By Colin Cowie
No locale can compare to the intimacy of a wedding in a person’s private home. It is a lovely and generous gesture for someone to loan his or her home for your wedding festivities. So, don’t blow it: to take a host up on this offer is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Many relationships have soured over the fact that someone loaned a home for a wedding and the bride and groom failed to handle the situation properly.
Here are 12 major things to consider if you want to use that friend or family member’s abode for a pre- or post-wedding party, or even for the celebration itself.
1. Vendors need to recognize that you are in someone’s home, not a hotel or restaurant.
Be sure you and your wedding vendors understand which areas of the house are off-limits to wedding workers and guests. Everyone working in the house should be briefed on the fact that it is a private home and special care must be taken to avoid damaging the house and its furnishings. Check with your caterer to find out whether you will need extra grills, coolers, roasters or a generator. Many houses can’t handle powering a tent as well as multiple types of cooking equipment.
2. Keep your host abreast of all your wedding-related activities.
As your schedule of events is finalized and delivery times are set, a complete schedule listing all vendor arrival and delivery times should be given to the homeowner so that he or she knows what to expect. The homeowner may be interested in helping you prepare for the big day, but don’t expect he/she will want to be the coordinator.
3. Compare the number of guests to the size of the house.
Consider how many bathrooms your host’s house has. Will they be able to handle all the flushing done that day without flooding the backyard? If not you may want to rent a portable bathroom. As a rule of thumb, you will need one toilet for every 35 guests.
4. Give a pre-wedding gift to your host.
By the morning of your event, have a beautiful floral arrangement or other personal gift, along with a sincerely written thank-you note, delivered to the homeowner.
5. Hire enough staff.
Be sure that throughout your event, there are workers assigned to handle cleanup and take care of any spills or other problems. Remember, this furniture isn’t rented but presumably near and dear to your hosts. If the furniture is minimal, you may need to rent more to cover all the guests at your wedding.
6. Be cautious when decorating.
Try not to damage the walls or furniture. If you do end up damaging furniture or the lawn, be prepared to handle the bill and talk it over with the homeowner.
7. Get all the permits and licensing in advance.
See if your homeowner’s insurance will cover this type of event. Talk to your insurance provider about whether they cover third party liability, and if not look into getting a short-term policy. If you don’t own a home or are looking for a different insurance method try a site like www.protectmywedding.com. It protects you in case of an unfortunate incident and can come with liquor liability.
8. Protect yourself and the homeowner.
You may need a city permit or fire department inspection to make sure you are following all the rules related to hosting this party. Where will everyone park? Depending on the size of your wedding, you will want to figure out the logistics before the cops show up.
9. Prepare for pests.
Is your wedding in a forestry area or will there be bugs around? Plan for citronella candles and tiki torches or to have a bug man spray hours before the wedding. The last thing you want is a guest to leave early because the bugs won’t leave them alone.
10. Have a plan B.
The weather is usually unpredictable so plan for potential inclement weather that may come your way. It’s better to pay the money for a tent than have to cancel your wedding or usher everyone inside.
11. Arrange a post-party cleaning.
After your event is over, the house should be professionally cleaned and all trash and other evidence of your party removed from the property. It’s not enough to merely fill a dozen black plastic trash bags and leave them for the poor homeowner! When you leave, there should be no sign that your party ever occurred. Be sure to have a worker on standby to remove any broken or damaged items and replace them or have them repaired on the first business day after your event.
12. Thanks again… and again.
And after your wedding, take a moment from your honeymoon to personally call your friend or relative and thank them for the loan of their home. A written thank-you note should be sent as a follow-up, underscoring how much it meant to you to use their beautiful home for such a special occasion in your life.