At-Home Wedding Checklist

If you're planning an outdoor wedding, consider these 18 questions.


Planning an at-home wedding? Even a simple do requires lots of planning. This list is just for starters. Use it for inspiration and jot down your other ideas and questions as you go along.

Are you organized?

You’re engaged? Get out a notebook and start collecting wedding ideas, vendors, dreams. It’s never too early to start planning.

Are you money smart?

Start with a budget that matches your dream. Be realistic. Research what your money can buy. A tent with electricity and a dance floor can run as high as $50,000, and that’s not including food, drink and entertainment. Know what you want and what you can afford.

Is your dream defined?

How to you want your guests to feel? What words describe your dream wedding: a romantic intimate gathering at dusk? A rowdy party that goes on all night? A hip happening brunch? Let your vision and must-haves define your list, from food to format.

Will you have enough help?

If you’re not going to hire a wedding planner (and even if you are), identify what kind of helpers you need (getting the bride’s dress on, parking cars, etc.) and ask friends and family well in advance. Even though you might want an intimate affair, you don’t want the bride to be serving the food or the groom manning the bar.

Will your location really work?

Is the house or yard big enough? Have a good flow for lots of guests? Have spots for various activities from signing the guest book to cutting the cake, walking down the aisle to hanging up coats? Is the yard level?

Is the location legal?

Is there a limit to how many people you can cram into the house? How many cars can park in the street? How much noise you can make at night? How much electricity can be pumped into a tent? How many portable toilets you can park on the lawn? Find out what your town requires and what permits and inspections are needed in advance.

Are you wired adequately?

You’d be surprised how much juice a portable kitchen or a band uses. Do you need generators?

Have you warned the neighbors?

If you don’t want complaints, either warn the neighbors and thank them with a little gift, or invite them to the wedding.

Where will you put stuff?

If you need to move furniture out of your house for dancing or dining room, where will you put it? If you need to rent a tent or a portable kitchen, chairs or a dance floor — where will you store them before and after the event?

Have you checked the calendar?

Make sure you know what other big events are going on in town the weekend of your wedding. The season’s big ball game or prom can affect traffic and the number of hotel rooms available for your out-of-town guests (if you’re having the wedding at home, you certainly don’t want them staying with you!).

Sit or stand?

Do you want guests to sit during the ceremony or stand? Will you use the same chairs for the ceremony as for the sit-down dinner? If yes, who will move them from one spot to the other — and when? How many chairs total do you need to rent? Also: have you considered a lounge arrangement? Some couples prefer to rent couches for an informal reception.

Dance on grass?

If you’ve ever tried it, you know it’s not a great idea. How big of a dance floor do you want to rent?

Do you have enough potties?

Some wedding experts say you need one bathroom for every 20 people; others say one per 50 is fine. In any case, you don’t want people having to cross their legs or wait in a long line.

Give Fido a vacation?

We know your pet is like a child to you, but your guests may not have the same amount of affection. Not to mention that Fluffy may get seriously freaked out by all of the commotion. Board the babies.

Do you do windows?

Make it easy on yourself, hire cleaners for before and after the wedding.

Are you picture perfect?

Does the yard or home need a bit of sprucing up? Fine to do some painting and landscaping but make sure it’s done well in advance of the wedding weekend.

Going buggy?

Depending upon the time of year, you may need to arm your guests with insect repellent or plan to have lots of citronella candles around.

Who will pick up the trash?

Arrange for extra garbage pickup.

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