Saying “I do” at home is not only economical, but it can be a lot of fun. The key is good planning, and there are plenty of low-cost, high impact ways to prepare. An added bonus is that all your home improvement projects will be yours long after the big day. Below are tips for staging the at-home wedding of your dreams.

Choose the spot where you’ll exchange your vows. Then plan on enough seating for everyone. Let your budget and style determine whether you’ll rent or borrow chairs or if you’ll go all-out artsy by using bales of hay or colorful blankets on the ground.

Know your village because it often takes one! Whether you use friends, family, hired professionals, or all three, you’ll need people to help you set up, serve, shuttle people (if necessary) and clean. If out-of-town guests are coming, share a list of nearby hotels with them.

Plan for parking. Unless you live on a farm or your own vineyard, it’s wise to check out large parking areas near your home. You can direct guests there and have someone from your “village” shuttle them to and from the wedding.

Prepare your yard and patio. Make a list of any needed repairs/improvements. For some, all you need to do is mow your yard. For others, you’ll need to call a landscaper. Remember, the more level your ground is, the easier it will be to lay a dance floor and set up your tables and chairs. Having level ground is especially important in case it rains.

A beautiful arbor or pergola can serve as a focal point for your outdoor ceremony, bring meaning to your celebration, and serve as a stunning background for photos. Professionally built trellises cost between $400-$900 for materials and labor, and they’ll add a sentimental touch to your yard for years to come. Prefab models are more affordable and can range from $10-$100.

At night, you’ll want great mood lighting, whether you hang string lights in your trees, install low-voltage lighting, or simply use candles.

Plan your menu based on your budget and taste (literally!). You can have an informal barbecue, use caterers, or even a food truck. Renting all your dinnerware, linens, and barware is more economical than you’d think. Even your wedding cake can be affordable and stunning with these five tips.

Good music and dancing can transform a good wedding into a fabulous affair. A little due diligence goes a long way though. Check with your town about any noise ordinances, and let your neighbors know about your celebration in advance. If ever there was a time to gift them with a bottle of wine or champagne, it’s now.

Consider your guests’ comfort. Being outdoors in summer weather can mean bugs and sun-related issues. Some wedding experts encourage their clients to spray a pesticide a few days before their wedding. Another option is to burn citronella candles and/or have tiny bottles of bug spray for your guests.

To ease the effects of intense sun, have plenty of water available at all times. You can also create shade by renting large market umbrellas or a tent.

It’s recommended you have at least one bathroom for every 35 guests. If your home has old pipes, you might want to consider renting a port-a-potty. Today, you can rent a luxury loo with running water for approximately $300, which that includes set-up and removal. It’s definitely less expensive than plumbing repairs.

Have a Plan B. Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate with clear skies; rain happens. Clear umbrellas can be a fun party favor. This is yet another reason why renting a tent is such a great idea. You may want to keep an economical church or community hall on hold until the day before, too.

Whether you hire a string quartet or break open a piñata while listening to mariachis, your at-home wedding is all about making it you. It’s your day, and in your home and backyard, it’s all about having it your way.

Special Guest Blog by Alice Robertson, http://tidyhome.info

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