Small, intimate, home-based weddings are in vogue once again. Couples everywhere are foregoing large-scale weddings and opting to get married in a home of a their own, or that of a family member, friend or neighbor.
One of the challenges is finding the right type of home in which to hold a once-in-a-lifetime celebration.
What are some of the characteristics one should look for in a home when considering using it for a wedding or other social function? Patsy Bryan, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hodnett Cooper Real Estate, said that first and foremost, the perfect home for entertaining has excellent curb appeal, exquisite outdoor spaces and breathtaking views.
“That makes for a fabulous backdrop for any event,” she said.
People who are planning on hosting a wedding at their home should make sure their lawn and garden is meticulously manicured, she said, and the addition of containers filled with plants, particularly on a pool deck or terrace, is a nice touch.
Bryan said many couples having home weddings choose to have their ceremony on the lawn and their receptions on a terrace or pool deck.
Although it’s preferable to have a captivating view of river, marsh or ocean, it’s still possible to create an inviting environment with the addition such amenities as outdoor kitchens, fire pits and covered loggias.
A large circular driveway at the front entrance to the house is also a nice touch.
“Parking is important,” Bryan said. “A circular driveway makes it easy, for the elderly, other guests, and caterers and florists.”
Lighting is also extremely important, she said.
As far as a home’s interior goes, Bryan recommends an open floor plan with lots of windows to “bring the outside in.”
Other characteristics that make a home ideal for entertaining include a spacious entry hall where people can gather, a large great room/kitchen combination for socializing, separate spaces for the bride, groom and attendants to dress for the function and restrooms on the main floor.
A butler’s pantry, or a dedicated space for the caterer to work, is also of the utmost importance.
Finding these traits in newer homes is easier than in older ones, where the floor plan may be choppier and entertainment flow impeded.
Although outdoor entertaining can be accomplished most of the year in the Golden Isles, occasionally inclement weather causes a change of plans.
“Have a plan for bad weather,” Bryan said. “Either prepare an indoor space, or have a tent on the terrace.”
Bryan thinks the home wedding will be around for quite some time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it’s going to be this way for a while,” she said.
Wedding planners refer to these smaller weddings, called micro-weddings, as “bite-size” versions of traditional weddings.
The guest list is smaller, but don’t be fooled though. Simply because a wedding is not being held in a church with a reception in a large event venue to follow, doesn’t mean the betrothed have tossed luxury out the window. Oftentimes, scaling down the size of a wedding allows for an abundance of personal touches, more elaborate food and drink and a posh overall experience that will be remembered by both the wedding party and their guests for years to come.
This change of pace is providing event planners with plenty of challenges.
There’s an episode of the sitcom “Friends” in which “pivot” becomes a catchword. It’s recently become that for event planners as well.
And, as much as things have changed over the course of the past several months, the most important things have not.
“I know we’re all facing a different reality and have to adjust,” said Stacy Bass, owner of Straton Hall Events, in Brunswick. “One thing that will absolutely never change is the desire for human connection and the celebration of love with family and friends, no matter what that celebration looks like.”
Couples and their families have a multitude of items to consider when planning any wedding, and the micro-wedding is no exception.
The first thing to which couples should give careful thought is the floor plan of the house.
“You have to consider the setup of the house in order to determine the logistics of feeding people,” Bass said, suggesting beverage stations toward the entrance so guests can readily have access to refreshments. “(Then), food in the backyard so there will be more fresh air and open spaces.”
An alternative to serving food outdoors is to serve it at different stations throughout the house, and having different segments of the event in a variety of different areas.
“(For example have the) ceremony in the garden, followed by cocktails on the side patio before transitioning to a tent or inside the home for a plated dinner,” Bass said.
Having spaced seating arrangements plus more standing-only areas to promote social distancing are ways to make an event safer. Additionally, having more safe spaces spread throughout the venue so guests can choose their own comfort levels is important.
Bass added a few other tips to help make a micro-wedding safe and memorable.
Masks and gloves have become a must and (they’re) trendy as well,” he said. “Have cute sanitizing stations.”
Also, the buffet has gone the way of the pay phone, and plated meals are all the rage, as are personal charcuterie boxes, instead of the standard passed appetizers.
Another social distancing tip is to set up “satellite stations” around the grounds where people can live stream the ceremony from a safe vantage point, or wherever they happen to be.
Some couples are even having virtual bridal showers and home-delivered tastings in advance of their nuptials.
“People are having multiple smaller weddings, weekday events – even shift weddings where guests have designated times to spend time with the happy couple,” Bass said. “It’s really given couples, along with vendors, creative license to do the once unthinkable.”