be softened with colored filters.
"Do" mix and match your décor items in a cohesive way. In your home, you have creative license and resources to pull off the greatest "mix and match" design concepts, and it's guaranteed to look charming! No need to rent 50 of the same dinner plate -- borrow china from your Mom, your aunts and your grandma, too! Place a different set of china on each table and tie it all together with a consistent color scheme. Select your favorite flowers to be featured on each table, so that you have the tulip table, the rose table and the hydrangea table and so on. Clustering of a single type of flower is a manageable DIY wedding project. The mix and match concept works well for the bridesmaids' dresses, too -- they can be within the same style or color scheme and each lady can hold a bouquet of one type of flower... they don't have to be identical.
"Do" remember the small stuff. Check with your local law enforcement agency about the noise ordinance applicable to your area. By doing this early in your planning process you'll have plenty of time to adjust the wedding schedule to comply with sound restrictions. In most communities, the party has to quiet down at 11 pm. Plan ahead by planting flowering plants, fertilizing the lawn and trimming the hedges. Stop watering the lawn two days before the wedding day and make sure that all the automatic sprinklers are shut off. Stock up on battery-pack candles in lieu of open flamed candlelight so that you don't have to worry about the wind. For outdoor weddings, be sure to spray outdoor areas and under each table with insect repellant several hours before guest arrival. For an extra touch, have High Heel Savers from Diva Dilemmas to make the walk on the lawn more comfortable for the ladies in spiked high heels; they will protect your lawn, too.
"Do" include a surprise after-party snack. The food truck phenomenon has created incredible and affordable options. Here is an opportunity to spice up the party with the unexpected taco truck, French fries and grilled cheese sandwiches or fresh donuts, cookies and milk. Comfort food is everybody's favorite for a late-night treat.
"Do" be good to your neighbors. Go beyond the basic courtesy of notifying your neighbors that you will have a wedding at your home; drop off a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates and watch all the apprehension about the music and partying melt away. While you are there, ask your neighbors to keep their dogs inside and skip mowing the lawn on the day of your wedding.