When the Edmondson's told us the venue they wanted to host their daughter's graduation party was called the American Heritage Museum, we were prepared for a historical house celebrating colonial New England. No lie, our jaws dropped to the floor when we first stepped into the venue to see the large collection of tanks, planes, boats and war memorabilia on display. Our wheels started turning of the amazing things we could do with the space - but balancing the amazing displays with bringing in the family's personal style was one our favorite challenges to date.
We incorporated the family's large collection of aritaware as centerpieces and floral vases throughout the venue. It also inspired our color scheme, red, white and blue - which of course went perfectly with the venue's historic pride! Guests drank Military Mules out of tin mugs while getting personal tours of the Collings Foundation collection. Needless to say, this one is for the books!
More and more we meet couples looking to put together a "backyard" type of wedding. Whether it be in a rented barn, field, or their actual backyard, they often think this is the easiest way to achieve their rustic wedding dreams while saving money!
I hate to break it to you, but i'm here to report that it is never as easy or cheap as you think. Don't get me wrong! I fully support this trend and they actually have become my favorite weddings to coordinate because the opportunities for personalization are endless! But with all those opportunities for details comes the task of how you actually can make them happen out of thin air. Before undertaking this massive wedding project, let me share some tips with you that save you from day-of chaos and that it has all the comforts of an existing venue.
DISCLAIMER: These tips may come off negative and as though i'm trying to persuade you not to do this. That's not the case! I just want to be honest and frank with you so that your wedding planning process is as enjoyable and seamless as possible.
Hire a Planner
I fully recommend that you hire a full-service planner to be by yourself during the whole process, but if this isn't in your budget, a day-of coordinator atleast is necessary to make this all happen. A full-service planner can help you along the way to ensure that you've thought of every logistics. Trash, power, lighting? Maybe your tent company is installing lighting so your tent looks gorgeous, but have you thought of how people will be able to see getting back to their cars? A planner can remind of these things AND make them happen. If a day-of coordinator is more your speed, just think of this, when you're sitting in the chair getting your hair and makeup done for the most special day of your life - are you going to be able to answer vendor calls looking for directions or setup your escort cards? Perhaps you may be able to, but let me promise you, you don't want to and you shouldn't! It's YOUR day.
Full Service Caterer
Full-service catering can mean many things, but mainly, make sure that you are bringing in a caterer who is going to help clean up plates, trash and clear left over food. This is not the case with all caterers, especially for these types of events, so ensure that you've talked through these details with them so your family isn't the clean-up crew at the end of the night.
Take a 360 View of Your Venue
When you're planning the floorplan and guest flow, make sure you are looking up, down and all around. What is the ground like? Will people be able to walk on it or do we need flooring? Again, lighting, will people be able to see where they are going?
Also in this category is your neighbors. Be conscious of noise and disturbances that may not go over well with your neighbors. Be sure to talk to them ahead of them (maybe even invite them!) so that nothing disrupts the party!
Prepare for Weather
This may sound obvious, but ALWAYS have a plan B. Any portion of your wedding that could be affected by rain (or even wind or cold) should be addressed and have a backup plan. Tents are great, but does your tent come with sides? If it's cold, windy and rainy, a tent overhead won't solve all your problems. It's also important to talk these through with your vendors. Entertainment such as DJs and Bands who have instruments will be very sensitive to the elements, so ensuring they feel comfortable with your plans in place will prepare you for a lot of day-of concerns.
Let it Go and Remember what Matters
Weddings in general are vulnerable to stress and obstacles, but "build your own venues" come with their own folder of challenges. The key is to remember what is important to you and being flexible to help make that happen. Do you want to have a bumping 3-hour dance party? Make sure your dancefloor is secure and your DJ is comfortable. Do you have a family of foodies? Make sure your caterer has a great workspace and everything they need to deliver a seamless experience. At the end of the day, you are marring the person you love and it is the start of an amazing next chapter. If you can focus on that, you can handle your wedding :)
One of the most stressful parts of planning a celebration can be finding the right venue. Something that matches your aesthetic, guest count, location and not to mention budget. On top of that - adding food options into that and what you can/can't bring in - take it from a planner, lots of comparison charts can be needed to find the perfect one!
What a lot of people discount as the perfect venue is their own home. If you're willing to put in the work and bring in some experts for a little extra help, it can be that perfect venue to end your search.
Here are some tips and tricks that we always share with your clients to help them turn their home into the perfect venue:
1) What's the Focus?: Is it a dinner party? A cocktail reception? Are you playing games? Thinking about the focus of the event and how people will be interacting with each other will help you visualize the best location within your home.
2) Rearrange It!: You can always move things back! If you need some extra space in your living room for a long dining table, move out your couch! It's only a couple hours, so stashing it in that extra bedroom won't make a difference.
BONUS TIP: The delivery men from a party rental company could help you rearrange if you provide them with some extra tips :)
3) Rent It!: You can rent it without committing. So what if your dining room chairs don't match the all white theme you are going for, you can rent some chairs that will match perfectly. Same thing with dishware, glassware, linens etc. Once the rental company picks it all up, it's like nothing even happened!
4) Don't Try to Do it All: One of the biggest mistakes hosts can sometimes make is trying to do it all. Cooking the appetizers, entrees, baking dessert, mixing cocktails, replenishing plates, not to mention, engaging with all your guests! Order some catering, hire a bartender, you'll thank me!
5) Personal Is Not a Bad Thing: Sometimes it may not feel as fancy if you have it in your home. But just because it's not hosted at an event venue or restaurant, doesn't mean it's any less fancy. You have the opportunity to make it even more high-touch as you can control so much more. The look, the feel, the music, the smells, the tastes - everything!
Overall - we always support an event at home - just prepare yourself with these tips and it will be one of the best occasions you have ever hosted!