What’s the point of having an at-home ceremony?
Just book a restaurant, hotel, hot-air balloon, or whatever, for your wedding, vow renewal, handfasting or baby-naming.
You can usually rely on the venue to supply what you have agreed, even though things don’t always run smoothly (when do they?!). But, of course, there is the financial implication to consider.
It can be cheaper to organise an at-home ceremony, although not necessarily.
If you have the wherewithal to do this, do bear in mind that you will need to plan what you’re doing very carefully. However, a home ceremony may yurn out a lot more relaxed, informal and comforting.
Here are some suggestions to make it as stress-free as possible.
As they arrive, it can be nice to introduce those taking part in the ceremony to the celebrant. The celebrant is not there to be an usher or to welcome guests, but these introductions can help put people at their ease.
Even if you are planning to hold the ceremony outdoors, it pays to have a room available indoors which can comfortably accommodate all the guests, if the weather lets you down.
For an outdoor ceremony, do ensure there are enough chairs (on an even surface) for all the guests. The celebrant will probably want a table, possibly two chairs (the couple may be signing their ceremony certificate) and maybe a paperweight or two. A jug of water plus three glasses would be appreciated, especially in warm weather.
Obviously, take health & safety into consideration. There needs to be space for people to move around reasonably comfortably, and, potentially, wheelchair access. You won’t want electric cables all over the place to be tripped over, or marquees toppling over in the wind. Make sure all is ready well before the ceremony is due to start. (It is not the celebrant’s job to be moving furniture!)
Hopefully, guest behaviour will not be an issue, but I would counsel against serving alcohol before the ceremony.
- If you have domestic animals that could interfere with the ceremony, please ensure that they are shut away.
- If you can, arrange it that your neighbour does not mow the lawn just when the ceremony is taking place, or that he doesn’t leave his dogs at home howling.
- If it is likely to be very hot, try and arrange shade or supply guests with soft drinks before the ceremony .
- Some sort of mini-creche might be a wise option if you are inviting a lot of small children.
Do ensure that your domestic insurance policy covers third party liability for any visitors to your home.
Nobody said it was a simple matter to arrange a ceremony at home! However, the rewards can be fantastic. Good luck!
Michael Gordon is a celebrant based in London.