Tips From a Wedding Planner

Think there's no place like home for your wedding? New York City-based wedding planner Laura Chavis agrees and offers tips on how to make your wedding a dream come true.

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The Couple: Chelsey Coyle and Jordan Bowen; The Location: The bride's parents' home in New Market, Tenn.

Do Decide on a Style That Matches the Location
The home and grounds are the backdrop to the wedding and that can be an inspiration for a style or theme, Chavis says. "You could have a sweet cottage in the woods, and maybe you use that to inspire the decorating with moss in centerpieces and wild flowers. Go for an intimate feel. But if working with a grand home that looks like a French Chateau, you will want a tent and an affair to match it. Maybe you’d hang a chandelier from the center of the tent." And use what the location has to offer: If the home has a porch, that might be a great place for the guest book or for the family photos.

Do Choose Focal Points
You want to set the scene and tell folks that they’ve arrived at a party."Maybe you decorate the trees or the home's door."

Don’t Forget Hidden Costs
"Unless you’re having a very intimate, casual affair, an at-home wedding isn’t necessarily cheaper," Chavis warns. Here are some of the extra things to consider: tents, portable toilets and kitchen rentals, valet parking, furniture storage, cleaning before and after the event, a generator for extra electricity.

Do Know Local Ordinances
Of course it’s polite to let neighbors know when you’re going to throw a big bash at home (or even to invite them to avoid complaints), but you also need to know the law. Remember what happened in Steve Martin’s Father of the Bride when he didn’t get the appropriate permit for parking a zillion cars on his residential street. Don’t let that happen to you. Also look into noise curfews and regulations on portable toilets, Chavis says.

Don’t Forget Good Portable Toilet Etiquette
A good rule of thumb is to have a portable toilet for every 50 people, Chavis says. "Don’t forget that people need a place to wash their hands with wet wipes, they need a place to look in the mirror, they need the area to be lit."

Do Make House Rules
"It’s important to have a sense of what’s off-limits and those limits need to be made very clear to the family and the guests," Chavis says. If the wedding is being held outside and you don’t want guests inside, lock all the doors. Or, if you’d like to allow folks into part of the house, cordon off the rest.

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