Sarah Falugo Photography
With weddings being postponed into 2021, couples across the country are looking to honor their original wedding dates, or celebrate a civil union with an intimate, at-home celebration. Deciding to have your wedding at home doesn’t mean you have to give up the luxury, cachet, or elevated level of service associated with hosting an event at a large, lavish venue. On the contrary: This is the opportunity to get creative and plan a meaningful event with intentional moments—from the decor and the entertainment, to the fashion and styling moments.
Hosting your celebration at a property that has special meaning to you—be it your home together, where one of you grew up, or the beautiful property of a family member or friend—makes for an unforgettable experience. With rules and regulations changing daily on how we can celebrate, all of the below advice should be executed with safety and health precautions in mind. Plan to set up well-designed and decorated sanitizing stations and include a designed mask with your invitation; then, choose your favorites from the ideas below to host the ultimate wedding at home.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
Use Your Wanderlust as Inspiration
If travel isn’t possible but you’re dreaming of a destination wedding, recreate the far-flung feeling for your celebration at home. Get inspired by your favorite destination—be it anywhere from Italy to Japan, New Zealand to New Orleans.
Establish a multi-sensory experience by incorporating characteristics of your chosen destination into the design. Have fun with the menu and the decorative elements by choosing flavors, flowers, colors, patterns, and textures that represent the location you had planned or always wanted to wed in. Don’t forget to include music and scents (be it via scented candles at the ceremony or through a deliciously spiced meal) to really immerse your guests in the locale that’s at the core of your wanderlust.
If you’re dreaming of Capri, work lemons into the tablescape; if Greece is more your vibe, opt for crisp whites, deep Aegean blues, and pops of vibrant fuschia bougainvillea. If you were planning a party in the South, bring in mouthwatering barbecue; if you were headed to New England, serve personalized shellfish towers to start. Take the inspiration all the way to your cocktails and dessert; a Provence-inspired event at home would never be short on fine pastries or Champagne, while a wedding would have been in Mexico should have margaritas flowing.
Opt for Outdoor Lounges
If you’re planning a wedding at home, you’re most likely holding the event outside. Bring the inside out, and make your backyard feel like the warm interiors of your home. Design clusters of cozy lounge spaces where guests can sit back and enjoy the al fresco celebration, ideally with those they’re already living and quarantining with.
While gathering furniture for an event with 250+ guests can be a daunting challenge, renting or borrowing furnishings for a celebration hosting less than 30 close family members and friends is far more manageable. Don’t worry about everything matching perfectly; use combinations of sofas, arm chairs, and side tables to create a living room-like atmosphere and seat groups of household members or social bubbles together. Keep the mood warm and welcoming by using a variety of seating and décor, and add home accessories like throw pillows, floral arrangements, and objet. Set a loose color palette and play within it, mixing and matching complementing items—like a lush settee or chaise with a one-off end table. Consider adding colorful rugs and floor cushions to allow younger children to sit on the ground, and make sure to include some more supportive, comfortable seating to accommodate any elderly guests in attendance.
Combine the inspiration of your dream destination with all that’s available in your hometown for a truly unique design—and one that’s sustainably-sourced to boot. The best tablescapes, floral designs, and menus get their vibrance, flavor, and freshness from their seasonality and locality, so tapping your resources close to home is key.
Look to local farmers, flower markets, brands, and vendors to accomplish a design that feels unique to your space, even if it’s inspired by another. With small businesses needing love now more than ever before, using those craftsman and purveyors to tell your story and design your intimate event will ensure that your favorite flower shop, bakery, ceramicist, or home goods boutique can take care of their team and loved ones as you host yours.
Choose a Standout Ceremony Marker
Since your guests won’t be walking into a traditional ceremony site, like a church, the spot where you say your vows deserves special treatment. Consider what the backdrop will look like as guests watch you and your betrothed exchange vows. Perhaps there’s a beach or bluff nearby that would best suit the vibe of your vow exchange, or maybe there’s a stately tree in your yard that could serve as the ideal backdrop to a connection built to last.
If your ceremony will take place in front of your home, consider the curtains, windows, and symmetry. Make sure all of the curtains are drawn or shut for consistency, and make sure the two of you are placed in front of the door for an intentional, thoughtful look and feel. Clear away any unsightly items from your backyard for ideal photo-ops.
Get inventive with the décor. Richly-colored rugs layered on top of one another make for a chic alternative to a traditional runner; try lounge furniture that allows for distancing instead of chairs placed six feet apart. Opt for floral moments that deliver maximum impact rather than the ultimate amount of florals, like the inventive aisle runner pictured here, designed by BAZAAR Bride Best Event Designer, Joy Proctor.
Break Out the Fine China
Incorporating anything that’s personal and significant to you, the two of you as a couple, or to your family will elevate high-touch decor to new heights. This is the chance to throw the ultimate dinner party; bring out heirloom china that has been passed doon from generations—or, break out the set you registered for, instead.
Keep in mind that using heirlooms when throwing an event at home weaves a story throughout the entire evening. No need to worry about keeping everything consistent; mix and match patterns and incorporate your parents’ or even your grandparents’ tabletop with more modern sets. Add vintage candelabras or taper candlesticks for a bit of edge and to set the mood.
Add an Unexpected Focal Point
This is your chance to turn an unappealing or an open spot in your backyard into an interesting decorative focal point that can serve as a conversation piece while guests revel and dine.
Wrap a floral arrangement around a tree for the feel of an enchanted forest, put discarded flower pots and crates to good use by filling them with flowers and using them as a display for favors or individually-wrapped food and beverages, or float flowers and lanterns in a pool that sits at the center of your event. Consider the moments that are going to work double duty as photo backdrops since at this event, you likely won’t be treating your guests to a late night photo booth.
Cancel Cocktail Hour & Have a Welcome Gathering
Think of unique ways to make an impression the moment your guests arrive. While a cocktail reception is typically held after the ceremony to allow guests to get wined and dined before the reception, it’s best to skip moments that discourage distancing and where guests will likely have to congregate at a bar.
A wedding at home has a different feel; you want your guests to immediately feel welcome and comfortable. Skip the social hour and, instead, greet guests with signature drinks and non-alcoholic cocktails before the ceremony to set the tone. “Because your invite list is so small, having a butler take each guest’s drink request when they arrive instead of having them head to a bar is possible and a nice touch,” says Olivier Cheng of Olivier Cheng Catering and Events and Destination Hamptons (pictured here). “The beverage will feel fresher this way, as opposed to it sitting on a tray for a while. This also feels more intimate and reminds you that you’re at a loved one’s home.”
Wear Your (Other) Dream Dress
If you purchased a wedding gown pre-pandemic, consider whether it best suits your newly-planned wedding at home—or if it’s best to hold out until your postponed celebration next year. Like you did with your original wedding plans, your dress should be chosen with your wedding venue, destination, and personal style in mind.
Consider something feminine, flirty, and ethereal, rather than something overly formal. And since you’ll be in the comforts of home, a dress change is feasible for your timeline, and will set the tone for each part of the evening. Channel your bridal style for the ceremony—be it in a bridal gown, a bold look in color, or in a wedding suit. Then, transition into the sophisticated hostess, whether that be by switching into a cocktail dress, or into a silk pajama set or embroidered caftan. For either (or both), add beautiful jewelry and a pair of statement mules.
When setting the dress code, encourage your guests to keep their attire festive and fashion-forward, without making them feel pressured to go out and buy something new. This isn’t the time to insist on a themed dress code; let your guests wear what makes them feel confident, comfortable, and ready to celebrate.
Keep It Personal
What you lose in volume from a big celebration you gain in details with a smaller affair. An intimate wedding allows you to personalize your event in ways you can’t with a large one. “With a curated guest list, you can concentrate on thoughtful touches, such as personalized escort cards, customized paper goods, and writing your guests’ names in calligraphy on just about anything,” says Vanessa Michelle, owner of Vanessa Michelle Co. “You can also splurge on chic rental tabletop—like those from Borrowed Blu, The Ark Rentals, or Casa de Perrin.”
Think of this as the best dinner party you’ve ever hosted and pull out all of the stops. A handwritten note or a calligraphed romantic musing left on each place setting shows your appreciation and love for each and every VIP in attendance. At the core of a small wedding is the essence of why you’re getting married in the first place: your desire to celebrate your love with the people that mean the most to you. At this event, it’s about keeping every detail elevated and special, yet meaningful and sentimental, rather than orchestrating an elaborate affair.
Up the Ante on Food
Hiring an experienced caterer to handle all of your food and beverage needs is key for any successful event at home, and working with a company who can ensure that proper measures are taken while preparing and serving your meals is a must.
You’ll want to avoid a buffet, shared plates, or a family style dinner. Inventive ways to serve your food and drinks not only helps to keep everyone safe, but also upgrades the dining experience for each person in attendance. Skip stations that guests can pick from; “Elegant plated meals are back and are especially nice since it makes you feel at home, particularly if dining on a patio or in the garden,” says Cheng.
If you’re being more conservative, you can choose options that go with your event’s design, such as serving meals under silver cloches, in beautiful Bento boxes, or personalized picnic baskets complete with a three-course meal and bottles of wine for each household or social pod of guests sitting together. Or, take the things you love about large-format and shared dining experiences and individualize them, like a personal cheese plate, mini wedding cake, or caviar course for each guest.
Light It Up
Every good event designer will tell you the same thing: Lighting is everything. Use candlelight and lanterns whenever possible. Unlike the restrictions of a ballroom or hotel, you probably won’t be restricted from using open flames in your home. Think about how your grounds will look once the sun goes down. Light up trees, landscaping, your home’s architecture, and pathways with subtle, amber lighting, market lights, or lanterns, rather than opting for distracting uplighting. This will not only add dramatic effect and ambiance, but illuminating key paths and fixtures at an outdoor event ensures guests enjoy the evening and make their way home safely. While lighting can draw unwanted creatures to your outdoor affair, don’t overlook using pleasantly-scented, organic citronella candles to keep pesky bugs at bay.
Entertain Them in Their Seats
Dancing close together may be out, but singing along to popular songs while you’re seated isn’t. “Invest in an amazing cover band to play your favorite songs or a standout singer to wow your small crowd,” says Guerdy Abraira of Guerdy Design.
Another great way to keep guests entertained without mingling is with bite-sized pairings that prolong the dinner experience and make it more memorable—such as wine and cheese, caviar and champagne, or fresh-baked pastries and gourmet coffee. And don’t write off the after-party. Treat your guests to post-dinner fun that’s both enjoyable and distanced, like an outdoor movie in your backyard complete with a video projector and screen, cozy blankets or camping chairs, and popcorn and candy packaged in theater-like snack boxes.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below