Monday, October 13, 2014

when you decide to get married at home

When you decide to get married at home there are a number of things you need to think about in your planning lists that don't typically make the traditional wedding to do list.

So once the decision was made, there were quite a few things we had to think about from the get go. There are also several other things, that I'm fairly certain I'm still missing from this list. So, backyard bees, help!

A structure 
This is the most important piece to consider when you're getting married at home. You need a place to put everyone. We are very aware that it could potentially rain on our wedding day, so a tent is a must for us.

Fortunately, being from a small town... we happen to know a few people. Mr. Narwhal knows someone with a large 40' x 40' tent, which he has offered to lend us for... free! Yup, you read that correctly! A similarly sized tent costs about $1000 to rent in Muskoka, so this is a huge budget score for us.

I read somewhere that at a cocktail style reception that you should have approximately 6-7 square feet per person. At 160 people (invited count) we should have plenty of room in our 1600 square foot tent in the event of rain (hoping that we don't need to find that out).

A place for said structure
In our case, we happen to have a second driveway that leads to a fairly open space that needed some levelling and a few trees down. Again, knowing people, my Uncle owns a landscaping company and lent his backhoe to my dad to do the work this past Fall.

Over the course of a weekend in September Mr. Narwhal and my dad cleared a ceremony spot and place for the tent.

reception spot before// personal photo

my dad working away // personal photo 

You have to consider how you want the area to look. In the Spring* we will plant grass, flowers and more grass to beautify the area! The cost of landscaping will still be less than we would have paid to rent a location, and it's money we're investing into our property. This is a huge win win for us.

It's really important to consider washroom facilities for your guests. Since we are getting married a few minutes away from our house, our bathroom isn't going to be accessible to guests. I spent an entire day Googling portable outhouses. For serious. I found a local person that has flushable toilet outhouses (a step down from the luxury trailers, but a step up from the gross green things) for approximately $450 for two units. Not a fun expense, but completely necessary.

Since we are having a cocktail reception, we don't need to rent tables and chairs for everyone. We plan on making leaning areas around trees and benches around the tent area, as well as having some tables and chairs near the food stations.

We will be renting the majority of our tables and chairs through our local Rotary club (a bonus that the money is all for charity). For a fee of $400 you get 10 six foot tables, 48 chairs and three smaller canopy tents. The extra tents will be helpful extra space for the bar and food stations.

We will also rent additional tables and chairs from our local rental place (Muskoka Party Rentals) to ensure we have enough seated tables for about 50% of our guests. This number is fairly standard practice for cocktail style parties.

The plan is to light up the trees with candles and white lights and line all paths with candles. Family has been collecting glass jars since September and after Christmas I hit some white light clearance racks.

Image from Ruffled Blog // Image by Cami Takes Photos

This is a big one for me. I get cold easily and I want to be sure there is refuge for our guests to warm up if it ends up being a cooler night. We will be having a main fire pit as well as a few smaller ones. We also plan to rent a space heater for inside the tent in the seating area.

yes! // Image from Capital Romance // Image by Gambol Photography

We certainly don't want to run into a parking situation like George Banks did on our wedding day. We will be renting a bus and picking up our guests from the hotel where we have our room block! Depending on the room block (more on this debacle another day) we will also have a convenient central location in town to pick up local guests.

We will let guests know that we would prefer for them to take this mode of transportation through word of mouth and our website. The bus will continue to make trips to town from approximately 11:00pm-1:00am to drive everyone home. Renting a bus is pretty standard practice in Muskoka. We have personally been to three weddings that have done something similar. It's also a great option to save on cabs for guests and prevent drinking and driving.

We also live on a dead end road with quite a bit of space for parking for those guests that choose to drive.

The things we've thought about but still need to figure out:
Dishes and glassware
Dance floor
Liability insurance

Planning a wedding at home is certainly more work and involves a lot of planning for things you don't need to think about when you're getting married at an established venue. For us, it's worth the extra headache or six, and we're really excited to see how it will all come together. Please begin crossing your fingers and toes now that it's a beautiful evening and the rain doesn't cram us all under the tent!

Is there anything else I need to think of for our backyard forest wedding?
Anyone else get married in their backyard?

*The plan was to plant grass in the Fall; however, it decided to rain pretty much on the daily. Rain = mudhole.

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